The Evening Mouthful

reasoned splutterings & hasty wisdom

Archive for November 2008

Going Away for a While

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Currently
Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea
By Joe Hisaishi
Kumiko

Yes! I’m going to New Orleans to direct Peter Baehr’s film for him. I’ll be back on December 15, but until then pretend I don’t exist. There’s no reliable way in heck you’ll get ahold of me. Until then, keep being as awesome as I know you are, and I hope to see/talk/chat/exchange gifts with you this coming Christmas season!

Cheerios with Chocolate Milk, my lovelies. Don’t eat any anchovies. You know!

Dave Dueck

Written by Dave Dueck

November 19, 2008 at 11:23 pm

Posted in regular

Great Expectorations: Chapter IV

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Currently
Family Man: Music from the Motion Picture (2000 Film)
By Various Artists – Soundtracks
Grande Finale – End Titles
see related

This is Great Expectorations, Chapter IV. I’m Dave Dueck.

This particular episode will not be coherent. Instead you will be treated to a grand, amalgamated stream of free-association consciousness, with a dash of irrelevant, inconclusive philosophy, slowly broiled in an oven of bored writer’s block and narcissistic reflection, carved arbitrarily with the knife of self-criticism and sharp edits, and served crudely on the paper plate of a thoughtless, impersonal digital medium. I just hope it tastes good.

I’m going to start right out by naming the winner of last week’s music clip contest: the winner is ZIGGY LYNN of Niagara Falls, and she is the only one to have contributed a guess this week. She identified the cover of ‘What a Wonderful World’ performed by Angele Dubeau from the album ‘Fairy Tale.’ She has earned a well-deserved entry in next May’s drawing. Congratulations, Miss Ziggy! And now on with the update.

My little sister Anna, the deranged one, walked into the sanctuary at church today with no socks on. When the powers that be inquired what had become of them, she meekly admitted that she had “accidentally flushed them down the toilet.” Last night she saw Joel wearing a turtle-necked sweater and told him that she had a similar turtle-neck, except hers was “more effective.” She will go far in this world: everyone loves a funny girl.

I’m glad we’re all getting older here at home. When people grow up, certain inconveniences cease to be. Take, for example, “Bathroom Socialism.” This is not to be confused with Bathroom Communism, where the doors are forced to remain open.

There was a time not so long ago when no toothbrush, no bottle of cologne, no Charles Dickens novel was safe in the boys’ bathroom. Items were passed around without regard for the original owner, and a large assortment of clothing could be found in dark corners of the room. Nobody liked this arrangement, of course, and as we grew older certain ones began to assert their seniority: private tubes of toothpaste began to be stored away in personal train-cases, and some of us bought bad-smelling cologne so that no one else would use it. One of us (unnamed for protection purposes) even posted a sign on the inside of the door which plainly read “DON’T LEAVE CLOTHS IN HERE.” It was later amended to read “DON’T LEAVE CLOTHES IN HERE,” and the statute has been more or less assiduously respected, transgressed only once in a blue moon by a wayward pair of boxer shorts and the occasional flimsy pajamas. Razors still tend to be shared, because not everyone can afford a good one yet. I’m not even sure why I’m telling the reader/listener all this, except to say that a welcome modicum of maturity seems to have infiltrated the lower levels of the household. If we’re lucky, maybe the infection will spread to a wider area, and be evident in more meaningful ways.

Nevertheless it’s interesting to me how things change inevitably and inexplicably as one grows older. I’m not going to go into this very deeply: right now the only thing that really fascinates me is how the changes seem to manifest themselves in insignificant ways. The other day I was raking leaves and I realized that I rake the leaves into much, much bigger piles than I used to, and it takes far less time. And I concentrate on the job far less. Does this kind of thing happen often? Getting better at something without even trying? Is it something I can hope for to continue? Or does it only happen when you’re not looking, and in areas where you simply could not care less, like raking leaves?

One thing that has changed greatly in my life without my trying is my embrace of web publishing, and internet interaction in general. Not so long ago, I was reticent and unwilling to interact with persons except on a personal and in-person basis. The idea of blogging and of social networking, of foisting myself on an internet community which apparently had flourished hitherto without my involvement, was frankly a pointless one for me, and I feared becoming obnoxious through self-promotion (a fear which survives to this day). The whole idea of writing about myself was, and somewhat remains, repulsive.

The only thing I can think of that has changed is that I have made a great many acquaintances and fostered a great many relationships which I find difficult to maintain without the use of such things as social websites and weblogs: many people have asked me to write (or continue to write) these updates. I remember being induced to start my first blog by my sister James. She was leaving Chicago for her Florida home and implored me to “get a Xanga so we could keep in touch,” and I riposted that we had email for that. It wasn’t good enough for her though, and after holding out long enough to see a few tears shed, I acquiesced.

I’m not sure I would have had an easy time keeping my Xanga updated if it weren’t for these very updates: I saw the blog as an easy way to make the letters continually available if an interested party missed one, and it was just a matter of cutting and pasting the letters in to blog. Ironically enough, it was soon after I joined Xanga that it became nearly obsolete with the onset of Facebook. I was relieved to see that any articles I posted on Xanga could be automatically imported to Facebook, thus redeeming my continued membership.

After the Xanga and Facebook came Blogger, Vimeo, Twitter, then various discussion boards in which I participate, and now even podcasting: and all the while Foopaux.com and Flickr are lurking in the background. I’m not exactly sure why I keep it all up: if I was really serious about publishing on the web, I would study and think through things more, write more important pieces than elaborate journal entries, and publish them in more exclusive, personal places than public weblog sites. As it is, I would probably stop writing these updates and podcasts if I thought people wouldn’t care. I have a gnawing sensation that these episodes reek of egotism and have little enough substance in them to warrant their continued publication, and I have thus repeatedly asked my readers/listeners to tell me when I’ve become tiresome and dispensable. But no one has told me so except one sibling who never reads them anyways, so for now, I shall persevere.

That is, persevere until schedule interferes, as it will this week. I leave November 21 for Louisiana and won’t be back until December 15. While I may try to send out some letters and/or publish an article while in New Orleans, I make no promises.  Let’s cross our fingers though.  Besides missing these opportunities to write to you, I shall also be missing Thanksgiving, a King’s Singers concert, Shadowlands at the Guthrie Theatre, church Christmas Choir, The Reindeer Run, the Northwestern College Christmas Concert, and the end of National Novel Writing Month. D’oh! I hope you’re happy, Pete.

So for now, so long. Those of you interested in the music contest will have a few weeks to send in your guesses this time, so make good use of it. When I come back, it’ll be and truly Christmas-time! Hard to believe. Last year at this time I was toughing it out in video school. Now I’m toughing it out in real-for-reals  filmmaking. But this will be fun toughing, not un-fun toughing. I hope your next few weeks are enjoyable and profitable, and may God Bless You with a Yorkshire accent one day.

Love all,

Dave

ANSWERS to last week’s MUSIC CLIP CONTEST:

Clip 1: “What Players Are They” from Hamlet by Patrick Doyle

Clip 2: “A Weekend in the Country” from The World of Jeeves and Wooster by Anne Dudley

Clip3: “What a Wonderful World” from the album Fairy Tale performed by Angele Dubeau

Clip 4: “Keating’s Triumph” from Dead Poets Society by Maurice Jarre

Written by Dave Dueck

November 16, 2008 at 5:21 pm

Posted in journal

2008 Christmas List

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Currently
Quantum of Solace
By David Arnold
Night at the Opera

Not going to be nearly so formal or as long-winded this year as I was last year: for some reason I can’t find anything significant to say about presents or Christmas or growing older this year. But here’s my list, ignore at your leisure, and I’m sure things will sort themselves out.

DAVE’S 2008 CHRISTMAS GIFT WISH LIST FOR RECEIVING THINGS FOR FREE:

  • Waterproof case for my digital camera so I can take pictures underwater (Canon Powershot SD1100 IS)
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers – The Complete Recordings by Howard Shore
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Complete Recordings by Howard Shore
  • ALIEN Complete 2-Disc score by Jerry Goldmsith
  • Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire score by Joel McNeely
  • Far and Away score by John Williams
  • Almost any soundtrack by Trevor Jones (except Last of the Mohicans)
  • Star Wars: Return of the Jedi score by John Williams (preferably the 1997 Special Edition, otherwise the 2004 edition)
  • The Spitfire Grill score by James Horner
  • First Knight score by Jerry Goldsmith
  • The Secret of NIMH score by Jerry Goldsmith
  • BOLT score by John Powell
  • Angels in America score by Thomas Newman
  • The Punisher score by Carl Siliotto
  • Masters of the Universe Limited Edition Score by Bill Conti
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Extended DVD Cut
  • A new sound card (preferably SoundBlaster)
  • The Annotated Sherlock Holmes
  • A cable-knit sweater of the highest quality and durability (be creative with colours)
  • A double-breasted wool coat of any suitable style
  • Long scarf(s) with tassels (again, be creative with colours)
  • Black leather gloves (tight-fitting, size L/XL)
  • RCA cable for my iPod (so I can hook it up to TVs and so on)
  • AC outlet charger for my iPod
  • Grey fedora hat
  • Derby/Bowler hat
  • Wool Mittens which unfold to be gloves with no fingertips (you know what I mean)
  • Smartwool socks
  • A book about the Tin Whistle and how to play it
  • iTunes credit

As always, this is not exhaustive by any means. Just a helping hand, dontcha know ;). Now go knock yourselves out. 🙂

Written by Dave Dueck

November 14, 2008 at 12:18 pm

Posted in regular

Great Expectorations: Chapter III

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Currently Listening
The Girl With a Pearl Earring
By Alexandre Desplat
New Life

I should jolly well think it’s time for another update, what?

Welcome back to that Greatest of Expectorations. This will be Chapter III, assuming it ever gets published. On the other hand, if you’re reading this (or listening to it), that means it already has been published, which means it IS Chapter III. As always, this is entirely for free. You are warned: the following could strike you as being pretty mawkish.

November is well and truly upon us, and no one could be happier than me. The cold weather can never come soon enough, and I’ve experienced the delightful sensation several times now, of being cool enough inside of doors to require a scarf and warm mug at all times, and comfortable enough outside of doors to exercise strenuously without breaking a sweat. It lends a false confidence that I’m in shape, if you take my meaning.

I have never tired of looking out my window of a November afternoon, and seeing the yellow maple leaves forsaking their boughs, descending to the earth with that quiet finality. There’s an intriguing unpredictability to it as well: you never know where the leaf will land. Neither does the leaf, for that matter. And even after landing, the stiff wind (which lowers the Fahrenheit to an effective 23 degrees) will drive the leaves hither and thither. If the leaf is lucky, it will end up under the lilacs where no one will bother to rake. There it will rot over time and serve as a natural mulch to the lilacs, gradually giving up its beautiful shape and striking color to provide the much-uglier lilacs with nourishment, so that they can possibly bloom for two weeks next May before turning brown again. If that’s not a starting place for another volume of ‘Character Sketches,’ I don’t what kind of volume it is a starting place for.

Nevertheless, November always has me thinking weird thoughts. Not about some random chance which decides our final end, because random chance does nothing of the sort. Rather I find myself thinking about cycles, and where in my cycle I currently am.

I was born in November. Whenever I hit this month, it feels like more of the beginning of a new year than New Year’s Day ever did. I have no doubt that other people feel something similar about their birth months, but November hits me as a strange month in which to be born because it’s the month when everything dies. The Grey takes over in November. The cold comes back. Things become stiff and lifeless. And yet I was born during this time, and it is in November that I always feel most alive. Ever since I was old enough to think thoughts deeper than Superman’s outfit, I’ve been under a sort of twisted impression that death is just the beginning; because that’s the way it was for my own beginning.

And I know that, for many of you, “twisted” is an erroneous way to describe this impression. Many of you think the same way. But it’s a notion that holds significant meaning for me, and it explains in an indirect way why I consider some things beautiful, that others would find depressing, austere, even ugly.

The direct explanation for this is a bit difficult to explain, but it has to do mainly with extremes, and how the more extreme I find my life in one direction, the more extreme I will find it in the opposite direction eventually. There a thousand ways I could illustrate this, but I’ll use the example of hardships and blessings. If you’ll forgive me for injecting a bit of current pop culture into this update, it’s like Alfred says in ‘The Dark Knight’: “What did you expect, sir? Things were always going to get worse before they got better.”

I’ve had some low spots in my life. Not nearly as low as some, but there have been times when I was so hopeless and distraught that almost nothing could console me: times when the thought of things I loved only made things worse: times when I felt so bad, so low, so lonely, so hated, so utterly worthless, that it was all I could do to keep from shouting enraged obscenities at any and everyone within a mile of me.

But I’ve had high spots in my life, as well: more, in fact, than low spots. And the high spots get better after every low spot. And, as it has happened so far, the worse the low spot, the better the high spot. I’m talking about times when I’ve been so happy I couldn’t sleep for excitement, where I had to go on midnight walks just help the emotional energy simmer down: times when bad memories were so completely erased from my memory that I have trouble even now remembering what kinds of terrible things could have happened to me to make me so desperate: times when, for lack of words to express my feelings, I became so tongue-tied that all I could do was sit and smile, basking in that indescribable feeling of joy and bliss and wondering whether people thought I was being secretive, inexpressive, stupid or high.

So for what it’s worth, the simple point I’m trying to make (and failing miserably at trying to keep it from becoming laughably mawkish and overblown) is that God does not test our faith for nothing. If we come through the fire with integrity, with our reliance on God’s power greater than it was before the flames, He will not leave us unrewarded. It’s a simple, basic truth, which has been explained a thousand times by a thousand more eloquent men; but as always, it is a truth which is finally beginning to make sense to me.

So when I see things going from good to bad, nowadays it just reminds me that, eventually, they will go from bad to good. The pendulum must always swing back again. Of course, we’re not talking about an invariable operation of Nature here: we’re talking about blessings and hardships; God’s own intervention in our existence. And it’s not as simple as being good and getting blessed for it (or, for that matter, being evil and getting cursed for it). Anyone who’s read the book of Job can tell you that. I merely speak from my own experience. The bad times only make the good times shine brighter. Of course, it can be looked at from another perspective: the good times only make the bad times seem worse. But I am writing and recording this update from the pinnacle of a high point, and do not wish to sound pessimistic. There will be plenty of time for that later. Excuse me while I knock on this wood…

***

A few of you have been curious about what I’m doing now that I no longer hold my summer job: the answer is, I am working: but not in a regular, wage-earning capacity. Mind you, I would have no objection to holding a job if I wasn’t about to go to New Orleans for three weeks. But I am, so I do, and I won’t – for now. The time for income and responsibility will come soon enough. Movie making looms, though. The script for the film which I will be directing is all but finalized, the sets are being constructed, the actors are cast, the equipment nearly compiled: and it would not do to apply for a job and tell my interviewer that I can only work for a week before running off to Louisiana for three-quarters of a month. I shall get a job after Christmas. And that will not be easy.

For now, though, my obligations are consuming enough. As many of you know, I was hired in May as a freelance journalist for suite101.com, and my production of articles for them was significantly slowed during my summer job: I have a LOT of catching-up to do. My minimum quota for them is ten articles in three months. It’s been almost two and a half months since the last period began, and I’ve produced four, and all of them in the last week and a half. I need to write six more before the end of November, and because I will be too busy for writing after the 21st of November, that is my effective deadline.

In addition to writing articles for the online magazine, I also do cleaning work at home, and help Joel build his house across the street, and rake leaves (except the ones under the lilac bush). I also study the script for my upcoming film project, I study directors’ technique, and I play my trumpet. I admit it’s not much of a life at the moment: the writing of articles is not lucrative, and I am paid a justifiably minimal wage for the work I do at home. But in a few weeks, I will be so unimaginably busy that it would boggle your mind. And I will be busy making a film, the one thing I enjoy above all others, and which I have so little opportunity to do these days. I can’t wait. And when I get back, it will be time to earn money. So I can make another film. And so on.

Today it has been cloudy: I did not go to church because (due to sinus issues) I had no sleep during the night. I woke at 8:30 and ate breakfast, drank coffee, and went back to bed until a quarter after twelve. The whole time, it’s been dark, cloudy, and occasionally snowing. But as I’ve been writing this, the clouds have gradually disappeared, giving way to a brilliant sunlight which belies the frigid cold outside. The breeze which blew away the clouds has reached Earth, and the remaining leaves are falling. Two days ago, the only colours outside were grey and yellow. Now they are grey and blue, and my body screams to be let loose amongst them after a day of inactivity. The days are shorter now, and I must take advantage of the remaining daylight to drink deep of the strong champagne that is a November Sunday. God bless you.

Love All,

Dave Dueck

PS: Again there were only two responses to last week’s clip contest, and from the same people. This time Mikal scored a hefty fifteen points, and Rob scored nine. And, again, both are entitled to another entry each in next May’s drawing. Great job guys! Keep up the awesome work! The faithful, the few…

If the readers/listeners would like to hear the answers posted with the email or recorded for the podcast, let me know. Maybe something can be arranged. In fact, feedback in general is needed. I wish to make this something that the reader/listener will enjoy, and not simply tolerate.

“They worry about what will happen to them: I only think about what must be done.” –Lucius, The Village

ANSWERS:

Clip 1: “The Compass and the Ruler” by Trevor Jones from “From Hell”

Clip 2: “Jack and Sally Montage” by Danny Elfman from “The Nightmare Before Christmas”

Clip 3: “Drop Me Off in Harlem” by Duke Ellington from “The Cotton Club”

Clip 4: “Main Titles” by Jerry Goldsmith from “The Shadow”

Clip 5: “Cops and Criminals” by Howard Shore from “The Departed”

Clip 6: “East St. Louis Toodle-O” by Duke Ellington from “The Cotton Club”

Clip 7: “Finale” by Danny Elfman from “Big Fish”

Clip 8: “Main Title” by Danny Elfman from “Good Will Hunting”

Clip 9: “Sky Ferry” by Alexandre Desplat from “The Golden Compass”

Clip 10: “Sold” by Danny Elfman from “Beetlejuice”

Written by Dave Dueck

November 9, 2008 at 3:58 pm

Posted in journal

A Bridge Too Far – John Addison

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Sorry I’ve been gone: as you can probably imagine, listening to scores is always more fun than writing about them, and lately I’ve been paying lots of attention to some old Bond scores by John Barry (‘Moonraker’ and ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ in particular), immersing myself in Shore’s Lord of the Rings (again!), and paying attention to new works by Andrew Lockington and David Arnold (‘Quantum of Solace’ is a great score, trashy song notwithstanding). But here I am.

This is going to be an inherently biased review. I’ve loved the movie in question ever since I first saw it at age twelve or thirteen. It was at that stage where a good war movie was just my cup of tea: I was an avid Call of Duty/Medal of Honor aficionado, free-time student of the M-1 Garand, a fan of Robert Mitchum, was reading any and all books I could find on Gen. Patton, Arnhem and Bastogne. Thanks to this phase of my life, William Wellman’s ‘Battleground’ is a Christmas tradition.

And so this particular film, ‘A Bridge Too Far,’ a film detailing Operation Market Garden (the aAllies’ attempted paratrooper invasion of Holland) fit the bill nicely when I first saw it: an all-star cast, directed by an extremely capable Richard Attenborough, and a terrific script by William Goldman (of ‘Princess Bride’ fame), delivered the goods without fail. Robert Redford, Michael Caine, Sean Connery, Edward Fox, Laurence Olivier, Elliot Gould, Gene Hackman, Anthony Hopkins… the immense collection of talent in this picture make it into one of the most severely underrated war pictures I’ve ever seen. It made quite impression on me.

And so did the music. I was not a fan of film music in any sense during this period of my adolescence, but every time I watched the movie I ended up humming the overture for days afterward. When I found there was an actual release of the score (albeit obscure), I finally tracked it down. Not easy to find, so you may find the Imeem playlist here to be you easiest bet for listening to it for now. I had never heard of John Addison before searching out this score, and I’ve never heard any of his other works. But this score is enough to make me admire him.

From Hollywood’s silver age, the album shows a bit of age in the recording quality, but like any score for a favourite old movie, this only adds to its attraction value for me. In terms of orchestration, recording quality, and general mood of the score, I think the closest thing I can compare this to is Henry Mancini’s ‘Without a Clue,’ parts of which are also provided on the Imeem playlist for you to compare. Maybe the similarities are a bit far-fetched, but ‘Without a Clue’ strikes me as just a slightly more comedic, English-sounding extension of the same style. Maybe I’m alone on that one, but it’s the impression I get, for what it’s worth. Let me know what you think…

There was only one theme I ever remembered (and was able to hum) after watching the film back in the day, and that was the grand march theme from the ‘Overture.’ It’s a surprisingly upbeat and cheery march, given the tragic end of the film, but it never fails to hit that old sweet spot in my subconcious. The theme is basically ingrained in my memory, and it’s the one that begins playing in my mind whenever I hear the words ‘War Movie.’

There are at least two other themes which I’ve come to recognize since listening to the score on album, though. Actually, ‘themes’ is a misleading term here. They are actually just two variations on the march theme which are different enough to stand out as individual melodies. One is merely the B-theme for the opening march, a rising figure for brass which almost resembles a fanfare (heard in the second part of ‘Overture’, on woodwinds at the beginning of ‘Before the Holocaust’, in an inspiring extended treatment in ‘Air Lift’). The other is a mellow, minor version of the march, which descends at the end of the statement instead of rising. It receives a wonderfully moving treatment on solo piano in ‘A Dutch Rhapsody,’ soon joined by woodwinds and light strings. A particularly tragic rendition of it appears in ‘Arnhem Destroyed.’

Together the three melodies constitute the bulk of the score. Rarely is there a moment during the running time (about 39 minutes) when one of these themes is not getting used in some form or another, which partly explains my growing admiration for the score: Addison’s endless manipulation of these three variations on a simple march never gets tired. The melodies sound fresh every time they appear, and they are (above all) MEMORABLE. I like nothing better in a good soundtrack than a distinct theme which I can remember and whistle, especially after hearing the score only once. Scores like THAT are getting fewer these days, even in fun, splashy orchestral powerhouses (Hellboy II…), so something classic and hummable like ‘A Bridge Too Far’ will fit the bill any time. This is a fun score for a classic movie, and I’m glad to have it on the shelves.

Listen to the aforementioned Imeem playlist of the full score here. Enjoy!!

Written by Dave Dueck

November 8, 2008 at 5:15 pm

Posted in film music

Great Expectorations: Chapter II

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Currently Listening
The Cotton Club: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
By Various Artists, John Barry
Minnie the Moocher

“You always were a loser, Mr. Bronsky…”

Welcome back to Great Expectorations! This is Dave Dueck, reporting to you from the afterlife. I’m not a teenager any more.

Halloween happened this week, as I’m sure you all know. Mine was spent in a way not unusual for me: free burrito at Chipotle, a trip to the movies to see Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas” in Disney Digital 3D, and adjourning afterwards to Rob’s house to watch ‘Batman: Mask of the Phantasm’ before going home to bed. I always enjoyed Halloween, even though I never spend it the traditional way. Something about the inherent license to brood and frown, and wear black clothes, always seemed appealing to me.

At the movie theater, the fire alarm was pulled one minute before the end of the film. There was no fire (some idiot in the Halloween spirit must have considered it good sport to ruin everyone else’s holiday by pulling the handle), and despite reassurances by the theatre staff that our movie would resume soon, it did not, and we were graciously issued two free tickets each, to be redeemed at our leisure for the movies of our choice. Now I know where I’ll be seeing “Valkyrie”…

I woke up the next morning feeling old: it was my 20th birthday. I had entered THE ROARING TWENTIES, but I was unable to detect much ‘swing in the thing’ at first. I spent the day doing nothing special. I cleaned my room (tradition of a Saturday), raked some leaves while listening to a Shirley Walker album on the ‘phones, and went to the thrift store. I found a few good items of nearly-new clothing, including the black and grey argyle cardigan I’m wearing as I write this. I also saw some of my old clothes which I had donated to the store the last week. It’s freaky to see something you owned for a couple years and are used to seeing in your own closet hung out in public with such a low price tag. It was a jarring experience, and shook me perhaps more than anything I saw on Halloween.

I got back from the thrift store, library, and computer store and promptly left again, with Joel to Anoka, where the costume store is. I was hoping to find a Guy Fawkes mask, but they were all out. I hoped to find a grey fedora hat, but there were none. I looked for a grey wool pirate frock, but they only had them in size small. I looked for a cheap plastic bachelor’s pipe, and found many of them. I was happy of at least one thing: I was able to walk into a costume store and only spend 3.75.

The drive back would have been lovely, had we not spent an agonizing 30 minutes on a mile-long stretch of what used to be open freeway. The drive from home to the costume store should not be more than 30 minutes, and it ended up being about twice that. Good thing we weren’t late for the party.

It was not my birthday party, though. It was our annual celebration of the capturing and execution of Guy Fawkes. I will not delve into the history behind this holiday, but I will say that it involves the recitation of poetry, the eating of rich foods, dressing up as literary figures/characters, and burning an effigy of Guy Fawkes over a bonfire and watching it crackle, while we cackle heinously. There was also the usual talent show, featuring Grandma Peterson and Benji dancing to the Monster Mash, Noel singing ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ in her delightful toddler tremolo, Joel singing the Sushi song on a miniature rubber band guitar, Mark reciting ‘Wee Willie Winkie’ in the original Scotch brogue. Luke played a couple of selections on Banjo for us, and Josh gave an expository speech on the life of Shakespeare, after which we were quizzed. I had a terrible score, but somehow ended up with two bars of Hershey’s Special Dark sitting in my pocket. The Birthday gods were smiling upon me at last, it seemed.

My costume that night was Bingo Little, pal of Bertie Wooster from Wodehouse’ famous series. In order to present a better picture of a dapper man about town from the 1920s, I shaved all of my facial hair except for a thin mustache of the Errol Flynn species. Upon getting home that evening, I formally severed the remaining face hairs, and went to bed feeling the pillow on my bare face for the first time since April. I slept surprisingly soundly. Pictures and eventually video documenting the events of this week will be available soon at flickr.com/photos/davedueck, vimeo.com, and of course foopaux.com.

It’s weird to be beardless, though. I feel almost as though some power has gone out of me. My Dad called me a little boy today. Every time I look in the mirror, I think “How cute! How many months is he?” In time I suppose I’ll get used to it, and I suppose now that I’m old it’s a good thing to look so much younger, but still feels strange. My face feels way too… supple. Svelte. I don’t tickle my nose by scrunching my lips any more. I have phantom facial hair syndrome. My hands reach up to play with soft fur which no longer grows there. Shame.

And so ended the yearly Halloween/Dave’s Birthday weekend of celebration. I have yet to actually commemorate my birthday in any tangible, appreciable way, but I have faith that I’ll be blowing out the candles and ripping off the wrapping tonight or tomorrow. Hope so.

And, as happens every birthday, I feel absolutely no different from when I was 19. At least, no different from the way I was a couple days ago. But if I look back to last year, when I turned 19, I realize I am a very different person. Almost completely different, in fact. A lot happens in a year, and although each and every occurrence in my life may not have much individual effect, it certainly accumulates.

I suppose it’s not though if I’m different. Just… more complete. More detailed. More finished, in a sense. It’s as though my life is a painting, and every year, the Painter adds a few more strokes, which reveal more of His design, and the new perspective is more detailed, more complete, more comprehensive, more ME than it was before. I may not see a whole lot of sense in an individual stroke in the drawing (why in the world DID I go to Big Sandy anyways?), but in another couple of years when I look back, perhaps I may see how that tiny stroke of Christ’s brush makes just that much more of the person He wants me to be: indeed, the person He created me to be.

I think this is why I see little point in New Year’s resolutions. I find myself changing and growing without my trying to. It’s really only as I take steps to obey Christ’s and make choices to fulfill God’s plan and purpose for my life that I change in any positive way, and that’s something I should be doing year-round, not at the beginning of the year or on my birthday.

Anyways, here I am, 20 years old, and about to walk onto a big pile of red-hot dog poo. Joel told me that the 20s is where all the big stuff happens, and I’m tremendously excited, but also unbelievably nervous. It’s a pretty short trip from taking brave risks to screwing up big-time. There are a million ways my life could go, depending on choices I make, and it’s always scary to look at a map like that. I know one thing, anyways: I’ll be going to New Orleans later this month to direct my first big-budget film (“big budget” meaning more than 2000 dollars), and I’m sure it will open up whole new world of experiences and choices to me. I’d appreciate your prayers as I begin my walk down this road: it’s a life dream of mine to direct feature films, and it needs to be for the right reasons. If my ego and personal agenda get in the way of this, then it will be a bad experience for everyone involved. It needs to be a work of INTEGRITY.

In the meantime, I’ll keep writing. It’s November, which means that besides the death of the final leaves and the gradual turning of the world to a faded, desaturated grey-brown, it’s the final wind-up for the Holiday season AND the National Novel-Writing Month. So I’ll be listening to a LOT of Christmas music, doing a lot of sweater-buying, drinking hot beverages, and writing my novel almost non-stop. I’m resuming work on my old comedy fantasy tale, parts of which I published on my blog and Facebook account many months ago. I’m about 12,000 words into it, which means I have about 48,000 to go before I can think about finishing it.

That’s all for now! So until next time, enjoy life and may God bless you as you have blessed me! Take it easy, folks! Happy November, Happy My 20th Birthday, Happy NaNoWriMo, and happy music guessing, assuming you have time for my silly contest. 😀

Love All,
Dave Dueck

SCORE TALLY for CHAPTER I’s PODCAST CLIP CONTEST

Mikal Salaam, my good pal from the Filmtracks.com ScoreBoard, is the winner! He correctly identified the track “Alfred, Tristan, The Colonel, The Legend…” by James Horner from the album ‘Legends of the Fall,’ a track by Anthony Newly and Leslie Bricusse’ from ‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,’ and the track “The First Crop of Corn” by John Frizzell from ‘Gods and Generals.’ He scored a total of 8 points. Congrats, dude!

Rob Sirpless came in second with 4 points, having recognized music from Alice in Wonderland and the Josh Groban Christmas album ‘Noel.’ Great job, guys! Keep ‘em comin’! You both are entered in next May’s drawing.

Answers to the podcast clip contest are available via the email subscription for this letter or at www.xanga.com/davedueck.

ANSWERS:

Clip 1 – End Credits/David Newman/Serenity

Clip 2 – Moon River/I Salonisti/Film Music

Clip 3 – Alfred, Tristan, The Colonel, The Legend…/James Horner/Legends of the Fall

Clip 4 – What am I going to Talk About?/Richard Hartley/Alice in Wonderland

Clip 5 – Main Titles/Rachel Portman/Chocolat

Clip 6 – Cole’s Tune/Michael Kamen/Mr. Holland’s Opus

Clip 7 – The Ballroom/Debbie Wiseman/Aresene Lupin

Clip 8 – Main Title/Henry Mancini/Without a Clue

Clip 9 – Clark Loses His Nerve/John Williams/Superman: The Music – Blue Box

Clip 10 – Buddy’s Journey/John Debney/Elf

Clip 11 – Bill/Richard Hartley/Alice in Wonderland

Clip 12 – First Crop of Corn/John Frizzell/Gods and Generals

Clip 13 – Main Title/Anthony Newly-Leslie Bricusse/Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Clip 14 – Little Drummer Boy/Josh Groban/Noel

Clip 15 – Ave Maria/Josh Groban/Noel

Clip 16 – Believe/Josh Groban/The Polar Express

Clip 17 – Main Titles (again!!)/Rachel Portman/Chocolat

Written by Dave Dueck

November 2, 2008 at 4:58 pm

Posted in journal