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Showing posts from May, 2008

Trip Advisory

Blogging will return next week as I will be out of town (and away from the Internet) for a few days. Between now and then, I'll be reading this hopefully final draft of Post , visiting friends and family, and missing the season finale of Lost . Yes, due to prior commitments, I'll be missing the final two hours of this amazing season. But, I will see them sometime very soon, and thanks to a certain spoiler site, I know who's in the coffin. All I'll say is, "resurrection." Plus, I would not be surprised if people start using a certain pop culture phrase I really detest after the episode airs. I'm not saying this is a bad sign for seasons five and six, but just knowing how impatient people are, it would be really easy to say the show has veered way off course. Then again, this wouldn't be the first time the show has been accused of such.

Painful memories that haunt you

A recent question in Ask the A.V. Club wondered why so many people want to know the name of some band, movie, T.V. show, or video game they vaguely remember from their childhood. Moreover, why do many of these (especially TV shows and movies) come with traumatic memories for the people that ask? Well, as someone who asked a question about a show (that didn't traumatize me, by the way) from my middle school years, I figured I'd offer the following. In my case, Video Power was a show that, now looking back at it, seemed ahead of its time. Well before TechTV/G4 or video game awards on Spike TV, there was this little syndicated show in the early Nineties. Super Nintendo, Game Boy, Sega Genesis, and Turbo-Grafx 16 were the hot game systems at the time, and some producers figured merging these game systems with the game show format would work. It worked, and being very into video games at that time, I watched the show almost every day. There was something cool and fun about the

Why it takes (me) years to finish something

Last week I received a very enthusiastic evaluation of the manuscript for Post from my publisher. The deal was, it was suggested there be another line edit. Whether or not I'd be the one to do the edit was up to me. Given the option of spending a certain percentage of my free time to do it or possibly spend hundreds (maybe thousands) of dollars to let someone else do it, I went with the former. I've had a handful of different people (people that I trust and who give honest feedback without being jerks) look at the book over the last year or so. I figured I had all the tools I needed to do this myself. Besides, isn't this a book about doing it yourself? The frustrating thing about editing is learning new stuff while unlearning old stuff at the same time. In my case, a journalism instructor in college told me that lists in a sentence do not have a comma before the "and." (e.g. "NOFX, Lagwagon and Rocket from the Crypt.") Well, seeing a comma before the &

Vacation?

So, with the Memorial Day weekend upon me and a trip to Houston and New Orleans next week, I have the following options with my free time: 1) watch movies, drum, blog a lot, read, skate here and there, and exercise. 2) do another line edit of Post myself with the advice of editors I know (instead of forking over three months salary for somebody else to do the whole thing), have the manuscript done before I drive down to Houston, watch movies, drum, skate here and there, read, blog a little, and exercise. Guess which one I'm going with?

Hey Baby (They're Playing Our Song)

There was a time (about five years ago) when I was addicted to watching those 30-minute infomercials for Time Life CD sets. Usually falling in the late night hours, I watched the one with Davy Jones over and over again. Playing a number of hits from the Sixties I had never heard before, I was really intrigued by what I heard. Less than a year later I was working for a radio station whose playlist had most (if not all) of those songs in their library. I learned a lot then and still appreciate what Time Life does. But I recently wondered about how downloading has affected Time Life's sales. Since one of their biggest (and strongest) selling points was how there's no filler (or depending on how you look at it, adventure in hearing songs you've never heard before) on them. These are just the popular hits, nothing more or less. So how can they compete in a downloading world? There's a clear advantage in having a full CD of songs you really like instead of having to hunt do

Very Best Years

I recall an instance when a fellow co-worker at Best Buy vented to me about a customer asking for a song that he a) didn't remember any of the lyrics b) didn't remember if it was a guy or a girl singing it c) didn't remember where he heard it, and d) could only hum a few bars in a non-melodic way. Well, I must admit I've had that frustration of knowing a song merely by a guitar or piano line or just a drum fill. Still, asking someone for something specific while only telling the vaguest of traits doesn't go very far. And that's not just with music. In a particular case of my own, ever since I saw this video on Beavis and Butt-head , I wondered who sang it. The only things I remembered were the heavy accents on every beat of the verse, in addition to a distinct climbing guitar riff (doubled with the vocal) leading into the chorus. All I remembered from the video was the band playing in what looked like a garden, and they were being filmed on a 360 dolly track. T

Toss the cookies

Well, my attempt to bake those cookies didn't turn out like I hoped, but that's perfectly fine by me. For whatever reason, the mix didn't rise in the oven -- it spread, thus making the entire baking sheet a thin, brownie-like crust. Alas, everything was still edible (albeit very rich-tasting right out of the oven) and I made due as I cut up what I had into smaller parts. Stacking everything I had onto a plate made it look like a nuked chocolate cake. So I put them into two small bowls and they looked surprisingly attractive. The party went very well and plenty of food was consumed, but there's still plenty of leftovers. As a matter of fact, if it weren't for office breakrooms, I think we would have had enough desserts, beer and appetizers for two months. Some thoughts came into my head about trying in general and not feeling shame or disgust because not everybody ate what I made. If I was hung up on approval and basing all the eating habit actions of the party

Cookies

Tomorrow afternoon, I will attempt something I haven't done in a long time: bake something from scratch! And moreover, for people other than me! Usually there's some sort of occasion for doing something like this, and this is no different. As a way of celebrating one of our new-ish neighbors' birthday (and as a housewarming party of sorts), I will attempt to bake these : chocolate pudding cookies. The reason why I'm attempting to bake these is another line in the whole, "it's a great idea, do it, and don't second-guess yourself" line of thinking. I've never baked these before, but I remember enough from my time of baking chocolate chip cookies with my mother and sister. If it's a total mess and failure on the first batch, I have enough time to either start again or just pick up a pre-packaged dessert from the grocery store. No harm, no foul, right? Usually for parties like these, my attitude is to just show up. Well, given the circumstances

I Am You Are

A few months ago, I wrote up a little piece for a new print/web zine called I Am You Are . Well, as a preview of what's to come, my write-up is currently online here .

So make up your mind and come to your senses

A lesson I still remember from college: on roadtrips, don't listen to CDs that only have a half-hour of music (or less) on them. The reason why is for time-filling reasons -- and a desire to not switch out discs that often while driving. I've never wanted a multi-disc changer as my mood is always subject to change, so it's been single-disc player all the way. (And don't get me started on plugging my iPod in my car.) Well, as much as I might love a record by a band, I don't want to hear it continuously over and over again. For records that I sort of like, this can leave a bad impression in the long term. I recall one trip going from Austin to Fort Worth where I decided to listen to face to face's self-titled album. Once I reached the Round Rock city limits, I had gone through all twelve songs. Since I had just begun my trip, I decided to let the album play again. And again. And again. I think I listened to the whole thing four times. As much as I like almost al

Touch of Gray

A little over two years ago, I did a rant on Just For Men. Finding their intent for men to be "real" by coloring their hair, I said plenty that I still agree with. Well, with a new ad campaign for a product that keeps some of the gray hair demands a new rant. However, Steve over at the A.V. Club wrote a pretty spot-on rant on it today. Read and enjoy the groan, especially after watching the commercial.

In order to grow you have to be open to learn

Earlier this week, I was asked why I decided to publish Post through a print-on-demand outlet. As much as I would have liked for the book to be readily available in stores once it comes out, it's going to have to wait a bit. Since the book is non-returnable to the publisher (cause the publisher is technically me), bookstores are hesitant to carry such. Frankly, if you ask me, I'd personally give my home address to bookstores if they wanted to return unsold copies somewhere. But I don't think that will be the case. Is this frustrating? Sure. But for me, I'd rather have the book I imagined (and made) in print and available in some capacity (even if Amazon and Barnes and Noble are the only ones that will carry it online). It was either that or have something readily available that I felt severely compromised over. I've been told that's the game of being published, but for me, this was a kind of compromise I was not up for making. My experience with shopping arou

Print the legend

I'm aware that certain people like to hear the myth rather than the truth from the horse's mouth. I'm not one of those people. In the case of movies, I've heard quite a few slightly exaggerated tales about the making of some of the greatest movies of all time. A number of these stories were told to me in a few film classes I took in college. Others came from articles I read in newspapers and magazines. Well, in my time of watching supplemental features on DVD and reading books on movies, I've come to learn a lot more clarification. -No, there is no five-hour cut of Apocalypse Now . There was a five-hour assembly cut of the movie, but it was by no means a rough cut or director's cut. - Star Wars Episode VI was originally called Return of the Jedi , but was asked to be changed to Revenge of the Jedi , and then changed back to Return of the Jedi . There was no fan letter sent to George Lucas reminding him of what Jedis do and don't do. -Yes, there are a lot

You had to be there

Given the industry I work in, and the kind of job I have, there seems to be at least one big, tense situation each year where things go absolutely nuts. A few years ago, an 18-wheeler filled with paint caught on fire on I-20 right under 45, shutting down the entire area, right at the beginning of afternoon rush hour. Last year it was a warehouse fire in downtown Dallas where canisters shot out of the place and landed onto the nearby freeways. Earlier this year was the death of a police officer riding in Hillary Clinton's motorcade near downtown Dallas. Well, today an 18-wheeler slid down an embankment coming off of 35E northbound and onto 635 eastbound. Catching fire, it was a mess for hours. There were many road closures in the area, smoke flew across the highway, the trailer portion was stuck up in the air and split in half as the fire kept going. Quite a sight to see and report live, I must say. Whenever this stuff happens, I tend to go into lockdown mode without going nuts.

And games that never amount to more than they're meant will play themselves out

If you've seen Once , you probably remember this pivotal scene. Guy teaches Girl "Falling Slowly" with a quick run-through of the chords and changes, along with the lyrics. They perform the song quite well, and for me, quite convincingly. Yet there is a degree of "come on, they can't pull off a song like that with such little rehearsal!" Well, though the actors were better at playing music than acting, I totally believe it because I've experienced that kind of fresh, exciting spontaneity plenty of times before while playing in bands. I can firmly recall running through a song with my high school band only once and recording the next run-through. Maybe it was our ability to read each other's body language, or just understanding the simplicity of repeating a riff four times before a change, but we came up with something cool without much tinkering. Somehow we knew where the dynamics were and how long to stretch everything out. That's one of the r

Notes from the Ballpark

So, after attending my first Texas Rangers game (and plan on seeing my second one today), I have some observations to share: -The future Dallas Cowboys stadium looks like the space station in Contact . -Dollar Hot Dog Night means all regular size hotdogs are $1 each. No strings attached. Now, how's about Dollar Bottled Water Night? -Seeing a grand slam shortly into a game was very cool -- especially in a seat right behind home plate. -Dollar Hot Dog Night + high winds = lots of hotdog wrappers flying around the outfield. -Amount of time between leaving the game and getting back on I-30: ten minutes.