Saturday, September 28, 2002

Today, they had a signing for the Buffy musical ("Once More, With Feeling") soundtrack album at Tower records on Sunset Blvd. Caroline and I actually got there quite early; we made it in about a half an hour after they started letting people through. We talked to Michelle Trachtenburg first; we told her that her hair was absolutely beautiful (which it was). She blushed and smiled and seemed very tickled by the compliment.

Next up was Joss Whedon. I told him that I tried to think of something witty to say to him, but I had nothing. Michelle overheard and piped in that she's had the same problem for three years. Then Joss wanted to know why we didn't compliment his hair; he shampooed that morning and everything. We assured him that his hair was lovely. Caroline told him he needed to put on OM,WF as a stage musical, but he said that people would be all, "Who? What? The hell?"

Next up was Amber. I totally understand why people come back from meeting her with stars in their eyes. She was just adorable. I
wanted to give her a hug, but the thug-like Tower guy kept telling us to hurry up. She told me she liked my hair, and asked how I curled it. Then she complained about her straight hair. Then we talked about hair for a while, and how everyone wants everyone else's hair. So instead of asking about when her independent movie "Chance" (with a co-starring role played by my boyfriend, James Marsters) was going to be screened in LA, and what future projects she was looking at, instead, I talked about hair. But she was a doll. I asked to take her picture, and Joss turned around, and they stuck their heads together and smiled. Then, we had to go.

I was really struck by how personable and just plain nice all three of them were. I didn't get the feeling that this was a chore for
them, or that they'd rather be someplace else. Freaking expensive cab ride was totally worth it, for this was a great and most
triumphant day.

Friday, September 27, 2002



Wesley is pretty.



That is all.



Tuesday, September 24, 2002

New Buffy tonight. Whee! Well, not that whee. It was a great ending, and had an interesting beginning that could lead to a really neat season-long story about Slayers getting...chased and killed, I think, but man oh man was there too much Dawn. I like Dawn. I really do. I think for the most part she's a well written character played by a good actress who's really coming into her own. But she can't carry a whole episode. All the scenes with her, and her friends, just fell flat for me. The Buffy as Dawn's mom jokes? Not funny. But, there were good things. Giles. Better (for the most part) production values.

And, I know you guessed it, Spike. Oh, he just broke my heart tonight. "I tried to cut it out." He's been so obviously traumatized by getting his soul back, and the fact that he's all alone in a deserted school basement, with no one to talk to, no support system at all, trying to deal with whatever's going on between his demon, the soul, and his memories...I hate when I feel like this for a fictional character. I just have this huge need to give him a hug, and make him some cocoa, and brush his hair, and tell him everything will be all right. This is just made worse by the fact that I know that they probably won't deal with Spike's storyline all that much until sweeps in November, so he's going to spend a month all alone. Buffy'll come by, ask him to help her fight stuff, and never sit down with him and talk with him and just generally be there for him like he was for her last year. And that makes me so sad for him.

Editing again today. The machine I signed up for last week was completely disassembled, so I had to work on a different editing system. It sucked. I had to cut all my takes instead of getting to leave everything on one spool, and it took forever, and I didn't get near as much done as I would have liked. Again, my partner forgot to turn in paperwork today, which I know reflects badly on me, and Gof All Mighty, I am so sick of working with people that are irresponsible and make me feel like I have to carry their half of the work. And they make me write long run-on sentences! Ashley, dude, if by some weird twist of fate you end up reading this, you really need to get things turned in when they're due. Listen when I talk to you. I told you this weekend, Phillippe needs the camera reports on Tuesday. Make sure you bring them. You want me to bring them? No, you'll do it? Okay. Just make sure you bring them. Make sure you bring them. But you didn't. You didn't bring them, Ashley. Or the storyboards, or the call sheet, or the shot list. And it makes me look like a slacker, too. And you need to bring them! Bill gave you a calendar! Come on!

Sigh.

I was going to write up a big long blog about the Emmys Sunday night, but I'm going to distill it into six words: Conan and Garry on a horse. Oh, I laughed so hard, there isn't adequate hyperbole to describe it. I missed half of the sketch because of all the tears blurring my vision. The beach. The white shirts. The way Garry laid his head down on Conan's shoulder and smiled. I will remember that for the rest of my days. Now if I can only find a screencap.

Saturday, September 21, 2002

It's been an eventful few days. We got our dailies back, they looked okay, and then we had to edit them in two days for Thursday's class. Even though no one in the industry edits film anymore--everything is now digitized and edited on Avids or Final Cuts--we, as students at the presitigous USC film department, must haul in all our reels of film, try to figure out how to use editing machines that were made before my parents were born, and have our film subjected to the most horrific forms of torture. Our sprocket holes got torn! The film ripped! The plates spun the wrong way and all our film flew up into the air. It was like the Keystone Kops editing film. It took us over three hours to make five cuts. It was pathetic.

We shot yesterday for ten and a half hours straight. We finally had to call it a night because we were worried that since we were so tired, we'd start getting sloppy. I can't imagine how professionals work 14 and 16 hour days. I literally can't imagine it. I rescind every comment I've ever made about the pansies in show business that complain about their hours; it's a legitimate complaint. It was grueling, y'all. My teeth were tired when we got done.

I dreamt last night that I went to the doctor, and we found out that I was pregnant. Had I slept with anyone, or did I have a boyfriend? Not in the dream, and apparently not relevent since it was never brought up. They had this new ultrasound technology where they could look at a picture of your baby and print it out clothed and with some type of digital background so you could see what your child would look like in the real world. I was so excited, because my kid looked like Sarah. I was showing pictures to everyone, telling them how excited my sister would be that she'd have a niece that looked just like her. Then I woke up, and was very sad. Damn my subconcious for screwing with me like that. That's so mean.

I was putting on my facial masque (I love pretentious beauty product spellings) this morning, and wondered whether anthropologists had gotten it all wrong, and tribal war paints were really primitive forms of exfoliation and moisturization.

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Caroline decided to make a top five "guy" list, a la the laminated list seen on Friends. Needless to say, I decided to follow suit. Being as how I waste all my free time and have nothing better to do.

1. James Marsters



Quelle suprise, no? Let's face it, James is my boy right now. He's just plain beautiful. Sigh.

2. Mel Gibson



I've loved Mel since I was a freshman in high school. He's the consummate performer, an amazingly intelligent and articulate guy, a great director, and he's really pretty.

3. Hugh Jackman



When I first heard Hugh was going to be Wolverine, I was terribly upset. Then I saw Hugh in the movie. Then I fell in love with Hugh. The guy can act, sing, is unbearably charming, and is a Greek god. I love him.

4. Johnny Depp



I first fell in love with Johnny in Edward Scissorhands, my second favorite movie of all time. Then, I saw him in Benny and Joon. The thing about both these roles is how completely Johnny sublimates himself to become the character, and there's something just mesmerizing about that.

5. Alexis Denisof



Besides being ridiculously, ridiculously good looking, Alexis is a fantastic actor. Wesley is my favorite character on Angel, and it's solely due to Alexis's nuanced, heartfelt performance. He's just wonderful. I want to give him a hug.

Sunday, September 15, 2002

I'm posting yet again to recommend a song. "Romance" by Apocalyptica. It's quite good. This is an original composition, not a Metallica cover, and it's simply gorgeous. Check it out, yo. And, I've linked to it, so you can download it from here. Whee!
Caroline's having a serious wig right now. Anyone reading her "Pusher" essay which will hopefully go up tonight, be grateful for its presence. It was won through much blood, sweat, and tears. And, since this is Caroline I'm talking about, a lot of cursing.

I just got done watching XF blooper reels. Sigh. It made me all nostalgic. The funniest thing I have ever seen is Luke Wilson not breaking character and riding Duchovny as DD absolutely cracks up. I was crying. Sitting at my compuer with actual tears rolling down my cheeks. I think I pulled a muscle or something.
Ah, the weekend. My safe place. The place where I am not made to be upset, or stressed, or filled with anything other than great, abiding compassion for those around me. Until they're the director on our film, and we had to shoot yesterday. Kripes all mighty! First, we were supposed to arrive at the location at 10am. A goodly time. Instead? 12pm. Not so good. Then, she had to go pick up a prop which she should have picked up far earlier than the actual day, and left me sitting at the location with nothing to do all by myself for an hour and a half. So we didn't start filming until 3pm. And then, when we finally get ready to go, she doesn't like any of my shot selections, even though I'm the DP, so we had a ginormous battle of the wills over that. Sigh.

Went to go see One Hour Photo this weekend. It was a very dark, depressing movie, but it was very well made. Fantastic music that to me at least was very evocative of Carter Burwell. Robin Williams is just amazing in it, I can definitely see him getting a best actor nomination, although I don't know he'd have a shot of winning because I don't think the film itself will get the same acclaim. I would recommend this movie only if you're in a good place in your life at the time. Still, very good.

Caroline and I went to Universal Studios Citywalk on Friday, and I bought much James merchandise. A magnet, an 8x10 that has a really pretty picture, and a postcard. Mmm mmm mmm. The guy at the cash register was all, "Heh, do you like Spike or something?" No, dimwit. Goodness, you work in a kitschy sci-fi store, don't make fun of the customers. Loser.

Friday, September 13, 2002

It's been a busy couple of days. Class, homework, general all-purpose work, not big with the fun. I can't find my list of top 20 XF episodes. I know which ones are the top 20, because I originally wrote them on little post-its, but I don't know the order. And knowing that at one point I did know the order and I don't anymore is really bothering me. I can't just make up a new order, because what if I find my list later on and they're different? Which one's the right order then? Yes, it's very difficult for me right now.

I was watching Big Brother last night, and Marcellas had the opportunity to take himself off the nomination block, and he didn't, and he ended up getting voted off. Which is stupid. And it's made me think more about my hypothesis that when people become contestants on reality game shows, they can't concentrate on doing whatever it takes to win the game. How many times have we heard people say something along the lines of "So and So is my friend, and it's more important that I not betray him/her than win the million bucks." Zuh? They've known this person for maybe a month, and that's more important than all that money? I just don't get it. Maybe I'm a cold and heartless bitca, but it's a game show. If I were playing with actual friends of mine, people I'd known for years, I would still lie and cheat and sell them out to win. Because it's not real life. This has become a bit of a cliché, but it is a game. Are any of these people really friends after the show is over? Come on.

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

Pretty picture. It's late, and that's about as coherent as I get.



Tuesday, September 10, 2002

So, Caroline just berated me for not having a long enough update. She's mean. "I'm Caroline, I write big scholarly essays about The X-Files and yell at people when they're not as verbose as me. I drink the same coffee drink from Starbucks. I never have homework."

Shut up, Caroline. u suk.
Right now I'm working on a synopsis of my screenplay. It's tough, because you want to make sure to communicate all the major plot points, but not add in so much detail that it becomes a treatment. It's a fine line to walk, which is why it's taking me for-flipping-ever.

I've been sitting here, looking at the monitor, trying to think of something else to write. Apparently when you have writer's block working on an actual assignment, it extends to the blog that you're trying to distract yourself with. Ah well.

Sunday, September 8, 2002

Homework. Homework. Homework. Gah. I hate it when the books I have to read in class are really interesting, and if it were summer break I'd enjoy reading them in my freetime, but because I have to have a specific number of pages read by a certain day, it just makes it this unbearable chore. Stupid class making me do things. I want to go to one of those schools that isn't all about grading and deadlines but instead about the pursuit of wisdom, the triumph inherent in learning more about the world we inhabit. And also, no homework.

The thing about doing homework is that it makes it less fun to write essays about tv shows. No XF tonight. Reading about Hitchcock. Sound things. Movie synopsis. Gahhhhhh.....
I completely forgot! Also at Barnes and Noble, they had a little spinning rack of mouse pads, and one of them was the exact same picture of the kitten I have on this website. The exact same picture. It was surreal. And then, underneath it, was a mousepad of Van Gogh's "Starry Night," which I just put up on my living room wall last week. It was, like, Mousepad Rack: The Uncanny.

New picture of James on the very bottom. Caroline informed me that the previous picture was "weird." I thought it was pretty, but then again I always think he's pretty. Season 7 promo pictures really need to come out some time soon, I'm getting anxious. Gah.

Saturday, September 7, 2002

The last few days have been grand. Caroline and I went to Santa Monica last night; there I experience the most awe-inspiring Barnes and Noble I have ever seen. It had three floors. Three. There, I purchased a Sigur Rós CD. It was most triumphant. We rode the Ferris Wheel on the pier; it was cool. Go us. (Choose us!) Also! I finally got my James Marsters audio book in the mail. It's eight CDs of James, talking to me. Sigh. And there is much joy in my heart.

One of the highlights of the evening, however, was finding this website. This is the most magnificent site I have ever seen. It is the alpha and omega of websites; the beginning and end of all that is entertaining and good on the internet. It's about "Who's the Boss?" I remember being eight years old, watching "Who's the Boss?" and wishing that Tony and Angela would get together. But then they did, and it was kind of lame. But, still one of my first major 'ships (after Link and Zelda on the Legend of Zelda cartoon Friday afternoons on the "Super Mario Brothers Show," and Max and Agent 99 on "Get Smart.") Be sure to check out the poetry. It's cool, yo. The site design is swell, and I'm totally going to use one of the wallpapers for at least a brief period of time before James wins out again.

The new vanilla frappacino at Starbucks is pretty good. Kinda like a milkshake, a little more...vanilly. Vannila-y? Something. You know. In conclusion, hopefully I'll get around tonight to putting up number 18 on the XF list; if not, it goes up tomorrow. Whee!

Thursday, September 5, 2002

Sigh. Je suis fatigueé. Had directing class thing morning, had to listen to eight pitches and participate in one; luckily, everyone seems to really like my partner's script, so we just have to make a few alterations and clarify a couple things. I'm terrified about shooting on film next weekend, but we're doing a test this weekend so hopefully that will calm my nerves a bit. I had to miss piano class again, this time to check out lighting and grip equipment. Of which there was a lot. I am still not on the payroll at my work study job; apparently, my supervisor took me off because I wasn't in LA working this summer. So I'm not making money. Bah. Will have to fix that tomorrow.

There's this girl in my screenwriting class that has the audacity to also be named Shannon. What's up with that? So, yesterday, I pitch my idea, which is basically about a small scientific outpost on Pluto about 150 years from now, and alien machines, and all kinds of cool stuff. She turns to me and asks, "I don't know if it's logical for your film to be set on Pluto. Why would we go clear out to the farthest planet? She asked this in the same tone of voice as if I'd set my film in a giant bowl of vanilla pudding. Her pitch? A romantic comedy where the lead character gets tired of always sticking her foot in her mouth, so one day just decides to stop talking. Right. And my pitch was the far-out one. She's one of those glib, talky people that just make my teeth hurt. Because I'm grinding them to keep from throwing things at her. My professor was talking about pitches, and just randomly said something about working on a project with Alicia Silverstone, and this girl starts going on and on about how Alicia Silverstone gained ten pounds when "heroin chic" was in, and how ten pounds really isn't that much, blah blah blah, and we're all just sitting there, looking at her. Is it obvious how much I'm not a fan?

Top Twenty Episode of The X-Files

19. Die Hand Die Verletzt

This is one creepy episode. Mulder and Scully investigate a body found with the eyes and heart removed. They at first think that one kid accidentally summoned the devil with an incantation meant to impress his girlfriend, but soon a conspiracy involving the entire community comes into focus. The PTA are worshippers of black magic, one of the teachers is actually a giant man-eating python, and children were forced to participate in dark rituals involving rape and the murder of resulting offspring. It's dark. Somehow even a shower of frogs from the sky, something that in most other XF episode would seem quirky and absurd, here seems ominous and disturbing.



This is just a competently done, average MOTW. There's nothing truly amazing in this episode. But it remains one of the few episodes of the show that really bothered me, even after I turned off the television that night. There was something grossly unnerving in the idea of teachers and the PTA, the ones we trust most in our community to safeguard children and stand for integrity, not only being practitioners of the dark arts, but performing ritualistic sacrifices and abusing children the way they did. And then comes the worst violation of all: they used hypnosis to make the kids repress the memories, and eventually forget all of what happened. It's bad enough when someone's body is abused, but wounds heal. Abusing someone's mind, their memories, their very identity...that's worse than anything I can imagine. All of this together made for one very dark, twisted episode, one that still manages to make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.
Here I am now! Entertaining you! (This is for Caroline.)

Quick update tonight, because I had class until 10:30 for the love of God pm. I have to miss my piano class again tomorrow because we have to pick up lighting equipment. I'm so sick of the production department. They just schedule things, all willy-nilly, and we're supposed to always give up everything else for them. I am not your whore, production department! So now I have to go in and talk to my piano teacher, and get documentation that yes, I did have to go pick up lighting, so that it's an excused absence. Kripes.

They came by and fixed our air conditioning, although it still doesn't cool the bedroom. We're going to have to get one of those stand up fans. Feh. Although, more white noise. Always good. When I grow up, I want one of those wind tunnel rooms you see in movies, where the fan gets accidentally turned on and then the person has to hang onto a grate and then they get blown off their feet and then they lose their grip and then they fall into the fan and die. I want that room next to my bedroom, because I bet that would make some truly triumphant white noise.

Wednesday, September 4, 2002

Top Twenty Episodes of The X-Files

20. How the Ghosts Stole Christmas

Ah, I remember Christmas when I was little. Spiced cider, caroling, opening presents under the tree, and ghosts messing with my mind, making me (fake) shoot people and bleed out (in holiday crimson, no less) all over the warm pine hardwood floor. Good times.

How the Ghosts Stole Christmas is a great episode, more so for the sum of its parts than any one thing. First, it has great guest stars put to good use, something XF has struggled with. Lili Taylor and Bruce Campbell, I’m looking at you. Lily Tomlin and Ed Asner play the ghosts, two crochety old spirits destined to relive their morbid murder-suicide pact every joyous holiday season, hopefully through two other poor souls. This year, it was Mulder and Scully. In one of the tried and true methods of getting the agents to the scene of something peculiar (others being a call from a local law enforcement agent and Scully being all psychic and crap), Mulder calls Scully to a haunted house on Christmas Eve to hang out. Once they go inside…



First, this was a great set. XF is usually on location when we’re not in the basement, Skinner’s office, or the apartments, and I love it when we see a gorgeously constructed set just for the episode. The odd ladder staircase, the aforementioned hardwood, the oppressive and dark study, it’s all good. Adding to the atmosphere are Mark Snow’s always fantastic score and some great cinematography. Although the writing is a bit clunky at times (Carter! Quit writing fart jokes!), the psychology of two ghosts stuck together in this house for decades and trying to get couples to turn on one another is fascinatingly well done, as odd as it is. Asner and Tomlin play it light, creating this macabre dichotomy between what they’re doing and how they’re acting. Asner’s goading of Mulder (“paramastabatory?”) is a particularly well-done bit.

The climax was a bit underwhelming, unfortunately. Mulder and Scully are crawling along with gut wounds, bleeding all over the place. And then they stand up and leave. There’s more to it, but it was a bit of a let down. But, it leads into a great coda: the present exchange. I’m actually really glad we didn’t see what presents they got each other, because it’s much better to leave something like that to the imagination. But the little-kid-like joy the two have in exchanging gifts is just a precious moment, one of those snapshots that I have of their relationship. There was so much angst, so much heartache in their lives. It was nice to see the two of them happy, and it’s one of the reasons I enjoy this episode so much.

Tuesday, September 3, 2002

I had directing class today. Since my professor was shooting something or other, we had an acting session instead, so that we know how to talk to actors and how to work with them and what to look for acting-wise in a script and how to write better scripts in terms of acting. [Jon Lovitz] Acting! [/Jon Lovitz] It was run by Lindsay Crouse, an actress that you would probably recognize even if you didn't know her by name right off the bat. Places in the Heart, The Verdict, and All the President's Men are some of the more high-profile films she's done, but I know her as Professor Walsh from Buffy. She was really cool, very intelligent and articulate, and she also really knows her craft, inside and out. She showed us the method she uses and how to apply that to actors we work with, and even went through one guy's script to make it work in terms of character. It was a really rewarding experience, and we get to have these sessions twice more this semester, which is neat.

Our air conditioner quit working. It puts out air, but on high it barely cools the area in a foot radius around it, so our apartment is just sweltering. Couple that with the heat wave in Los Angeles right now, and it's been a sticky few days. Hopefully they'll fix it soon, if not, I'll have to resign myself to getting four hours a sleep a night. I lay there, thinking about how hot I am. Temperature hot. Maya, you know the context. Shoosh. Then I wake up later, and lay some more thinking about how hot I am. It's not much fun.

I have to pitch story ideas for screenwriting tomorrow. I have one (1) idea thus far. Anyone with movie ideas?

Monday, September 2, 2002

So, I was reading Caroline's rant about Angel and Cordelia
and you know, she is so right. But there's another reason why Angel and Cordy should never, ever get together, and the reason's name starts with "w."

Wesley.


Besides being by far my favorite character on Angel (the show, not to be confused with Angel, the large Neanderthal vampire), because of his depth and strength of character and almost noble bearing, Wesley is also the perfect guy for Cordelia. Now, I didn't start watching Buffy until the fifth season, way after Cordelia and Wesley's odd, and played for laughs, UST in the third season. For a lot of people, their awkward kiss while getting ready to battle the Mayor ruined any idea of the two of them as a couple. Luckily for me, I didn't see this until way after I had decided I wanted to see the Wesley and Cordelia ship set sail.

Cordelia is a fun, biting, deeply sarcastic character with an overabundance of joie de vivre. (Well, until recently, when she became Saint Cordelia the Glowy and Blonde, but that's a whole 'nother blog.) Wesley is rather staid, dignified, and quiet. (Well, until recently, when he became Wesley of the Beard Growth and Lilah Shagging, although I rather like that Wesley too.) They balance each other out, both in personality and in strengths and weaknesses. More importantly, though, at least as far as I'm concerned, they're friends. In almost every television romance on pretty much any show, it seems that the becoming friends part is skipped. People meet and instantly fall in love, and it never rings true to me. Sometimes a relationship isn't angsty and romantic and searing passion. Sometimes it's two people who have known each other through the good and the bad, who are friends that care about each other, and just fall into it. That's what I want for Wes and Cordy.

'Cept, it ain't gonna happen. They'll pair her with Angel because his name is the title of the show. Gah.

I got an email from my film class TA today, and we have picture lock due the Monday after Thanksgiving. Picture lock, by the way, is when you've finally got the picture of the film edited just the way you want it, and after that's done, you start editing sound. Why does this suck? Because in essence it makes it really difficult for me to go home for the break. Y'see, USC cinema, there's a reason the university doesn't have classes on Thanksgiving and the day after, and it's so people can go home. So when you have something like that due immediately following, and people have to edit on campus, and they live in sodding Kansas, it makes it rather difficult! Gah.

So much anger! I really need some chocolate.

Sunday, September 1, 2002

Oh dear sweet mother of Buddha (Maya, that's you); it is frelling hot here in LA. Earlier today it was, like, 110 degrees. Which is far too hot. You can make hot chocolate with milk that temperature, and that's how hot the air is. Hee, I had to edit because I used the word "hot" about seven times in that last sentence.
Caroline and I went to go see "Signs" again last night, viewing number three for me. I tried to write directly afterwards, but I had too much brewing around in my head to be able to articulate it clearly. Now, hopefully, I'll be able to get on paper (metaphorically speaking) what it is that hits me so strongly about this movie.

Mel Gibson's character, Graham Hess, was a reverend, but packed away the cloth when his wife was hit by a truck while walking and died. Six months later, a casual observer might think that he was handling things quite well. His younger brother, Merrill, has moved in with him to help with his two children, and they seem to have set up a nice family unit. But you can see the weight in Graham's face, in his eyes. He's tired, and he's lost, and I got the very real sense that he's not sure anymore how to fulfill the obligation he has to take care of and comfort his children and, to some extent, his brother. See, Graham hasn't lost his faith. He still believes in God, he just hates Him. His entire life had been built around his loyalty to God and to his family, and he feels betrayed. So when a crop circle appears in his backyard, when lights appear in the sky, and when an alien appears in a neighbor's pantry, it isn't a miracle or a revelation or a sign to Graham, not like it is for everyone else.

The alien invasion is only a device, albeit a creepy, well-done device, to isolate Graham and his family. The idea is to strip everything away; he's already lost his wife and his trust in God, and now he loses everything else besides his children and brother, all waiting for Graham to tell them words that will make their fear go away. But Graham doesn't have any comforting platitudes. When talking to Merrill on the couch the night the alien ships first showed up, he tells Merrill that there is no one watching out for us, and that there is no meaning to any of this. His wife's dying words were drivel, and she ended up bleeding out between a truck and a tree, and the lights in the sky aren't a miracle or a harbinger of doom, they just are.

Things get worse for Graham. On the final night of the invasion, the Hesses board up their home. In the middle of this, Graham decides that rather than grabbing a quick bite to eat, they should all have whatever they want, no matter how extravagent or time consuming to prepare. He decides this in the manner of a man on death row deciding to really enjoy his final meal. Graham doesn't think they're going to survive, so why not have French toast? Everyone else eventually realizes this, and they sit solemn at the table, not willing to dig in. Graham becomes manic, refusing to pray, to pray to a God that would abandon him with no clue of how to go on. Later, boarding up the last doors, he tells each of his children stories of their births. I haven't completely sussed this out yet, because these are beautiful moments between a father and his child. To tell them how precious they are, how unique, or even as a last ditch attempt at comfort and calming, I don't know what the purpose was, but it's too late. The aliens are in the house, and they finally have to sequester themselves in the basement, in the dark. After a long, tense night and Morgan's terrifying asthma attack, the Hesses come back upstairs, sure that everything is back to normal.

Then a lone alien grabs Morgan, ready to spray poison gas in his face. This is the climax of the film, but more importantly it is the turning point for Graham. He remembers the last thing his wife said to him, "Tell Graham to see." And he does see. He sees that his son's lungs are closed to the gas, he sees the toxic glasses of water his daughter has left on every flat surface, and he sees the bat his brother once used to belt a ball 507 feet. These facts are important to resolve the plot and defeat the alien, but they're not all that Graham sees. Maybe things are meant to be, and maybe they aren't. Maybe there's a reason Merrill couldn't make it to the majors, because otherwise he wouldn't be at home with his bat. Maybe there's a reason Morgan has asthma, because otherwise he would breathe in the gas. Maybe there's a reason Bo can't finish a glass of water and has premonitions in her dreams, because otherwise the alien would be almost unstoppable. Maybe it's fate, or God. But maybe it isn't. Maybe these all are just coincidences.

Graham sees that just because things happen for no apparent reason doesn't mean that he's alone, that he was betrayed. Losing his faith in God made him feel as though there was no one watching out for him, no one there for him. But he sees that he isn't alone; he has two children and a brother that have these amazing things inside of them that in any other situation might be seen as faults or foibles or harmless quirks. But when the world and everything in it fades away, when the television and radios quit working, when alien ships descend from the heavens, Graham sees that he already has everything he could ever want or need, right in front of him.

Throughout the film we see the outline of where a cross used to hang on the wall, and we see the same imprint on Graham. He's thrown away the trappings of his faith, the cross and the collar, but he still carries it with him, in his eyes and in the slump of his shoulders. At the end of the film, however, he's put up pictures of his family on the wall where the cross had hung. Not because his family has managed to restore his faith in God, although that's true in its own right. No, his family hangs because they are what saved him, not just his life but his spirit. He puts the collar back on, ready to face the world again. He knows now that sometimes everything comes together, and sometimes everything falls apart, but he will always see that it's not just random sparks or pointless occurances, but instead the beautiful unpredictability of life in all its twists and glory.