Memories, Complicated

February 14th, 2008

I went to college at Northern Illinois University, a large state college outside Chicago. At NIU there was a building right in the middle of campus where large gen-ed lecture classes were held. Cole Hall probably held around 1,000 people when full, or at least that is how it seemed at the time. I spent the better part of my first two years in here taking electives before figuring out what the hell I wanted to do with my college life.

This room is particularly noteworthy because it is in Cole Hall that I took my first cinema studies class, and this it was in Cole Hall that my love affair with filmmaking began in earnest. I learned about shot selection ad screenwriting and mood and everything else that is awesome about movies, taught by a teacher whose name I can’t remember but she was herself a filmmaker and as passionate about it as the subject deserved. It was in Cole Hall that I saw so many films that have shaped my impressions of filmmaking every since. Annie Hall, where I distinctly remember a long discussion about the long shot of Woody Allen walking down the into the camera discussing anti-semitism (“No, Djew?”). The Killing Fields – haunted to this day by the scene of Sam Waterston walking through the mass graves, enthralled by the idea of the importance of journalism in our daily lives. North By Northwest – walking out with my mouth wide open, convinced I had just seen the best thriller ever made (I was right.) Rope – Easily seduced by Hitchcock’s gag, loving the fact that he had another side than straight thrillers. The Graduate – it holds up for me less well as more time passes, but for a lost wandering soul facing the real world, this was like watching my life unfold at 24 frames a second. Titticut Follies and High School – Again, the films don’t hold up that great now, but the lively discussions that followed only helped to cement a love of documentary in my heart. Meet Me In St. Louis – As a surly punk rocker I had little use for the musical, and I remember being overjoyed when my friend stood up and yelled “JUDY GARLAND DIED ON THE TOILET” before walking out in a huff. OK, she didn’t yell it, she whispered it to me, but my story is better and that’s how I always tell it. It was decades before I finally allowed myself to admit that musicals could be wortwhile (thank you An American In Paris). Citizen Kane – Where I walked out 15 minutes in with one of the most brutal sinus headaches I ever experienced, and never caught back up with it until 15 years later.

It was outside Cole Hall that I got yelled at by a member of the student council for hanging up Naked Raygun fliers on university property. It was in Cole Hall that I first saw the infamous “Yeah, Right” birthday shirts (another story for another time.) It was around Cole Hall that I took my first photographs for my first photography class. Inside Cole Hall I first met a girl I carried a brutal crush on for years afterwards. She was wearing cut off jean shorts with long underwear. I said, “Don’t you look punk rock” and she told me to go fuck myself. Cole Hall was right in the middle of campus, steps away from student union, and because the auditoriums were so huge there were always people gathered around it. Cole 100 and Cole 101.

This is probably why some fucking dickweed chose it as the spot where he was going to unload a shotgun today, killing four people and critically injuring six more. He carried in three guns, dropping them as they emptied before turning the last one on himself. The gunman fired from a stage at the front of the classroom, the stage that sat in front of the screen that opened up new worlds to me. Happy Valentine’s Day.

Another blog

February 8th, 2008

I am typically not in favor of splitting blogs up by individual subject matter (taken to its logical conclusion, you end up like my friend Dwight who now has five blogs.) However I decided that my software engineering writings are tightly focused enough to a specific audience that they are lost here and deserve a space of their own. It also allows me to have it be a little more of a space to tout my worth as a developer and do some self-promotion whereas this spot is a little more anonymous. Therefore I have launched a new blog with exclusively nerd-related content. Feel free to visit if you wish. These posts will count towards my 50 posts goal for the year (although purely information announcements like this one do not!)

Thanks for your attention

Top 10 Albums of 2007

January 21st, 2008

It’s a little odd for me to write up and list a bigass top ten like this. I mean, I could list the records just as easy or point people to my listology or whatever. I know the 7 or so people who read this thing on a regular basis and the vast majority of them have either already heard or are already not interested in all these records. Yet, here I am. Perhaps it is because this was a fantastic year for music in my book. I love all 10 of these albums dearly, but the top 5 or 6 are especially stellar. Great bands making great music at the top of their game. Enjoy the tedium!

Myspace links provided where available for easy music previewing if by chance there’s something you’re interested in hearing more of.

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Seattle Drupal User’s Group

January 19th, 2008

Note to my usual 4 readers: This post is heavily nerdy and computery.

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On Wednesday my co-worker Gary Love and I gave a presentation to the Seattle Drupal User’s Group. Drupal is an open source content management system, which I have been working with for the last year or so. It is a pretty amazing piece of software. Any one of you could, with maybe half an hour of help, have a very functional website running for your organization using Drupal. This would include blogging and news items, photo upload and galleries, forums, user profiles, custom content types, page creation, etc etc etc. I am currently in the process of setting up a Drupal site for a pinball/video game show that was fully functional in a couple hours with no custom code written. It didn’t look pretty (that still takes some time and effort) but it worked. This is, in my mind, pretty fucking amazing. It is just one more step to democratizing the internet, lowering the barrier to entry for non-profits and community organizations so they can get as much done as any larger player.

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Veggie Veggie – University District, Seattle

January 12th, 2008

One of the things I’ve been thinking about blogging lately is various places and things to do in Seattle. Roya and I go out a lot, especially hunting down vegetarian and veg-friendly restaurants, and the world should hear about it. I mean, I have opinions damnit and where would everyone be without them. Huh? Am I right?

Veggie Veggie is a Thai place on the The Ave in the U-District. It is all vegetarian, and most dishes have an option of being prepared with fake beef, chicken, or fish. I really like having the fake meat options, rather than just all tofu. We’ve been here a few times and it is pretty good but not fabulous. One nice thing about it is the place is rarely crowded, and I’ve never had to wait to be seated. Contrast this with Thai Tom a few doors down which is way better but always completely packed with a line out the door. Choose your poison I suppose.

This trip I got the Cashew Nut stir fry, which was pretty tasty. This is the best dish I’ve gotten here, I’m pretty sure I’ve had their Pad Thai previously and was less than impresed. Roya always getsSen Me Pla, which involves slices of fake fish on a bed of very thin noodles. Service is good and prices are reasonable. If you’re in the area it is certainly worth checking out.

Veggie Veggie on Yelp / Veggie Veggie on Happy Cow

2008

January 3rd, 2008

I have several … lets not call them resolutions but rather goals. I have several goals for 2008.

  • Blog 50 Times – Easily once a week I think of something that would be interesting to write about, or an opinion / thought I would like to share. I have already started passing the shorter of these off to Twitter, but I should stop being lazy about the longer ones. I also have an idea for a set of themed posts I’m going to try and start. As an experiment I started writing this blog post on my iPhone on the bus which was not as successful as I had hoped, but it leads to…
  • Stop Driving To Work – I spent most of last year driving to work, and paying for parking there. This is such a waste and it needs to stop. So I figured out my bus schedule and I’m now busing to work. Hopefully this will return to biking when the weather turns. One nice thing about the bus is that I’m actually reading again which leads to…
  • Read 10 Books – Looking at this goal written down seems really pathetic, but there it is. I read 0 books in 2007 (although I finished one I started in 2006) which is just sad considering I’ve always been a very active reader. The internet has had a strong hand in killing that habit, especially the endless supply of RSS feeds I’m subscribed to. I’ve really begun trimming that shit down to stuff that is actively useful and interesting.
  • Write Some Code For Fun – I enjoy writing software. It’s cool and interesting and I love solving real world problems through technology. In the last few years though, I have written very little software for fun, something I used to do with reasonable regularity. So I need a new coding project that will be useful and fun and push my boundaries a bit. I have a project I’ve been sitting on for a long time that I might dig out.
  • Get The Darkroom Set Back Up – While digital photography has become completely mainstream, I am taking a step backward and getting my hands dirty in the chemicals again. I have not printed a picture in over ten years. This is an activity that I loved, but it was also a source of great relaxation and calmness. I miss it a lot, and with our basement there’s no reason not to bring it back.
  • See 20 New Release Movies In The Theatre – Last year I saw so few new release films on the big screen. I did slightly better with rep stuff, but the fact is that outside of SIFF I only saw like 20 movies total in any format. I need to get out more, and this year I felt a little disconnected with the current film scene whatever it might be. This may actually be the hardest goal to acheive, but we shall see. I wouldn’t say my love of film has dimmed, but my overwhelming passion for it probably has. The SIFF slog last year, which was brutally mediocre, didn’t help matters one bit I imagine, but I also have other interests crowding around taking up my brain.

I listened to a decently sized pile of new release records this year which I also want to keep up. I have started creating my new ’08 lists on Listology, and updated the ’07 ones that I had slacked off on.

So that’s it. Coming soon – 2007 Music Top Ten list (there’s no movie top ten because I don’t think I saw enough to justify it.) Also possibly yet another site redesign.

SIFF Day 10 (I Don’t Want To Sleep Alone, The Man In The Chair, The Elephant And The Sea)

January 1st, 2008

(Note: I found this draft of SIFF Day 10 sitting in my draft folder and decided to publish it as is. More news soon buds.)

I was thinking about what to say about Tsai Ming-Liang’s new film I Don’t Want To Sleep Alone when I discovered this review by Scott Tobias over at The Onion AVClub, which says everything I was thinking better than I could have. Thanks for saving me the trouble Scott.

Of course this also prevents me from writing about the only moderately good movie I saw today, and leaves me writing about two of the worst ones I saw in the entire festival.

Some Shit I Stole From socialretard

September 10th, 2007

Here is how it works: copy this list. Leave in the bands you’ve seen perform live. Delete the ones you haven’t and add new ones that you have seen until you reach 25. An asterisk means the previous person had it on their list. Two asterisks means the last two people who did this before you had that band on their list. Three asterisks etc…

1. Naked Raygun
2. Bad Religion*
3. Big Black
4. My Bloody Valentine*
5. Sonic Youth*
6. R.E.M.
7. The Stooges (circa 2005)*
8. Sigur Ros
9. The Ramones
10. Gang of Four*
11. Tar*
12. Mission of Burma*
13. Firehose*
14. The Jesus Lizard
15. The Boredoms
16. Dinosaur Jr.*
17. Replacements**
18. Bedhead
19. The Ex
20. Slint*
21. The Police*
22. Rush*
23. Fugazi**
24. Wilco
25. David Bowie

Announcements

July 4th, 2007

First off, blogging will resume here possibly today. I have half the next entry written already, but I came down with a cold that knocked me on my ass. I will finish this thing!

Secondly I bought an iPhone the other day, scientifically proving I have more money than sense. The thing is fucking cool. Anyone who lives near an Apple Store should go check one out, they have about a dozen of them out to play with. You can even make calls on them! I discovered I can even write blog posts on it through the WordPress interface, which I will probably try as soon as I get a little more used to the keyboard.

Finally congratulations to roya on the completion of her documentary The Seattle Freeze which you can view on YouTube! The film has been getting some press on the local blogs Metroblogging Seattle and Seattlest.

That’s really it. More posting soon!

SIFF Day 9 (The Cloud, Still Alive: A Film About Krzysztof Kieslowski)

June 25th, 2007

Now that beer-retard has basically dared me to finish my SIFF blog, I pretty much have to don’t I? This day got off to a great start with the German film The Cloud, a big budget disaster movie about a nuclear accident combined with a teen love story. I loved the first half of this movie, the director Gregor Schnitzler really does great things with very little. He gets the character interest going really quickly, and when the event occurs you really get a taste for the chaos. No big effects, nothing but people going absolutely bonkers trying to get the fuck out of dodge. He really captures the chaos and fear well, and when tragedy strikes you feel it deep in your gut like a sucker punch. Then right about the time the movie started cruising into it’s second half, the film broke and melted. I was pretty irritated, here I am really getting into a movie and this has to happen. Then some idiot yells “Meltdown!” and everyone has a good chuckle about it. Yeah ha fucking ha.

Sadly the film could not carry its momentum into the second half. The unplanned intermission didn’t help things, but even without it I’m sure I would have felt that things went downhill as the film coasts into a more traditional drama. It is decent (if overly long) and well done, but after that first thrilling hour I was pretty disappointed. Then after the movie faded to black, some titles came on discussing how many nuclear plants there are still operating in Europe and I realized that this was actually an anti-nuclear-power scribe, which actively irritated me. What is worse? A promising movie that heads South or a movie that is consistently crappy? I guess consistently crappy is still worse, but I do hate those films that plunge off the cliff.

After this it was over to The Egyptian to see Still Alive: A Film About Krzysztof Kieslowski which I was really looking forward to, seeing as how I am a big fan of the man’s work. Sadly this was another boring and unilluminating telling of facts, with little of any serious interest. Hey you know what? Kieslowski made some movies! They were really good! He’s dead now! There you don’t have to go see this. On the up side, I did get to spend some time reflecting on a man whose films were vital to my transformation into film nerdism, which is cool.

It was also around this time that I realized something else and my movie watching. If you look at my listology lists of films seen, they are marked with how they are viewed (on film / video, at home / at the theatre.) 90% of them are in the theatre. During this screening I realized I am not just a fan of film, but there is something about the ritual of going out to the movies that actively enthralls me. Seeing a film in public with other people is like comfort food for me. When the time comes that the experience is no longer available I would not be surprised to see my interest in film fall away … not completely … but significantly. It just wouldn’t be the same anymore.

Thank you to the movie theatres of my life, I love you all.