As Pandemic Fears Soar, We Take Fort Knox!

They cut me loose from the auction house several days earlier than I had anticipated. This means I’ll be lighting fewer Churchills with Franklins. Lighting up Doral Ultra Lights with Tender Vittles coupons lacks the same panache. Therefore, I’m rather glad I gave up smoking years ago.

One of the groovy items the auction house is considering for an upcoming auction is a complete set of blue prints for Fort Knox. Forget your Oceans 11 through 29. Here’s my pitch for a heist film more in the Ealing Comedy styling. A bunch of socially inept nerdy aging experts in collectible historical items who work in an auction house begin to hatch a scheme once a set of Fort Knox blueprints comes in from a hopeful consigner. The ringleader makes sure to run copies of all 23 sheets on the huge in-house flatbed scanner before the Treasury Department gets wind and confiscates the original documents. So of course the team suits up in their most sensible tweeds and ascots, tucking flintlock derringers into waistbands and Madrigal-palooza 2002 fanny packs and they head off to Kentucky with a large Chartpak brand Expand-A-Tube, filled with 23 rolled-up pages with all they need to know about ventilation shafts and the drainage system into the janitorial closets. Once we get Wilfred Brimley and Chad Everett locked, the funding will surge in!

Here’s a taste of the top secret plans:



While in Dallas I dropped by my friend Jean’s place. While I was showing off my iPhone, it began searching for a WiFi connection. I was amused by the top two available in the neighborhood. Usually people give their WiFi routers a boring name. Not so for “Not Your Bandwidth” and “Hidden Rebel Base.”

I was glad I’d decided to look up Jean. Her daughter Emily, a gifted photographer, was having her first solo show the following day. Here’s an iPhone photo of Emily standing in front of a massive picture of a coconut. Her show was all fruit. Emily Lamberty, “Edible Goodness,” at the Wit Gallery, Dallas, Texas. Great work.



It’s been a long day. Earlier this morning I was sitting in Dallas at my sister’s place working on a Humanities Texas mini grant. And then I headed out to deliver some Josiah Youth Media Festival propaganda to some Dallas film and video programs.

The first stop was SMU. I used to go to SMU back in my 20s. I like to tell people that it was the cheapest school I could go to. That’s all thanks to Uncle Adolphus and the family scholarship over in the theology department. Both me and my sister leveraged those funds to study abroad. I also took several classes on campus. After the account was depleted, I had to go elsewhere.

Yet, I do have fond memories of SMU. The overwhelming elitism aside, there were some damn fine teachers. And a few worthwhile students. But I’m a sucker for campus life. I’ve taken college courses on six campus in England, Massachusetts, California, and Texas. All that, and the best I can show is a measly BA in English LIt. The fact is, I miss the academic world terribly. I’m pretty certain that I don’t really belong in those hallowed halls, but I continue to Jones for it, constantly wondering why I’m not in grad school.

And today, while walking across the quad at SMU, it was like those two decades separating then from now just vanished. It was the smell, that most evocative of the senses. The mowed grass, sure. But something else … something earthy which seemed to be wafting off the live oaks surrounding the Meadows Museum. Something.


Next I did a few drive-byes, dropping JYMF materials off at Dallas private schools. I would have hit some of the public schools, but those lacksidasical folks at the Dallas Film Commission never got back to me. I’d phoned, asking which high schools have film programs. I was instructed to send an email, submitting my request in writing. This I did. Things looked promising when I received an email explaining that my email had been forwarded to the proper department. I can only assume, two weeks later and dead silence, that it went to the go-suck-an-egg department. And, therefore, I can only assume that the gianormous city of Dallas, Texas has NO high school film / video program in their ISD.

The Performing Arts Magnet sounds a good bet, but, no. I’m sure that they have some insanely talented students making films on their own time, but this sort of production work isn’t on their curriculum, leastwise not according to their website.

What gives? Tracking down student video programs shouldn’t be this difficult. Most of the programs in San Antonio are proud to post this info on their websites. Google student film programs in Dallas, and you get a lot of nothing. Different story for San Antonio. If there are public school video production programs in and around Dallas, they need to get the word out. I have no problems eliciting works from private schools. I’m not a total snob. Hell, I graduated from a private high school. But, shit, Dallas, what’s the problem? I know your kids are making movies. But why are you hiding them?

Next on my agenda was to squeeze in a bike ride around White Rock Lake. The sun had come out for the first time in several days. And as I had brought my bike with me, I wasn’t going to waste the opportunity. The parks around the lake were fairly busy. It seemed that some people must have called in sick to take advantage of the first sunny day in weeks.

Here’s a view near the boat house on the west shore with the spillway in the background.



My next stop was to drive out to Arlington to visit a class of film students at UTA (University of Texas at Arlington).

And so, in one day, I managed to visit two University campuses which bear prominent placement on my college transcript.


UTA is where I finally graduated. After, I believe, 16 years of piecemeal education. And UTA is where I met filmmaker Andy Anderson and became interested in making movies. He was, back then, head of the art department. He also taught screenwriting and film production. At some point (after I graduated) Andy left UTA. But now he’s back. UTA has a master program in film, and Andy is running it. This is very good news

Anyway, Andy was kind enough to let me pitch the Josiah fest to a classroom of undergraduate filmmakers. It was great to be on the UTA campus again. I was also happy to see Andy. He’s looking good. I guess I haven’t seen him in six or seven years.


And now, it’s three in the morning. Tuesday. I’m back in San Antonio. I was hoping to meet with students in the film program at Harlandale high school this week, but this swine flu bullshit might have scared them off bringing in guests. Sure, I can wait until next week. But, guys, I am 100% flu-free, just like almost everyone else on the planet.

It’s the flu, people, not fucking smallpox or even dysentery. Get a grip.


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