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Saturday morning

Here I sit at my sluggish laptop computer, grateful that I have one at all, thinking about the past day. It is almost 24 hours since I started out of SLO toward LV. I am tired, didn't get my full quota of sleep, but the sleep I did get seems to have been good. I don't remember waking in the night. Would that every night were like that.

The student film program went very long, partly because of the number of films and partly because of technical difficulties. It is entirely student-produced and therefore not exactly a professional production. Interesting that the same students who put their hearts, minds, and sometimes souls into their individual films did not take a lot of time making sure the machinery worked ahead of time. In spite of the length, I am so glad I went.

I left SLO at about ten to seven yesterday morning. It took almost exactly seven hours to get to Las Vegas. I can't imagine how I could do it faster. There are the traffic variables, of course, but there are always those, always the slow trucks ahead, the construction, the slowdown just as I get into Vegas, and the stoplights within Vegas where you could be born, marry, and die before the light changes.

There is also the need for gas. Until I have a car that can go over 400 miles on one tank I am going to have to make one stop. But the individual variable, in my case, is bathroom stops. I stopped four times to use bathrooms and that was perhaps not as often as I'd like. I drink a lot of water and it goes right on through me.

I sent text messages to my daughters: "Bakers field ten five am". "TEHACHAPI 1020". Something like that. When I reached Barstow I actually called Mary and left her a message, and as I got closer I called both daughters, trying to arrange what we'd do when I arrived.

I went to Mary's first because she had to work at five. We talked, had tea, waited for Joe, called Elaine. After Joe came to get Joey, we went to pick up Mary's car, which just then had been fixed. The cost was less than either of us anticipated and it sounded right for the work. This time Mary got a new radiator and a new coil. The old radiator had frozen up, had gunk in it like glass, couldn't breathe. Could have been from Zeno's ministerings or it could have been from some other mechanic afterwards. I followed Mary to a Jitters coffee and caf in Sunset Station, where we had sandwiches and drinks, then Mary was off to work and I was off to meet Elaine and roomie Liz at Wild Oats nearby. Wild Oats is a natural food store and deli much like New Frontiers, very nice.

Elaine & I came home, grabbed her pamphlet and headed for Kinko's on the way to the film showing (Spring Flicks). We made fifty copies of the pamphlet and folded them, not quite sure if there would be a place to put them. But there was. There was a table with programs and other people's propaganda, so that was perfect. Only we could have made a lot more. A lot of people came to the flicks. I am not sure the capacity of that large room - it is in the film department, designed for showing films - maybe three hundred, probably more, is my guess. People stacked against the walls, sat on the floor, after the seats were filled.

The judges were introduced. A representative of the Nevada Film Commission spoke, saying she was honored to be in the presence of such film greats and she certainly didn't deserve it, then went on to take over twenty minutes of our precious time. Those of us who had looked at the program knew there were about 24 flicks to see, and if each were the max length of ten minutes we were in for a very long showing. We didn't need to hear her propaganda. Although I'll admit I had no idea such commissions exist or what it is that they do. The next time I want to make a film I will be calling on one of them for help.

The flicks were listed in the program, numbered. Elaine's was number 16, so all of her friends and supporters were told which to vote for, for the popular choice. We audience people only got to vote for one film. Elaine had figured on very few of her friends showing up, but actually a goodly number did, including her women's studies praxis advisor, who sat next to us, when she was not sitting on the floor, allowing others to use her seat (there was a rotation going for that one seat). Her advisor was very enthusiastic about elaine's film, said she was surprised it was Elaine's first. A couple of other friends, introduced to me by Elaine, said they thought it was terrific, too. I started to see this daughter of mine as some kind of star, and it was so cool. Perhaps a big fish in a little pond but I can see a bigger pond out there waiting.

There was a strange thing going on. The flicks event is produced by students, and a bunch of them gave themselves a name and wore red T-shirts that read "oogoog". Don't ask. I have no idea. I am not sure I want to know. Throughout the screening, many of these enthusiastic young people yelled out, "oogoog!" or honked weird horns. It put me in mind of some kind of fraternity event. A film frat, where there are plenty of in jokes that are not shared with the rest of us.

I am sitting in the living room now, listening to the fan (perhaps I could turn it off), watching the occasional cat wander through or climb up the cat tree, seeing Rich, fully clothed and with no blanket, asleep on the couch. I have a cup of coffee from a pot I brewed. I am thinking about breakfast. Perhaps Elaine and I will go out for that if she wakes sometime soon. I must seem an intruder here yet when there are four roomies I suppose there are others often enough.

At the flicks last night I stepped outside several times to call Mary, tell her it looked like there would be plenty of time for her to get there after work and see Elaine's film. I left a couple of messages and then missed her call back. By the time she called again, I was sitting in my seat watching a film and I talked to her quietly, then gave the phone to Elaine to explain how to get there. It certainly is rude to use a cell phone in a performance of any kind but this one was so noisy anyway I wasn't sure it would at all matter.

I believe the first film, maybe two, went through reasonably error-free. Then the troubles began. The films started breaking up onscreen, the audio cut out, the pictures stuttered. There were several attempts to fix it but they didn't last. Several films were started that dissolved about 2/3 through. Finally the lead student announced that they would take a break and go to the original tapes and play them individually. Apparently they had copied all the tapes onto one master tape so they could play it back smoothly. But that plan didn't work. One other thing: the films were not in the order shown in the program. We had no idea when Elaine's would be shown.

By about nine, as I recall, we were essentially starting over. Many of Elaine's friends had come just to see her film and I can imagine this was not the night they planned. I didn't mind seeing other student films, being a student filmmaker myself, sort of. Later we talked of how this could have been done better. Mainly, two nights might have been a good idea. And keeping films in order, setting times for each. Possibly a daytime event where one could come and go just to see the flicks they wanted or were able to see. I suspect that the event will also attract more and more people so some different kind of arrangements really should be made.

Elaine's film made it into a couple of local papers ahead of time. It was a weekly "pick" in one, getting a long paragraph, making it prominent. So there may well have been several people there who just came to see that. Elaine had the intelligence to send out press releases and she also knew a couple of people who worked on some of the papers. Connections! They are priceless!

Mary and bf Edward made it to the theater maybe at about eleven? I no longer recall. But it was in time. Elaine's film came on just a few films later, so their timing was excellent. But, overlong as this entry is, I should offer thoughts on what we'd seen up to then.

Most were by male students and most were humorous. I do think young males prefer this approach because it is less risky, even though a bad comedy can be really humiliating. I think even a relatively stupid idea can come off, still, with enough minds on it. Many of the films involved a lot of people and places, a few were the dedicated products of just one or two. The greatest amount of noise was made over a group of films I figure were by the film clique. The productions were good, some excellent. Good editing, sometimes even decent sound (this seems the hardest to achieve), snazzy titles, logos, interesting shots. The films that involved running (and there seemed to be a lot of these) used some good methods for showing speed. One thing I have noticed about amateur productions is that people running don't run as fast as they do in the whizbang action movies. The students here were aware of this and used some cutting and editing to jostle the runners and make them appear to be flying, almost.

Oh, hey, I don't care if this is getting to be really really long. It's MY JOURNAL.

Most of the films seemed to be essentially filmed jokes, though. The writing, except on a few, was minimal, the ideas limited. Nicely put together, though, many of them. There were some interesting exceptions. One young woman did a film on binge drinking that was very good, I thought, seemed like an ideal "training" film for young people. It put together statistics and pix into a story that was imaginatively told, even though we all knew where it was headed. I liked it a lot. It won no awards. There was another one by a young woman that told of abuse, using a kind of slide-show technique to show action, piecing together arty shots of the characters so it looked like a stop-action kind of thing. She had a good grasp of visual effect and the story, while simple, still had a bit of a twist.

There was one of a war scene, a young American soldier trying to kill Japanese soldiers in the snow, that had an interesting and evocative end. It avoided any speaking and therefore seemed more polished because the sound was so good (mainly guns). Many of the others are now a bit fuzzy to me, but I may remember the Pokemon one for a long time. The guy in an updated western - first he shoots his bike (flat tire), then goes on a killing rampage, killing Pokemon characters who pop up with their guns, trying to kill him first. Stuffing is everywhere, and I mean everywhere. I found this one very funny and well made.

By the time we got to elaine's film I suspected the film frat, the oogoog brothers and sisters, would laugh at it. And that they did. As did many others. There are several snips from the interviews that were pretty funny, so this was not a bad thing. I thought her editing job was fabulous, I really did. And of course I am not the least prejudiced. She cut the interviews ruthlessly and blended them so the topic had a specific direction, and had a good final effect. I was very very impressed. This film, too, won no awards. The same guy walked away with most of the awards ( there were three from the film judges, and the audience picks were first, second, and third). I must be losing my mind because I can't remember which film was his.

It didn't matter to me that Elaine's did not win any. She got her showing, she distributed pamphlets, she got a great send-off for her project. At the end of her film she included an email address for anyone wanting a copy of the film. Oh yeah, she did a nice job with my interview, choosing cuts where I actually sounded intelligent.

The event ended somewhere around one a.m., maybe a little before. People were invited to attend a party at a club called "Hush". We were not up for that. We went home to bed.

This was well worth the seven-hour drive for me. Today I will do odds and ends of errands. I hope to get Mary's computer to the Gateway shop (it is making huge noises and I was unable to find a cause the last time I was here) and to get my car washed and maybe windows tinted. Perhaps some time walking or doing something active. I dunno. Maybe I'll be too tired to do much.

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