Jun 11 2009

Family Photos


I’ve neglected my blog lately, what with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and something else called “real life”. Erin and I have been keeping ourselves busy: Decemberists concert, Great America roller coasters, the Makers Faire, Marin Home and Garden Show, Farmers’ Markets and visiting friends. And this weekend we have some big choices: a weiner dog race, town fair, italian street painting festival and/or a civil war reenactment where you can “learn how to be a field surgeon”. Whew!

Anyhow, I wanted to pop online real quick to bring back a family photo album I originally put online several years ago. My folks have some family visiting from Texas this weekend and my mom thought it’d be nice to have these up to share. And so, without further adieu, HERE‘s the album! Enjoy :)

Mar 17 2009

Stephen Colbert, Greenscreens, ILM

[This is oooold, but I just discovered it in my drafts and realized I never published it…]

ILM compositors have never met a greenscreen they didn’t like. And when Stephen Colbert appeared in front of one while making tons of Star Wars references, a group of ILMers thought it would be fun to do something with that footage. So they roughed out some ideas, pitched them to the company and it was a go. Their effort paid off. Not only was their work featured on The Colbert Report, but those bastards friends of mine got to fly to New York and meet Stephen Colbert himself. They said he’s very tall and very, very loud. Needless to say I was ridiculously jealous.

Here’s the episode that got things started (btw, this is my home district and I absolutely adore Lynn Woolsey) (link to Comedy Central):
The Beginning

And here is ILM’s submission along with the guest appearance by George Lucas (links to Comedy Central):
The Finalists
The Winner
The Lightsaber Duel

Later and more recently (during the 2008 Presidential Election), Stephen issued another greenscreen challenge, this time asking viewers to use footage of McCain to make him More Exciting. While there were no official entries from ILM, one ILMer did submit two bits that made it onto the Colbert Report: John Knoll. (Yes, that John Knoll.)

Anyway, here are his McCain Challenge submissions (links to youtube):
Blue Suede Shoes
Oscar Acceptance Speech

I love that one of the comments about these vids on that youtube channel is: “you have some l33t chroma-key skills!” Yes… yes he does.

Mar 17 2009

Watchmen, The Phantom Menace and Iraq

Saw Watchmen last weekend. Really enjoyed it. It’s been years since I read the original graphic novel, but as a standalone film I thought it was on par with some of the other recent, excellent comic book films. Nice blend of action, drama, romance and comic book story. Big and cinematic, fun craftsmanship… Not a masterpiece, but definitely worth a watch on the big screen.

But I’m not here for Watchmen, I’m here for The Phantom Menace. In this Newsweek Watchmen review the author manages to compare TPM with Iraq. Well played, sir! And let me say for the record that I do in fact proudly applaud myself for immediately identifying TPM as the complete and udder disaster it was (design/vfx excepted). Here’s what the reviewer had to say:

Somebody had better appreciate the guts it takes to admit this: the first time I saw “The Phantom Menace,” I thought it was great. I remember heading straight to a bar after the movie with two pals, sifting through what we’d seen and grumbling that so many people were so oblivious to its towering awesomeness. Give them time, we said. Maybe it’s hard to believe now, but this wasn’t such a rare and ridiculous view in the days just after “The Phantom Menace” came out. Just as with the war in Iraq, a lot more people now applaud themselves for recognizing the disaster right away than actually did at the time. For those of us who grew up on “Star Wars,” there was a similar ache to believe, almost trancelike in its power. You just blocked out the bits that challenged your reality. That’s how I watched Jar Jar Binks, or that brat who played Anakin Skywalker, and said to myself, I am totally fine with this. For weeks after, a friend at NEWSWEEK taunted me with morsels of George Lucas’s brutal dialogue (“Patience, my blue friend”) and kept calling the kid Mannequin Skywalker. It was months before I could say aloud what most people instantly knew: the movie was a stinker. Oh, the things we do for love.

Mar 17 2009

Indy beginnings?

Interested in movie pre-pro, dev or the beginnings of a great film franchise? Or maybe a hoax?

Entertainment Weekly published this article about this blog posting about a 125-page transcript of an early story meeting with George Lucas and Steven Spielberg regarding Raiders of the Lost Ark. Who knows if it’s true or not, but EW points out when they approached Lucasfilm for a comment, the Lucas rep declined to give one,”but did point out that parts of the document previously appeared in the book The Complete Making of Indiana Jones“.

This is one of my favorite franchises (I’m ignoring the fourth installment) and I would love to learn more about its beginnings. I never followed all the Making Of lit for Indy the way I did for Star Wars, but I’ve always loved the candid, naked and sometimes boring discussions that go into creating anything new, so I find the transcript fascinating. I want to believe…

Feb 2 2009

25 Random Things About Me

From Facebook. Yeah, I actually took the time to do this. Actual list is after the jump…

Rules: Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you (OR because I’ve ALREADY enjoyed reading your random facts!). You don’t have to feel obliged to complete the 25 Random Things, just know I thought of you!

(To do this, go to “notes” under tabs on your profile page, paste these instructions in the body of the note, type your 25 random things, tag 25 people (in the right hand corner of the app) then click publish.) Continue reading

Jan 18 2009

Election Day 2008

I’d intended to write this as soon after Election Day 2008 as possible… Oops! At least I got it in before Inauguration Day. This is the last of my planned “Election 2008 and Prop 8” entries. Hopefully, I can keep things a little lighter (and less lengthy) in the future. In any case, here’s how I experienced Election Day 2008… Continue reading

Nov 30 2008

Phoning folks

Phone banking. My first day of training I was completely hung over from overwork, coming off a 20hr day with only four hours sleep. It was scheduled to start 10am at 2278 Market St: a 30 minute car ride, 10 minute Muni ride and two-block walk from my apartment. I was going alone, I didn’t know what exactly I’d be doing and the idea of calling strangers to talk about a highly charged political issue didn’t sound like fun. I almost didn’t go, but…

Back in August 2008, polling numbers showed 54% of Californians opposed Proposition 8. Then Yes on 8 stepped up their campaign and really put the scare in people. October polls showed the Yes on 8 ads were so effective they had eroded No on 8’s lead and split voters down the middle. As a result, the No on 8 campaign finally switched off auto-pilot and started seriously campaigning. When I called them to ask what I could do, they said they needed people on the phone banks, so I signed up. Continue reading

Nov 29 2008

Gobbledy Guck

Happy Thanksgiving!

I tried a little experiment this year. I gave up my fave garlicky mashed tators for a root veggie stew (turnips, celery root, butternut squash, wild rice, cranberries) rolled up in crispy, flakey, lightly browned filo dough. Sounds delicious, no?

OOPS! Filo dough needs to thaw for eight freaking hours. OOPS! Filo dough needs come to room temperature for two hours after thawing. OOPS! It’s hypersensitive to overcooking. OOPS! I forgot to put the turkey day spices in the root veggie stew until near the end. That all added up to a fairly tastey if strong stew concoction inside a completely inedible rubber shell of filo. Sigh…

As for the rest of the meal it was lovely. Let’s see if this activates the salivary glands of you omnivores:

Mycoprotein veggie Quorn loaf in lieu of turkey. Mmmm… No, seriously. It was really good. I think I liked it as much as Tofurkey except that Tofurkey gives you more leftovers. I also made a tasty fruit stuffing with pecans, cranberries, apricots and toasted wheat bread. Last but not least, I made some gravy which I’m going to add to my year-round cooking. It’s crazy tasty and would go awesomely with smoked tempeh. Oh! And of course, I finished up dinner with store-bought vegan Apple Streusal Crunch pie and some Boulder Vanilla ice cream.

Anyhow, that’s my story. The meal literally took me from 3pm from prep to 8pm eatin’ time due mainly to being a one-man job and having only one oven to work with.

The rest of my weekend has been very mellow. I can’t believe tomorrow is Sunday already. I can’t wait for Christmas break to visit friends and family! My brain has already switched off at work; don’t tell the boss. Cheers all and Happy Thanksgiving! The full recipes I used are after the jump… Continue reading

Nov 23 2008

Flyer vs Flyer

November 1st, 2008, the Saturday before election day, I attended a No on 8 SF training session and an East Bay volunteer coordinator was there to give us some news and ask for our help. The Yes on 8 campaign had just completed a massive Oakland flyer drop targeting Obama supporters with flyers that had large photos of Obama and a quote from him saying “I’m not in favor of gay marriage”. (Never mind that Obama actually opposed Prop8.) To counter that effort, No on 8 printed flyers with Obama’s photo and stating his opposing to Prop8. The East Bay coordinator asked us to volunteer for an “emergency flyer drop” all over Oakland.

Now, going up to the front doors of complete strangers in neighborhoods I know nothing about is not something that sounds like fun to me. In fact, given this issue, it sounds like it could potentially be dangerous. But we needed to counter our opponents actions quickly and with the election only three days away, this was the way to do it. So I signed up… Continue reading

Nov 17 2008

Star Trek ends, Reality sets in…

It’s been a crazy few months! Here’s what’s been happening in my life…

Post election. It’s two weeks after the election now and I’m just beginning to recover from the emotional vicissitudes of having “won the country” but “lost my rights”. I understood from my junior high experience what it felt like to be bullied for being queer, but not until now have I had to deal so directly and so often with people who consider me immoral or disgusting, who hate who I am and don’t mind letting me know. And never before was I willing to admit that when people vote on issues like this, it’s a public referendum on me personally, on who I am and the outcome of these votes affects my life directly.

This experience (the election, volunteering for the No on 8 campaign) gave me a much broader perspective of the world I live in and a clearer viewer of the people around me and the work I have to do. The experience taught me I cannot let myself be invisible and I must find my voice and use it. I know we all have different parts to play and I played only a tiny role in this campaign, but I am inspired by the many faithful players around me and I can feel in my core that I’m just getting started.

But let me wind the story back a bit… Continue reading