Sunday, December 28, 2008

Higher Quality pictures

For some reason, the pictures on my other post only uploaded as low-quality versions. So these should be high quality if you click on them. See my post below if you want to know how I took the pictures.










Books and Pictures

Christmas was a lot of fun. I got to spend Christmas Eve with the Mexican side of my family, and it was nice just getting to talk to my relatives. Growing up in Georgia, it felt like every trip to Utah meant that I had to re-learn all of my cousins' names, which families they were from (which aunts and uncles were their parents, etc.), and who was closest to my age. Since my parents now live here in Utah, it has been a little easier--plus, a lot of my cousins have blogs now, so it felt like I could actually talk to them about different things now.


After that, we also did our traditional movie..."It's A Wonderful Life." We've watched that movie almost every Christmas Eve for as long as I can remember. It's just one of those movies that doesn't seem to get old, because even though you know how it's going to end, it just makes you feel good, as if everything bad in life just disappears for a little while as you think about all the good things you have.


Plus, I've been able to get a lot of reading done. Just over the break, I've read "Hogfather," by Terry Pratchett, "The Partner," by John Grisham, and "Maniac Magee," by Jerry Spinelli. Each of them was excellent in their own right. "Hogfather" is a British satire about Christmas---basically, the Santa Claus figure is imprisoned by unbelief, and Death (the Grim Reaper himself) fills in for the day to inspire belief, because otherwise, the sun won't rise. It sounds bizarre, and it is, but it is actually pretty profound. Without giving things away, it talks about the need for faith and hope in the world.


"The Partner" was just a fun suspense story that kept me up late several nights in a row. It uses that devilish trick to suck readers in: short chapters that end in cliffhangers. The first half of the book basically ends every chapter in a cliffhanger, but the chapters are only eight to ten pages, so of course I kept saying, "Just one more chapter...just one more..."


And who could forget "Maniac Magee?" The perfect spiral punt, the frogball bunt for an infield home run, the impossible knot, running on the railroad tracks, and the list goes on. It was lying around in the living room, and I just sat down and read it in a single sitting.



Oh, and I thought I'd post a few pictures I took over the break. Man I love the new camera lens I got for my birthday...



This was a nativity scene inside our house. It was inside of a glass case, so you can see the reflection behind it. The glowing lights on the left are the reflections from the Christmas tree bouncing off of the glass case.

This was just outside on my parent's street. For all you photography people, I had the ISO set at 1600, f/1.8, shutter speed was at 1/500.


These are the same snowflakes in the image above. ISO 1600, f/1.8, shutter 1/640. I thought this one was kind of neat because the lights were twinkling when I took the picture--that's why some of the lights are white, but other lights were red, blue or green, depending on the stage of the twinkle.


Also outside on my parent's street. ISO 1600, f/1.8, shutter speed 1/640. I liked the color and contrast on this one. I would have played around with the setting a little more so you could see the snow on the ground, but it was really cold and I didn't have any gloves.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas

Man, with the crazy semester of school that I've had, I can't believe that Christmas is almost here. I managed to finish all of my Christmas shopping (is that bad that combined, all of the gifts I bought manage to fit inside of a shoe box?), but it just felt like there was barely any time to really get into the Christmas spirit. Since Thanksgiving, I've had 75 pages worth of assignments due, and a large amount of my time was just spent trying to get everything turned in on time (and if any of my roommates are reading, thanks for the countless times I asked for a ride to campus so I wouldn't be late to class or turning in an assignment).

I did have a fun date this past week. We went and got some hot chocolate from Border's Books, and then we just drove around looking at Christmas lights for an hour or so. I found a website that listed several neighborhoods in the Provo/Orem area that were known to have nice displays (here's the link, if you're interested--the house on 450 E 1320 N in Orem is just crazy...). It was fun because we were able to talk the whole time and just wind down from finals. Of course, I was also trying not to get my car stuck in the snow...and trying not to get lost with a lot of dead end streets/cul-de-sacs.

I also read "A Christmas Carol" for the first time--that was really nice. "To Kill a Mockingbird" is still my favorite, but "A Christmas Carol" is definitely in my top ten (maybe five).

I don't know how much I'll really be able to write on my blog this week, because I still have to grade a ton of final papers and final exams (the pile is almost seven inches high--and I just realized that I overuse parenthetical statements way too much). Anyway, I just thought I'd post SOMEthing before the Christmas break completely passed by.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Artifacts from the Future

I can't believe I'm almost done with this semester. I'm counting this as my last "real" semester at BYU, since the only class I need to take next semester is biology. All the rest will be "fun" classes (including one I get paid to take...). As of right now, this past week was a nightmare trying to get everything turned in on time--I had three papers due (not the best thing for the week right after Thanksgiving): a 10-12 page paper for film theory, a 10 page paper for film music, and an 8 page paper for film genres (which was luckily delayed a week...but I'd already stressed and written half the paper before hearing that announcement). I only have two minor assignments to finish this week, and only two finals the week after that.

The ward christmas party was last night, and that was a lot of fun. It included an ugly sweater contest, a white elephant gift exchange, karaoke, cookie decorating, and a variety of other games (air hockey, pool, etc.). I almost split my knuckle playing air hockey, but it was totally worth it. The elephant gift I brought was all of the Utah stuff left over from last year, when my mom and dad raided my apartment...so somebody ended up with a giant University of Utah flag that was conveniently disguised in a High School Musical bag. Even though there were dozens of people there last night, I instantly knew who ended up with the Utah stuff from the cries of exclamation. And yes, I hate the U of U and am a die-hard Cougar fan--I just needed a way to get rid of that stuff.

And on a totally different note, have you ever noticed how impatient people are? People weave in and out of traffic, cutting people off and trying to get in front of everyone, and they never actually make any progress. You know, it's the same car sitting next to you at the next red light. But have you ever noticed how impatience is crossing over into virtually every other area of society? Everything is getting faster, but people are getting meaner. iPods, laptops, cell phones, or any other kind of new technology...it's about having more available without having to wait. Why wait until you get home to listen to your favorite music? Just plug in your headphones and tune the world out. Of course, you also need to be able to get a hold of everyone at any given time, so now you need the cell phone that is really more than a cell phone: along with the ability to call people, you can also store your music and even surf the web. It's even scarier when people use said phone while driving--talking , texting, surfing, listening, and driving all rolled into an infernal death trap waiting for the next six inches to open up so they can cut you off for no apparent reason. The cars ahead are stopped at a red light, and they only end up changing lanes about a hundred yards after the light anyway. But they fought for those six inches, and by golly they're going to take them.

I've been told that I'm terrible at multi-tasking. From what I understand, the human brain can only focus on one thing at a time, despite your most adamant demands that you really can focus on the TV and your computer and/or cell phone at the same time. Case in point: have you ever actually talked to someone on the cell phone when they're watching TV? They seem to hear less than half of what you're saying. It reminded me of this picture I saw in "Wired" magazine a few months ago. One section of the magazine is called "Artifacts from the Future," which is basically some Photoshopped idea of what the future might look like.

Click on the picture to see a hi-res version of it...This is an artist's rendition of the car of the future, and what the dashboard might look like. Try and spot all of the things that are going on in the image. It's pretty crazy. It is an information overload. People think they can stay up to date with everything, and that if they don't check their voice mail immediately their life will be ruined. Oh, wait a second--I just got a text message. Hang on. I'll be back in a second. I promise--

Monday, December 1, 2008

Mexicans, Mexicans, everywhere

So I totally got a small round of applause during class today. I was sitting in film theory, and we were supposed to get into groups, select a film theory, and apply that theory to a commercial we would all watch together. This other guy named Trevor and I decided to use a theory that deals with the "resistant spectator." Basically, the spectator tries to resist stereotyping and what the film is trying to get you to associate with. We then watched a thirty second commercial. Basically, a guy is talking about how much he hates to change his mind with a girl, and it totally sounds like he is breaking up with a girl. At the very end he says, "Okay, I've made up my mind. Could you make them strawberry pancakes instead?" Only then do we see that he is talking to a waitress. The whole commercial was for a Denny's-style restaurant and their big breakfast menu.

Well, the waitress looked Latina to me (no joke, she could be one of my aunts), so when it was our turn, I mentioned that I was half-Mexican, and saw the commercial as a subjugation of Mexicans by making them the working class who has to take orders from the white male. Anyway, it caught my professor off-guard, and she just said, "Wow..." A couple of people clapped, but a lot of people were laughing. As I was leaving class, my professor was smiling and shaking her head. She said, "As intelligent as you are, I can't believe you pulled the race card." That got a few more laughs from everyone. Hey, we were applying the theory correctly, so what can you do?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Tagged

Even though I posted something last night, Marcus tagged me so I figure I'd better go ahead and post my response before I forget.


So seven random facts about me...

1. I've been knocked out quite a few times. It's hard to keep track of them all, but here's a short list of how some of them happened: a baseball (3x), a D-Cell battery, a rope swing, a hardwood floor, a pile of bricks, and my second time snowboarding. Each of those incidents is a spectacular story in its own right, but that is another story for another day.

2. I'm a third degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do. I was an assistant instructor before my mission, and I worked with all age groups, 4-6 years, 6-11 years, and twelve on up. One of the highlights from that time: my boss's twelve-year-old son was being a brat, so my boss asked me to spar with him. I was 17 at the time. Yeah, so I knocked out a twelve-year-old kid with a kick to the face.

3. For me, "Catch the light" means turning a light on or off. It seems like a perfectly natural phrase (a Southern-ism, I suppose), but my roommates make fun of me for it.

4. I love skeet shooting, even though I haven't done it in six years. My best shot--three clays were launched in different directions, and I got them all with a pump shotgun.

5. The first song I learned to play on the guitar was "Hey Hey," by Eric Clapton--I didn't actually learn the full song, just the opening part. The first complete song I learned was "D'yer Mak'r" by Led Zeppelin.

6. I have nunchaku skills.

7. I have bo staff skills too, but that's still #6. The 7th random thing about me: the first CD I ever owned was the 1997 Grammy Nominees. I was only twelve at the time, but I think I listened to "1979" every day for a year.

I'm tagging Rebecca, Camille, Andrea, and Dave. Everyone else I know has already been tagged.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sad day---

So the Cougars lost to the Utes, and my parents just love to rub it in. That's okay--I hope the Utes get destroyed in their BCS game.

It was a close game until the fourth quarter (24-27 at the end of the third quarter, in case you were wondering). BYU's defense actually made some stops in the second half, but then Hall had the worst showing of his career, with five total interceptions and a fumble. Hopefully that can all get sorted out before the bowl game (Vegas again?), and that next year will be even better. Three straight 10-2 regular season records looks pretty good, but 12-0 would be so much better.

Even though they're Utes, my dad sent me this picture that I thought was pretty funny...Especially since my friend Chris went as a Utah devil for Halloween, the trident being a large red "U" (is that Louie Sakoda holding the pitchfork, or the guy next to him?).Other than that, I'm just glad it is Thanksgiving break. I have several papers due next week, so I can't relax TOO much, but it will be nice not having to go to class.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

4th and 18

Okay, today's BYU moment happened last year during the BYU-Utah game. Utah was up 10-9 with 1:13 left in the game, and BYU was pinned on their own 12-yard line. On 4th and 18, Hall threw a 48-yard pass to Austin Collie...Click on that description to load the youtube video. I'd include the video in the blog itself, but for some reason it keeps uploading incorrectly. But to appease the fans, I did manage to get a decent copy of the 2006 game winning touchdown. The first ten seconds or so are messed up, but the ending part should be fine.


video

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Beck to Harline

Ah, that was a beautiful day: "This should be the last snap of the football game...Snap to John ...John backpedals...plenty of time, plenty of time, plenty of time...He's moving to his left, shuffling, shuffling, shuffling...All kinds of time. Now the heat comes! He's got to run to the right. John Beck is on the run...He throws behind him it is...CAUGHT FOR THE TOUCHDOWN! Caught for the touchdown! Caught for the touchdown! Johnny Harline got it for the score! Harline by himself in the endzone! The Cougars win it on the final play of the game!"

I would have posted the video, but most of the ones I found were too grainy. You need to see it in full-screen glory to truly appreciate it. I found it on Youtube, but I know what's going on just because I've seen it several dozen times. I could post endless streams of U of U jokes (How do you get a [insert name of hated college here] graduate off your porch? Pay him for the pizza), but I think the picture says it all.

The rest of the posts for this week will simply be awesome moments from BYU, in anticipation of the big game this week...It is going to be one crazy Saturday--

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Times I wish I had a camera

Have you ever seen something so amazing, beautiful, heartbreaking, inspiring, scary, or just downright unbelievable that the only thing you could think was "I wish I had a camera..."? These are just a few of those times

1. Seeing a kid with severe ADHD actually get something right in karate--this kid had seen his dad shoot himself, and in the aftermath of this event the kid had been molested by a babysitter. And all of this occurred before his ninth birthday. He either ran around screaming uncontrollably, or he just sat there drooling, staring at nothing. But one day he came out of his shell, he followed instructions, he participated, and his mother couldn't believe it--there was hope for this kid after all. Read more about it here (I wrote a memoir about it for a writing class).

2. Seeing a power line break about fifty feet in front of me, falling in a cascade of sparks and landing in a gigantic puddle. It had been raining all day there in Brazil, and that side of the street was ankle deep in muddy water. It's amazing how something as simple as being on the opposite side of the street could potentially save your life.

3. Seeing a war veteran walk by himself with a computerized leg after having struggled with a cane for twenty years.

4. The time I decided it would be fun to run and slide on the icy sidewalk, failing to realize that the sidewalk sloped down about three feet after I started sliding. It was a spectacular wipeout, but it failed to impress that girl...

5. The random time my brother and I started doing synchronized swimming in the living room while making up our own theme music. "Like a dolphin! Like a dolphin!"

6. The time my brother stabbed me in the eyes (yes, both eyes) with his fingers, knocking me over the couch. Apparently I'd never seen the Three Stooges and didn't know how to play along.

7. The time I learned how to ride a bike because my dad tricked me into thinking he was running right behind me. Read the story here.

8. When I was in the airplane leaving Brazil, wondering if I would ever see the people there again, wondering if I would ever go back.

9. on Saturday, when I realized that I was at the last football game I would see in college.

10. Seeing a guy break up with a girl. She was in tears, unsure of what to do, and he had a smirk on his as face as he said, "Don't do this--don't cry." He promptly walked away, shaking his head and rolling his eyes, while she just stood there in the cold and cried.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I have a ball...



Well, sorry about not having posted anything in the past two months--things have been pretty crazy. I'm getting ready to take the GRE tomorrow, and I'll be extremely glad once that is all finished. In the middle of getting ready for that, I've been working on grad school applications to USC, UCLA, Tisch (NYU), and UT at Austin. I'll also be applying to Chapman, but that isn't until February--a lot of the materials overlap though, so that shouldn't be too bad. I also took a mid-term this morning, I have 50 papers to grade this week, a final paper due on Tuesday, and I'm trying to get a date for this weekend. Lovely...

On a different note, apparently someone said I remind them of the hamster in the upcoming movie "Bolt." 

In order for that to really make sense, I guess you'll just have to watch the trailer. Check out the clip called "Animal Rescue," since that is the one that sparked the comment in the first place...

Sorry once again for the long time between posts, and the fact that this is such a short post--but once I get past the GRE, I should have a little more time to keep up to date with everything.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Mmm...nachos

Well, the Olympics are almost finished, and I think I'm ready for it. While it has been fun watching the U.S. winning big (Michael Phelps), losing big (4x100m relays, men and women), it has been pretty frustrating. The other day, my roommates and I woke up early (8:15am) to watch the men's basketball game., only to find out that it didn't start until 10:15am because of a stupid tape delay. 8:15 would have been the live feed (we're fourteen hours behind Beijing time, right?), but no...NBC tapes the live feed on the east coast and feeds it to us either an hour or two later (it varies, depending on the event). And today, the women's volleyball game was supposed to be on this morning. I even woke up at 9:00am on a Saturday just to watch it....it is now 2:30pm and it still hasn't come on. Every commercial break says, "And coming up next we will have the women's volleyball game, as well as rowing, rhythmic gymnastics, and boxing..." And no, of course they don't show the game....they start with the boxing. But wait!--there are all the divisions in boxing: flyweight, featherweight, etc. etc. Even though I'm studying film, it's hard to watch that much TV in a single sitting, so I've been doing some work, reading, preparing lesson plans, and then checking the broadcast every fifteen minutes or so. lame...........

And apparently my grandpa was friends with the guy who invented nachos. You can read my cousin's blog about it here.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Olympic Spirit, part 2

So last night I was eating at Applebee's with my family. It was a farewell thing for my sister, who starts grad school at Florida State this semester. I was sitting right underneath a TV watching the men's beach volleyball team beat Switzerland. A few minutes later, Michael Phelps was racing in the 100m butterfly. After the first 50 meters, Phelps was in seventh place (out of eight swimmers), more than half a second behind the leader. With about 25 meters left to go, I started hearing the following: "Dig...dig...dig, baby. Dig! DIG! DIG!!!" As if by magic, Phelps responded, touching the wall one hundredth of a second faster than Milorad Cavic, making it his seventh gold medal of these Olympics. The restaurant exploded with cheers and applause. Dozens of people sat entranced as the replay was shown again and again, every angle confirming that Phelps indeed finished first. Random people called out to other random people:"What was his time?" "Was that another world record?" "How did he do that?" All in all, it's just another reason I'm proud to be an American. There are about 53 other reasons, but that's too many to list (54 is the total medal count, in case you're wondering what the other 53 are).


And this is a picture of my cousins at the Breaking Dawn midnight sale. Some of them were asking about it, so here it is.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Olympic Spirit

So after watching the Opening Ceremonies, I couldn't fall asleep--I was too excited to watch the Olympic games. I stayed up watching badminton and fencing, and at 3:00am I watched the U.S. Women's Soccer team beat Japan. All day Saturday I was channel hopping between three stations to get the maximum coverage possible (commercial breaks meant it was time to switch stations...never a dull moment). But this morning, hearing about the spectacular finish in the 4x100m freestyle relay, has gotten me so pumped for the rest of the Olympics. If you haven't heard about it yet, you have to go here. You'll probably have to download Microsoft's Silverlight, but it's quick and easy, and the video is so worth it. Trust me. In the last stretch of the relay, the Americans are behind by a body length. And then here comes Lezak...Listen to the announcers screaming near the end of the race. It's pretty amazing. I've watched the video a good six or seven times today already. NBC just posted it this morning, and it already has 1.2 million hits.


And yes, our intramural softball team won the championship. It was kind of anti-climactic though, because the other team forfeited the championship game. Apparently they had a co-ed game at the same time, and they had a better chance of winning that game (the co-ed team was still undefeated in double elimination, but the men's team had already lost once to us). But it's okay--we got t-shirts and bragging rights for the next year, so hey, I'm happy.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Breaking Dawn at midnight?


Well, quite a bit has happened in the past little while. Just to sum up a little: I turned 24, I read "The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place," I went to the midnight sale of Breaking Dawn (even though I haven't read any of the Twilight series), I saw The Dark Knight (twice), my grandfather passed away, and our intramural softball team is in the semifinals with a good chance of winning the championship (it's double elimination, and we haven't lost a tournament game yet.

My birthday was a lot of fun. I went and played sand volleyball in the morning, watched a couple episodes of Psych, and then we got a big group to go get some frozen custard. As for the midnight sale of Breaking Dawn, I was there to help my mom with the new bookstore. It was their first midnight sale, and they (meaning my mom mostly) were pretty nervous. So I was there to help move boxes, take pictures, and all that. My dad made some stickers that said, "Oh Edward, you can bite my neck," for all of the girls that came to the sale. He had wanted to make a big banner that said "Edward is gay!" but my mom wouldn't let him.

Anyway, I ended up taking over a hundred pictures of the event. This activity had all the girls making a wedding dress out of toilet paper.


Something else that I thought was pretty interesting--there was a band playing two stores down (another bookstore was also doing a midnight sale), and I happened to get a couple pictures of them playing. Afterward, the lead member wanted to pay me for the pictures...he ended up giving me a CD. His name is Sam Payne, so you can check out his website if you want. I haven't had a chance to listen to his CD yet, but he was on Glenn Beck's show a little while ago.
This picture isn't actually Sam, but a violin player that was doing backup work. I just thought it was a cool picture (I really like the new lens I got for my birthday...even in low light, I can still take good pictures without using the flash). I didn't want to use the flash, since I was only about three feet away. The band didn't even realize I was there though, because I was behind them and all of their sound equipment.

And just now, I got back from watching Iron Man at the dollar theater. It was still a fun movie, even the second time around. Someone even pointed out a little "easter egg" where you can see Captain America's shield in the background in Tony Stark's lab. Totally nerdy, but hey, it was fun.

I'll try and post some more tomorrow, after we play our softball game--

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Tagged

Ok, so I just got tagged by my Aunt Nancy. Apparently you're supposed to answer several questions and pass it on, so here goes. The questions are 1. Where were you ten years ago and what were you doing? 2. What are five things on your to-do list today? 3. If you were a millionaire...(fill in the blank) 4. Where have you lived?

Ten years ago I was doing high school through BYU Independent Study. I was a red belt in Tae Kwon Do getting ready to test for my black belt. Wow...I just realized that ten years ago, I decided that I wanted to study filmmaking. I had just seen The Truman Show, and I loved how an engaging story was told without having to resort to all the typical junk. Initially, I wanted to write and direct movies, and then it transitioned to wanting compose music for movies. Then it transitioned back to writing and directing, and now I want to go into teaching at the college level. I'm pretty sure that ten years ago, I was just starting to get into photography as well, which fused with my aspirations to study film.

Five things to do today:
1. Read some more in America: The Last Best Hope
2. Play sand volleyball
3. Watch the Olympic trials (it was pretty sweet watching my brother's friend--Josh McAdams--qualify for the men's steeplechase...)
4. Write out the story idea that's been stewing in my mind for the past day or so.
5. Update my blog

If I were a millionaire, I honestly wouldn't have a clue what I'd do...I've never really thought about what I'd do with that much money. Maybe start a movie production company which people can trust to deliver a quality, family-friendly product (ie., a live-action version of Pixar).

I've lived in Florida, Georgia, Utah, and Rio de Janeiro.

I'm tagging Jaimee, Jackson, Meg, Britt, and Rachel.

Rules of Tagged - Each player answers the questions themselves. At the end of the post the player then tags 5-6 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment letting them know that they've been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you've posted your answers.

Friday, July 4, 2008

4th of July



Well, aside from updating my movie blog, I haven't been up to too much recently. Today has been a really good 4th of July though. I watched the parade for a little while, then I felt like reading something patriotic. After skimming my bookshelf, I realized I didn't have anything too patriotic. I ran up to Borders books, and finally settled on two books: 1776, by David McCullough (yeah, I can't believe I still haven't read it yet), and America: The Last Best Hope, by William Bennett. I'm just taking a break from the second book right now--I didn't even realize that I had been reading for two hours. It just pulled me in and made history interesting. If the name sounds familiar, William Bennett also wrote The Book of Virtues awhile back.

Anyway, I wanted to read something more historical because I was sitting around thinking about what it means to be a patriot. Yeah, I consider myself a patriot--I love my country and the principles it was founded upon. I admire and respect the Armed Forces, I stand for the national anthem (even if I'm in a rush, I always stop and put my hand over my heart), and I've tried to be involved with making my opinions known (although I haven't had a chance to vote yet...I missed the application deadline after I turned 18, and I was out of the country when the 2004 election came around). But patriotism involves more than that. The introduction for the new book I'm reading actually gives some very good advice. This comes from Ronald Reagan's Farewell Address: "If we forget what we did, we won't know who we are. I'm warning of an eradication of the American memory that could result, ultimately, in an erosion of the American spirit. Let's start with some basics: more attention to American history and a greater emphasis on civic ritual."

In the introduction to America: The Last Great Hope, Bennett describes his reasons for writing the book. He says, "I write this story to kindle romance, to encourage Americans to fall in love with this country, again or for the first time. Not unreflectively, not blindly, but with eyes wide open." Hopefully, this will lead us to become informed patriots, people who are not only proud of the freedoms and opportunities we presently enjoy, but aware and appreciative of the events and sacrifices that led to the founding of our country.

Oh, thus be it ever,
When free men shall stand
Between their loved homes
And the war's desolation!

Blest with vict'ry and peace,
May the heav'n-rescued land
Praise the Pow'r that hath made
And preserved us a nation!

Then conquer we must,
When our cause it is just,
And this be our motto:
"In God is our trust!"

And the star-spangled banner
In triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free
And the home of the brave!

The Star-Spangled Banner (4th Stanza)
by Francis Scott Key

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

My bro's blog

And for those of you interested, my brother started a blog as well. Apparently he's had the blog for a month now, but he didn't post anything until the past day or so. His blog is called "Smarter than I Look," and I don't know but I thought that was the funniest thing...Check it out.

Fonts on my blog

I forgot to mention this, but with the new layout of my blog, it might not display correctly unless you have certain fonts installed. My blog uses Conrad Veidt and Papyrus, so download those two fonts and copy them to c:/windows/fonts.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Winnemucca

I went to Nevada this weekend to visit my older sister and her family out in Winnemucca, Nevada (and I have no idea if I spelled that right). That was a lot of fun. My brother-in-law is a farmer, and he was in the middle of trying to get a crop of hay raked and baled. So we ended up spending most of the time with my nieces and nephew. We mostly just watched them play around the house. I did get to play Scrabble with my older sister--that was fun (even though I lost twice). My brother taught my 18 month old nephew (give or take a few months...) to do "knuckles" (or bones, "pound it," or whatever you want to call it). It never seemed to get old to say "knuckles!" and have him stick out his tiny fist to hit yours. I'm glad I got to hold him, because the last time I saw him (at Christmas), he only let me hold him the last day or so. I'm glad to hear he likes machines and stuff, because with six older sisters, we were kind of worried he's turning into a pansy. We're going to try and make another trip over there before the end of summer. Here are some of the pictures I took from the trip. Some of them are a little out of focus, but I still like them.

My niece eating a s'more


Another niece playing a homemade guitar.



My nephew



Another niece





This is just before church--we decided to take some family pictures.















My brother-in-law and my nephew




My brother-in-law and my sister




And the family portrait

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Chelsea vs. Man U

I just finished "To Kill a Mockingbird." Yep, it's still my favorite. I also finished "The View from Saturday," by E.L. Konigsburg. That book was outstanding--with all the children's books I've read, I think that was one of the best ones. It starts off as simply being humorous, but then seemingly random stories start to interconnect. By the end of the book, you realize how each story is similar in theme, and it makes the ending all the more poignant. It's my recommendation for the week.

My work has been pretty interesting lately. I mentioned in a previous post that I help update a blog for BYU First Look, and that has been interesting. I will also be helping coordinate a project for the Children's Media Initiative. CMI is a program that takes classic children's stories and poems and turns them into short films. The programs will eventually air on BYU-TV, and this summer I will help produce the introduction to the series. I'm excited because I will actually be getting paid to work on a film set--

And right now, Chelsea and Manchester United are about to play for the UEFA Championship. It is the first time it has been an all-English final in the championship, and it is going to be an amazing game. The DVR is set to record in case the game doesn't finish before my class at 3:30...

Friday, May 16, 2008

My new blog

Okay, I started up another blog. I'm calling it the Movie Portal. You can find information about family films, companies that make family movies, and various other resources that can help you determine whether a film is appropriate for your family or not. Feel free to send your friends over, because I want to know what else I should include there. Eventually there will be posts describing the websites I link to, and how I use them. Let me know what you all think--

Check it out here.

too many movies...

So I'm finally posting after I don't know how long...I got really busy what with the end of the semester and everything. Anyway, things have been going pretty good. I've got a job for the summer helping the department coordinate various projects. Currently, I keep the blog up to date for First Look (see my previous post) as well as manage project budgets. I also found out I will be teaching two sections of the Intro to Film class in the fall, and I'm really excited about that.

Let's see, as for what I've been up to...I read about four books last week. Fablehaven: Grip of the Shadow Plague (by Brandon Mull), as was Night Watch (by Terry Pratchett---British humor). I also "The Bridge of San Luis Rey," by Thornton Wilder. That was pretty interesting. I didn't realize it was a moral fable until near the end of the book, and it's a quick read too. I also started "The View from Saturday," by E.L. Konigsburg--if you're wondering why that name sounds familiar, she wrote "From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler." "The View from Saturday" is also a children's book, but it doesn't read like a linear narrative. The book starts at an academic bowl, but as a contestant answers a question, the answer becomes background information to the overall plot. So you're trying to figure out the real order of events, how they are all connected, and how it all leads up to the academic bowl.

Finally, I started re-reading "To Kill a Mockingbird." It is still my favorite book--it's probably about my fourth time reading it. It is partly my favorite because of the vivid descriptions of the South--the humidity and heat are fond memories for me, and not the sign of a miserable climate. The book is also my favorite because of Atticus Finch. Sometimes you have to do the right thing even if the whole world is watching and telling you that it's wrong. One of my favorite quotes: "Before I can live with other folks I've got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience."

And I might start a different blog. This one will still be used to keep everyone up to date on what I'm up to, but I was thinking of starting a type of weekly recommendation. Quite a few people have been asking me to recommend various books and movies to them. I figured I could start a blog dealing with all of that--hopefully I can keep it up to date.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I get paid to blog...

I know this isn't much of a post, but I'll finally have time to do a full update tomorrow. I am adding a link to a different blog, which you guys should definitely check out. As part of my job over the summer, I have to keep it updated, and I just started with Episode 212. If you don't know, First Look is a program on BYUTV that features various student short films. You can watch the films for free at byutv.org. Just find the date of the broadcast and scroll through the list until you see "First Look."

And here's the blog: http://byufirstlook.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Done with film sets

So in case anyone asks, yes I took all of the pictures below. I was the set photographer for a student film entitled "Dirt." It's about a man trying to bury his past, and it should be pretty interesting. I ended up taking over 500 pictures, so these are just a few samples I thought I'd show. But I'm finally done with film sets for the semester. I'm really looking forward to spring and summer, even though I'll still be in classes during the spring. I just can't wait to play soccer outside, and just relax with everyone.

I did well on my mid-terms. I got a 148 out of 150 on one, and then a 96 out of 100 on the other. I lucked out on the 96. The one movie I hadn't been able to see shows up on the mid-term, and the question was worth 20 points. I honestly stated that I hadn't seen the movie, but I could answer the question with references to two other films. My professor gave me 16 points, and he made the comment, "As long as you know the kinds of films that contributed to this movement, why shouldn't I give you partial credit?" Whew...

And the science fiction story I've been writing is almost finished. I've been writing it for a class, and it just worked out that the story is about the right length for a semester long project. It's a short novella, but still a little longer than your normal short story (it's about 20,000 words). Once I finish it and get it revised, I'll try and post it so you all can add any comments, good or bad.

For one of my other classes, I'm involved with a project called Hands on a Camera. That has been really interesting. We got to various high schools, teaching the students about visual storytelling and documentaries. Then we loan the students video cameras, and they then have the opportunity to make documentaries about their community. We emphasize that "community" can include themselves, their friends, their family, or any group with a common interest or goal. It should be pretty interesting to see what kinds of stories they will tell.

Just to give an example: last week, we were discussing viewpoints, and how one person's background can change the interpretation of any image. I showed a series of photographs, and the students were supposed to write down one word to describe how they feel. One of the pictures was of a crowd of people raising Chinese paper lanterns. Everyone in the class wrote down words like "happy," "festive," or "party." But one girl wrote down something different. She wrote "sad" on the dry erase board. When I asked her why she chose that, she said it makes her sad because it reminds her of home: Hong Kong. Several of the students reacted differently, looking at the picture again to see how someone else's viewpoint could change the interpretation of the image. We're getting geared up for the day when we'll have a special screening of all the documentaries here on campus, and it should be a lot of fun.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Pictures from the set













I was just supposed to take a picture for continuity, in case anything got moved, but I really like the lighting here.














Yeah, it started snowing, so we had to make temporary canopies so the lights wouldn't explode.












The director and the cinematographer planning out the next shot.












Art department.














The sound tech.













The script supervisor.














We got to set a few minutes early, and the camera crew wanted a picture that looked like an album cover.





















The cinematographer.














One of the few moments of down time on set.














The director working with one of the actors.














One of my favorite pictures from the set. It was literally one of those "blink and you'll miss it" opportunities," but I thought it came out really well.






















One of the sound techs was in training.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

film stuff

Wow, it has been a crazy couple of weeks. I have been working on several different film sets, and it has just led to some really long days. I also had a mid-term that took all night to do (it was open book, open note), so I was really glad for the break today. These next two weeks will be really nice, because I am going to be the set photographer (before I helped out with grip/electric, which basically means setting up and moving all of the lighting equipment. It can get pretty hectic when they're about to get a shot off but a light needs to be moved, and there's not enough extension cords, or we blew a fuse, or what not). So hopefully I'll be able to take some really cool pictures of the set and post them for everyone to see--after that, I'm not working on any other projects for the rest of the semester.
And tomorrow will be pretty cool. My brother got me tickets to go see Lifehouse, so that should be fun. Anyway, we are going to play Rook right now, so I'll try and post more later.