Expedition to the Valley

Yesterday I met up with Dar for lunch. She'd been contacted by Michelle Brower, a freelance writer, who wanted to write about the local film scene for a new arts magazine called Collapse. I gather Dar wanted some moral support. And I went a bit overboard printing up an eight page annotated list of people Michelle might want to talk to. Perhaps I wouldn't have bothered if I had first looked up info about the magazine. It's not really what I'd call an arts magazine, but more of a local entertainment scene magazine. It's still at the on-line phase, but a print version is coming soon. We'll see where it goes as it grows.

Michelle was very pleasant. She has a background in therapeutic message, but wants to get into freelance writing. And as the magazine in question is okay with, as they say, “novice writers,” she is clearly making a calculated decision to write for free, to put herself on the freelance map. I might do something along the same lines. Why not?

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There was a production gig I'd agreed to maybe a month ago. A filmmaker got my info from Pete. It was never more than a possibility. And as the weeks went by, I never heard back from the woman. Well, not until the middle of this week. She'd first spoke to me to run camera. She wanted to shoot both film and video. She had her film DP, and I was hoping I would be the video shooter. She has a budget. That's always nice to hear. But the other day she asked if I could do sound. I enthusiastically said yes.

And so, this Sunday, I'm heading down to the Rio Grande Valley to crew on a film to be shot on this side of the river, as well as over in Mexico. Sounds like great fun. In fact, Carlos Pina (getting a warm recommendation from both Pete and myself) will be onboard as PA — that's great, we'll be in his neck of the world.

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Today I realized that my lists of items needed for the shoot down in the Valley was so diverse that I probably should visit the dreaded Wal-Mart. So, the closest one to me was on the southside. Fine. I also needed to pay my internet bill and make a deposit at my bank. Time Warner and Washington Mutual both have branches off of SW Military, my Wal-Mart Highway.

When ever I visit Wal-Mart, I'm reminded of a Simpsons gag. Marge and the kids are shopping at the Monstro-Mart (which, actually, is supposed to be Sam's Club). The motto of Monstro-Mart is, as I recall: “Where shopping is a baffling ordeal.”

I wanted a pair of short pants. Ooops. The season of short trousers seems to be over. Sorry.

What? This is Texas. South Texas! We wear shorts and flip flops in December. For Christmas mass, for chrissakes!

How about the sun block?

“Sorry sir, I guess it's really a seasonal item.”

I looked at the dear child filling the shelves with Lubriderm products.

I wanted to explain that even though I understood this was the Southside with a certain ethnic demographic, the fact is, if she'd subscribe to the CDC listserv newsletter, she's learn that, indeed, melanoma is on an increase among Latinos. But all I did was whimper something asinine like, “It's always sunscreen season in Texas,” as I stroked my lilly white facade — a face so pale that I believe that the Eskimo have a thousand words to describe the nuances of my skin tone.

She gave me one of those kooky “I'd be a lot happier if you weren't here” smiles, and suggested that I try the cosmetic aisle.

I gave her my best “I'd be a lot happier if I weren't here, either” smile, and decamped Aisle 23-H Skin Care, and headed to Cosmetics. Why not?

But she was right. I spent about ten minutes in the cosmetics section perusing the wares (or, as the gents in the security room watching monitors 213 – 215 might say: “mincing about mid the lipsticks and eyeliners). And finally, there it was. A tiny section of sunblock on a shelf three inches from the floor. At 7 bucks, I really couldn't afford more than one bottle, but I panicked. I bought two. Lord knows when I'd see another one again.

…until I stopped at the Dollar Tree, where “everything is a dollar” (perhaps they should clarify, “each thing is a dollar”), and I found bottle after bottle of sunblock for, yep, a dollar apiece.

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