Saturday, August 30, 2008

seventeen and strung out on confusion

I never actually thought I would be posting something related to the title of this blog, but here we are.

I just finished Lost season 3. A few episodes before the end, it actually got interesting with the Desmond flashback, and got further interesting with the Jin and Sun episode following it (confirming my belief that the show should be composed entirely of Desmond/Jin/Sun flashbacks). The last episode was a bit anticlimactic, because having missed out on an entire season's length of time I've heard numerous people speak of it. It was still alright but I have a couple issues as I start pushing into season 4.

First, and this is one of the reasons I gave up on the show for so long, I hate artifically created conflict. I would say the bulk of the inter-character drama on the show stems directly from the fact that none of the characters ever talk to each other. Something big will happen, that will either directly impact another person or the relationship with another person, but they will keep it to themselves, either saving it for a "dramatic" episode down the line or leading to conflict which leaves you saying "why the hell didn't they just tell them a long time ago?" If this was coming from one character, I would buy that it is just a flaw of that specific character, but when everybody in the show does it, I start to think it's due to lazy writing.

Second has to do with the end of season 3 and a recurring plot device in season 4. If you haven't seen the finale of season 3, I would avoid this, but it's up to you. I'm not sure what to think about this flash forward device. It could be cool, I suppose, but the first instance of it in the finale of season 3 directly addresses my main concern with it. Jack's flashback in the final two episodes is revealed to be a flash-forward, when a drunk and distraught Jack meets with (a hilariously dolled-up) Kate, who shows no affection for Jack, is apparently with somebody else, and promptly leaves him on the runway.

The show continues on in present-day, while we have this knowledge of the future. This Jack/Kate/Sawyer/Juliet thing seems to be one of the main dramatic threads of the show. How am I supposed to get into the back-and-forth of it when I know Kate winds up with somebody else and Jack is a drunken wreck? I realize that knowing the end isn't all there is to it. For example, while I knew Charlie drowns at the end of season 3, I still didn't know what lead up to it. However, even though you still don't know how we get from A to B... doesn't B seem not quite as cool as it might have been if you hadn't known of it ahead of time?

We'll see how season 4 is. People tell me it's good.

Edit: Now through with s04e01... yeah, it's pretty good so far, lol. Glad to see some of the sci-fi elements coming back into play.

Monday, August 25, 2008

hate the sinner but love the sin

101 athiest quotes. It's the Google cached version of the site, hopefully it'll still load after a minute.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

and i hope we'll be here, hope we'll be here still

Every once in a while I get a brief flash of inexplicable and overwhelming excitement, inspiration, wonder, and the urge to just go outside and just run until I find what I'm running towards.

There are so many things I want to write. There is this big trilogy I've been kicking around, you could maybe call it "Star Wars with balls," that other script that is inching closer and closer to being a borderline-adaptation of Densha Otoko, this revenge thing I've tooled around with since freshman year... but sometimes I'm reminded of what I really want to write.

I don't quite know how to explain it. A great adventure. The kid who leaves home and goes on a journey, along the way getting fancy new clothes, maybe a neat sword, and has some goal he's running towards, and later returns home a man, a changed man. Something that just makes you smile when you read or watch it. Something you root for. Something that everybody can relate to on some level, whether it brings back memories or it embodies that sense of wonder when you first step out into the world, when you have a thousand paths you could take and an entirely blank slate. Everybody has wanted to go on a grand adventure, and anybody who says otherwise is lying.

I'm reading Stardust, which is tragically short (and MAN is it better than the movie), and I think the best way I can describe what I want to write is something that makes me feel the same way I do when I'm reading Stardust, incredibly excited to read more even though I know how it ends, taking it slow because I don't want it to end, walking around after reading a few chapters and noticing the smaller things in life that are otherwise left unnoticed, the way a leaf blows around in the wind, the changing shapes of clouds, and how the further you drive away from the city the more vast and endless the stars become. It's the kind of book that makes me want to drive out to the country, lay down on the roof of the car off some small road, and just stare at the stars, letting my mind run wild.

That. That's what I want to write.

Monday, August 18, 2008

we're coming down to the ground

I guess it might be a little early on to say this.

I'm not the kind of guy to try to have his favorite movies battle it out and shove them into a list since it's the kind of thing that is always changing. However, I do generally like to figure out my top few just for the sake of conversation. For a number of years, I've considered Raiders of the Lost Ark to be my favorite movie, with a lot of others high up there (Star Wars, The Royal Tenenbaums, Lost in Translation, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Stranger Than Fiction, Back to the Future, The Matrix and Almost Famous to list the ones that immediately pop into my head) that I couldn't possibly rank.

I think I can rank two now, though, since Raiders has been knocked into #2 by Wall-E. We've yet to see if I'm still loving it years down the road, but I've never loved a movie so intensely right off the bat.

It's been "when it rains it pours" at work lately, so on the painfully boring days here and there I have a lot of time to just think about random shit, and Wall-E has been something I've put a lot of thought towards lately. I just love the hell out of it. There isn't a single thing I don't utterly love about it. I've seen it four times, and I really want to see it again, though I'm waiting for it to hit the $3 second-run theater, and I can't wait to pick up the Blu-Ray on Nov 18th and see it on the new embarassingly awesome TV in our basement (I find myself repeatedly assuring people "it's a couple year old floor model and we got a deal on it"). Even hearing tracks off the OST gets me a tiny bit choked up. Every time I've felt down lately, I find myself wishing I were in the middle of a dark theater watching Wall-E, and I acted on it once.

I in fact want to be watching it right now.

I need to hunt down Andrew Stanton and give him a big fucking hug. If I ever get to Pixar, that is the first thing I do. Complimenting Lasseter on his shirts, I'm afraid, will have to come second.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

i'd fall in love with you, again and again

This could rock.

she's holding on my heart like a hand grenade

I've been driving to work fairly often lately. Probably way more than I should, considering we still have the country's most expensive gas (it's down to a little over $4 right now but just a couple months ago it was pushing $4.70), but I just really love driving to work. Even though I lived on campus for the last four years of college, I still rode the train to and from class all the time, so commuting to work/school via Metra and CTA still feels kind of the same. Driving feels like something different, like a step forward, which for many reasons makes me feel much better about myself and my current state in life.

Gas for a month of commuting (based on my not-horribly-accurate observations) at this point probably comes out to around $200, more if there are additional trips to and from the city, which there often are. Monthly passes for CTA and Metra come out to $170. So really, driving isn't all that much more expensive for me, but it sucks that a decade ago it'd be like $40-$50 for the month. Guess not everything about the 90s sucked. Not that I can talk since I currently look like Eddie effing Vedder, but whatever.

Speaking of unintentional segues, I've got a bone to pick with music. Driving around I've been listening to the radio a lot lately. Usually I stick to 97.1, or as I like to call it "the station with good music" (it's the best local classic rock station), but sometimes I get adventurous and try to hunt down some modern stuff. There are really only three options for this. 103.5 is 99% rap, so I can skip that one easily (I'm sorry but it's gotten to the point where it's rare to find anything rap-ish that is remotely musical). 101.9 is the... er, well, it's something I could see middle-aged women listening to. 101.1 is the only real station left for modern rock, and it isn't a modern rock station anymore really, they play 80s/90s "alternative" too, and they take that term rather liberally and pretty much play any shit from whenever the hell they want.

When you can actually get one or two new songs, they are mostly the same in that they suck. Most modern American rock artists have fortgotten how to be interesting, or they simply choose not to be and instead focus on their look. The most popular bands I hear people talking about seem to not know how to play their instruments. It is exactly like what our parents said about music in the 90s, that it's all three chords and all sounds the same, except now it's actually true (for the most part).

This might come across better in person when I can vocalize, but I'll do my best to get my point across. When you hear a singer, does he only sing three or four different notes?

Hey, I'm singing, hey, I'm singing, hey, I'm singing, hey, I'm singing!
Hey, I'm singing, hey, I'm singing, hey, I'm singing, hey, I'm singing!

I think most people would agree that it would sound very strange, right? What people expect is for the singer go through a huge series of notes, up and down and all around. However my gripe is with the fact that people are inexplicably okay with that from the instruments.

Nuhnuhnuhnuh nuhnuhnuhnuh nuhnuhnuhnuh nuhnuhnuhnuh

nahnahnahnah nuhnuhnuhnuh nahnahnahnah nuhnuhnuhnuh



(same as chorus, but drop one or more instruments, optionally add effect to vocals)


Most people are okay with songs that go like that. Now, I'm not saying that songs with that basic structure and repetitive sounds don't have their place at all, sometimes you can really use a basic, punchy song like that. My problem is that most bands only do songs like that.

There is this thing that old people liked in their music, now a forgotten relic of the past, called a "solo." A solo often was a designated section where the guitarist would go off on a multi-note spree, different from the rest of the song, and it could also be used for bass and drums. It was then that musicians would demonstrate that they in fact knew how to play their instruments, and it often had brilliant results. Modern bands seem to largely ignore solos, and on the off chance that they do it now and then, they're usually painfully simplistic or just a couple notes but really really fast. Again, that's okay sometimes, but not all the time.

I should mention that I don't criticize modern bands for only lacking solos. I just use the term solo most of the time since a lot of bands seem to have the idea that the only part where they are potentially allowed any musical variety is during a solo. Personally, I like variety throughout the entire song. Just a few different chords can only get you so far. Many bands nowadays rarely even have full chords anymore, power-chord-exclusive songs seem to be getting more and more common. I could play a halfway decent song full of power chords. I don't know how to play guitar, but I can figure out how to hold down two strings two frets apart.

There are still some modern bands that actually have decent music. Foo Fighters is probably the best example. While their albums always had the same kind of "sound" to them, their songs were always fairly varied and featured some pretty good playing. They were on the verge of being a tad too repetitive to me, but with their last album, they switched things up a bit, and the result was timeless and freaking awesome. In my mind they've gone up to the level of "classic rock," up there with Petty, Stones, etc. Their popularity is one of my huge hopes in modern music. There's also stuff like System of a Down, which I personally don't like, but I have to give them credit for being unique and actually having some variety in their songs.

Also, I've heard a few Avenged Sevenfold songs lately... is it just me, or is there suddenly a pop-metal genre? I choose to plug my ears, go "la la la la la," and keep listening to 1981-1988 Metallica albums.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

above this imperfect world that god has abandoned

I've spent the morning trying to figure some things out. Namely, Pixar.

I don't view it as a "dream job," it's just the place I want to work. I see it, who is there, what they do, and I say to myself "hey, I should work there." It fits. The main practical skill I see myself working on, editing, also fits in. The first time I really became aware of editing was actually during The Incredibles, the scene where Mr. Incredible is getting shot with the expanding-ball-things. I think about it, and really, editing at Pixar would be a great job, I think I'd love it and I think I would be good at it. Maybe I could try to squeeze in a story idea or two while I'm there.

However, it's obviously not the kind of place that you can simply get into with some hard work. It's the kind of work that requires backbreaking nonstop work, knowing somebody inside, and a miracle wouldn't hurt, either.

There is another internship open, this one for making in-house training videos / documentaries / what have you. They're looking for a film student with editing experience. That's it. The qualifications could be filled by pretty much any film student, and my focus happens to be editing, so it works out perfectly. Then we get to the bottom of the listing and they ask for a demo reel displaying your editing experience. I like to think I'm fairly adept at editing, but I haven't really done that much of it outside of the few editing classes I had with Lou, and I have no physical proof of real-world editing skill. The best I could do is send the one really good project I had for Lou's class, which I did last time, but I doubt it'll work any better than it did then.

They're looking for the best of the best. Yes, they're going for students with these internships, and it is probably understood that students won't have the most experience in the world, but they'll still choose the students who have the most of it. It's also not a stretch to think that they'll also choose the demo reels with student-produced material over the demo reels with class projects.

Now, as with most things, it really does boil down to one fact - it's my fault that I don't have any proof of my editing skills. I didn't work on anything, I didn't go out and search down independent productions that needed an editor. I realize this. However, I don't think my school exactly helped, either. Most film schools will have you in a fairly set track of classes in your field, and will pretty much force you into doing short films and major student-run projects. I did not go to a film school, I was in the video production program of a computer school, where the classes were scattered, and the only student projects going on were those made by cliques of people who had known each other since freshman year. I didn't become friends with any of my classmates freshman year, really, and whenever I've approached people about editing for them the answer has always been "we've already got a guy we know doing that," so school hasn't helped me get much experience, either.

Again, I realize it's still mostly my fault, but when I have quite sizable student loans to pay off in the coming years for a program that I feel has been 95% an utterly useless waste of my time when I could have gone to a real film school and likely wound up with plenty of demo reel material, it's hard to not be a little bit irked. The most frequent thing people throw at me is "you should have looked for outside-out-school jobs," and I know I probably should have... but really, how many productions do you think would have hired a film student who has no real experience to speak of, and how many other undergrads in DC or any other program have you seen going and doing outside jobs instead of focusing on the school ones?

I have pretty much one year left until the realistic Pixar window closes (and even the realistic Pixar window is rather unrealistic). This coming summer will be the last shot I'll get at an internship. As of right now, I have a roughly 0% chance of getting in, but I'm real fucking stubborn and I really, really, want to wind up there, so what I need to do now is figure out what I do with this last year. Or, rather, how I get a demo reel together.

I need to find out whether or not they prefer fully student-run productions or not. I'm fairly sure I could call up Lou and maybe get some stuff from him to edit in my free time, more Helter Skelter stuff or an episode of Ghost Whisperer or something. Something like that is what I'd like to do the most, but even if it is approved by the respective studios as something I can show off, I don't know if it's something Pixar would even really look at and think much of.

I could try to cram in an Animation minor if I stick around for this whole year, and while I actually wouldn't mind doing that, I don't know if it would really help me at all on a practical level. Another option that keeps lingering in my head is something with sound work. I kind of liked doing Alex's thing and I think it is something I could be surprisingly okay at if I work at it some more. To me, that actually seems like the most realistic option and the one that would look the best - either sharpen my skills and re-tackle Track and Failed, sexing it up with a more polished soundtrack and sending the short into Pixar for a sound internship, or doing the same for another project (if I can find one). However I don't know if they even had a sound internship last summer or any other time.

I need to talk to Dave, Lou and Vanessa about all this, see what they have to say. I think that last option would be my best shot at it, but even if they have a sound internship pop up and the second run at the soundtrack is great, I don't know if sound is really what I want to do, you know? I would mop floors at Pixar if given the oppurtunity, but I think for their internships they want people who actually want to do that specific thing, which would bring me back to editing, and how much of a bitch it'd be to get a demo reel for that. Or, if I'm being honest with myself, that would bring me to being a story guy, but last summer's story internship was heavily involved with storyboarding, and I have 0 experience with that, either. Maybe I should take whatever storyboarding stuff DePaul offers?

I don't know what to do. I really have to call DVL.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

you'll take the heat but you would never take the fall

For those who aren't aware, it is fully my intention to (try and) write this generation's Star Wars.

No, seriously. That's kind of what I want to accomplish in life.

Whether or not it'd get made is another matter entirely, but we'll see.

Pixar, too.

Edit, 1:45pm. It is amazing how just a few hours in this place (I'm at work) can so utterly destroy any energy, creativeness or good mood that you started the day with. This job is killing me. Not having anyplace I actually like to go home to afterwards doesn't help too much.

time will turn us into statues, eventually

I have this annoying tendency to come close to death in the last year or so. Spun out during a storm on 55 last year, flipped over the handlebars on my bike riding back from the train and came hilariously close to getting my head squashed by a car, etc. The trend seems to be ongoing.

There were tornado warnings last night, and while it was short-lived, there was a huge storm in the area, leaving pretty much everybody without power, flooding basements, and at one point they recorded the wind as 96mph downtown. It was at that point that I was about halfway home on 55. It was kind of drizzling, we go under a bridge, and on the other side is a freaking wall, and everybody comes screeching to a halt. The rain was coming horizontally at a thousand miles an hour, you couldn't see ten feet ahead of you, and even brake lights were hard to see if they were fifteen or more feet off. Easily the worst weather I've ever driven in.

Everybody crawls up the road at 10mph or so. After a bit it lets up some and we all go up to 40 or 50, more of the normal driving-in-the-rain procedure. Naturally the storm picks up again, worse than before, and the wind starts blowing cars around. A car zooms by on my left, gets hit by a gust of wind, and starts sliding to his right. The car in front of me, who must have not been paying attention to his surroundings, pounds on his breaks. At this point, I'm not sure how fast we were going, nor did I have a steady idea of where the road was - I was just following the line of brake lights. There was another person behind me, so I assumed that the shoulder was to my right, hit the brakes and tried to swerve into the shoulder.

At first it's okay, the ABS kicks in and I'm on what seems to be the shoulder. At about the second I realize I'm actually already off the shoulder and on the grass, a gust of wind pounds the van, turning the wheel (and my hands) violently all the way to the right, sending me further off the road. I missed a huge light pole by less than a foot. I suppose it probably wouldn't have killed me - that is assuming that the airbags in that old-ass POS van still work - but it still had me thoroughly shaken up. I waited until I could see more than five feet ahead of me before slowly crawling back to the road and getting off at the next exit to wait for the storm to die down.

So that was fun.

In other news. Soul Calibur 4. Great stuff, the best of the series. Gorgeous animation, awesome character creation, great online play. Only problem is that I don't have anybody to play with around here anymore (as in "local multiplayer" play... remember when that was just called "multiplayer?"), so I don't know how long I'll actually play it. The guys at home are more into Smash, Halo, and not really anything else, unfortunately. I guess Rich is into SC, but when we're around the others they bitch up a storm if we play for more than a few minutes.

You know what kills me? As a society, we're such consumer whores, that people have almost universally accepted the back-to-school rush as a god damn shopping season. It's a huge deal. Pens and notebooks. Does anybody else notice how ridiculous that is?

One more thing. This health nonsense has become a hilarious buzzword. I got an iced coffee w/cream and sugar (I just felt like being a girl today I guess) and a sausage/egg/cheese/croissant from Dunkin' Donuts, and on the bag, there was a big thing that said "0 TRANS FAT!!" Do people actually see that and go "oh good, I'm being healthy"? Oy.

Friday, August 1, 2008

don't sink the boat that you built to keep afloat

I had this idea in my head that over summer, living at home and no longer paying rent downtown, I would be actually building up some money.

I was seemingly mistaken.

There is a long set of reasons. Being irresponsible is a part, though not as big as you'd think. Buying the PS3 at the end of the school year was a big dent, but at the time it went pretty smooth, actually. The only thing that really hurts now is a $140 day last week, seeing Foo Fighters in Indianapolis, the bulk of that money being $80 for one tank of gas to get there and back (take a minute to let that sink in, 80 freaking dollars to get to Indianapolis and back to Chicago). The bigger reasons was the money I missed out on from work being at Disney World, and then a good week and a half where I got pretty sick, both of those led to the two paychecks of the summer being rather small.

This week I fucked up and made the rookie "real world" mistake of forgetting my AT&T bill is on autopay, and winding up being -$5 or so on my account. However, it took me a day to realize, so a few small charges were made after that - a couple meals, a CD, a few bucks of gas... each of those got their own overdraft fee. Today I got paid $325, which is $100 short, since the new web clock for work sucks balls, and I won't get that $100 till next paycheck. $50 goes towards getting me back to $0. $170 (!!) goes to overdraft fees. A few bucks went to gas this morning and breakfast. So my $325 paycheck from midnight, by 10am, has turned into about... $80.


I called TCF and bitched, and they are actually crediting me back $100, which is kickass awesome, but they also said there is one more $36 overdraft fee for Panda Express that was paid last night, which is slightly annoying since I actually bought it on freaking Tuesday, but they wouldn't do anything about it, so that $100 credit will actually be $64. Better than nothing, but having my account be at $140 or so on a payday is kind of balls. The part that doesn't help is that I have one more ComEd bill to pay (how I wasn't actually billed until recently confuses me, but it sort of made sense when I talked to a person on the phone), to the amount of $180 or so, which means that $140 my account will be at when TCF gives me a bit back later today will quickly be reduced back to nothing. I won't be in the hole with the bank, but I'll owe my dad money since he's lending me a bit to cover the bill, so for all intents and purposes I'll be under $0 again. This is also a bad time since I got f'd over money-wise last week, too, when DePaul dropped the bomb that I magically owe them 4k out of nowhere (long story but it's unfortunately "justified" on their end), and I'm having to put a lot of my money towards that, too... not to mention the looming near-100k debt I have with student loans.

Things I won't be able to do for the next two weeks until the next paycheck...
  • Eat lunch with coworkers
  • See Pineapple Express or Tropic Thunder
  • See Flogging Molly at the Congress tomorrow night (it's $20, maybe I can beg my dad into a ticket)
  • Anything at all, really
It isn't an unusual situation for someone my age, I guess, so I can't really complain, but it's still annoying. Actually, I take that back. I have no ill feelings towards any people but I can't help but be a little annoyed with the world that I don't know anybody else (personally) in my age group who's in this position. I guess it's just a coincience that most people I know are more well-off than I am, but it makes it a little more annoying than it might be otherwise. I had a friend in the same situation, who is now off living in LA, and I understand where she was coming from now when she said the same thing.