2.28.2006

I Wish I Were

...a filmmaker.



This is probably a no-brainer: you are, after all, reading a blog called kinemapoetics, but yes, there was a time when I thought that a filmmaker's life was the life for me. It was my undergraduate major, which is why I know suffer from contant-film-on-the-brain syndrome and why I'd rather see the world through lenses, even if now that's just through my glasses.

Good poetry and good cinema leave me feeling unlike anything else: changed, really. After undergrad I spent two years of soul-searching to decide if I wanted to do advanced study in film or in creative writing. It was a difficult decision, but in the end, I was more attracted to the solitary work than the hyper-collaborative world of filmmaking. Yes, there are too many people on a set for me. I couldn't imagine trying to coordinate all that...

...but that doesn't mean I don't still think of myself as a frustrated filmmaker, or that I wouldn't be interested in doing very small, shoestring films at some point. Will I ever? I'm not sure. But, there's always the dream...

2.27.2006

Web Hosting

Can someone recommend a webhosting service? I'm toying with launching an online journal and I think I want a new URL for my personal website...but I know nothing about webhosting.

I Wish I Were...

...a Graphic Designer.





I have the utmost respect for the people who can communicate text and graphic with startling clarity and artistry. This past week, I purchased Chip Kidd's retrospective of his book cover designs and I thought, What a lovely career to stumble into. Like Kidd, my adolescent doodlings were rarely ever pictures, but intead differently methods of writing text. I excelled in elementary penmanship lessons and, in college, I was my RA staff's defacto poster maker: since all my colleagues had the handwriting of serial killers and zero illustrative ability, I was often called upon to make their ads for their programs, and I loved to.

I did not know this was a career option.

My first real job, in the marketing department of a large architecture firm, involved desktop publishing, layout, etc. I was so green. I had no real experience with it, just a love of making things interesting to read and look at. I learned a lot in that year, I began fiddling with personal projects. For a friend of mine, I designed a series of CD Covers and CD Labels, each one more intricate and interesting than the last. In my current job, I lay out a magazine using some of the skills I've developed, but I am by no means a master. I wouldn't even consider myself a designer. I just love to do it.

I've thought a lot about going through a master's program in design, but the idea is a little nervewracking for me. Like sad boys who want to be pilots, though, I have a disadvantage when it comes to any kind of design. I am colorblind. It's hard for me to distinguish between reds/browns/greens and purples/blues/blacks. Perhaps this is ultimately too much of a liability for the design world. But it's nice to be able to explore design on my own, even if I don't get paid to do it.

TNHR

I really love this poem.

2.23.2006

Coming Soon

Next week, in honor of Ron Silliman's Project Runway post, I'm going to do a week-long series of posts about The Jobs That Got Away—or, more succinctly, careers I wish I would have considered taking on when I was a little younger.

2.22.2006

New Hampshire Review

Thanks to Ginger and Seth taking my poem "Summer Ends" for the newest New Hampshire Review, which also features one of the greatest covers I've seen in recent memory.

2.21.2006

When a Stranger Calls (and Doesn't Leave a Message)

One of the most exciting things happening in American cinema over the past few years has been the gentrification of the horror film. No longer consigned to the low budget B-list, horror films are coming out of the morgue and standing alongside films of a more discerning artistic quality. Take, for instance, the stunning remake of Tobe Hooper's shoestring Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which stuck stars with actual talent (Jessica Biel! Eric Balfour! Jonathan Tucker!) and placed them in an honest-to-god production design. The horror film has changed since its 1970s garage-film heyday, and, I think, not necessarily for the better, but for the different.

Hollywood's latest horror makeover is a new version of the classic When a Stranger Calls, which terrified babysitters and either responded to or gave rise to a whole slew of babysitter urban legends. A simple premise: babysitter receives eerie phone calls, phone calls are revealed to be coming from—wait! You know this already—and chaos ensues. The original starred Carol Kane.



Camilla Belle, as the latest Jill Johnson, is phenomenal. She brings to a role an interesting mix of I've-had-it-with-drama and real vulnerability. As a heroine, she's believably weak and obviously running on adrenaline. She doesn't, for instance, overpower her attack with Matrix-like kung fu. In the words of a very smart man, she just goes on her nerve. She knows not to turn back and shout, "Give it up! I was a track star for Mineola Prep," even though she is. We understand why Jill runs up the stairs instead of down. In a post-Neve Campbell narrative, this is a victory.

The film nicely responds to advances in technology—where's Jill's cell phone? for example—and limits itself to staying with the character as she contends with both her dumbass friends calling and stopping by—and the Stranger, who rarely even speaks.

Especially of note in this film are the lighting and set design. Jill's new babysitting job takes place in a secluded Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired chalet just off a mountain lake—where no one can hear you scream—and the combination of rich natural woods, cold chrome, and enormous plate glass windows makes the house more of a cage than abode.

The smartest move by director Simon West, though, is his treatment of the Stranger, whose face is always shrouded or misted over in every shot—in a completely uncontrived way. This inability to see his face, his eyes, makes him truly unnerving, frightening, and shapless. It's a genius move. His face is revealed in a horrifyingly slow tracking shot at the end, and at first, I thought it was a misstep—but it wasn't—we needed to be left with his eyes, his scar, his blank expression; he needed to live on in us if nowhere else, and like Jill, we'll see him that way—slow, menacing, exacting—every time we go to sleep...

2.20.2006

This Is Only a Test

We're test-marketing a new feature here at kinemapoetics:

Please welcome The Gay Agenda, just south of our Dreamboat of the Week

2.19.2006

Annotated Guide to My Desk

An installation I'm calling "(Loosely) Organized Chaos"



And, also, my stack of To-Read books:



EDIT:
Since posting this I have cleaned my desk and restored it to Minimal Chaos.

2.16.2006

Is My Kitty Too Divalicious For Ya Babe?



This post is dedicated to Jaime.

Sickly February

The weather here is sickly: the air is chillish most of the time, but the sunlight is warm again. This makes you feel fluish as you walk around outside. The heat in my house doesn't know if it should blow or just sit still, so its does both: first it huffs hot dry air through the hallways and rooms, and then it feels bad and shuts up, letting the natural chill in the spring air settle back down to the first floor.

It's a time of year I enjoy. The orange buds are just about to spring open and vomit their acidic scent across the campus (a few weeks away—but I see it coming). Small animals have refound their frolic. It's a relief really, although for us in Arizona it's really the end of relief. Sun's coming. Summer's coming too close like my drunken Uncle Shane at a recent wedding or funeral. It makes us all a little uncomfortable.

The young men and women of Ken and Barbie University have lost clothing in inverse proportion to the rise of temperatures.

Mail service seems more direct and efficient.

The plant in my office, inexplicably, is dying.

2.13.2006

Fear

I'm afraid of the way the East Coast of the U.S. and its inland environs are so small, like shrunken versions of the West. How do you breathe there? Where do you put all your things? Where do you put your neighbors?

I'm plagued by this today. Even your forests are too close. Your roads are too narrow.

2.12.2006

Directions



If it hasn't been totally clear, I've been on a bit of a poetry hiatus for the past few weeks because

work is very busy and very taxing
everything I'm writing lately is crap
I've been wondering why I even continue to do this


It may come off a bit more dramatic than it actually is: poetry has occupied about .098098234% of my brain lately, although I desperately want it to mean more to me. It's difficult for me to accept that in the ebb and flow of "having a job," certain things must be sacrificed.

I took time away from reading recently; I took time away from writing. I let myself be and worked on keeping my mind in a healthy, unstressed place. I started an exercise regimen that—despite taking me away from my laptop—is fueling me in other ways that are equally beneficial.

And in all of this, I located a new potential project for myself, which is exciting and like dating. Like, I want to know all about my new project, where it came from, where it sees itself in five years, etc.

And happily, there has been a bounty of chapbooks arrived recently in my life: Hanson, Greenhouse, Frischkorn, Mohring, Gailey, (and soon) Snyder. Thank you, friends, for sharing your work with me. I'm eager to dive in.

The hiatus and deluge of inane-yet-endearing posts will likely continue until after AWP when—based on past precedent—I will find myself back in a poetry state of mind.

Until then, enjoy the silence (or inanity, whichever it becomes).

2.10.2006

Cult of Personality

Please take a moment to fill this out for me:

http://kevan.org/johari?name=chasjens

2.07.2006

Confessions on a Tile Floor

I updated my bio (at right).

It was time to swap my Scissor Sisters snippet for a Franz Ferdinand snippet.

2.04.2006

Bridesmaid

My rejection letter from the Morse Poetry Prize indicated that I wasn't one of the top nine finalists, but, happily, scrawled in the lower right hand corner was a note: "A competitive ms."

I guess that's a good vote of confidence.

2.03.2006

While Supplies Last

My chapbooks came today!

If you'd like one, drop me an email and we'll work out arrangements. I accept PayPal.

Hear This

If you're going to be at AWP, it would be really cool if you came to this:

Saturday, March 11. 12-12:45 pm
A Reading from BLOOM
Bookfair Amphitheater
featuring Juliet Patterson, Charles Jensen, Mike Perez, Amber Flora Thomas

Word Used by Art Spiegelman to Describe the Change in His Work Occurring After September 11, 2001

"Neo-sincerity"

2.01.2006

Chapped Books

Word around the blogosphere is that copies of my chapbook have shipped! If you ordered direct from TJ, you should receive your copies soon.

If you haven't yet ordered a copy, I will be selling a few copies shortly and will post a note about it.

I'm very happy to participate in a barter system, if you have something of your own you'd like to trade.

Neglectorinos

Joe Massey and Emily Lloyd pointed my attention to C. A. Conrad's Neglectorino Project, a place where poets can note their favorite "less commonly read" poets.

My addition to the list? James White and his The Salt Ecstasies. I read recently that Mark Doty would be rereleasing this book through a new Graywolf Press series. I'm glad. It's a powerful work.

I just tried googling him to add an image of him, his book—and then, anything related—but there's nothing there.