Monday, April 16, 2007


I helped in the projection booth at Full Frame again this year. This is A. breaking down a 35mm print of.... urgh, I don't remember. At the Carolina Theatre, they have a platter system which allows for enough space for all of the reels of a film to be spliced together in one giant reel. That way, you don't have to use a two-projector system. But, after the film, you have to break it down and get all of the reels back together in their metal cases to send back to the distributor. A. was trying to avoid having to do that at the end of the festival so he did a few each day when there was a break. I love talking to A., the projectionist that was there. He's a really cool dude and I don't have to do hardly anything when he's in there doing his thing because I only do the video stuff. We watched Crazy Love (Dan Klores 2007) on the monitors in the booth and we were totally floored when story twists. We even talked about it the next day. I noticed that none of the other tech people talked about any of the films they saw unless they were totally knocked out by them. So it seemed extra surprising that A. liked Crazy Love just as much as I did.

If you attended Full Frame this year, I'd love to hear about the film(s) you saw. I saw a bunch.

Here is more about what I did this past weekend, in case you are interested. They have two of us in the Fletcher auditorium booth handling video stuff in addition to any projectionist that may need to be there. Everything is already set up physically and mentally by the tech crew, so for volunteers like me, I do very simple things like putting in the tape for the little trailer before the movie, getting the screen to black, playing the movie on tape, and opening the projector shutter again to let the film show on the screen. We do sound tests before the show, too. I guess it helps to know a bit about the engineering of the set up, but that was much easier this year than last because the switcher was programmed to do everything - even setting the ratios for the high definition formats. I had fun because I felt more confident than last year, my first year doing tech. The best part was when I got to tell the venue manager on the walkie-talkie that they could "open the house". That's a pretty big power trip, quite honestly. If I got a chance to do it more than once this weekend, my head would be very big right now.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


When I walk into Bodies: The Exhibition, I am transported to another place and time. Organs wait anxiously behind glass to be viewed by curious strangers. Entire plastinated bodies are frozen, holding tennis rackets and kicking new, shiny soccer balls as if I just walked into the middle of a really good game. In another room, red lights make calcium-dyes shimmer as if they are from another planet, or in a hip bar where they sell overpriced cocktails with adventurous names. It’s one big party in here. The staff don white lab coats. I order a metacarpus on the rocks.

But it’s not a party. Perhaps I am reminded of this by the exhibit of the alienated nervous system, its strands divorced from all other bodily elements except a brain and eyeballs, looking absolutely stunned. It sort of looks like a freaked out tadpole.

“Where am I?”

It can’t hear the answer which I learned from one of its attendants but I whisper it anyway: “You used to live in China. Do you remember?”

“What?” its eyes say. “What the hell happened?”

Maybe I need a drink after all. My friend the nervous system and everyone else here didn’t always have the Latin names they do now. When you die and are unclaimed in China, the government does not require consent before you are placed on the market to be sold to others. Cadavers aren’t cheap and private companies don’t have an easy time of acquiring them. But, if a plastination company buys you, Dr. Gunther von Hagens or one of his proteges will soak you in acetone and then, in a vacuum, liquid polymer will replace the acetone. You will feel like a pencil eraser and smell like one, too. You are posed, cured, and shipped. Now you are here, in a mall next to Urban Outfitters and a short walk from Cinnabon and the Gap. You are a specimen, a learning tool, a scientific marvel. You have been transformed into something valuable now and the Premier Exhibition company of Atlanta, Georgia knows it. They are the owners of the Bodies: The Exhibition and they take in $24 a head. Leisurely scientific inquiry isn’t cheap these days.

More people enter the exhibit so I move into the next room. I contemplate another skinless plastic body. It is beautiful. It might even be art. The polymer shows off the muscles best, sinewy and textured. As my eyes move toward the face, I see that the eyes are glass but the teeth are real. Finally, an artifact of this person’s (former) life to inspect. Excitedly, I get close as there is no barrier to prevent it. The teeth that remain in the mouth appear to be original, dark and chipped. Where were the doctors and dentists when this person was alive? I smooth my tongue over my own white, shiny, immaculate set. Welcome to global stratification.

I head for the exit.

Monday, April 02, 2007


Durham, NC. Corner of Morgan and Morris- My first car crash occurred last night. I am in the car with the dotted lines. The blue car was stolen and being chased by a cop. As I was attempting to pull into the RBC Centura lot, I got side swiped and did a 180. It was a "drive by" type of thing.

Some notes:
1. Thank you Christa, DATA bus driver who was in the parked car by Centura bank. She saw everything, got out of her car, called 911 immediately on her cell, and hugged me because I was freaked out and upset. I hit my head on my window and the car got smooshed in pretty good on the drivers side. I wouldn't have known what to do AT ALL if she had not been there as I don't have a cell phone and I was facing the opposite way all of a sudden for no apparent reason.

2. This is not the best drawing of the accident (Morgan is three lanes, I think, etc. etc.).

3. For once, something besides grad school caused me to freak out! Hooray. After everything got reported to the police, I drove home and danced around with the cat. My priorities? Realigned, yo. Not world shifting or anything but it really helps to get out of my little bubble.

4. Cars suck. We shouldn't have set things up this way. I crashed into a pedestrian on my bicycle once and aside from the embarrassment, we were completely unscathed. Transportation is key to meeting the needs of large populations but the car option is too expensive and unhealthy. The use of automobiles promotes individualism to the detriment of community bonds, generates false symbols of wealth that help to separate and stratify people, and reinforces a culture of spontaneity which, although not inherently problematic, hurts our ability to think in the long term about how our actions affect others despite good intentions.

5. My car still drives quite well. I will file an insurance claim and everything but body work is the only thing that is needed. Last night J. declared that I would "drive my car into the ground". And to think that I used to be a bit proud of my Toyota. When I first got it, I gave it baths and attempted to wax it and stuff. If the insurance won't cover the body work (quite possible) I'm going to be tempted to enter demo derbys. Seriously. If you're going to drive a beater, go all the way.