Happy New Year!
I ended the year — almost — on a fun and interesting note, as a guest speaker at the first “annual gathering” hosted by Hollywood Jesus; I am told that video clips of the speakers’ presentations, including my own, may end up online in the near future. The event took place in Renton, Washington, only three hours’ drive or so from my home in Vancouver, and it was fun to meet the various people there — a few of whom I had met on junkets in Los Angeles, a few of whom I had only “met” online, and a few of whom I had never met before in any way, shape or form but would certainly like to meet again some day.
I say I “almost” ended the year this way because I actually left Renton around 6pm, and by midnight I was at a small party hosted by some friends from church. In between, I spent an hour or so with my wife at the hospital — and, good news, it seems that, while she won’t be coming home for good yet, the hospital might let her out for a few hours here and there on “day passes” beginning as early as tomorrow.
The drive down to Renton on Friday night had its interesting moments. At the border, the American customs officer asked me where I was going and what I was doing, and when I told him I was going to a conference for film critics, he said, “And what do you do?” “I’m a film critic.” “Have you seen the new Ingmar Bergman movie?” I blinked at this and finally said, “You mean Saraband?” “Yeah, Saraband,” he said, pronouncing the title slightly differently, as if to correct me; then he asked, “How is it?” Not really sure if I wanted to get involved in a prolonged film discussion with a border guard, I said something trite like, “Well, it’s definitely an Ingmar Bergman film — after all these years, he hasn’t lost it.” “That was shot on video, right?” “Yeah, it was.” And it went on like this for a few more minutes, with him mentioning titles like Scenes from a Marriage and The Virgin Spring and trying to remember the title of Cries and Whispers before I finally mentioned it. “Well, you seem to know your Bergman,” he said, and not long after that, he let me through.
I wonder how many other Canadians driving down to the States have to pass that test before they can enter the country!
JAN 17 UPDATE: Here’s a picture of the view from the front of the church, where I did my speaking. David Bruce is behind the video camera, Greg Wright is to the, um, right, and my substitute laptop is at the bottom of the frame (my own laptop was in the shop):
And here’s another picture I took with my brand-new Olympus 500, of a few of the Hollywood Jesus people walking back to the church from the Vietnamese restaurant where we had lunch: