Friday, May 29, 2009

Turn off the IS, stupid!

Been playing around with night shooting lately. I was trying to get some interesting motion shots with long exposures, but the images kept coming out blurry even though my camera was on a tripod and the shutter release was on a timed delay. Then I finally remembered that when you shoot on a tripod you're supposed to switch off the Image Stabilizer on your lens.

There's powerful metaphor in that idea, if you think about it. Here are a few of the shots that turned out alright:

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Lost Musings

We're now officially two weeks removed from the "Lost" season finale, "Chuck" has new super-powers, Jack Bauer is probably going to live, and as the NBA Playoffs spin towards the Finals, I am slowly beginning to realize that we're only a couple of weeks off of that horrible stretch of television wasteland known as summer. Never been a baseball guy, and I hate reality television, so I might have to start going outside soon.

But before I give up this season's TV ghost, I have a few observations to pass on about the aforementioned "Lost" finale. After re-watching the finale online and musing over a special "Lost"-themed podcast from's The Sports Guy, I think I can speak with a little perspective on the conclusion to Season Five.

Jacob Revealed

Can't say I was too surprised to see that Jacob turned out to be a real guy, or at least a real humanoid-looking thing with a semi-immortal corporeal form that is nevertheless susceptible to stab wounds and homey campfires. After all, someone said "help me" to Locke when he and Ben dropped by the cabin to say Hi a couple of seasons back. What did surprise me was that Jacob also turned out to be Casey Affleck's older brother the bartender from "Drowning Mona." I haven't been so excited about a casting decision since the Harry Potter folks pegged the Midnight Oil lead singer to play Voldemort.

Smoke and Mirrors

Unless I missed some important detail, or unless the producers are deliberately guiding me down a manipulative trail of heartbreak and falsehoods (very possible), Jacob's bearded nemesis is the Smoke Monster. There are a bunch of little reasons I don't feel like listing here (I really do have a life, people), but the one conclusive bit of proof for me has to be the pictogram in the Smoke Monster's house under the temple, which shows Ole' Smokey squaring off with the Horse-Headed Egyptian Statue-Thing, which turned out to be Jacob's house.

Locked and Unloaded

So John Locke really was dead. That reveal was seriously one of my top-five "Lost" moments. Great stuff. On the downside, Locke just became "Lost"'s ultimate tragic hero, and never really did realize the destiny we all hoped he would. (Well, "we" meaning cool people, not all you haters out there.)

The Incident

Most people I've talked to or listened to seem to be really confused about what is going to happen as a result of Juliet setting off the nuke at the end of the finale. But it seems pretty obvious to me. The whole show has become centered around the whole funkadelic relationship between electromagnetism, time travel, and...well, yeah, that's really about it now. So unless I'm smoking some serious doobage here, the bomb is just going to send Disco's Lost Generation forward in time to meet up with the rest of the survivors. I don't know how it's supposed to do it, but it just seems like the ideal enigmatic plot device to get the whole band back together, and I really can't see a satisfying end to the show that won't do that somehow.

Immortal Eyeliner

Just gotta say, Richard Alpert rocks. Though he seems a little more in the dark than I always thought he was. I always thought he had a more omniscient role on the Island, always being around and all. Kind of thought he was in some different species like Jacob or something. Now it turns out he's more like one of the Three Nephites. But that's cool too.

Go Linus

Also gotta say, the Benjamin Linus character just keeps getting better. I honestly though that the way things were working out, Ben was going to be out of storyline rope, but now his role has just taken a huge leap in importance. At the same time, I'm still kind of confused as to how Ben rose to power in the first place. In some ways, it seems like much of it was a result of the interference of black-shirted/bearded/smoke monster/bad guy, but if Jacob was still giving Alpert directions when Ben was running the show, I wonder why he didn't just blow the whistle right then and say, "Ben's a weasle; go get that Locke fellow...I like the cut of his jib."

The South Pacific Triangle

On the other hand, as The Sports Guy noted, the Jack-Kate-Sawyer love triangle has lost a lot of momentum, at least in terms of being the central conflict of the series. The story is still evolving, and I still think that those three are among the few characters that are basically immune to pre-series-finale deaths, but there have been stretches lately where no one really cared what was going on with Jack and his daddy issues, or Kate and hers. In fact, Sawyer was really the only one of the three to have any kind of cool evolution this past season, and it was a great one. Sports Guy has a tough time accepting the conversion of Sawyer from con-man to loving Dharma-daddy-o, but I don't. To me, Sawyer has always been "Lost"'s own Han Solo: aloof, non-committal, selfish, manipulative, and at times given to do bad things. But all of that anti-social behavior doesn't come from his true nature, it comes because he's fighting it. Deep down, Sawyer is a good guy, and always has been.

Adam and Eve

Someone told me a while back that they thought Rose and Bernard were going to turn out to be the skeletons in the caves that Jack finds back in Season One. I still think this is a good idea. For one thing, the skeletons had the two stones that were black and white. For another, it stays consistent with the idea that the Island's middle-aged lovebirds really aren't all that interested in whatever else is going on around them. So maybe the Nuke Effect won't reach Rose and Bernard, and they'll get to stay in the 70's with all that precious polyester.

Where's Hanzo?

Can't say it's the most important unsolved mystery on the show, or that it's really important at all, but I'm wondering if Alvar Hanzo is ever going to show up in more than a few grainy university office shots in those Dharma instructional films. It's been cool to see Miles' dad play a real-life role-and to find out that he's a big Willie Nelson fan-but I can't help but think that Hanzo has some deeper connection to the whole story.

Death on a Stick

About ten minutes before the finale started, my buddy Jared took a poll to see who was going to bite the big one, since rumors had been flying that at least one or two major characters were going to meet with oblivion. My picks were Miles, Sayid, and Juliet, the rationale being that "Lost" has proven to be willing to kill off characters if they are

A) Peripheral and sympathetic (IE, Charlie, but not Jack, Kate, Sawyer or Locke),

B) Done with their story arcs (see Eko, Michael, Boone and Shannon)

C) Not connected to a hugely sympathetic love story (therefore, Charlie is game, but Jin-Sun and Desmond-Penny and Hugo-VW Bus only get threats)

or D) they are involved in some sort of offscreen drama (see Libby and Anna-Lucia's DUI...though the timing suggests they may have picked up the DUI in the midst of a post-death celebration party).

As it turns out, I was right...kind of. Sayid was bleeding to death while Juliet was busy setting off the bomb at the bottom of the bottomless pit she'd just fallen into and Miles was saving his previously estranged father which represented the close of his daddy issues which would make him expendable as the only person on the entire show that didn't have them anymore.

Yeah, so there you go. Until February 2010, kids.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

On behalf of the zombies...

Today's post comes in response to a recent comment from loyal Wounded Mosquito reader Doug, aka "The Jeepcruzer," who writes in regard to my early May analysis of the 1989 remake of George Romero's "Night of the Living Dead":

"Eek - Night of the living dead? UR killing me man. Shawn of The Dead is the only zombie movie I've ever enjoyed. Extrapolate as you will."

Thanks for writing in, Doug. I always appreciate your input and challenging rhetoric, even though I still remain disappointed that you carry such a deep-rooted hatred for "ET." Perhaps we can find more of an intellectual harmony on the zombie front.

Let me first say that I am also a big fan of "Shaun of the Dead." Great movie, great satire. A spot-on jab at the inherent absurdity of not only zombie movies, but most horror movies in general. "Shaun" is definitely the "Airplane" of horror movies.

That being said, I think that non-satiric zombie movies still have a lot of value, at least in the case of the original "Night of the Living Dead," and "28 Days Later" as well. And I'm not talking about the subtle social commentary that underlies the mindless hordes of the undead, either. I'm talking about a pure moviemaking value.

When most people think of "Night of the Living Dead," they think of a brainless horror flick where stupid protagonists struggle to outrun comically slow antagonists. They also tend to pin it in the category of dumb slasher-flick horror like the "Friday the 13th" or "Halloween" movies, little more than a series of brutal slayings with really bad acting and even worse writing.

I submit that "Night of the Living Dead" may bear some of those campy stereotypical horror elements, but that it uses them to strategic effect, ultimately transcending them and locating itself in the category of intellectual horror alongside classics like "Psycho." The first thirty minutes of "Night of the Living Dead" has plenty of eye-rolling moments, most of which take place in the first sequence as one of the silver screen's all-time ditzy blondes fumbles her way out of the desperate clutches of a lanky fellow in a torn suit and a lot of eye makeup. But stick with it. The brilliance of Romero's initial zombie movie is that it starts campy and proceeds to get darker and darker until you're staring at the screen stunned, wondering what happened to the cheesy little movie you started with. It doesn't matter if you're watching it with a group of friends or on your own at 1AM in your parents' basement (which is the way I saw it the first time). "Night of the Living Dead" is a scary movie.

There are plenty of "gross" moments that no doubt helped pave the way for the over-the-top gore of future slasher films-the scene where the zombies raid the burning pickup truck after two victims make an unsuccessful getaway attempt is a doozy-but unlike its more explicit progeny, the gore of "Night of the Living Dead" is partially concealed by its grainy black-and-white film quality, which makes it extremely claustrophobic and much, much scarier.

Over 30 years down the road, "28 Days Later" upped the ante by asking a simple question: what if the zombies were fast? What came out of that answer was one of my all-time favorite horror movies. (Incidentally, many critics hate the third act and feel the film falls apart; I, on the contrary, think it's a fantastic ending that reinforces the whole "enemy is us" point.)

All of this is not meant to deny the fact that generally zombie movies are campy schlock-fests. Not at all. What I'm saying is that just like in most cases (see "Rocky" and "Jaws", for two perfect examples), the sequels have undermined the brilliance of the original. If you haven't seen the original, Doug, you must see it now. And if you have seen it, you must see it again. Because I'm right about this.

Just like I'm right about "E.T."

Monday, May 25, 2009

Love thy neighbor

Yesterday I got pegged to teach Elder's Quorum for the first time since getting evicted from my old student ward. The lesson was based on President Henry B. Eyring's "Man Down" from last Priesthood Session, about attending to the spiritual needs of those around us. I wanted to liven things up a bit, so I came up with this short multiple-choice quiz to create some good practical application scenarios:

1. For the last six months, you and your companion have been assigned to a less active family named the Wixoms. It has been hard to get consistent appointments, but in recent months the family has begun to open their doors and their hearts to you. While on a recent home teaching visit, Brother Wixom admits that he would like to come back to the ward, but sometimes he worries that he’s not worthy. What is your response?

A. “Brother Wixom, we completely understand your concern, and we certainly don’t want to put you in an uncomfortable position. Maybe we can arrange to have dinner at your home on Sunday evenings for the next month or so, and we can tell you what happened at church until you feel good about coming back.

B. “Brother Wixom, we understand how you feel. No one is perfect, and we all feel a little unworthy sometimes. We’d love to see you at church this Sunday, and I’m sure the Lord would love to have you there, too.”

C. “Brother Wixom, the burden of sin can be heavy. Why don’t you take this handy chart and fill out the details of your different transgressions, then my companion and I will pass it on to the Bishop so he can decide if you are worthy to enter the sacred House of the Lord.”

D. “I’m sorry Brother Wixom, I didn’t hear what you said. I was texting my bookie.”


2. While playing a pick-up game of basketball at the ward gym one Tuesday night, you note the presence of Brother Ostler, who hasn’t been to church in over seven years and is rumored to have a live-in girlfriend who works in a tattoo parlor. On a particularly aggressive drive, Brother Ostler lands awkwardly and suffers a compound fracture of his left femur that leaves him writhing on the ground in pain as his shattered bone juts out just below a brand-new tattoo of a word that has been declared legally obscene in forty-three states. What is your response?

A. Call 911 and try to comfort Brother Ostler until qualified paramedics arrive.

B. Attempt to set the leg yourself, since people do it all the time on TV and it’s totally no big deal.

C. Crouch over Brother Ostler, look him calmly in the eye, and say, “Brother Ostler, I noticed that you have a problem with profanity. When people use potty language in the House of the Lord, bad things happen.”

D. Grab the rebound, fire a quick outlet pass, then hustle to the opposite end of the court in time for a dominating tomahawk layup.


3. Your wife has made some fresh bread one afternoon, and asks you to deliver a rye loaf to your elderly widowed neighbor Sister Cowan while she takes your kids to their underwater Yoga class. When you arrive, you find the door ajar and Sister Cowan staggering around her front room, knocking over furniture while choking on a Milk Dud. Do you:

A. Quietly leave the bread on the doorstep and slink away back home.

B. Knock on the door politely and say, “Sister Cowan, I see that this is a bad time for you, and I really don’t want to give my wife the wrong idea, so I’ll just leave this bread on the table and counsel you to call your home teachers in order to preserve the proper line of authority in these matters.”

C. Drop the bread, rush over to Sister Cowan and administer the Heimlich Maneuver, then leave with a word of prayer.

D. Drop the bread, throw your arms into the air, and attempt to cast the demons out of Sister Cowan’s apartment.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Root Puller

As I write this post, the Dow is up about 60 points from yesterday's close. Yesterday, it dropped well over a hundred points off Wednesday's close. Why do I know this? Did I go back and look it up? No. I know this because of my bad habit.

Several years ago I heard a very astute metaphor for impatience. Basically, that impatience is like pulling up a plant to see how the roots are doing. Ever since last summer's market collapse, I have become an unabashed root-puller. Every time I log out of my e-mail, I'm scrolling down to make a quick check on the market, to scan for signs of life or impending death for my meager investments.

I realize that the market is a long-term animal, that ultimately it goes up and must suffer periodic downturns as part of its life-cycle. But after sitting in my producer's chair in the KJZZ control room last fall and watching the Dow free fall 600 points in fifteen minutes on our monitor feed of the New York Stock Exchange, my paranoia has gotten the better of me. I'll never forget the feeling I had during that moment-I have no idea what our anchors were even doing on the air-I just remember staring boggle-eyed at the corner monitor and wondering what on earth could possibly stop the little four-digit (previously five-digit) number as it cycled lower and lower on a countdown to an economic holocaust.

Somehow, eventually it did level out, and by the end of our two-hour broadcast, it had actually recovered quite a bit, but the volatility of the whole thing left me suddenly distrustful of what I thought was a dependable institution. And ever since that time, I've noted the market levels at least two or three times a day, wondering if I might catch a sudden salvation or a total annihilation.

It wouldn't be a bad habit if I had specific stocks or was a day trader, but all my investments are in group funds that people far away in financial Never-Never Land handle for me. I'm a member of the group that's supposed to just chill and wait out the big picture. Even so, these days I get the feeling I'm not the only one pulling up roots.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

New Portfolio Site Online

Anyone who has ever clicked on the "Wounded Mosquito Productions" link in the right sidebar has no doubt been disappointed. Up until now, it's only been a link page connecting to a few other semi-organized pages.

But now, I'm happy to announce, Wounded Mosquito Productions has a real legit Web site. I've loaded photo samples, film clips, writing samples, and some other stuff, too. It's all in a pretty little package that actually makes it look like I might want to get hired to do some stuff.

Check it out and let me know what you think. And by that I mean, you know, actually leave comments and stuff.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Big Brother 1, Stunt Whizzers 0

One thing I miss about not doing the Cafe anymore is being paid to look up zany news stories and video clips. For example, last weekend I came across this article about two guys who were fired from their jobs in Yellowstone National Park because they decided to take a whiz in Old Faithful.

Now, I would expect that the effect of human urine on a geyser that has been erupting for thousands of years would be pretty minimal, but the park folks still pulled the trigger on a $750 fine, and banished one of the employees for two years. According to the story, Cheech and Chong were caught because someone saw them on a webcam. Score one for Big Brother.

I'm just disappointed that they didn't pull this stunt last year. It would have offered some great material for my Yellowstone film. Random acts of indescretionary peeing always do.

At the same time, maybe the two ex-park employees can now embark on a new career: Stunt Whizzing. Every month or two, they pick out a random location of either public or private significance, and mount a sneak attack. It would be like BASE jumping, except not nearly as dangerous, and as long as it was something relatively harmless (like peeing into a high-pressure semi-volcanic geyser), pretty darn funny. They could sell T-shirts online to offset the fines.

That's really the key to life, folks: turning lemons into lemonade. Or in this case...whatever.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Momma's Boy

I have one iconic memory of my mother from the summer of 1983. I was sitting in the back seat of our maroon Honda Accord when my dad pulled off to the side of the road in front of the Center Theater in Salt Lake City. My mom stepped out of the passenger seat onto the sidewalk and turned to me.

"Come on," she said excitedly.

I couldn't believe it. We were going to go see "Return of the Jedi." Again. It was awesome. My parents hadn't said a thing about it, and I couldn't have been more surprised.

What isn't surprising is how much of my pop culture upbringing is due to my mom, especially when you consider that she went into labor with me while watching Steve Martin's debut as host of Saturday Night Live. My mom did all the standard stuff: she washed my Han Solo Underoos, made my tacos and vacuumed my Cheeto crumbs off our shag carpets, but she also introduced me to Motown and Aretha Franklin. Star Wars and SCTV. When I sat in front of the family stereo making my first mix tape in the fourth grade, it was her collection of Beatles albums I was pilfering. And if it wasn't for her, I wouldn't have known what was so funny when Rob Nish played the "Monty Python's Flying Circus" theme in Sacrament Meeting.

My parents worked together as a perfect pop culture team. My dad gave me a love of the open road, and my mom provided the soundtrack to cruise it by. Some of my favorite memories as a kid were of sitting in the back seat of our Honda at night, facing the green glow of the dashboard as Billy Joel's "The Stranger" played out of our cassette deck. It wasn't until much later that I understood how much of a sacrifice my mom made to come out to Utah and leave her whole family back on the opposite end of the country. It wasn't until later that I understood how growing up in the Cleveland projects gave her an appreciation of everything good in life.

It might have been the projects that made my mission such a challenge. It seemed like every time a phone call-approved holiday rolled around when I was in Illinois, I'd be serving in some dangerous area like Joliet or South Chicago, and would have to come up with a strategic answer for the inevitable question:

"So do you live in a safe neighborhood?"

"It's fine" was about the best I could come up with, praying that she couldn't hear the gunshots in the distance from her end of the line.

That was actually one of the only times I've ever felt like I couldn't tell my mom everything. That's always been one of her best qualities: no matter what I have on my mind, no matter how troubling, I can always toss it out for discussion. That's how I wound up sitting on my stairs late at night as a seven-year-old discussing the concept of eternity while my parents wondered if I was just trying to avoid going to bed. Then a few years after that, during a summer trip to Island Park between the fifth and sixth grade, I felt a sudden surge of guilt and began confessing all my adolescent sins from the back seat of the car. To her credit, she never judged me for anything I'd done, then or now. Neither did my dad.

For Mother's Day this year I picked her up the fifth season of "X-Files," the one with her favorite episode about the small town full of vampires. That was the season that was underway when I came back from Chicago and found two years worth of "X-Files" and "Simpsons" episodes on VHS waiting for me to catch up.

My mom may have spent a lot of time worrying when I was on the South Side, and she may or may not have tried to call my mission president and yell at him when he decided to leave me there for six months instead of four in the summer of '97, but her concern for her son should never have been confused with concern for her testimony. She joined the LDS church in 1972, while in her early 20's, the sole member of her family to embark on a lonely path. I've always wondered how I would have reacted to the story of Joseph Smith if I hadn't grown up in the Mormon Heartland, if I had to come in from the outside.

With my mom, I've never had to wonder.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Trampoline Phil

Came across this while going through some old stuff on my hard drive. An extremely primitive animation I was working on about seven years ago when I was trying to learn Flash. It's called "Trampoline Phil." Some people might find it amusing. Others, not so much.

It might carry more impact if you listen to some music while watching it. Anything by Frank Zappa will probably do well.

PS: Never did learn Flash, obviously.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Dead End

Virginia may be for lovers, but it ain't for least according to the Virginia Commonwealth University Media, Art and Text Program. This week I got my official Dear John from the admissions people.

I've actually known I didn't get in for a few weeks now. I called them to get a early heads-up when I was trying to decide on a possible job offer (which didn't matter anyway, since the job fell victim to a hiring freeze). But now that I have my letter in hand I have something concrete to blog about.

(Note to self: insert link to footage of parade to convey irony)

Maybe in spite of all my preparation, my GRE score just wasn't good enough. Maybe my Flash-less application portfolio was just too underwhelming. Or maybe in the wake of our national economic festivities, too many people applied for my program, like the guy on the phone actually told me. Either way, it looks like my post-KJZZ, post-Geriatric Cleansing path isn't leading to Richmond, Virginia. At least this year.

Rejection's a funny thing. You never quite grow to love it, though it can be relieving at times. I was disappointed to lose my KJZZ job, but relieved to be off the graveyard schedule that was netting me four hours of sleep a day. I was disappointed to get turned down by VCU, but kind of relieved that I didn't have to worry about moving to Richmond for the next five years.

Heck, I've been disappointed to get shot down by plenty of girls over the years, yet when I consider where I might have wound up, I feel like going outside and kissing the green grass of freedom in humble gratitude. (I could just kiss my carpet, but that would look kind of silly).

And yet, even if you don't want to go to the party, it's still nice to be invited.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Bundles of Joy

For the last year my sister has been teaching kindergarten at a private school in Holladay. She's been trying to get me to come in and entertain her students, but I honestly can't think of anything I do that would be of any interest to a five-year-old. So we finally came up with a compromise: Katie has been talking up her 20-year-old pet Cockatiel to her students for several months, so yesterday I brought Satan to class.

(The bird isn't really named Satan...officially, anyway. It's first name was Baby Bundles, which then evolved into just plain Bundles, and now he's referred to as the Bird of the Morning. Satan.)

Now that I have finally met her crew, my suspicions are confirmed: there is nothing I can do that can possibly interest a kindergartner. They were my toughest crowd since I visited the Toastmasters. I told them about being an English teacher, a TV producer, and even about my trip to New Orleans (I think I made a joke about Hurricane Katrina in desperation), all to blank stares. I probably should have just put the bird on top of my shaved head and made goofy faces. At least a few of them agreed that the best breakfast cereal is Boo Berry.

Satan, on the other hand, scored major points with the kids. As my sister told me afterwards, all you have to do to hold a kindergartner's rapt attention is be alive and not be human. Preferably with bright colors. As Katie sat in the corner holding the bird, the kids gradually closed in around her like a pack of plaid jumper and khaki-clad kittens, babbling questions, bobbing up and down, determined to get a close-up look at this foreign presence. When Katie put the bird on her shoulder, the kids started joking that she looked like a pirate. When she finally gave in to let a couple of the kids come pet Satan, her students looked like their heads were going to explode.

The Bird of the Morning, for his part, handled his role pretty well. Considering his circumstances, he remained cool and collected, only getting a little wigged out when called upon to fly ten feet from my sister's hand to the top of his cage, to the utter thrills of his audience. In the wake of this demonstration, I overheard a pint-sized conversation at my feet:

"I wish I could fly."


"I would fly all over the room..."

I know what you mean, kid. I know what you mean.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Charter Class of the Good Vibes Brotherhood

Almost a month after seeing them at The Depot, Travis is still stuck in my head. Sometimes it's "My Eyes", sometimes it's "Closer". Right now it's "Why Does it Always Rain On Me", the song we all did the pogo to for the last chorus. Part of this is because I was only familiar with a few of their songs before going to the show, and some of these new finds have been a part of my regular iTunes rotation in the time since. But a bigger part of me thinks that the reason their music has stuck is because of its good vibe. Francis Healy and his mates had a very genuine connection with the crowd, and not in a Rock Idol kind of way. They sincerely seemed to be having fun, and genuinely seemed to be concerned that we were too. That concern was reflected in the music, and that is why I've decided to make Travis a charter member in my Good Vibes Brotherhood.

From here out, the GVB will represent bands and/or singers who not only produce music that is cool, fun, or innovative, but primarily music that generates, as Brian Wilson might have put it-and Charles Manson, depending on whether you believe the story that he co-wrote the song-"Good Vibrations."

Membership in the GVB will expand to include future finds as well as to bring in past classics, but for now the charter class will include Travis, Jonathan Richman, and Ray LaMontagne. Feel free to submit nominees for GVB inclusion, but don't be disappointed if I don't add them right away. The best way to sell me on a GVB act is to get me to one of their concerts, but since I'm guessing certain future inductees are already dead, that doesn't have to always be the case. The bottom line is that these are bands that make you feel good when you listen to them, and make you feel like you've joined a hippie commune when you go see them. Or at least that you've become part of an exclusive clothing-optional club. Or...well, I think you get the point.

Here are the inductees:


Jonathan Richman:

Ray LaMontagne:

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Stuff I Found While Cleaning My Room

Found some fascinating stuff while trying to clean out my room yesterday...

Art Class Astro-Medallion Necklace Thing

I vaguely remember making this in a junior high art class many years ago, but I don't recall many details about the task. I can say with some confidence that there is no deep symbolism behind the blue sun emblem, which was more of a "this would look cool" effort than a "this blue sun is a metaphor for my deep-rooted pre-teen angst as interpreted through the ancient symbolism of Zoroastrianism" effort. I can say with more confidence that this necklace was made during Period 7 in the school day, since there is a "p.7" next to my name on the back.

Eagle Scout

I include this item not to brag, but rather to record documented evidence that I am indeed an Eagle Scout, because once the Boy Scouts of America learn how much I have forgotten since those days, my award will be confiscated post-haste. I might also mention that listing the award on my resume did actually get me a job in December of 1997.

Hunter Thompson Book

I have a love/hate relationship with Hunter S. Thompson. On the one hand, his fast-paced Gonzo prose style and love of the open road-typified by Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas-appeals to me as a writer and a traveler. On the other hand, his bigoted commentary on my faith in the wake of the 2002 Olympic scandal left me with an understandably bad taste in my mouth. Just think Dennis Rodman with a typewriter. When I found this book in my dresser I re-read the aforementioned column, noting with irony his declaration that the 2002 Olympic Games would be a "financial disaster," a "monumental failure", and a "train wreck."

There's not going to be a follow-up column apologizing, though; Thompson shot himself in February of 2005.

Random Keys

It's very possible that these keys go to the Sunday School closets at the University Institute. It's considerably less possible that they are the keys to a secret series of progressively smaller treasure chests that will eventually reveal a vial of magic beans that grant the user X-Ray vision and a heightened taste in Jazz music. Either way, I should probably give them back, since I was released as 32nd Ward Sunday School President in December of 2005.

Martin Sexton Ticket

I went to a dozen concerts in 2008, and did a blog write-up on every one of them except this one. I was pretty bent out of shape after the Martin Sexton concert at The Depot last Halloween. I figured no one would want to go with me, so my plan was to hit the concert solo, then roll into my friends' costume party right around it's peak at 11PM. Since the time on my ticket said 8PM, I thought that was a reasonable plan, even with an opening act. Instead, 8PM turned out to be the time the doors were supposed to open (though they really opened at 8:15), the opening act came on at 9PM and played for 45 minutes, and Sexton didn't even take the stage until 10:35PM. Sexton did play a decent rendition of "Glory Bound", but even after leaving midway through the encore, I still didn't make it to the Halloween party until well after midnight, just in time to get a lot of strange looks from friends wondering at my absurdly fashionable late arrival as they were making their way out the front door.

James Brown Ticket

On the other hand, this concert was awesome. Back in the spring of 2004, my longtime buddy Steve and I were able to catch JB at the Vegas House of Blues about three years before he died on Christmas of 2006. Brown was the consummate showman, even though his show was a little bit limited due to the fact that he was already into his early 70's at the time. My only regret: sitting in the balcony instead of going down on the floor. We should have been getting down with our bad selves at the feet of the master; instead we had a row of middle-aged ladies yelling at us to sit down so they could see.

Mission Tie

Sometime during my stretch in South Chicago during the summer of 1997 I decided I should wear the same tie every day until I was released as a missionary. Sometime after that I decided I didn't even need to bother untying it at the end of the day. Sometime after that I decided I should shove it in a drawer instead of pack it into the garbage can.

Ohio University Bill

A while back I got a bill for student fees from Ohio University. Nothing strange there, aside from the fact that Ohio University had rejected my enrollment application two years earlier. Talk about adding insult to injury. I'd never even so much as set foot on campus. Turned out to be a clerical error.

Farmington Ticket

Just in case anyone still hadn't heard, if you come across a patrol car who has stopped someone on the highway, you are legally obligated to move over a lane to give the officer additional room. I learned about this law the hard way on the way home from a date one night a few years back when a patrolman ditched the car he'd already pulled over so he could chase me down and punish me for my heinous violation.

Finger Brace

Two summers ago I dislocated and lacerated my right index finger playing volleyball, of all things. I was able to pop my finger back into place on the scene, but I had to go to the hospital to get stitched up, and then they sent me to physical therapy where I got this finger brace and met a cute brunette therapy assistant named Dani who was unfortunately involved in a long-term relationship.'s all about timing. And cleaning, apparently.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Elder Bednar and the Modern Media Matrix

From time to time I have ranted about modern technology's seemingly insatiable drive to turn us into a "Matrix"-like network of disembodied brains floating in amniotic fluid connected by ethernet cables. Last night Elder David Bednar of the LDS church's Quorum of Twelve Apostles validated my fears.

It's good to know you're on the same page with an apostle now and then.

Recapping the entire address would be redundant, and furthermore wouldn't be worth my time. (The irony of blogging on a speech warning against excessive online dependence and virtual social interaction does not escape me.) I recommend listening to the whole thing, with the knowledge going in that Elder Bednar is not condemning technology in general, just the abuse of it.

I just wanted to express my gratitude to hear someone pipe up about something that has had me concerned recently. In my efforts to make the jump between "wanna-be semi-professional writer" and "actual professional writer", I've felt pressured to dive into the online virtual community head-first and shamelessly self-promote myself through a barrage of Facebook status updates, Twitter posts, and other means. While I agree that a certain degree of this activity is necessary-and that it is a far cry from committing virtual adultery via Second Life-it's good to know that my concerns are justified.

Sometimes my dependence on the Internet reminds me of a season two episode of "The Simpsons" from years back when Marge manages to pressure television executives into removing all the violence from "Itchy and Scratchy" episodes. The kids get so bored with the resulting lame offerings that they finally decide to go outside and play, rubbing their eyes in the face of the bright sunshine they have so long rebuffed.

Our modern technology is miraculous, but for the love of all that is holy, people, let's make sure we're going outside sometimes.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Zombie Smoothie

My eating habits have been atrocious for years, but if I have one saving grace it is that I am a big fan of fresh fruit. So as spring rolls around, not only am I happy to see the warmer weather, I'm also happy to see something fresh in the produce section.

Last night around 10:30PM I started jonesing for some natural refreshment, so on the way home from watching "Office" and "30 Rock" with some friends, I swung by the grocery store to pick up a few extra items to fill out a solid smoothie recipe. The last time I'd made smoothies, a friend had contributed some limeade, so in addition to a few ripe bananas, I snagged a four-bottle pack of Stewart's Limes.

Once I returned to home base I put together the following: two fresh bananas, a dozen strawberries, two-dozen blackberries, sugar, ice, a cup and a half of strawberry daquiri mix, and one bottle of Stewart's Lime. Then I sat down and enjoyed my concoction while watching the last 45 minutes of the 1989 remake of "Night of the Living Dead."

The verdict?

Smoothie: A little runny-I probably should have added more ice-but not too bad. The Stewart's definitely gave the smoothie more of a bite, but in retrospect I think I should have used real limeade instead of a carbonated lime flavored drink substitute, even if the real stuff was more expensive.

Movie: a little dated-the original story was altered to turn the first victim from a catatonic ditz into a gun-toting feminist with a bad 80's super-short haircut, who goes on a solo shooting spree and survives the affair instead of getting dragged out of the farmhouse and eaten by her brother-turned-zombie. Not impressed. Plus the end of the film tries to over-telegraph the allegory about man's inhumanity to man and all that. Just doesn't pack the punch of the original, on any level.

Next time, I'm going with the original, and a non-carbonated smoothie to boot.