Saturday, February 28, 2009

Catching Up

I've been incredibly busy the last few days. Thursday and Friday were in the 50s, and I took advantage of that by doing a lot of walking. Thursday, I put some finishing touches on Are You From Bingo?, and yesterday I taped an introduction that will go on the on-demand and the video download of the movie.

This morning and in the early afternoon, I readied the Ry Russo-Young interview for The Film Panel Notetaker, and I plan on posting it Monday morning.

Last night, I watched a press screener of Modern Love is Automatic, which is premiering at SXSW this year. (I'll write more about it soon.) This afternoon, I saw The Wrestler, which was very good, but the wrestling scenes were pretty gruesome. Good to see Mickey Rourke back in the game, though. Tonight, I'm going to watch Luis Bunuel's Simon of the Desert, which looks really good.

When I found out that they were cutting all temps at Emerson, I was a little disappointed. Two months later, I realize that it may have been for the best. I've gotten a lot of stuff done that may have been very difficult to do otherwise, like Bingo, and the other projects I'm starting on now. The time off has given me a real chance to clear my head, and I'm in a much better place now.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Earlier today I traipsed down to Area Records to celebrate my getting unemployment. I've had my eye on The Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavillion for some time, and wanted to buy it as soon as I had the money.

I go up to the cash register to make my purchase, and the owner asked me if I was still working at Wegmans. I told him "no", without going into too many details.

"I hear that there's been a lot of changes. There's a new head manager that a lot of people don't like, and he's firing them for any minor thing."

I thought, "Bingo!"

Any animosity I had toward Wegmans is now gone. If anything, I now feel embarassed for them. I called and told both of my parents immediately.

Afterwards, I further celebrated by purchasing tickets to see Neko Case at The State Theater. I also did something new: I test-drove a car.

I went to Geneva Foreign & Sports and test-drove three Volvo S70 cars, 1999 and 2000 models. I don't think I'll be buying anything anytime soon, but I always thought that if I could afford a car, I'd buy a Volvo. You never know. I might win the lottery one day...

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Erin's Stimulus Package

The verdict is in. I will be able to collect unemployment. The judge based my decision on me having admitted to making an honest mistake--that when I first applied for unemployment, I put down "discharged" rather than "fired". For most of the weekend, I had flashbacks to the worst parts of my work experience. I didn't really want to know the verdict, since I thought it would be "no" based on my incompetence. I will be conservative with the money and will continue to look for work, but this is a great relief.

Yesterday, I finally got a call from the person I wanted to do a documentary on. She raised a lot of valid concerns, such as what kind of audience this potential movie might have, and clearances I'll have to make in regards to taking a camera into prison. (I'll elaborate eventually.) But she seems to be interested. We told each other that we would stay in touch. Today I went to the library in Ithaca and picked up her memoir. This person isn't a big celebrity, but I'm not ready to disclose who it is, either.

I also interviewed Ry Russo-Young for The Film Panel Notetaker and the zine. My method I used to record the conversation involved holding my shotgun mic to my speakerphone, so some of the audibility is questionable. But I should be able to transcribe most of it.

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Conan Go Bye-Bye

Today marks the end of an era. After almost 16 years, Conan O'Brien is leaving Late Night to replace Jay Leno on The Tonight Show. I'd like to commemorate tonight's final episode by posting part of Conan's very first episode.

The first couple of seasons were really rough for Conan--he didn't get a lot of good reviews initially. In fact, a few years ago, I was perusing a book (or passages of) about the worst TV Shows in History published in the mid '90s, and Late Night With Conan O'Brien is listed among them. Conan managed to persevere, NBC remained patient, and the rest is history.

What amazes me is how skinny Conan was back then, and how floppy everyone's hair was, especially Max Weinberg's. This particular episode has its embarassing moments (the "Actual Items" bit, for one), but there's flashes of brilliance that Conan would be famous for.

I'll be sure to watch Conan on The Tonight Show when it debuts in June, but I'll miss Late Night. I have too many memories that span from high school onward of staying up late and watching Late Night.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Jesus Died For Somebody's Sins, But Not Mine

They did show up today, and I was outmatched. They had legal counsel. All I had was a packet on how to represent myself. My main argument was that they gave me no written warning prior to my termination.

The Bad:

  • According to Wegmans' employment policy, if I don't deliver good customer service, they reserve the right to terminate my contract at any time. I don't recall reading anything of the sort. I imagine I did, but it was probably a long time ago when I read it.

  • The complaint the prompted my termination involved me throwing a package of cookies. Apparently, they had asked me to bag the cookies seperately, and I didn't want to, so I threw them.

    BULLSHIT. The customers in question behaved in a very patronizing manner toward me, I'll admit I behaved inappropriately. I was hesitant about packaging the cookies in a seperate bag because I felt they did not need a seperate bag. But I threw it at them? Puh-leeze.

    When counsel made their closing argument, they said that I represented myself poorly, and that if I was in a bad mood that day, I shouldn't have showed up. I was tired, but I didn't show up in a bad mood.

    The Good:

  • The original reply by Wegmans stated that I had recieved three warnings dating back to July 7, 2007. In fact, two of the "warnings" stated on their claim were, in fact, "conversation notes". I mentioned that I had recieved a warning on November 10, 2006, and that I had recieved no other warnings in writing prior to my termination. The judge asked my ex-supervisor if "conversation notes" were the same as a warning. The supervisor said "no".

  • When I initially filed for unemployment, I put "discharged/let go" rather than "fired". Oops! At least I was allowed to admit to making a mistake, and I did.

  • The judge asked my former supervisor if the company had a department where I could file a grievance and an appeal. My ex-supervisor was reluctant to admit it, but he said "no".

    I will not know for sure the verdict for at least a couple of weeks. As I mentioned, though, that they had legal counsel, and I felt that they were at an unfair advantage. I did my best to represent myself, but I was very nervous. With the money they spent on legal counsel, they might as well just given me unemployment.

    Obviously, I'm hoping for the best, but if they rule against me, I'm not going to file for an appeal. All I know is that I made a point to be honest, and had a chance to tell the judge that I didn't lie (which was one of the accusations). If I don't win this, I can always be comforted with the old rule of karma: What goes around, comes around.

    This weekend, I'm going to start preparing for an interview I'm conducting next week for The Film Panel Notetaker and my zine. Also, I have the Patti Smith documentary Dream of Life coming this weekend, so I'm looking forward to watching that as well. And of course, tomorrow night, the final show of Late Night With Conan O' Brien. I'll post more about that in the morning.

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  • Wednesday, February 18, 2009

    Can You Tell I'm Anxious?

    Tomorrow is the big day. As I mentioned previously, I've been really nervous about my hearing. Mainly because I don't want to have to face those people all over again. Yesterday, though, my mother mentioned to me that there might not be a chance that they'll show up at all, and if that's the case, I WIN! Nonetheless, I have prepared, writing points I want to make, cross examining questions, and a closing argument. But I really hope they don't show up.

    Yesterday, I had a phone interview with some customer service company that has an office in Canandaigua. They're supposed to send me something about a "next step" soon, but I really don't want this job, because of the commute, and also, I'd be working until 10:30. This afternoon I have an interview at the hospital for several positions I've applied for. A month ago, I would've been absolutely thrilled about this. To some extent, I still am, but I know what I want to do next as far as projects go. Will this job get in the way?

    Speaking of the next project, I've decided to send the letter I sent last week by e-mail, which is the way I should've done it in the first place. I know it's only been a week, but I'm eager to hear one way or the other.

    Finally, I started cutting the epilogue for Are You From Bingo? last night, but with all that's happening this week, it's hard to focus on it. Can you tell I'm anxious?

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    Saturday, February 14, 2009

    Happy Valentine's Day!

    Since I have no one special in my life, Valentine's Day is of no relevance, other than maybe giving me an excuse to go off my diet and eat candy.

    I have decided to actively seek work as a Production Assistant. I spent my early afternoon today at the library, writing a resume from scratch--something I haven't done since I first graduated from college. I'm going to continue looking for work outside the entertainment industry (office positions, of course), but I want to pursue this option as well.

    Rather than go straight to New York City, I've been keeping tabs on The Hudson Valley Film Commission to see if they have anything that pops up. The person I want to do a documentary on lives in Woodstock, so I'm thinking that it might not be a bad place to start looking for production work.

    I also spent more time working on the article I want to pitch. I dissected and analyzed articles and pitch letters (from a book on freelance writing).

    Finally, that plane crash in Buffalo...just awful. On Friday the 13th of all days. It's bad enough when any plane crashes, but it Buffalo? My heart goes out to everyone who knew someone who was killed.

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    Friday, February 13, 2009

    Old Magazines

    The last two days, I have spent cleaning. Yesterday, I went through a bunch of old magazines I dug out last summer before I moved. Most of the magazines are at least ten years old, and they include issues of Rolling Stone, InStyle, Entertainment Weekly, People, and even a few old issues of Seventeen.

    Going through the magazines brought back memories of high school study hall. When I wasn't doing homework, I would absorb myself in reading those magazines. Quite honestly, I once fantasized of being profiled myself. Sometime after my Freshman year of college, however, I put many of the issues into one of those big tupperware bins, never to be touched again. Until last summer, that is.

    Needing a place to put new things into, I finally took the bin out and began going through the magazines, putting them into empty Yuengling Lager boxes. Yesterday, I went through them again to sort out what I was going to give away to Ithaca's Friends of the Library for their semiannual book sale.

    For the memories I have of reading through these magazines, it's difficult to part with them. But I know I'll never read them again, either, so at this point they're taking up space. Hopefully a few people will buy them at the book sale and find something to do with them.

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    Thursday, February 12, 2009

    Entertainment News I Care About #1

    Joanna Pacitti got booted from American Idol. I'm not an AI fan, but I smelled a rat with this one. I thought that Carly Smithson's placement on the show was absurd, but at least she had been out of her contract for awhile. I felt sorry for Joanna when she got kicked out Annie, but that was more than a decade ago.

    Doing a 180 (in the Entertainment World, anyway), Greta Gerwig has been cast in Noah Baumbach's Greenberg with Ben Stiller. I'm really happy to see her moving into more mainstream roles. She truly deserves this and any stardom coming her way. At least more deserving than Joanna Pacitti, anyway.

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    Wednesday, February 11, 2009

    A View From The Lakefront

    This is a view of Seneca Lake I got this morning. Notice the ice caps. Seneca Lake hasn't totally frozen over since 1912, but there's blankets of ice washing up onshore. (Further out, however, there was still water.) They were predicting warm weather today, so I decided to go and take a walk down at the lakefront, which I hadn't since the end of October. Except that the Lakefront was cold, and I wish I had brought gloves with me. Later on, I went to the Outlet Mall, where I bought a pair of Converse All Stars (aka "Chucks") that were owed to me from Christmas.

    Last fall, I began researching for an article that I hope to pitch to a local magazine. I was inspired by a trip I took to this particular place back in September. Earlier this morning, I read through the stuff I copied when I visited The History Center in November. I also checked out some back issues of the magazine from the library, to get a feel for tone and content. A year ago, I would've wanted to wait to do this before I got a better job, but now I'm thinking, "Money's Money." I'm looking into anything that's not only NOT customer service, but something I could actually look forward to doing.

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    Tuesday, February 10, 2009

    Life Goes On

    I continue to send out resumes. Today, I made phone calls to temp agencies to let them know that I'm still looking for work. When my father told my grandmother he was going away, my grandmother opted to make arrangements to stay with my aunt instead.

    Next Thursday, I will have my unemployment hearing, and I'm nervous about it. Will I have to face those people again? I had expressed a desire to leave a few times, will they use that against me? I do hope I get unemployment, of course, but I am preparing for the worst.

    I finally sent a letter to the person I want to do a documentary on. I could've sent an e-mail, but I think a real letter is more formal.

    With all that's going on, I'm trying my best to look forward to SXSW, but with the hearing and looking for work hanging over my head, it's not easy. Tomorrow is supposed to be in the upper 50s, and I plan on taking a walk!

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    Sesame Street: It's Super Grover!

    I've been meaning to post more Sesame Street videos for awhile now, but I've been sidetracked by other things. This particular post is devoted to that "cute, furry little monster", Grover.

    Grover is a well intentioned guy who frequently finds himself in over his head. He often misreads the people he is communicating with, and gets into trouble.

    "Near and Far"

    Anyone who watched Sesame Street regularly as a kid will remember this one. Grover demonstrates the differences between "near" and "far". Grover gets close to the camera to demonstrate "near", and moves further away from the camera to demonstrate "far".

    "Super Grover: EXIT"

    Every once in awhile, Grover breaks into his alter ego, "Super Grover". Grover's presence is sometimes a nuisance, like in this clip. Freddy wants to get over the fence. Grover tries to pry the bars open, but Freddy eventually finds the exit sign.

    "Grover the Waiter: The Big Hamburger"

    A customer orders a hamburger only to find out that there are two sizes of hamburgers: big and small. The customer orders a small hamburger, only to find that it is too small for him. Grover tries to coerce him into ordering more small hamburgers, but the customer is adamant on ordering a big hamburger. Grover complies to his wishes, but it's more than what the customer bargained for.

    "Disco Grover"

    Grover dances to a disco version of the alphabet. The other monsters seem to have no trouble dancing--I wondered if they had something more than just drinks.

    I'm thinking the clip might have been a cross promotion for this classic album:

    Image courtesy of Muppet Wiki

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    Sunday, February 8, 2009

    I Don't Put Out

    Mid-last week, I sent a letter to a married couple who played on the soundtrack to Are You From Bingo?, asking if they could take me in. I got an e-mail response this morning saying they could not. Oh well. My Craigslist endeavors haven't fared much better. Most of the responses I've gotten have pointed me toward certain resources, but no direct offers. And then there's this gem:

    Hi Erin my name is _____, I mean you no disrespect by asking this but wondered if you might into fulfilling my fantasy. I own several nice rental properties around the college. I have always wanted to give a woman like you an apartment of her own for free. Meaning the only thing you would have to pay for is cable if you wanted it. In return she takes care of me physically and I am sure you know what I mean. It is my fantasy. I am mid forties ,single,clean,safe and discreet. If your interested send me an email or call me anytime at 315-XXX-XXXX

    THANKS ____

    Uh, no thank you.

    Maybe I should look into other options. I'm not that comfortable staying with people I don't know, unless I come to them through someone else, like this person. I've had some luck looking for Carpools, but I'd have to get up an extra hour early. Still, better than nothing.

    I'll doing some work this week. From the Shooting People I placement I made last week, I was able to snare one person who was looking for updates. I'll also be watching my 90 year old Grandmother while my father goes away.

    Finally, the Mayor of Ithaca got a shoe chucked at her last week. I think the guy who did it used to host a show on Public Access.

    I'm going to work on finishing the "Ithaca Travel Guide" for the zine, then get ready for the week.

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    Friday, February 6, 2009

    Ithaca: A Photoplay (Sort Of)

    Today I went to Ithaca again, because it was supposed to be a nice day, and we haven't had too many of those lately. After weeks of being cramped and landlocked by the weather, it was nice to get away, even if it was only for the day. Not only was it a nice day, the sun was out and there was no wind whatsoever.

    While I was there, I took a lot of pictures that will eventually appear in my "Ithaca Travel Guide" that will appear in my zine.

    This is the Fall Creek Gorge. I was hoping to get a beautiful picture with the water falling, but I forgot that it's February. Even though it's ice, I think it's beautiful anyway.

    Fall Creek Pictures. When I lived here, I would go here to see movies. My viewing of Jim Jarmusch's Coffee and Cigarettes at this theater was a memorable one. More recently, I shot a YouTube video here:

    This is Gimme! Coffee. The shutter on my camera is crappy (by design, not damage), so I wasn't able to get a good "action" picture of the barista. Anyway, if Gimme! Coffee doesn't wake you up, nothing will.

    Later I came back to the Commons, and decided to go into Petrune to take some pictures. The owner came up and asked me why I was taking pictures. I told her for my blog. Meaning this blog. Which means she might be reading it now, since I gave her the URL. Actually, she was reading it on the way out. Here's one of the pictures I snapped here:

    I snapped a few more pictures at other places, then I went off to the Ithaca Mall, then Wegmans.

    As I was walking around downtown, I thought, "Gee, wouldn't it be nice for Ithaca to have its own film festival? Ithaca is a great location for one...actually, I've thought about it quite a bit. I daydreamed about how I would go about obtaining sponsorship. Get local people behind it, then look elsewhere.

    I'm looking forward to this weekend, if mainly because it's supposed to be in the forties. I'll be thinking about SXSW, but also the potential documentary I thought about yesterday. Off to finish the Tom Petty documentary!

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    Thursday, February 5, 2009

    Runnin' Down A Dream

    I continue to look for work. Today I filled out an application to work as a "skill builder" part-time with disabled and disturbed kids. I've been looking for a new type of work opportunity.

    I've also been giving a lot of thought to future projects. For a long time now, I've been trying to put together another film. I've wanted to do a narrative film, but it's been slow coming. I haven't really found anything I could carry out. Why would this be so difficult? As I've mentioned before, I wrote specs in college and thereafter, but these days, I find it hard to create a story I could put together on a modest budget. It's painful for me to come to this conclusion, but I think to try and cross over into narrative features right now might be overwhelming, considering my circumstances. I've done a lot of research over the past few years, so I know what I'll be able to do with the movie once I'm done.

    So I've been giving thought to doing another documentary. I have a subject that I am interested in shooting. It's a person, and I haven't approached them yet, and probably won't until I have a clear angle of where I want to go with this, or have done enough research.

    A little later, I'm going to be watching the first part of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: Runnin' Down A Dream, directed by Peter Bogdanovich. This is the first movie I've gotten from Netflix since I put my subscription on hold last month.

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    Tuesday, February 3, 2009

    Nothing Really Important #1

    Today I went to the Abbey Staffing Office downtown. I filled out the necessary paperwork. Tomorrow I plan on doing my weekly stop at the Workforce office.

    I also made some phone calls as I continue to pursue follow-ups for the new epilogue. I spoke with Sherry from The Garland Gallery. She let me know that this Friday will be downtown Binghamton's 60th Consecutive First Friday. Which means they've been doing for five years straight.

    I posted to Shooting People's New York Bulletin, offering my design services for $250. It may the best bet I have in finding actual work until I go to Austin. Also, I'd like to make it a regular thing eventually, because I think it would liberate me from having to look for work ever again. Well, at least not for a very long time.

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    Monday, February 2, 2009

    Alexander, At Last

    Earlier this afternoon, I applied for a work-from-home position titled "Customer Care Professional". They had a bunch of ridiculous questions, but whatever. The point is, I feel like I'm making some progress, even though I haven't really, yet.

    Someone who contacted me back in October when I offered free website design on the Shooting People mailing list. I told her that I should be able to do it. She really doesn't have too much to design. Who knows? I might put up an ad at Shooting People before the end of the week. This time I'll be charging, though.

    The details of my SXSW trip have been finalized. I'll be staying at the Days Inn University Downtown, and the schedule is up. So far, here's what I want to see:

      Alexander the Last (Joe Swanberg)
      Beeswax (Andrew Bujalski)
      Humpday (Lynn Shelton)
      Moon (Duncan Jones)
      You Won’t Miss Me (Ry Russo-Young)
      It Was Great, But I Was Ready to Come Home (Kris Swanberg)
      Creative Nonfiction(Lena Dunham)
      Sorry, Thanks (Dia Sokol)

    Can't wait, especially for the new Bujalski!

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    Sunday, February 1, 2009

    Ra Ra Ron Howard

    Ra Ra Riot were terrific. I took many pictures, but ¾ of them were blurry. I still might post a few of the pictures, though. Guitarist Milo Bonacci said, "It's weird being on stage here. I used to come here and watch movies," he said of performing at the Smith Opera House. It was weird to hear people discuss The Animal Collective in Geneva, of all places. Before the show, I stopped at Parker's and drank two Smirnoff Ices. Shut up. Shut. Up.

    Today was really nice- 45 degrees outside -and I took two walks. One was my "normal" walking route, the other an extended, longer route. It's supposed to be cold and snowy again this week, but I hope there are more mild days like today, even if the temps are in the 30s. It would be nice to drive to be able to drive to Ithaca again.

    Later in the afternoon, I got to work on my zine again. I began work on it back in October, following the unceremonious exit from my job. After I set up this blog and got hired at my temp job, it sort of fell by the wayside. Today I finished an essay about my trip to the Woodstock Film Festival that I started writing back in November. I also transcribed a text message conversation between me and my sister that relates to the essay that I will publish as a "sidebar".

    Last weekend, I checked out the movie Frost/Nixon, which was AWESOME. Later on in the week, I watched one of Ron Howard's early directorial efforts, a TV Movie titled Cotton Candy:

    Movie: Cotton Candy

    Charles Martin Smith (who previously worked with Ron Howard on American Graffiti) plays a high school senior who decides to put together a band after he gets the brush-off from the lead singer of their eventual rival band, Rapid Fire. Like all good Ron Howard movies, it features his brother, Clint.

    IMO, I found the Mean Girls-style rivalry between the two bands a little unrealistic. Any "Battle of the Bands" is competitive, but who really gets that vicious? Other than the pretty boy front man, I don't see how Rapid Fire would have a following, since they play the worst version of "I Shot the Sheriff" EVER. But overall, it's a sweet entertaining fluff of cotton candy.

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