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.)

Daily Wisdom, brought to you by Star Wars

Truer words have rarely been spoken.
I'm Austin Beckstrom. And I approve of this message.

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?