Can't believe it.

Well... I can.  I mean, it's me, so I'm never surprised when I inadvertently hose myself somehow.  If you stay tuned, dear reader, I'm sure you'll recognize a repeating pattern in the way I repeatedly manage to pee into the fan, metaphorically speaking.  Hopefully you'll find it endearingly dizzy and not homicidally frustrating.  Time will tell.

I'm on the FlyAway bus from Van Nuys to LAX, sitting with both my carry-on bags, my big suitcase stashed in the belly of the bus, by the time I realize I've left my Sundance program guide and my press screening schedules on my desk.  With all of my notes on them.

Okay.  Well, fine, Sundance.  Be that way.

I'm sure this won't be my first moment to totally cock up on this trip.  I'm feeling rather altered this morning anyway, a result of the medicine Dr. Miller prescribed me plus my customary pre-flight Benadryl.  Makes me feel like the Sta-Puft Marshmallow Man.

Great start to the 25th anniversary Sundance International Film Festival, eh?

Greg tells me our 7:10 AM flight is traditionally packed with execs en route to the festival.  Maybe.  I don't really recognize anyone onboard.  I did see Darren Lynn Bousman downstairs in line, way ahead of me, but I think he was on his way to Atlanta because while I was buying a magazine, they kept giving "a last call" to a "Darren Bows-man," over and over, at least five times.  I hope he didn't miss his flight to the start of the roadshow tour for "Repo: The Genetic Opera."

Greg and I both make it onboard early and find our seats, then wait another half hour for everyone else to do the same.

I can't believe it's been eight years since I've been to the festival.  2001 was a great year to go, and Kevin Biegel (creator of the new Courteny Cox sitcom "Cougar Town") and I had one of the best movie-watching trips of my life.  So much fun.  I still think seeing John Cameron Mitchell play a small club gig as Hedwig a day after seeing "Hedwig And The Angry Inch" for the first time is one of the best things I saw in my 12 years at Ain't It Cool.  So why haven't I been back?

Money, mainly.  It's not cheap.  This year, I was assigned to cover the festival, which I prefer because HitFix made all the arrangements.  This was one of the first things I discussed when we first started talking about me joining HitFix.  Festival coverage is, in my opinion, important for an outlet like ours.  January's a huge month for us anyway with awards season and the TCA tour... and this year, especially, how we handle it may define us as a site.

But wait... I just realized something else, just as the plane doors are about to close and we're about to take off.

My digital audio recorder is sitting right on top of my Sundance program.

God.

DAMN.

It.

Time to fly.  Time to ride the Benadryl express to knock-out-land and for a few short hours of plane sleep.

My program.  My notes.  My recorder.  Crap.

* * *

Modern air travel, post 9/11, sucks a fat one.  That is all.

* * *

Back on the ground in Salt Lake City, everything's surprisingly easy.  There are a lot of pepole herel but Nothing seems to slow us down.  I run into my managers (the great Aaron Kaplan and the greatly saracstic Sean Perrone) at the baggage claim.  How bizarre that my first face-to-face with them in 2009 is a random encounter in an airport.  Greg gets the rental car with very little fuss, and in a flash, we're on the road.  No traffic on the way into Park City.  There's snow on the ground, but it's not bad out.  Crisp.  Clean.  Beautiful and bright.

Check-in at the Sundance Headquarters is also ridiculously easy.  Within three minutes of arrival, we've got our credentials, and we're filling out ticket requests for Friday and Saturday, as far in advance as possible.  I get everything I ask for, then head off to lunch while Greg goes to cover the press conference for opening day.

I spend some time trying to organize my first few days of films.  As of now, here's what my schedule looks like:

FRIDAY

"The Killing Room" (11:30 AM)

"Humpday" (4:15 PM)

"Rudo Y Cursi" (9:30 PM)

"Grace" (midnight)

SATURDAY

"Brooklyn's Finest"  (9:00 AM)

"Spring Breakdown" (1:45 PM)

"Reporter" (4:15 PM)

"Dead Snow" (midnight)

SUNDAY

"Black Dynamite" (midnight)

Now, hopefully I can add two movies on each of the first two days.  If so, I"ll feel like I really make the most of this first weekend.  If not, it'll still be a full two days.

Time to start bothering publicists now.  Be back with more after this afternoon's press screening of "Mary And Max," an animated film featuring the voices of Philip Seymour Hoffman and Toni Collette.

Starting to see other familiar web faces show up now.  It feels like things are actually underway finally.  And Spike Lee has wandered by three times now.

Here we go...