Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I'm hearting Grizzly Bear

Below is the video for "Two Weeks," one of many smashing tracks from Grizzly Bear's latest release, Vekatimest.

This is the band of the of 2009. I called it.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Basketball, Commodities, and Puppets.

Kobe Bryant and Lebron James as puppets? See for yourself. Keep in mind that I hated these commercials the first few times I saw them, but now I'm completely in love with them.

And my personal favorite:

Now, a few things come to mind when I see these adds.

1) That Lebron puppet is great. Looks just like him. The Kobe one looks NOTHING like Kobe.

2) One reason I didn't like them at first was I thought that they were racist, but I'm not exactly sure why I thought that. Are they racist? Does the fact that I thought they were racist make me racist? Are you a racist by thinking that I'm a racist because I thought they may be racist?

Frankly the more I've seen them I'm thinking that maybe they aren't racist, but, as you might be able to tell, I'm easily swayed.

2) What exactly are these advertising? Is this good advertising? It seems to me that the only products being sold are Kobe and Lebron themselves, and really these commercials seem to portray them as idiots.

3) This is one of two ad campaigns, both coinciding with the playoffs, that seem to be relying on Kobe and Lebon meeting in the finals (Vitaminwater has a facebook page devoted to the two of them and "who's better"). The problem is, it's not looking good for that to happen. Cleavland is down 3 games to 1 to Orlando, while LA is tied with Denver (in what is shaping up to be a great series) 2-2. I'm not seeing Denver beating LA, but the Cavs have to win three straight to make it to the finals, a task that looks pretty tough considering that if Lebron hadn't hit this shot they would have been swept.

This seems to be a huge disaster for these companies AND to the NBA. I can only imagine the interest, the excitement, and the ratings if the Cavs play the Lakers in the finals. The two greatest players of this generation, the MVPs of the last two years, the Mamba vs. the King squaring off.

If this doesn't happen Nike, Vitaminwater and the NBA will lose millions without a doubt. I'm guessing the ratings for a Lakers/Magic finals will be drastically different than a Cavs/Lakers final would be (or even WORSE a Magic/Nuggets final? Who would even watch?) Don't be surprised if some questionable officiating takes place in the next few eastern conference playoff games. Not dirty officiating, just...questionable.

Which leads me to my point. There seems to be a bit of a problem when markets and promotions seem to be more important than the games themselves. If there is a true essence of basketball, and I know it's just a sport and not something important like say...universal healthcare, isn't it lost in all the hype? If viewership and ratings are all that matters why not just put the Cavs and the Lakers in the finals and have out with it, why even play the other games?

Frankly I hope Cleavland pulls out some sort of miracle and wins three straight. Partially because as a fan I WANT TO SEE LEBRON PLAY KOBE, partially because I can't wait to see all the sports pundits and wags froth at the mouth about how freaking awesome Lebron and Kobe are.

And, partially...I want to see more puppet commercials. All de time. All de TIME!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Holmestead I

Looking up the driveway. We're putting in our first garden. It looks ideally bucolic, but it comes with the price of ticks, poison ivy and 40,000 mosquitoes. Tame the wilderness Holmes, tame the wilderness.
Jane and one of six plymouth barred rock chicks. This is from a few weeks back. They're all still alive (phew!) and it turns out we have 4 hens and 2 roosters.
Milky Way and Anne-Marie in the bassinette.
Termite tunnels in the bottom corner of the house. This was behind the baseboard. I removed asbestos popcorn texture from the ceiling, pulled up the deep red shag carpet and tore off the wood paneling. Behind the wood paneling I found two entombed garter snakes and a pile of five mouse skeletons at the bottom of an AC vent. This room must have had a serious odor in the past.
Big old Prairie Kingsnake that Jane found in the yard today. I hope it doesn't like chickens or kittens.
Prairie sunset.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What Are Your Favorite Websites?!?

It would be FUN! (see look at how much fun I'm having) if everyone shared some of their favorite websites. I'm curious to see what the esteemed audience of The Provonian reads. Let's do it like this--list your favorite websites/blogs for the following topics (include urls where necessary).

1. News/Current Events
2. Politics/Legal/Civic Issues
3. Sports/Fun
4. Hobbies
5. Arts/film/culture
6. Church/religious
7. Friends/Social

I'll go first. If I don't mention your blog specifically that doesn't mean I don't read/like it.

1. For news I go to Drudge Report and I have the top stories from Google News on my homepage. Nothing exciting here.

2. My latest favorite is SteynOnline. Mark Steyn is an extremely entertaining conservative columnist. If you are conservative and haven't read his stuff then you need to wake up and start living. (Start here with this gem on the Democractic presidential primary.) If you are a leftie you may not find him funny, but you will admit that he is a brilliant wordsmith. Another favorite is the Coyote Blog. It's a blog by a libertarian, small business owner and is typically commentary on how government screws things up. I'm not libertarian, yet, but it has been a real education for me on that side of the political spectrum. (Here's a recent favorite comparing the efficiency of a government agency and a small company.) Last, I'll throw in a plug for Race Happens which is written by a former mission companion. He's Korean-American and doesn't have an ideological axe to grind. It's refreshing to become better informed about race issues without being constantly accused of racism because of the color of my skin.

3. All Cougarboard, all the time.

4. I follow a few blogs by small scale farmers. My favorite is probably Nature's Harmony blog.

5. Hmm, I guess I don't have anything under this category. Boring Holmes.

6. I follow Times & Seasons. I haven't spent much time there of late, but it has been a fun place to hear articulate, usually faithful LDS perspectives on a variety of topics. Another blog I follow is LDS Science Review. It is written by an LDS molecular biologist and gets into the evolution/religion issues.

7. Carly has a reliably entertaining blog (My Misadventures). Her recent post about Elmo is one of my all time favorites. (The peedle post over at Jayne's blog is a recent favorite too.)

Okay Provonian readers, let's hear a shout out to your favorite websites. Either follow my format or just throw out a favorite or two.

It's Alive!


Thanks to local support, Fire Creek is still in theaters. Not sure what the numbers were over the weekend (kind of don't want to know...) but the "Friday Only" clause was lifted, at least. And that feels good.

Thanks if you saw it. Thanks if you sent your folks. Thanks for nothing if you thought about seeing it but didn't want to spend the eight bucks. But, for the time being, there's still a chance to redeem yourself.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Who wants to see Star Trek, anyway?

Exhibit A:

"But what should I do on Friday, May 8 instead?"
"You like movies, right?"
"Well, sure!"
"And you like your movies small scale, with little or no budget?"
"And you're looking for drama? None of this popcorn/escapist fare?
"Now you're talking!"
"Then you're in luck, because
Fire Creek is opening on Friday, May 8, opposite Star Trek and Wolverine and Fast and Furious and a big studio RomCom starring Matthew McConaughey, and it's sure to meet your needs."

I don't know if you remember what you were doing four years ago this month. Mikey was in Hawaii acting like he was going to school, D'H was also acting like he was preparing for Med School. I'm sure Holmes was creating miracles out of soil and Duerden was saving some adolescent soul on a river.

I was trying my hand at directing a feature film. It was really rainy. My daughter was almost 2 and Jayne was expecting our second in the fall. We had no money and I was ditching my plans to be a commercial/editorial photographer in NYC for the rest of my life.

We were into our third week of shooting and the representative from Excell (who had verbally agreed to distribute the film) came to visit the set. We were on location at a scuzzy motel in Heber and between recurring power failures, thundering trucks on the freeway and the talent's violent allergy to a dog on the premises, I was ready to go home. Ready to forget any of it ever happened. The representative from Excell didn't stay long. He didn't even tell anyone he was leaving-- he just escaped. And I could just hear his frantic phone call back to headquarters as he drove away: "Pull out! Pull out NOW!"

On one of a hundred '5-minute breaks' I took my third Pepsi from the cooler and left the claustrophobic lobby that was our set. The actual location was so small that only grip was aloud on set with the talent and camera. Even the producer was on monitor in one of the adjoining queen-sized units. I splashed down the line to a room where my mom had taken shelter on one of her many visits to the set that month. I fell on the bed and came as close to crying as I had in any of my 26 years. My mom sat quietly in a stinky armchair and listened. Then she stormed out and called lunch. That's what happens when a Stage Mom graduates to a Film Mom: she calls the breaks.

She and I went into town and got a burger.

"Well, this sounds Great! I live in Seattle, can I see Fire Creek in a theater near me?"
"No, you're out of luck. It's only playing in select theaters along Utah's Wasatch Front."
"Oh, well, I'll be in Utah next week, so I'll catch it then."
"Well, there's a snag there too. As of now (May 7) you can only see this film on Friday, May 8 in select theaters along Utah's Wasatch Front."
"Hmmm. You're not making this easy, here."
"Don't give up yet. If the theaters see enough of an audience on Friday, they'll extend the run. There may be some dates in the future to catch this picture-- what would you say to that?"

Four years later, we had three kids and I had all but forgotten that film project of yesteryear.  There were some good memories attached to it.  And a certain amount of heartache-- watching it languish for a year, then two, after the festivals tour; seeing the list of potential deals and distributors who quit returning calls get longer and longer.  

I got a job.  I got another job.  I bought a house and moved on with my life.

Then two months ago I got an email from the producer asking if there were some images on hand to revamp the publicity materials, because they had landed an opening in May and they were looking to redesign everything.  Wait, what?  I told him I wouldn't believe it until I saw it.  He produced proof, we shot some new stills, cut a new trailer, got a rating from the MPAA (the first cut earned a PG-13 and we had to remove some blood to get that much coveted PG) and we're opening tomorrow.

"Why haven't I hear of Fire Creek until now?"
"Well, as is often the case with independent cinema, advertising money is mighty scarce.  But there is a fatty billboard on I-15 and there are trailers running in theaters and on TV."
"But I haven't seen them."
"I guess I don't know what to tell you, then."

...And waiting for the PG rating put us back two and a half weeks on the posters.   A handful of things got in the way of advertising this opening properly.  And Cinemark is sketching, of course, because they haven't seen ads enough to hold the film.  Hence the new 'Friday only' deal.  But that's why I'm here beating the bushes on this blog.  And on twitter.  And if I had a facebook account, I'd be saying something there as well.  Please, if you can, go see this movie.  If you don't live in the valley, send your parents.  I don't make any money if you go, but the more tickets they sell tomorrow, the longer its life span could be.  And that could mean more opportunities for student work to be seen by a larger public, etc., etc.

"How can I see this movie?"
"Visit and follow the link to ticket info.  It is showing only at Cinemark theaters in Provo, American Fork, Sandy and Layton."
"And you say it's only showing on Friday?"
"Well, that depends on you.  If enough tickets are sold, they'll hold it over as demand requires."
"Do I know anyone involved in the movie?"
"You sure do!  Duerden and Guido make an appearance at a boxing ring along with Steve Walters and a few other colorful locals.  D'H plays a substantial and pivotal role as a Marine in the Afghanistan war."
"What do you mean by pivotal?"
"I guess you'll have to see the film to find out!"
"Well, gee whiz, I might just do that!"

And just for sitting through this, I'll leave you this treat in parting:

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Update from Texas

The last couple of months have been a little crazy! In April we packed in deciding between job offers, delivering a baby (Chenae primarily handled that one), and finishing the dissertation.

So we turned down offers from Ohio University and University of New Hampshire and took a 1 year post doc here at A&M. It may sound like a strange decision but after lots of prayer and thought this just felt like the right thing to do for the family and a better way to start my career on a path best aligned with my research/teaching interests.

Two weeks ago Chenae delivered a healthy baby girl, Layla Jayne (10 lbs 23 in!). We've got pictures up over on our blog ( Mom and baby are doing well and Jackson's handling the transition pretty good. He's finally started calling Layla by her name rather than referring to her as "dat baby" as in "why dat baby crying?" We're still working on appropriate expressions of affection which in his mind includes various wrestling holds and pressure point pinches.

This morning I successfully defended my dissertation. The committee feedback was pretty favorable and I only have minor revisions so I'm feeling very good about things. My ability to function this morning was in some doubt since Jackson learned how to crawl out of his crib yesterday so I wasn't sure if we'd sleep at all last night but our prayers were answered and stayed in his bed through the night.

So that's a little update on our family. We hope everyone else is doing well and I'll see if I can a little more of a regular contributor though life always finds a way to be hectic regardless of what milestones we reach.