Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It's a Beautiful Day

To blatantly steal the title from this U2 song, I'm having a pretty friggin' good day.

Although we awoke at 3AM from a VERY sound slumber due to kids doing their noisy night owl impressions, and although the breakfast discussion was a bit tense before TFMD left for work, I made a mental promise to myself: nothing was going to come between me and my good day.

The first thing I found after logging into my email was a plea from TFMD saying that she'd left her wallet and cell phone at home, and promising [CONTENT REDACTED BY AUTHOR] if I would courier them out to her. Not being one to pass up [CONTENT REDACTED BY AUTHOR], I ran a couple local errands and then headed out to the workplace with her phone and wallet. And just to show the Universe just what kind of team player I am, I brought Rae a package of Double Chocolate Milanos to keep at work.

Yeah, I know this is making a lot of other guys look bad, but screw them. I'm all about the team effort. About being the best partner and father I can be.

Headed back to West Seattle (New Order blasting all the way), picked up my tax stuff and headed to the accountant. It's always like a mini family reunion when i walk in there. Stacie and Pete are like a pair of surrogate parents, making sure I'm doing well, staying healthy, asking about the kids and the impending wedding.

Walked into the QFC deli to see what the sushi counter looked like, and the gal made me a fresh order of cucumber rolls. Robin rang up my sushi and green tea, and asked why I hadn't had a sandwich there recently. "Are you eating better? Are you eating healthy?" she asked with a big smile. I love it when someone in a store or restaurant knows me well enough to remember my ordering habits, and ask after my health.

Now barely after 1PM, I still have some work in front of me, but I've been extremely productive today, and the vibe is good. It's very, very good. The kids are doing chores and getting along. Even the sun is trying to peek out from beyond the storm system that blew in overnight.

Gotta love days like this.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Weekend Update, And Then Some

It was a big weekend. Probably near overload. Which is probably why my TMJ is acting up and likely didn't help Rae's vertigo any.

Friday evening began with a short happy hour at Cafe Venus/Mars Bar. We rushed home to greet Trish, Dan and Raff, who brought supplies to make pasta primavera (and give Tyler a cooking lesson while he was at it). It turned out to be a late night for Dan & Trish, who have to kennel Gracie when they go out. But the food was really good. Unfortunately, the majority had voted for The Cooler, which, although having a sweet love story at its core, has a bit of "mobby" violence in it, and TFMD was not in the mood for that. I have to say, the violence in The Cooler is milder than that in either Freeway or True Romance, which we watched a couple weeks ago. But if you're not in the mood for it, you're not in the mood for it. It's always disappointing when one of my favorite films doesn't resonate with my woman, but maybe someday I can screen it for her again.

Saturday, we awoke at 6:30AM and got Kayleigh ready for her marching band outing to Tacoma to participate in the Daffodil Festival parade. I got her to school on time and ready to go, then I came home and crept back into bed. At 8:45, I received a tearful call from Kayleigh saying that the bus company had only sent one bus for 120 students, and so the music director had bagged out of the parade altogether, rather than letting some students go and keeping others home (the correct decision, in my opinion). So all our prep work and early rising was for naught, save a very upset girl, who went right back to bed as well.

TFMD then went to her yoga class, and I had a production meeting with Dan about the upcoming Duo short shoot - we're getting some insert shots at ECC next weekend. Midway through the meeting, I got a call from Rae, saying that she didn't feel very good after her yoga experience. I secured the wedding gift for Doug and Ann's reception, and returned home to get ready.

And what a party! My brother-in-law Doug got married to his fiancee Ann on the beach in San Diego during the prior week, and then collected family and friends at the Palace Ballroom in Seattle for a really wonderful reception. We got all gussied up - even Tyler. And TFMD got to wear her swanky new shoes. The menu was totally original and they even had Rock Band going for the kids. I'll add pics when they get here...

It was a good night, despite being called by ADT to let us know that once of our zones had been triggered and the cops had been called. We got home to find the house undisturbed, and that Elvis the cat had likely tripped the interior motion sensor. After I'd combed the house to be sure, everyone was allowed in and we set about the bedtime routine.

And here's where it gets hysterical.

You know, in every relationship, there are firsts. And although Sam & I got caught by some cops down at the Baylands while we were "parked" in my Oldsmobile when I was 17, I've never been caught by some cops while "parked" in my own home.

See, sometimes when a man and woman love each other very much, they get certain urges. And it's not like we incoporate circus acrobats, live chickens and pineapple upside-down cake into our adult time activities. So, while there were definitely some passionate goings-on, there was certainly nothing illegal happening (at least not illegal in Washington State). So imagine our surprise when we saw, through the half-closed window blinds, a couple of Seattle's finest, waving flashlights around the bedroom window as they poked through our back yard.

Apparently, the cops hadn't come and gone before we arrived home. They were just now getting there, an hour and forty-five minutes after the call went out from ADT. We quickly dressed and met them at the front door, assuring them all was well.

And then we went back to bed, trying desperately to come down off the adrenalin rush of being caught in flagrante delicto by the cops while in our own bedroom. We had to laugh. I mean, it’s a good thing we weren’t doing anything with PVC and/or sheep, because while Seattle cops have probably seen worse, I’m not sure I’d want to have to explain myself in that circumstance. I'm thinking a good term for the event would be porkus interruptus, just for the double-entendre alone.

Sunday morning was brunch at the Space Needle with Doug's folks, Kit, Doug & Ann, TFMD and the kids. Doug's parents don't get to see their grandkids very often, so when they do, it's usually a whirlwind of fun outings and a bit of spoilage (this time, from the Space Needle gift shop). Kayleigh left directly to go biking around Greenlake with Kit, and Rae & I dropped Tyler at home so that we could attend to some wedding registry stuff at Southcenter. By the time we got home, we were exhausted, so we collapsed for a bit. Around 5PM, Rae talked me into making cheese quesadillas for dinner, and we watched The Ice Harvest, which is a fun and somewhat obscure Harold Ramis noir thriller starring John Cusack.

About halfway through the movie, Rae started having tummy troubles, which lasted into the night. We hit the pillows hard.

I'm still a bit worn out this morning, but I'm committed to being productive (and my workstation has been fixed and is waiting to be picked up). And that's good, because the kids are home for Spring Break.

Friday, March 27, 2009

How Appropos

This is just too perfect for the last couple days. Thanks to TFMD for sending this lolcat my way.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

"Lord, Why Do You Hate My Trains?"

The week has just sped by, thankfully.

For some reason, I've really felt "besieged" recently. Like everybody requires their pound of flesh. And although in my roles as parent, professional and partner, that's par for the course, for some reason I've been much more sensitive to it in the past couple weeks.

It didn't help that yesterday I found myself making three round trips from one side of West Seattle to the other, during peak traffic times, behind every joker doing 10mph UNDER the speed limit. Or that I had to do the grocery shopping at the only time available to me, which was 5:30PM, which, coincidentally, is also when they let every inmate out of the asylum to do THEIR grocery shopping. We're talking freakshow. Of Jerry Springer proportions. I've spent 18 years maintaining the belief that Seattle is a step above the whole lowest-common-denominator, trailer-trash phenomenon, but then when I moved to West Seattle in '93, there were still two gun shops and a porn shack on California Ave. So I guess it has improved, but that just makes watching the freakshow that much more... freakish.

It also hasn't helped that my workstation blew the motherboard and I had to replace it (a new system was cheaper and quicker than ordering a new motherboard), and that said new system keeps having random lock-ups. And I have to call the State Department of Revenue to find out why they have two differnt UBI numbers for my company. And I have to meet with yet another teacher who has been assigned to Tyler's IEP. The same IEP that was put in motion at the end of 8th grade.

I think I'm just in emotional lock-down right now, putting out all of these little fires as they crop up. As we get further into spring and the weather starts cooperating, perhaps things will shake loose a bit and I won't be so "grrr".

50 points if you can name the quote that is today's title.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Weekend Update

This past weekend turned out to be a lot more productive and fun than I'd anticipated, despite the food poisoning.

Let me 'splain.

Friday was a school holiday for the kids, so Tyler had Miles over and Kayleigh had her friend Darian for a sleepover. We made french bread pizza and watched Oliver Stone's W. A bit long, but entertaining and just a tad scary throughout. While I know Stone is something of an iconoclast, much of the dialogue is taken straight from published sources and recordings. I mostly wanted to see it for Josh Brolin, who is amazing.

Saturday we actually slept in past 8:AM (woohoo!), then I made pancakes. Then Darian went home and TFMD and I went up to Ballard, to the office of my friend Brittany, who runs Eiffel Printing & Design. Meanwhile Tyler & Kayleigh took the Metro to their uncle's house - by themselves - for their game afternoon/evening.

After a couple hours of weddingish activities at Eiffel, Rae and I opted for lunch at Blue C. I loves me some Japanese food - even sushi (without the stuff that makes me sick), and I thought I was safe grabbing the cucumber rolls. But no. Shortly after we arrived home, I experienced a shellfish/MSG reaction. Either there was some cross-contamination on the cutting boards, or there was MSG in the sesame noodles or chicken teryaki. Either way, I was out of commission for the rest of the night.

My wonderful woman tucked me in bed, then cuddled up and watched my favorite pirate movie, The Black Swan. Then she went and picked up Dan & Trish from the airport. Then she came home and we proceeded to fall into a comatose state.

Sunday morning came, and I was feeling well enough for coffee with my buddy Ron. We hadn't had a coffee chat Sunday for about a month, so it was good to get together. I got back home to find TFMD had been cleaning and doing her finances. I joined in the fun, then we piled into Sportacus and went to Macy's to find Tyler a pair of khakis and a dress shirt to wear next Saturday for Doug & Ann's reception. He actually liked the corduroy Dockers we found on clearance. And he's now wearing a 30" inseam, a mere 2" shorter than mine. Did I mention that at his last doctor visit two weeks ago, he was 5'9"?

We tagged along with the wimminz for a while, until TFMD started stressing that we were being bored. So Tyler and I wandered out into the mall and got our Julius on. Found a sweet iridescent blue snapcase for my phone, and Kayleigh got a top to wear on Saturday. Mission accomplished.

Then it was home, where cleaning and organization continued. I made a pasta dinner, and then back to the organization yet again. I daresay TFMD will be blogging about that aspect in far more detail, but suffice to say we got a lot organized. We watched some Sunday night animation on Fox, and then it was all about the Zs.

We're off into another week, and it looks like it's gonna go pretty fast.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Trust the System

Yeah, not so much.

I may have mentioned that Sunday when I booted up my workstation, there was no boot. My workstation was bootless. Not even a pair of socks. Turns out the motherboard was fried. So I could pay $700+ and wait a week for a Dell replacement, or I could pay $800 for a new system to swap my drives and cards into immediately. No brainer, really. Although I really don't have the cash floating around (who does, these days?). But I have a tax refund coming and a refi in the works. And there's a fire settlement being worked out right now.

The bad news is, a lot of my apps have to be reinstalled. The good news is, my data is all there.

This has been a hell of a week. It's been a dent in my productivity, and a source of frustration and even a little depression. But the weekend is here, spring has sprung (no more snow, please), and I have my virtual toolkit back. Huzzah.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Lost Talent and Chemo For a Friend

Just wanted to mention the loss of a talented actress, Natasha Richardson, 45, who died yesterday due to complications from head trauma sustained in a skiing accident. She leaves fellow actor and husband of 15 years, Liam Neeson, and their two teenagers. I've always respected Neeson's work as an actor, but now I see him standing where I once stood, and I just want to offer every blessing I can muster.

Although she is known for far greater performances, I will always remember Natasha Richardson in her feature film debut as Mary Shelley in Ken Russell's 1986 psychotic mess, Gothic. She was the best thing about that film, and I took notice of her performances from then on. We'll all miss her, but none so much as Liam and the boys. Fair winds, Natasha.

The second thing I wanted to mention is that my old pal Dave is going in for his first round of chemo today. Again, this seems awfully familiar. Sending lots of love and healing juju.

Between that and the icky bowels from eating at Cactus last night (that's "eating at Cactus", not "eating a cactus"), it's a low-energy, blue sort of day.

Peace out.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Post Paddy Post

Sometimes as a parent, one has to learn how to adapt to changing plans and think on-the-fly. Yesterday was one such example. Kayleigh went to her friend's and Tyler decided to reschedule his Tae Kwon Do class for today and hit the sack early, so TFMD and I found ourselves at leisure for dinner. We'd originally planned pesto pasta for dinner (getting our green on), but at the last minute decided to head down to Edolyne Joe's. It was bustling but not crowded, and they had an awesome dinner special of corned beef, cabbage and potatoes with a honey-mustard sauce. Add a pint of Blue Moon draught and a shot of Jameson (and a Bailey's coffee for Rae), and we were happy little Celts.

And then we discovered the notes.

At Joe's, there are drawers in several of the antique tables. And folks scrawl little notes to leave behind for future dining guests to read. Many of them were romantic. Rae added one of her own.

We came home and got into our grubbies, then plopped down and watched Waking Ned Devine, which I'd never seen. I liked it. Rae's 3 for 4 so far.

Tonight is another round of Tae Kwon Do class, then dinner with a friend. And with that, Wednesday is done. The weekend approacheth!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day

I know, I know. I'm not Catholic, and only part Irish. But you gotta hand it to a Welsh kid captured into slavery in Ireland, who escaped only to go back to Ireland and convert thousands to Christianity by nonviolent means. Pretty impressive feat - although I've always thought the Irish were predisposed to latch onto concepts like the Holy Trinity, as their old religion held the number 3 (and multiples of three) as sacred and magic.

Anyway, we're not doing the usual corned beef and cabbage tonight, as we got our beef on with homemade burgers last night. So it'll be a veggie Mediterranean dinner of pasta & marinara sauce. I'll still go grab a single Guinness or Harp from the store. You just can't let some traditions go.

I usually use St. Patrick's Day to reflect on my culture and its fragmented past. A fiercely proud people, progressive for the time of Antiquity, whose art, religion and system of government influenced much of the ancient world. I think of a people whose strength in their individualistic nature was their downfall in facing the Roman war machine (and later, the British Empire). And I say a wee prayer for Celtic unity. We're a vanishing culture with dying languages, and yet we've brought beauty and innovation to the world. I'd like to see us remember our past accomplishments with pride and look to a united future. We've certainly changed, adapted to the times, but we need not fade into history like the Tuatha Dé Danann.

So here's to ye, St. Paddy. And to my fellow Corkers, O'Duinnins and all.

Celtic Unity graphic, top-to-bottom, left-to-right:
Scotland, Ireland, Wales
Brittany, Isle of Man, Basque Country

Monday, March 16, 2009

Four Metric Buttloads of "GRRRR!"

Don't be alarmed, dear readers. It's not that kind of slump. Things are actually going pretty well, despite fending off colds & flu, and surviving kitchen sink weather. We awoke to snow on Sunday morning, which turned to rain, which broke to sun, and then returned to rain. Weather has until the 21st to make up its mind, and then, by golly, it's spring, damnit.

TFMD did a pretty detailed write-up of our weekend, so I feel like I can just fill in the details from my experience. Took Tyler to see Watchmen on Sunday. Totally felt fine with that. He's almost 15 and, despite what some of the reviews are saying, I didn't find it that much more violent than any other R-rated action movie. Sin City, Planet Terror and 300 were both more violent (and about equal in the sexual element), but both of those comic book adaptations were targeted at a more specific audience. In any case, I enjoyed the film immensely. And I don't understand the juvenile attention the media are giving to Dr. Manhattan's full-frontal nudity. It's not gratuitous. In fact, it's almost an afterthought. We Americans need to get over our phallophobia and move along. Come to think of it, calling the media attention "juvenile" does juveniles a disservice. My son made no rude comments, there were no chuckles or snickers or whispered jokes. The character takes on a natural (and intact) human form with no need of clothing due to the fact that he's pretty much a friggin' god.

Anyway, Tyler and I liked the movie. We especially liked the character of Rorschach, and thought he was brought to life perfectly by Jackie Earle Haley (of Bad News Bears fame). It's on the long side, and given the moral ambiguity of the main characters, I guess I'm not surprised that more is being made of this film than of earlier "superhero" movies.

And now, the GRRRR. As I powered up my work computer on Sunday, the CPU fan decided to go into Jet Engine mode - the loudest I've ever heard it (and no boot). The front panel indicator says it's a video card issue, but I've gone down the recommended checklist and so far, no love. I really hope it's something fixable, because I really don't have the cash to be throwing down on a new performance computer to do my graphics and video work on right now.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009


(photo by pouryourheartintoit on flickr)

Last night was another first. I took Rae and the kids to see Tina Dico at the Triple Door (possibly my favorite venue in Seattle now). This was the first concert we'd been to together as a family. We had an entire booth to ourselves, and the kids were on their best behavior. It was a bit stressful for the adults, not knowing which way the winds might blow, but they didn't disappoint. And despite the fact that the Wild Ginger menu is nothing but frou-frou Thai-esque food, they each found something they liked.

Now, while Kayleigh and I are both avid Tina Dico (or "Dickow" as she is known in Denmark) fans, I have to say that Tyler was one helluva trouper. Despite a leisurely dinner followed by a 90-minute set of music he was only passingly familiar with, he did magnificently well, keeping calm and leaning against me to listen.

It should be noted that Ms. Dico is touring to support a new album. A three-disc, twenty-song magnum opus called A Beginning, A Detour, An Open Ending. No jewel case, just paper sleeves and booklet in a cardboard jacket. The packaging looks like an old-skool premium LP set, shrunk down to CD scale. Beautiful photography, copious lyrics and liner notes. An asset to the collection for sure.

(photo by pouryourheartintoit on flickr)

Although known for solo acoustic performances, Dico is currently touring with longtime collaborator Dennis Ahlgren and Icelandic pixie Helgi Jonsson (who, TFMD and I agreed, we'd love to take home and set on a pillow on the front buffet so that he could tell us Icelandic stories and play the trombone). Helgi opened the show with his own original, complex and eclectic set, which included breaking a guitar string, and stopping in mid-song to explain how difficult the next bit was (and praising his dad's guitar work on his album). Eccentric isn't even close. To draw a parallel with another Icelandic artist, "Björk-esque" would suffice.

Helgi's set was short but fun and put the crowd in a great mood for Tina, who played a diverse set of new material and a fair amount of older stuff, with the notable absence of any of her Zero7 material (which she used to include in her live performances).

It was enough for Kayleigh to feel familiar with and sing along to, and Raechelle even recognized a song or two (we're getting her indoctrinated by osmosis). The sound was great as usual, and the lighting was minimal and effective for such an intimate venue. The only detracting element was the group of women in the next booth who insisted on talking throughout the first half of the set, even raising their voices when Tina played a louder volume - oblivious to the killer stares of folks around them. But my honey is tough and scary when she needs to be, and she went and told them to be quiet - go get 'em, honey!

One of the new songs hit me particularly hard, and at times I found myself completely absorbed in and transported by the music and the performance - and those moments are what it's all about.

You were left with nothing as a child
Now that's a lot to carry
You've been empty-handed all your life
A heavy weight to carry

Things could be different
But it wouldn't be the same
You wouldn't be the man I love without this weight

'Cause all these years feeling small and misplaced
The only lonely man on Noah's ark
All these years dealing with radioactive waste
Has made you glow in the dark
Don't you know you glow in the dark
Don't you know
You glow

You've been digging graves since we first met
You've got a lot to bury
From the empty closets in your head
A heavy weight to carry

Things could be better
But it wouldn't feel this good
I wouldn't change a thing about you if I could

...and so on. What I remember about live performances is always the emotional impact, and this one got me good. I was extremely glad to be able to share it with my family.

And Bob Schneider is coming back in May. I think I just had what TFMD calls a microgasm.

Monday, March 9, 2009

My Life in a Snow-Globe

Apparently, Mother Nature either didn't get the memo or chose to ignore it. Once again. And it's friggin' MARCH. Yet here we are, on March 9th, at friggin' sea level, with another snow flurry whipping through.

I didn't get a chance to see The Watchmen this last weekend. I wanted to take Tyler, but there was just no way, between him sounding like the seal house at the zoo and us with previous engagements on the calendar. We finally got to see Always... Patsy Cline at ACT. Good show with strong performances. And, six degrees of separation and all that, the drummer in the band is also the drummer for Trepan (whose vocalist is Kevin Schumacher), and one of the two women in the show is in Jet City Improv, and knows the Greenleaf family. And of course Don, the guitarist in the band (and the disc jockey in the play), is the big brother of Rae's ex. Small town, eh? Especially in the arts.

I'm keeping Tyler's bug at bay, but it may be a losing battle. Nobody is sleeping very well. Lots of changes in barometric pressure as we go from highs in the 50s to highs in the teens and 20s with snow flurries.

I got a rough cut done on the Duo short, then went back and tweaked for a 2nd draft. This week I will finalize the cut and get the audio sorted out. I now spot some holes in my direction that I'm kicking myself over. But that's why it's good to do these shorts as a practice run for the feature. Almost like a sports team watching game footage. Here's were we went wrong, now we can fix it.

I like the titles and music (thanks Brian Chase and Kyle Stevens), and the acting performances (when they're not being hampered by poor direction). As it is, I think it does the job. But I want to see it in sequence with the other shorts to gauge its full value.

I probably would never have found Stephen Rader's blog were it not for my sweetie. And I'm ever so thankful. For while she gets to ogle the pretty boys in his Fratboy Friday feature, I get some pretty cool comic book, film and pop culture commentary. One such noteworthy item is this comedy duo from Atlanta by way of NYC. BriTANick. Your mileage may vary, but I've always been a fan of absurdist comedy.

And with that, anon.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

It's In The Can

Whenever I'm in post production, I'm reminded of the Bauhaus song "She's In Parties", which is all about the Hollywood filmmaking thing.

Freeze frame screen kiss
Hot heads under silent wigs

Fall guys tumble on the cutting room floor

Look-a-likes fall on the cutting room door

She's in parties

It's in the can

That being neither here nor there, I got Saturday's footage from Jessie and have started the edit. Using Brian Chase's original Dogfish track, "All The Same" (chopped way down) for the opening music. It punctuates the titles nicely.

The footage looks great, and it's easy to work with (once we transcoded it down from HD to 720 DV quality (it's a webisode, so we don't need to be mucking with HD just yet, although it's nice to have the raw footage in HD for any potential need down the road.

Here are some stills. I knew if I didn't post anything now, I wouldn't get a post up all day. And with that, back to the edit...

Monday, March 2, 2009

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss

Ted Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss) would have been 105 today. Just thought I'd mention it, in case some of you had forgotten how pivotal some of his work was to generations of kids.

The shoot went very well. We were in and out on schedule, completely dismantled Brian Beardsley's studio and used it to create Steve's fictitious workspace, then put it back. Everyone was great - they all did brilliant, professional work. We shot with an HVX rig direct to a Firestore drive, bypassing all the usual media (film, tape). That's the first time I've worked that way. It's kind of scary, but thrilling at the same time. It's the way I've been wanting to make films since I was 14. And what do ya know - the future is now.

Perhaps most importantly, the opening salvo of the Duo project has been fired.

DP Jessie Newman will be bringing me the footage tonight, so I need to get some hard drive housekeeping done, so that I can prep a folder system and be ready for 100GB of data.