Sunday, December 12, 2004

December 12, 2004
Kathy and I bought our land our here in Cave Creek in the mid-eighties, when it was way out in the desert, far from the maddening crowds. In spite of the record growth, it's still very peaceful and isolated, or at least I thought it was.

Yesterday, Mike Pellegatti came over to tape some intro segements and assorted outros for the TV pilot and we ended up in our front yard, which can be utilized in such a way as to simulate pristine desert. At least visually. I never realized just how much noise pollution we live with until we tried to get some clean audio.

Commerical jets! Helicopters! Bi-planes! Trainer planes! Back hoes! Jackhammers! Cement trucks backing up! Air conditioning units clicking on and off! Refrigerator generators humming! Well pump generators! Severe dog panting! (Buddy Boze Hatkiller trying to get close-up camera face time). Not to mention allergy attacks. Paul Hutton commented on how green our desert is, and it is amazing. It rains and these grass seeds, which have been dormant for six months, instantly sprout a carpet of green. Which makes me sneeze.

On Thursday, Jeff Hildebrandt grabbed my still camera while I was on the "box" out at Pioneer and snapped off a cool photo of me in the shotgun messenger seat, while Mike Pellegatti tapes a POV over my shoulder. That's Jeff, the sound guy on the left. One of the extras, I think it was Tate, told the anecdote about the filming of Open Range. Allegedly, Kevin Costner said filming the movie was easy; until they brought in the horses. "Horses don't like boom mike poles." Boy, Howdy. Just after the photo was taken, Mike wanted to get shots of me on the box all by my lonesome and the horses moving, so he asked Duncan to hold the lines ("They're not called 'reins.' It's 'lines' or 'ribbons,' just don't call them 'reins,'" Duncan adomonished me during my audio commentary. Now we need to go into the copy in the book and take out all of the reins mentions. This is what happens when you get around people who actually know something about a particular subject. It's like talking to a lawyer after seeing Runaway Jury. "You can't corpus delecti a witness on cross." The only thing worse than that would be sitting next to Paul Hutton in a Custer movie, or me in a Tombstone movie. But I digress.) and run along beside the horses while I fake like I'm about to fall off the driver-less stage. This prompted Jeff, the sound guy, to feel compelled to run along also, poking that big, long boom mike right in the horse's faces. As you might imagine, there was not a lot of acting needed in this particular scene.

Last night we drove down to Desert Ridge Mall for Debbie Randina's birthday party. We met in Jullian's which is this massive, two-story video arcade masquerading as a series of theme restaurants (or is it the other way around?). Upstairs it's wall-to-wall video games, with a billiards room and every electronic game known to man. Downstairs is a pulsating bowling alley, a Benihana style round-table apparently crossed with a Sir George's Cafeteria (it was hard to figure out just walking by).

We ended up downstairs in a massive single's bar-slash-Mel's Diner-slash-Sports Bar-slash-bingo parlor-slash-something really loud-gymnasium deal. For the themelessly challenged, this electronic barn on steroids was anchored by seven giant TV screens, side to side all along one wall (11 total in the "room"). In other words, every square inch of wall space emitted blistering sights and sounds, bombarding the senses with something on the far side of overkill.

As our quaint little birthday party gathered around an elevated booth we tried to introduce ourselves and maybe even talk, but every time you looked over at someone, behind them was a giant plasma screen showing graphic images of Grand Theft Auto II and right next to that was the National Finals Rodeo in Vegas, and next to that was a new TV movie on the life of Dale Earnhardt, and next to that was two Mexican boxers beating the crap out of each other, and next to that was two other Mexican boxers beating the crap out of each other-with close-ups of their corner men sticking some kind of dioxin-laced Q-tips into their bloody wounds.

Now, being a person with traceable levels of testosterone, there was just no way I could not watch this stuff. I tried to talk to the people across the table from me, but I also wanted to find out the score of the U of A game, so I'm nodding my head to the woman across from me, but I'm really watching the crawl under the Vegas bull riders (Wildcats beat Utah!) and in the same instant I'm kind of rooting for this Mexican kid with the bloody left eye who's the underdog, and I'm also marvelling at that Pepper guy, who also did a great job playing Roger Maris in 61, playing a NASCAR god from teenager to the twilight years (keep in mind there is no sound, or, if there is, it's drowned out by the video games and the piped in rap music). So I'm keeping tabs on four screens while trying to pretend to be at birthday party ("Oh, what a nice gift, now could you move, you're blocking Dale's hemi."). Right in the middle of this overload, I look across the table and here are three kids (two teen-aged girls and a ten-year-old boy) with that glazed-over look in their eyes that says, "Let's go. It's boring. There's nothing to do here."

"Life is a game played on us while we are playing other games."
—Old Vaquero Sayingg

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