Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A Good Scary Flick

This weekend, Sierra and I rented 1408. I have to say that it was one of the best scary movies I've seen in a very long time. I don't often get too into paranormal movies, but this one did it very well. It had a very good set up and carried that feeling through the whole film. John Cusack did a great job and so did my boy Sammy J.
It's basic premise is that of an author who travels around debunking haunted hotel myths. More than that, though... you'll just have to go rent it.
Part of what made it so good to me was how clean it was. There was no nudity, hardly any swearing and it wasn't overly gory. basically, it scared and thrilled us without having to be cheapened with shock value.
It is an adaptation of a short story by Sir Stephen King.

Who Down Wit' WGA? Yeah You Know DGA.

It doesn't have the same ring to it, I guess. I am finding The Artful Writer's blog to be very informative in regards to the strike. I thought I'd turn you all on to it, too.

With The Teamsters Union on board, they would definitely be in a position of power come negotiations. If the DGA (those who are able) comes on board, too? Well, this strike may not take as long as we'd think. Here's to hoping that everything gets resolved in a pleasing manner before Lost has to take any delays to its season.

Monday, October 29, 2007

I enjoyed this interview with Conan O'Brien. He tells of his journey becoming a writer for The Simpsons. I love his comments about the longevity of the humor from The Simpsons. Those jokes never get old to me.

Dumbledore... Gay?

I know that I'm late getting to this, but since no one reads this, what do I care? J.K. Rowling has announced that old Dumbly is gay. This is not the first time she has made announcements about characters after she supposedly finished the series. I will admit, that her first announcement was welcome. I was excited to get more info on the characters. However, this last announcement bothers me.
I think I am most bothered because it feels so absolutely irrelevant. Let's think about this for a second. We read seven LONG books about these characters. If was never important enough to bring up in the stories, then it is not important enough to bring up post-story. It doesn't help me understand him better, or his motivations. The only thing it does for me is serve to kind of disturb me about his relationship with/interest in Harry.
Another issue that I have (and that is brought up fantastically in the NY Times' article linked above), is that I don't believe that he is gay. This isn't some stupid hetero-denial of his life. It's is just not supported in the text at all. The only basis for this claim, is that Rita Skeeter very cryptically suggests it (and her suggestions are made to feel absolutely ridiculous anyway). If you are going to create a character, then be proud of that character. If your character is gay, then make that character gay (and I don't mean flamboyant, I just mean believable).
My beef is that I have an invested interest in these characters, and I went through seven books (each of which I read at least twice, most more than three times), and grew to understand each character in my own way. To come in, after the fact, and make statements that are unnecessary (how does his being straight/gay matter to what is going on?), and unfounded rocks my foundation and turns me off from the book. The characters were believable. Now, she is taking that away from me.
I hope people understand what I'm saying--his sexuality is irrelevant. I don't care that he's gay. He's her character and if she wants him gay, then make him gay. My problem is that she never made him gay, and expects me to believe it just cause she says so. What this feels like now, is that she is either needing attention or has an agenda, and frankly, I don't care about her agenda. I care about these characters.
I have a solution: if she really is just feeling like she didn't do justice to these characters or something, and just needs to say more about them, then write another book. I don't mean a novel. I mean, do something like The Silmarillion or something. Write a book that allows you to do back story or acts as an appendices. That is the only way that I will accept any outside information on it.

It's like Lost. I don't care how many outside interviews that the writers do explaining what is or isn't going on. If it is going on, then put it in the series clearly (at some point--I'm not calling for immediate answers because the show is fantastically successful at what it offers: questions), and if it isn't happening, then make that clear.
To what may we turn to more fully understand a fictional text? As a writer, you need to believe that the reader will need nothing more than itself.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Good News

Megan (her life is irrelevant and will end shortly), let me know today that The Flight of the Conchords DVD (Season 1) is coming out on November 6th. Hooray! In honor of this fine accomplishment, here is a video clip:

Albi (The Racist Dragon)

Second Life

So... I'm just a little speechless...

Last night's episode of The Office introduced me to a new game (it's actually been around since 2003, I have since discovered) called Second Life. When Dwight first explains it to Jim, I thought it was them making fun of WoW and similar massive multi-player online RPGs. Wrong. This game is legit. In fact, just now when I got on the intraweb to search for it, I saw over 52,000 people were online playing it. Good heavens.
I freely admit to enjoying RPGs and also got very into World of Warcraft for a bit. For me, RPGs are rather like reading a novel: you get to immerse yourself in a world and watch as a character grows and develops. The main difference between them (as far as I see it) is that a book generally takes less time to finish, and is more effective at teaching principles or emotionally affecting the reader.
So, why do I--someone who freely admits to loving RPGs--feel like a game like Second Life is so lame? I think there are two main reasons:

1. There is a logical point to a RPG game. There are missions/quests to complete (which often require problem solving skills) and you get to fight/kill things. Who doesn't like that? From what I understand of Second life (based COMPLETELY on Dwight's statement on it), you are just playing a character in a game. You can also buy land. Sweet (hint, hint... sarcasm). I really am having a hard time understanding the point to a game like The Sims or Second Life.

2. If you feel the need to escape life, why escape to somewhere that is just as boring as the one you're in? You can't convince me that wandering around trying to find land to buy is more exciting than real life. I am making blatant assumptions about this game. However, I am quite confident in them. If life sucks enough for you that you'd waste hours of it pretending to be yourself in a world that you can control, I submit that the problem isn't life; the problem is that you're not doing anything about life.

My life is great. I am a truly happy person. Yet, I like video games as much as the next Joe. So, please don't misunderstand what I am saying. I'm not calling out video games as worthwhile to only those whose lives suck. What I am saying is that I can't understand why a game like Second Life would be appealing to anyone who is happy with their life. I can't see what it provides besides a chance to pretend to live. If anyone gets this and feels that I am way off base, then please let me know.

Thursday dvd

I just found out that Thursday's DVD/CD (entitled Kill The House Lights) will be released on October 30th. This is good news.

Thursday - War All The Time

What Makes An Album

Preface: Misty and I were just talking about JEW's new cd - Chase This Light, and (with her help) I realized why I have felt frustrated with it. It isn't the songs--the songs are great (special nod to "Gotta Be Somebody's Blues"). It doesn't feel like an album to me, though. To help illustrate what I am feeling, let me begin by talking about Clarity.
If I were somehow kidnapped by ex-Soviets in white snow-camo suits and big old guns, and then taken to a deserted island and given the choice of having one, and only one, cd to listen to for the rest of my life, I would choose Clarity. Why? Clarity is an experience. It offers so much musically and lyrically. It offers emotions and each song takes me somewhere new. It is the ultimate listening experience. It is important to understand that I don't say that lightly. There are far too many cds that I love and cherish to make this an easy decision. However, this album takes me everywhere I want to go (with music) and it does it in 13 songs.
Compare that to another disc that JEW released: Singles. Singles is great! It has fantastic music that I love, but it is not an album. It is a collection of singles. It promises nothing more and it exceeds fantastically at being exactly what it purports to be.
So what do we have with Chase This Light? We have what I feel is a collection of songs. They are great songs, and they are worth listening to. I am quite grateful that Jimmy took the time/money/energy to write, record, and release them. However, to call it an album places a certain expectation in my mind. That most likely is my own weakness, but it is there and it is real. I expect more from an album. I expect an experience. The songs on Chase This Light all feel the same. Therefore, I can listen to any one of them and get the same feeling as when I listen to any of the others (as stated previously, with the exception of "Gotta Be Somebody's Blues").
So, the question I have is: are my expectations too high? The answer may very well be "yes." It's too early to pass final judgment on the disc, because I've only had it for a week. Every other Jimmy cd has taken a while to reach "full potency" for me. In another 3 months, we may very well find ourselves hearing me completely take back what I said before and singing Chase This Light's praises as the best JEW album ever. However, for right now I feel that Chase This Light should have been titled Singles: Vol. 2.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Finishing of a Book

I just finished reading a book (and I mean I just got off the pot having finished the conclusion as I, well. As I concluded other actions). It is Arthur Herman's How the Scots Invented the Modern World. I must say that I am fascinated by it. He makes some incredible points about the contribution Scotland and its minds have played in creating our current world. One complaint I had was that it didn't feel well supported (in the sense of showing me who said what or where he got his information from), but in the end I saw that he has a chapter by chapter run through of where to go for more information. I was very surprised to learn that Scotland has its own parliament again. I freely admit a deep bias for all things Scottish, and--it is because of that--I fear for the nation to rush too quickly into any sort of separation from the Union. While my heart would be so pleased to see Scotland become its own nation, I just hope that much prudence would be used in doing so. Herman had many great points about the benefits of the Union and the role that Scotland has played in politics for Great Britain as a whole. It is dangerous to fall too deeply into the role of bitterness and playing the victim. Scotland's failures and successes are their own, and it would do more harm than good to make England the scape-goat. having said all of that, I've never been to Scotland, and until reading this book, have always looked at England as the bad guy and Scotland as the victim. I can definitely understand any Scot feeling that way, too.

I am greatly inspired to learn more of the history of Scotland/Ireland/England/Wales and the formation of Great Britain. I'm also feeling deeply inspired to learn more of the ancient cultures that gave birth to all of these great nations.

A Little Clarification

As far as I can understand, the WGA are striking not just for higher payment, but also for a cut of the new markets for media distribution. There have been a ton of technological advancements since they last determined their contract that have opened up new revenue sources for the studios. Let's give an example: iTunes. From what I can gather, these writers (for such successful shows as 24, Lost, etc.) haven't been getting an appropriate cut (if any at all) from tv shows being sold on the internet. There were other sources that weren't specifically mentioned, but the point isn't how many sources are opening up; their contract needs to include all possible revenue sources. This blog is definitely biased towards the writers (mostly because I fancy myself one), but whether I was an actor, writer, or whoever--if I put my effort into a creative endeavor/project and someone else was making money off of it (even if they deserved to because they had put the initial money into it), and not sharing those profits, well... it's strike time.

I'll keep up with this as much as I can and let you know more as I come to understand it better.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Some Levity

I'm not going ot bother laying down a bunch of ground work on the WGA strike. No, I think it's best that we just head straight into it. I'll let you sort it out with me.
I read two fantastic comments on a website called defamer.com (scroll down to the bottom of the page). Another site is giving a helpful run-down of how this strike will affect us viewers. Something that is still blowing my mind is the "alternative" viewing that we may see hit the tv screen, once the strike gets under foot. Episodes of Stouffer's Lean Cuisine tv? You have got to be kidding me. I'll try and wait to pass judgment, but... too late.

So, where does that leave us? It seems that either tv is going to import foreign programming (that is bound to be a huge success), we're going to have our favorite movies/tv shows written by scabs (which puts in danger the quality of our programming), we'll get re-runs (which will only potentially draw small audiences), or we'll see some new breakthrough in quality programming (i.e. commercials becoming the most entertaining things on tv--said in a non-sarcastic way, but without any hint of believing it will work).

We'll see what happens.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Screen Writing

Well. I have to somehow make this brief. Today, Matt told me about the Writer's Guild of America (WGA) going on strike (scheduled for November 1st--the day after their contract expires). I have been perusing the intraweb all day long reading about it. Frankly, I'm fascinated.
However, this blog post isn't about that; while searching and reading, I stumbled upon a fantastic site for aspiring screen writers (like me). Wordplay. Read the introduction. Read the Welcome. Read the columns. I only made it to the second before I felt the need to come write about it. I find it very fascinating in the best of ways. Does it have the potential to become formulaic? Well, sure. In fact, that is probably my favorite part about it: it's honesty about what it is actually providing. After making it through the first two columns, I feel greatly inspired to spend more time getting these stories in my head on paper (perhaps more literally on my compy).
I'll be mentioning the writer's strike soon enough. Never you mind. This felt more important, though. This is my passion: writing. It is so refreshing to find materials that are conducive to that frame of mind.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Best Day Ever (Or At Least Pretty Close)

Saturday: almost best day ever. It started off with a little soccer action. My nephew's team did lose, but it was still highly enjoyable watching the little tykes run amok. Then my wife and I went to Target and found the perfect little shelf (I'll be honest, I didn't really care as much about the shelf, but it made her happy so I felt good). After that, we went to a little show called The $250,000 Game Show Extravaganza Spectacular (or something along those lines. It's over at The Hilton, though). We went there more out of a desire to not get charged for reserving tickets and then not going, but it turned out to be fantastic fun. We were chosen to play in The Newlywed game and almost won it. As a consolation prize, we received two tickets to see Barry Manilow (which I immediately began to contemplate selling on Craig's List--it turns out that the cheapest seats cost over $80... not too shabby.). Then, as we re-entered the theater to see the last game, they were calling my raffle number. I ran up onto the stage and proceeded to choose the correct color (either black or red, and with much help from my wonderful wife) every time. It went like this: everyone would choose either black or red, and then the assistant would pick up the top card (from the giant deck of cards next to her). If it was a red suit and you had chosen red, you stayed; if you had chosen black you sat down. We kept playing rounds like these until I was the only one left standing. So, I go to play the final game--the chance to win $250,000 game. It was very difficult. There were twenty numbers to choose from (1-20). Each number had a secret dollar amount attached to it. If the dollar amounts from the three numbers you chose added up to $1,000 exactly, you won $250,000 and everyone in the audience won $100. Nice deal? That is statistically INCREDIBLY difficult. I didn't win, but I did get to keep the amount that my three numbers added up to. So, in the end, we won $860 and tickets to Barry Manilow.
Then, I got to watch DCU play, and even more excitingly, RSL beat COL winning, for the first time, the Rocky Mountain Cup and knocking COL out of the playoff race.
That night capped it all off: Jimmy Eat World.
It was an amazing show. They opted to not play a ton of songs from Chase This Light. I was glad. It always takes me a little bit to get into a new Jimmy cd, so I wasn't feeling very comfortable with the new stuff, yet (heck , it just came out Tuesday). Their set sounded fantastic, and they commented that we were the best crowd they've ever played for in Vegas. That isn't too hard to believe. Vegas usually sucks. I'm glad that we represented well, though.
The award for "Song I Wasn't Expecting To Blow Me Away Live, But Did" goes to "Disintegration". Matt agreed that it was his favorite moment from the show.
After the show, I commented to Sierra that JEW's guitar work is probably my favorite; they work with and against each other so perfectly. So, favorite guitarist awards go thus: favorite single guitarist - Mike Einziger (of Incubus). Favorite two guitarists - Jim and Tom (of Jimmy Eat World).
Sadly, we did miss Maritime. I found out that it is the new project of Davey and Dan from The Promise Ring. I'll be checking them out.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

What's New, Pussycat?

Well, it feels weird not being in my band. Tonight we are going to practice for our last show, but we haven't practiced for like 2-3 weeks, and I have been feeling off kilter. So much of my life has revolved around the band for so long. It is a little disorienting to not be doing it. It makes life feel... stagnant.

I'm going to be setting up a studio. I'll start simple. It will mainly be focused on recording acoustic guitar and vocals. I have too many past, current, and future songs that mean so much to me. I don't really like the thought of never recording them. So, I will do my best to learn how to record them in a quality manner for others to enjoy, also.
I'm going to try and see what I can do with Garage Band. I read somewhere that Thrice used Garage Band for The Alchemy Index. If it is good enough for them, then hey... who am I to think that I need something more.

If anyone has tips on recording techniques or equipment to get/avoid, I'm all ears.


In other random news, Thursday will be releasing a cd/dvd entitled Kill The House Lights soon. I couldn't find a release date, but head over to their myspace to hear a new track from it.
They are coming to play at Jillian's on November 14th. Very exciting.


Tuesday saw the release of the much anticipated The Alchemy Index Vols. I & II (Fire and Water). Fire was immediately enjoyable for me. It still felt very much like Thrice. Water has taken more time for me. I am glad to say that it is growing on me a lot now.
I read something interesting from Dustin, where he was talking about the sonnets from each EP. He said they are written from the perspective of the element. "The Flame Deluge" (Fire's sonnet) is fire's lament that humanity has twisted something so helpful and beneficial into a tool of war. "King's Upon the Main" (Water's sonnet) in the sea basically calling out man's pride--we are nothing compared to the power of the sea. Very interesting.

Tuesday also saw the release of Jimmy Eat World's Chase This Light, So far I am liking it, but, like all previous Jimmy cds, it always takes me a while to get really into it. I haven't had any of them hook me on the first listen. That is a good thing, as far as I am concerned. If the alternative is to have an album be immediately accessible and then get old... I'll take the album that makes me work to like it.

(this comes from Scotty and has no relevance at all to what was just discussed. I still liked it, though.)

Friday, October 12, 2007

My Story

I'm writing a short story for my creative writing workshop class. I'm really excited, but I am torn between the idea of writing a good one and saving my "good ones" for a different occasion than my classmates. Nothing against them. I think there is a part of me that is always a little scared that someone will steal one of my ideas.
Also, I have discovered that I get really attached to my stories. I spend so much time thinking about them that I grow to truly understand the characters and story, but... I also get too involved with them to feel comfortable telling their story. How strange is that? One of my stories that I was going to write, I quickly realized that it was too huge to do for a short story. It is a novel. Doing it as a short story doesn't do it justice. Anyway, my ranting all boils down to this: I just need to write a friggin' story and get a grade. I think I just need the experience of finally finishing a story, instead of outlining endlessly. It would feel good to finally get some of these millions of ideas and potential projects out and done with. Finishing Ned Tender was one of the most amazing feelings I've ever had. I had finally finished one of my creative efforts and it was good. What a feeling. To use Toby's phrase, "I'm gonna chase that feeling."


It's time for Lost again. No, the show isn't back on, yet. I'm referring to Sierra and me finally getting around to finishing it (so she can be ready for the next season). We're currently on disc 5 of season 2. I have to say, this show has surpassed 24 in my book for awesome shows. This is in no way a denial of how awesome 24 is... I just feel like if I were to go out and buy the first season of either one of these shows, I would buy Lost.
I am absolutely fascinated by this show. The story is incredible. Every time a question gets answered, so many new ones are brought up. Even on the (as I like to call them) "filler episodes" (like Hurley's from Season 3), I'm still left ecstatic and in wonderment at what is going on. It is so successful at riding that very thin line between supernatural and scientifically sound.
Anyway, for anyone who hasn't gotten into this show and plans to--please do yourself a favor and start from the beginning. Don't think that starting from season two is acceptable. The journey of confusion/enlightenment as you learn the backs-stories of these characters is so enjoyable.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Farewell to my love...

Well, I guess I don't need to keep it under wraps anymore. I have officially quit Twenty Mule Team. It was one of the toughest decisions I've ever had to make. How do you just walk away from something that you love that much? I'm not going to go into any details on here, because it is a very spiritual and sacred thing for me and not something that I just want to toss out on the internet for all to see. I don't mind talking about it, though. Please don't feel awkward bringing it up in front of or with me.
I love Twenty Mule Team. I love what we were able to accomplish in our time together. Getting to know Alex and Steven the way I have has enriched my life tremendously. Matt, has been and still is one of my best friends and the honor to have played with those guys and written the music we did will forever be cherished.

I realize that this doesn't mean I won't ever write a song again, or even perform songs I've written. It is different, though. It is definitely different.

So thanks to everyone who showed us love and support throughout the years. Thanks to the guys for the wonderful memories. I wish you the best of luck and the Lord's blessings as you go down the path I can't tread. Hopefully, I will be able to somehow live vicariously through you and experience some of the joys of so great an adventure.

Thrice again

Here are the 8th and 9th videos for the Alchemy Index.



Mute Math in Reverse

These guys recorded their incredibly strange backwards performance of "Typical" again, but this time in front of a live studio audience on Jimmy Kimmel live. Well done, boys. It looks good.

Monday, October 08, 2007

A Date with Your Family

Scotty, this one is for you. I refrained from posting all ten sections of The Puma Man.
I was sorely tempted.

Porcupine Racetrack

I tried to put this one up earlier, but I don't think I was able to find it. Either way, my heart tells me it is time for this to go up again.
This is a skit from an old comedy show (that I believe was on MTV) called The State. As I understand it, they currently have no plans for its release on dvd. Someday, mayhaps... someday...

Monday, October 01, 2007

A New cd

Well, thank you, Alex. You have tipped me off to great news. Radiohead will be releasing their new cd much earlier than anticipated. To order go here. You can order what they are calling a "music box" version. This is the regular album (a physical copy that they will ship to you on or before Dec. 3rd). If impatience is your name, or digital is your game, then you can order a digital version directly from them. That version will be available for download on October 10th.
How many bands on Earth could do this? They are releasing it independently, and I wish them the best of luck with that. I'm sure they won't need it.