Live and Direct

Saturday, November 25, 2006

No more Copenhagen

We're back. We got everything arranged, said goodbye to friends and colleagues, and made it home in one piece. There were plenty of frustrations along the way, and I've been in a colossally bad mood the past few days, which the second bout of jetlag in two weeks just isn't helping any. Today, I went to bed at 7pm, woke up at 1am, and here I sit.

Being back in Denmark was an odd rollercoaster of feelings. I didn't feel as much sadness about leaving as I had thought I would, though being surrounded by colleagues and old friends telling me that we were making the right decision probably helped there. The general suckiness of our life in Copenhagen must have been pretty clear to everyone. Or more realistically expressed, I did a good job of telling everybody how sucky things were while we were there. But what was interesting was how my feelings about being in Copenhagen changed radically from day to day on this trip. The first night we got in, we went out for a walk around town and had dinner at a well-known cafe, Cafe Sommersko. We paid too much for beers and hamburgers, but in general, it felt pretty good to be back. The weather was unseasonably warm (thanks again, global warming. I'll send that check off to Al Gore soon), and the city was so beautiful and felt so much more alive than most American cities, with people out walking and riding their bikes. We strolled through the old part of downtown and looked at familiar spots. Copenhagen is beautiful.

The next couple of days were more of a blur as we struggled with jetlag, not sleeping until 5am, just in time for sunrise, and caught up with friends and started the goodbyes. We got to spend the night with our good friends Martin and Louise in their new home, a completely renovated school house in the country near the beach. They live surrounded by a cornfield, have a five minute walk to the ocean where fishermen bring up daily catches of plaice and blue mussels, and can see the water from their front room. Well done. We were feeling pretty good about Denmark, at least for other people's version of it.

Come Monday, it was back to reality as we struggled with making the arrangements to move and ship the rest of our belongings. I had been trying to get a straight answer about shipping quotes for weeks in advance with no luck, so I was left to sort it out in Copenhagen. Add in a truly bizarre set of encounters with the owner of a Danish outpost of Mailboxes, Etc., and by Tuesday night, I was very much over the entire country. I just wanted to go someplace quiet and wait for the plane to take us home. Fortunately, by Wednesday, we had sorted out the shipping details, during which time I was reminded of a key survival detail in Denmark: if you want to something done and done correctly, you're better off asking a Danish woman to do it for you. After weeks of run-around with shipping companies in the US and Denmark, an efficient and friendly Danish woman at Fairplay Shipping whipped the whole thing into shape in about 30 minutes, and saved us money to boot.

That night, we went to our favorite pub in Copenhagen, Banker├ąt. After a few beers, it felt like we had never left and that the flight to Seattle and our lives there was a distant reality. Of course, in our case, it also meant a reminded us of how broke and bored we were so much of the time we lived there. The stress of the week and a day of moving boxes finally cut up with us and we called it an early night.

Throughout our trip, the question of whether we'd ever come back came up a lot, understandably. After living there a year, there's not much pressing reason for us to go back, and our next trip(s) to Europe are likely to take us to Paris and Rome, though I'd also like to spend some time on the British Isles outside of London. And then there's Tokyo and Vietnam to visit as well. It's odd to think that I probably won't go back to Denmark for quite some time, conceivably for years or perhaps never, as my relationship with Denmark and the Danes has been a defining factor in my life, particularly up through college. I'm not really sure how I feel about it all right now; some sort of mixture of lingering anger over our difficulties there and melancholy at such a clearly ended chapter leavened with a readiness to move on and vigorous anticipation for my future in Seattle with Sara.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Live and Direct from Copenhagen

We made it to Copenhagen. The flight over was uneventful and went pretty quickly, though we did witness a near mutiny by German tourists in the security line at Heathrow when an airport agent was seen to be encouraging "queue jumping." The first night in Copenhagen, we were charmed by the city all over again. The weather has been really pleasant, much better than Seattle lately and even warmish at times. Another reason to be thankful for that hole in the ozone layer. Since then, our days have been a mixture of packing and moving logistics in the day and seeing friends and saying our goodbyes at night. So far, no unpleasant encounters at my old work place, though I've also kept a low profile and there's always next week to come.

Jet lag has us pretty screwed up right now, dozing off at odd hours and not really able to sleep until about 6am, just in time for the sun to come up. I spent the small hours of last night mentally composing the ultimate kiss-off letter to my former departmental chair, though in the light of day it seemed like less of a great idea to actually write and send it.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Off to Copenhagen

Sara and I leave for Copenhagen tomorrow. We'll be there for nine days, tying up loose ends and arranging for our belongings to be shipped back to the States. I anticipate it will be a little weird, occupying so much of our time saying goodbye to friends and colleagues, though I guess given the last three years' many changes, it should be something we're used to. On the other hand, it will be nice to be able to enjoy the city without worrying about things like jobs and settling in. We might even be able to afford enjoying ourselves a bit.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


I'm as giddy as a school-girl.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

First week at work

This was my first week at the new job, and so far, I love it. Granted, there have been some reentry turbulence as I struggle to readjust to a regular, 40+ hour work schedule. For some reason, taking a nap every three hours during the day is totally frowned upon at my new place of employment, and evidently they expect me to show results in exchange for salary, which is a radical concept at my former job. But on the plus side, the people are really cool, the project is super badass awesome, and I think I can do the job right for them. I've heard an earful about the guy who was doing this job before me, or rather, not doing it, as the story goes. So while for my new coworkers, the bar isn't set too high, for myself, I really want to do a great job for them and prove myself worthy of their trust in hiring me.

The only real snag right now is that I'm taking the bus, which is fine for going to work in the morning but starts to suck the later you go into the evening returning home. If anybody knows of anybody selling a cheap, reliable car, I'd be happy to hear of it. Also, our cat is totally confused and apparently a little resentful that I'm no longer around during the day to cater to her whims. She's taken to ignoring me when I get home unless I'm willing to commit to at least a good fifteen minutes of playtime.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Favorite movies

Last weekend, I had an interesting conversation with Mark and Sally about favorite movies. I get asked for my favorite films a fair amount, given my professional interest. It's a surprisingly tough question to answer. First, there's the distinction between films that I admire as great art, and films I actually watch over and over for entertainment. Then there's the challenge of selecting the films. There are plenty of movies, like _Citizen Kane_ or _Rules of the Game_, that I recognize as revolutionary to the medium and yet can only appreciate in an intellectual way. Moreover, at whatever point you think you've come to a conclusion, three more movies crowd their way into the list. Finally, there's the slight feeling of arrogance, to look at over one hundred years of filmmaking and while fully aware of my own ignorance of important films and filmmakers, to say these are the great films. Still, there's something really fun about making the list and putting it out there, and inevitably, a few films show up on that list over and over. So after that lengthy preface, here is my current list of films that I think are great, in no particular order.

* _Touch of Evil_, Orson Welles, 1958. I first became aware of it through Robert Altman's _The Player_ (also a good film), where a naive screenwriter attends a screening before being killed by an amoral studio executive. I found the film, watched it, and was blown away. Charleston Heston plays a straight to the point of ridiculous cop on a border town surrounded by fascinating characters developed by some of the most skillful writing in film, over all of which towers Welles' own portrayal of a crooked cop shambling toward a bad end. The 1998 "alternate version" that cuts closer to Welles' original vision for the film cemented this as one of my favorites of all time.

* _Blade Runner_, Ridley Scott, 1982. I first saw this film on home video as a kid back in the early 80s, when laser discs still roamed the earth and the major studios were hesitant to release their big films to video for fear of cutting into box-office proceeds. In effect this meant that in the little town where I grew up, there were a limited number of movies to watch on video, and I saw most of them repeatedly. This one always stood out. Setting aside the endless debates about Deckard, is he or isn't he, this movie is just beautiful to watch, from the splendid decay of the future of Los Angeles to Rutger Hauer's avenging angel Roy Batty. There are probably more lines from this film that show up in my regular vocabulary than any other movie I've seen.

*_The Celebration_, Thomas Vinterberg, 1998. The greatest film most people haven't seen, and my first Danish entry. Striking a balance between bourgeois satire and grand Greek tragedy, the film is simultaneously hilarious, devastating, and reassuring. I've taught it numerous times over the past few years, and it always sticks with students in ways few other films do.

*_Wild Strawberries_, Ingar Bergman, 1957. While _Seventh Seal_ is a more striking film and does more to present Bergman's genius at a young age, this is the film that stays with me and pleases me more. An old man faces mortality, successful and yet full of regrets: Bergman transforms a typical Scandinavian depression-fest into a meditation on the important moments in life.

*_Unforgiven_, Clint Eastwood, 1992. In a way, this revisioning of the Western genre makes an interesting companion piece to _Wild Strawberries_, as both revolve around regret and the means, not the possibility, of redemption. Eastwood doesn't get enough credit for being a wonderful director, and by that I mean not just the kind of director that wins Oscars (which historically doesn't mean a whole lot), but the kind of director that makes lasting films. Another nice companion to this film is _High Noon_ (Fred Zinneman, 1952), starring Gary Cooper as a very human lawman faced with an impossible situation.

*_Steamboat Bill, Jr._, Buster Keaton & Charles Reisner, 1928. While _The General_ is more well-known, I think this is the best showcase for Keaton's physical comedy and has the best gags. It also has some of his most well-known sequences, such as him battling a storm through the streets of a small town as it collapses around him.

Those are the movies that make the cut right now. As soon as I hit "publish post" I'll think of several more. Of course, there aren't the movies I watch repeatedly for fun. Now that I've got less to prove professionally as a "serious scholar of film," I can freely admit that the three films I watch most frequently when bored are _The 40 Year Old Virgin_, _Notting Hill_, and _Jackass_.

Finally, the big news

The big news on the job front has finally come to pass. I've accepted a position as senior associate producer at a major local video game studio, and I couldn't be happier. The position is a considerable promotion from my previous work at SCEA, with considerable more responsibility. Basically, I will be responsible for building and maintaining the schedule for a very large budget, AAA title, or as the producer describes it, "second in command" of the game. There is plenty of room for growth and advancement down the road, and the game itself, well, it's very cool.

The process of getting the job was very tumultuous. It's been roughly two months since I first applied, and in the interim, I've gone from being convinced I had the job to knowing for sure I wouldn't and back again, several times. I went in for multiple interviews, sent out numerous e-mails, and generally had to fight to convince them that I am the right guy for the job. That effort, and a generous dose of good luck, finally paid last week when they made the offer. My start date is in a couple of weeks.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Checking back in

Rotten cat
Originally uploaded by Trevor_.
So I sort of fell of the planet re: blogging. I held off posting, because I was hoping to report big news on the job front. However, the big news as of yet is still pending, so instead I can report big news on the new cat and new apartment front. I'll post some pics of the apartment later. For now, you can enjoy this pic of Delia enjoying her favorite spot in the world, which is the office chair. She has a way of making it clear that it is now her office chair, to the point of crawling up behind us and trying to push us out when we've overstayed our welcome.

Otherwise, not much to report. Sara talked me into working out the other night for the first time in months (if not years). I think I broke myself. Evidently, sitting around the apartment for eight months playing video games, watching TV, and occasionally writing a bit isn't the fast track to fitness that I thought it would be. I used that one weight machine where you grab hold of a bar/weighted pully system overhead, sit down, and pull the bar down to your chest. After thirty of those, I was done. Two days later, and I currently can't really move my arms very well.