Monthly Archives: May 2006

Rainy Weekend of Watching Stuff

The long Memorial Day weekend was unfortunately the first 3 days of rainy weather we’ve had after a few weeks of beautiful, sunny Spring weather. I ended up spending quite a bit of time inside, watching entirely too much… stuff.

  • Went out and saw X-Men: The Last Stand (with heavy hints at possible future stands), and was pleasantly let down. Some amusing action scenes, despite missing Brian Singer’s finesse, but the story and writing was just horrible. As most reviews mentioned, it really did feel like the studio just wanted to rush this thing out. And the new characters? Remeber the glimpses of these new characters that you got in the trailers: Angel, Juggernaut, and Multiple Man? Well, I kid you not, they each get two other lines in the entire film, and spend a grand total of about 30 seconds on screen. No exagerration. Anyway, enough about that.
  • Recently I found a free copy of BASEketball on VHS (TiVo 0.1) and grabbed it. I remember finding it pretty funny back in the day with my high school friends, when we saw it in the theater (we saw everything in the theater). It wasn’t nearly as good this time around, although some of the Trey and Matt humor still had me laughing.
  • Using Netflix’s motivation-by-guilt-for-holding-a-DVD-too-long got me to plunge back into Battlestar Galactica. A while ago I fizzled out somewhere late in the first season. Little did I know it was right before all the crazy shit started happening! And it hasn’t stopped! I exhausted Netflix’s run of the first part of season 2 (the rest doesn’t come out until the end of June), and have started buying the next episodes off iTunes. The show just doesn’t give you a break. So relentless and engrossing.
  • I also had Riding Giants on my Netflix and enjoyed that surfing diversion. From the same folks as Dogtown and Z-Boys, it’s another well done documentary explaining the evolution of a popular and misunderstood sport. In this case, big wave surfing, and the pioneers of the surfing world.
  • Lastly, I finally popped in the borrowed DVDs for the first season of Deadwood, and gave it a good 2 episode try. 4 episodes later, I’m clearly hooked. Great character actors everywhere you look, and it’s well-written and directed all around.

This TV on DVD thing is a blessing and a curse. It’s great to be able to pop in the next one and keep going, without commercials or delays. But at least when it’s broadcast you’re forced into reasonable (yet frustrating) bite-size morsels. Control your urges. Binging is not healthy.

Distraction: Best Movie Scenes Ever

Last night checking out some videos on the addictive YouTube, I stumbled upon a clip from the movie Rad, which was aptly titled, “Best movie scene.” I’d heard about this incredible scene, but had yet to watch it. It exceeds all expectations and words can’t do it justice. Featuring Lori Loughlin (of Full House “fame”), who’s character finally ditches her popular ex for the outcast BMX biker, and the two share a prom “dance” to Send Me An Angel. If that description didn’t sell you, I don’t know what will.

I figured that scene would be hard to beat, but the title, “best scene ever” gave me the idea to search for that and similar phrases such as, “best movie scene” and “best fight scene“. There’s some good, great and horrible stuff out there. One in particular I have to recommend is this fight scene which is so horrible it’s truly brilliant. Give it until the end.

Lastly, while you’re wasting time on YouTube, check out this great educational video parody series, Look Around You (thanks Andy). I was laughing quite a bit… “Problem 3. For this problem, you will need to set your calculator to Maths.”

Goldfrapp in Concert

Two weeks ago I went to see Goldfrapp in concert at the Showbox. The band’s music is a kind of electro-glam, and the show certainly followed suit. There were plenty of bright flashing lights, a fan blowing up into the lead singer, Alison Goldfrapp’s hair, and of course a keytar. I’d nearly forgotten that I shot a couple short video clips during the show, on my digital camera. Lousy quality, I know, but here’s a little taste of the show…

The week that wouldn’t end

Did anyone else have a week so busy and non-stop that it left you in a complete daze by Friday?

Holy crap, I’m pooped. Constant up-and-down at work, random firedrills, projects flying here and there, plans nearly every night to catch up with one person or another, and then ready to pass out cold by 8PM Friday night.

One positive note, at least this was laughable enough that I felt much better about my week compared to Oliver Stone’s recent years.

The Seattle Monorail is Back!

When I look at the Department of Licensing FAQ, it tells me that my Monorail tax is still going to pay for a new Monorail! Sweet! Wait… no… it’s just the taxes that are still around. That’s right, some of us still have to pay taxes toward the now non-existent Seattle Monorail Project. The long story of it all is available in various publications over the years, but basically the budget and beuracracy of the Monorail Project killed itself. After 3 (or 4?) votes in favor of building the Monorail, the outrageous budget proposal prompted opponents to bring it to vote yet again, and it finally failed. So, after 2-3 years with no progress ever made to build a thing (they bought some land!), the Monorail folk are closing up shop. According to the Monorail news, they even decided to end the Monorail tax early, since they’re getting such good returns on the real estate sales. But not early enough. Those of us with June ’06 tabs (like me!) or earlier still have to pay.

I was all for the Monorail project from the start. Even though I own a car, I take buses, walk or bike as much as I can, and I wanted to see something even better than the often-lousy bus system. I’ve paid nearly $500 in Monorail taxes over three years, and it leaves a bitter taste knowing that it only ever went to pay for some committee member salaries, and some PR campaigns. Maybe the taxes we’ve been paying for the Sound Transit Light Rail will actually be useful. At least that one’s under construction.

Another trek up Mt. Si

Taking advantage of the gorgeous weather this weekend, some friends, Darren and Nora, and I decided to tackle the hike up Mt. Si. I’d been up once before, almost exactly 3 years ago. Has it really been that long!? Time really does fly. This time up, it took about 2 1/2 hours to make the 4 mile hike from parking lot to the top. Rilo, the super-pup made it more than halfway up the moutain before he really started “dogging” it, and then headed back down with Nora. Darren and I rested briefly at the top and then scrambled up the steep Haystack, to the true summit with 360 degree view. It was a much hazier view this time, compared to the last panorama I had, but at least this time the view of Mt. Rainier was there.

Mt Si Panorama

The 4 mile hike up that took us 2 1/2 strenuous hours, only took us 1 hour on the way down. Momentum is hard to resist. No wonder so many people were jogging down. Then there are also the folk who consider Mt. Si a training hike. We saw plenty of people up and down with large, full backpacks (there’s no overnighting off the trail), and lots of trail runners. Considering how much my legs still hurt today, I’m not sure I’ll be considering that a regular training hike any time soon. I sure need to get my legs back in shape.

Sigur Ros in Concert

Last Wednesday was the Sigur Ros concert at Benaroya Hall in downtown Seattle. Being that they’re one of my favorite bands, I’d tried getting tickets weeks ago, but it had been sold out since the first day tickets went on sale. Thanks to the good folk at Ticketmaster, there were no other options for finding tickets other than eBay, and I wasn’t about to bid upwards of $100 -$150 per ticket. So on Wednesday night I opted for another fun event and was out having a happy-hour drink listening to Plan B play a DJ set at a Parskid art opening. It was a good alternative, and at about 8:30PM, on our way out a friend of a friend happened to produce two unused tickets for the Sigur Ros concert that was going on at that very moment, just 3 blocks away. What incredible luck!

Arriving at Benaroya Hall 10 minutes later, it happened to be the start of intermission. The seats were orchestra level, toward the back, but a perfect view. And then the show continued. Let me just say that I’d heard time and time again that Sigur Ros puts on an amazing live show, and everything people have said is completely true. The performance and the visuals were just breathtaking.

Sigur Ros Concert, Benaroya Hall Seattle Sigur Ros Concert, Benaroya Hall Seattle

It’s hard to imagine the instrumentation that goes into each songs when listening to their albums. There are the typical drums, keyboard, bass and guitar, but at times the lead singer was also backed by 4-5 violinists, violas, cellos, glockenspiels and flutes. All the while, the lead singer/guitarist was creating the band’s signature droning sound by using a cello bow on his guitar. The combination of seeing all the various instruments together, and hearing the organic swells of their songs, on top of dancing lights, and video projections was goosebump-inducing.

Sigur Ros Concert, Benaroya Hall Seattle

This was by far one of the best live (albeit half) shows I’ve ever seen. There are some videos from their concerts on their site and also clips on YouTube, but they just don’t do as much justice. If you ever get a chance to see them perform, I highly recommend it. Until then, check out some of their music for download here, and their music videos for Glosoli (mov) and their big hit, Hoppipolla (YouTube) which is also being used to promote the BBC’s Planet Earth series. What else has Iceland been hiding from us?

The Weird Things That Work Teaches You

As with any job, there is certain knowledge you gain that you never would have gotten anywhere else. It’s part of the never-ending learning process, yadda, yadda… But what about those random bits of trivia that a job trains you with, but are also somewhat useful outside of work? In addition to the acronyms, and industry-specific jargon, I realized a few other random things that my job indirectly teaches me…

Holidays: I’ve never been great at remembering the specific dates of random holidays like Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, etc. But now that I work on an ad-supported website, I get plenty of advance warning for each one. Lo and behold there are Mother’s Day ads running on the site! I better look for a gift!

Thursdays: Did you know August 10th is a Thursday? How about October 5th? June 15th? Since all of our production release dates fall on Thursdays, I see these dates float around all the time in scheduling meetings. On rare occasion this random bit of knowledge has been helpful for figuring out dates outside of work.

Division/Multiplication by 1000: OK, so this one is super easy even without help from work. In web advertising everything is calculated by CPC (cost per 1000 clicks) or more commonly CPM (cost per 1000 impressions). This has taught me how to move a decimal point back and forth 3-places in my head like no other. There is little practical use for this in the real world.

I can also list a fairly big number of telephone service providers across the country, but that’s rather industry-specific and especially boring. I’m sure there are plenty of other little things that just aren’t coming to mind at the moment (see how meaningful this knowledge is!).

What kind of strange little talents has your job trained you with?

Changing the Film Heroes we Love

Two new trailers hit the internet yesterday, one for Superman Returns, and the other for the new James Bond, Casino Royale. One of these looks, um… super, and the other looks like crap.

I was a little skeptical when the first Superman trailer showed up. The footage looked great, but I really wanted to hear John Williams’ goosebump-inducing main theme that I remembered as a kid. The second trailer gives us exactly that. We also get to see some of the acting and characterization this time around. It seems like each actor is doing a nearly spot-on impression of the original Superman cast. Spacey as Gene Hackman… that new Superman guy mimicking Christopher Reeves… The shots and the action and the interactions all feel like a Superman story should. Bryan Singer may have nailed a whole new comic universe (knock on wood).

And then there’s this young, James Bond, prequel/origin, crap thing. Aside from throwing Judi Dench in there, and the classic James Bond bullet-hole/blood graphic, the rest of it looks nothing like a Bond film. Granted they’ve been veering away from the classic Bond feeling in the past few movies, but at least Pierce Brosnan could pull it off, and there were enough playful throwbacks to the original campiness. I understand they’re trying to beef it up and turn it into a fresh new vision, or something, but honestly I think Mission Impossible III looks like the better Bond movie than Casino Royale. (I know, we all hate Tom Cruise now, but it’s written and directed by J.J. Abrams, and it has Philip Seymour Hoffman.  Not even Mr. Scientology can mess those guys up… too much… I hope.)

Lastly, and unrelated, I highly recommend Lucky Number Slevin. It’s smart and fun and dark, and has a really fun cast to watch. It isn’t nearly as goofy/silly as the trailers make it look.

What makes a corporation (or non-profit) tick?

Over the weekend I watched the excellent documentary, The Corporation. It did a great job of covering everything from, “What is a corporation?” to the political issues, environmental impacts, sweatshops and some chilling case-studies on press cover-ups and controversy, such as bovine growth hormone. It never felt like they were trying to tackle too much, by hitting these seemingly disparate subjects. The way it was presented, it was frightening how inter-connected all of the pieces are. The underlying argument seemed to be that the original purpose of the corporation has been lost over the years as capitalism has exploded, and some of the laws originally designed to protect small corporations are now the biggest points of exploitation in the system. In the end the question that’s asked is, how can we re-align the priorities of these behemoths, so that the environment, the public, and the stockholders are all equally important?

Later in the same day I started reading the feature article from last week’s Stranger, The Nonprofit Motive (there’s a longer version available here). The article does a great job of explaining the basics of non-profits vs. for-profit companies , all explained within the simple framework of, “Pretend you’re running a lemonade stand.” It makes the setup easy to understand, and when it gets to specific examples, you understand how things work. In the end, the author presents an idea for restructuring the non-profit only benefits, so that for-profit organizations could essentially create a non-profit division under their roof. This opens up a world new possibilities for keeping independent, struggling non-profits alive, and promoting the foundation of new ones. The article clearly lists the auditing nightmare of this setup, but the possible benefits to the company and to the public could certainly be worth it.

This non-profit idea (not without it’s flaws) seems like part of the answer to the question raised by The Corporation. It suddenly gives a for-profit company true incentive to think of others and actually benefit from it. At least on paper. Greed is a very powerful force and may continue to hinder any valuable change.