Friday, June 19, 2009

Verdi, Wagner... Hammer: Random Memories 1

I've been reading a book called "The Lives of the Great Composers" for some reason. It's just been sitting on my shelf for about 5 years, a remnant of my "spending ludicrous amounts of money at Barnes and Noble per month in college" phase. Anyway I don't have a TV or a computer at my house anymore so when I get home at night I read. It's a pleasant habit from a bygone era. Sort of like a child chasing a circle down a street pushing it with a stick.

I started reading in the middle in the chapters on Verdi and Wagner. First off let me just say that Wagner was a huge punkface, and Verdi was a bastage (moreso Wagner). What sticks out less however is the fact that we know so much about these folks. I began to think about why, and realized that they wrote journals, they wrote "correspondence" and they kept records of their lives.

I keep wondering what will be left when all of us are gone. Will our hard drives survive us (profound I know)? Beyond that though, I've begun to realize that I'm old,(not that old, but older) and can't remember as much as I used to. Or maybe it's the fact that I don't choose to remember as much as I used to. So I've decided that sometimes when I think of a memory that's odd, I'm going to write it down, and thus begins "Random Memories with Jeff Blake".

Here goes:

As a child of maybe 12 I was sitting in my family room watching MTV with my brother Brian...illegally no doubt...and MC Hammer was having a concert on the telly. It was all these people on a beach in swimwear and a jeep, and all I can remember is the crowd chanting rhythmically and melodically with Hammer "Turn this mother out".

He repeated it so many times that I started to sing along with it (presumably as a joke, but the state of my humor at that point in time is questionable, so perhaps I was just singing because I was easily impressionable). Anyway there I was singing "Turn this Mother Out" and my brother said to me "Jeff stop singing that!".
"Why?" I said. "Because it's bad!" he said. "Really?" I said. "What does it mean?", Brian didn't have an answer. He sat there stumped in silence, pretending that he didn't care enough to respond to my silly question. So I too sat there. In my 12 year old mind I wondered long and hard, as long and hard as a 12 year old thinks about anything, what could "turn this mother out" possibly mean?

Do you know what? After all that thinking, to this day I still have no idea what "turn this mother out" could possibly mean...And that's okay.

In an addendum, I somewhat hesitantly googled "turn this mother out" and came upon this quite humorous bit of cross cultural amusement at the URL:

Hola foreros:

"I can see it in your eyes
You feel the same way I feel about you
Some call it chemistry
I call it you should be with me
Cause I know together we can really turn this mother out"

¿Qué significado tiene "mother" en esa letra, tomada de una canción por supuesto?¿o es una expresión completa el "turn this mother out"?

Reply With Quote

So as you can see, this question has not only puzzled me, but those around the world. Therefore in the spirit of gathering a sort of diverse clearing house of ideas, I ask you friends and neighbors:

What does "turn this mother out" mean to you?

Monday, May 04, 2009

5-4-09 - Neurosis of the Liver

I haven't written in a while, but I'm beginning to think that my life has become made up of a series of axioms that manifest themselves in my brain in the form of what I like to call "psycho-tweets" (perhaps "neuro-tweets" has a more pleasant ring to it and is more accurate, but I'm not prepared to establish a scientific justification for my own adorably invented buzzwords).

This has become a nuisance,and is continuing evidence of my media/tech addled brain's desire to turn all things analog to digital. I used to just think thoughts, and not immediately list the pros and cons for their inclusion on facebook or Twitter. I would walk up my front porch at night, and not press the remote button on my keys in a vain attempt to unlock the front door. How many more shortcuts do I need? Why do I and so many others feel the desire to upload our existence? When will all my thoughts be readily available to the "WWW" with just a mere thought of the word "post" at the end of a "mind sentence"? Wow do I have a way with coming up with catchy buzzwords or what?

Well the truth is I need fewer shortcuts in life. It's beginning to cripple my work ethic, and thought process. I'm ready to become the modern day tech equivalent of an aging mid 90's hipster. Vinyl just sounds better.
The above being totally disregarded, here are a list of neuro-tweets I've had of late and while I work at my desk today:

1 - Freedom must be paid for. This is a truth that has been readily established on a grand scale, but because I love to trivialize important issues, I'm bringing this into my average workaday experience. If I want to spend 8 hours in the library writing, I need to spend 8 hours in the office working.

2 - I feel smarter when I'm writing. It proves to my future self when I forget that I was at one time able to type out a cogent thought.

3 - If I can learn how to iron a shirt in less than 8 minutes I can do anything.

4 - I know I've spent enough time working on a certain subject when I begin to dream it. E.g. - Dreaming in Flash Websites seems strangely fascinating, but oddly unhealthy.

5 - I've come to a time of reckoning with my hair. It's "cut or be hippie". Only one of us will survive.

6 - Sometimes things just need to be put simply, and finding out the best way to do that can be really hard.

7 - The best days I've had have been preceded by less than 7 hours of sleep.

8 - When I'm angry or upset about something I love to clean. Is it a good sign than that my room is almost always a mess?

9 - 3 Projects that I've needed to get done for at least 3 years and have yet to do:
1. Put pictures in albums...Estimated time required: 3 hours
2. Put together proper acting reel...ETR: 3 hours
3. File papers...ETR: 3 hours.
Hm...What do these have in common?

10 - Writing a book is the only place where you have complete control through production. It doesn't take 7 weeks of prep, and $5000 for equipment rental, and your actors don't mouth off or need to be fed (not that I've ever worked with actors who've mouthed off, or even fed them that often).

11 - Constantly beguiled by the idea that small events like a roommate leaving chapstick in his pocket while doing his laundry can impact my life in a much larger way than say...swine flu. Don't sweat the what now?

12 - Why would I look to celebrities as proof that true love doesn't last, when they have so little grounding in real life? Tina Fey has been happily married for 8 years; proof positive that she is not a celebrity. Thank goodness.

13 - Multi-tasking...the unsworn enemy of today's working artist.

14 - Diversification...the other unsworn enemy of today's working artist.

15 - New be prolific in one thing.

16 - It takes 21 days to establish a habit.

17 - "I'm not the man I am"...sometimes.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

3/3/09 - Some Observations for this already short day...

1. My predictive text has begun a revolution against me. T9 must stand for "Total A9hilation".

2. When I have 30 minutes to clean my room, I clean it in 30 minutes. When I have 3 hours it takes me 4.

3. I am officially sick of long hair, but short does not seem a bright alternative.

4. Movies and TV on my computer are the enemy.

6. It takes shooting at least 20 pictures to get 1 amazing one. I should post only the 1 on Facebook. It will make me look more talented, but now I need to take 300 pictures per session. That way I can post 15 good ones.

6a. Scratch that it takes at least 100 pictures to get to 1 amazing one. Oh crud...

7. Just when I think I know Photoshop pretty well, I realize I need to learn a LOT more.

8. If this is the state of indie music today, then I'm depressed. Take rule #6a and apply it to this. Maybe I need some better suggestions.

9. I'm excited about my upcoming photo shoots.

10. Despite #3 my beard is coming in nicely. Cowboy and Hobo roles here I come. Watch out Mr. Johnson.

11. Who are Thomas Tantrum? They seem like 1 in a 100.

12. Start a blog with random contests on it, like "worst Sean Connery impressions" etc. The prize is instant stardom.

13. Finally start that website of pics of objects that look like faces. Geesh!

14. How many Jens Lekman wannabes do there have to be?

15. Why did "He's Just Not That Into You" have to be so accurate? Since when do cliche' poorly written Chick Flicks make sense? (With the exception of the ending, and the cheesiness).

16. When I was little my mom taught me to try and make only one trip when putting stuff away. This might have become more of a hindrance now than a help.

18. I feel chill.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Third Life Crisis: A Tale of Cliche' Horror.

Last night as my old friends Matt Mattson and Adam Borg stood in the kitchen of my house, I remembered when we all lived in the corner house across from the Provo library back in the day. They were fun times when we would sit in circles in one of our rooms and play the guitar and the occasional Halo, and last in order of importance maybe have girls over.

I said to them "We never do anything anymore! We lack spontaneity." I in particular have grown comfortable sitting in my room on a Saturday night, designing websites and waxing satirical on blogs about nothing in particular. The question arises, 'What does one blog about if one does nothing?'

So this horror movie begins the way many have been known to; friends sitting around reminiscing about the past, and then deciding that they should all go do something stupid to relive the glory days.

Our destination would be a certain Utah landmark that is now abandoned and which will remain nameless...ah heck, to not reveal it would render the rest of this story pointless. Also I had a key and was given permission to go out there by the city, so I can't really imagine that we would get in trouble for following the rules...Although I don't know if going out there at 1 in the morning is what they had in mind when they entrusted me with it.

It was the old abandoned Utah County Jail, a place with no electricity, and damp prison cells.

We jumped in my grown man car, and picked up our good friend William Rubio, (another "corner house" alum). We were in luck as Will brought his camera/camcorder and we all laughed nervously at the various cliche's we voluntarily fulfilled.

"Haha! Hey get me on camera! It will be like that sad message to my friends before we were never heard from again."

On a last note of romantic finality I called my friend Cherie, and told her "that if I don't answer my phone for the next few days, please come out to the Utah County Jail, and find our bodies." She laughed and said she personally wouldn't come, but she WOULD send someone else.

I for one had audibly told myself on the drive up that I don't believe in ghosts. Apparently I protested too much, and Will kept reminding me all through the night, how much I assured myself that I wasn't scared.

"This isn't so bad! Heh heh..."

But as we approached the gate, the jail presented itself an imposing figure. A mish-mash of 3 decades of tired architecture, forced institutional pleasantness, pitch dark windows and dead trees, that almost dared you to enter. We "laughed" some more, an outward expression of our "crying" inside.

I parked outside the entrance hugging the building with my car as not to be seen from the road. We looked up and perched on a ledge one hundred feet above us overlooking the jail was an Elementary School. I thought to myself what a poor geographical choice some city planner had made with that.

"Hey let's put all the curious kiddies right next to the tetanus factory."

"Great idea Charles! Now I know why you were elected."

On a cement bench near the entrance I pondered a large handheld "Slow" traffic sign and a trophy for a softball team circa 1987 sitting side by side, the kind of odd mix of memorabilia that collects around old empty buildings.

Finally as I turned the key to the entrance of the jail, we looked down the long dark corridor with our maglites, and shivered out loud, unsure of what the next hour would bring.

We told ourselves that there were two rules:
1. Stick together. Is this not the most obvious rule to follow in a horror movie? For the love of all that is holy (or unholy as the current case may be), why would you split up in a place like this?


2. None of those stupid pranks where you jump out or scream in abandoned echoes around corners to spook each other. This is so childish, and the place was frightening enough without these gems of immaturity. This rule however quickly flew out one of the many broken windows, as the further we delved into the building the further we regressed into childhood. This was scout camp "capture the flag", 2am "T.P." missions, truth or dare in the light of nintendo living rooms, and snipe hunting compressed. How could we not devolve into children one last time?

The building as when it functioned as a jail continued to be a magnet for disreputable ourselves on this night. It had become a haven for punk kids and homeless people, as all buildings that have been left for dead eventually do. Of course there were the occasional movie crews, and photo buffs that had legally gained entrance to the building. "Forever Strong" had been shot here two summers before, and seeing the cheaply built flats, and other remnants of production design left behind, one could imagine this as a poor filmmakers dream. Besides the obvious jail setting, with proper lighting and minimal set design, it could easily pass for a hospital or school. I learned however that the place had been stripped of it's copper wiring by vandals some months earlier, rendering it powerless.

The bad kids always ruin the fun for the rest of us.

We carefully found our way around broken hallways and shattered lightbulbs, and I having been here twice before but only in daytime, was our guide of default.

The rooms were each gloomy in their emptiness and in my mind I began a checklist of the reasons this place and others like it were so frightening; mostly variations on the same theme.

The obvious first, was the darkness, or the mystery just beyond our humble illumination. The question of what lies on the outskirts of the circumference of light our mechanical torches created. The shadows, and reflections that become twisted and monstrous phantoms when shot through pains of broken glass, and around bending corners of dry wall.

The second being the weirdness and feel of the buildings layout. It was a maze of additions and bastardizations of once feng shui'd compartments, brought on by years of hasty necessity.

"We need a storage closet here Tommy!"

"But Frank, this is the middle of the cafeteria."

"Well then fill up the space around it with offices, and a bathroom"

It had the feel of a first world favela, a mix of ghetto shacks and shanties on a Brazilian hillside. This weird geometry answered for me why they had left this place to start anew somewhere else. It was the architectural equivalent of escaping a sinking ship.

Yet with this cramped and busy feel there still was a strong sense of emptiness. It stretched out longly North to South like a vast cruise liner that had settled on the dark bottom of the ocean. It had become terrifying simply because it had been left alone for so long, because its' masters had moved on to well mapped-out spots in newer buildings. To them, their memories were humdrum (as humdrum as life can be in a jail), of going to work each day in a place with functioning fluorescents and working drinking fountains. But to us its' uninformed explorers in the lightless shell, this place had never been civilized.

Still it was foreign yet familiar, filled with the aroma of years, like the flood of memories that comes with the smell of grandma's house. We didn't know the history, but we knew what it was like.

Our biggest catalyst of fear was our own imaginations. We huddled together as we descended the hallway. It felt as if any gap would let the ghosts come between us. No one really wanted to take the lead, but none of us wanted to bring up the rear. We made each other nervous with darting glances and double takes behind us. Our shouts of interest were indiscernible from our shouts of shock. Matt once yelled with a start when he came around a corner and saw the broken glass of a door window that to him looked like some demon from Hades locker room. Everywhere we went there were remnants of angst and immaturity. Past visitors would incomprehensibly smash windows and punch holes in walls. I didn't quite understand it the first time I saw it, but Will eventually summed it up nicely .

"Something about this place makes we want to smash things." if the building possessed us, wanting us to tear it down from the inside, to put it out of its' misery.

Another item on my checklist of fears, perhaps the most real threat, was the idea that someone was living here. That at 1:30 in the morning we would be disturbing the slumber of some deranged "stabbing hobo". I wondered if even a homeless person would be crazy enough to live in here, then again most homeless people I was aware of WERE crazy. It was a "catch 22" that only reinforced my fear that we could be in actual danger.

This fear seemed to come to life for one breathtaking moment when Will looked down and said "Oh my Gosh, someone's sleeping right there" He pointed his flashlight to the ground to reveal a mass of blankets and pillows. Fortunately there was no one curled up inside them. I remembered that it had been there the last time I'd come here, but it was much less frightening in the day time. It was probably left behind by some couple who came here to "neck" as my mom would call it.

I remembered a thought that had often crossed my mind when I saw pillows in empty buildings or in the forest surrounded by beer cans and the like. Who would want to come to a place like this to spend time with someone they liked? Wouldn't that relationship be tainted by fear? Maybe that was the point. Perhaps they couldn't afford to rent horror movies so they went into dark places to get high off the adrenaline of the spookiness. I myself find this far too unsavory and simply enjoy cuddling a girl in the 2D fear that is reproduced on living room televisions. Much cozier.

We took the requisite pictures to relieve the tension, and posited the numerous scenarios that could take place in the supernatural thriller we were creating/living.

"What if we walked by this room and someone was sitting quietly in that chair with their back to us?"

Then Matt did it, and we made a short movie of it with Will's camera. As on the outside, the rooms of the jail seemed to be a weird meeting place for found objects. There was a missing person poster on the wall, a book on the floor called "Know Your Rights" and an obituary for a young man who died last year. It was eerie.

Scariest of all however was when we shined our flashlights into the doorway of one room and there sitting on the ground was a granite gravestone. We all stood in shock not sure of what to make of it, until I realized that perhaps it was a prop from "Forever Strong". After a moment of tension Will, who had a supporting role in the film laughed and said, "Oh yeah, that is in the movie." Still we wondered why someone would leave it behind posed in a way seemingly calculated to scare visitors to the jail.

We found the visiting room area, a room with small windows to the law abiding citizens on the other side. It was depressing, and we thought how hard and how unsanitary it would be to do one of those romantic kiss through the window scenes that happen in so many movies (at least the Great Muppet Caper).

The most startling point of the evening however came when we entered the cell block area. We entered through an imposing duo of bars and into a larger room with tables, and three sets of cells to our left. Each of them had two bunks on each side, and very little room. We were all enamored by this place, and we decided that we should take some pictures in the cells. Before we had entered the block we found a panel on the wall with a large crank on it. We turned it and heard a booming mechanical noise within the walls of the jail. Apparently this opened and closed the cells, but we didn't see any of the cells in the particular block open or close. We thought it must be on the fritz.

I was nervous about the bars to the outside of the cell block somehow closing on us, (as if this were possible right? so Adam stay outside the room. Meanwhile inside the block Matt went into one of the cells first, so Will could take a picture. As he did we discussed how the bars locked. We figured that since we didn't see a latch on the cell doors that they must be magnetic, and since there was no electricity in the building they wouldn't lock, but this was hasty and absolutely ridiculous logic.

Without Matt and I figuring it out, he closed the bars to the cell from the inside. It snapped shut with a resounding thud. He then pulled on the bars but they wouldn't move. Matt and I looked into each others eyes and an absolute wave of panic came over both us.

Matt freaked out because he envisioned being stuck in there all night until we could find help. I freaked because we had just locked my best friend in a jail cell that we were probably not supposed to be in at 1 am, and who on Earth were we going to call for help? How would I explain this?

Profanity was unfortunately exchanged and tense breathing ensued. A vision of Matt stuck in a cell all night while the rest of went for help quickly filled my mind.

In this moment of drama I added the fourth most striking addition to my checklist of why this place was frightening. The loneliness for one. I thought of being here on my own, exploring it out for fun, going into a cell for some unknown reason and accidentally closing the doors, being suddenly trapped, screaming for help for days on end. This is my new least favorite nightmare, proven by the fact that I dreamt it last night as I slept.

After what was only about 30 seconds but what seemed like at least 45, we figured out the crank system, and the doors opened, but it was one of the more nerve wracking experiences I've had in a long time. I can't imagine what it was like for Matt.
As we finished up our exploration and stumbled into the fresh air of the winter night, I was vastly relieved, and I proclaimed out loud "We made it!". Somehow a simple trip through a building had seemed like a major accomplishment. It was exciting and I took from it several important lessons that seemed worth learning.

In the end however I looked up one last time at the elementary school, thinking what horrible day dreams this place might inspire in a young kids mind, and how they would nonetheless be drawn to look inside, to examine it's mystery and to venture into the unknown. It reminded me of how exciting and unpredictable it can be to be young, but also how scary it is.

I thought to myself for the first time in a long while, "what a relief it is to be old".

Sunday, February 15, 2009


So I'm starting to do art again. The other night I just randomly sat down and started an illustration based on a picture of my friend Trevor Hill from back in the day. I thought it would be fun to post it. Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Fice' - The Musical

This was our 24 hour film festival entry this year. Our team was:
Garrett Batty, Jake Van Wagoner, Matt Mattson, Matt Gerow, and Will Rubio (plus me).
The theme was Sacrifice believe it or not, and we had to use the words "Let me be your..." and the object was a match. Enjoy.

We won an audience choice award, and Third place in the judges competition, which ain't bad for a film with no real nutritional value.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

This Year...

1. I will use every resource at my disposal to help others accomplish their dreams, which will in turn inspire me.

2. I will learn from my mistakes, and understand why they were made.

3. I will put together my photo albums.

4. I will try and always be the bigger man inter-personally while continuing to try and be the smaller man physically.

5. I will go to a movie like Twilight by myself, and will outwardly and proudly let people know that I liked it.

6. I will walk everyday.

7. I will never want for the daily essentials.

8. I will finish Return.

9. I will follow my mom’s example and look people in the eyes when they are talking to me, no matter who it is.

10. I will listen without looking for opportunities to talk.

11. I will appreciate the power of accomplishment in any form, and look less towards criticism.

12. I will look for fewer shortcuts in daily life.

13. I will look for more shortcuts on my computer.

14. I will spend less time on my computer.

15. I will not let my bank account go below $500

16. I will establish an open line of communication, and have a relationship with my roommates.

17. I will be a thoughtful roommate and buy the toilet paper.

18. I will find ways to help out at church even if I don’t get a calling.

19. I will finish Moonlight Starlight.

20. I will appear in something that requires me to act.

21. I will rely more on preparation and less on improv at my auditions.

22. I will save my spare change and deposit it into my savings.

23. I will write more.

24. I won’t be fritened of first drafts.

25. I won’t be frightened of mistakes.

26. I will rely less on improv in important situations.

27. I will rely more on improv in unimportant situations.

28. My improv will learn patience.

29. I will enter and travel to at least two improv festivals.

30. I will be a little more of a shameless self-promoter without becoming an obnoxious one.

31. I will compliment sincerely, without hope of remuneration.

32. I will finish Shadows.

33. I will be honest, but not blunt.

34. I will “Yes, and”.

35. I will delegate more.

36. I will focus more on the plan that I’ve established, without to many divergences.

37. I will use the words “to” and “too” correctly, knowing there importance.

38. Being an adult now, I will be less afraid of them.

39. I will pay people for a job well done.

40. I will be more artistic.

41. I will pay off ALL debt (except maybe my new car).

42. I will let more opportunities for sly comments pass by unsullied by my biting tongue.

43. I will embrace more fully the idea that the funniest comedy is aimed at oneself, but it won’t be too cocky or too pathetic.

44. I will realize the power of the axiom that the secret to attraction is talent, intelligence, and confidence.

45. I will try to leave people and things better than I found them.

46. I will date more.

47. I will realize that we all gots’ our baggage, and everyone’s a bit crazies!

48. I will judge fewer books by their covers, and realize that they all contain surprises.

49. I will read more.

50. I will learn patience while driving, embracing the power of cleansing breaths.

51. I will learn how to write things down again, and remember that a thought not written down is not a thought at all.

52. I will acquire a writing agent.

53. I will finish a song…for once.

54. I will memorize the phone numbers of those who are close to me.

55. I will finally memorize their birthdays.

56. I will polish and sell Scrappers.

57. I will finish creative endeavors and post them for people to see, without being afraid.

58. I will learn to crave criticism.

59. I will choose sacrifice over convenience.

61. I will be patient with love, and with myself.

62. I will be the man who gets things done.

63. I will floss.