Dec 31, 2008

Happy Old Year

Resolutions for 2009:
(in the shape of a bell)

O
Eat Less
Read More
Write More
Exercise More
Make new friends
Read my scriptures
Write 10 short stories
Prepare to become a father
Do "The Artist's Way" with Tracie
Keep my resolutions longer than a week

Meditate.





What resolutions are you planning this year??

Bev Doolittle

Apparently, I am very observer.

Dec 30, 2008

We had a Green Christmas

And not the environmentally friendly. Not that we were particularly mean to the environment either, (no more than usual) in fact, we recycled a lot!

But by Green Christmas, I mean we had our Christmas in Texas, in case this is the first of my blog posts you've read and you didn't notice that I've been writing about going to Texas for a little while now.

Well, we're back! Upon coming home, I learned to make sure there's not a load of wet laundry left in the washing machine when you're going away for a week, don't leave half a cup of cocoa in the microwave to ferment, take out the trash and flush the toilet. Needless to say, we were greeted with many smells upon our arrival home, reminding us that Tracie is pregnant and when I'm left to look after the place, some things get forgotten, until they start to smell.

We're still trying to make the place smell merry, but I'm getting ahead of the story like I usually do.

Last Saturday I had 2 finals, I guess I aced them both, or at least did passably well, as I ended up with a B and a B+ (and somehow an A in my writing class- score!) and I went home, we got all ready for leaving and left. Apparently we were so stressed about making sure we brought everything (which we did, including sunglasses we never used) we forgot little things like the state of potentially stinky things at home. I guess Tracie didn't think of them because she was bringing the stinkiest thing with her, (me) and I forgot because I was preoccupied with my 2 finals and irrationally stressing about getting to the airport on time.

Tracie's parents took us to the airport, we got there in pah-lenty of time, with time to spare for my routine pat down, the security guard was professional and friendly, making me wish my doctor had been an airport security guard at any point of his career.

Our flight was smooth and on time, noteworthy because we sat next to the emergency exit, causing my irrational side (they're ALL irrational sides) to have mini-terror daymares involving the door blowing off and holding on to Tracie for dear life so she wouldn't get sucked into the abyss of dead space, also known as Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and where ever else we flew over. Fortunately, none of that happened.

We arrived in Texas, and were immediately greeted by the humidity, we went to get our luggage and were then greeted by two of my three brothers, Ammon and Andrew.

We rode home in my parents minivan, the humidity and air conditioning in a timeless struggle for control as we reminisced and caught up on each other's lives, while Tracie and Andrew mostly played their Nintendo DSes. DSi. DS plural.

I was so excited to see everyone, but no one more than my niece and nephew, Carly and Wesley, visiting from Singapore. I got to see Wesley that night, but Carly was sleeping, so I didn't get to see her until at church the next day.

Church was good, I got to spot many old friends and families but we were quickly off to downtown Houston to catch the last performance of Handel's "Messiah" by the Houston Symphony, with my mommy in the Choir! We went with her parents, obviously also in Houston at the time, and my brother Andrew. It was a very moving experience, and great to hear the Oratorio in its entirety, instead of just the Hallelujah Chorus and "Unto Us."

The week was mostly uneventful and relaxing, (the way I like my vacations) we mostly visited, watched movies, went out to eat, played games, Tracie and I babysat Carly and Wesley while their parents went shopping, my mom's parents left two days before Christmas and my dad's parents came the day after Christmas, the other main highlights of our trip were a trip to the MFAH, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, and, of course, Christmas day! I'll write more about them once I get home, but now it's time to go!

I'm back. So, on Friday Tracie, Andrew and Mee went to the MFAH, I loved it. It's the first time I went through the whole museum (it's a biggie- fifth largest in the country) we saw works from Egypt, Greece, South America, Asia, Africa, and of course countless (not entirely countless, the museum has about 40,000 works on display) European artworks, and I must admit I myself was impressed not only with the amount of beauty and culture we took in, but how quickly (less than 3 hours) we saw it all.

Rewinding a bit, I wanted to announce that I have FINALLY finished reading "The Gunslinger," the first of the Dark Tower Series (Septet?) by Stephen King. Overall reaction: meh.
It was good, but not great. I originally read it because the story that's been practically beating on my brain to write on is a Western/Horror/Fantasy, which is what I understood Dark Tower to be, after reading the first, I couldn't think of two more different books. (Especially since one is still mostly in my head) but it was enjoyable in some parts, really dull in others, but, all in all, I finished reading it, and will probably read the next one before I judge them all.

Now, on to CHRISTMAS!!!

To toot my own horn, I pretty much made the traditional egg dish single handedly and it was delicious (not as good as when my mom makes it, but I got enough compliments and second and third helpings to think I did an ok job) we had the missionaries over like we always do, I gave up some ugly polyester ties from my mission for them, and Tracie and I racked in the booty. I'll let Tracie list what she got, Here's the best of my memory and the best Christmas in 2008!

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein (Children's book)
The Belgariad Vol 1-3 (of 5) (Book)
Sandman book 1 (Graphic Novel)
Sandman book 3 (Graphic Novel)
The Hush Sound Like Vines (CD)
The Hush Sound Goodbye Blues(CD)
Animaniacs Volume 2 (TV Season)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (the old 90's cartoon! Sweet!)
She & Him (CD)
A Nintendo Wii (for Tracie AND me, from my parents)
Memoirs of Hugh B. Brown (book)
Lego Star Wars (Video Game)
Inn Fighting (board-esque game)
Money (cashola)
Moolah (bling)

And a very very merry Christmas!

The new year is almost here, I'm already writing my resolutions... I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and will have a happy new year!!!

Dec 18, 2008

One Week Until Christmas


And nine days since I last posted. I have the same lame blogging excuses I usually do, I pretend like I don't have enough time and don't have anything interesting to write about. Well, last night was at least blogworthy enough to blog again, as well as catch a little up on the wonder that is me.

Last week I got to hear my baby's heartbeat for the first time. I've heard about it being one of the coolest parts of pregnancy (for the dad) but was skeptical. It's just a heartbeat, it doesn't even sound like a heart beat, it sounds like a "whooshwhooshwhoosh." Well, at the OB-GYN/Midwife/Women's Clinic we go to, I got to hear the "whooshwhooshwhoosh." And it. was. awesome. I can't remember the last time I smiled so broadly, and literally could not stop smiling. I felt so much love for Tracie and I am so grateful she is in my life, and doing this, putting up with pregnancy sickness and a whiny husband.

Yesterday our car battery died. Those of you who know me know that I have had my fair share of car problems, I have had EVERYBODY'S fair share of car problems, but I didn't take it very well. It upset me. Long dramatic story short, Tracie followed the excellent advice of her sister HayLee, I followed the excellent advice of Tracie, and went to AutoZone to get the battery replaced. I changed my first battery! While I was changing it, I had an interesting encounter, where I was stopped by a sweet old man with a van. "Can you help me, please?" He asked. I said I could try, but I didn't work there, I was just trying to change my car battery. "Do you know anything about interior lights? I can't get this light off!" I walked over to help him, saw that it was one of those lights that you just have to push, I pushed it, he closed the door, and his eyes lit up like I'd just saved his cocker spaniel from drowning. "Oh, marvelous! Thank you!" I considered asking for a tip, but I wished him a merry Christmas and went back to attempting to change the battery in my car. First time I've been a good Samaritan in a while, and all I had to do was click a button!

Classes are winding down, Writing for Mass Media is over, and my American Civilization and Art History 2710 finals are this Saturday, of which I shall study for tonight, as we have a Christmas get together on Friday night with some friends. I'm sure you wanted to know that. Last night we also had a fun get together with friends, playing Nintendo 64 games I haven't played in YEARS.

Though I have finals and a new car battery, what consumes my mind at the moment is in 2 days WE'RE GOING TO TEXAS!!! I'm so excited to see all my family and my brother's family especially, as they'll be joining us from Singapore this holiday season. I find studying, working, thinking, writing, blogging, eating, breathing, etc. all left in the dust as my thoughts of Texas and Christmas preoccupy my mind.

What fun things are YOU doing this Christmas??

Dec 9, 2008

One Smart So and So












Free IQ Test
Free-IQTest.net - Free IQ Test

How about you?

Dec 8, 2008

Divine Comedy

Last Friday, at the Joseph Smith Building Auditorium, BYU’s Divine Comedy performed their “best of” for the year.

Tracie and I attended, along with roughly 1,000 BYU students, all younger than we are and more single. I haven’t attended a “college event” in quite awhile, and, despite the Mormon horde, it was very enjoyable.

Divine Comedy specializes in good natured spoof while thrusting as many Utah Valley and Mormon references you can shake a triple combination at. For example, the James Bond parody was called “Nickelcade Royale” and featured things like James Bond chasing the bad guy to the sound of Mario Bros., or fighting the villain with the screen behind them showing their names and life meter like Mortal Kombat. There was also a parody of the Lion King, aptly called “The Cougar King.” About the BYUSA (BYU Student Association) vice president’s journey and growing up. Along the way he gets lost and meets Timon & Pumbaa at UVU. They sang the song “UVU, it’s our problem free, Univer-si-ty! UVU!” (to the tune of “Hakuna Matata”). Though they mocked my school, I didn’t mind, as they mocked their school just as mercilessly. However, as we all know, BYU does have more to mock.

Tracie and I actually weren’t the only married couple there, though we were in the minority. Seated next to us were the Schramers, Brittnee and Matt, who came, just as we did, for the laughter, and the cheap date (only $5). They both thought it was “hilarious” and at times laughed harder than we did.

Divine Comedy started in 1994 when 2 BYU students, Randy Davis and Greg Peterson, got together to make a sketch comedy show that was as clean as it was funny. It now has 10 members, all current BYU students who have to contribute their own ideas and scripts for their shows.

I enjoyed the performance very much and will recommend divine comedy to anyone, BYU student or even married.

328 words.

Dec 5, 2008

Random Update- part. whatever

Did anybody listen to any of the songs I posted on my last post?

I can't get enough of them, but if you can't appreciate my efforts to culture you and expand your musical horizons, that's your problem. I'm not bitter, I'm just sour.

Christmas is coming, Christmas is coming! I am, to borrow an 80's colloquialism, so stoked for Christmas this year! I think you probably know that now, but it's ok to remind everyone from time to time.

I have 2 big papers to write coming up next week, for my Writing for Mass Media class I have to write a real news article with at least 2 sources due on Monday, as of right now, 3 days before, I have no idea what I'm going to write.

I also have to write an essay for Art History about Early Christian Architecture, which, contrary to popular belief, I am not looking forward to, but that's due a week from tomorrow, so I still have a good week to procrastinate it.

In the meantime we've got another baby dr. appointment scheduled for thursday, I'm excited to maybe hear the heartbeat this time, and make sure whether there's one or two babies in there...

Tracie is starting to feel better, by better I mean less nauseous, which is good for me. That sounds selfish, what I mean is her being less nauseous means I can worry a little less. Good save.

We've got almost all our Christmas shopping done, we've realized that we're gonna need a whole suitcase just to bring presents for everyone in Texas (we bought presents for the whole state) but, if my greedy little baby gremlin that grows in my heart gets his wish, we'll be able to fill it back up with presents from us on our return.

As this semester draws to a close, I'm looking forward to the next: I'll be taking photography and Intermediate Writing on Mon. and Wed. evenings and then Human Sexuality on Saturdays, which should be interesting. It's my Behavioral Science requirement, and I didn't want to just take Psych 101. So it was either Human Sexuality, or not Human Sexuality, so I thought I'd give it a try. The class, not the sexuality. Man, I was in trouble a couple words in with that joke, wasn't I?

What joke?

Anyhoo, lunch is almost over and I have to get back to work, but I'm going to give my pregnant princess a hug and a kiss before I go.

Dec 1, 2008

The Hush Sound


My new favorite band I discovered (that's right, ME) is The Hush Sound. I absolutely love them. I heard them at the gym (that's right, I work out) and couldn't get enough of their unique but catchy, almost familiar sound. I hope you enjoy.



Giving Thanks

To celebrate the Thanksgiving Holiday, here's a small list of things I am thankful for this year:

1) I am thankful to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

2) I am thankful that I am the husband of the most beautiful, intelligent, hilarious woman in the world.

3) I am thankful that we're going to Texas for Christmas to see my family, especially the ones who live in Singapore!

4) I am thankful for a job that I enjoy, I have friends at, and that I don't dread going to.

5) I am thankful to be in school where I am learning to be a better person and prepare for a brighter future.

6) I am thankful for the friends I have

7) I am thankful this year is almost over

8) I am thankful that I have almost all of my Christmas shopping done.

9) I am thankful to be alive, healthy, and happy.

10) Most of all, I am thankful for the blessing we're excited to welcome to the world in June!








Baby is only 3 months along right now, about 1 inch long in that picture, now he or she is about the size of a lime.

We are so excited to be parents, and have a whole new list of things to be thankful for, and stressed about!

Thanks Giving

Happy December, Everyone! We had a WONDERFUL Thanksgiving break, I hope you did as well.

Last week at work was CRAZY, I thought that since it was a holiday week that no one would be calling for help on their websites. What I didn't realize is that practically EVERY customer would want help with their site and their stores, since a lot of people apparently do shopping over the Thanksgiving holiday. Has to do with some big deal called "Christmas," apparently. We were some of those wild and crazy shoppers, but please, one thing at a time!

Thursday was McNeil day. We went to Tracie's parents and had a Thanksgiving feast, all the staples done to perfection, right down to Tracie's homemade cranberry sauce.

We played games, sang karaoke (tolerably well) and visited with family. Notably, Tracie's brother Troy and his family surprised everyone and showed up from California to celebrate Thanksgiving with us, giving us something more to be thankful for. It was great seeing Troy and Jen, as well as my world's most adorable nephew Eric and beautiful niece Madeleine (tied of course with Carly, Wesley, Seth, Cade, Leah, Matthew, Tyson, Preston, Mason and Lily). After letting the food digest for awhile and naps all around, we gathered again, this time for pie. Pumpkin, Pecan, Pumpkin Pecan, Pumpkin Cheesecake, Chocolate, Chocolate Silk, Chocolate Brownie, Chocolate Banana, Banana Cream, Cherry, Apple, Lemon pies to be exact. (Am I forgetting any? probably. Just know there were a lot) after the feast, both edible and social, Tracie and I limped/rolled home.

Thursday night I stayed up so I could take part in the madness of Black Friday. At 4 am I joined the throngs of penny pinchers at Kohl's and bought $250 7-piece luggage set for $50, a $40 blanket for $8, a $40 picture collage frame for $10 and other miscellaneous goodies. Though there were more people in Kohl's than there probably ever have been (albeit that location IS pretty new) I was impressed at the organization. Two very long lines filled the aisles and employees told customers jokes and gave us candy if we got Christmas trivia right while we waited. After 10 minutes of shopping and 45 minutes of waiting in line, I came home for Tracie and we made way to Wal-mart. I can sum up our visit to Wal-mart in one word: Chaos. As tragic as it was, I can believe that some people died at Wal-marts across the country (and at least one in Utah) because there were so many many people everywhere you turned. We didn't find anything we wanted for the prices we wanted at Wal-mart, the only redeeming fact was Tracie got a cute hoodie for $8, and we didn't get trampled.

We got home with all our booty, did some shopping on Amazon while their Black Fri. specials were still on, and passed out until about 1, when we went back to Tracie's parents for her dad's Turkey soup and pie leftovers. We again played games and enjoyed time with family.

Saturday we had another Thanksgiving feast, this time at my grandparents. We got to meet a new member of the extended family, my cousin Sara's baby girl Shayla (I hope I'm spelling that right) is 3 months and just beautiful. My Grandpa makes the best turkey on the planet, and this year he didn't disappoint, he even went one step further and let us keep some of the turkey!

Sunday, the last day of our vacation, was highlighted by home teachers and home teaching (last day of the month, after all) going to Uncle Jim's house and Uncle Paul's house (it's Uncle Paul's 81st birthday!) as well as Ammon's birthday, but since he's in Singapore, his birthday was technically the day before, or at least 15 hours later than us. I told him they should have flown to Texas on his birthday, then he wouldn't age, but he said that was stupid.

We greatly enjoyed our Thanksgiving holiday, as you can see, and are already chomping at the proverbial bit (it's really more of a kimberwicke) to celebrate our Christmas holiday in Texas!

Nov 24, 2008

SparkArts 2008

This weekend Tracie and I attended a bit of the Spark Arts Festival at the Salt Lake City Library. This is the second year for the Spark Arts Digital Festival, a program to help beginners and wannabes like me learn ways to build and design video games.

I first heard about it when my Writing for Mass Media teacher, Shana Hamilton, told our class we could receive extra credit going to the Festival and writing an article on our blogs about it.

I have both my History classes on Saturday, and in Art History I had a test. So I emailed Clarissa Helps, who is in charge of the Festival, a few of my questions.

My questions were:
Would I still benefit from going about half the day?
Would I be interrupting anything?
Would I get totally lost?
Would I be able to possibly buy the software for building games on CD-ROM or get them installed on a flash drive?

Clarissa responded promptly:

"You would still benefit from attending Saturday afternoon. If you are able to attend Friday evening as well, I encourage it, but the main events on Saturday will begin after 12 noon.

SparkArts is designed to welcome both the programmers who attend the entire festival and those who just want to drop by. You would not be interrupting by coming Saturday afternoon. I also do not believe that you'll be totally lost, no. If you get confused and wish to refute this claim, feel free to come speak with me Saturday. I would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

If your laptop has an Internet connection, you can obtain the software online. I will also have the software on a flash drive."


With this new information, I eagerly awaited the festival, as well as my promised extra credit.
As some of you may know or at least have guessed, designing and making computer games is a secret dream of mine, and this seemed to be the universe opening a door a crack for me. My love of making video games stems from my love of making games, my love of video games, which stems from my over active imagination and desire to one day be paid for having fun.

Saturday class and test came and went (Look forward to these, and more, in an upcoming blog) and Tracie and I drove up to Salt Lake City.

I'm not sure if Ms. Hamilton, my teacher was testing our resolve, but Saturday was the day of the big game. As in BYU vs. U of U. Fortunately, we didn't run into any real traffic (Unfortunately for BYU, U of U doubled their score) and arrived at the Library in good time. After asking information where the Festival was held (and the sign in front of our faces) we entered, and I was a bit surprised at what I found. We got there around 3:45, and most of the attendees were playing Dance Dance Revolution (very very well, I might add) but there weren't a bunch of elite computer programming geniuses dispensing wisdom; there were a gaggle of folks hanging out with friends.

I shortly learned that the Festival was the brainchild of siblings Adam Helps and Clarissa Helps, (siblings of my teacher, Shana Hamilton. If the family resemblance didn't give it away, an interview with Adam did).

Everyone was very friendly, Adam showed me a few websites I could go to in order to download free software for programming a basic game, XNA Game Studio and the language C#, as well as a website with all kinds of tutorials even someone like me could understand. In interviewing Adam, he told me he works designing 3D models and is a BYU graduate, recommended things like GIMP for images, Audacity for Sound effects, and Modplug for music. About 80 or 90 people have attended the Festival at the time I spoke with him, and there were two "almost" entries in the design a game contest, down from last year's two. Adam said that next year they hope to be in Utah County for the Festival, and I look forward to attending next time, hopefully earlier, and with more game designing know how.

One darn good-looking guy learning a bit about designing games.

I also spoke with Michelle, a friend of Clarissa, who was nice enough to stop sketching some amazing drawings to talk with me a bit about the art and visual aspects of game design, something she hopes to do (and I would LOVE to do). I felt very inferior to her (and everyone's) skill and knowledge, but she offered some encouragement, that most of her teachers and professors didn't start drawing or designing until they were in college. So there's still some hope for me after all! She showed me one of the coolest things an artist or graphic designer would love: a Wacom Tablet, where you can basically draw on computer. Reason enough to get into this stuff. One piece of advice she gave me that I may look back on and agree: "Digital Painting is easier= lies."

I learned a lot at the Festival, not so much about HOW to design a game (we were only there for about an hour, after all) but I learned 1) that it's still possible, 2) where to go to learn and 3) that I can do it! And you can too!

Nov 19, 2008

PRESS RELEASE: SparkArts: A Digital Festival

PRESS RELEASE:

SparkArts: A Digital Festival

Salt Lake City – The annual SparkArts Digital Festival will be at the Salt Lake City Library this Friday and Saturday. This free event teaches participants how to create art with a computer and is particularly geared toward people who want to make digital art and video games but don't know how.

"Utah had a thriving digital arts scene among teenagers and college student in the mid-90s," said Adam Helps, one of the festival's founders. "Unfortunately, much of this has faded away in recent years. SparkArts is our attempt to revive and even expand on this culture, which helped capture the imagination and inspire the previous generation's computing professionals."

People are welcome to bring their computers and install our free and legal software so that they can build new creations with ease. Those without computers will be able to use our lab area to work on their projects.

Major focuses of the festival include video game programming, computer-aided music composition, digital painting and 3D modeling. Participants will meet professional game developers, musicians, and artists in a casual setting. There will be question-and-answer sessions, tutorials, and many just-for-fun activities including games, scavenger hunts, and competitions inspired by the quirky digital-arts culture.

SparkArts will have several different competitions in game creation, music, and art all with a 24 hour deadline. The results will be displayed in a fun and colorful closing ceremony.

SparkArts organizers have been setting up similar events for more than five years, and hundreds of participants have come and enjoyed the experience. Most of SparkArts' organizers are software developers and IT professionals working in Utah.

The event runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday and 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday at the Salt Lake City Public Library, 210 E 400 South. Please contact Clarissa, the events coordinator, at clarissahelps@gmail.com with any questions or comments. Visit the SparkArts website at www.sparkarts.org.


*****


I'll be there, partially for the extra credit, partially because it looks really cool.

Nov 17, 2008

Christmas comes Earlier every year

Not that I'm complaining.

I've been listening to Christmas music on the radio and on iTunes for about a week and a half now, and it just makes me more festive, more jolly, and more able to deal with the fact that it gets dark before I leave work now.

I keep trying to convince Tracie to let me decorate the apartment with holly and mistletoe and our tree and everything else in the cinnamon-scented box in storage, but she still won't let me, saying she just set up fall decorations. Oh well.

I've started Christmas shopping already, Tracie and I are finally getting to the age where there's not much out that we want for Christmas. Maybe that's why people have kids, so they can go nuts with holiday spending again.

On Saturday we went to Mervyns, as that store is going out of business and apparently they have wicked specials, but somehow not nearly as cheap as I'd think from a store going out of business. We probably should have gone last week, since the store looked like it had literally been looted. There were bags and boxes EVERYWHERE, clothes missing, on the floor, since all sales are final, employees don't seem to care about the cleanliness of the store anymore. We got a few things for us, but the big purchase (and the majority of my Christmas gifts from Tracie) was... a new suit!

I think my last suit died before I started a blog, maybe 2 years or so ago I had a great new suit my parents got me after my mission that I ruined when I slipped on the ice and landed in a puddle of gasoline. The suit never recovered, I did eventually.

It's a gray suit, complete with a new tie (Tracie HATES all my ties) and belt, and I must say, for the price we paid for it, I look like $1,000,001 bucks! I'll have to post a picture of me, though I'm usually against posting pics of me. You see, I'm not nearly as vain as you might think. But I'm much lazier than you think.

We've also bought a new bookcase, so most of our Christmas shopping for each other is done! Now we just have to enjoy our cocoa and Christmas music while the weather gets colder. Until we go to Texas and have a Christmas at about 80°!

Nov 12, 2008

Sometimes I Wake Up Grouchy...

Sometimes I let her sleep.

Nov 10, 2008

Update Nanowrimo 2008

So my novel has been going along horribly. It's so boring I have to force myself to write every word. Then in my writing class we had to go somewhere on campus and write what we saw. And for the first time all month I enjoyed writing. I really like my story, but I don't like writing it. So I'm putting it on hold and again going back to what I love and what I think I'm good at: fantasy and humor.

I'll be writing or trying to write multiple stories, just going for 50,000 words.

Now, just for fun, and because I have to write a few hundred words for a blog entry for my class, here's my 2 writing assignments for the day:

Observations at UVU Library

A woman drops off her husband at the new library building. For convenience she takes a handicapped spot and waves goodbye. I walk past them and find a seat in one of the many areas with a plaque pleading "this room needs a good name," providing Ali Johnson's phone number if you feel like adopting something different and Brad & Angelina got the one you had your eye on.

I sit at a table on the ground floor of the 5 story high "green" building, realizing that a library might not be the best place to observe others and their conversations. I am one of 19 students doing work we have to do here for some reason, instead of at home. More than half of us have laptops, there is one group of 4, three groups of 2, and the other nine of us stay involved in our own business, our own projects.

The group of four seem to enjoy themselves. It's interesting how enjoyment and general rowdiness tends to increase as the number of people in a group rises. But then, if I just burst out laughing or talking to myself I would break several basic rules of decorum, and I'd move from observer to observed.

A soldier in military fatigues has just left. He looked determined to go, whether that means he finished all his work here or has a pressing engagement somewhere else, I'll never know.

The talkative quartet has also just left, each dispersing in a differing direction. The only sounds in the room now come from the scant click click of fingers on laptop keys and a large tv in the corner telling us irrelevant information about Barack Obama's personal life and how incompetent George W. Bush is. He's out of the White House soon, I thought they'd stop beating the poor dead horse. But, the Media's gotta abuse something.

And now, I leave. Wondering for a second who, if anyone, marks my departure for longer than the time it takes for me to walk out the door.

***

My other assignment was to write about something I love and then a how to about it. Since it's preoccupying my mind and time, even though I'm hating it as much as I love it, I wrote about NaNoWriMo. Hope you enjoy. If not, fake it.

***

Writers throughout history have been asked "how to write." Their responses may vary in syntax, but it all boils down to one profound word: "WRITE."

November is National Novel Writing Month, where writers and wannabes endeavor to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Before starting, the only thing you need (besides a pen and a lot of paper) is an idea. Any idea. Then just write. Editing, making it interesting, making sense, that all comes later. Write until your hand bleeds and your head explodes. Then type. Or dictate. Just get words down, because you can't move on to editing or publishing or signing a three movie deal with New Line Cinema if you haven't finished writing.

So write. Write write write. After you write, congratulate yourself. And let your manuscript you've come to love and hate cool down. Go back to it in a few months. It will still be there. Now, rewrite it. But this time you're free to worry all you want. Because now you're revising, and the fun part is over.

Nov 5, 2008

Snow! NOOO!!! and other quandaries

It's snowing again already! Didn't we just start Spring? Sigh.

Now is the winter of my discontent. Now is the discontent of my winter. Well, at least it waited until November this year to start snowing. Now Utah will be whiter than ever, even though we just elected our first half-black president.

I didn't vote this year, (sorry) but my reasoning was I didn't want to regret my decision. I'd be blamed either way for who I voted for or didn't vote for, but mostly, I forgot to register and didn't want to go down to the city office after the deadline.

I didn't especially want either candidate to win, but, with the outcome the way it was, it will be nice to hear Democrats blamed for things again for once. My only regret is that, since McCain didn't win, that means that Susan Surandon, Michael Stipe, Stephen Baldwin, Seal, and a bunch of other idiots I don't care about aren't leaving the country. Oh well.

Does this mean people in America are less racist and more sexist than we thought? Or just more anti-Republican than we knew? Hm.

Hey, it's stopped snowing for now, that's good.

My classes are going well, I think. We've had fall breaks and teachers going out of town and missed classes, but I'm enjoying them as good as I can. I think I said before this is not going to be a fun semester, but a necessary one. I'm already planning for next semester, though my big excitement for now is in a month and a half we'll be in TEXAS for Christmas and will get to see Ammon & Lynette and family from Singapore, who I haven't seen in years, and my parents and younger brothers, and other family coming to visit as well. I don't care if I've been good or bad this year or how Santa Claus treats me, but I AM excited to see so many Beckstroms this year!

My NaNoWriMo novel is off to a rocky start, so far I've thrown up only about 2000 words of passive verbs and cliche, (kind of like my blog) but I'm still committed, and I hope to start enjoying my book soon. If it keeps going the way it's going, I'm not sure I'm ever going to outline again. It takes a lot of the fun out of writing. Poor me.

We had a very happy Halloween, but Tracie called writing the first post about it, so I'll just say we had fun and put some heat under Tracie to get it written. :)

Also, this week is our book club's first book review meeting, we've read "The Metamorphosis" and will discuss its meaning, its author's intention, and decide once and for all what it really means to be "Kafkaesque."

That's about all I gots to say for now, not looking forward to the snow, but I guess I am looking forward to cocoa season, Christmas music and family memories to remember and make.

Nov 3, 2008

Dr. Austo Stradoseptile

In case you were wondering (I know I was) what I would look like if I were a Bond villain. Wonder no longer.

Oct 29, 2008

NaNoWriMo- Final Notice and Word of Departure

Just 3 Days before NaNoWriMo 2008 Starts. Just wanted to give you one more chance/reminder to sign up, and to explain why I won't be blogging very often this November.

Wish me luck, and I'll see you in 50,000 words.

Oct 28, 2008

Mary Ellen Chappell Beckstrom

This weekend my dear Aunt Mary Ellen passed away. Yesterday I went to her funeral.

It was the second funeral I've ever been to, the first for a family member, and it was just beautiful. I've never laughed so much at a funeral, but Aunt Mary Ellen was an amazing and funny woman. I used to call her my third Grandmother, and she made everyone feel that way, I think. Whether you were family or not, if you were within 100 foot proximity of her, you were family, and that meant you were well fed, cared for, and loved.

I regret not visiting them very much this past year, but I am so grateful we were able to go see her less than a week before she passed. My Uncle Jim asked if we'd like to go visit her, and I said of course, so we went, we visited, and I remembered how much I loved both her and my Uncle Paul.

I know she is sorely missed, while at the same time, there are many spirits in heaven overjoyed that she's returned to them. And I know they will take her as she is.

Oct 24, 2008

Sunflower

Today my department is having a potluck. I'm always in favor of potlucks, especially when I just have to bring cups and I can have pizza, cookies, and other homemade treats.

Well, I missed the cup boat, someone else beat me to it, so I decided on the next best thing: salad. Since our fridge was (presumably) bursting with salad fixins like lettuce, tomatoes and onions, I assumed I'd be all set without having to go to the store.

Little did I know that food, when left in the refrigerator, goes bad. We had nothing. Not wanting to be late, I decided to stop at Sunflower Farmer's Market on my way to work, as it's the new, closest grocery store to our apartment, and I really liked it.

When I got there, they didn't have any bags of salad or premade salads or anything. I asked one of the employees there, and she said "we don't have one, but we can make you one!" I assumed they'd charge me for the service, but I watched in awe as she went through the produce, got me some tomatoes, lettuce, onions, cucumbers and green peppers according to my specifications, and came back with a beautifully prepared salad. I asked if I could tip her, she said no, but you can write a comment in our comment box, which I did and gave her a glowing review. Now that's service! The best part? A salad, prepared on the spot with fresh ingredients, for about 10 people, would cost, what do you think, $8? $10? $15? If you think that's too expensive, compare it to other grocery stores. This cost me $3.25 !

I always swore I wouldn't be someone to brag about how cheaply I got something, but I don't care. It was DELICIOUS! And only THREE bucks! (and two bits) Sunflower, located on the corner of University Parkway and State Street in Orem, has all kinds of great deals. In the past, I've gotten a whole cantelope for $.25 cents, apples for 60 cents a pound, right now grapefruit are 10 for $1 dollar. Go there now! Not only are the sales ridiculously cheap, the produce is just darn GOOD.

I'll be shopping there as long as I have taste buds, and probably for awhile after.

Oct 23, 2008

Star Kiss

Courtesy of Geekanerdblog:
"I bet Artoo knows everything that happened in the prequels, and is really uncomfortable right now."

Oct 22, 2008

Angels on the Moon- Thriving Ivory



Here's their big single from YouTube. I hope you like it.

Oct 21, 2008

Thriving Ivory

About a month ago, Parker on 101.9 The End, (the only truly good radio station in Utah, in my humble opinion) played the new CD from some band from California called, you guessed it, Thriving Ivory. Tracie was smitten. I had a crush. They were good. Really good.

We weren't the only ones who thought so.

Utah was both aglow and abuzz with the band. Then something wonderful happened. Rumors and myths say someone went to Thriving Ivory's MySpace page and told them "Hey, they played your album in Utah, and people really like it. It's both aglow and abuzz." Or something. They talked to Parker and somehow a concert was arranged for them to play in Salt Lake City. What could be better than that? Tickets were only $5 bucks. Better than that? When you bought their tickets, you got a CD for $5 also.

I genuinely liked them, Tracie loved them, so I surprised her with the tickets and CD the day the tickets went on sale. Because how often do you get a chance to see (and hear) what could very well be the next REALLY big thing for $5?

Saturday night we drove up to Salt Lake, and saw them. And... wow.

They were at least 10 times better live. It was fantastic. As Tracie said, one of the best things about them is their layers of music. They are all very talented, and the guitarist probably the most. Their music is influenced by many great bands and sources, such as Dave Matthews Band and Bob Dylan, U2, Our Lady Peace, Coldplay, Counting Crows, Keane, and others. It came together in a beautiful whole, from their single "Angels on the Moon" (which they played TWICE, since they were making a video, so cool) to all their tracks on their album, it was, as Parker said, "Really, really good music."

I'd post some of their songs for you to hear, but I don't know how to do that. But check them out. You'll be glad you did. I promise.

Now I'm going to go listen to them some more.

Oct 17, 2008

The Haunted and the Haunter


Last night we went to "Nightmare on 13th" Salt Lake's big haunted house attraction. It was my first real "haunted house." I've been to quite a few at fairs and schools, one in the house of wax in Las Vegas. I've been part of many as well in Elementary School and College. But this was the first haunted house I've gone to where that was the main/sole event.

Despite the size, I wasn't too impressed. It just wasn't very scary. I was expecting more from "Voted America's #1 Haunted House" than that. It had vampires, angry natives, mummies, pirates, skeletons, spiders, evil clowns, ghosts, psychos attacking us with various plastic cutting implements, the evil doctor, movie freaks like Freddy Krueger, the girl from the Ring, Jason and others. But it wasn't truly "horrifying" or even "scary." I spent most of the time hoping to be scared, and thinking up ways to make an element in the house more frightening.

Which is funny, because, as many of you may know, I hate being scared. I don't see the attraction of it. Make me laugh, I'll love you forever. Scare me, and I'll be afraid of you forever. Not the same. Still, I wanted to be scared, and wish I was moreso.

Some things that kept me from being horrified were: several times, there were crew members walking through the haunted house, the scariest thing on them was their walkie-talkie headsets. Kinda ruined the fearsome ambiance. Also, the creepy ghouls and goblins and clowns at whatnot didn't ever say anything scary, besides "hello" as creepy as possible. I'd like to be threatened to be gutted like a pig or something.

Oh well. Before I went in (nervously) I told myself not to get scared, don't get scared. It worked a bit too well, I guess.

Oct 13, 2008

Book Snobs Anonymous

Even though B.S.A. is already taken. (Boy Scouts of America or something)

Tracie and I have joined a book club. (!) We had our first meeting Friday night, and it looks to be a good one. There are eight of us, (4 couples) and although we only know 2 other members well, met 2 others a few months ago and met the third couple on Friday, I can safely say I think it's going to be a fun experience. We all seem to mesh well, and though we have different opinions (which is good. I don't want a group of 8 Austins, however sexy that would be, it wouldn't promote very interesting discussion) we all seem polite and respectful, so we should have fun. We each chose a book for a month, so we'll do this for 8 months, then see what happens from there. For our first book, we're going to read Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis. I'll let you know how I like it once I read it, and I'll let the book group know too. Try and stop me.

I don't remember all the books on the list, but I remember mine and Tracie's choices:
A Catcher in the Rye (my choice, I've always wanted to read it, but I never have. I rented it once at the library but never opened it.)
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Tracie's choice. What the movie "Blade Runner" is based on.)

We'll let you know how it goes once we do more than meet and pull numbers out of a hat. I'm excited and eager to get it going.

Have you ever been in a book club?

Oct 9, 2008

History of My Halloween Costumes

I've been thinking what to do for my Halloween costume this year. Tracie and I (and by Tracie and I, I mean Tracie) like to do matching Halloween costumes every year, so we're going with a famous couple, at least that's the plan for now. But it got me wondering, what have I been in the past? I racked my little brain and only managed to sort through 22 of my 26 Halloween costumes. For my best recollection, here's what I've got. (the ones with a / indicate me either changing my mind to trick or treat in something different from school, or, different costumes to different parties and occasions now that I've gotten older. Not in perfect order, but the best I can remember.

Little Bat
Scarecrow
Peter Pan
Karate Kid
teen wolf
Indian/hunter
Ninja/Wolf man
Batman
Dick Tracy
50's guy
wig and mask
Hillary Clinton
Beanie, trenchcoat and fake knife (I was in 8th grade)
Jedi master
missionary (with red socks)
missionary (with companion's name tag)
missionary (eager to go home)
Indiana Jones
just wore my leather pants and a t-shirt one year
caterpillar/a butterfly catcher (Tracie was the butterfly)
a devil/a vampire
a mummy/the Greek god Apollo

this year: you'll see.

How many of your Halloween costumes can YOU remember?

Oct 7, 2008

I've got the Tag Fever!

And the only prescription is more cowbell.

The Rules:

Link the Person who Tagged you. CHECK

Mention rules on your blog. THAT'S WHAT I'M DOING NOW.

Tell about 6 quirks of yours. SEE BELOW.

Tag 6 fellow bloggers to do the same. WILL DO.

Leave a comment to let them know. FINE.

Charity tagged me. I agree with her that blog tags are today's chain letters, though, admittedly, more fun, with a better chance to get to know someone, and without all the bad luck/death threats facing those who break the chain.

Six quirky things about yours truly quirky:

1. When I go to the bathroom at home in the middle of the night, (#1) I lean my head on the cabinet in front of the toilet, because I'm lazy, and because it helps me get back to sleep asap. (Once I'm back in bed)

2. I play with my wedding ring. I try to do coin tricks with it, but the only one I know is the French drop. In church I take it off and try to switch which hand it's in and have Tracie guess where the ring is. A portion of me secretly believes that one day I'll be able to magically switch which hand the ring is hiding by thinking hard enough. But I swear to only use my powers for good, or personal gain.

3. I've mentioned the role-playing game thing before, but it's definitely (did I spell it right, Charity?) quirky, if not downright pathetic. I have an obsession with making characters, I tell myself it's for stories I'll write one day, but I spend hours with Dnd or Star Wars RPG or other books drawing up characters I wish I could play, wish I could be, wish I could write about. Their backstories, their history, their appearance, their skills, their possessions, everything. Tracie thinks I'm crazy, for that reason and others. She's probably right, after all, quirky comes from the word "crazy."

4. That's not true, but it's another quirk of mine. I'm something of a compulsive liar. I don't see it that way, but I like to make up definitions or explanations of a word or event or anything and see if someone believes me. I can pull the wool over most people's eyes, except Tracie. She's got wool-proof vision or something.

5. When I was younger, it was my responsibility to make sure my younger brothers bathed. Many times it was hard to convince them that clean and sterileness was better than the comfort that a layer of dirt offers. So, I made showering a game. We'd call it a "Bower" (combination of bath and shower) and have the shower turned on, but the tub drain closed, so it would slowly fill up as a bath. I occasionally still take a bower every now and then, but I don't include any brothers. Or anyone. But me. And sometimes Tracie. Or a rubber duckie.

Something tells me I may regret this post someday. Oh well.

6.I'm trying not to do any repeat quirks, but, truth be told, I've been tagged a lot, (not as much as some people, but still, a lot) so I apologize if you recognize any quirks I've mentioned before. I'm also a little flattered that you remember a post I did months ago, and even a little creeped out. Stalkers. OK, ok, number 6. Tracie and I have a Gamecube I inherited as a hand-me-up when my younger brothers received a Nintendo Wii for Christmas or Birthday or whatever. On that Gamecube, we have Mario Kart, Mario Party 5, Mario Party 7, Mario Madness, Mario Mario, and Mario Mario 2. (I made up the last 3 games. See #4) and I really like those games. The quirkiness rears its quirky blue head whenever I'm losing or when I think the game is being unfair. I've been known to swear at the characters (stupid Luigi! He cheated! That cupcake was supposed to be MINE! That SOB!) throw the controller, shut off the game cube to "punish" the game, pretty much blame everything except my own inferior playing. Though, now that I think of it, it's not really a quirk, but human nature: we all secretly hate Luigi.

So, there's quirky me. Your turn. I suppose I will tag: Laurie, Carissa, Kris, HayLee, Jan, and Emilee, (I need to find more male blogger friends who post semi-regularly) 6 wonderful women who I don't think I've ever tagged. Now I have. And you better do it.

Cornbellys

Ryan & Heather & family have come to town, and what's the first thing we do? Why, go to Cornbellys, of course! McNeil Printing, the best printing company in Utah, if not, the world, does their printing for them, so we got a sweet deal (free for us, trade from Tracie's dad) and enjoyed the fun festivities. Although my favorite part was seeing my nephews and niece from Arizona.

We went through the corn maze, my first one ever. This year, it's shaped like the most famous Utah native ever. David Archuleta! We had fun getting lost in his neck, ears and adorable cheeks, but, since he was kind of muddy and the directions were less than perfect, after 3 or 4 wrong turns we had enough fun and turned back, never to return. And only 2 kids got lost! (and quickly found again.) Of course, the way they saw it, they didn't get lost, they found the right path.

We also went on a hayride, another first for me, I was happy to learn I didn't get hay fever, though it was called a "Haunted Hay Ride" which is a bit generous, since, besides some cheesy spiders and statues at the beginning of the ride, there was nothing haunted about it. Though it kept me craning my neck the whole time watching for something spooky to come out and scare me. No such luck.

We opted not to go in the haunted maze, "Cornucopia" (though most of the little kids did) as the kid at the entrance wielding a fake chainsaw and garbed in a hockey mask scared me enough. (he did have kind eyes, though.)

The only intentionally scary adventure we dared to travel was through the "Belly of the Beast", also known as a haunted inflated dog monster, with bad lighting and people in masks jumping out at you. They startled me at times, but it was too dark. I understand how the ambience can add to the horror, but it was so dark, we couldn't see the inflated organs of the beast, and I missed several of the spooks trying to scare us as it was just too dark. One time I actually told the masked horror "we can't see you, but I'm sure you're terrifying." They appreciate little things like that.

The real fright of the night was the price of food. I'm sure it will get old when I become a parent and have to buy $10 cotton candy, but a $3 hot dog, $5 cheeseburger that could have come from White Castle, and a shotglass of hot chocolate for $2.50 was my biggest horror, and I would have screamed in terror, but I hadn't had any lunch, so I gobbled it all up. (the cocoa was Tracie's.) There was one vendor that had some tasty looking food, but they accepted cash only, and who pays cash only? (I'm sure some of you are saying, "who goes to Cornbellys without cash?" to which I respond: "Oh shut up.") I bought overpriced underdelicious carny food, but one of my favorite sights was a tree of well over a hundred beautifully carved pumpkins, familiar faces like Mufasa, Simon Cowell, Malificent, Aladdin, Tim McGraw, Gordon B. Hinckley, Count Dracula, Count Chocula, the Count on Sesame Street, and countless others.

Overall, I'm glad we went. I know I complain and whine, but I don't like being scared, so Cornbellys was right up my alley. Minus the carny chow. But I'm glad we went because it was a memory we now share with a lot of Tracie's family, (not everyone, as only weddings seem to get them ALL together now) but we had a pile o free fun with family, local and distant. It was awesome to see Heather, Ryan, Seth, Cade, Leah, Matthew, and of course Kris, Alan, Taylor, Tyler, Cheryl, Tyson, Preston, Mason, Trent, Jessica, and the newest family member, Lilyan.

Cornbellys: a great start to a week of excitement with Ryan & Heather's family here! (BTW, They came down for our nephew Tyson's baptism, and our niece, Lilyan's blessing. More on these I'm sure as they develop.)

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Oct 2, 2008

Robbery, By A Different Name

Movie Review Redux

I have no idea if I used that word correctly, but it sounds good to me. We rented another plethora (or plethorati to you academic types who don't know grammar) of videos, and I had enough fun reviewing the last bundle, so I thought I'd flex my critical muscles again. That picture of Roger Ebert looks kind of like my dad. Anyway,

Idiocracy: This was our token R rated movie. We're young, stupid, rebellious, and I've wanted to see this movie ever since I heard about it. It was rated R solely for swearing, and it is maybe one of the few times I felt it was justified. The plot of Idiocracy (written and directed by Mike Judge, creator of Office Space and Beavis & Butthead) is as follows: The military creates a hibernation or cryogenic freezing process to reserve their best soldiers for war time. They test it on an average Joe, (Luke Wilson, who despite his nerdiness and uncomfortable persona, you can't help but love) named Joe, and freeze him for 1 year. But, of course, something goes wrong, the project is forgotten about, and he stays frozen for about 500 years. Unfortunately, because of mass media, poor breeding control, the world is now dumbed down so much they can't control garbage, crops, or society. The president of the U.S. is a professional wrestler, and they're irrigating their crops with Gatorade, because it's what plants love. Joe is now the smartest person on earth, and, to ruin the plot even more for you, saves the idiots from destroying themselves. The profanity and vulgarity is a symbol of society's stupidity, they have vocabularies of a few hundred words, mostly swear words. But it was very funny, very smart, and a little scary, as it does seem to be the way our society is heading. If you don't mind frequent profanity and potty humor (the best picture of the year is 2 hours of someone's butt) I recommend Idiocracy, if nothing else, as a cautionary tale almost akin to Farenheit 451 or 1984. But funny. 4 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Hellboy
: I've seen this before (with Ammon, I think) but Tracie's never seen it, and we both are interested in the director, Guillermo Del Toro, because 1) he has a frickin awesome name, 2) He directed "Pan's Labyrinth" a cinematic work of art, and 3) Because he's going to direct "The Hobbit" of course! Hellboy is the story of a demon from another plane come to earth and works for a secret government group of superhero/freaks defending earth and America from supernatural threats, a la Rasputin and a Cthulhu type deity. For a movie about a 7 foot tall sarcastic, cigar smoking demon working for America, it's a very good movie. It's a super hero movie without being a super hero movie, if that makes sense. It's just a dang good movie, and makes me want to see "Hellboy II," which I may write about in my NEXT movie review blarg. 5 out of 5 stars.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
: I've wanted to see this movie for a VERY long time. I've had friends whose (who's? whooze) opinions I respect recommend it to me, as well as my favorite college professor of all time give it a glowing review. Did I love it? Yes. Do I recommend it? Wholeheartedly. Will I tell you the plot? No, as that would ruin it. Just know it's a film in French and about the triumph of the human spirit. And try not to expect a super happy ending. As Tracie said, "no foreign film ends happily". I think it all started with Ingmar Bergman. But, having never seen a film by Ingmar Bergman, I'm not one to judge. Still, 5 out of 5 stars.

2001: A Space Odyssey
: Stanley Kubrick's greatest film ever. Also known as the most boring film ever. Here's my synopsis of the classic sci-fi written by Kubrick and Mr. Arthur C. Clarke. Monkeys. Ooh ooh ahh ahh. Giant black monolith. Monkeys. Go ape-poop. Hey, I can use dead monkey parts to kill monkeys. I am the first man! Giant black monolith. HAL 9000. I am the smartest computer in the universe, though I never say 42. I can read lips. I must kill you all, except you Dave. I can't let you do that Dave. Don't kill me, I'm special. Dave. Dave does drugs. Big black monolith is back. Psychedelic. Ooohhhh. Dave is an alien baby. The end. Despite it being a "classic" I give it 2 out of 5 stars, if I gave it 1, I'd just prove my ignorance even more. ;)

Cloverfield
: For some reason we didn't feel like watching it, it was the last movie we rented this time from Hollywood, and I considered just returning it unseen. I heard it was good, but we never were in "the mood" to watch it. We were in the "mood" to do other things. Like... reading. But, two nights ago, we bit the bullet and watched it, telling ourselves we would turn it off if it got to boring, scary, sickening (we heard about the handheld camera element in it). Once it started, we were hooked. Extremely frightening and intense, great characters, effects, and it led me to believe J.J. Abrams really CAN do no wrong. Quick synopsis without giving away too much: something is tearing New York apart, and our heroes need to find a way out. Great, I just gave the whole movie away. Watch it anyway. 5 out of 5.

Definitely, Maybe
: Our first rental from Tracie's parents in quite awhile, we've wanted to borrow it from them since they got it. If you don't know the story, I'll be vague. (Am I ever anything else?) Ryan Reynolds is divorcing wife, his daughter wants to know about how they met, so he tells her a story, but doesn't tell her which woman her mother is. We're presented with 3 choices. It was a lot of fun, great performances from Rachel Weisz, (does she ever deliver anything else) Elizabeth Banks and Isla Fischer, but the person you really fall in love with is Ryan Reynolds. He is a very talented actor and by far the best part of the movie. A great twist on the formulaic romantic comedy genre, one of the first in a long time where I didn't know where the movie was headed. 4 1/2 out of 5 stars.

We've also rented The Fifth Element, which we've both seen several times before, but Tracie, who's seen it MUCH more than I have, wanted me to watch it again so I'll get more of her references to it.

Anything you've seen lately you can recommend, or advise to stay away from?

Sep 30, 2008

Hello, October

Goodbye September,
I'll fondly remember
you.

Hello October,
tenth month of the year.
What surprises do you hide,
folded into your days?

And you wonder why I think I'm an awful poet. Shame shame.

This is one of the many "I'm blogging because I want to" entries. I want to get in at least one more entry before the month is up. So, a little update on the me.

SCHOOL:
I've taken my first Art History Test, but the teacher has yet to grade it. I knew quite a bit, but not everything, so I'm guessing I got a B. History is still going good, haven't had any assignments which has been nice, I only get 2 grades, the midterm (in 2 weeks) and the final, so I have to do good on those or else. :) And writing for mass media is also going along well, I just had my group presentation yesterday on "Political Comedy" and I think it went rather well. I won't know for sure as I had my classes dropped!

Long story short, when I applied for a loan, the company I was going through wanted me to be the sole account holder, not a joint account holder with my wife. So I opened up a new bank account and am waiting to straighten all this out in the next day or two. Fun fun fun. Don't procrastinate, kids. Though, procrastination didn't really hurt me as much as the UHEAA. Le sigh.

WORK:
Still very stressful, still very enjoyable. I haven't had to work or think this much in a job since... ever. But, I like everyone I work with and have the biggest cubicle I've ever had! Plus I'm being paid more than I've been paid in over a year. But soon I'm going on a new pay structure, which potentially has me making even more, or much less. Ah, the joys of working!

My only thing scheduled for October is to brainstorm for NaNoWriMo, I'm going to get back into my "write 3 pages a day" thing I had going for awhile, as well as start reading Twilight. Sounds like a good horror story for October, right? If not, I'll just look into the H.P. Lovecraft and Stephen King books we checked out at the Library. :) Ooh, and I have Neil Gaiman's "The Graveyard Book" reserved for me, once 9 people before me read it.

And I think we (Tracie & me) might join a book club this month! More on that as it unfolds...

and in sadder news, Paul Newman died. I only know him from Butch Cassidy and his cameo in Silent Movie, and his salad dressing. But I'm sure he was a great man, actor, humanitarian, and provider of Sockarooni pasta sauce.

Sep 26, 2008

Angels & Demons

I did it. I finally finished Angels & Demons. And the verdict is in: I liked Da Vinci Code better. Maybe it was because the story was more hyped, maybe because it was my first experience with Dan Brown's edge-of-your-seat formulaic approach to writing. I figured out the villain and the twist WAY earlier in this book than I did in Da Vinci Code. The one thing I liked better about Angels & Demons was the female lead, much more interesting than the French cryptologist in Da Vinci who's colder & blander than creme fraiche. That was mean. Maybe I'm just remembering the awful actress in Da Vinci Code, Ron Howard's crapsterpiece. I like Robert Langdon more in Da Vinci Code too, probably just because he seems to have a better reason for being there than in Angels & Demons. It was fun, but I took my sweet time reading it (the library actually sent me a letter reminding me to return it) and I don't think I'll read it again. But, I don't regret reading it, which I may regret my next choice of book: Twilight.

I want to see what all the fuss is about. I'll let you know how it goes.

Sep 23, 2008

Austin at The Movies

Or, Austin and Tracie renting a lot of movies.

As you may know, Tracie and I still don't have cable, or any TV. This doesn't mean we necessarily watch the tube less, we are just able to choose what we watch, sometimes to our detriment.

Last week and this week we've rented a lot of movies, and not from McNeil video, (shocking, I know) but from Hollywood video. With our UVU Starving Student card, we get movies for free, and 2 of those on the list we had a raincheck for, so we actually only paid for 3 of these. Anyhoo,
Here are my reviews of what we watched, in case you're curious as to what to watch or not watch next. Listed in order of when we watched them.

Cocktail: We watched some of this at the gym and it made us want to see the rest of it. For those of you who don't know, it's an 80's movie where Tom Cruise wants to live the 80's American Yuppie dream, but learns more about life from a wise Australian bartender and becomes a successful bartender. His life is shattered when said Australian bartender steals the love of Tom Cruise's life, a hideous Gina Gershon, so bartender Cruise moves to Jamaica, where all bartenders run to when their mentor betrays them. In Jamaica, bartender Cruise meets girl next door Elizabeth Shue, they fall in love, but he instead goes after gross rich socialite sugar mama. Tom Cruise's early choice in the ladies is not the best. Long story short, he mends his ways, Australian mentor kills himself, and world-wise bartender Tom Cruise opens his own bar with hopes to again live the American Yuppie Dream, with Elizabeth Shue by his side. 2 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Penelope: Christina Ricci stars in this wonderful modern fairy tale with perpetually weird-looking leading man James McAvoy. She's an heiress who's been cursed with the nose of a pig until one of her own accepts her for who she is. In short, I loved it. In long, it could have been longer, it seemed overly clipped and cut, Reese Witherspoon pops into the movie and pops out just as abruptly, Christina Ricci's pig nose is much more cute than horrifying, but the show is stolen by (as always) Catherine O'Hara as the well-intentioned but judgemental mother of cursed Penelope. But, brilliant or at least very good performances all around. Of all the movies we watched, this one had my favorite ending. I recommend it. 4 out of 5 stars.

The Invasion: This was the one I was least interested in seeing, as I'm not one for sci-fi thrillers. That being said, I really liked this newest update of Invasion of The Body Snatchers. Nicole Kidman is fantastic as always, Daniel Craig makes a better Bond than scientist/Nicole Kidman love interest, but I was impressed with the fear and terror in the movie without it being gross, gory, or over the top. Very well done. 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Baby Mama: This was the movie I wanted to see the most. When we first went to Hollywood video, this wasn't available so we got a rain check for it. For those of you who don't know the premise, I'll tell you: Tina Fey is a successful business woman hungry for a baby, Amy Poehler is (to put it nicely) a crude, immature white trash woman with a fertile uterus for hire. I think they both are two of the funniest women (or just people) making movies right now, so I was preparing for a laugh out loud fun fest. What I got was a movie I really enjoyed, a lot less formulaic than I expected, as well as a lot more heart. My main criticisms for this movie were it was too short, I wanted to see more from these characters, and my other criticism is the writing was a bit weak, it had one of the most talented casts I've seen in a long while (besides Fey and Poehler, it had Sigourney Weaver, Steve Martin, Greg Kinnear and others) and it didn't seem to worry enough of getting the most out of the cast. All in all, a really good movie even with less effort. 3 out of 5 stars.

Be Kind Rewind: What the heck were they thinking? Man this was lousy. I was willing to forgive the far-fetched premise (Jack Black's brain becomes magnetized in a freak power-plant sabotaging mishap, and then erases all the videos in his friends store, so they go about remaking all the movies) just so I could watch Jack Black do his thing. What I got was annoying, overly-sentimental drivel. Too much plot, too much drama, especially for such a ridiculous idea. Even the funny parts, very few and far between, couldn't make up for the overall stink of this movie. 1 out of 5 stars.

Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day: I wasn't planning on getting this. When we tried to rent Baby Mama, they gave us a rain check for this by accident. I corrected them, but they let us keep this one. Man, am I glad they did. I really really liked this movie. Frances McDormand of Fargo fame is Miss Pettigrew, a governess who is hired as a social secretary by flapper Amy Adams. Both learn life lessons from the other and have a lot of fun in the process, letting the audience have fun as well. 5 out of 5 stars.

The Jane Austen Book Club: Best for last. I picked this up on a whim as I remember Tracie saying she wanted to see it. We watched this last night and I absolutely, unreservedly loved it. A+ cast, characters, plot, dialogue, story, everything. Though it certainly classifies as a "chick flick" it didn't resort to a big, sappy, teary ending, but was enjoyable the whole way through. 5 out of 5 stars. And one extra for the heck of it.

Those are our movies, I'm going back tonight to return the last 4, anyone seen anything lately that you'd recommend?

Sep 19, 2008

YARRRRRR!

Happy International Talk Like a Pirate Day! I be fixin to blog about my scurvy week, ye landlubbers, but then I figgerd I'd rather be hoistin the mizzen mast and shiverin me timbers.

to commemorate this fine occasion, here be a song written for a play about Pirates by yours truly and his chief wench! (Yar, I be payin fer that jibe later, i knows it)

Oh, we are the pirates of the Mauve Pearl!
the Mauve Pearl pirates are we!
We love to loot and steal and rob,
cuz that's what good pirates be!

have a grand weekend, ye salty dogs! YARRRRRRR!

Sep 17, 2008

Past My Nightmare Quota

The other night I had 2 nightmares where I woke up in a cold sweat and my heart racing. What made them particularly terrible was they were the kind that seem so REAL when you're dreaming them.

In my first nightmare, my boss called me into his office and had a talk with me. It wasn't a bad talk, it was a "getting to know you" talk. We talked about our interests, our families, and found we had a lot in common. Imagine my surprise then when I went back to my desk and it wasn't there. No computer, no picture of me & Tracie, no desk. I asked my coworkers around me what was going on, if it was some kind of joke, but they shrugged and said no, you're fired. I was then escorted out of the building with a box of my belongings, and I remember wandering around North Orem, wondering what I should do, where I should go, and how I was going to tell Tracie I got fired again. I haven't been so relieved to wake up in a long time.

After going back to sleep I was haunted by night terrors again. Quite literally, as it made less sense, and included a horror from most everybody's childhood. I was driving down State Street in Orem being chased by Pennywise the Clown. What made it even more terrifying was all the street lights were out and my headlights didn't work, so I couldn't see anything, but I could hear him chasing me. I haven't dreamed about killer clowns/molesters in years.

Now, the funny thing about the two dreams is that the getting fired dream scared me a lot more than the clown dream. After I woke up from my It dream I actually laughed a little. I guess our dreams can show us what we're really afraid of. Failure, and Tim Curry in clown make-up.

*At least it wasn't Tim Curry dressed as Dr. Frank N. Furter, or Michael Jackson dressed as Michael Jackson.

NaNoWriMo is coming!

It's getting to be that time again! National Novel Writing Month will return this November for it's tenth year, and the second year I'll attempt to write 50,000 words, or 1667 words per day. Last year, all the NaNoWriMo Writers drafted an impressive 1,187,931,929 words, of which 19,245 were mine. This year, I think they're going for 2 billion words, and I'm going for a more reachable 50,000. I am currently thinking what to write my novel about, if I should try to finish my 19,000 word monstrosity, or start something new from scratch. I am not devoid of ideas, I have quite a few I'd like to develop, we'll see what I decide on once November 1 hits the calendar.

In the meantime, I challenge anyone with an idea and a bit of time on your hands (1667 words a day isn't alot) to come along with me and write that novel idea you've had for so long. Registration begins October 1, writing begins November 1, so you still have plenty of time to convince your self to sign up!

Let's get through the crazy month together! Who'll join me?