Sunday, May 31, 2009

landmark moments

lds missionaries serve for two years (the guys do; the girls are out for 18 months).  at first, it can seem like a daunting time, then it's soon been a whole year.  about three months from the end, you get your "trunky papers", the plans on getting home.  it can be a sobering time, realizing that this singular and defining era is fast drawing to a definite close.

i was homesick for the first part of my time in japan, and so allowed myself little time to seriously consider returning home (i took the requisite "surprised" photo with said papers when they came).  i'd heard the idea of reading all 138 sections of the doctrine and covenants in reverse order when you had 138 days remaining, and so counted out the days so that i could read the whole book in the remaining time, but, apart from that, i did not look to the finish line but continued to keep the pace.

soon i could no longer count months, but weeks.  and, soon, it was only days.  on the very last night before my time was over and i would return to the mission home in kobe, my companion and i biked down to the shotengai, a sort of covered outdoor mall, going out to do the most basic and iconic missionary work, out talking with people on the streets; one last time.

i would have loved to find that one "golden" person that night.  to give away a book of mormon to someone who, i would found out in a letter a few months later, read it and joined the church.  but the truth is, no one would talk to us.  we were out there for a few hours, talking with whomever would stop, asking them what they knew about the meaning of Christmas (it was just a week before the holiday)' telling them we had a message that would change their life if they would give us only five minutes; working just as we had worked every other day.
and nothing.
no books.  no numbers.  nothing.

sure, it would have been cool find someone on the very last night of my two years (and another missionary from my group did have such an experience), but it didn't bother me.  i realized that my mission was not based upon the success of my last night.  that the meaning of all the work that i did was not contingent upon that one day, but, rather, every day that i had worked.  the sweetest and best and most memorable did not necessarily come on notable days; i don't think my 6-month, one-year, or 18-month days were inherently better than other days.  instead of forcing the fun and favorite memories to come at pre-arranged times, i had a library of experiences that had happened when they happened.

and so it is with posts, too.  i'll look back over the year and see which ones rose to be the best, likely growing from the occasion, rather than being forced into greatness.
like the young boy, russell, comments in up when speaking of the few times he has had with his father, "i guess it's the regular stuff i remember best."

thanks for reading my first 400 postings.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


i haven't taken much time to write lately.  i've wanted to share my joy of my computer graphics class (which is where i've been spending as much of my free time as possible) and to launch a secondary blog (inspired by my boredom during monsters vs. aliens), but i haven't had that fire inside that compels one to write (that compels me, anyway).

i was about out the door (to the beloved byu labs) when i took a moment to read em's latest post, a moment of insight from her busy life.
i loved it.

blogger tells me this is my 399th published post; what do i do for number 400?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

the biggest ball of twine in minnesota

we took a fair amount of family car trips when i was younger.  at least, it seems like we did.  apart from the annual trek down to grandma's for either thanksgiving or Christmas, the only other notable car trip i can remember at the moment is the drive out to washington state for a family reunion.  but, heck, i have trouble remembering my college years sometimes.   wait, that makes it sound like i was a drunken frat boy; let me rephrase that: i have a hard time separating college memories.  which may be due to all the apple beer we drank....
wherever those car trip memories come from, attached to them are a pile of cassette tapes.  because i was a bit older, i sat up front with my dad, while mom usually stayed in the back with becky and tim (they got very good at playing travel guess who?, and would do two or three people at once; that always impressed me).  i also seem to remember me usually choosing the music.  whether this is due to: a. me being the oldest, b. me being up front, or c. me having a poor memory of this whole era in general, i know not.  all the same, when i wasn't consumed with final fantasy legend 2 on my gameboy, we cycled through a trusty collection of tapes.  the three that come to mind at the moment are the ghostbusters 2 soundtrack, an oldies rock 'n' roll compilation with a neon jukebox on the cover, and my dubbed copy of the uhf soundtrack.  as i type that, i already want to call my mother and commend her for her job-like patience in hearing the same inane-songs again and again across much of the western united states (a similar scenario occurred when they drove me out to the mtc years later, only this time it was the CATS soundtrack with which my father and i were obsessed).

while the uhf soundtrack was, as the title suggests, the accompanying music to "weird" al's under-appreciated  masterwork, it also contained a handful of songs not in the movie.  these songs, like all of his oeuvre, are novelties, genius to anyone under fourteen, mildly amusing the first time to everyone else.  this includes parodies like "spam" (before i had ever heard "stand" or even heard of r.e.m.) and original gems like "attack of the radioactive hamsters from a planet near mars."  the last song on side two was "the biggest ball of twine in minnesota", a ballad wherein al and his family use their annual family trip to visit the eponymous string ball.

today i was playing mah-jong when my phone rang.
"jeffrey, guess where i am!"

now, my sister and i call each other when we're on top of mountains; it's just what you do.
dad wasn't as easy to guess, although my first two guesses were logical, considering the circumstances.  i'm sure there are so some father-son teams out there who would call when one of them is being welcomed at buckingham palace, waiting to be seated at a fine restaurant in paris, or just leaving a meeting with the board of trustees at harvard.  and i'm sure that's wonderful.

i first suspected texas, in reference to pee-wee herman proving he's on the phone in texas in pee-wee's big adventure (yes, nearly all of the in-jokes with my illustrious father are rooted in campy 80's movies).  in fact, it was my plan to call him and then actually holler, "the stars at night are big and bright!" when i was in texas for allison's wedding last summer, but completely forgot.
my second guess was that he was at the alamo (again, pee-wee).

"i'll give you a guess," said my dad.  "'weird' al."

and then i knew it: 
my dad was at the biggest ball of twine in minnesota.  

it was probably the coolest thing of the whole week, and today was only sunday.  i told him to take a picture, even if he only had his cell phone camera.  i don't think he'd ever used it before (his finger's in part of the shot) but it would be a tragedy not to have a memory of the occasion.  

according to wikipedia, it is 13 feet in diameter, weighs 17,400 lbs., and is the largest ball built by one person (a man who wrapped for four hours a day for 23 weeks).

seriously cool.

Friday, May 15, 2009

and that's when i knew...

i think it was when natalie wished jack a "happy restoration of the aaronic priesthood" that i knew she was the right girl for him.  

i'm pretty sure he already knew it.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

for the love of the game

jack and i are getting better, i'm loving it more, and real tennis is a heck of a lot more fun than wii tennis.

it's also awesome to hear "what's the frequency, kenneth?" on the radio.

Friday, May 08, 2009

we close our eyes

at heart, i'm a hopeless romantic. i've never had that professionally diagnosed, but i'm pretty sure i know myself. but, lately, i've wondered if that romantic really is starting to lose hope: i skip past "the luckiest" when it comes on my playlist; i no longer look wistfully at my sleepless in seattle dvd in hopes of having someone to watch it with.
what happened to me?

tonight i was asked why i loved wall-e so much and i had to think about that for a moment. anyone who's been around me in the past nine months has heard my rantings of it being the greatest thing since blah blah blah, but i had to really think for a moment why, at the heart of it all, did i love it.

artistry, beauty, and humor aside, at the core of it is a love story that i love.  a tractor and an ipod fall in love, and that's told in a way that makes it universal. when wall-e first sees eve power on, when she flies around with such grace and beauty, when his eyes focus on the most sublime thing he has ever seen, that is when i fall in love with the movie, and that is why i love the movie.

coming home from dropping off my date this evening, i was thinking about that scene, and thought of my other similarly potent scene, the "ruby tuesday" scene in the royal tenenbaums. i just melt.
i'm still a sentimental guy, and that's a comfort.
i turned up the volume to the point of the speakers starting to fuzz and sang ben folds' "landed" with all my heart as i drove past years of memories on ninth east.

Monday, May 04, 2009

the greater good

i've really enjoyed my "intro to animation" class.  i feel a bit out of my league, as some of these kids can name off animators like i can list cinematographers, and i'm not really in love with all animation.  granted, i got a looney toons dvd set for Christmas and love them as much as i loved watching them on saturday mornings, but they never really inspired me to make a career choice.  but it's been fun, even with just two days of class, to learn different rules of animation.  i love sitting at the light table, with my stacks of paper all lined up, drawing a bouncing ball.  we also have to keep a weekly sketchbook, a responsibility i like largely because i'm so fascinated with others' sketchings and want to make mine look like theirs.  two hours at the bean museum after the first day of class left me with little more than determination to stick with it in the hopes of getting better.

i hung out at the mall one night, trying to draw people without freaking them out, hoping to master the art of staying out of "stalker distance" without being so far away that it was impractical to draw people.  kristin gave me some good tips on how to get away with everything (i'm openly envious of her sketchbook), but plans to spend saturday the mall were altered and i went to the byu library, instead.
three of our week's sketchbook pages had to come from some figure drawing handouts.  as i began reading about the different muscles of the chest, i soon felt inadequate to even pick up my pencils.  i knew enough of how complex the human body was to know i didn't know much, and, the more i learned, the more i felt like i shouldn't be drawing yet.  if i had the time, i would definitely take an anatomy class; i like to know every muscle, instead of just drawing what i think should there.
that's not really an option on a saturday night, although i did learn some about the muscles of the chest and back, and worked very hard to make my drawings as accurate as i could.  and, after six hours, i had three pages i was proud of.

now, six hours for three pages is more than usual.  most of the work is just sketching, which can go much quicker.  and i had fun animating my bouncing ball the night before.  but next i had to animate a flour sack as well as keep up with the drawings.  and i could probably balance this with my computer graphics class.
but i'm only here for seven weeks, and we're already into the second week.  time feels so very short, and the computer class is the number one reason why i'm here, and i committed to invest as much into it as i could.
i thought about it on saturday, thought about it on sunday, and, after my computer class today, knew it was the right choice.  i dropped "intro to animation."  it was for the greater good.

sadly, my animation and sketches won't get graded, which is sad, because i would have liked my teacher's feedback.
instead, i'll show them to you.

interestingly, that blue pencil is, technically, "no-photo blue"....  yeah.

the ball is only 3 seconds long.

i made the right choice: my computer class is pretty much the coolest thing ever. i spent some time in the lab tonight and it already pains me that i'll be out of there in only six weeks. so i'm going to get every bit out of it while i can.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

back 2 school

yes, after four years and a bit, i'm back with a byu student id.  it's pretty awesome, really.  when i learned that the 3-D animation world really likes (and needs) nice guys with a real-world understanding of cameras and lenses, i looked around and found that i could come back to byu for the spring.  i signed up for a 3-D computer graphics class, then, deciding that, as long as i'm here i may as well learn as much as i can, signed up for "intro to animation" as well.

i was excited for my first day of school and wore my best clothes: my new vest, nicest jeans, and favorite shoes.
it's a bit of a shift, getting back into the mindset of going to class and doing homework, as well as being a little detached from the student world, as i'll only be here for seven weeks. but i do love the academic environment. i love the light tables we draw on in my animation class, the fact that my teacher worked on "the little mermaid", "beauty and the beast" and "aladdin", and that the computer graphics classroom/theater is decorated with all sorts of amazing designs, storyboards, and concept drawings.

special thanks to kristin for being the right person at the right place at the right time to take my "first day of school pictures."