end of year

posting has been slowed to a trickle of late. busy few weeks in a busy couple of months that involved m being gone for a month, us going to SF for xmas, etc. very good news on several fronts at once. more about all that in the coming weeks, but the short of it is that m and i each won a grant for our work (actually m won 2) and we hit a major stride with our memoir. i'll have to leave it there. specifics to come in 2011. happy new year!



"The tortoise got stuck as it tried to squeeze under a plywood partition; its shell, which it can't visualize, is too high, but it stubbornly works away, scrabbling with its claws in a futile attempt to move forward."

from Conquest of the Useless, Werner Herzog


oregon coast, near lincoln city

drove out yesterday to see m. she was 6 days into her month-long residency and we assumed it would be better to see each other right at the beginning. suffice to say, it's spectacular where she is. epic. good things are coming.


and so...

rounding out the boston/radiation memory lane/s is this video of our time there and our leaving, posting today since 11/19/05 was the day we left boston, starting back across the country in a rental van, ending finally back in portland on a dark rainy night, the friday after thanksgiving.



Posted Nov 17, 2005 6:31pm

Done! Done! Done! Done!

Done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done, done.


done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done done.

 met w/ Dr. Liebsch to say adieu. He likes our chances and thusly, we think quite fondly of him.

we're off to a celebratory dinner w/ my folks.

tomorrow we pack, pick up the rental, and margaret and my mom will go to see the harry potter movie.

thanks to all for your love, support, money, wishes or whatever else you chose to send our way.

oh, and Happy Thanksgiving.

brian and margaret

35 treatments done
zero, nothing, nil, zip to go.

5 yrs ago today i had my last radiation treatment at mass general hospital. (the above is pasted from my old carepage. i logged on today and scanned it over, reading daily entries that i had long forgotten details of.) Which is to say 5 yrs ago today I had the last bit of actual per se treatment on my brain tumor and so today is as good a day as any to start the clock, to say i've now crossed a threshold. I had a very high percentage chance of the tumor not recurring after 5 years. I was lucky enough to be in that group.

5 years deep, and i am profoundly changed. nobody really understood what it was/is like  - except those who've had the misfortune to visit similar vistas. as m and i discussed last night, there has always been a gulf between us and our friends due to the tumor. even the most well-intentioned do not understand. In five years the gulf hasn't diminished, it's only that I am better at pretending that it has. i am able to laugh it off. i am able to pretend that it's all in the past and that it exists there and only there, that it isn't sitting in the room with us while we have a beer or watch basketball or talk about movies.

unfortunate side-effect of survivorship: inability to not go to the worst-case-scenario.  the onset of flu-ish symptoms is fatal illness, a loved one running 15 min late is dead in a car accident. my mind goes straight to the dark places first. part of me has always been like this, the other part is sense-memory, body reaction, always bracing for the next time the rug will be yanked out from under my feet. if this is the price of admission, to be in this club, the living, breathing one - then i will take it but the point is that even with the best possible result there are ramifications and adjustments. There is still damage.

In the abstract, 5 years ago say, I might have envisioned this day as sun-drenched, arms-raised triumph with me shrieking from mountaintops about the glorious bounty of life. And yes, part of that exists as metaphor. But life is lived in the day to day. this AM i overslept, drank coffee, worked on a dvd project, walked the dog, took the bus to work, ate some soup, made some plans, emailed some people. it is only now, at this second that i type this out, that i feel the hum of my good fortune underneath it all, a connective filament between these events, between 5 years and now.  That i am able to fumble out these half-thoughts at all knowing their coherency may be elusive, that i'm free from pain and recurrence, that even though i still feel governed by tentacles of fear, dread, anxiety - i am the luckiest man alive.


epic journey, the

a week plus past Henry's death. it's still all around us but easing slightly, in particular when we're able to recall his amazing life and his badass character. his adventures were voluminous and tight-rope walker-like, fearless in the face of danger. there's the cystitis, the leap from a 2nd fl window in los angeles, the cat fights, the abcesses etc, but nothing more embodies his character than the epic journey in 2006. We moved from the 14th street house in Brooklyn in SE Portland to the Alder house in Belmont. We kept the cats inside for a few days so they could adjust. Finally when we let them out Henry didn't come home one night. We panicked, fearing the worst. Eight days later he turned up at the old house, navigating by internal radar, w/o food or water, crossing belmont, hawthorne, division, powell. Badass mothereffer.


five years

five years ago at this moment, m and i lived in a hotel for 2.5 months in cambridge, mass so i could receive proton beam radiation on what remained of my brain tumor after two surgical resections. we continually find ourselves reminding ourselves of this experience, like a trip to a phantom universe we keep forgetting that we visited and one whose powers impact all subsequent memories, covering them in a gauzy low-lit glow that causes them to feel at once immediate and a hundred years ago.

Here is the machine that I lay on five days a week, head fastened, immobilized.

this half-forgotten dream is a luxury that not everybody gets to dream


beautiful and fleeting

forgot to add this moment: sitting on the curb Sunday night, crying over Henry's dead body, a black and white neighborhood cat materialized, approached us, mewing. Then moments later another neighborhood cat appeared, orange and puffy, coming from a different direction, both regarding Henry's body with an admixture of concern, curiousity and a seeming understanding that Henry was no more, and that we were witnessing his spirit's passage. It was a penetratingly beautiful bit of light in an otherwise dark evening.

i love you hank



the last weekend of Henry 10.17.2010

saturday, am we get up and make breakfast, sitting out side on the deck. you and strunk are standing on the table before we eat. you look like two little statues but then she hisses at you. when the food is on the table you attempt repeatedly to get jump up from a chair. you are extremely persistent and i swat you away multiple times w/ the paper. later m goes to laurelhurst park to meet friends and i'm laying on the futon w/ a cozy green blanket. you enter the room, see me, jump up and start purring. i scratch at your head, the bit between your eyes over your nose. you love it.

sun am, you enter our bedroom and begin your mewing to express dissatisfaction or eagerness for breakfast. i'd already gotten up to let strunk out 45 min earlier. i manage to pull you on my chest and keep you there where you purr loudly, laying across my belly. it is the last time you sleep on me. that morning m feeds you and strunk jellied tuna parts which is a delicacy and she ends up giving you the whole can. when we get back from yoga we cook breakfast, i make coffee and as per your usual request i give you some cream and then some more cream. it is the perfect autumnal afternoon now, the october sun warming us all on the back deck, crisp as hell. at one point i see you sprawled out, laying prostrate under the table and for a split-second i picture your death, after all you had that swollen eye thing a few wks ago and you're no spring chicken anymore. but you're alive and well, enjoying what must be the perfect day for a cat. later LB is laying there next to you, his paws grazing the top of your head. later m is off the deck in the backyard helping me w/ the composter. this gives you the opportunity to jump up onto the table and attempt to eat what's left of her eggs. she has to run back twice. later, when we're back sitting there you jump up and scavenge off her plate.

m and i go to ikea to get slats for our bed.  we come home. we take LB to the park and throw the tennis ball w/ him. when we come home you and strunk are eager for dinner. i feed you your part of a can, crushing your pill for the eye thing into the food. then i put the rice on for people dinner and help m put the slats on the bed. i leave to walk to the grocery. is it here? do you exit when i do out the front door? i already can't recall. if you did, this is the last time i'll see you alive. yes, wait that was it. you ran out with me. i went to retrieve the shopping list from the car and you were in our driveway, to my left. as i shut the door i recalled all the times you'd jump into the car if the door was open.

we eat dinner and watch two l & o svu's from season 2. when it's done i get on the computer and m taps the side of a can out on the porch and says 'i put the call out. when you're done there you get him'. this is our ritual. we put the call out for you, summoning you back from your kit adventures. sometimes it's instant, sometimes 10 to 15 minutes. but you always come. usually we hear your bell from near or far, tinkling as you run back. in los angeles you lived in an apartment for 7 years, always aching to be outside. when we moved to portland we let you run free.  but we always made sure you came in at night time. i brush my teeth and then tap the can from the front porch. nothing. no bell tinkling.  i go to the back porch. nothing.

i go back to the front porch and tap the can and hear nothing. it is eerily quiet. then i see it. a black shape laying across the street in the neighbor's yard. it could be a scarf or a discarded piece of something but as i go down the steps and across the street, growing closer i see that it is a cat, curled up as if sleeping.  my stomach plummets. wait, is it you? there's no collar. for the teeniest of split-seconds i think that maybe it's not you but a look-alike. but i feel the tail and that is how i know - you have a distinctive broken tail. it is you, my love. dead. you are gone.  you look as if you could just be sleeping but underneath you i see blood. your eyes are frozen open.someone has lain tiny flowers on your body. i don't know whether to pick you up or not, i end up going back to the house. i find your collar and tag and bell - crushed - laying in the street. i put them in my pocket. i tell m. moments later we are both outside sitting by you, both dumbstruck, crying, disbelieving. we put you in a cardboard box and take you inside and cry some more. we sit over your box in the living room trying to show strunk and LB. i am crying so hard that LB is more concerned with me, licking the tears off my face. i pour a tiny bit of cream for you. i light a candle.

just like that you are gone. nearly 15 years old. a robust life, suddenly over. and you are so warm. it must have just happened. just as we were sitting inside, watching the computer screen. how can you be so warm and no longer be alive? we each hallucinate seeing you take a breath. but no, there is no doubt: the life has left your body. we each speak about you. how glad we are that it happened like this, that it wasn't some debilitating disease, and that we are glad you died right away, that the car or bike who hit you didn't merely maim you, leaving us to take you the emergency clinic, with you in mortal agony, forced to decide whether to have you put down or not. no, this was a swift journey and we thank whomever needs to be thanked for such a mercy as that. we send you energy and good vibes to help you cross over. we check the times of the pet crematory. in the morning we will take you to be burned to ashes. but for tonight, we put you and the box outside, where you would most like to be, so that you can run free. one last time.


Farewell Henry

Henry (aka Henry Malone-Padian, aka Hank, aka Handsome Hank)
3.17.1996 - 10.17.2010
godspeed good friend. you are sorely missed

Henry & Maxwell in Los Angeles



i'd like to say something here succinct and eloquent about
the importance of travel and the importance of vacation
and the distinction between the two and how we thought
this trip would be one but was really the other but i'm not sure i can. further
i'd like to delineate each day, hour, moment as a means
of capturing what happened, like a firefly in a jar, but what happened
is somewhat irreducible.

suffice to say, words are blunt instruments but here's one: spectacular.

it is strange to be back. daily grind and all.
we attach meaning to such slender things. such ephemera.


intersecting anniversaries

would like to say something eloquent here about time passage and demarcation but it is too early for insight so i'll just say this:  just went to my 20th hs reunion. this coming week holds will be 10 yrs of marriage. also this next week will mark 5 years since we left for boston so i could get proton beam radiation on my brain tumor.

recently found some footage from that time and it us both us and not us, both the past of long ago and the present, somehow fixed in time...


i hate you budget

Okay, so many years ago, for reasons to complex and intertwined to get into fully in this space i got into semi-severe credit card debt. (this is separate from the student loan debt that currently follows me through each decade like a spurned lover). The short version of the after-effects goes like this: enrolled in credit counseling, got on a payment plan, ripped up credit cards. This is all prelude to this fact: I do not have a credit card. I have a debit card that carries the imprimateur of Visa, but it's not the same as having a per se credit card. This can at times along the road of life be a problem, like when renting cars.

Since we knew I'd be in Atlanta all by my lonesome (ie, no credit-card carrying wife to hold my hand) we had to do research to find the rental car companies even willing to rent to someone without a credit card. The options were slender. Finally, we found a Budget that happened to be near S's house, on Roswell Road, where I could, on Sunday, pick up a rental car (so as to drive to Asheville NC to visit my friend Will). Prodded by my nervous nellie-ness, the wife called Budget to confirm that I'd be able to get the car without a credit card. Yes, was the answer, provided that I bring a copy of a recent paycheck that had my address on it. Done! Budget would use my debit card to take 200$ as collateral for the car which they would refund upon return of the car. The grand total would be 36 dollars for 24 hours. Fine. The day before flying to Atlanta I printed out two of my recent pay stubs, as well as a copy of our car insurance. "Watch" I joked to the mrs "I'll show up and they'll say 'oh no, who told you that?' and I won't be able to get the car!" We laughed and laughed.


Sunday. Atlanta. Noon. S gives me a ride up to the Budget on Sandy Springs. I have a long drive ahead of me - 4 hours worth -  and am eager to get on the road. I enter the Budget, knowing that everything will be fine but having the dark background sneaking suspicion that it won't.  I show the clerk my confirmation number. I show the clerk my paystubs. The needle scratches off the record. "Oh no" she says "you don't live locally". Um no, I say, that's why we called ahead of time. "I can't accept that". She allows me to come around the counter to use her printer to print out a copy of my boarding pass. She will accept that. Okay, fine. Everything good. All we need to do now is get the 200$ deposit off my debit card and I'll be on my way. The needle scratches off again. "Your card is denied" she says. What, I say. "Your card is denied" she says.  [side bar: the card denial instantly brings me back to years hence, when in the thick of financial woe i was routinely denied, or rather my card was denied, in moments that i thought i was covered, which in turn bred a sort of distrust of anything positive related to $, meaning that i was always waiting for the other shoe to drop while my interior voice was slicing and dicing me. all of these emotions swelled up in this instant] In a panic I call the mrs. She pulls up our account on her laptop. She verifies that there is a substantial amount in our account. I say to the clerk, can you try the card again? She says "No I have to wait 24 hours". You're kidding me, I say. "We can only run the card once. Because of phishing" she says.

I am at a loss. It's Sunday so I can't call my bank. I call the mrs. We don't know what to do. I say to the clerk, Can you take my wife's credit card number over the phone? "No, she has to be here in person". I say to the clerk, Can I give you 200$ in cash. "No, no cash".  I am starting to come to terms with the fact that i won't be able to drive to Asheville and see my friend. My heart is sinking. Then S comes in with her credit card and exceeding generosity. Here's the plan: we will transfer the rental to S's credit card, she will add me as an extra driver (for $13 extra dollars for Budget's trouble) and then when i return the car I will pay for it from my debit card. S will shoulder the deposit and the risk that something happens to the car. Thank you. Thank you. Get me out of here.


that night at an ATM in Asheville North Carolina. I am eager to see if my card works. it does. i extract 40 bucks. no problem. I am befuddled and confused at Budget's card denial. I look over the paperwork: I left their lot at 12:45pm. I can't tell if I can return the car anytime the next day or if it has to be by 12:45pm.


the next morning, monday, I am driving back to Atlanta. I am going to head straight to the airport to return the car. I have one eye on the clock, thinking I'll need to be there by 12:45pm. I don't know if I'll make it it. I cross the Georgia state line. I use my ATM card at a gas station. Denied. I sit in the parking lot on hold with the bank for probably fifteen minutes. Worried about time I finally get back on the highway, still on hold. About ten minutes later, someone comes on the phone. I explain the situation. "Did you let us know you were going to be in Georgia?" they say. No, I said. "Ohhh, that's the problem. Georgia is a high-risk state" they say. "Card is automatically protected in Georgia" by which they mean I can't use it. I tell them that I used it last night in North Carolina. Apparently among its merits NC can claim to not be a high-risk state. I tell them I am worried because I'm an hour from the airport and I need to pay for the car. They say, "we'll activate it for use in Georgia".

hartsfield airport. 1:40 pm. I return the car. Since I am almost an hour late, Budget has helpfully pro-rated my 'over time' to the tune of $16.50. Also, since the car was not returned at 12:45 they helpfully added the second driver charge for another full day, to the tune of $13 (or a total of $26 for two days). What was originally quoted as 36$ has tripled to 89$ for 24.95 hours. I hand them my debit card. By this point, I find myself thankful that it works so Budget can take more money than they would have got if I only had a credit card.

Okay, so the careful reader will rightly determine that if I had the foresight to let my credit union know that I was travelling to a high-risk state - provided i knew that GA was in fact a high-risk state - that perhaps there would have been no problem. However, the inflexibility on Budget's part (can't re-try credit card, can't use another credit card, can't use cash, must arrive to the minute) worked in concert with this to create a stunningly and singularly unpleasant experience. Thanks Budget.


atlanta, ghosts

stepped into the hot air outside hartsfield and it was like stepping into a box of old photographs, molecularly-altering, the treetops and air somehow coded memory-wise, returning and transporting me. S. picked me up and we went to a bar and had some drinks and caught up. went to bed late. woke up late hungover. had lunch w/ R, a great conversation about life and station and purpose and the immediate and unfortunate comparison that arises when you stand next to a friend w/ similar history but divergent life-goals.

next am, sleep till noon. long talk w/ S. i drop her at appt and i drive off on my own. atlanta sprawl, change, glass buildings sprung up like wild grass along busy corridors and the sensation of spirits flying underneath. to my old house on brawley cir, then thru murphy candler park, memories long forgotten rising like smoke from the earth, a mist somehow activated by my presence, then past chs to old house on ensign dr, past huntley hills pool, past the house where i split my lip, up to the elementary school, past the crosswalk where i was a guard in 6th grade, back down longview, past the plaza where athens pizza and razzle dazzle used to be but where now there are only vacant empty husks and shells, like abandoned ships in low tide. up peachtree industrial to johnson ferry, down past blackburn park, the ymca, marist, back to 285, back to sandy springs. a lifetime's worth of reflection in 55 minutes. places and structures with no meaning or utility for me in present tense but unquestionably formative in the past. and the distance between both is somehow eerie and depressing all at once.

later at home base. C comes over. have not seen her in 18 yrs. we have a drink, catch up, trade stories. soon a cab takes us - me, S. & C. - downtown. and then we're at the reunion. a hall of mirrors except what's reflected back is the present and past all at once. i say northern california, los angeles, my background is screenwriting and film multiple times, but then everyone is doing the same, like tipsy robots repeating their data cards. a couple disappointing interactions, a couple unexpected ones. overall, it is strange and odd and i feel the slightest sense of letdown upon leaving, in the cab ride home. hard to pinpoint exactly why. what did i expect really? i'm not certain but perhaps it merely has something to do w/ crossing that line, 20 yrs.

next day, to the circle of hell known as budget rent-a-car (more to come on that front), then i am driving to north carolina, to see my friend in asheville, who i have not seen in 18 yrs. a few hours and then i am there. and then he and i are having dinner, trading stories of the worlds we've been to in nearly two decades. and he is shaped by life as am i but we are the same. underneath the shells and the stories, we are the same young boys we once were.

next day, early am. coffee at the drip-o-lator cafe and then we separate and i'm on the freeway, back to atlanta. along the way, i come to realize some form of this thought: that ghosts to whom i ceded power are/were at bottom so powerless, a construct of my design.


northern flicker

so, weird story. about a year ago i wrote a post about how i heard a ruckus upstairs and it turns out a blue jay had somehow gotten stuck in our fireplace. you can re-read that here. this morning i was working on my website, northern flicker films, trying to get things in order b/c of the new short. it's been a good few weeks, finally seeing this film to completion and having a good public showing and gearing up for the next ones and so forth. i am prone to hyperbole but i'll say this anyway: things i've been working toward my entire adult life are slowly crystallizing. to say the least it's felt important, these past couple weeks. so anyway i was moving some stuff around on the site when i hear a strange clawing sound from inside the fireplace. keep in mind that this is a different house and a different fireplace. in fact this isn't really even a fireplace it's a wood-stove more or less. i hear the sound again. there's definitely something alive in there. M comes into the living room and says the dog was sniffing at the stove last night in a tizzy but she thought nothing of it so whatever it is has been in there all night. we can't see into the stove b/c over the years the smoke and ash have darkened the window but we can hear it. We don't know what to expect: bird, rat, squirrel. I grab the handle and slowly pull the door and step back all in one fluid motion and out flies a Northern Flicker. It takes a few moments of encouragement to get it to the open front door - after all it's scared and exhausted - but we do. and finally free, it takes flight.


buckle up

there's a yappy 6am dog. there's the long adjustment of new house.  there's a overly concerned neighbor fretting about flora crossing property lines.  there's boxes yet unpacked. there's a memoir about a brain tumor that has to be worked on daily to get to target date. there's the newness of landlord-ing. there's a video project that looks great in application but won't export properly which necessitates chopping the project into 3 parts, exporting each part, reimporting each part and editing together to recreate single part which naturally incurs a loss of image veracity on each iteration. there's another project that has a drop-dead date that also fails to export correctly and which has both personal and professional repercussion. there's a tiny stove catching fire on 'broil'. there's upcoming travel for 20th high school reunion, and all the subfloors and compartments therein. there's upcoming travel to celebrate a decade of marriage. under it all, there's a long-term project which encounters new levels of difficulty around each turn. and there is, finally, the struggle to recall that it is all - every bit of it - a gift.


upcoming screening

latest short film is done, screening soon, come if you can
you can read about the film's inception and execution at (one of) my other blog(s):



1) in matters of home projects, always double the budget

2) in matters of home projects peripherally or directly connected to ikea, always double the projected time allotment and frustration margin allotment

3) stay hydrated

4) temporary pain for long-term joy

5) realize that #4 is just something you tell yourself to get to the end

6) if there is a sliver of doubt, step aside, hire a professional


nervous lennie

we had to put LB on the back porch at new place while the piano delivery came. he no likey


wknd in thumbnail

starting this on thurs evening, so as to include: the screening of metropolis at Cinema 21, which was dizzying and awe-inspiring and which sent us and our 3 companions into a discussion that spanned art, movement, cinema, music, narrative, history and which stretched past 4 hours and which combined with copious champagne, left me flattened on friday. but pretty much in the best way possible...later that night met m on bikes at dots. we made a split second decision to bike to laurelhurst theater to see 'girl w/ dragon tattoo' which i'd already seen but you can't beat 3 dollars and projected celluloid. (incidentally, the metropolis screening was digitally projected but they did not announce that). then biked home...

sat AM we have breakfast at J&M, then go to ikea (which i can only stomach in quick blasts) for a long duration, then later to bipartisan cafe to pick up pie where we run into a friend of a friend w/ an unfortunate story...back home, continue unpacking boxes, putting new house in order. then to laurelhurst park to meet friends and eat pie...then back home, on bikes, head downtown to see play at JAW festival. we see something  i don't particularly love but that's b/c it explores death and i'm super-sensitized to that topic. later, we find ourselves back at dots, 2 nights in a row. once there m points out that dots and j&m cafe, both of which we've been to today,  were introduced to us by a once-dear friend who is now -  not sure how else to put it - a non-friend. we spend some discussion determining what, if anything, this means particularly since our presence in portland is directly attributable to the aid of this person years hence. we are unable to come to any satisfying summation beyond 'oh well' though one of us is more idealized about making it right then the other, waiting patiently for a train to arrive not realizing the trains don't run anymore. put in perilous terms, one of us believes in rescue, the other in recovery. we bike home and watch:

sunday am we have coffee and decide to finally build the bed from ikea which we purchased on another visit 4 wks ago. we begin to do this but run out of time before we're back at the laurelhurst theater watching 3 days of the condor. After we're at storables downtown, a horrid circle of the underworld disguised as a benign shop in the pearl district, then at mall 205, yet another horrid circle but this time no disguise entering places like target and bed, bath and beyond. a few moments in and my skin crawls...later we're at sorels on hawthorne, more purchasing, then home. we only have time to play w/ dog before we're due at nw film center to see To The Sea (aka Alamar). it's fantastic and warm and awe-inspiring and on the way out, in a urge to show affection to my wife i swing my arm around to put it over her shoulder but i end up knocking her in the nose with my elbow and for a few moments we're waiting for a gush of blood that fortunately doesn't come. i convince her that the action yielded the opposite of my intent. later we're at dove vivi w/ matt. later we're at home and i have drunken hiccups that i cannot shake so i'm laying on the bed while m discovers that the dog could not wait for us to come home and has left us a gift.


move, change

processes of subtraction and reduction have been underway for some time, reaching highest point this past wknd, moving out of one house and into another. to be sure it engenders chaos and exhaution in varying degrees. the process forces contemplation of items, some long un-contemplated, and their worth, obvious or implicit. And it birthes a question: is the remainder what defines you or is the process itself what defines you?


too many blogs

this is partly due to enterprise but mostly due to sitting:  i have multiple blogs. too many. so, rather than trim and subtract, i made a new one. pretty self-explanatory i think but please feel free to follow, comment or ignore as suits your tastes.


one more time around the sun

'yesterday it was my birthday, i hung one more year on the line'. so goes a song lyric. here's what happened:

woke up and ran up to the mt tabor reservoir. it was my first time running in several weeks (was sick, then busy, then sick and busy). felt important to mark the day w/ a run because i can. i thought of my 5 birthdays since diagnosis and i ran a little bit harder. i thought of those currently in battle who can't run and i began to sprint. a loop in my head: life is a gift, life is a gift...

got a ride downtown w/ m. dropped her at work and walked to stumptown. had a double americano and read the new york times book review.

walked to living room theaters and saw no one knows about persian cats - about, among other things, the rise of creative expression in oppressive regimes. loved it. in addition to having the theater to myself, i learned about an iranian hip-hop artist named Hichkas. watch this.

After the movie i went to nearby food carts and took my lunch to newly opened Director Park. Walked back to burnside and browsed at Powell's for an hour. it was difficult b/c i had about 40 bucks on a gift card (or rather i was entitled to half of an 80$ gift card, m has the other half) and i kept finding expensive books to buy.

went back to living room and saw the girl with the dragon tattoo, which i quite loved. seen several genre movies lately that were all expertly crafted (mother, north face, the ghost writer, memories of murder).

walked to m's building and got a ride home.
we threw tennis balls with the dog.
we rode bikes to montavilla and ate at country cat.
we came home
i finished off the bottle of single malt scotch that i received at last year's birthday
i felt that message from the universe, still thumping in my chest
life is a gift, life is a gift...



keep going back and forth on whether this is a source of pride or shame but: friday evening m was in seattle visiting her dad (who happened to be in town for convention) and i managed to get in 5 movies within 20 hours. i took breaks for eating and sleeping. the first one i saw at the nw film center (and it ruled) and the rest i saw at home (read: laying prone on the couch): head-on, a.i., mysterious object at noon, demonlover, ossos. 4 of the 5 are on my summer project list and the 5th (ossos) is the first in a trilogy by pedro costa and the next 2 in the trilogy on the summer project list so i felt i should see 1st.


The Garden

managed to get a couple of my summer project movies (see below) in in the past couple days. about one the less said the better, but as for the other: wow. Scott Hamilton Kennedy's The Garden,  is perhaps one of the more gripping, tense, heartfelt, soaring films i've come across of late, a documentary somehow managing to be about life, death, race, politics, industry, media, celebrity and at bottom, class warfare. if you're not fuming as you watch, then you are part of the problem. currently available on demand thru netflix. do yourself a favor - unplug the phone, dim the lights, and block off 85 minutes.


L'Intrus, etc

so there's about 115 movies on the summer project list (see below). this culled from sight & sound, and film comment and other sources but w/o getting too academic about it: stuff i keep meaning to see. the pool gets bigger by the day so this is a preventive measure akin to emptying a lake with a spoon. i'm going to see as many as possible by labor day wknd and chatter briefly about them if/when the urge strikes. to date i've seen three: 35 shots of rum, goodbye dragon inn, and L'Intrus. each glorious in different ways (though 2 have a director, Claire Denis, in common) but L'Intrus, man o man. what can be said? it's still resonating and humming through me, vibrating at a frequency i understand, even if i cannot translate specifically what it says or frankly what the plot is even about. Amazing piece of cinema. Could not find an embeddable trailer so go


s u m m e r /p r o j e c t


12:08 East of Bucharest Corneliu Porumboiu 13 Lakes James Benning 2046 Wong Kar Wai 24 City Zhang Ke Jia 35 Shots of Rum Claire Denis A.I Steven Spielberg Antichrist Lars von Trier Audition Takishi Miike Black Book Paul Verhoeven Black Girl Ousmane Sembene Blissfully Yours 
Apichatpong Weerasethakul Bluebeard Catherine Breillat Café Lumiere Hsiao-hsien Hou Chocolat Claire Denis Come and See Elim Klimov Collapse Chris Smith Colossal Youth Pedro Costa Control Anton Corbjin Death Proof Quentin Tarantino, demonlover Olivier Assayas Departures Yojiro Takita Distant Nuri Bilge Ceylan Divine Intervention Elia Suleiman Dog Days Ulrich Seidl Downfall Oliver Hirschbiegel Esther Kahn Arnaud Desplechin Eureka Shinji Aoyama Fat Girl Catherine Breillat Femme Fatale Brian De Palma Friday Night Claire Denis Girl w/ Dragon Tattoo Niels Arden Oplev Glue Alexis Dos Santos Goodbye, Dragon Inn Tsai Ming-liang Gran Torino Clint Eastwood Head-On Fatih Akin I Don't Want to Sleep Alone Tsai Ming-liang Import/Export Ulrich Seidl In Praise of Love Jean-Luc Godard In the City of Sylvia José Luis Guerín In Vanda's Room Pedro Costa Inland Empire David Lynch La Captive Chantal Akerman La ciénaga Lucrecia Martel La Commune Peter Watkins La libertad Lisandro Alonso Les Amants Réguliers Philippe Garrel Lilya 4-ever Lukas Moodysson Lion’s Den Pablo Trapero Los Angeles Plays Itself Thom Andersen Los Muertos Lisandro Alonso Machuca Andrés Wood Memories of Murder Bong Joon-ho Miami Vice Michael Mann Millennium Mambo Hou Hsiao-hsien Moolaadé Ousmane Sembene My Winnipeg Guy Maddin Mysterious Object at Noon Apichatpong Weerasethakul Nine Queens Fabián Bielinsky Nobody Knows Hirokazu Kore-eda North Face Phillip Stotzl Notre musique Jean-Luc Godard Oldboy Park Chan-wook Open Hearts Susanne Bier Owl and the Sparrow Stephane Gauger Platform Jia Zhangke Police, Adjective Corneliu Porumboiu Private Fears in Public Places Alain Resnais Prodigal Sons Kimberly Reed Pulse Kiyoshi Kurosawa Reprise Joachim Trier RR James Benning Russian Ark Alexander Sokurov Saraband Ingmar Bergman Secret Sunshine Lee Chang-dong Séraphine Martin Provost Songs from the Second Floor Roy Andersson Spirited Away Hayao Miyazaki Star Spangled to Death Ken Jacobs Still Life Jia Zhangke Talk to Her Pedro Almodóvar Tarnation Jonathan Caouette Ten Abbas Kiarostami The Baader-Meinhof Complex Uli Edel The Duchess of Laneais Jacques Rivette The Garden Scott Hamilton Kennedy The Gleaners and I Agnès Varda The Headless Woman Lucrecia Martel The Holy Girl Lucrecia Martel The Host Bong Joon-ho, The House of Mirth Terence Davies The Intruder Claire Denis The Lady and the Duke Eric Rohmer The Last Mistress Catherine Breillat The Man from London Béla Tarr The Man Without a Past Aki Kaurismäki The Mother Roger Michell The Pianist Roman Polanski The Secret of the Grain Abdel Kechiche The Son Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne The Song of Sparrows Majid Majidi The Sun Alexander Sokurov The White Diamond Werner Herzog The World Jia Zhangke, Three Times Hou Hsiao-hsien Time Out Laurent Cantet Tokyo Sonata Kiyoshi Kurosawa Tony Manero Pablo Larraín Treeless Mountain So Yong Kim Trouble Every Day Claire Denis Turning Gate Hong Sang-soo United Red Army Kôji Wakamatsu You, The Living Roy Andersson Va Savoir Jacques Rivette, Waltz with Bashir Ari Folman West of the Tracks Wang Bing What Time Is It There? Ming-liang Tsai Woman on the Beach Hong Sang-soo



saw this on saturday and haven't stopped thinking about it. genre but perfectly executed. amazing last 5 minutes.


strange convergence/s

had a lot of cassavetes on the mind lately - firstly in just sort of a generalized man-making-a-movie-on-his-terms thing which i admire to no end (even if i don't love the films themselves) but more specifically: i'm currently reading marshall fine's (overly) adulatory 'accidental genius', watched 'husbands' last week (which i did not care for) and 'minnie and moskowitz' (which i liked a lot). in a parallel universe i've been listening to 'sometimes i wish we were an eagle' by bill callahan more or less on repeat the past few wks.
so, strange intersection this morning when i came across this text of bill callahan introducing faces at the maryland film festival. here.

wknd, movies

managed to get 6 movies in this wknd. oh glory and beauteousness!

'field guide for november days' at nw film ctr. shot and directed by local
filmmaker nick peterson. among its merits the production was shot nearly all by bicycle - yes an incredibly portland-y notion - and features local actor and musician joe haege who (shameless plug) wrote a song for my latest short film (which is done!) which you can see soon.

small change by truffaut at the hollywood theater. restored print. i had never seen this and am still reeling. wow.

un prophete at the academy. one of the shining glories of living in portland is being able to watch cinema and enjoy a fine oatmeal stout
at the same time. this cannot be overstated.

down in the bone by debra granik. watched this at home netflix on demand.
reminded me very much - in a great way - of brian lindstrom's finding normal but
w/ vera farmiga

bicycle thieves at hollywood theatre. restored, brand-new print. or so they said. the last reel appeared to have been from a different print.

medicine for melancholy, at home on dvd. the 2nd time i saw this wk. loved, loved. the antithesis of mumblecore. tight time frame, 2 characters,
mostly talking, still cinematic, still compelling.


last day of mercury retrograde

mm is away this wk at a writing residency (you can follow her exploits here) which means it's great week for me to lay on the couch and watch a lot of movies. i've been going at a noble clip if i do say so (see below for one example). still the absence of one person can upend the daily routine a bit - the wake times, the dog walks, the meals, the cleanliness, you get the idea - and i came to realize this wk just how frequently i'm on the computer or checking the computer or walking near the computer so as to check it for any sort of email update or blog update or social network blog twitter feed electronic whatever update. it alarmed me. so yesterday morning i made myself actually turn the computer off (as opp to 'sleeping' it) and agreed w/ myself to leave off for a 24 hour duration.

i did it. went swimmingly. no issues. came home last night and felt
the faintest tingle of desire to turn it on but i resisted. walked the dog, prepared dinner, watched movie. all fine.

then this AM i go to turn on computer, an imac, and, after startup chime, i hear 3 quick sonic blasts, indicative of something out of wack, repeating. a loop of computing error blasting in triplicate w/ all the urgency of a submarine nuclear launch. computer will not start. looping will not stop unless I turn off.

fortunately i have laptop. was able to naviage to apple service and type in info and receive a phone call. they schedule me to come to apple store
downtown, in the mall, 2 blocks from my work at 115. since the unit in question is a 24 inch imac i have to box up, put in car, park car in parking garage downtown, decide whether to tote unit to work or keep fingers crossed and leave in car until 115. i keep fingers crossed.
as soon as i get to work i take $ from atm in anticipation of parking garage payment which will be close to 15 bucks.

not too long after getting in to my cube i am instant messaged by mm, who has noted my recent atm withdral and who urges me to not use the debit card until friday, when the mortgage clears (note: yes, she tracks my every financial step and movement b/c, she keeps saying, we are in love and tethered together and, especially, b/c i am not good with numbers or equations and therefore it's in our own best interest to not allow me to have serious financial responsibility so i am instead allowed a small sum to walk around with per week. it's a compromise, marriage)

so, for hrs i'm sitting in cube, counting down until i can go back to parking garage on my lunch break. finally lunch comes. and i go out into the world. when i return, over an hr later, i compose and send the following email to mm:

went to garage on my lunch break
retrieved heavy box w/ imac in it.
walked it across the street to apple store, which was swarming.
they had no record of my appt.
finally we determined it was under your name.
i was told to browse for a few minutes until called.
finally called.
it's either ram or logic board
both of which are parts they don't have in stock. 2-3 days at earliest.
had to leave it there.
got parking validated
figured i'd drive up to library to return dvds
and then try to find one of those 5 hour parking spots
couldn't find one but found a 3 hr one.
pulled up and realized that they charge 1.60 an hr
which is ridiculous considering i'd have to run back out
at 5pm to move the car again and i should have
just left it at the garage. plus since you told me that mortgage business
i don't want to use the card. keep in mind i'm starving
and keep in mind i have to be back in the office at 2pm for a conference
call. it's 150pm. i decide to drive across hawth bridge, park and take the 4 which doesn't arrive until 2:05.
i walk up to my building, starving, hoping for a burrito
but the burrito man is packing up
i'm sweaty b/c i didn't shower this AM b/c i was running late
so i'm stinky and tired and kerfluffled.
i get back in office at 215, preparing to apologize profusely
but there is no conference call. cancelled.




the above is from david foster wallace's speech to graduates at  kenyon college in 2005. it's been floating around for awhile but i never read it all the way thru until yesterday. and i haven't stopped thinking about it since. sometimes interior matters are addressed in an abstract manner (ie, do good, think peacefully etc) that, for me anyway, goes out the window at the first signs of actual friction, stress, real world etc, but this speech successfully includes the non-abstract. block off ten minutes and read it.


home, sick

spent the past 2 days at home, nursing some mild affliction of unknown origin. along w/ sore throat and achey limbs, i found myself trapped in some strange area of nostalgia for days past, pining/aching for long ago corridors of college. i know this only underscores my age and the distance between then and now but i felt it all the same. not certain what brought it on but it led me to re-watch noah baumbach's 'kicking and screaming' which encapsulates that period perfectly. should you not have seen it, the below is a bad trailer for a great film.


when the cat's away...

...the mouse will eat pizza for dinner and breakfast, will leave dishes untouched and not fret, will clean up the dog's errant evacuations, will lay on the couch watching bela tarr's werckmeister harmonies - a film comprised of 39 unbroken shots (some, like the below, in the 8-10 min range), will lay on the couch watching james gray's debut little odessa, will lay on the couch finally seeing edward yang's yi yi.


five year eye-blink

The me of 5 yrs ago, at this very moment i type, was laying in an ICU bed, hooked to machines, drainage sacs filling slowly at my neck, a jigsaw swath cut across my head, wondering where i'd be in 5 days much less 5 years, thoughts of the future reduced by brain tumor to small bits, all durations now measured by the length of time to the next medical event: the next treatment, the next doctor appointment, the next specialist, the next MRI, the next follow-up, the next moment of being swallowed by black pools of fear and uncertainty. Reaching backward through time, the me of this moment is watching the icu me, saying to look past the immediate, to summon the strength to place yourself five years into the future. I am telling myself that a mere five years from now you'll be alive, having a dream-like weekend:

friday you'll have dinner w/ m and discuss her grad-school rejection and how outside affirmation doesn't matter as much as the doing. later you'll see The White Ribbon, the 1st of 5 movies you'll see in 48 hours. Saturday, you'll run around the mt tabor reservoir; Later you'll see old friends in old neighborhood and context will widen as they are changed but not really; Later you'll see Brute Force; later you'll attend a glorious and unique celebration dinner where issues of life, art, fear intersect in smashing magnificence, food and wine and drawing breath; Sunday, you'll see the inspiring and tremendous Syndromes and a Century. You'll have breakfast and read the sunday times. Later you'll see Kings and Queen. Later you'll see Red Road. Earlier, as you're en route to pick up the footage for the last short film you directed you'll see the hospital up on the hill where you're currently recovering. You'll note the normal sensation of the afternoon, the rain, the drivers, the walkers, the bikers, all moving with a normal unhurried gait, all caught in the splendid gift of simply being. You'll know that at this very moment, five years hence, there are others arriving at the hospital, choked w/ fear but you right now you are just a man in the passenger seat, headed east on Hawthorne, thrilled to be alive, remembering the strange gift/s of trauma, the radiant and sometimes transcendant power. And you'll keep going.


take as long as it takes

RS: How long was the edit?

LH: Just under two years. I had a cut ready for the 2007 Sundance deadline and I was about submit it, but I didn’t feel strongly that it was the film I wanted to present. A friend of mine said to me: “Don’t show anybody anything until it’s perfect. Take as long as it takes. You only get one chance.” Those words were looming large at that time, so I decided to pull back and take a full year to re-edit and submit to the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. The film completely changed, totally transformed.

RS: Could you say what the other possible Ballasts you created along the way look like?

LH: Some of them are horrific. That’s the difficult thing about directing and then editing: you’re locked away in a room with a bunch of bad material. Only filmmakers understand that most of what you record is shit. And then you spend two years constantly looking at stuff that’s failed miserably. And in the end you whittle it down to only what works. Still, in your brain you’re thinking, “God this film is horrible.” If anyone gets a hold of my hard drive, I’m finished.

from an interview w/ lance hammer, dir. ballast, 2008


spring cleaning

one of those wknds: car returned to our clutches on friday. we park it on the street instead of our driveway b/c the street is better-lit...we watch 'hunger' friday night and as a result spend saturday am on internet learning about the ira and ulsterism and the 6 disputed counties of northern ireland...saturday AM i go for a run, m goes up mt tabor...we get bad news from a friend...we begin emptying our kitchen of all the things that do not belong. this takes much longer than anticipated and is exhausting...somewhere in there we get bad news of a different stripe from a different friend...bone-tired we ride our bikes to montavilla and eat dinner...sunday am, walking lennie, we are both consumed with worry and sadness for friends in distress, 2 entirely different scenarios but each w/ life-altering implications. we have lived in that zone before but still fill ill-equipped to say/feel/do the right thing...at yoga later that morning the focus is on equanimity - it is the spring equinox after all - and the breath. The way intake/exhale should be the same and how a certain pose or practice will interfere...we meet an old friend in town for a couple hours. she has her own news w/ ramification and implication...we go home and clean out two closets using the same principle as the kitchen: we subtract what does not belong...we load the car w/ everything we're losing voluntarily. we donate it...later we think of the open heart, the equanimity, the meeting joy/despair with the same face...later the health-care bill passes...


my sister

my amazing, lovely, courageous sister continues to inspire me. here's a video i shot for her this wknd to help her as she tries to get on 'the biggest loser'. send her your good thoughts and support. i love you sis.