ArtLung: Joe Crawford Moorpark & Los Angeles, California, USA. Since 2001. May 2008

40 ArtLung posts from May, 2008

May 1st, 2008

I didn’t go to the Web 2.0 Expo last week, but I did read Sassy’s concise wrap up.

Some video from the conference is out there, here’s social software thinker Clay Shirky:

Here’s Clay’s writeup.

May 1st, 2008

Yesterday I went swimming early, which was great. I was tired after about 15 minutes, but pressed on to do a full 30 minutes. I actually noticed myself getting tired the night before at about 20 minutes, but went 45.

One of the things about exercising (ugh! I despise that word!) is that I’m more aware of signals my body is telling me. I have a baseline for what I’m able to do in the water — how should it feel if I hold my breath all the way across the pool? How should it feel if I go down 12 feet? how should I feel after 10 minutes of laps? The answer is “better than I feel right now” — and I am sick. It started with some extra weakness during swimming. Yesterday it progressed with backache and a nonproductive cough. Now I have the backache + headache + slight fever. I took it easy yesterday night.

I’m a bit resentful that my better judgment is telling me to avoid swimming right now.

In other news, I bought a new hard drive for the Windows box yesterday at Fry’s. Installed without a hitch. I tried out Ubuntu yesterday but the UI really didn’t run very well given the limitations of the video card. I ditched that and went with Xubuntu. So yesterday I spent a little time customizing that. I have a lot of stuff to migrate, and much to learn. I’ve not used any Linux variant as a desktop computer, but Windows 2003 Server is just not cutting it anymore for this machine. Then I think, maybe I just need a new video card, but a nice one is almost as much as a whole new machine, and heck, free software is free, and it’s a great environment to learn new things. That’s very important because as May comes in, this is the last month of my contract with Vivendi, and I want to brush up on my technological skills.

What I’d really like to do is have a new Mac, but financially that’s not a smart plan — not till we get the IRS situation squared away. I tell you kids, if you’re going to contract all year, be putting away those taxes as you go. Yes, it’s nice to have big dollars and put away debt. But the taxman, he will have his due, if not now, then later. Big lesson learned there for Leah and me.

Leah is doing great, the book she’s in is out, and some DW dough has showed up too. Also, any minute now we have our deposit money coming back from the previous place; Leah did a great job taking care of all the loose threads that needed cutting there — from cleaners, the floors, to dealing with the management company. The day before yesterday on the Dave Ramsey podcast Dave said to a person considering moving — I’m paraphrasing — “moving has big costs: financial, emotional, relational.” I agree with that wholeheartedly. April was really packed, and we got through it. Leah has done a great job. She may not think so, but she’s totally taking care of business.

That’s all for now.

May 2nd, 2008

Still feverish. Nasal congestion ahoy! Cough productive now. I would rather <i>move</i> than be sick right now. That’s pretty bad.

Some miscellaneous items for you:

Hindsight is 20/20: quotes about Iraq from before we started: Voices: The Quotes That Sent Us To War. My favorite:

“Having defeated and then occupied Iraq, democratizing the country should not be too tall an order for the world’s sole superpower.”
- William Kristol, Weekly Standard editor, and Lawrence F. Kaplan, New Republic senior editor, 2003-02-24

Around my house we try to avoid the word “should.” Maybe that’s why.

Also, Pinguino moved her blog to DeviantArt, and in my opinion she needed RSS, so I set it up using these instructions. It took all of five minutes.

Jenn moved her blog and today wrote about a new blog type deal in San Diego. It sounds promising!

May 4th, 2008

This morning, after a fitful 14 hours of sleep, I woke up feeling better. This crud I got — microorganisms all taking over my whole nasopharyngeal area and causing systemic disruption that among other things caused me to miss swimming 3 days in a row. Actually, I shouldn’t go today either, so that’s like 4 days. Teeny tiny jerks! Stop messing with my life!

Leah has been a champ. I even randomly, on Friday went off on her about various stupid stuff around the house that normally we’d have a civilized conversation that would begin “hey, some things around the house are bothering me and I think we need a plan to get them done” — instead I suddenly started doing those random things and muttering that Leah never does anything. This was met with supreme restraint on the part of my partner, who then excused herself from the situation. Meanwhile, after doing 1 and a half of the things that suddenly bothered me, I collapsed in a heap unable to do anything more. I took a long bath and slept fitfully for hours. I woke up apologizing.

It’s a particularly interesting event to me because I see very well the guy who Jenny divorced, and who Leah got fed up with those many years ago. This is the pure “my way or the highway!” id version of Joe that apparently lies dormant. I like to think of it something like Windows crashing and you’re left with DOS. It definitely indicates that the transformation that’s occurred in me in the past two years is not entirely complete. It also indicates, contrary to what some of my co-workers think, that I do have strong opinions occasionally. No longer wishy-washy, I can be a jerk with the best of them.

Of course, the strong-willed version of DOS Joe also has bad judgment, no people skills, and zero patience. If I could harness the jerk part maybe I could be one of those genius-maniac type people who gets shit done. Sadly, I’d be a lonely crank. He’s not the person you want on your team. He might make a good Unabomber though.

This blog post is the second energy intensive thing I’ve done today. The first was cleaning out my nasopharynx in the shower — basically irrigation with water and expulsion — coughing and noseblowing — ith great force and energy. This process grosses out Leah. However, with the new configuration of the new house Leah need not hear it. That’s a nice win for the new place.

Hey kids, onward!

May 5th, 2008

We have a tiny grapefruit tree in our yard. I’m told the fruit is small and tart.

We have possums in the yard. Leah saw a cat-sized one maybe 2 weeks ago. Yesterday I saw a tinier, cuter one.

We go through so many headphones and earbuds. I think the kids really do eat them. If you have a source for earbuds by the dozen please leave a note in the comments.

Alex liked the Elmo I got her on FreeCycle. Febreeze apparently did the trick.

The next IRS payment is in the chamber, ready to fire on the 15th.

I’ve not delved into Xubuntu as much as I intended to this weekend. Mostly I laid in bed and tried to get well. I also missed Ty’s basketball game this weekend. Tony worked hard on a project yesterday and only occasionally checked in on Star Wars Galaxies to see if his trade had gone through. The TV was off and he took no calls. That counts for some pretty good discipline these days. Lastly on the kid front, I really am finding myself a patriarch. The kids listen to me and ideally I’m expanding their mind to the possibilities and perils of life. Yesterday we talked about resumes and interviews at the dinner table. Big topics like: “what do you include on a resume?” and “can you just leave off jobs that were bad?” and “can you include anything on your resume?” Leah and I did our best and pretty much stuck to what the best advice would be, and I tried to include plenty of my own experiences and difficulties. I find the kids respond best when I simply tell them my story and not try to abstract everything into a general rule that they must follow. It feels good and natural and still bizarre to be a patriarch.

Lastly, I am still sick. Not as much as I was, but not well. Still coughing up phlegm. Still sneezing. My nose is nearly raw. I want a fast-forward button for illness. People would buy it.

Wellness, ahoy? Oi.

May 6th, 2008

Headed out. Only a little phlegm, and only a bit of vomiting this morning. Luckily I’ve scarcely eaten. My head is clear, my fever is gone, and I’m not coughing at all. My throat is a bit sore.

There was a bomb threat yesterday at work apparently, but I’d really like to get out of the house — so I’ll take my chances with the outside world.

No swimming today though. We’re coming up on a week without swimming.

May 7th, 2008

Gmail Bozo Tag

I subscribe to several mailing lists. A beelion years ago we used to call these things “listservs” — basically it’s an email address that is an alias for a whole group of people, and when you send mail to it, everyone on the list gets a copy. WebSanDiego was my mailing list for a long while.

Anyway, on mailing lists, occasionally there are people who are annoying, or do what’s called trolling, or are otherwise jerks. Not sure what an internet troll is? Think of YouTube comments. Those are internet trolls.

Now, most civilized lists don’t let in people who are merely idiotic jerks. But there are some people who are frustrating. Again, in the old days, I used to simply send any email from such people to the trash. Nowadays, since I use Gmail for email predominantly, I have a different solution.

I tag them.

People who I find begin to act like bozos, I add a little filter to my email such that when email comes from them, it gets a little tag that says “bozo” on it. It’s a reminder of the previous history with that person, and the red color I give the tag in Gmail’s interface functions like a stop sign. It’s personally satisfying. It also discourages me from replying. Because I don’t want more email with bozo tags in it. My bozo tags make me smile, and not frown, when bozos are bozos.

I have no doubt some might consider me a bozo on email lists. I have been that, at times.

Live and let bozo, I say.

May 9th, 2008

Four bucks

I might have paid four bucks per gallon before, but last night was the first time I recognized it as such. This was in Calabasas on my way home.

Still mildly sick. I was thinking of going swimming this morning, but I still have some phlegm. I thought about swimming last night but it’s still too chilly out.

That’s really all I have at the moment. Happy Friday!

May 9th, 2008

These photos of Drake Brodahl’s process of making some art are inspiring — PUMML: Process. It’s almost like a how-to. It definitely gives me ideas. Maybe it will inspire you too?

May 10th, 2008

Heather “Dooce” Armstrong has had a busy few weeks. The book she edited was released, she went to New York and came back, and she appeared on National Television™.

Hidden in among all that activity is as eloquent a defense of blogging about your kid as I’ve ever read, and it’s well worth reading for not just mommybloggers but for everyone who writes about the people they love.

There are many who find “mommybloggers” and the whole concept of blogging about ones kids distasteful. They dismiss is out of hand as exploitive. Typical mommybloggers that I have met are not that, though. They don’t cross over into a kind of “stage motherhood” — I feel like that’s when it gets hinky. If you’re pushing your kid to be entertaining. If you’re neglecting your responsibilities as a Mom to service your audience. If you’re more a blogger than a Mom, I think something is broken, and you will have rather more to answer for when your kid grows up and says “what’s this blog thing.”

If you’re simply using your family and friends to entertain, and losing sight of what it means to have family and friends, then that’s broken too.

It’s worth a read: Newsletter: Month Fifty and Fifty-one

But I guess there are some people who are very uncomfortable with the fact that I and many other women are writing about our children on our websites. How dare we violate your privacy like this, how dare we endanger you like this, we obviously care more about ad revenue than what this is going to do to your adolescence. And I have been asked countless times if I am at all worried that you will totally resent me for the details I have shared here. Of course you will you resent me. I have no doubt that you will spend years of your life resenting me and being embarrassed that we have the same last name, despite the fact that I have and will spend years of my life writing love letters to you on the Internet. Despite the fact that I have declared to millions of people that you are the most amazing thing that has ever happened to my life.

You will resent me for your curfew and the fact that I will not let you leave the house in that mini-skirt. You will resent me for showing up to your school in my pajama bottoms and for raising my hand in a PTA meeting when I hadn’t brushed my hair. You will text message your friends to tell them that I am the most horrible person on the planet because I’m forcing you to study for your exam in the morning. You are going to think that I cannot possibly understand what you are going through, and you will slam the door in my face.

Will you resent me for this website? Absolutely. And I have spent hours and days and months of my life considering this, weighing your resentment against the good that can come from being open and honest about what it’s like to be your mother, the good for you, the good for me, and the good for other women who read what I write here and walk away feeling less alone. And I have every reason to believe that one day you will look at the thousands of pages I have written about my love for you, the thousands of pages other women have written about their own children, and you’re going to be so proud that we were brave enough to do this. We are an army of educated mothers who have finally stood up and said pay attention, this is important work, this is hard, frustrating work and we’re not going to sit around on our hands waiting for permission to do so. We have declared that our voices matter.

May 10th, 2008

One of the things we do at work, at lunch and otherwise, is talk about movies, old, new and forthcoming. We kibitz and argue and I get a lot out of it. I like talking about movies about people who care about them.

The one movie I am excited about that NOBODY else is is Speed Racer. I think it’s incredible looking. I suspect it’s going to massively flop, but I hope not. It reminds me a little bit of Warren Beatty’s Dick Tracy–which I find to be awful, but was an interesting experiment. My hope is that Speed Racer will be more than just interesting.

I enjoyed Iron Man very much, despite being very sick when I saw it. I juiced myself up on cold medicine, grabbed a handful of cough drops and we saw it last weekend. I followed the Iron Man comic in the 1980s so I do have longstanding (holy cow, 20 years) interest in the character. I thought the casting was great, and the movie was fun. Good action, believable characterizations: the film worked. I think criticisms like those voiced by Matthew Baldwin are valid, and I think his superhero movie pet peeves are particularly apt.

Interestingly enough, the funniest things I’ve read about Iron Man are not about the movie, but come from the Again With The Comics blog, which dives into the decades of history of Iron Man to find the more wonderfully ridiculous aspects of the character and his rogue’s gallery. For example: Things You Won’t Be Seeing In IRON MAN: The Iron Mullet!, Things You Won’t Be Seeing In IRON MAN: the Iron Nose and lastly: Things You Won’t Be Seeing In IRON MAN: Obadiah Stane’s “Costume”

I think Lebowski might’ve looked pretty good in that! Well, maybe. I’m curious to see how the sequels might do. Oh, and one last AWTC post: Iron Man 2 Villain Suggestions. And though that is a funny post, Black Lama really is a character who is “other-dimensional counterpart of Gerald Ford,” Wikipedia confirms this.

The other two “big” movies I want to see this year are Wall-E and The Dark Knight. I’ve been a fan of Pixar animation for decades, and a Batman fan even longer.

Speaking of animation, I would be remiss if I did not bring to your attention a Bollywood/Disney computer animated film called Roadside Romeo, which I found via Cartoon Brew:

It looks truly bad, though I will admit that I’m not the intended audience. It does include a heaping dose of ‘tude. Though John Kricfalusi does not care for the Simpson’s, when I think of ‘tude, I think of Poochie.

May 10th, 2008

As a follow-up to talking about Iron Man, here are some alternate designs for Iron Man from Project Rooftop: Iron Man Invincible Upgrade, and Part II

Some great designs!

May 11th, 2008

It’s been a long while since I did a full wrap up of what I’m looking at and reading. So here’s some miscellaneous stuff I’ve read and thought about and watched and listened to.

Tom Bickle asked some really interesting philosophical questions today: How entitled?:

What’s in a name? Surely, any communication carries with it a promise. “Your word is your bond.” “A rose by any other name…” Should I promote myself with any or all of these titles, all technically true, some a paler shade of the truth than others? “Fake it ’til you make it?” If I do, am I a phony? Should I feel ashamed? Would others feel deceived, were they to know how much a title chafes against my own self-esteem, factual accuracy or no?

It’s really got some great questions in it. Read it.

My hero stew blogged today! He doesn’t blog very often, but he, and his latest project, a broadway play called Passing Strange are getting a whole lot of attention these days. For one thing, it’s been running for a while now, and some real strange stuff has been happening. From way over here in California it feels like this — first Spike Lee showed up, and next it was that First it was on April 17th, Whoopi Goldberg wore the Passing Strange sweatshirt on The View.

And the show keeps rolling along, and getting great reviews. On Monday, on The View, “see a musical performance from Broadway’s Passing Strange.” So if you watch The View, check it out. I’ll probably catch it online later. But don’t look for the music of Passing Strange on the pre-Tony awards show; they got cut, causing some controversy.

Stew’s post struggles with the very notion of going mainstream. There’s a tension in Passing Strange, that tension is that it’s both a rock show and a Broadway play. The thing is both things, and as such, Stew has certain expectations about what rock shows are about, but on the other hand, audiences on Broadway are not necessarily rock show crowds. I love the openness of his thoughts about this. I’ve been a delighted fan of stew for a long time, and part of my fandom is this openness to the process. I love that he writes what he’s thinking about his art. Basically, I love the man and his work. It hurts that I probably won’t see his show this year, but I enjoy every minute of the work that comes out. On the Passing Strange website, they have some song downloads — mp3 files of songs from the show. I have to admit, the song Keys has the capacity to make me cry.

Another artist blogging is Matt Brooker, who blogs at D’Blog of ‘Israeli. Matt is the incredible artist behind the War of the Worlds comic I blogged about last year. I’ve been following his blog since then. So his latest post is entitled The Wacom Airbrush: In-Depth Review. I swear Wacom should hire this guy! He is an artist who actually used to work with airbrushes, and acquired one of their “airbrush-style” stylii (styluses?) — the Wacom Airbrush Stylus. Now mind you, I think I’ve only held an airbrush one time, and that was when Chris was using one back in the late 1980s. The impression I got was that they sputter and make a mess and are hard to control. But some of my favorite artists yield them beautifully Vargas and Soyarama. Brooker does not correct my impression of the airbrush. He says even in digital form, this is an input device that it takes time to learn. It’s fascinating to me, as a person interested in user experience and human-computer interaction, to see a user who is reveling in an input device that is harder to use, and takes longer to learn to use, and will take practice to master. It goes against how I think about interfaces and user input. But of course this is art, so perhaps it makes perfect sense. Great artists must practice. It takes discipline to get better at it. It takes time. I probably will never buy this peripheral, but reading about it was joyful.

Speaking, as we sort of were, of comics, I present a wonderful new blog called The Journal of Caroon Over-Analyzations, which I found via Cartoon Brew. This blog cracks me up. Articles like From the archives: A Freudian Analysis of Beavis and Butt-Head or Alchemical Symbolism in Smurfs are terrifically fun to read. Some even point out real issues of culture and race, as in From the archives: Chromatic Sexism and Animated Felines:

Did you ever notice that patterns emerge in the fur colors of major protagonist characters of the domestic feline species portrayed in popular, secular, post modern children’s media? Female feline protagonist tend to have white fur, a reoccurring characteristic for the heroines in a significant number of films involving cats, examples include female characters from The Aristocats, Cats Don’t Dance, The Rescuers (she’s a mouse, but the concept still stands). On the other hand, the male feline protagonists have orange fur, examples include male characters from Garfield, Heathcliff, The Aristocats, An American Tail, Cats Don’t Dance, etc.

I’m not sure how to transition to this next one, but Matt Haughey shared a post on Google Reader that’s great: Web 2.0 Expo Presentation Rundown. That post has great links and encouraged me to explore further some of the videos of speakers at the Web 2.0 Expo. I mentioned the Clay Shirky video before, but the Andreessen and Fake Steve Jobs videos are also worthwhile.

It’s Sunday–Mother’s Day. Happy Mother’s Day to my own Mom, to Leah, and to all the other Mom’s out there!

May 12th, 2008

…I blogged over the weekend. Read that instead of something new today.

Misc, Art, Mother’s Day (that’s a good one!)

Iron Man, Redesigned (cool links to neat different Iron Man designs!)

Movies this Year (the movies I want to see; we didn’t see Speed Racer this weekend, but I suspect it’s not very good — still want to see it, maybe on IMAX so I can get the full gut-punching effect!)

Eloquent Defense of Kidblogging (about Dooce who nails why it’s fine to write about kids)

Tonight I’m going to the SIGGRAPH thing with my friend Chris. I think it’ll be fun.

May 12th, 2008

Yesterday I blogged that Passing Strange would be on The View, and here it is, posted to YouTube by Jeff Downing!

I’m so proud of stew! He just blogged about it too!

May 13th, 2008

I don’t usually have cause to watch the Tony Awards.

This year is different though. Passing Strange–the show which is the brainchild of Stew and Heidi Rodewald, both of the band The Negro Problem–:is nominated for seven Tony Awards!

  • Best Musical
  • Best Original Score
  • Best Book of a Musical
  • Best Orchestrations (Stew & Heidi Rodewald)
  • Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical (Stew)
  • Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical (Daniel Breaker)
  • Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical (de’Adre Aziza)

I’ve been listening to the music of stew for seven years! Blogging about his and TNP stuff the whole time.

May 13th, 2008

And more Stew news! Can’t wait!

Strange’ soundtrack on iTunes

Cast recording exclusive to Apple

By GORDON COX

“Passing Strange” will be the first Broadway tuner to release its original cast recording exclusively on iTunes, more than a month before the CD arrives in stores.

Ghostlight Records’ digital release, set for May 27, makes the “Strange” OCR available in time to take advantage of the awards attention producers hope the show will receive after Tony noms are announced Tuesday.

Due to the time lag for manufacturing and shipping, the CD is not expected to be available in brick-and-mortar stores until July. Cast album was recorded April 14 in an unusual live session at the show’s venue, the Belasco Theater. (Most cast albums are taped in a studio.)

“I wanted to make the music available in time for all the exposure the show is hopefully going to get in the next few weeks,” said Sh-K-Boom/Ghostlight prexy Kurt Deutsch.

The iTunes exclusive reps another first for the old-fashioned legit industry, which like other sectors of showbiz is working to cultivate the benefits of digital-age fixtures such as YouTube and MySpace.

According to Deutsch, the initial iTunes-only release makes sense for a show like “Passing Strange,” a rock tuner that aims to appeal to a young — and therefore tech-savvy — demo. In recent years, he has seen downloads jump from 5% to 25%-30% of sales for albums of youth-appeal tuners such as “Legally Blonde.”

Deutsch and Bill Rosenfield exec produced the “Passing Strange” OCR, with Stew and Heidi Rodewald, co-creators of the musical, serving as producers.

May 13th, 2008

Last night I went to the SIGGRAPH LA event at Petersen Auto Museum. It was a terrific event and there was much inspiration and food for thought. I met my friend Chris Greazel there. It’s always great to see Chris.

Apparently a touch screen “minority report” type interface for visualizing accessories has increased sales of accessories 30% for Lamborgini. Interfaces makin’ BANK yo. The interface was done in Flash, the images pre-rendered and compsited on the fly, if I’m remembering that right.

I think more learning of 3-D modeling tools is in my future.

Saw many cool Low Riders. Saw Michael-Keaton era Batmobile. Saw Mach 5.

Chris’ experiences seeing Speed Racer made me want to go even more. I’m thinking of seeing the IMAX version.

I need to vote in the SIGGRAPH elections. I’m a member now, and everything! I became a member after the EA event last month.

Chris said the first time we went to a SIGGRAPH thing was in L.A. in 1989. I thought my first one was around 1994. I can’t remember. But I was definitely interested in computer graphics at that time. I’d go to any computer animation festival had by computer geeks, art museums, or science museums. It was amazing stuff.

We went to Canter’s after. Good potato pancakes, substandard matzoh ball soup. Chris said his smoked turkey was excellent though. We talked, and sketched, and ate, (mostly talked) from about 10pm to 2:30am. As Leah might say, “that’s how we do.”

Chris lent me two books: one Bob McCall, one Jim Burns. Painted wonders decades old! I remember checking out the McCall one many times when I was in 6th and 7th grades. Beautiful paintings of a future that might have been.

Getting home at 3:30am is definitely difficult for my system.

We’ll probably do another late night next month. We’re plotting world domination.

Approximately.

May 14th, 2008

Missing Persons is not a band I ever got way into, but I remember liking their music. My uncle had Spring Session M and we listened to that record on his stereo when we went to Lake Dolores (a long defunct waterpark halfway to Las Vegas). Keep in mind I was 10 years old in 1980 so was pretty much absorbing my music from family and radio at the time. It would not be for five more years that my musical tastes would really start “setting” as I got into Talking Heads, New Order and the like.

The thing that stands out most in these three videos is the decreasing vitality of the music and the increased vitality of the imagery of the videos. The musicianship is strong, but the songs just get weaker. It’s easy to make fun of these videos as ridiculous. MTV was new at the time, and the imagery was fun and inventive. We take the deployment of effects and costume and “acting” by musicians for granted now, and the art has been refined so now some 25 years later we know what good music videos are like, and these aren’t it.

A fun fact for me, retroactively, is to know that this band was formed out of the crucible of working for one of my favorite artists, Frank Zappa. Dale and Terry Bozzio, along with Warren Cuccurullo worked for Zappa for a number of years. Zappa was famous as a taskmaster toward his musicians, and when you listen to the music in these videos it’s fun to appreciate the tightness of the guitar and drum parts. Dale also has wonderful control over her voice. She makes peculiar vocal choices, but it’s definitely strange on purpose.

Like I said, I am not a huge fan of Missing Persons, as evidenced by none of their music being on my iPod, but perhaps I’ll grab some and try and re-appreciate a band most folks probably make fun of for ridiculous outfits.

Come to think of it, perhaps I should reevaluate some of the bands the kids like because they seem like piffle.

Mental Hopscotch, 1980:

Words, 1982:

Right Now, 1984:

UPDATE: Credit where credit is due, I was prompted to think and pontificate about Missing Persons because of a post over on the excellent blog Kill Ugly Radio.

May 14th, 2008

Despite being excited about Speed Racer, I find myself unimpressed by the vast majority of the movies that come out. Two documentaries that are on tap look really great though.

The first is American Teen (via Slashfilm, and again):

The second is Surfwise (via Slashfilm):

May 14th, 2008

So at lunchtime today I went and swam again. A week without swimming is like a week without sunshine, baby! Good to get back but it wore me out. Maybe I should have stretched before? I figure if I ramp up slowly that counts as stretching for swimming, but maybe I need to rethink that.

Anyway, the second thing I did at lunchtime was hit the Moorpark Library. I picked up a few things, among them the DVD of the documentary (yes! more documentaries!) Murderball.

Man! What an amazing film. Aside from frank and adult conversation about sex, I think this is a movie I think everyone would enjoy and learn from. These are the real people who are para- and quadraplegics. The sport of Quad Rugby looks like a hell of a lot of fun, and it along with other sports at the Paralympics are basically complete sports for folks who for whatever reason end up with limited or different physical capabilities. They are able to push themselves and really compete. Also, the chairs look like weapons. Leah was a little dubious when I told her we were going to watch a movie called Murderball along with dinner, but she liked it too.

I wish I’d have seen it when it came out, but this way I get to see it free and maybe encourage someone else to check it out.

May 18th, 2008

Speed Racer

On Thursday night, I went and saw Speed Racer in IMAX at The Bridge across the street from work. I mentioned before that I wanted to see it but nobody seemed to be excited about it but me, then I mentioned that my buddy Chris told me he saw it and liked it.

Leah and Devon and I (along with Dev’s girlfriend) actually were considering seeing this last week on Mother’s Day but logistically it ended up not possible because of the boy’s coming back from a Model U.N. thing right when we were going to see it. Leah had not been excited to see it, it was more an excuse to hang with Devon and I know Leah was excited that I was excited.

I went alone after work Thursday. Nobody from work was excited to see it. Mind you, these are gamers, nerds, and fanboys–and I mean those terms with the utmost respect! I think part of what deterred people was that the advertising is very true to the film. It’s outlandish.

Here’s a fight between Racer X and some baddies.

Speed Racer

Those lines of motion are a stylistic choice that is very much in keeping with the kinetics of the original animation. The animation in the original anime, and when I was a kid I never heard that term. Speed Racer was just this odd cartoon that I could watch when I visited my friends Celsito and Carlos. For whatever reason they liked Speed Racer. This would have been in about 1976-1978 or so.

Speed Racer Vintage

Leave it to Wikipedia to catch me up on the history. I was 7 years old in 1977, and at that point the animated Speed Racer was already 10 years old. I only knew that the thing looked amazing and utterly unlike every other cartoon. It was like the white whale when I could actually see an episode. In retrospect much of the animation has a lot of basically static images with looping animation, and many images freeze frame with a camera move or zoom to emphasize the action. That technique seems like a cheat, and in less capable hands, it makes the animation suck. Scooby Doo, for example, is an example of a cartoon I dislike because of cheap animation tricks like this.

Sidebar: I stayed with Celsito and Carlos and their family when my sister was born. I vividly recall being called to their kitchen, which I remember as big and very white. They lived in a great house in San Gabriel. I was called to the kitchen to take a call from my father, who announced to me that I had a sister named Kelly. I was seven years old and it was awesome news but I had no idea what it really meant to me. The other thing I remember is someone (was it their Mom? or maybe a babysitter or housekeeper?) grinding masa to make tortillas. Oh, and they had some big Kiss posters too, in their room. Actually, I remember a lot more, but that’s another subject.

So you might make the argument, given how many memories Speed Racer activates in my brain, that it’s a pure nostalgia trip for me. I like Speed Racer because it is true, but enhances, something I enjoyed as a kid. That sounds roughly correct to me, and perhaps accounts for the limited appeal and so far, failing box office of the film.

The movie does have some real hokum in it. The characters are archetypes–pushed “to the max.” This did not really bother me, I was carried away. The film has a lot of goofy digressions in it, visual jokes, outright slapstick, but that didn’t bother me either. If you remember the cartoon, there’s a lot of silliness with the younger son, Spritle, and his monkey Chim-Chim. They get into shenanigans, stowing away and accidentally getting into fights. They’re very expressive and utterly unrealistic.

Speed Racer

The action in the film is really great and really fun. When I got out, my co-worker Rich asked me if the movie was like a giant piece of candy–and I said absolutely. He didn’t see it, but he nailed the thing that is so fun about it, it’s like a giant piece of candy. The thing is made of magic, and it utterly sweet, and carries you along in a very satisfying way. I think if you don’t want that sugar rush, or you can’t suspend your disbelief, then you could be driven crazy by the movie. But I definitely was in the mood to have fun.

Speed Racer

One of the things I enjoyed most in the movie was the attention to design–giant, over the top futuristic and retro design. Every square inch of the movie is designed. While in some movies, this actually takes you out of the “reality’ of the movie. I think the Star Wars prequels are a good example of incredible design and creatures taking you out of the world they are trying to put you in. The original trilogy was grounded in many more practical effects. When Luke gets hit by something, or falls, it looks like it’s really happening. When similar stuff happens in The Phantom Menace, it’s usually clear that they are in a giant computer generated space. Something is lost there. Speed Racer somehow manages to steer clear of this, despite being almost completely invented space. The visual style is never realistic–it’s always pushed into something that is peculiarly Speed Racer-ish, but always internally consistent.

Speed Racer

As I said, I had a great time. It’s actually likely that I’ll try and see it again. I didn’t even mention how impressive and clean the screen at IMAX was. It was huge! Initially I had a hard time taking it all in, but once the trailers were done I had figured out how to look at the screen and understand it. It’s a scale I’m not used to in movies.

Speed Racer

May 18th, 2008

Water temperatures this weekend are 59 degrees Fahrenheit, according to watchthewater.org. I really wish that site also covered Ventura County. I have to make due with the Nicholas Canyon numbers.

I wanted to go to Malibu to lap swim, actually, so I headed out at 10:30am or so. When I got there, however, the pool was full of guys renovating it. Later, I saw that it will be closed till the end of June. There was no water. Plan B I thought was going to be Calabasas (they have an awfully nice pool).

But instead, I drove a bit further south and saw what I could see. What I saw was scattered waders in the water with no wetsuits. I saw folks with dogs:

Point Mugu / Dogs on Beach

I drove south and kept stopping at likely spots. I found a spot with the right mix of lack of people, good parking, good waves. The place I picked is here:

Where I swam today / Detail

I went in, there were maybe 4 other people sort of playing in the surf. I initially went in with no goggles, but I kept feeling big nasty rocks to scrape my feet, shins, knees with, and figured it would be good if i could see what was under me. So I grabbed my lap goggles and tried again.

Malibu 17 May 2008 / Rocky

Now, I’ve been whining about the water temperature for a while, and wondering if I could get in and enjoy it, rather than simply freezing. Turns out, 59 is not too bad. Considering the air temperature was in the mid-to-high 80s there in Malibu I think that differential must be a sweet spot. When the air temperature was in the sixties and seventies and I put my feet in there was simply no way to get in there. I’m not going to turn polar bear any time soon.

I had a good swim. I swam a little under a mile, exploring the area from rocky point to rocky point. Not much to see in the surfy area. I think much of what I saw were rocks deposited there to prevent erosion. It’s more common, and probably good that they are protecting the shore like that, but I so prefer a big sloping beach with a nice break for bodysurfing, and little to no rocks.

Here’s looking left:

Malibu 17 May 2008 / Looking east.

And here’s looking right:

Malibu 17 May 2008 / Looking west.

And here’s me, after swimming all the way left, then about half way all the way right, to where the houses were:

Malibu 17 May 2008 / Me

It was a nice surprise. I’m sore, a little sunburned, and I think I need a shave.

May 19th, 2008

Back in April I tried and failed to swim in the ocean. It was just too cold.

But in traveling south from Camarillo through Malibu I did see these kiteboarders. That is not really my thing, but they looks like they were having fun! Yesterday along with the other photos I put up, I put up these from April:

Malibu Sailboarders 1
Malibu Sailboarders 2
Malibu Sailboarders 3

May 19th, 2008

I had some side project-y stuff I wanted to work on, but instead: Saturday I went to the beach, and Sunday we went to Tyler’s two basketball games.

Getting beat

I did blog though: about Speed Racer, and about going to the beach, I also uploaded a pile of photos to flickr.

This week is going to be busy, but I think it might be awesome!

May 20th, 2008

The houseguests have arrived! We’ll have my brother-in-law, his wife and their four (or is it five) year old son with us. Things will be different.

I have always loved living in housefuls of family or de facto family. It feels like the most natural state of affairs. I wonder if that’s what a tribe feels like in some remote village. The closeness of family ends up a comfort.

Then again, this is the honeymoon phase. We’ll see how it shakes out. As with all human relationships, there will be ups and downs. With good communication and good boundaries any conflict or trouble can be worked through.

May 21st, 2008

Really wonderful silliness via B3ta: And now, live from Wimbledon, the interactive Pong championships 2008

Busy today. Lots happening. Behind on some side stuff, but the day job has to come first. Also, got to hit the pool at lunchtime. Promise to catch up soon!

May 22nd, 2008

Really cool German BMW Ad which uses multiple motifs prop items from the film Blade Runner.

Blade Runner BMW Ad

I like the usage of Science Fiction in unusual places. I’m reminded of a post from last December, Robot Meets Girl.

May 22nd, 2008

So fun. Our new houseguests are big fans of the Narnia books. I got tickets to see the new Nania movie, Prince Caspian, and the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood. I think it will be fun!

I think we’ll just drive and park, but it might be fun (or maybe easier?) to take the Red Line to the stop across the street from the theater. If anything we could park at the North Hollywood Park & Ride and take the train down. Cheaper, yes, but maybe less convenient. I don’t know. Maybe we’ll go to Musso & Frank’s or The Pantry while we’re at it.

Any Angeleno’s out there want to make any suggestions?

May 23rd, 2008

Woke up early this morning and hit the pool early. Dawn Patrol baby!

Hehe. I wonder if you know that idiom. Do you? Well let’s let the popup window spewing advertising fest about.com tell you: What is a “dawn patrol?”:

For those unfamiliar with the term, “dawn patrol” refers to a surfer’s arrival to the beach at or just before sunrise.

The inclusion of the word “patrol” is idiosyncratic with the common conception of the casual surf attitude; however, the connotation of some militaristic mission impossible is justified. Once you’ve seen a surfer tune his equipment, pack his gear, and set off into the darkness intent on accomplishment, you might change your outlook on surfers forever.

Not bad. Basically surfers want to get there early for good waves. Beat the crowd. Get there first before real life intrudes. Dawn Patrol! Like if I keep repeating it you’ll get it.

Dawn Patrol! is like a two word summation of “the early bird gets the worm.”

We’re having some oddball weather. Suddenly it’s cloudy, overcast and even occasional showers. I’m not a fan, thanks.

Swim this morning was good. I’m still dealing with some lower back pain that I think is a result of overexertion from last weekend, or maybe something worse, it’s possible my random fitness regime has left some of me better off than others, and I’m paying for it with my back. I’m actually considering going to see a chiropractor to see if they can advise me on stretches, exercises, things I can do before swimming, things I can do while working that might help. I feel fitter, but I have a long way to go.

Anyhoo, we’re headed into a long weekend. Have a great one. It’s Memorial Day, so please consider those who have served their country this weekend.

Hey! Onward.

Also, DAWN PATROL!

And lastly, GRAPEFRUIT SPOONS!!!!

May 23rd, 2008

My friend and co-worker Mok is riding in the AIDS/LifeCycle — Mok’s Donation Page:

Mok is super cool, he advised me on where to find biking clothes and equipment down in L.A., and when I asked him where to buy swimming goggles, he pulled a pair out of his workout bag at work! That’s seriously good service. By day he’s a SQL Server database guru, but during the summer he turns into super-amazing mega-bike-ride man. I donated some money to the cause of fighting AIDS, won’t you?

He actually got in an accident last week, some jerk in a car hit him. He’s healing okay, but his bike is trashed. But he’s working on getting a loaner for the ride.

The bike ride is 545 miles–San Francisco to L.A.–that sounds like fun, but it also sounds like torture. He says it’s a great time. If I were in shape, I think I might do something like this. As it is, I’m just happy my back pain is less. :-)

Go Donate!

May 27th, 2008

Friday afternoon I answered a tweet of the incomparable ChefJoanna which ended up getting one of our houseguests a very full night of work doing such things as separating crab from crabshell. Joanna needed a replacement assistant for the night, her regular assistant having gotten into a car accident. When I called her up on her phone and said who I was and what I was calling about there was a long pause at the end of the line—”uh, really?”–which in retrospect makes me laugh, laugh laugh, but during the phone call what I said was “not me, my sister-in-law!”

So Joanna got some needed help, and Heather (my s-i-l) got a full night of work. Who says twitter is useless?

Leah and I went to dinner for our weekly date night and purchased a replacement mouse for her laptop at Fry’s. We also bought a copy of Bust magazine and a Toblerone. Yes, we truly do know how to keep the spice in our relationship.

I mock, but we really do know. I’m not sure how we do, but we do. We ended the 3 day weekend by buying Super Mario Bros on WiiWare. You really can’t get more exciting that that.

Whoops, I’ve fast-forwarded through the chunky middle part of the weekend. Apologies.

Let’s talk about Saturday.

The plan for Saturday I mentioned before. The five of us started the day at 11am or so by driving down into Hollywood. I felt in my element pointing out landmarks and what history I know. We got to the Hollywood & Highland complex early and so we all wandered Grauman’s Chinese Theatre’s front courtyard. We espied the footprints and handprints of the famous. Will Smith’s feet are huge! The folks in costumes out front were sort of–well, they are what they are. There was a particularly sad pair of Superman and Supergirl, two Jack Sparrows, Darth Vader, Snoopy, and a particularly scary Catwoman. As I understand it there is documentary about the folks who busk in costume down there. Actually, busk? Are they entertaining? Are they simply panhandling? Are they hoping to be discovered? Are they mentally ill? The names in the concrete are impressive enough, but I asked Leah “is it possible that things can be both dingy and glamorous?” Her answer was a simple “yes.” All that said, it was fun to see the names again, and see the newer names. I think I’ve not been down there to gawk in 10 years. I mock, but if you come visit us and you wanted to see it, I’d gladly take you down there.

Soon enough it was time for the 1:20pm show of Prince Caspian at the El Capitan. It’s funny, I was not sure if I ever saw a film there. I remember having the thought various times over the years that it would be great to see (insert Pixar or Disney film name here) there. The place is, after all, owned by Disney. And it was indeed a great place to see a Disney film. The seats were not the most comfortable ever, but with some of my weight loss definitely more comfortable than it would have been 4 months ago. The VIP tickets I got for the five of us were a good investment–the place is beautiful. The details and decorations were stunning, and while we waited an organist seated at the center of the stage played songs from Disney films. The pipe organ sounded very impressive. I was not aware of how much history the El Capitan has. I did not know that Citizen Kane made its debut there. You can read even more about the theatre and the its organ at the American Theatre Organ Society. Prince Caspian was an impressive film, though I’ll confess that I’m not as familiar with the Narnia books as I might be. I think my companions dug it and we all had a good time. Afterward we looked at some of the props and costumes from the film housed in the lobby and in the basement. It was impressive, though the line after the film was daunting. I think next time I see a film there I’ll try and make sure we see whatever props and such from the film before the film and not after.

Afterward we were actually hungry. The little one in the group mentioned hot dogs, and so of course I thought Pink’s, but Leah was psychically prepared for this gambit and said “NO PINK’S” just as I suggested it. Yes, she speaks in all capital letters sometimes. We too the slightly more sane, but equally tasty and quick and greasy solution: Carney’s. At least the line is shorter and the view is better. The food was pretty good, and the company was great.

Aside: carneytrain.com is totally kicking the web like 1999.

Afterward, we trekked east to Griffith Park. Our houseguests have a fondness for geocaching, and amazingly, Leah and I agreed. Nathan had downloaded a few spots in Griffith Park to his handheld GPS and we drove around seeking it. The first one we sought turned out to be on the north side and not accessible to us since we came into Griffith from the Los Feliz side. The second one, on the other hand, required us to walk up to the Observatory. I’m always up for hitting Griffith Park Observatory. We sort of found the one up near there, and found a shedded snakeskin. It was a pretty day, at any rate:

Griffith

So the first one was a bust, the second one not really a success, but the third one was a rousing success and we added ourselves to the logbook and even traded an item out. I might have the terminology wrong, but you can learn more about geocaching here.

Saturday was totally packed man. Sunday was mellower. I slept way in. I did a little bit of work, anticipating a day off Monday and the possibility of jury duty this week–I wanted to make sure I got some hours in to make up for it. Gotta keep the IRS debt train rolling. We’re doing pretty well and on a nice self-imposed schedule of mailing off a check each 15th of the month. I think June’s check will be nice and fat.

And yesterday I got up much earlier. There’s so much that happened yesterday but none of it’s really noteworthy. I spent a lot of time listening to podcasts and cleaning up the garage. And when I say “clean” I mean, moving things around, reorganizing, making space, and getting my feet very dirty. I love that my dirty feet gross people out (check the comments).

Foot

Our houseguests went to the beach. Leah slept way in, and I puttered around the house. It was a very good day. I even shaved!

Finally shaved

Better than my stanky foot! But I look sort of–uh–stoned in this photo. I assure you I’m still straightedge baby.

The ending of the day was buying Super Mario Bros. for Leah, as I already mentioned. I was never a big Nintendo fan, we didn’t have game consoles when I was a kid. I had my computers though. I do know how to play it though, exposed to it through friends. The WiiWare purchase process was impressively painless. The guys at work keep goading me into getting an Xbox 360–which with the Live Arcade service has been the most successful game download service. But another console has to wait until much later in the year. Financial priorities are where it’s at, baby!

Speaking of digital downloads, I ordered Passing Strange on iTunes Plus. I’ve been listening to it as I write this blog post. So far, I love it. It’ll be on heavy rotation for a while.

And that’s where I’ll start the week. Also, my feet are clean as a whistle now. Maybe I’ll share another photo? Hah!

May 27th, 2008

May 28th, 2008

After high school, it became something of a fetish of mine to travel from San Diego to Los Angeles and do various sightseeing. One of the things I (and my friend Chris) used to hit was the Art Center College of Design gallery.

For us, Art Center was the pinnacle of cool, of talent, of design. (I was going to use the word apotheosis of cool, but it looks like apotheosis applies to individuals). It was cooler than the coolest.

One of the things we saw there was a piece by one of the film students there, a music video that blew our minds with its futuristic pan-cultural motifs and artsy whiz-bangery. It was called Soy Cowboy, perfectly merging our own sensibilities about how the future was going to be Blade Runnered out. We’d be talking CitySpeak (in the original version of Blade Runner there was a voiceover explaining “That gibberish he talked was city-speak, guttertalk, a mishmash of Japanese, Spanish, German, what have you. I didn’t really need a translator. I knew the lingo, every good cop did. But I wasn’t going to make it easier for him.”). To us, the future was so clearly Japanese mainly. And of course it is, but then it isn’t, either. So here’s another future that never quite came to be in the way its envisioners hoped. But hey, 1990 Joe would be pleased to hear there had not been a nuclear device detonated in anger by 2008.

So here we are almost twenty years later, and we do indeed have much greater access to pan-cultural products. If I want to listen to Thai pop music I no longer have to struggle to find it, I can download it. Sadly though, the band Soy Cowboy never took over the world. In fact, coming from a pre-digital age, it’s struggled online only now. Chris I know has sought it out for a long time. The director is Tarsem Singh, who IMDB says graduated from Art Center and went on to direct the video Losing my Religion. He was interviewed in The Onion AV club last week. Yes, Art Center was definitely the ur-source of cool. The song is called “Lily Pads and Rock Cod.” I surely hope you enjoyed it. I scarcely think it will have the same effect on you it had on me and Chris though.

“Meet me at the godown with the tapioca prawn.”

What are YOU looking for, cowboy?

May 28th, 2008

At 7am this morning at the pool in Camarillo the kid (okay, he’s probably like 18 or 19, but I’ve taken to thinking of anyone I estimate is 30 years or less as a kid) at the desk recommends the frequent pass.

I pay $3 a pop to swim there, and with this pass I can buy 10 passes for $27 dollars–buy 9, get one free.

I was surprised at the pride I felt at getting recognized as a regular. I must be doing something right. As I look back at some of my blog posts it looks like I’ve been swimming at least 3 times a week since March. I’m leery of buying the pass, if only because I don’t want to be saddled with having to go to one particular place. I still go to Calabasas as well since it’s on my drive home. Malibu is still closed, and it’s not as convenient anyway.

Here are two photos from my drive this morning.

West from Moorpark
Nearly Somis

May 28th, 2008

Cool tool! If you have a Last.fm account, which I do, you can generate an image with the covers of the music you listen to: Last.fm Wallpaper Generator. It’s out of date since I don’t have Last.fm turned on these days, but it’s not a bad representation.

last.fm: artlung

found via the excellent Kill Ugly Radio

May 28th, 2008

My latest favorite blogger is Nick Mamatas, writer. He writes as Nihilistic Kid. He writes about some stupid dust up about Rachel Ray and Palestine. I tend to avoid political blogs, but it turns out Michelle Malkin is a dope. Nick is funny. I remember him from a long time ago when Kynn did a comic strip about him in 2001, which I actually remember. Which means there are blogs I’ve been reading for 7 years.

Here’s some funny, read it all if you dare!

The controversy apparently began when right-wing goofball Michelle Malkin noticed that Ray’s scarf (not a keffiyeh, which do not come in paisley) reminded her of all sorts of awful things, such as a violence-promoting T-shirt [recently pulled from the shelves] depicting a young Palestinian boy in a keffiyeh carrying an AK-47 assault rifle, over the word “Victimized.” The T-shirt also featured the Palestinian flag, a map of the Palestinian territories and a small white dove. We all fear the political violence that inevitably spills out the doors of Urban Outfitters. Those stores are just like West Bank cafes, except that the storefront windows come “pre-ruined.” Also, one time someone threw a pencil eraser shaped like Napoleon Dynamite’s head at me.

May 29th, 2008

So over on the right hand side of the main page of artlung.com there I include a statement about when I’ll be available for work, and that just changed again. I am continuing on with Sierra for another two months while we continue an ongoing project. It’s always simpler to renew something than it is to start something new, but Sierra has been very good to me, and I like to repay that good treatment with loyalty while they have a lot of different stuff going on.

Co-incident with that a friend of mine has been having multiple respiratory issues which honestly make me consider getting my Respiratory Therapy license again. It’s like $500 in California, but it has me thinking about it. He’s getting a BiPAP machine and feeling poorly. I hope he gets well soon!

In line with that I’ve been pleased to see my moribund respiratory care site, Rhonchi.com, be active these days, particularly this post: Are you a Respiratory Therapist? Do you blog? — which was originally supposed to be a post trying to find RTs who blog, but has turned into a heated debate, cheerleading, and bitch session about the whole profession of respiratory care. It’s a very good comment thread, with some vitriol, but real passion, which is great. I’m always interested to hear from fellow RTs (hah! I still self-identify as an RT! matter of a fact I still carry my RRT card from the NBRC in my wallet out of habit).

I’m hearing reports from my Mom that the latest chemo was too hard and she’s regrouping a bit. I’m going to give her a call during my commute. If you are of a mind to say a prayer or have a good thought, please include her in yours. You can read more about my Mom and her struggle with Renal Cell cancer by looking here and working backwards. I love her so much.

Okay, time to get started on the day. Cheat Commandos, Rock, Rock Onward!

May 29th, 2008

To Malibu

So I talked to my Mom and she’s having a rough go of it right now. Hard to hear that someone you love is in pain. Her spirits were high though, and I love her very much. She’s looking forward to her and my Dad’s 40th Wedding Anniversary June 15th.

Miss her a lot. Sometimes it’s hard to live far from family.

May 29th, 2008

Roof Vehicle Storage

So a local (Culver City) car dealer started storing cars on the top of our parking garage. I always park on the roof, so anytime I am up there I see the cars. I have taken to think of these cars as an economic indicator. They all seem to be SUV vehicles. I wonder about why they are up there, and why there seems to be more every week. I suspect the fact that they’re stored here has something to do with the price of gas.

April 2008 ←Before

After→ June 2008