Saturday, December 4, 2010

New Post

How do you begin again? It seems strange to write (or blog) after such a long absence, yet it is oddly familiar.

Today I read, or at least I was read to, a new post by my fubro (future brother) Stephen Oliver. He too hasn't written in a while, albeit a much shorter while than I, but his article got me thinking about many things. I'll try and link to it here (did it work?) but as a short recap for this post let me say this about the speaks volumes.

In a nutshell Stephen was writing about nothing. Absolutely nothing. Of course there were a few snippets of information concerning things like how he spends his time in Guatemala, but overall the point of the piece seemed to be asking the question (and then answering it sort of) what should I write about and why should I write about it? People seem to ask him a lot to keep his blog updated more, but he fails to do so because he has no inspiration and nothing that he would consider interesting to write about. It dawned on me that the last part could apply to a greater portion of writing in general.

And so for the last hour or two I've been looking at news columns online: The New York Times, Boston Globe, Dallas Morning News and others to get a sense of what people were writing and why. Most news articles made sense because there is a significant portion of the population that cares about the happenings of the White House, Wall Street, and the group that decides who gets nominated for a Grammy. Then I moved on to television news sites like CNN, Fox, and MSNBC. They too had their place along with the paper groups, even though I could do with a bit less of their writer's personality, and it still seemed relevant. Then I got here and didn't know what to think. Websites like "Blogger" and "Wordpress" are free for anyone to publish their inane drivel on to and no one can stop them. No one really has to read them either. What is the point of writing about things if you have no expertise or knowledge of the subject?

"Obama is the greatest President ever."

I would probably get a ton of pats on the back and good comments from the people I know up in Oregon with a statement like that. The question is does it matter to anyone that I think that and if so why?

"The government is an entity who's purpose is to protect and serve it's people not trample on their rights and liberties through coercion and legalized aggression. The Obama administration is no better than Stalin's of Russia."

That statement would get a ton of hateful comments from those same people (and probably some really awesome comments from my friends in Texas including my brother Andy), but again do I have any credibility saying that?

When someone writes something on one of these sites it instantly loses all credibility if only because it hasn't gone through a filter of some major corporation news source. That's fine because most of the people on these sites are not experts in the fields that they are talking about because those people would be writing for reputable sources. Thinking about this I took another look at true news articles and websites.

With the exception of (ironically) Fox news, they all seemed cold and dishonest. Every article has been run through a machine that makes each piece factual and without personality (except Fox that pretty much made their voice clear). So then I went back to Blogger.

There is something to be said for the writings of the masses, it's honest. Listening to an NPR discussion about WikiLeaks a professor from UCLA said this about internet news and the movement from elite journalist teams to a mass gathering and sharing of information, "News has moved now from a 'lecture' as it was in the beginning to a 'dialogue' that can be interpreted by the community at large instantaneously".

Now this is a far stretch for a connection to the beginning of my post, but I'll just say that each writing is important even if there isn't much information or interesting events to be had.

....oh, and I also found five dollars.

Monday, April 5, 2010


So the iPad is out now and everyone is excited. The question is why?

This is the best attempt at honestly reviewing the iPad.

Every single point they had about why the iPad was better than an iPhone (oddly enough, the iPad's biggest competitor it seems) had to do with size. They say "Well, the iPad has more memory!"

Duh! It's can fit more in there!

"Oh, well uh, the resolution is WAAAY higher than an iPhone!"

Bigger size = more pixels = higher resolution. What else you got?

"It's sooooo much easier to type on the much larg... I mean nicer keyboard."

Wait, were you about to say 'larger' keyboard?

"Um, there are iBooks?"

Ok, I'll take that. It's a pretty looking Kindle w/out the massive library. So lemme ask you a question, can I make a call on it?


Hmm, so I'm buying an electronic book. No thanks, I'll just stick with my phone.

"Wait! But you can use AT&T's network w/out a contract! Please! Please!! 3G service wherever you need it!!"

Let's not talk maps. I think you guys have your hands full with that already.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

In A Rut

Well friends, I still need a job. It's been a year since I've had real work, which sounds weird, but I need one desperately now. I'm not quite going for broke here, but it's getting to that point. So I decided that I should look back on this past year and see what kind of decisions I made and if I would've maybe done something else, something more.

After I was laid off, I went two routes. First I started looking jobs that were part-time, full-time, any-time that could pay me something. Then I looked for some creative work to do for free and bought myself a camera and a decent editing suite to practice on. That was one of the best choices I've made. After meeting with my now good friend Jaime, I became a cameraman for Pirate Satellite TV and worked on tons of shoots. Again, really good choice. I got so much experience out of it and eventually became an Executive Producer organizing and running the operation. Hard times only got harder and it seemed our dream for getting the show picked up by some advertisers wouldn't happen. Although I will help out in any way that I can, I needed to find something to work on, something that I could make some money and gain some experience at the same time.

Enter the "Lewis and Clark Were Here" project. In October, my now fiance and I decided to embark on this journey that would take us across the country and provide a compelling (and marketable) adventure for people all across the US. For 6 months we planned out every detail and when it came time for the funding and sponsors it looks like we could maybe make it, but there many of our loved ones that were worried and had reasonable arguments that we shouldn't go on with our project. Sadly, we had to make the decision to cancel (or possibly postpone) our great walk across the country and now we are left with the question of "where do we go from here?"

That is the question for many Americans today, "where do we go from here?" Many people state that your 'job' does not define you as a person, and while that may be true it does give someone a purpose. Not having a defined 'purpose' in life can be devastating to a person's psyche as I'm learning over the year that I have been more or less unemployed. I do not consider myself to have been unemployed for a year, just lacking in monetary compensation. But when you don't have a solid schedule everyday and are putting together projects that yield you experience but no revenue, it becomes harder and harder to wake up, wash your face, and go out into the world.

I'm sorry if this post seems depressing, but I'm grasping at straws. Everyone everywhere is saying, "everything is going to be alright" and "you'll get a job eventually", but what if it doesn't. There are people out there who don't have jobs and haven't for quite some time. There are situations that don't get better. Believe me, I am more of an optimist than most people you will have met but there is a breaking point. My dad tells me almost every time I talk to him that "man, I really admire your spirit. I couldn't do that." Maybe that's because he has a job, and always had one.

Forgive me for venting.

I have taken more drastic steps now and will continue to take greater steps to get a job. My message to all those who are unemployed out there and looking for work:

Do what you can to stay sane without hurting yourself. Talk it out with as many people as you can and try your best to stay focused on your goals. And above all else don't give up. If you keep going, if you keep trying, your persistence will pay off.

I have to be close now, because I've been trying a while. So hurry up and get here job cause dammit I'm ready to work!!!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Future is NOW!

It's been too long my friends, but as many of you know I've been busy. What with the wedding to plan for and our walking trek to St. Louis coming up, my thoughts were elsewhere. That and nothing really peaked my interest that wasn't related to either Lewis and Clark or wedding stuff, but no more!! Here is the coolest thing I've seen in months.

You can take a minute to watch that movie if you'd like (I would suggest it), and I'll wait.

.....WASN'T THAT FREAKING BADASS!?!! I should say that my old roommate Mike and I had that idea a decade ago which we, in turn, got from playing the original Metal Gear Solid. The game, for those of you who haven't played it, was lightyears ahead of anything else in either film or gaming, showing a level of interactivity that I believe has yet to be matched. For example, in one particular boss fight during the game (Psycho Mantis) the enemy is psychic and can read your thoughts. He proves this by reading the memory card in your Playstation, and if you've played any games by Konami (the developers) then he will tell you something like, "I see you like Castlevania!" Creepy and way cool. Then he shows his telekenetic powers by using the 'shock' function on the controller that vibrates by telling you to put the control on the ground and he will make it move. He sends a message to the controller to start vibrating which makes it move....way, way, way to cool. Finally since he can read your thoughts he knows where you will shoot and you are unable to damage him ...unless you switch your controller from controller port 1 to port 2! This degree of innovation in gaming is beyond anything that I've seen even today and more game/film companies should take a page out of Kojima's book.

This film apparently did. I applaude them for breaking boundaries and making film more immersive, but I did have a problem with this approach. In a horror film the point is to get scared. It gives people a rush, like a roller coaster or bungie jumping, of adrenaline that some people enjoy. In order for a horror movie to do that they need to create a level of suspense that heightens the viewers level of paranoia to get the holy grail that is the "scream". With the phone call, you break down what in theater is called the "fourth wall" and the illusion of the film is gone. In an attempt to further immerse people into the story and suspense they are actually breaking it down in a lot of ways. Now I could be wrong about this and it may make it even more suspenseful, but I have to say that if I had the phone and was talking to this chick on the screen I would try and get her to do the dumbest things just for kicks and laugh about it while I was doing it.

One thing is for sure, this is a really awesome idea and it will make boatloads of cash! How many times would you go see a movie that could be different every time? How many times would you go see it to try and be the person she called? The answer, a lot....a whole lot.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Fly the Fatter Skies!!

So anyone who is active in the Twitter community (not me) or knows about and/or is a fan of Kevin Smith (me) has heard about this fiasco that recently went down between he (KS) and Southwest Airlines.

Here's the rundown in case you missed it.

1. Smith was on his way back from MacWorld and flying out of the Oakland airport and decided to go home a bit early, and so was put on standby.

2. He purchased two seats, which he contests, because he prefers to left alone and comfortable.

3. The flight that opened up for him had only one seat which he said he would take and a ticket was given for said flight.

4. He sat in his seat, a middle seat toward the front of the plane between two ladies, and then two minutes later was asked to leave because the captain of the plane believed him to be a "safty risk".

5. After much arguing and beating around the bush about why he was asked to deplane, Smith went on a tirade on Twitter that put Southwest Airlines in hot water.

Ok, now we're all caught up.

Here is my take on this (if you care). First let me start by saying I'm a big fan of Kevin Smith, he makes funny movies and I listen to SModcast every week. So I am a bit biased. I believe that ultimately Southwest Airlines was in the wrong here and for many reasons.

First and foremost ... he fit in the damn seat! Armrests were down!

Second, what is the exact nature of this "safety risk"? Is it that fat people have greater trouble moving around and therefore in an emergency situation will put others at risk with their slow movements? Is it that their physical weight is so great that it throws off the physics of the plane and there is a chance the pilot may not be able to operate the plane properly? Does it just waste gas to have a bunch of fatties on the plane instead of starving babies? "Safety risk" is just a euphamism for wasting the airline's money basically. Unless it's actually the first reason with the moving thing. Actually, I did hear that if a plane is overweight then there is more of a risk of sliding off a runway, so there is that, but you don't see or hear about airlines pulling off Aussie rugby players (muscle > fat, and people think it's not discrimination). The main point here is you need to have properly defined parameters for this kind of thing when you want to make it policy. Otherwise you get a situation like this and you get screwed. Even IF Southwest Airlines was "in the right" in this situation, they couldn't defend themselves. Any way you look at it, it's discrimination. If you don't have it properly defined then it's an arbitrary call.

Now, I just listened to the hour long SModcast that Kevin just put up about this whole adventure and it actually changed my tune a bit. Like I said before I'm a Kevin Smith fan, I like his work and what he does otherwise. Having said that, I think he went a bit too far and I'd just like to say, Kevin, you're kinda acting like a bitch. By that I mean for a while there you were speaking from passion and rage in a way that didn't make sense. You said at one point that you were entertaining the possibility that "they did it because someone didn't like your movies". Now I know, you said it one time at the beginning (of SMod) and it was definitely a joke then, but later on it sounded as if you really believed it for a second. Come on man, get real. I know there are haters out there and the higher up you are the more extreme they get, but seriously? I'm just going to pass that off as, you were really really pissed and you let it get to you. You weren't thinking clearly. Toward the end you calmed down and things got back to normal.

Do I think SWAir was in the wrong? Yes, definitely. Did Kevin Smith go to far? Maybe, but I can discount the truly ridiculous things he said like "they did this because of my movies". I know you're really mad, but UFOs aren't coming to abduct you. I think this is a good thing because if it works like it should then SWAir will provide better training to their employees or actually make a legit policy that makes sense.

Here is what I would like to see. If weight is an issue then weigh everyone and everything. If you take an average adult human weight + 1 average weight check in bag + 1 average weight carry on and X by the number of people on the plane and then subtract that from whatever the number is for unsafe weight on a given plane, then you will know how much wiggle room you got per passenger. That could be your cutoff point. Then if someone complains you just show them an equation! It's math and physics, you can't argue with that! Also, KS had just some carry on stuff, but what if someone weighing 200lbs checked two 50lbs bags? "Safety risk"?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

My Bologna Has a First Name...It's O-S-C-A-R!!

So the Oscar nominees came out and....who really gives a shit. Not to be rude, but the Oscars have been a sham for a long time now and with a few exceptions, haven't really given credit where credit is due. There are a lot of things that I could point out about previous Oscar contests that start a discussion or two, but let's focus on this year's nods shall we?

The only thing I really want to talk about is the Best Picture category. In previous years, the Best Picture allowed for five nominations, which is fine. This year, in an attempt to get people to care about the Oscars, the Academy has increased the number from five to ten! What do this mean to all of you? It means that there are five extra movies in that category that have absolutely no chance of winning, but are put there so you at home can say, "hey, I saw that movie"!

Many a year the winner of Best Picture has been something that a large portion of movie-goers hadn't "the English Patient". The year of my birth (1982) the winner was "Gandhi" and after that it was "Terms of Endearment". Not to knock on those films, but they weren't that entertaining. But these are the typical winners, big time dramas that deal with serious and real issues, and almost always real people.

This year the nominees are: "Avatar", "The Blind Side", "District 9", "An Education", "The Hurt Locker", "Inglourious Basterds", "Precious", "A Serious Man", "Up", and "Up in the Air".

First of all congratulations to "Up" for being only the 2nd animated movie in Oscar history to be nominated for Best Picture. Problem is they created a whole category so that they wouldn't have to do this, and therefor "Up" is throw-away nomination #1.

Now let's go to the meat of the non-nominations, which are "Avatar", "District 9", and "Inglourious Basterds". These films were fun and broke a lot of rules in film in a cool and interesting way. "Avatar" of course is the behemoth born of behemoth mother James Cameron that made 3D legitimate for years to come, but the story, acting, and pretty much everything else weren't any different from a normal summer blockbuster. "District 9" to me is the closest to an actual nominee out of these three with it's unique documentary film making style and incredibly lifelike and well acting aliens like we've never seen before. On top of that, it deals with real world issues that mirror those in parts of South Africa. Still, I think we're a bit of a ways off before a sci-fi movie gets the Best Picture. And then there is "Inglourious Basterds". Gratz to QT for the nomination both for the film and himself, although I doubt he was looking for it. This is a perfect example of a film wanting to be fun. I loved it, except that the "Tarantino-Table" conversations went on waaaaaaay too long. This has a snow cone's chance in hell of winning, but if Christopher Waltz doesn't win for Best Supporting Actor I'm going to f-ing knife someone!

Well, that's a lot of stuff right there, but the real reason I'm writing about this can be summed up in this question: "why isn't 'Star Trek' nominated....FOR ANYTHING!!" Seriously guys, of all the movies I've seen this past year "Star Trek" was the best! No question. It was well acted, great editing, direction, sound, writing, story, I mean ....WTF!?! If you're gonna put something like "Avatar", "District 9", or "Up" in there (and "Up" is by no means the best Pixar has done) you gotta have "Star Trek"!! Way better movie in my opinion than any of those (well, maybe not "District 9", it was really well done)! It's been a long time since I've seen a movie that performs so well on every level in the way that "Star Trek" did.

And by the way Academy, do you really think we don't know who will win Best Animated Feature when "Up" is nominated for Best Picture? Come on.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Alas, Poor Donnie, I Knew Him Well

The other day (several weeks ago) my buddy Kevin sent me this rewrite of The Big Lebowski (a portion of it) that was done in Shakespearean pros. Now, The Big Lebowski is already a masterful work of cinema and, in my opinion, of literary merit, but to take it Shakespearean seems like a capital idea!

So it got me thinking, what other films would have their level of awesome boosted by Shakespearean dialogue? Here is my list:

1. The Matrix - it could easily be done considering the lofty (and somewhat childish) philosophical discussion that go on throughout the film, not to mention seeing Keanu Reeves doing Shakespeare is worth 10 bucks in and of itself.

2. Meet the Parents - I'm not one for Ben Stiller's brand of comedy. At least not his 'incredibly-uncomfortable-and-excruciatingly-embarrassing' films...Zoolander and Dodgeball were awesome. I think seeing him recite line after line of exasperated statements when flushing the toilet, or setting fire to that wooden thing, or the conversations in the pool during the volleyball game would be priceless.

3. Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen - This movie actually wouldn't be good with Shakespeare. I just would like to see him try to do it and then watch as his head exploded.

What movies would you like to see in Shakespearean form?

Here is the link for the Lebowski rewrite:

Monday, January 18, 2010

Obsession...Not By Calvin Klein

A woman stopped me on the Burnside today and asked me,

"Excuse me sir, where is the nearest Starbucks?"

Before I tell you what I replied, let me give you some back story.

I like coffee. Actually, it is more like an obsession, but not for all coffee. When I was in high school Starbucks was just beginning it's push east from its home in Seattle and energy drinks were coming into their own. By the time I made it to college (and required a substance to stimulate me out of bed) coffee was really booming all across the nation, but in Texas energy drinks were still king. By the end of college I had about enough of the horrible taste of Red Bull, Monster, or Bawls (which still makes me laugh) and switched over to the flavorful and creamy mocha-frappa-lotta-gotta-getta-gowah-chino lattes. This included Starbucks.

Fast forward to a year after college and I found myself disatisfied with every restaurant and snack shop having a cafe portion and serving the same sugary crap coffee. It didn't matter where you bought it, because after the first wave of the coffee craze everyone just made what Starbucks made which is sugary horrible coffee. Then I found Cafe 360 near my apartment in Austin. They served gourmet Italian roast coffee called Segafredo and it was delicous!! I had never been able to drink just black coffee, I thought it was too strong and too bitter, but this was perfect. After that I exclusively drank coffee from there.

A year or two later I went to travel with my sister about Italy and Europe while she was studying there and came across a cappuccino. Now I've had cappuccinos Starbucks, and quite enjoyed them, but nothing prepared me for the cappuccino I had in Italy. The coffee was at the perfect temperature, the roasted flavor and aroma teased my senses, the milk was light and frothy, but smooth as silk and more satisfying than ice cream. Unbeknownst to me I had been drinking dirt water topped with non-dairy whipped cream all this time.

Now I live in Portland, Seattle's sister and competitor for coffee greatness and I tell you I have found the greatest. At Coffeehouse Northwest you will see skills unmatched by any barista. Seriously, these guys are scientists about coffee. I once overheard a conversation between the owner and one of his fellow baristas about what the proper brew time for a shot of expresso should be for different pours of coffee....I don't even know what that means. I once had a drink remade FOUR TIMES because it wasn't up to his standards. And best of all, the owner took a trip to NYC to tour some coffee shops and found the best cappuccino he ever had and when he asked the owner made this drink so special he told him to use a certain organic milk. It was more expensive, but the owner could have it no other way and now exclusively uses it with his cappuccino, which are in my opinion the best in the world.

So, back to my story. What was my reply?

"There is one two blocks that way ma'am, just across the street. But you could go to Coffeehouse Northwest and pay half the price for ten times better coffee at a shorter distance."

She stared at me for a good three seconds (I actually almost got two blinks in) and said,

"Oh, well I'll just go to Starbucks thank you."

Poor thing, she apparently was a re-tard. (Hangover)

PS. Good news to one and all (or just fans of coffee), Coffeehouse Northwest in addition to roasting their own beans (starting in Feburary) will be opening a drink cart somewhere on the east side!!! Hooray for good coffee and hooray for food carts...uh, I mean drink carts!!!

Monday, January 11, 2010

I'm Sorry Jimmy Fallon

So I was listening to the latest SModcast (Kevin Smith, Scott Mosier) and I had an epiphany. Not really an epiphany, more of a realization.

Throughout the show they were laughing at funny comments, themselves, and their own jokes. When they laugh, I laugh. Even if I don't know what they are talking about I laugh. And then it dawned on me, that's what they put in a laugh track for!

I had actually already known that from film school, but this made me think about it in a different way. I rewatched some of Jimmy Fallon's old skits from SNL and found them to be funny in the moment. Afterword I always thought he was being unprofessional, but when I was watching, I was laughing.

I wonder if you took out the laugh track on Seinfeld if it would still be funny?

PS. I decided it would be based on the fact that the show Curb Your Enthusiasm is funny, which does not have a laugh track.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Texas Pride

There has been a lot of talk recently among my family and friends about Texas. More specifically, the amount of pride Texans have for their state which is considerably higher than any other states' pride (everything is bigger in Texas).

My fiance is in Texas for the 2nd time in a month (lucky) and is visiting Austin for the first time. She remarked on one of her other blogs about her trip thus far, which has a theme similar to this blog, about how everything is bigger in Texas.

But the real reason for writing today isn't because of Texas pride (although it sort of is), it's because today is the National Championship and Texas....will.....WIN!! I am currently wearing everything that I own that has Texas Longhorns on it and I must say I'm feeling quite toasty.

Now I could go on a tirade about how Texas is the overall best team and that Colt McCoy (the winningest quarterback in NCAA history and best completion percentage in history) should have gotten the Heisman trophy, but I won't. Instead I will Longhorn coach Mack Brown do the talking.

AP asked Coach Brown, "what the team will do this time without a huge, game-changing player like Vince Young to lead the way?" and Coach Brown said this,

"Well, I guess I'll have to settle for the winningest quarterback in NCAA football history."

Well said Coach Brown, well said.

Then later he was asked, "Bob Stoops (Oklahoma head coach) and Coach Pelini of Nebraska went to visit Nick Saban (head coach of Alabama) the weekend before the game, for a pow-wow of sorts, what are your thoughts on that?"

Brown - "Well if that actually took place then I would consider it the greatest compliment a football coach and team can receive. I mean if you have everyone ganging up on you, you must be doing something right."

Ohhhh, burn!!! Coach Brown really knows how to talk to the press and be a politician as well as a great coach. Let me tell you Coach Brown, if it was me I would've gone a different route like,

"Really? I suppose they want to let Coach Sabin in on their secrets to LOSING!! BOOYAHH!!"

Maybe I'd leave off the 'booyahh' but you get the picture. Mack Brown = class. Hook'em Horns!!!