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Hal Incandenza
Feb 12, 2004



No one likes me and I write like poo poo can I sign up?

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Hal Incandenza
Feb 12, 2004



Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a pretty good network show, I watch it and I pretty much watch almost no TV shows at all so it must be good.

Are we supposed to write a single multi-part story or can it be one-off stories each time? Either way is fine I just want to follow the rules.

Hal Incandenza
Feb 12, 2004



Never mind, I saw rule #2 now, not sure how I missed it.

Hal Incandenza
Feb 12, 2004



Ernie. posted:

Silicon valley and Kimmy Schmidt

Ernie I wish you had decided to participate. And that you had read your works in your glorious lilting voice.

Hal Incandenza
Feb 12, 2004



I'll probably have something on Saturday, haven't really started to write yet although the outline is definitely pretty formed in my mind.

Hal Incandenza
Feb 12, 2004



EccoRaven posted:

terrible ##vote derp

shut up quantum mirrors are really sweet

Hal Incandenza
Feb 12, 2004



don't be a pussy jj write it in second person

Hal Incandenza
Feb 12, 2004



I had been worried that after five years nothing would be the same and I’d get that familiar hollow feeling of loneliness that always seemed to conspire with low-level depression to drag me down in situations that should otherwise be cause for celebration. As I stepped off the street and crossed the threshold into the lobby for the first time in five years I suddenly felt faint and figured a panic attack was around the corner. At that moment I almost turned to walk back outside, but before I gave into the impulse I moved to the corner and leaned against the wall to take stock of the situation. I realized what I was feeling wasn’t panic or fear, it was something often incorrectly labelled as déjà vu or lumped in with the ubiquitous term nostalgia. But this wasn’t a feeling of having been there before or longing for the past, rather it was the feeling that I was back where I belonged, returning to a metaphorical home that I’d never really had throughout my life.

My eyes darted about the lobby, picking up little details that hadn’t changed in the preceding half-decade. There was the oil stain on the carpet that we had vainly attempted to cover up with a potted plant, the old battered leather sofa with so many cracks in the upholstery it looked like a fractal nightmare. The horrible poster of Marlene Dietrich and her hairy arms was still just a bit askew. Maybe I didn’t recognize any of the employees or the customers, but I knew their ilk. Merrill hadn’t changed his hiring practices, and the concessionists were still rather… well-endowed teenage girls of the type that didn’t mind that their 55-year old slightly sleazy boss made inappropriate comments towards them. I caught some snippets of a customer who bore a striking resemblance to Moby as he regaled a bored looking female companion with a soliloquy on why early European directors like Ingmar Bergman were so superior to modern ones like Michael Haneke. Some things never change, I thought to myself as I drank in the whole scene, feeling a new spark of energy returning inside me. It had been a long five years.

My reverie was rudely interrupted when I felt a stinging slap on my back, but I stifled my annoyance when I turned and saw The Gecko leering at me with what can only be described as a poo poo-eating grin on his face.

Christopher Greco, aka The Gecko, aka Topher (I had met him in the heyday of That 70’s Show and in addition to being named Christopher he also shared the same awkward cool-nerdiness of the main character… and he also resembled an actual gecko) was just the person I needed to see. Friends had been hard to come by lately and most of my older acquaintances had drifted apart as we grew older. A familiar refrain to most, but I had never been great at cultivating new relationships so this opportunity to resurrect a past one came as a relief. They say it takes 10 times the resources to create a new customer compared to retaining an existing one, and that same formula seems to hold true for friendships.

“I didn’t think you were gonna make it, ya bastard” he said, casually draping an arm around my shoulder, something I suspected he remembered I wasn’t comfortable with and was doing intentionally to gently caress with me.

I deftly slid to the side and out of his reach (I’ve never really been too comfortable with casual contact, regardless of the gender of the person who initiated the contact) before replying. “Well, really it seems like it was a very fortuitous coincidence that I logged onto Facebook for the first time in months on the same day Merrill posted about the change. Once I saw that I kinda felt like I had to find a way here.”

Chris gave a sardonic chuckle. “Sure, you won’t come back to visit actual people, but you’ll come back to spend a night with 35mm film instead.”

I shrugged, not really knowing how else to respond to that. “Well, this is the final show before we rip the film out and put in the digital projector,” Chris continued “and Stanley was your baby for a long time so I suppose I get it. Of course I get it.”

Most moviegoers don’t think twice about how the picture gets on the screen in front of them. It’s a fairly opaque process that their only real glimpse into is a beam of light shooting out of the porthole in the back of the theatre. But if you spend your whole life steeped in the industry you learn that film is almost a living thing. Squeeze your thumb and index finger along the edges of film as it passes through the rollers and sprockets of a projector and you’ll feel each individual sprocket hole and splice as it runs past. You can look down from the booth and see the unique film grain and the tiny scratches that inevitably accumulate over dozens of runs. Pay close attention and you’ll see a tiny bit of wobble and focus drift that is like the signature of an individual projector. Yes, a digital projector will get you a perfectly masked image with clean edges and spotless picture that looks the same every time, yet there is no soul at all. Digital images feel cold and lifeless compared with film. Film has a soul. So of course I wanted to be here to experience that for what could be the last time.

“Alright buddy,” Chris finally said, as I realized I been daydreaming for a bit “we’ve got about an hour until the show, and I figure you’d want to do the honors of threading Stanley once last time.”

“drat right I do!” I said, coming back to life. “But first we gotta perform The Ritual, right? I mean, I feel like that’s a moral imperative!”

Chris turned and headed up the stairs to the projection booth. “You are god drat right we are, what kind of half-assed operation do you think this is”? I hurried behind him and up into the booth, pausing by Stanley the 35mm projector. Merrill had managed to get a hold of an archive print of 2001: A Space Odyssey which was pretty much the perfect thing to run as a last show on a projector we had affectionately dubbed Stanley Kubrick. I doubted that it was Merrill’s idea to have that be the final print, he wasn’t that clever or sophisticated. Chris or some other projectionist must have set it up.

“Man, there are an awful lot of splices in this print” I said as I ran my hands over the top of the film. “Even for a 50 year old copy.”

“Yeah, it was dropped off by some weird guy, not the one who usually delivers the prints. I think maybe this is someone’s personal copy or something. Guy was kinda strange about the whole thing, wanted to make sure we weren’t going to do a test run-through or anything. So I hope I built it up right. Guess we’ll find out along with everyone else.” Chris said in a somewhat worrying tone.

We moved to the back of the booth and started scrambling up the ladder that led to the roof hatch. When we were up to the mezzanine/alcove area that was above the booth but below the roof itself I stopped. It was sort of like the ½ floor from Being John Malkovich, only instead of a weird office it was filled with just metal beams and insulation (which I dearly hoped wasn’t asbestos).

“Hang on” I said, “if we are going to do The Ritual one last time I gotta check on something” and stepped off the ladder into the alcove. It was dark, but memory guided me past the second vertical beam and I reached up into an open vent and felt around. A warm feeling came over me as I felt the cool touch of a metal cylinder. I pulled it out to reveal a can of compressed air with the top cut off and a piece of soda fountain hose stuck into the side of it with a hollowed-out film core attached to the top of the hose. A bong. A bong made from parts scrounged up in this very projection booth.

Chris came up behind me shining the light from his phone across my face. “Holy poo poo dude. I can’t believe that thing is still there. You made that before I ever even came here!”

“Not only that,” I said, peering into the bowl “it seems like I left it here loaded and ready to go. Seems only appropriate we give it one last run through also.” I carefully carried it the rest of the way up the ladder and onto the roof. It was a beautiful night, a little cool with a little breeze and almost no clouds or moon so we could perform The Ritual under a brilliant constellation of stars.

Unsurprisingly, marijuana that has been sitting exposed in a dirty alcove for five years isn’t really all that great. Chris and I each got a nice lungful of hot, dry and nasty smoke that left us both coughing our lungs up for a minute. Once we had disposed of the ancient herbs Chris pulled out an old plastic 35mm film canister (not from a theatre but from regular old normal cameras) and popped the top to reveal a large nugget of pot stuffed inside. He packed the makeshift bong a few more times as we sat there smoking and talking about the theatre and movies.

“Man this is some pretty good stuff” I said a little hesitantly after a few rounds, worried that I was going to lose the dexterity to thread the projector. “Where’d you get it?”

“Actually, I got it from Merrill who says HE got if from Trey Anastacio himself. Normally he’d never give me any, but I told him you might come by and he insisted on giving me some of his best. He’d never say it, but I think he really misses you.” Chris punched my arm lightly as he said it.

“I’m kind of surprised he’s not here. His family put all the projectors in this state in 50 years ago, I figured he would want to be here for the last show on any of them.”

“I think he wanted to be here, but it was too hard on him. His father dying last year and now if feels like film is dying. He’s changed a lot. Still the same old rear end in a top hat, but a bit more introspective now.”

We sat in silence for a few minutes, both of us lost in our own thoughts, staring at the stars. The bowl was filled one last time, and we ended The Ritual the way we always did, with a game of “name that movie quote”. We went back and forth dozens of times until I stumped The Gecko with “Living here day by day, you think it’s the center of the world. You believe nothing will ever change. Then you leave; a year, two years. When you come back, everything’s changed. The thread’s broken. What you came to find isn’t there. What was yours is gone. You have to go away for a long time… many years… before you can come back and find your people.” An iconic line from Cinema Paradiso. I was rather pleased with myself for coming up with something so appropriate for the situation, and that I could remember the whole thing. Chris grumbled good-naturedly about the unfairness of picking something from before he was born but took it all in stride as we headed back down the ladder into the booth.

“You ready for this buddy?” he said as once again he draped his arm around me.

“gently caress yeah I am, let’s get this thing started!”

Hal Incandenza
Feb 12, 2004



Ernie please narrate mine (and others!) in your amazing voice!

I love everyone's so far and I'll have lots of comments this weekend.

Ecco don't disappoint me!

Hal Incandenza
Feb 12, 2004



Nice one JJ

Hal Incandenza
Feb 12, 2004



jon joe posted:

Is your strategy to avoid being voted out by saying only nice things?

It's working.

Nah, I am just saving all my vitriol for Quidnose. Can't wait to rip that guy to shreds.

Do you hear me Quid? I'm coming for you!

Hal Incandenza
Feb 12, 2004



Gotta say though, what the hell kind of name is Orzart?

Hal Incandenza
Feb 12, 2004



Ecco please come in here and criticize me

Hal Incandenza
Feb 12, 2004



Diqnol we still have that unbreakable alliance right?

Hal Incandenza
Feb 12, 2004



Little Mac your story better be either about your career training to fight Mike Tyson, or else it should be written in equation form. Anything else is unacceptable.

Hal Incandenza
Feb 12, 2004



jon joe posted:

Hal Incandenza's Novel in 5 Posts.

I just want people to post more!

Hal Incandenza
Feb 12, 2004



Meinberg posted:

Orzart is a perfectly cromulent name!

It's no Thistleton, that's got a nice nature feel to it.

Hal Incandenza
Feb 12, 2004



Meinberg posted:

Names are hard, okay?

No I really liked Thistleton. It's like a name that would be in the Hunger Games. Or a town in some Earthbound-like RPG.

Orzart is fine too, just quirky and hard to say

Hal Incandenza
Feb 12, 2004




This is gonna be a Meinberg alias in votefinder soon

Hal Incandenza
Feb 12, 2004



Ernie if nothing else please make a recording where you pronounce the proper names from all the stories.

Hal Incandenza
Feb 12, 2004



Diqnol didn't submit anything, does he just get modkilled or what?

Hal Incandenza
Feb 12, 2004



Quidnose posted:

I haven't read anything but my own writing and I barely read that

I still coming for you Qui'dnose!

Hal Incandenza
Feb 12, 2004



Ecco you are just assuming the main character in my story is male, that seems sexist of you.

Hal Incandenza
Feb 12, 2004



Sorry derp I was reading Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age most recently, probably going to go back to Wolf Hall after that

Hal Incandenza
Feb 12, 2004



My first major screenplay shall be about the modern day saint known as BottleKnight

Hal Incandenza
Feb 12, 2004



the database ate my homework

Hal Incandenza
Feb 12, 2004



I surprised even myself by threading Stanley up pretty much perfectly on my first try. I suppose it’s like that whole riding a bike thing. I glanced over the whole setup while The Gecko pretended to check my work, wiping an imagined speck of dust off the front of the lens. He raised an eyebrow at me.

“You happy with this?” he asked, and then pulled a white cloth glove out of his back pocket.

“gently caress you, I’m not the one who scratched the poo poo out of that print of Tsotsi, but I am the one who stayed up all Christmas Eve helping you put that print of Django Unchained back together after you dropped it on the floor, rear end in a top hat.”

Chris laughed as he struggled into the glove, finally wiggling his way into it and running his index finger around the edge of the platter. “Hmmmm… seems alright I suppose. Guess it’s time.”

I took a deep breath with my finger poised over the “Start” button and imagined I could feel bit of electricity arcing from the tip of finger into the button and from there into the projector itself, tendrils finding their way into the space between the gears. The clock ticked inexorably towards the top of the hour, the air thick with the smell of popcorn oil and the buzz from the theatre providing a muted background through the port glass. The appointed time arrived and I pushed down on the button. The lamp sparked to life and the motor began to turn over as the picture leaped out of the lens and onto the screen below. I tweaked the framing and tightened the focus and headed down to the theatre, leaving Chris behind to keep an eye on things for the first reel of the film.

In the end I was probably more interested in watching the crowd than the film. It’s not that I don’t like 2001, it’s just that I’ve seen it more than a few times, and quite a few of those were “events” so it’s hard to get up for it, even on what’s ostensibly a pretty special occasion like this. I still perked up for some of my favorite moments, and my critical eye still caught parts where the film itself was degraded from years of use and where little bits were missing because frames had been lost. About the time the Discovery was going into orbit someone a few rows behind me dropped a beer bottle that proceeded to ruin the scene by loudly clattering down the sloped floor, ringing out loudly every time it ran into the metal frame of a seat. Moments later the beer itself made its way past me, threads of suds breaking off into various tributaries that might have been a map of the Nile delta as it worked its way to the front.

As the film wore on I started noticing more and more irregularities in the print. Every five minutes or so there would be a brief audio pop and I started to imagine I could see a distorted image accompanying each sound. Soon my attention was off the “action” (I hesitate to use that word in describing the movie) and I was trying to focus on each of these anomalies. They were too infrequent and brief to get a handle on it before the show was over but I couldn’t seem to get my mind off it. The patrons filtered out, and once again I was treated to snippets of intriguing conversation but I was too lost in my thoughts to really catch what was being said.

The theatre finally emptied, with more than a few people staying all the way through the end of the credits, including a group of six girls that clearly were here as part of a film studies class as they were loudly debating about whether Professor G- was right about the death of film. I tried to flash my most winning smile at them hoping to catch their attention but somehow they all had the willpower to ignore me. I looked around for Chris but he was nowhere to be seen. Finally an usher walked in and began the tedious chore of cleaning up the detritus of the patrons. Feeling nostalgic I started helping, carefully only picking up trash that I didn’t deem too “icky” and stepping carefully around spilled drinks.

“Do you think these people think it’s ok to thrown loving trash everywhere at home or at their jobs?” I asked the usher, who appeared to completely ignore me. I stood staring at him for several seconds with a peevish look on my face until I caught his eye and he reached up and pulled out an earbud that I hadn’t noticed before.

“Sorry yo, did you say something?” he asked.

“Yeah, I said people loving suck” I replied, and just then the bottom of the large popcorn bag I had picked up completely dissolved, disgorging a ghastly slurry of soda and popcorn bits. “Who the gently caress spills an entire soda INTO a bag of popcorn?”

“loving A” he said, putting his headphones back on and tuning me out. I sat down in a seat at the back of the theatre and closed my eyes for a minute, thinking again about the glitches in the film. Glitch of course being a digital term and inappropriate to the analog world of film, but still.

I’d just about decided to not wait for Chris any longer and head up to the booth myself when a cool hand wrapped itself around my eyes and my back tensed up.

“Who’s your favorite Buffy the Vampire Slayer character, hotshot?” I felt as much as heard whispered into my ear.

My heart may have actually flipped as I replied “Of course it’s Buffy, bitch. Duh.” I turned around and smiled as I saw someone I hadn’t expected to see, someone who I simultaneously hoped and dreaded to see.

“Oh. My. God. Sophie! SOPHIE!” I exulted, and she grabbed me and hugged me tight, kissed me briefly on the lips and stepped back to look at me appraisingly.

If I were to use a social networking term to describe my relationship with Sophie it would have to be “It’s Complicated”. We’d never officially “gone out” but we’d spent the better part of a year hanging out, planning adventures, finishing each other’s sentences and generally behaving as if we were a couple but constantly performing an intricate dance to keep ourselves just a bit apart. She was one of those girls that other girls probably hated because boys would fall all over themselves for her. She was decent looking, but her real attraction was her bold fearlessness and her sharp wit. She always had a way of interjecting herself into every conversation and then making it feel like she was talking just to you. If you weren’t sure of yourself Sophie would devour you, but she and I had fenced for a bit in our initial meeting and I’d passed whatever test she had and she had let me into her life as one of the few real relationships she’d ever had. Then about six years ago she had left for film school in Austria and left me behind and hadn’t looked back. A year after that I had left too, and that split had led to the last five years of my life from which I was still digging myself out from.

“When did you get here… I thought you were in… well I have no idea where I thought you were but it certainly wasn’t here.” I said.

Sophie hesitated just a second before answering. “I got here two days ago. I was staying with… Merrill. He told me you were going to be here. I had hoped to be here to start the show but I got held up…” she trailed off.

“Ah. Merrill, eh? I guess that’s not a big surprise” I said, sounding a little more annoyed than I meant to. “Is he still working overtime to get into your pants?”

“What makes you think he hasn’t been there already?” she said with a twinkle in her eye.

“I know Merrill well enough to know that if he been there I’d have already known about it.”

A mischievous grin crossed her face “Yeah, I’d be his biggest conquest for sure.” I shrugged and studied the tops of my sneakers. There was a nasty glob of soda-soaked popcorn on my left shoe. Gross.

Sophie broke the awkward silence a moment later. “Listen, I know this is weird but it really is amazing to see you. What do you say we run down the street and get some sushi and sake, you know, old times and all that?”

“You know what Sophie that sounds awesome but there is something weird up with this print and I want to go break it down and take a closer look at it. Something is really not right and it’s killing me. But if you want to stay and help with that I will do anything you want the rest of the night.” I really hoped she would stay. “Have you seen Topher by the way?”

Sophie made a cute little frown/pout. “Topher? Are you still calling him that? He never liked that you know.”

“Whatever, Sophocles”

She giggled “I did see CHRIStopher, he got in Merrill’s truck when he dropped me off and they took off for who knows where. Merrill said to tell you that I was in charge until he got back. Which probably won’t be for quite some time. Now, tell me more of this intrigue you speak of. Could it be a mystery for, say, The Bloodhound Gang?”

I grabbed her hand and felt the same tingle I did when starting the projector. We chased each other up the stairs and I shouted out “The game is afoot!”

Hal Incandenza
Feb 12, 2004



Meinberg, Reinborg is you, isn't it?

Hal Incandenza
Feb 12, 2004



At least judge me Ecco

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Hal Incandenza
Feb 12, 2004



I will never write again

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