Saturday, December 30, 2006

Quick Observation and Resolutions

My left finger fits snugly into my left eardrum. My right finger does not totally fit into my right eardrum.

Is this because my left finger is thinner/smaller than my right finger? Or because my right eardrum is thinner/smaller than my left eardrum? The fingers look the same size pointing next to each other. The eardrums look the same in the mirror.

I've tried getting the right finger into the left eardrum but the angle isn't conducive to a truly controlled experiment. I may never know the answer to this question. I may never not like not knowing.

My resolution for 2006 was to swim more and see more live concerts. I succeeded.

Best swimming of 2006: natural swimming area in upstate New York called Deep Hole. I first went there in May and felt so amazingly cold, I could think of nothing else but the low temperature. It obliterated my mind.

Best live show of 2006: Raekwon and Redman at BB Kings.

Resolutions for 2007: Get less parking tickets. See more films at Film Forum. Visit Alaska.

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Christmas Party

I never thought as myself as someone who would one day be attending company Christmas parties. I recently attended my third consecutive bash under my current employer. Years one and two I was a mere freelancer. That first one was a whirl of new faces, endless wine, and an introduction to the pleasures of eating lamb's ankle. Year two saw more lamb ankle, and the attendance of my girlfriend. Our end of the night goodbyes featured the boss telling me how much his opinion of me improved now that he'd met her. She and I still ponder over what percentage of this statement constituted a compliment and what part insult.

Year three sees me as a full-fledged member of the staff; a supervisor, no less... tending to equipment worth more than I am currently and wrangling people whose relative worth I'm in no position to judge. Or is cattle terminology intrinsically judgmental? No, they're great. I wondered if my new status might lend a different tenor to this year's gathering, but I found wine on an empty stomach to be a much stronger arbiter of behavior than any title on a business card... and since the wine has been a three year constant, little changed. The food was French this year instead of Italian (no lamb ankle). I think I did make more of an effort to make introductions between my date and co-workers in every corner of the room. Perhaps my semi-permanence (hey, I can't be held down) made such connections feel like a better investment of time and effort. I had a new suit this year as well.

On the subject of office Christmas parties, let's discuss this year's Office Christmas Party (the one featured on NBC). Apparently, the waitresses who served Michael's Scott and co. were actual Benihana waitresses, whereas the two women who then accompany Michael and Andy to the party were actresses. That explains the switcheroo that had me scratching my head mid-episode when their dates proved not to be the girls they were courting amidst Nog-a-saki's. But I really hate the way Michael introduced the one woman as his new "girlfriend" upon his arrival back at Dunder-Mifflin. His date seemed totally oblivious to what was a bizarre and presumptive proclamation worthy of a ten-year-old play-acting upon re-entering the house from a playdate in the backyard with the neighbor's daughter. I used four heiphens in that sentence.

I know that Michael Scott's oblivious nature is pitched a bit younger than David Brent's, and I'm all for Carell not doing a complete re-hash of the Gervais character, but stuff like this tests my belief in the world they're trying to create. David Brent's strange mix of pride and loneliness left him unable to deal with anyone or anything in an honest fashion until it was too late (well, until the Christmas special, that is). I know people like that. Michael Scott seems like an individual who completely missed out on the socialization process at an early age (I love some of the stories about his life with his mother that slip out from time to time to illustrate this). I also know people like that, but Scott is aggressively childish in a way that I don't think anyone could actually roll with, and it's always the women who do the rolling. The Benihana waitress, Carol, even Jan who gets it 95% of the time but then has her own loneliness-fueled lapses with Steve. I love the Michael/Jan dynamic in theory, but sometimes the Michael Scott character is such a cartoon, they don't earn the moments where it looks like Michael might actually be able to navigate the adult world some modicum of success.

I could write for a long time about the Office... I still love the show. It's just that the U.K. version is such a perfect gem of a series, in part because of its freshness and especially because the relatively short run allowed them to pace and complete the central love story perfectly. The U.S. version has several things going against it, like the product placement, and the fact that it's 'cash cow' status ensures a long run that will make it difficult to manage the Jim/Pam storyline without bleeding it dry (I think that's already starting to happen). I understand all that, which is why it hurts a little to watch unnecessarily detrimental choices being made with Carell's character. I guess it's like the "Jerk Homer" syndrome that everyone used to talk about with the Simpsons. An aspect of the show comes to the fore, and then it gets pushed beyond the sweet-spot, eating away at the show's emotional reality.

Still, I could watch Stanley do anything. That guy's amazing.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Of Mace and Men

This children's Halloween costume I stumbled upon horrified me a little bit:

Peer into the cold, black eyes of Samuel L. Jackson's deathmasque, strangely disproportionate to your six-year-old's adorable little feet!

Some notes on my relationship to Star Wars. I rediscovered it in college, suddenly inclined to revel with older eyes in the details of aesthetic design continuities throughout the saga, and milking the echoes of my primal childhood response to the films... re-experiencing some of that big feeling from 15 years earlier. My parents procured a VHS bootleg of the original movie from some insider (we lived in Hollywood at the time) back in the late 70's which I continued to watch for years. It had some quirks from the transfer, one of which excised an entire scene where 3PO and R2 are hiding from Stormtroopers in a back alley of Mos Eisley, offering instead a strange, static-filled transition from the preceding scene to the one following. But chronologically, this tape's impact (by the time I actually got around to watching it) actually came after...

...The Empire Strikes Back, which I swear marks the emergence of my conscious memory. Also contending for that honor is the whale at Disneyland... I saw boats go in its mouth but didn't see them emerge on the other side, and the mystery of what horrors people experienced within that whale haunted me through the fourth grade. Anyway, Han Solo being put into carbon freeze is what I remember from that screening; a mixture of color schemes (blue and orange, somehow mixing to purple in my memory, and did that blue and orange lead me to become a Mets fan?), disbelief, and some sort of attractive darkness that made my heart hurt. That scene is like a conduit back to that time, that feeling, and it continues as some sort of litmus test against which to measure myself at intervals along my march towards an inevitable and hopefully far, far off death.

As a teenager who overthought everything, the personal, collegiate re-emergence of Star Wars seemed like an excellent thing to fixate on, taking the place of the day-in-day-out micromanagement and second-guessing of all my relationships and personal behavior (a role now fulfilled by video games). In that respect I can thank Star Wars for taking me out of my own head a little bit, though that may have happened naturally anyway. I can also thank it for drumming up a level of personal enthusiasm in 1998 and early '99 theretofore unmatched since the Christmas when I received my first Nintendo. I figured Lucas's return to the universe was a George Tenet-ian "slam dunk". And I suppose it was. In that it was not. Maybe one of my friends who also attended the 2 a.m. screening of The Phantom Menace could describe the horrified daze in which I walked out of there. I went on to see it 10+ times in the theater. I was an aimless chap back then, and after a night of drinking it was easy to slip into a 1 a.m. screening on a given night and fervently catalog all the things that were wrong with it.

Anyway, I do like Mace Windu, with all his weird line deliveries, and that funny little scrunched up face he makes when fighting Chancellor Palpatine... in extreme close-up.

"This party's over!"

Friday, December 15, 2006

I am in the web showing off my stuff more clearly

- the quintessential site for all things Casimir and Nozkowski - is now active.

After an intense bidding war with the other Casimir Nozkowskis lurking around the internets, I was able to secure the dotcom and post some videos and other things.

Meanwhile, I filmed and lost a little faith in humanity.

But then I filmed and felt a lot better.