Archive for August 21st, 2006

Feel the Burn …

Tonight's episode (at 7:30; repeated on Friday night at 10:30) is a rebroadcast of an interview I did with Burning Man founder Larry Harvey -- accompanied by a "Wandering Josh" segment in which I get inducted into the Flaming Lotus Girls (not as painful an experience as you might imagine). Harvey is a fascinating guy, and I came away from the interview determined to make it to Burning Man myself one day, in the event that I ever become a grownup. ... You can read more about the show in my original blog post. ...

I'm back at home today after doing ADR ("additional dialogue recording," I think) on a film that I acted in last year. It's a dark, dark, dark comedy titled Faith, shot mostly in and around the Mission and Castro Districts. We had to do some ADR on one of the exterior scenes because a really grouchy elderly gentleman kept circling the block and yelling (unscripted) profanities at us; also, they seemed to be digging up and entirely rebuilding the other side of the block at the same time. Oh, let me tell you, independent filmmaking is fun! ... But actually, it was lots of fun: I got to play a middle-aged Jewish guy (quite a stretch!) who gets assaulted by a crazed anti-abortion activist and then seeks his revenge by transforming himself into an Orthodox Ninja Fighter (armed with razor-sharp flying disks shaped like Stars of David). I did mention that it's a dark comedy, didn't I? ... When you do ADR, you stand in a little booth, repeating your lines over and over while trying to match your lip movements on-screen. It ends up being a musical challenge, in my experience, as you strive to imitate the exact pitches and rhythms of your original performance -- including all stutters, snuffles, and throat-clearings. ... The director (and co-screenwriter), Lewis Morphew, currently has that pasty, unshaven aspect that I remember sporting when my brother Jake and I were in postproduction on our own film, Haiku Tunnel; eventually, you reach a point where you're just hoping to have one meal a day that isn't pretzels and Diet Coke. ...

Riding BART back to the East Bay, I listened on my iPod to a beautiful new record by a Canadian musician named Christine Fellows. The album is titled Paper Anniversary, and you can hear a few of the songs (in streaming audio) by clicking through to her website. The first song I fell in love with is an elegiac waltz called "Phantom Pains" -- like many of her tunes, a little short story in itself. But I'd noticed, even while I was doing the Faith ADR, that another song from the CD, "Vertebrae," kept running through my head -- especially the refrain, "Why, when you know you should go / Is it so hard to leave?" -- a phrase that, as the song progresses, is freighted with more and more instrumental (and thus emotional) weight (to the point that, as I played it this morning while preparing breakfast, my son asked, tactfully, "Um, Daddy, do you have any happy songs you could play now?"). ... I haven't even taken in all the song's lyrics -- not in any conscious way, at least -- but that repeated phrase, along with the lovely shifting modulations of the music throughout the tune, became my mantra today: ADR -- "Why, when you know ..." -- make call from cellphone -- "... is it so hard to leave?" -- down into BART station -- "... when you know ..." -- switching trains at 12th St. Oakland -- "... is it so ..." Thank you, Christine Fellows, wherever you are. ... Maybe she'll be at the in-store performance by my current favorite band, The Mountain Goats, at San Francisco's Amoeba Records tomorrow evening? She's opening for the Goats on their current tour, so I live in hope. ...

I'm hoping to attend that in-store tomorrow -- assuming that I survive the morning, which will see me take my first-ever driving lesson (accompanied by a "Wandering Josh" film crew). Given my distractable nature, if you have any loved ones in San Francisco, you may want to advise them to stay away from the streets until the evening -- or, at the very least, to dress brightly. ...

August 21st, 2006

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