personal comments edit

My sister Tai got married this weekend. Friday the 9th, actually. The ceremony was in the Portland Mormon temple. I, being the inactive churchgoer I am, was not allowed to actually witness the ceremony proper. I did, however, get the distinct pleasure of wandering about the grounds in my suit in the 90 degree heat and having my picture taken.

That night was the reception. Maybe 1500 square feet of space and like 200 people. You do the math. It was crowded, hot, and vastly disorganized. We had cheesecake, veggie trays, and lemon-flavored water. For being on such a budget, I have to congratulate Mom for pulling it off; it could have been way worse.

I was the Designated Cinematographer. That is, I got to film the process of getting the pictures taken as well as the reception afterwards. So I kept busy, but it was also sort of a pain. I didn’t really get to see anything because I was always behind the camera.

I guess several people showed up the next night to the house we held the reception at. I don’t remember seeing it, but from what I hear, the invitations read something like “Reception the evening following the ceremony.” So people read that as “the following evening” and showed up a day late. That sucks, ‘cause the house the reception was at is way out in Gresham and is actually pretty hard to find. It took Jenn and I almost an hour to get there.

So now Tai’s married. Good for her. Do I like the groom (Dan)? Honestly, I don’t know him. I never really hung out with them, and only really saw him in passing most of the time. I can’t say I dislike him; he seems nice enough. I just don’t know him. I look forward to getting to know him, though. I think it’ll be good.

Going through this whole ordeal gave me sort of an epiphany, though: My sister has a whole life, a whole separate side of her, that I know absolutely nothing about. I guess I used to feel in tune with what she was up to and where she was in life… but I realize now that I haven’t a clue. She’s got her own thing she’s doing, and while I think that’s great, I can’t help but think we either used to be much closer or maybe neither of us had much going on before. Maybe it’s my inherent need to control my surroundings and now she’s not within “my control.” Whatever. Life moves on.

Walking through Target the other day, Jenn and I saw they have these new “snack bars” out: “Cookies & <insert name of candy here>”. They had all different types… “Cookies & Milky Way”… “Cookies & M&Ms”… Basically, a cookie bar on the bottom with a topping made out of whatever candy. So I say, “Hey, Jenn, check this out - it’s like Twix, but with other candies.” Then Jenn promptly points at the box of “Cookies & Twix.” What? Cookies & Twix? Isn’t that what Twix is?

The logic befuddles me.

Saw this Jet Li movie, Contract Killer, the other day. It was pretty good. It was a tiny bit disappointing after seeing something as big as xXx, but it was still a lot of fun.

movies comments edit

If James Bond is the epitome of British intelligence, then Xander Cage is the US reply.

xXx is cool. That’s all there is to it.

Vin Diesel plays Xander Cage, an extreme sports star / adrenaline junkie who likes to go just a little too far with his political statements. Samuel L. Jackson plays NSA Agent Gibbons, a man trying to stop a rebel group in Prague that wants to unleash biological weapons on the world.

The problem is, standard NSA field agents can’t seem to penetrate this “underground culture” that the anarchists seem to be a part of. They stick out like sore thumbs and get killed. So what’s the obvious answer? That’s right, fight fire with fire. Recruit someone already on the inside of this underground culture.

But how? Easy - kidnap a bunch of known criminals and other miscreants, throw them unwillingly into a bunch of scenarios, and the last man standing will get sent on the mission.

Okay, so the recruitment part of things leaves a few plot holes. So does the rest. That’s not the point here - it’s an action movie.

The point is, everything they do in this movie is cool. Stunts are done bigger, better, faster. There are avalanches, car chases, skydivers… everything you hoped for is here.

Plus, Vin Diesel was made to be an action star. This guy rocks. He’s just got a certain badass presence, sort of like The Rock, Bruce Willis, and Clint Eastwood. There’s something about the guy that screams “Don’t fuck with me.” He was great in this movie, and I honestly can’t wait to see the next movie he’s in. (Note: I was not a big fan ofThe Fast and the Furiousbut admit that there was a certain amount of entertainment value there.)

Asia Argento played Yelena, a sort of love interest for Vin Diesel, but aside from looking really good, I don’t know what to say about her. She was the equivalent of a Bond girl - there, but not terribly prominent.

Anyway, I highly recommend this one. I’ll definitely get it when it comes out on DVD. I did buy the soundtrack this weekend - a two-disc set - and it’s cool, too.

I am a huge James Bond fan. I love all of those movies (except the ones with Timothy Dalton). I can only hope that they go where I think they’re going with this movie and make it into an ongoing spy-action series. Not just lame sequels, but decent, entertaining, standalone films. If they do it right, it’ll rock.

activities comments edit

After watching the Fox show 30 Seconds to Fame last night, my interest was rekindled in an art called “Contact Juggling.”

What is it? Well, unless you’ve seen it, it’s hard to describe. Better to explain why I’m interested and let you figure it out for yourself.

I first got sucked in by it while watching Labyrinth, one of my favorite movies (with an awesome soundtrack, too). You know the part where David Bowie’s character has the crystal ball and is rolling it around on his arms in one fluid motion? That’s contact juggling.

And, just for the record, that wasn’t David Bowie doing it. It was actually a guy named Michael Moschen, who seems to be the foremost authority on it.

Anyway, I am just thoroughly impressed every time I see it done, and I’ve admittedly screwed around trying to imitate it, but not having much luck and usually hurting myself in the process.

Well, last night’s 30 Seconds to Fame (which has to be one of the dumber shows out there overall) had a guy named Owen doing this contact juggling thing, so I once again got the bug up my ass and decided I needed to see if the art was a little more accessible than it was before.

Lucky for me, it is.

Now there are web sites on the thing. ContactJuggling.org and ContactJuggling.com are the two I’ve found to be most helpful. They’ve got resources and step by step guides

  • even videos - that show you the beginning steps. It looks to me like the best place to start is with a lacrosse ball. Guess I’m going to the sporting goods store sometime soon.

There’s a book out, too, but it looks like it’s sort of hard to get ahold of. I can’t recommend it one way or the other ‘cause I’ve never seen it. I’ll probably end up getting it, though.

In other news…

My Winter Hawks jersey came back, professionally lettered and looking crisp. Love it. Can’t wait for an occasion to wear it.

My Ottawa Senators jersey is also at my house, waiting to be unleashed from the box it was shipped in. I’d wear it tomorrow to my sister’s wedding, but I think she’d be pissed.

Oh, and I added a link to buy Mucha art from AllPosters.com. In the event you’re looking for some cool stuff to hang up (or stuff to buy me), there you go.

Finally, I took out the “Karma voting” feature of the blog because, frankly, no one was using it and it just cluttered stuff up. If it sounds like it’ll be a good idea at a later time, I can always re-enable it. Comments will still be allowed (and encouraged), so no change there.

personal comments edit

Or not, as I’m finding out. A little background…

Every Tuesday, my department of seven people gets together for a staff meeting. About half of the meeting is comprised of eating donuts, while the other half is an attempt to explain to the group what you’ve been doing.

(I don’t do too well with the explaining portion of things because nobody really understands what I do anyway.)

When we first started these meetings, they were scheduled for 8:00a. I thought that was pretty good, since you get in and go right to the donuts. Besides which, that forces the people who saunter in at 9:00a or later to be here early for once.

People didn’t like that. The meeting moved to 9:00a because the latecomers insisted on their rights to show up late. Fine.

Then a round of layoffs happened and my boss, previously only a web-related guy, became the CIT manager. With the vastly reduced staff, he also got to take up a bunch of other staff meetings and sit in on things that only peripherally relate to CIT. Due to those exciting and oh-so-necessary meetings, our meeting moved to 10:00a. Not as good, but acceptable.

Just yesterday he emailed us that, “due to schedule conflicts,” the meeting has to be rescheduled for today… to 11:00a.

What the fuck is all that about? 11:00? Why don’t we make it a frickin’ lunch meeting if it’s going to be that late? I’m gonna eat a donut at 11, not be hungry for lunch, then have a sugar crash around 2:00p and be sick for the rest of the day. What sort of a lame idea is that?

Irritating. We might have to have a pre-meeting meeting just to eat the donuts, then get back together for an abbreviated discussion where everyone gives me blank looks as I try to explain the memory leak issues I’m working on with the Microsoft developer support team.

blog, activities, movies, music comments edit

Yet another frickin’ typical Monday morning.

I tried to add my blog entry around 9:00a to find that the scripts that I use for administration of the blog are now getting “Internal Server Error #500” when you try to run them. So are all of my other scripts. Looking at the error log for the web server, it’s saying something about “premature end of headers” (now doesn’t that sound dirty). Interesting that this would work on Friday and not work today. I sent a note to the support people at PSU to see if they did anything. By the time this becomes readable for folks on the web site, I’ll have (hopefully) fixed the problem (or gotten them to fix it).

The weekend was action packed. Friday night Jenn and I went to an “Escaping Party” for a friend of mine from Lattice Semiconductor. Apparently she’s going to Guatemala for five weeks to volunteer and go to school simultaneously. It was good to see her again, but I’ve been out of that loop for quite some time now so I knew probaby five of the 40 people there. That got a little tiresome. I’m not really a mingler so small talk with strangers doesn’t do much for me. At least I got out, which is something I promise myself I’ll do but never quite get around to.

Saturday we washed my car (ooooooo) and watched part of So I Married An Axe Murderer at my parents’ house (aaaaaaaah). For the most part it was a kick-back day and I enjoyed that portion of it because I like days when I don’t have to do anything. I can do stuff if I want to, but I don’t have to do anything.

Oh, we also rented Resident Evil, Shallow Hal, and Amélie.

Resident Evil, for a video-game-based movie, was decent. Don’t look for a real deep plot or anything, but it was entertaining and, might I add, better than most of the other video game movies out there. Milla Jovovich did a good job as an amnesiac soldier attempting to stop the spread of a virus that turns people into zombies. Of course, they left it totally open for the sequel, which I expected and will probably see when it’s out on video, too.

Shallow Hal was funny, but I guess I expected it to be funnier. The idea was there, the material was good to go, but I found this one to be more of a light romantic comedy than a rolling-in-the-aisles sort of thing. Jack Black always cracks me up with his Chris Farley-esque comedy (though you really can’t beat Chris) and Jason Alexander is pretty funny as his friend. But other than that, nothing too spectacular here. If you’re bored and just want something light, this was pretty decent.

Amélie is another story entirely.

I loved Amélie. Maybe it’s my recently reinstilled love of French art. Maybe it’s the way the camera angles and the dialogue was so much different (and much more fresh) than the other movies I go see. Maybe it’s the story with its lovable, idiosyncratic characters. Probably all three. But it was darn good, and I’d recommend it to anyone willing to give it a chance.

Audrey Tautou as the title character was perfect. She has a very cute, pert, French look about her that just makes her totally adorable and lends itself to the character.

Anyway, I could go on and on about the weird stuff that was there or how cute certain scenes were or whatever, but I’ll just leave it with this - it’s one you don’t want to miss.

Sunday Jenn and I went to Oak’s Park for the company picnic. (Actually, it was just the picnic for the group I work for, not the whole company.) It was odd weather, raining for a few minutes then sunny for a while and raining again. It was fun to ride the bumper cars and go-carts, though. Since a lot of people said they were coming but didn’t show up, there were extra go-cart tickets so Jenn and I got to go twice. Can’t complain about that.

Mom got a Tori Amos CD for me at a Fred Meyer sample sale, so I was listening to that this morning. The CD in question is the one titled Strange Little Girls.

Let it be known now that Tori Amos is fucked up.

I used to love her stuff. I bought Little Earthquakes when it came out. I thought that, not only did it display well the talent she has, but it also made some good statements about who she is. It made you feel what she was feeling and sort of, for me, embodied how the youth of the time were feeling - a little confused with just a bit of that gothic sort of darkness going on.

I also bought Under The Pink, though, admittedly, that one had to grow on me a bit. She was starting into this bitter hate phase of hers and I’m more of a “subtle pain” than a “bitter hate” person. But I still dug her. I went to see her live for her Under The Pink tour.

Then came Boys For Pele and From The Choirgirl Hotel and the hate was on. Admittedly, I didn’t get much past Pele since I just couldn’t stand the whole hate thing, so I can’t give an entirely informed opinion on Choirgirl. But the hate-on was a-happenin’, and I wasn’t into it. I did, however, see her live again when she came around for Pele. She put on a good show and, while I wasn’t as into it this time as I was the first, it was still a good show.

I saw her a third time in concert after Choirgirl, though I can’t really remember exactly when. This time, though, the show had lost its magic. She didn’t have the repoire with the audience she had with Under The Pink and, honestly, I was bored because the songs all started to sound the same. I promised myself I wouldn’t go see her again because it was a waste of $40. But I didn’t give up on her music; I thought she still had some promise.

Then I get Strange Little Girls. This should have been called Bad Cover Songs becuase it seems that most of the songs are covers of songs from other bands. When I heard her butcher the Depeche Mode song “Enjoy The Silence,” I got mad and started listening to the first few bars of each track. Seems to me the edge is lost, or at least dulled, for her. She used to have this way of getting all the music to work together, to provide a rich tapestry of music that, coupled with her unique voice, helped you feel what she felt. Every once in a while, you’d get a sort of “haunting” track that was more like a cappella or spoken word where you’d feel that song, in stark contrast to the rest of the album, and the powerful emotion that went along with it.

Now she abuses that “stark contrast” thing so there’s no contrast at all anymore. She tries too hard to get the hate and the pain in there and forgets that it’s music she’s making and not some lame performance art.

So that’s that. The close of another chapter of my musical life.

Okay, then.

Friday Mom sort of sideswiped me this weekend with the fact she wants me to film my sister Tai’s wedding reception this coming Friday. (Yeah, that’s a week’s notice.) So I got the video camera from her and took it home to play with it.

While filming my cats doing basically nothing (figures that they’d be wired when I didn’t have the camera out, but when I pull it out they instantly become lethargic; maybe I should have a camera out all the time), I realized something:

I hate it when people making home movies offer commentary during the movie.

How many times have you watched someone’s video of, say, a birthday party, where the person filming is watching someone blow out candles on the cake, and the person filming offers some flimsy commentary like, “Okay, the cake is here… now they’re setting it down… and she’s going to blow out the candles… There we go! The candles are out!”

What, like I can’t see that? Is that commentary for the blind people trying to watch your home movie? Somehow I think the blind people are the lucky ones in that regard since they don’t have to watch some video they don’t care about, but that’s another issue.

I think that’s also why I hate Bob Saget. Shut the fuck up, buddy. I’m trying to watch some of America’s Funniest Home Videos. I so don’t need to listen to you while I do it.

The point here is that since I discovered that, I believe that I’m going to do my best to refrain from talking while I’m filming since that can only lead me to being a hypocritical dumbass.

Well, I just got an email from the support people at PSU CS and apparently something’s hosed with their server configuration. They’ve found a temporary fix, though, and hopefully they’ll root out the whole problem shortly. In the meantime, I’d best post this before things go down again.