2:30 p.m.: Arrive at Fashion Island, having gotten the proper directions this time, and only had to make one drastic, corrective U-turn. Find the courtesy lounge. Marvel at the array of free brownies and donuts. Despair that there is no free booze...and considering the lounge closes at 6, there probably won't be.
2:45 p.m.: Have lunch at Wahoo's Fish Tacos -- "wet" burrito with green sauce. Register severe disappointment when said sauce turns out to be made not from green chilies, but some kind of cilantro and sour cream concoction. Finish burrito as a single tear of disappointment slowly ambles down my cheek.
3:30 p.m.: First movie of the day: Heather Henson's Puppet Dreams III, a compilation of new puppet shorts put together by Jim Henson's daughter. Some of the shorts are utterly incomprehensible (Susan Simpson's "Boll Weevil Days"), some pretty damn funny (Jeanne Stern's "Les Maloventures de Zut-Alors," Richard Mansfield's "The Tale of Mr. Fox"), one is like an extended Tool video (Paul Kloss & Matt Acheson's "Sin Eater"), and one is perhaps the best 4.5 minutes committed to celluloid all year -- a Brazilian film entitled "Tyger," in which a large tiger rampages Godzilla-style through a major city, and in his wake the city turns into a jungle and people are transformed into animals. Gorgeous stuff from director Guilherme Marcondes.
Before the movie started, however, we got a whole bunch of commercials again. Note to fest: this is overkill, and counter-productive, because I now hate Karl Strauss beer's ad so much that I will never buy one. It's fine to introduce each film by thanking the sponsors, and completely expected to begin with several title cards listing all sponsor names and logos (might wanna check the spelling of "Chipotle," though). But in between that, to have commercials for a Jaguar dealership, Absolut vodka, the OC Post, Central Park West Apartments, Karl Strauss, and a twofer ad for Farmer's Merchant Bank and Body Glove? Too much. Filmgoers, you might want to think about coming in ten minutes late, as long as you've secured tickets earlier.
5 p.m.: Need a drink. Decide, in the interests of journalism, that Absolut's new premium brand "Level" needs to be sampled. Find bar inside restaurant that shall not be named. Note the irony that bartender needs stepladder to go up a level to secure bottle of Level. Taste Level, figure out that tagline "beyond smooth" is more or less accurate -- Level is sweet and doesn't burn at all. Feel craving for apple martini, and hope to try it with new Absolut Pears, but notice latter unavailable. Drink more anyway. Get frustrated that there are two bartenders, only four customers at the bar, but service is super-slow nonetheless. Angrily leave a mere 10% tip. That'll learn 'em!
6 p.m.: Check out Broken English, a Zoe Cassavetes film about how hard it is for Parker Posey to find a good man in New York. You can tell it's a Cassavetes film because everyone smokes and drinks constantly, but obviously not a John Cassavetes film because they don't seem especially damaged by such behavior. Also, there's a plot. Posey's dating woes ring painfully true to some of us, except that in real life she probably has no such troubles, but then the movie decides that the perfect solution is to hook up with a skinny French guy who's passionate about women in a way that no mere American mortal can ever be. Great, keep stoking that fantasy in women's minds; bad enough that most of us already don't live up to their high standards. Most unintentionally funny scene is when Posey is on a date with a pretentious actor (Justin Theroux) -- they go to a really fancy sushi place, but appear to be eating California roll and dyed-pink ginger. Any serious high-end sushi chef would have kicked them both to the curb the moment they asked for a roll of any kind.
7:30 p.m.: Go to mall food court. Get free samples from every stand. Buy nothing. Leave satisfied.
8:00 p.m.: Wonder why almost everything is closed at 8 p.m. on a Saturday. Go to Borders (open late). Flip through Entertainment Weekly's summer preview. Start thinking about OC Weekly's summer preview. Breathe sigh of relief remembering the deadline is some weeks off yet.
8:30 p.m.: It's time for Death Note, most anticipated film of the fest (by me). Movie does not disappoint. Japanese horror-comedy-cop flick about a young law student named Light who finds a book created by Ryuuk, god of death. Write anyone's name in the book, and they die. If you like, you can be really specific about how they die, but the only catch is you have to know the person's real name and what they look like. Light decides to play vigilante, and starts offing the world's criminals, which catches the attention of the cops and a mysterious mastermind named "L." Meanwhile, Ryuuk, who's 9 feet tall, and looks like an F.W. Murnau rendition of David Bowie playing the Joker, just hangs out with Light, eating apples and being invisible to everyone else. Bonus points for having the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Dani California" play over the end credits for no discernible reason. Movie is over two hours, ends inconclusively, and leaves you wanting more. Fortunately, the sequel screens tonight.
Also, part one screens again on Tuesday at the Lido Regency. No US DVD release is set yet, but a Hollywood remake would seem inevitable. Just don't lose Ryuuk -- he's awesome and a toy of him needs to be made. Maybe a Beanie Baby.
10:15 p.m.: Attend after-party at OCMA. Enjoy four bowls of free pasta. Realize only available beer is Karl Strauss, creator of annoying movie ads. Rationalize it's okay if it's free, because none of this writer's money is going to them.
10:40 p.m. Check out ongoing performance art piece -- three tattoo artists collaborating and improvising a new design on the leg of one lucky victim. It's a skull. Big surprise. What, you expected they'd draw a teddy bear or something?
Midnight: Hit the dance floor. Enjoy the moment as attractive woman ropes me into threesome dance with her man, who gets gay-panic when she does so.
Leave sober, having only had two Strauss beers and not enjoyed them much. Not because of any ad-based bias; just more of a liquor kinda guy.