December 26, 2005. Boxing Day.
So I'm in this general store, right?
And they've got this full-length mirror?
And I've got this digital camera?
So I shoot myself.
* * *
I'm still up. It's 5:12 AM. This is good. I'm getting stuff done.
Since I'm on vacation, I can actually set my own hours. It seems that when I work through the night, I get more done. Especially when it comes to writing.
Actually, I haven't done any writing during this vacation (except for these blog entries). Instead, I've been reading voraciously -- both cinematic theory and story -- and watching Western films, and working with the production team to prepare for our shoot on January 7 and 8.
I've also gone out to eat quite often with close friends. Sharing a meal is probably the most powerful bonding activity, emotionally, that exists. It's no accident that the communion ritual involves a meal.
* * *
My Christmas was memorable.
After two hours of rest, I left Los Angeles at 3 AM on December 25, zipping out of the city by way of the 10 West. There was little traffic.
On the way there, and on the way back, I stopped myriad times to shoot exterior shots of the desert coming to life under the rising sun. I hope to use these shots in my comedy short for Channel 101. Don't ask me how, since I didn't have a tripod, and the coffee I was drinking didn't make my hands any steadier.
I arrived in Phoenix in time to attend church with my old friend Glendon Yoder's family (Deborah, Ashley, Angie, and Tyler). The service was fairly short, the community warm and friendly. I stayed awake during most of it.
After Christmas lunch, which was attended by Glendon's parents Dan and Mary Louise Yoder (she makes a mean seven-layer salad), we got down to business with a three-hour game of Monopoly.
You'd think that my enthusiasm for the game would have carried me farther, but no. After failing to secure any real holdings, I went bankrupt. Quickly. There's something unjust about that. I chose the game!
Of course, my disastrous performance could have had something to do with the fact that when I wasn't playing, I was trying to find good angles for photo of the group playing Monopoly. Oh, well.
After supper (another fantastic spread of food), we plugged in the DVD of It's a Wonderful Life -- I was shocked to discover that after having seen the film at least 15 times, and having edited/directed a staged version of it, the story STILL sucked me in and wouldn't let go...
The following day, I slept in. Got up and read cinematic theory. Ate too many cookies. Drank more coffee. Went out for breakfast with Glendon. Hung out.
That afternoon, Glendon, his father, his son, and I headed up to Rawhide, a Western town rebuilt on a reservation. There I got closeup shots of the various aspects of the town, which I intend to use as transition shots in the Channel 101 piece we're doing.
That night, the rest of the family joined us at Rawhide Restaurant. Delicious meal, great conversation. Is this beginning to sound repetitious? Trust me, the experience was anything but.
The next morning, I had breakfast with Glendon and left the city at about 7 AM.
The fact that I left that late (as opposed to 3 AM) added an additional hour to the driving -- by the time I reached the outskirts of LA, I was crawling along at an average speed of 5 MPH. Ugh. LA traffic.
Not like Arizona.
* * *
This blog has also been a wonderful way to communicate with those I know. I've gotten some interesting reactions during the past few weeks:
For example, an email warning me that "an hour after I die, I'll regret everything I've ever done, but it will be too late. Forever."
A few on my mailing list followed my instructions and asked to be removed. That's a relief. My biggest fear in writing this blog is that I'm pushing unwanted emails on my friends.
A surprising number of friends and relatives, with whom I haven't communicated in years, have responded to this blog with gratitude and renewed friendship.
And that's the purpose of this blog. It allows me to keep in touch with my friends, no matter where in the world they live.
* * *
I've tapped back into Western novels. Angie, Glendon's daughter, loves the Zane Grey series, so I suggested to her that she choose her favorite, and I'll read it. She left a copy of Twin Sombreros in the kitchen for me.
It was a wonderful read. Granted, Zane Grey reshapes his words to reflect local accents, which is confusing. But the stories and characters are simple and clean.
I really liked the novel. In fact, I want to read more. But since Barnes and Noble didn't carry any of the full novels, I've shifted to reading Louis L'amour. It's been years since I've read a Western, and I'm coming back to them with a greater understanding of story, and a profound appreciation for the way Grey and L'amour shaped their stories.
* * *
So the question I have is this: when will the Western experience its next great revival?
It's the only film genre that is genuinely American.
Here's an interesting anecdote. In 1932, when John Ford went to all the studio heads and asked them to fund a Western film with a B-rated actor named John Wayne, they turned down Stagecoach, telling Ford that the Western was dead.
It was Ford who gave the Western new life. It just took a really solid director who utterly believed in the genre.