Showing posts with label personal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label personal. Show all posts

Friday, September 11, 2015

Doc Watch: American Movie (1999)

Fist things first:  as regular readers may know, one of my two undergraduate diplomas from Ye Olde University of Texas is in Communications, where I was in the Radio-Television-Film Department, and happened to be one of the lucky stiffs who went through the "Film Production" track.  Which was kind of a big deal, at least to me, as they only let in a handful of students into that track every semester.

Here, you can see my first experience shooting 16mm.*  And you get special appearances by our own JAL, occasional reader and longtime pal Shoemaker, and Kerry, who wound up selling me the very house I live in today.  Thanks, Kerry!  (she doesn't even know about this site, so, whatever).  Oh, yeah, and Michael in an alien suit that he already owned.  Because, you know, Michael.

The documentary, American Movie (1999), stirs up a lot of very specific feelings for me when I give it a whirl - something I don't think I've done in 15 years.   If you've not seen it, it's the very real story of a filmmaker from Wisconsin who has a dream of making a horror movie called Northwestern.  Mark Borchardt, the film's main subject, is a high school drop out, he probably drinks too much (and, I think you can infer that drugs were or are also involved somewhere in the picture), barely holds together a job as a newspaper delivery man, is split from the mother of his three children, is 30 and lives at home with his dysfunctional parents.

Despite a lack of any formal training, a lack of experience on any other films other than his own 8mm projects, and a seeming inability to project manage himself whatsoever, Mark remains focused on the dream of finishing a movie.  Maybe.  Just maybe not Northwestern.

The movie uses the "aspiring filmmaker" as the excuse for really getting to know Mark, his family and friends, his corner of the world.  The film takes a look at what the American Dream means to a guy like Mark and his friends, guys from middle class families in middle America, folks for whom things haven't really panned out by the age of 30, and for whom it doesn't look as if things are set to improve a whole lot.

In a country built on the promise of opportunity, what does that really mean when the dream is creating a movie?  And, really, what's the dream behind the dream?

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

It's Been a Long Day

Long day here at The Fortress of Nerditude.  I'll spare you the details.

But, hey...  I hear the Williams sisters had a hell of a match.  The Cubs won again in St. Louis.  Stephen Colbert debuted tonight on CBS.  That's all good stuff.

It's going to be a long week.  Bear with us.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Happy Anniversary to My Folks

Here's to The Admiral and KareBear, two of the finest people I know and the best parents I ever had.
Today marks their 46th Wedding Anniversary, I think.  Something like that.  I'm sure someone will tell me if my math is wrong.

Like all great romances, my parents met at a bar.  My dad was in the Air Force, post-Vietnam, stationed in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  My mom was a local, finishing up college.  I guess romance blossomed or some such.  Booze will do that for you.

Soon, my dad got out of the Air Force and my mom married my dad and she moved to live with him in Miami, which I figure had to have been a heck of a culture shock.  He was from Hialeah and went to community college for a while and my mom worked, then they both got into the University of Florida where my mom got her Masters in Education while teaching and my dad went straight from his undergrad to his Masters in Business.  I think he was working at a 7-11.

Anyway, they've really managed to make this marriage business work.  It ain't Ozzie and Harriet, but they do that teamwork thing as well or better than anyone I know.

In addition, they basically didn't mess up raising two kids of their own while helping with countless other kids and grown-ups via my mom's jobs teaching, through their church work, through philanthropic work, through friends, random people they meet, and countless other activities.   And that's not to mention all the stuff they did for me and Jamie over the years (and my brother and his wife, too).  And now they've stepped up as terrific grandparents for my nephew, Raylan.

If you want to know why I think a do-gooder like Superman is a pretty good idea, I grew up living with these two.  They never asked for recognition or thought they were doing much more than what you were supposed to if you had the ability to do so.  Good folks, my folks.  Hard standard to live up to.

Happy Anniversary to a great set of parents.

I forgot to get you a card.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

This Moment In History: Supreme Court Rules for Equality for Same-Sex Marriage

Taking a break from pop-culture commentary and irrelevant minutia to reflect on the overall cultural thunderstrike that came across the internet this morning.  The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling, has legalized same-sex marriage in the United States.  

No doubt the armies of lawyers and pundits are lining up to stoke the fires and make some money off good old fashioned rage.  It's to be expected.  But today I think we broke through another barrier.  We abandoned separate rules for a class of our citizenry for a common definition of the most important conscious relationship most people ever enter.

I am aware not all of my readership shares my belief that this ruling reflects part of America's steady progress in recognizing the rights of all its citizens.  Here I have to break with you, but I hope you know, it's with an olive branch extended.  Recognizing the equality of love between two people as they define that relationship, not hemmed in by concepts of gender or adherence to non-legal codes, whether the Supreme Court had stepped in or not, seems to me an act of human decency.  At the heart of that of all of this is the word "love", and it seems that a victory for love should only be amplified by an extension of some of the same with an open hand rather than a closed fist.

Friday, May 22, 2015

"Old Green World" by Walter Basho - now available on Amazon

A former co-worker & co-blogger, current pal, and all around great guy, Walter Basho, has released his first novel today to the Amazon Kindle.

If you've got $3, I highly recommend picking up his debut book, a sci-fi novel set in THE FUTURE.

Here's the description as per Amazon:

The apocalypse happened 4000 years ago. A forest now covers the world. In its shadow, Albert, an immigrant military prodigy, falls in love with Thomas, a boy he can never marry.  
Their island nation flourishes, led by strange monks called the Adepts—who have power over matter and the mind—and their holy figures, the mysterious Old People. The Adepts are building an army to storm the wild continent of Terra Baixa. They plan to tame the forest and rebuild civilization.  
The forest doesn't care. It is patient and vast. This is what happens. 
Walter Basho's first novel is a science fantasy adventure, a coming-of-age story, a romance, and a meditation on what it means for the world to end.

Everyone give Walter $3.  He deserves it.

Order the book here.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

On the Reading of Text and Your Own Interpretation - Mad Men's Final Scene

Most often we're able to write a post, say our piece, do some interpretation if needed, hit publish and then wonder, once again, what exactly it is we're doing with our life.

But every once in a while, something occurs that puts a new spin on something we wrote about, and it seems worth it to revisit the scene with the new evidence in hand.  With my readership of upward of five humans, I feel it's only fair to try to keep up and adjust to new information.  If I did not adjust as new info came to light, I'd still be wearing diapers and needing to be put in a very large stroller.

In the final scene of the show, the hard drinking, mid-20th Century picture of a man, Don Draper, has utterly broken down.  In his wanderings between New York and LA, he has somewhat accidentally come to a hippie meditation retreat in California, and is subsequently abandoned there by his ride, but - vulnerable and shattered, he seems to open up in a way he has not previously in 7 seasons.  In his final shot, he sits cross-legged with a group on a coastal bluff, comfortable in a meditative position.  The scene cuts to the 1971 "Hilltop" ad from Coca-Cola, and the series ends.

The ad is very real, and ran in various iterations even during my very early youth which began in 1975 (I have memories of it appearing on TV when I was very little, at least the Christmas spot).

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Last post on Hawaii

So, we've been back since Sunday.  Jamie more or less got home, realized she was sick and went to bed.  I feel terrible for her.  She seems to pick things up in airports very easily.

I took Monday off and retrieved the dogs, who had been at the Puppy Ranch for the duration.  It was a long stay, and they've been super tired since, so everyone is on the same page here.  As much as they like the kennel, where they get to play with other dogs and go outside a lot, they also are always very happy to get back to the routine and their couch-dwelling existence.

no doubt that noise she heard was a bear, and I must be protected

I was back at work on Tuesday, which was a hard adjustment.  We have a lot going on right now, but we always have a lot going on, and I'm having to learn that I have to be able to not lose my mind when things don't go exactly as I'd have done them when I wander back in from 6 days off.

As Jamie isn't well, we haven't gone to see the new nephew who joined us just prior to our departure.  I'm excited to see how much the wee nipper has grown.  I bet he's already doing long division.

I was trying to think of some reflections about Hawaii or travel or something.  I dunno.

I will say the following:

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Trip Diary - Saturday May 9th and Sunday May 10th

Here's the thing about leaving Hawaii.

All the departing flights start departing at something like 9:00 PM.  This actually makes sense when you realize that they're flying you to the West Coast-ish over night.  So, we took off from the Maui airport at 10:30 PM, and with the time change, landed at about 7:00 AM in Phoenix.

I'm lying.  I think it was 7:00.  I was out of my mind and had no idea what time it was.  But, boy, did being back at Sky Harbor remind me how much Sky Harbor sucks.

The point is, we checked out of our hotel at 10:00 AM and had half-a-day to kill in Maui before being on an aeroplane over the sea.

Since we'd survived the winding, one-lane road of Jamie's Island Adventure earlier in the week, suddenly the oft-whispered "Road to Hana" didn't seem like such a big deal as that road has two whole lanes in many parts.  Plus, Jamie wanted to go chasing waterfalls.*

So, Jamie took the wheel and we were off to Hana.

People just sort of stop and park and take photos.  Doesn't really matter if it makes sense or if its safe.  Here's us doing same.

Jamie wonders where our common sense went in the face of all this majestic jungleness

The roads are windy and curvy, and it's hard to explain because I wasn't going to take any pictures while Jamie drove as they'd all just look like masses of green with some sky popping up once in a while, but it's a big ol' Jurassic Park-type area full of bamboo, all sorts of plant life, gigantic trees and a million ways to kill you.

Over the years I'd sort of noticed this micro-trend of people dying while hiking around in Hawaii, such as the guy started the COPS television show.  Now that I've been to Hawaii, yeah, this place has sheer, sudden surprise drop-offs and slots of slippery edges.  That anyone survived here before gravel is a @#$%ing miracle.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Trip Diary - Friday, May 8th

Friday we seemed to have finally adjusted to the time difference.  Great, since we leave on Saturday.  We ate breakfast, then sort of hung out in the room for a bit and relaxed before heading off to a beach just north of the hotel.  It's a public beach called "Black Rock", which is odd as the rock is reddish and sand is white-ish, so who knows, I guess?

The waves pounded harder here than anywhere else we'd yet gotten in, and we both got slammed a bit against the bottom right after we stepped in.  Near the outcrop of rock where there's coral, there wasn't as much in the way of tough surf, so it was nice snorkeling, and we saw a good variety of fish, if not as densely packed as Thursday morning.

But, yeah, those waves.  I think I may have kind of busted my ankle.  We'll see how it is in the morning.  Nothing too serious, but not going to be much fun walking through airports and whatnot.

In the evening we went back to Lahaina for some souvenir hunting and to get some Hawaiian shaved ice.

She's pretty pleased.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Trip Diary, Thursday May 7


I dunno.  This was what I woke up to Thursday.  Not bad.

I found out that a buddy of nigh 30 years is also on the island, but pretty far away.  (Some of you Austin people might know MichaelC)  I think we've agreed that we won't seek each other out, but if we run into each other - super!  Anyway, funny coinky-dink.

We got up, ate some breakfast and then went snorkeling off the back of the hotel.   This thing is in the elevator lobby.  It is my personal Groot.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Trip Diary - Wednesday, May 6


Jamie lost her shades on Tuesday, so we bought a new pair.

"Don't post this," she said.  "Of course not, my dear," I responded.

We visited something called the Nakalele Blowhole.  No, really.  It's an incredible view on the northern side of Maui.  Basically, the tide is pretty intense on this side of Maui, and there's a spot down there where it comes shooting up in a jet.  They say as high as 70 feet, but I only saw maybe 40' spurts.  Still impressive.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Watching the World Go By From Vacationland - things I've missed

I don't think I've taken this much time off from work... ever.  At least, not for "let's go have fun" reasons.

But skipping town for a while also means you might miss whatever is going on in town.  Or on TV or whatever.  The only TV I've watched in the past week was 40 terribly depressing minutes of something on TV about the Dust Bowl while Jamie was at dialysis.  Did you know the Dust Bowl was even more depressing than you thought?  Well, however bad you thought it was, multiply it by ten then double that.  So, fun programming about babies dying choking on dust.  VACATION.

Anyway, I'm desperately trying not to get spoiled as I have been unable to watch with The Flash or Mad Men.  Flash I could handle spoilers, but Mad Men...?  And it's not like folks don't put spoilers right in headlines and social media doesn't just feed up those headlines whether I asked for them or not.

I could go see this, or be there to watch "New Girl" at home, I guess

I should be home for the Mad Men finale, so hopefully no one will ruin it for me.

Seriously, I will stab you.

Trip Diary - Tuesday, May 5

This was a briefer day to report.  Jamie is on dialysis, which always wreaks havoc with our travel plans.  It was mid-day on Tuesday, so we planned for an early morning submarine ride.  Like you do.

The Atlantis IX is a good ship.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Trip Diary - Sunday and Monday, May 3-4

So, Maui..?   That's different for us, right?

Between March 25th and April 28th, Jamie and I celebrated our 40th birthdays and our 15th wedding anniversary.  Hawaii has been something Jamie has wanted to do since we were two fresh-faced kids in college, and due to many, many factors, it's been something I've not been willing to do or not been able to do.

We set about planning this trip a long time ago, and it finally happened.  We're not exactly jet-setters, so getting to Hawaii was a bucket-list sort of thing for us.  With the convergence of birthdays and anniversaries, it seemed like a pretty darn good reason to go.  And, of course, Jamie's been healthy(ish) for a long time, so any jitters I might have had about this a while back are now long gone.

So, that's that story.

Sunday - Day 2

I kind of forgot to take pictures on Day 2 in Maui.  Mostly, we hung around the hotel, swam in the ocean and napped.

The only two pictures I took were of the residents of the hotel, a set of penguins and a koi.

I was still pretty punchy from the time change, and we got up around 6:15 for breakfast (it seems the tourists all get up early as everyone is decidedly not functioning on Hawaiian time.  Even the locals appear to mostly be on mainland time.)

After breakfast, we ran out and bought me a snorkeling mask (I have a loaner snorkel from PalMatt), some towels we'll no doubt leave here, and some other sundries.  Then we hit the water.

There are actually plenty of fish right off the hotel, even if the coral isn't super awesome.  But I had a great time going splishy-splashy.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Trip Diary - Saturday May 2

As I mentioned, we're on vacation.  So far, so good.  We left Austin on Saturday in the early hours and arrived in Maui in the afternoon.  I was completely out of my mind by the time we got to the hotel, as 4:25 AM is not my usual wake-up time, and I was just punchy.  But we also needed to stay up at least for a while.  I think we made it to 7:30 or 8:00 PM, but no later.  The time difference is 5 hours, so we're talking after midnight.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Oh. Yeah. I have a Blog. I should maintain it.

I have a feeling posting is going to be light for, like, the next two weeks.  I got stuff going on.

"All good things, all good things" as Olaf might say.

Conference at work went well.  My presentation actually had attendees, which I appreciated (this has not always been the case).  And I'm wrapping up the week before taking off for a while.  And, of course, need to drop in and check on the Nephew tomorrow afternoon.  Make sure I wake him up and see to it his sleep schedule gets thrown.

Starting this weekend, Jamie and I are taking a vacation for our anniversary.  A long overdue vacation.  So, please, as I beg every time I take a vacation - do not break into my house and take my things.  

I am actually somehow more pale and likely to melt than our friend here

It does mean I have no idea when I'll be posting again for, like, almost two weeks between work and this trip.  I expect that somehow you'll muddle on without me.

In the meantime, you kids have a good time.  Take care of yourselves.  And check out Gerry's newish/ relaunched blog here at:  Strange Orphan Boxes

Gerry is wise.  He will be worth reading.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Upon the arrival of the Nephew

Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies — "God damn it, you’ve got to be kind."

Kurt Vonnegut
God Bless You Mr. Rosewater

Welcome to the world, Raylan.  We're going to do our best to make it a decent sphere for you.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Birthday Gift: Taking It Back to the Beginning

For my 40th, Jamie got me the deluxe collector's set of the 1960's Batman TV show.

Thanks, Jamie!

It's a pretty fantastic set with all the episodes cleaned up for BluRay and HD TV.  There's also an "Adam West scrapbook", episode guide replica set of Batman cars and a Hotwheels Batmobile.  All in all, pretty nice!

The picture and sound quality is top notch, so after all these years of not being able to get ahold of this show, it seems worth the wait.

The family lore is that, when I was a tiny kid my mom couldn't get me to hold still or be quiet when she was trying to make dinner for my dad and brother, until she realized I'd totally hold still and shut up if Batman and Robin were on the screen.  So, every weekday when the show was running in syndication (this would have been about '76), I was placed in front of the TV and would happily watch while she made Mac n' Cheese or whatever.  The legend goes on to swear my first words were "Matman", which I'm sure made my parents feel really appreciated.

My memory was of just being a huge Batman nut.  There are photos somewhere of me with a pacifier and cape.  Like a lot of kids, when the Tim Burton Batman movie came out and the press discussed the Adam West show, it was my first time finding out the show was a comedy.  On the strength of the Burton movie, Batman '66 came back in syndication, and has been aired off and on again since, but legal wranglings between Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox prevented home video release.

All of that seems to have resolved itself and now I can enjoy the show once again.  And, hey, I look forward to sharing the show with my impending nephew when the time comes.  I hope he takes it as seriously as I did, because, dang it, this is a version of Batman worth loving, too.  And not just because of Julie Newmar.