Lord, what fools these mortals be!

It is April 1st 2014 and I am sitting here waiting for my wife to get home from the store.  I have a little surprise for her.  We have a fake spider that constantly floats around our house.  Not literally floating, although that would be cool, but it just seems to end up different places.  Mostly places that Cindy isn’t expecting.  It never gets old to be in another room and hear her scream when she finds where it is hiding at that particular moment.  Today I have tied it to a string and hung it in the refrigerator.  After she gets home from the store I expect that she will put away some groceries and discover the spider yet again.  I am not sure if it will surprise her or not as she has come to expect it recently but my hopes are high.

April 1st has become an interesting day.  It is a day where the internet becomes much less useful than it normally is because everyone wants to be a comedian.  For example, I have seen today that Norman Reddus has been fired from The Walking Dead.  For a second I was like “NOOOOOOOOooooooooo!!!!!!!” and then it hit me that today is not the day for believing anything on the internet.  I guess this new tradition is fun for some and I get a kick out of some of the “jokes” but the overwhelming amount of fake information is kind of tedious.

I got a new Windows 8.1 PC back before Christmas.  I have been overall pretty happy with it.  I certainly don’t have a problem with the Metro interface.  It is kind of unnecessary but I get what they are going for with it.  Maybe if I had a touchscreen I would have a different opinion but for now I basically work from the desktop.  I have, however, customized the Metro start screen to make it usable.  Underneath all the interface stuff though the system seems rock solid stable.  Hope it stays that way.

Trying to get back to posting daily so check back tomorrow for whatever.

(side note, the spider gambit failed.  I will have to get more creative)

Thomas Hardy Ruined My Film Career

There are a lot of things I dislike in this world.  Opera, Oprah, and meatloaf are a few.  I also dislike a fair bit of Victorian era novels.  If you are a novelist from the Victorian age and  your last name is Brontë you can get the hell out.  I’m not interested.  Seriously, how can three sisters become writers and everyone one of them bore the life out of me?  I suppose there is something special about that accomplishment.  Of this group of authors, the most infamous of these, in my opinion, is Thomas Hardy.  If it wasn’t for Thomas Hardy I might just be in Hollywood right now prepping for another glorious night at The Oscars.  Forget about my lack of talent, ambition, drive, or skill.  It was Thomas Hardy that ruined me.  Hardy and his crappy book, The Mayor of Casterbridge.  How is my lack of success in the film industry tied to Thomas Hardy?  Glad you asked and I shall tell you and you shall weep with me at the end.

It was the fall of 1992.  I was a senior in high school trying to con my way through AP English.  I didn’t like English class.  Wasn’t my “thing”.  Nevertheless, I found myself in this world in which I didn’t belong and the only way out was through.  Even worse was that 12th grade literature was focused on British works and the teacher seemed to love inflicting Victorian authors on her students.  I had hoped to get through it with only minor pain but then the worst happened.  We were assigned a PROJECT.  That most dreaded assignment for high school students.  Something that required creativity, planning, and execution.  Yeah, not exactly what I was “in to” at the time.

Apparently I wasn’t alone.  A cadre of other students who just also happened to be friends of mine joined forces to oppose this PROJECT and through impassioned debate  fought tirelessly to end the oppression of the “authority” but, alas, we failed and the PROJECT was assigned.  We took a fallback position and argued for a team approach.  We would take this book, this horrible, boring, book and turn it into a true work of art.  We would make a film and show the world that this story might have life after all.

To my great surprise our film was green-lit by the “authority”.  We were given permission to work as a team.  Little did she know this was just my plan to do something fun instead of that whole tedious school work thing.  HA what a chump right?  My friends and I were going to get to hang out for a while, have fun, AND turn it in as the PROJECT!  I thought it might be one of my best cons ever.  Interesting how we are so often wrong about our perceived cleverness isn’t it?

With the PROJECT to complete, we first spoke to another member of the “authority” about using her contacts at a local university to get access to some editing hardware.  Once approved, we were ready to film.  A script was quickly developed.  Of course none of us had read the book so we had to base it on the first chapter.  The book was Thomas Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge. A most painful read even at the beginning but it would be enough.  There were few characters and even fewer points of real action.  The only problem was that a female factored prominently in the action.  This was a problem for us considering we were all male but another classmate most graciously volunteered to enter into the production with us and the filming was on.

Over the next few weeks all the scenes were shot.  I had the camera so I got to direct.  That fact that I am death to a film if on camera wasn’t to be known until later but we will get to that soon enough.  We found locations wherever we could and taking inspiration from Monty Python we worked though the action.  Must laughing and arguing was had but eventually it was done and we were off to the editing bay.  Our hopes for a triumphant film debut were quickly dashed as we were informed that our efforts were wasted.  Our film was worthless because we didn’t have a lead in for each of our clips.  The scenes could not be edited together.  Time was up and we had nothing but hours of raw footage that could not be used.

The day the project was due came and we proudly entered the class room with our raw footage and the knowledge that our greatness would be acknowledged and an extension of the PROJECT would be most graciously granted.  Only, we were betrayed.  Betrayal from one of our own.  Betrayal most foul!  One of our members, our compadre, our co-conspirator completed his own project on his own!  The united front that we had planned on crumbled and failure was but a red ink pen away!  Those of us left, the strong, the willing, the unapologetic ally stupid, fell on the mercy of the “authority”.  We begged for another shot and were graciously approved and we began anew.

We re-shot the entire film again.  Some locations remained the same, some actors changed.  Some things were better.  Some were worse.  In the end it was done.  Over an evening it was finally edited and then we put the finishing touches on the film.  Some music here, some really bad credits there, and it was complete.  Even I made an appearance in the film.  I was never meant to be an actor.  My camera never recovered from the shock.

In the end we got a B, I think, and even an honorable mention at the art show.  My hopes and dreams were crushed.  I blamed it on Thomas Hardy and his crappy novel.  If only I had better material to work with!!!  I turned from film and focused on other things always with a sense that I missed my true calling but never able to fully get over my first experience as a director.  Other films were made later in life but never with any heart.  I was done.  Ruined by Thomas Hardy I could never enjoy the experience again.

It is with a heavy heart and a lot of humility that I post that film here.  It was a crowning achievement and I wear it on a troubled brow.  Shot so long ago I can see the technical limitations of VHS and the complete lack of experience but I can also see hope for the future and that bit of humor that has stayed with me over the years.  Will this be what I leave for the future?  Oh boy, let’s hope not!

BrickFair 2014

20140111-082218.jpgI bought this guy many years ago when Emily was just a small child.  It was purchased on a whim.  I thought it looked cool and it had a package that showcased its glowing eyes.  I didn’t know anything about Bionicle and I didn’t have any idea it was made by LEGO.  I built it that afternoon and it has been haunting my work area ever since.

Since that time Emily and I have worked on several small LEGO sets.  We have even dabbled in LEGO animation.  Nothing special and nothing really worth sharing other than among ourselves but each project has been a fun experience where we both learn a little about working together and being creative.  Although we don’t get to build very often, LEGOs are crazy expensive, it is an activity we have come to share as father and daughter.  Pretty cool I think.

The odd thing is, I never played with LEGOs as a kid and I can’t remember ever wanting to.  My brother had a few things but there was never any real LEGO presence in our house like there is in other homes with boys around.  I think we were more into action figures, Star Wars, He-Man, GI-Joe and the like.  At almost 40 years old, however, I enjoy those little colored blocks a great deal.  We even play the LEGO video games.  I think there is just something cool about building a thing with your own hands however you do it.  Either that or it is another symptom of my own arrested development problem.

Today and Sunday there is a BrickFair convention at the BJCC.  We have been looking forward to it for months.  We don’t buy anything there but just looking at the displays and discovering what other people can do with LEGOs makes for a great day.  I’ll post photos on my Twitter feed so keep an eye on that if you are interested.  I suppose they will also show up on Facebook.  Sometimes I have had weird issues with that working.

And if you see me there, say hello.  I might run away screaming but then again, I might not.


Reading – It helps you learn good!

A couple of years ago I started trying to force myself to read more.  Not that I ever really stopped reading but the volume of books I consumed between the end of my undergraduate period and the slow march into my mid-thirties declined significantly.  Around 2011 I noticed that I was not reading as fast and mentally I was operating a little slower.  I decided it was time to push myself to do a little more reading.  I set a goal of 12 books for 2012.  I made the goal but just barely.  Last year I shot for 18 books and missed the mark by 3 although I beat the previous year’s tally by the same amount.  A good improvement by a little disappointing.  I set my goal for this year at 20.  I feel confident I can make it.  I have been carving out a little more time lately for reading and I think my speed is increasing.  Nothing like what I had in high school but better than a few years ago.

I find that the more I read the more I want to read.  It was always that way when reading books I was interested in and now even more so.  The down side of picking up the pace is that I don’t always retain the stories.  I don’t know if this means they are not very good or if it is because I am 38 and not 18.  I am hoping that I get better at that the more I read.  It is a little disturbing to read something and then immediately forget what was read.  Hopefully that will get better the more I get back to regular reading.

Do you have a reading list for 2014?  You can find mine at GoodReads.  Friend me if you would like.  I’m always looking for new friends on that site.

So, 2014 eh?

The older I get the less excited I get about a new year.  Not that I see it in a negative light or anything, just that it doesn’t mean much to me.  Have to start writing a new date on things, time to start thinking about taxes, and time to realize that it has been 14 years since we turned the calender from 1999 to 2000 and still we don’t have flying cars, molecular transportation, jet packs, or replicators.  January 1, 2014 is just another day very much like December 31, 2013.  Why this arbitrary day every year is more important than any other day is a bit lost on me.  The best I can say is at least I had a day off of work to spend with my daughter.  Given that fact, January 1 can’t be all that bad.

2014 is a big unknown to me.  A lot of things can happen.  Some I hope do, some I very much hope do not.  I guess I have an opportunity to fix some things and break some others.  Mostly I look forward to whatever new comes along.  I don’t know what that is but I look forward to the experience.  I need “new”.  My life has been somewhat boring for too long so something unexpected would be welcome.  Assuming whatever it is has the decency to be enjoyable and not sad or painful.

I suppose I need to give some update on the “status” of this website/blog/time sink thing.  I had a lot to think about in 2013 and a lot I could have written but I never could seem to take the time to do it.  Thoughts never really coalesced as I would like them to and every time I sat down to write the words did not come.  I tried but the motivation and the will was lacking.  I honestly hope to take more time to write over the next year.  It feels good to let my thoughts, as stupid, pedantic, and ridiculous as the may be, out into the world.  I hold no illusions to the value of what exists here other than it stands as some kind of record that I was here.  That I existed.  What happens to this stuff after I am no longer here is unknown to me.  I guess at some point maybe I should make some kind of plans for that even if they are just for someone to press “delete”.

I have thought much about what my legacy will be or, more precisely, what my daughter will have of me when I am gone.  This may be it.  I think some days that I will start recording a daily entry for her to listen to one day but I never seem to get around to it.  At least my ability to fail to take action on my ideas is consistent.  Video is a no-go for me as I am uncomfortable on camera so it is either audio or writing and, for now anyway, writing is the way to go.  Perhaps that is the motivation I need to visit here often.  Perhaps.

2014 is here and I hope you all have a good year.  I have no advice other than the timeless bit of wisdom spoken by those sages of time, Bill S. Preston, Esq. and Ted “Theodore” Logan – “Be excellent to each other.” and “Party on, dudes!”

We would all do well to live by that philosophy and that certainly includes myself.