Monday, January 31, 2011


on my first day of high school i was walking down the hall, looking for my geometry class.  according to my printed schedule, it was in room 203, yet at the end of the hall where the room should have been was room 205.  the sign above the door said "euclidian geometry", further adding to my confusion, as i was just looking for regular geometry.  after rechecking everything a few times over, i decided to take the risk and go into the room.

the room number had been changed to "205" because the teacher, mr. lahlum, had noticed that five appeared quite often in geometry: there were five big theorems, five basic shapes, five ways to prove parallel lines were equal, and so on; enough to fill up both sides of a blue piece of paper, anyway.
and so five became the magic number.  when the local grocery store had "cookie day" and sold chocolate chip cookies for a nickel each, mr. lahlum would buy a large bag and go around the room, asking what your favorite number was.  if you said, "five," you got a cookie.  simple as that.  we even learned how to say it right: you had to put a little flair into it, so that it became "fiiive", as if you were talking to the fonze.  naturally, may fifth (5/5) was a huge party day and the officially-degreed unofficial birthday of euclid, the father of modern geometry.  it was so engrained into us that we took notice whenever we would hear the word "five."

not surprising then, when i noticed that my blog was turning fiiive.

five years ago tonight i posted my first blog post.

well, kind of.  i was really nervous about starting this whole thing and so waited until i had five posts written before i went public with them and actually sent out an email announcing to people that i had a blog up.  it just seemed kind of lame to share your blog with only one post up; like opening a store but having nothing on the shelves except a jar of peanut butter.

i was nervous, too, because i didn't know what to write.  i was inspired by emily, who was writing a blog detailing the adventures of her life at a crazy taiwan-owned company while balancing pregnancy and a husband about to go to dental school and asking for peoples' teeth.  i was a camera assistant, trying to figure out where my life was going and a lot of my posts were just ramblings and randomness, and i soon found that there were people writing that but doing a much better job of it.  ; )

dang.  five years.  that's half a decade.  i like what this has become.  i don't know if i could describe it in any particular way that would distinguish it from any of the other two billion blogs out there except to say that it's mine.  i've gotten better at formulating ideas and paring them down to what they need to be and i've said it before: if i wasn't a writer i'd still be a reader.  i am proud of this darn thing.

according to the archives, i wrote more that first year than any year since.  understandably, as i've been rereading those dusty pages again recently, a lot of it isn't my best, but it would be a shame if that was the best and that it's been a steady decline since.  many of them are devoid of brevity but there are still some gems tossed throughout that i enjoy going back and looking over them.  i've already given a look back at the best and most notable posts on here, although the idea of making a list of my five lamest posts is now kind of tempting.

sheep go to heaven.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

after party

dear future wife::

we had a really good party here tonight.  you would have liked it.
as i was cleaning up, the lights were down low and i had some good music playing.  it was a nice moment and i thought how it would be great to dance with you on the open floor for a bit before going to bed.

so, i hope you're doing well and if i haven't yet, i hope to meet you soon.
because you're missing a lot of really fun things.


-->jeff *

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

the best movies of the decade

this is evening i had the opportunity to have dinner with a director from the sopranos and all the talk of movies had me thinking about finally getting to this post that i've had floating around for at least six months now (and i need something light to write about tonight).

so, as the first decade of the new millennium wrapped (a year ago), here are my picks for the best movies of 2000-2009.  (besides, the oscar nominations came out a few days ago, joel and i have been texting continuously, and i still don't have a pick for my favorite of 2010.  give me a few months.)

when i made my list, i wrote down the movies that, without question, belonged on this list.  and i came up with nine.

9. hero, directed by zhang yimou, 2002.
when discussion amongst the film students began that zhang yimou was directing a kung fu action movie, we were all puzzled: it sounded completely out of character for one of the world's most powerful dramatic directors who, at that time, had been focusing on intimate stories with non-actors.  with a complete stylistic reversal, he showed himself a master of any genre.  every element of cinema came together to tell an operatic chinese legend.  the man who had been harassed by the chinese government for so many years amazed the world when he directed the opening ceremonies of the beijing olympics in 2008.

8. traffic, directed by steven soderbergh, 2000.
like zhang yimou, soderbergh can move from genre to genre and do it all, but traffic is his masterpiece.  brilliant and bold cinematography is used to keep interwoven story lines distinct, the cast of half a dozen (or more) a-list actors are managed without anyone rising up as a leading star, and the complex issue of drugs across the country is acknowledged to have no easy any answer but still remains hopeless.  and luis guzman holds every scene opposite don cheadle.

7. millions, directed by danny boyle, 2005.
happy, magical, fun, hopeful.  a little boy sees saints.  they talk to him.  they help him do the good deeds that he wants to do but with the limited abilities of an 9-year old.  when he finds a duffle bag full of money, he and his 11-year old brother keep it a secret and so begins a look at the contrast between practicality and altruism.  all with the kinetic jubilance of danny boyle.  rarely has faith and Christianity been so positively portrayed by one of the best working directors today.  i couldn't stop smiling for days after i first saw it.

6. spirited away, directed by hayao miyazaki, 2001.
for those who love animation and children's stories but need a break from idealized disney princesses, meet hayao miyazaki.  spirited away is the story of a young girl, but she isn't the most beautiful or even the most lovable girl you've ever met.  rather, she's probably like most of the 10-year old girls you have met, generally well-behaved but annoyed and whiny at her parents for moving her from her friends and really freaked out when she gets trapped in a mysterious spirit world.  the story is entrenched in japanese myth but no prior knowledge is required to appreciate the story, only openness to new ideas.  i about died when, in the theater, i heard a girl behind me whisper, "this movie is so weird! it doesn't make any sense."  true, japan doesn't explain every aspect the way that we american audiences are used to, but sit back and let your imagination realize how big the world really can be.

5. up in the air, directed by jason reitman, 2009.
i had picked pixar's up as my best movie that year, feeling bad for choosing pixar three years in a row (i have since redacted my choice in 2007 as well), but there was nothing else better.  i hadn't even given much thought to up in the air, expecting a wise look at how corporate america treats their human resources and so was caught completely off-guard when i popped it into my clearplay.
even as a movie about corporate america, it is witty and clever and brilliant without ever being too smart for its own good.  but subtly it slips into being a movie about family, relationships and love, profound without a trace of sap or cliche.  amidst all of the different attitudes about life circulating, the movie willfully acknowledges yes, marriage and family is a headache and nuisance, but there's something about it that still makes it the best way to be.  it's the most pro-marriage and family movie i know of since sunrise (1927).  possibly my favorite screenplay on this list.  i've recommended it to everyone who has a clearplay.  ; )

4. amelie, directed by jean-pierre jeunet, 2001.
what if you said, i'm going to make the happiest, most hopeful, magical, i-do-believe-in-love movie possible?  you'd be a copycat, because it's already been done.  deliriously whimsy, this is nice people doing nice things to each other.  the only villain in the movie (apart from the shopkeeper, but that's a side plot) is amelie's own fear of rejection, and she takes the risk anyway.  maybe it's because i relate to her playful method of games and trinkets in attracting the attention of the one she likes, but this movie makes me not only fall in love every time, but believe in it when i'm all burnt out, if only because it refuses to accept love as being anything less than magical.

3. the lord of the rings, directed by peter jackson, 2001-2003.
what could have been another moderately well-reviewed box office success was revealed to be, what my elitist film professor dean duncan described as, "a near-perfect movie."  not only did it please tolkien purists as well as those who didn't know the difference between an orc and an elf, but it's is excellent film making, character development, and storytelling.  it took me a little while to warm up to "fellowship" (i had just read the book for the first time), but once i realized how wonderful it was, there was a great excitement of knowing that we had two more movies to look forward to.  wizards and warriors were seen as "art" and the academy that normally (and rightly) gives their highest honor to small character dramas made one of their best choices ever and awarded "the return of the king" the best picture of 2003.  this is a timeless trilogy.

2. the royal tenenbaums, directed by wes anderson, 2001.
a few months ago, when i posited the question of what would be my choice if i could only take one movie with me to a desert island, i fumbled for an answer.  this is my answer (this, or maybe the next movie on this list.)  unique, nearly bizarre characters that are believable only because the rest of their world is equally abstract struggle to understand what it means to be a family; a real family, populated with people with real quirks, eccentricities, hopes and hurts.  and the movie says that yes, it is possible.  it hurts and takes some room, but things can get worked out, patched up, and feel better than before.  production design to die for, music that extracts deep feelings from a delightful script, and lines that get funnier and more quotable with each viewing (trust me) all make this one of my most favorite movies ever.
plus, the tent scene in richie's room is one i love so much that i feel guilty talking about it again here.

1. wall-e, directed by andrew stanton, 2008.
if you have any questions about this, you must be new to this blog.

here are the others that, although they didn't bring the same reaction to me as these nine did, were still strong contenders for this list and could very easily be up here without any complaint from me.
these are movies that i love and that prove what a cinematically wonderful decade this was.
they are in no particular order and i regret that i don't have time to annotate even a line about why i love each of them.

  • up
  • babel
  • the new world
  • finding nemo
  • the wrestler
  • adaptation 
  • punch drunk love
  • lost in translation
  • there will be blood
  • hot fuzz
  • united 93
  • little miss sunshine
  • a prairie home companion
  • o brother where art thou?
  • shrek 2

Sunday, January 23, 2011

don't get me wrong...

i'm adapting to life here in texas and am looking forward to this semester, academically and awesomenessly, but i still miss times like this....

Friday, January 21, 2011

choose faith

choose faith.  choose a job.  choose a career. choose a family.  choose good entertainment, honesty, individual worth and virtue. choose good health, low cholesterol and dental insurance.  choose living within your means and staying out of debt.  choose a starter home. choose your friends.  choose modest clothing while refusing to look anything less than awesome. choose clean language, soft drinks, and a day of rest. choose diligence and confidence, knowing who you are each morning.  choose standing for what you know is right, holding to prayer, scriptures and hope in the hardest times of your life, refusing to give up because you know things will be better than they ever were.  choose coming to the end of it all, at peace that you have done all that you could, that you lived as best you knew and that you have passed that integrity to the children who will follow after you.  choose your future. choose faith...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

the faceblog

i'm taking a facial animation class this semester.  we create and animate a face, complete with synchronized dialogue.  that involves two of the things i like least about computer animation: modeling and animating.  so, why am i taking this class.  1. the digital painting class is already beyond capacity and i'm not sure i'm ready for the "rendering and shading" class (or something like that).  2.  it's taught by fred parke.  who?  he's the guy who, in the early seventies, created the first (ever) computer animated face (at the u of u--the origin of all computer graphics--along side the guy who is now the president of pixar).  my friend compared it to taking C++ programming from the guy who invented the C++ language (that guy also teaches at A&M and my friend did take his class).  i guess the best i can say is that i took "pearl of great price" from joseph fielding mcconkie, although this is more like taking it from his dad.

at any rate, i'm rather excited about this class and our first discussion today was really interesting (i was also sitting on a giant love sac, which i think helped).

as part of the class, we have to keep a blog to track our work and progress over the semester.  so, for those of you interested in whatever the heck i end up doing, you can follow the intricacies of it all on the list of blogs over there.  and for those of you who aren't especially interested, you can continue reading my usual esoteric rantings and tangents here at your leisure.

our first assignment was interesting enough: to give ourselves an idea on just how much a face can stretch and change, we were to spend 15-20 minutes in front a mirror, making all sorts of different faces and observing what happens.  any of you who have spent any time with me or looked through my iphoto library know that this is like assigning me to watch a black and white movie; i'm doing this all the time anyway.
if we wanted, we could take pictures of ourselves.
i tried separating them into exaggerated expressions,

 and smaller, subtle changes.  sometimes, i wouldn't even consciously change my expression but would just change what i was thinking about and try to record the changes.

in class today, we talked about all the great advances in facial animation ("avatar" and "tron: legacy" being two notable ones) and it was noted that this is mostly done in action movies, where the acting is mostly on a large scale.  so far, there hasn't been much (or any, that i'm aware of) done in the small character drama movies.  while clu looked pretty darn good in "tron", they still can't capture the incredibly minute but amazingly powerful performances of something like "the wrestler" or "babel."  and i don't think they ever will.
anyway, it's a cool class and i get to make faces.  bonus.

(if you happen to look up dr. parke on wikipedia, he's not actually 93 years old....)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

mind over body

during my sophomore year of high school, i hung out in the journalism lab a lot.  i liked being in extra-curricular things, the seniors thought i was cool (or at least tolerated my antics), and i mostly proof-read articles and occasionally contributed cartoons and illustrations as asked.  one day, my good friend and awesome editor leah asked me to write an article for the paper.
"about why sports are better than academics," she said.
"about wha?  why are you asking me?" i said in befuddlement.
"because no one who actually believes that would be able to write a reasoned argument," she explained.

and so i did.  sarcastic and overbearing, it was a good example of who i was at the time (and i've still got it in my box of high school awesomeness back in minnesota).  a story was relayed to me of a proof-reader who exclaimed, "who is this guy?  the knowledge bowl team is going to beat him up!"  my friends loved it.    and my geometry teacher cornered me in the lunch room (/gymnasium) the day it came out, wondering why i was ragging on euclid.  all in all, i was pleased with myself.

the thing is, there was a distinct line between academics and athletics in my mind.  either you were good at one or the other, but not both.  it just didn't occur to me that people who were smart and liked school could be good at sports or would even want to.  yes, that sounds embarrassingly primitive, but for some reason that was how i saw things.  i wasn't even aware that i harbored this prejudice, it just seemed like a law of nature.  one could point out that my sister was blatant proof that this was a fallacy, but she was still in junior high at that time and i wasn't paying much attention to her.

i suppose it came from my lack of skill and/or interest in sports.  sure, in grade school i did soccer in the fall, basketball in the winter, and baseball in the summer (once for each of those, i think) and never really enjoyed them that i remember.  then, after fifth grade, my mom suggested i go out for the gooseberry park players that summer and that was the end of it all for me.  i had found my calling.  i was an arts kids, especially in the theatre.  add to that school came to me relatively easily and there was simply no room for athletics in my persona.

sometime in college, this prejudice broke.  i really don't remember when or how or even if there was a catalyst.  but i took weight training classes (twice!) and would go out running at nights.  what was especially intriguing about this was how much i enjoyed it.  it was a bit of a labor to get myself out, but once i was lifting or running, it was really a good experience.

and after a semester of classes that required little more than sitting at a computer and clicking a mouse, i've enrolled in two p.e. classes, although here they're under "kinesiology" (sounds more important, i guess?)  i'm taking strength training and swimming.  strangely, though, i still carry with me vestiges of the prejudices that i once espoused.  walking through the facilities, be they the brand-new state-of-the-art rec center or the archaic cold war-era coliseum, i feel like it's blatantly obvious to everyone that i don't belong in this world.  so i do my best to walk cool, to swagger and look like i'm tough.  and i think people generally buy it.

it's still not a part of my life yet, but every little bit makes a difference.  and i like exploring this new world.
plus, i look cool in my swimming goggles, even if i can't see without my glasses.

Monday, January 17, 2011

a rabbi's story

a young man journeys down an endless road in the company of many others.  the road leads across a rocky plain where nothing grows.  the sun's fire burns from morning to evening.  they can't find shade or coolness anywhere.  a harrowing wind stirs up huge dust clouds.  the youth is driven forward by an incomprehensible anxiety and tormented by an unquenchable thirst.  sometimes he asks himself or one of his traveling companions about the goal of their pilgrimage.  but the answer is uncertain and tentative.  he himself has forgotten why he ever set out on his journey.  he's also forgotten his native land and the journey's final destination.

suddenly, one evening he finds himself standing in a forest.  dusk sets in and all is quiet.  perhaps the evening wind sighs through the tall trees.  he stands amazed but also anxious and suspicious.  he's all alone and he discovers his hearing is weak since his ears are inflamed from the merciless light of day.  his mouth and throat and parched from the long pilgrimage.  his lips are cracked, pressed together around curses and harsh words.  so he doesn't hear the ripple of flowing water and doesn't notice its reflection in the dusk.  he stands deaf and blind at the edge of the spring unaware of its existence.  like a sleepwalker he wanders unaware between the sparkling pools.  his blind skill is remarkable, and soon he's back onto the road in the burning, shadowless light.

one night by the camp fire he's seated near an old man who's telling some children about the forests and springs.  the youth recalls what he's been through, but faintly and indistinctly, as in a dream.  he turns to the old man, skeptical yet courteous, and asks, "where does all this water come from?"
"it comes from a mountain whose peak is covered by a mighty cloud."
"what kind of cloud?" the youth asks.
the old man answers, "every man carries within him hopes, fears and longings.  every man shouts out his despair or bears it in his mind.  some pray to a particular god.  others address their cries to the world.  this despair, this hope, this dream over deliverance, all these cries, all these tears are gathered over thousands and thousands of years and condense into an unmeasurable cloud around a high mountain.  out of the cloud rain flows down the mountain, forming the streams and rivers that flow through the great forests.  that's how the springs are formed where you can quench your thirst, wash your badly burnt face, cool your blistered feet.  everybody has at some time heard of the mountain, the cloud and the springs, but most people anxiously remain on the dusty road in the blazing light."

"why do they stay there?" asks the youth in great astonishment.
"i certainly don't know," replies the old man.  "perhaps they've convinced themselves and each other that they'll reach their unknown destination by evening."
"what unknown destination?" asks the young man.
the old man shrugs his shoulders.  "in all probability the destination does not exist.  it's deception or imagination.  i myself am on my way to the forests and the springs.  i was there once when i was young and now i'm trying to find my way back.  it's not easy, let me tell you."

the next morning the youth sets out with the old man to seek the mountain, the cloud, the forests and the rippling springs.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

more bad times

nearly a year ago, the great laurie jayne presciently sent me a mixed cd.  the second she has made for me, it successfully holds its goal capturing sabi, the japanese philosophy of finding beauty in the sadness of things.

the last four songs especially are sublime, the first of that finale being a song called "more bad times" by the goofy "presidents of the united states of america."  it is a lovely song, almost unfortunately punctuated by lines of silliness, as the chorus tenderly laments, "i wish there were more bad times to see you through."

one can't help but ponder the delicate sabi quality of that....

at some point during my time as a missionary in japan or after, i remember thinking about the relationships and the closenesses that i had with different companions.  it was those with whom together we fought for something that i became the closest; those that together we worked hard for things, and more often than not it didn't work out, it didn't happen.  we jumped and fell, but we crashed together and could share in that.

those were the companions that i was closest to; they were the ones i was most excited to meet up with again at the next conference or sometime after.  perhaps it was because we were in it together, yet, as i write this, i wonder if it was also because we were willing to take the risk together of doing more, of trying more.  we went for it and we could meet up later and say, "dang, those were rough times but we made it!"

and years ago, when i was thinking about this, i followed the thought to prayer.  that just as i was most excited to see those with whom i had shared the bad times, i would probably much more excited to meet God at the end of my life if i had shared my life with Him.

if, when things were hard and discouraging and most non-triumphant, i prayed and trusted in Him, He would lead and guide me through, and so at that great and last day, it would not be meeting a distant and unknown God, but a Best Friend who was there with me through it all, and we could excitedly embrace in the joy of having made it through together.

during my time away from texas, i was able to see my dearest and bestest friends, those who have been with me for years, who know all about me and like me anyway.  it was seriously dang.

like, seriously.

and as i've been thinking about that and mulling over this post, i've realized that those who make me the happiest, or who bring out the happiest and best parts of me are those with whom i'm most comfortable and willing to share my saddest sides.
it's interesting.

on friday, as i was fighting the unorganized campus bus system in my latest attempt to move the administration along and allow me to register, i found myself again thinking what i have noticed several times over the years: that it is in the peaceful, calm, and happy moments of life that i most lament my singlehoodnesship.

that not having someone with whom to share the good moments of life, be they grand or insignificant, is perhaps the saddest part for me.

i had a mission companion who, in showing the joy of sharing the Gospel, would asking how the person felt when they had a good slice of pie.  "you want to share it with your friends," would be the usual response from the person at the door.  

lights will guide you home... 

i suppose it's the same.  life is a tasty [pecan] pie, but eating it by yourself isn't much fun.  (a better analogy for me would be watching a great movie; while it's fun and enjoyable by yourself, i'd rather have someone else to laugh with and get into it with and discuss it with afterward.)

here's to more bad times and the
accompanying awesomenesses  : )

mostly, i just wanted to write this post as an excuse to put up some pictures, since i'm not really one to post pictures on facebook.
(editor's note: but in this case, we did anyway)

Friday, January 14, 2011

holiday season text results

it's 3:03 a.m., but i'm going to stamp this post as being from friday, because i'm hoping to get up another post on saturday and we keep a very strict "one post per day" rule around here.

anyway, here you go:

  1. jaime - 697
  2. dana - 422 (hey, look! i have a friend at church in texas)
  3. shaun - 404
  4. kristin - 312
  5. jess 292 (two less than last time; way to be consistent)
joel is in tenth place with 146.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

how to float

of the three videos that i made in my 622: "experimental film" class, my "how to float" video is my least favorite yet seems to be the most crowd-pleasing.  of the three, it was the only one selected to be in the main showing at our fall show and afterward several people told me how much they enjoyed it.  i've got nothing against it and think it's just fine, i just think my txt mssg and person_a videos are more interesting.  (shows what the masses know....)

the assignment was on the topic of "pixelation", a term which i had never heard before nor since.  when trying to describe it to students not in the class, the common description was "it's like stop-motion but with people", and that seems to work.  using frame rates to manipulate time and space is a significant part of it, too.  this kind of seems to be a quintessential (and oscar-winning) example.

we were put into teams, a first-year with a second- or nth-year student, and my partner was pretty cool (i'll show you her video at the end.  or maybe i'll save it for its own post; we had to do a lot of work to pull it off and that was quite fun).
i tossed around different ideas that were either lame or too complex (the one i can still remember was both) until i threw them all out and remembered something from my freshman year at byu.  my roommate ryan showed me some goofy little video his younger brother and a friend had made (youtube was still about four or five years away, so posting videos online was a little more of a process).  it was just them playing around with a video camera, taking shots of his brother jumping, but only at the top of his jump.  they would then show all of those "top jump" shots together and it looked like he was floating around the hallway.  simple, silly, and perfect for my assignment.

once i had this basis, the rest of the concept evolved rather easily: a "how to float" video, done like a bad 1950s educational film, with stoic acting, bland set design, and hopefully some tinny music.  i really quite liked this.
i pitched the idea to my class and my teacher said this has the potential to really be quite humorous.
"yes," i said in deadpan, "humor is my goal."

as research in trying to nail the look of a low-budget black and white educational film, i turned to the only source i knew (or cared to find) and watched a lot of mst3k shorts on youtube. research is awesome.
when the day to shoot came, everything went really well.  i brought in a few volumes of the journal of discourses and set them on a table next to a silk flower i'd bought, trying make it look like the art direction was done by some cold war era guys with no sense of aesthetic.  i wore the most boring bow tie i have and my round "harry potter" glasses and bought some gel to slick down my hair.  i think i had the most fun wheeling the ladder around the studio and hanging the lights to get everything looking just "wrong": harsh toplighting, multiple shadows, and whatnot.  the hardest thing was actually the chalkboard.  the best we could find was a couple in the hallway on the third floor, so i enlisted a friend working the lab to come and help me steal it when there was no one around.  carrying that heavy sucker up the stairs was rather tricky, but we pulled it off.

 we filmed all of the live-action video parts using the movie-mode on the still camera, then shot all of the jumping stills and then moved the camera in for the few close-ups.  naturally, the stills were the trickiest part, as elizabeth had to push the button at just the right time to catch me.  sometimes she'd be too early and sometimes too late.  over the course of the night, i estimated that i jumped closed to 300 times.  still, the only part that really hurt was when i did my fall, because i couldn't think of any better way than to jump and move my legs out from under me.  we did three falls and the second one i landed hard on my knee.  it was sore for a few days after.
shooting the close-up shot at the end, i had elizabeth take some stills for me because they were just looking so dang awesome.  saith the tgs, "i look so good!"

from there, it was simply a matter of putting all of the still shots in sequence using after effects (which i really need to just take some time and learn the basics of) then bring everything in to final cut (which i know rather well and love) and slap everything together.  i shot some intertitles taped to the wall in the hallway one afternoon (still not happy with the fonts; they aren't bland and "period" enough for me, but it was the best i cared to find) and that was pretty much it.

i got an A on the project but wanted to play with it a little more.  one of the lab assistants helped me add scratches and flicker, i messed around and added a registration roll (maybe could have added a second one, but i already had an A, so really, why?), and cut out some frames to make it look like... some frames were cut out.  that effect doesn't really work as well as i'd like, and i'm not entirely sure why; i think i need two frames of splice tape to sell the effect.  bah.
and, once again, one night while i was animating in the lab, our insanely talented t.a. nesh created the music for me.

in the end, it pretty much came out exactly as i envisioned it.  maybe i should go into film making instead of animation?

Friday, January 07, 2011

up in the air

"you ok?"
today was day 25 of 31 of my Christmas vacation.
i am homeless.

don't get me wrong.  i have a place to sleep.  but i've been living out of my suitcase for almost a month.  for most of that time, i've been on sleeping on couches, living in someone else's living room, and relying on others for my transportation.  these past three weeks are largely a hazy blur in my memory.

i've spent significant time at at least four different places and am very grateful for all of those who have let me stay with them.  no one has ever shown any annoyance or irritation that i am temporarily living with them (even when i am at less than my usual self).  but it's rough on me.  i have no place to call my own.  i had a room that i could live in for the week that i was in moorhead, but that was about it.  mostly, i'm nomadic, feeling like the unemployed friend who just needs a place to crash while he's in between jobs.  all i need now is a tv to watch "the price is right"....

my things--my stuff--are all in texas.  but one semester in texas has not yet made it feel like "home" in the sense of comfort and belonging.  utah is where my friends are, but they have lives here, things to do on a daily basis.  i don't live here anymore, and there's nothing here for me now but my friends.  minnesota is still minnesota, and that's cool, i guess.  but i'm not really sure where i want to be.  texas, i guess, but being back there isn't entirely a rejuvenating experience, either.  it's where my life is now, but it's not my favorite place that my life has been.

over an number three (animal style) tonight, i was discussing how change is continuous and life barrels on like a runaway train; you can't stop it or pause it, you can only go with it.  much of 2010 was absolutely awesome.  in many ways, everything was in its right place.  but either you will change or everything around you will change.  either way, it happens.  and it has happened.

i looked into changing my ticket to go "home" a few days early.  it's prohibitively costly.  i really don't know what i was thinking when i originally planned this trip for this long.  and that was even before my life was turned inside out.  twice.
but i've got a few things to look forward to next week and i have to admit that this couch bed i'm currently on is rather comfortable.  still, part of me is ready to get back to texas.  it isn't much for me, but in some ways, it's all i've got right now.

home is wherever i'm with you.
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Sunday, January 02, 2011

Saturday, January 01, 2011

my 2010

editor's note: with the exception of "how did you spend Christmas", this post was composed very late on the night of november fourteenth.  not that it really changes anything, and only minor changes have been made for clarity, but we felt it worth noting just the same.

once again, thank you for reading sheep go to heaven.  we appreciate your interest in our little corner of the world.

jeff gustafson
sheep go to heaven

what did you do in 2010 that you'd never done before?
went to europe, moved to the lone star state, snowboarded more than i have in the past ten years, worked closely with two oscar-winners in the desert, repaired my washing machine, failed a class, and ate fast food almost every week i could until i moved to texas.

did you keep your new years' resolutions?
the only one i see written down was to retreat into my social shell less, and i think i did that.

did anyone close to you give birth?
my sister, my best friend's wife, and those awesome people in fargo.

did anyone close to you die?
i attended dave stoddard's funeral.

what countries did you visit?
freaking belgium.

what did you want and get?
admission into texas a&m, changes and opportunities to grow and move forward with my life, answers to prayers, and someone to watch movies with.

what would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?
someone to watch movies with for more than a week.

what date from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory and why?
friday, july 23. the planets were all aligned and my life was as perfect as i could imagine it.
runner-up: thursday, august 19. i moved out of 907 and felt like the most fortunate person in the world.

what was your biggest achievement of the year?
1. holding a girl's hand at the amusement park.
2. surviving october.

what was your biggest failure?
honestly, i can't think of anything where i particularly "failed," though there may be something i'm blatantly missing.
i went through some very hard times and hopefully i endured them acceptably.

did you suffer illness or injury?
i think i had salmonella and know i had heartbreak.

what was the best thing you bought?
seven samurai on blu-ray and a number 3, animal style, with a chocolate shake instead of a drink.

whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
my boss at sundance the night i spent at the house.

where did most of your money go?
snowboarding tickets and the barnes & noble criterion sales.

what did you get really, really, really excited about?
flying back from austin to salt lake.

what song will always remind you of 2010?
the beastie boys, especially "looking down the barrel of a gun", "so what'cha want", and "root down."
"sweet child o' mine" on my snowboard.
also,  "magic" and "greener", to name a few.
and according to my itunes, i listened to "standing outside a broken phone booth with money in my hand" sixty-some times in two days.

compared to this time last year, are you: much happier, richer, nicer?
forgive me for saying this, but i am not immediately happier now than i was this time last year though i do hold to hope in the bigger picture.
this was arguably my best year for work and i would be richer but student loans kind of cut into that.
i'm not sure if i'm nicer or not.

what do you wish you'd done more of?
making better use of my time, watching movies (really), running, and practicing my accordion (hey, those were on my list last year!)

what do you wish you'd done less of?
not sure right now.

how did you spend Christmas?
in minnesota, doing the best i could, although i probably could have done better.
i also went cross-country skiing and really enjoyed it, especially the beauty of the snow-swept plains.

did you fall in love in 2010?

what was your favorite tv program?
the series finale of 24 had us on a wild/awesome ride.
we lost conan then got him back.
and that's really all the tv that i watch.

what was the best book you read this year?
the screwtape letters. i have no idea why it took me so long to read such a wonderful book.

what were your favorite films of this year?
up in the air, metropolis, louder than a bomb, underworld (two of those are silent and none were actually released this year…)
as for films actually released this year, i enjoyed scott pilgrim and inception.

what were your least favorite films of this year?
double take at sundance was just really lame.

what did you do on your birthday and how old were you?
i turned 31 (still feel like i'm 25 or 26) and had a blast with the two party system again. marin's chocolate cake was perfection in a fallen world, and all the games and fun were great, but the after-party talking and reminiscing was my favorite.

what one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
still having somebody to love.

how would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?

what kept you sane?
kristin, ruby tuesday, my manfriend, and becky-san.

who did you miss?
kristin and chocolate; caleb and isaac and becky and brady; doing everything with mark; her; brooke and emily and the hpbc; going shopping with t; mary joy and rock band; rocio and the i.c.; jaime's not really gone; malia on sunday afternoons; sariah; everyone who played mario kart; and president sam.

who was the best new person (people) you met?

tell us a valuable lesson you learned in 2010.
trust in your Heavenly Father and everything is going to be ok.

what are you most excited for in 2011?
um…. wow, i'm not even sure. last year i said "the unexpected," citing that 2009 brought so many surprises. and i think i wrote that looking forward to 2010 and wondering if anything interesting would happen.
2010 was the most monumental, stretching, breaking, up and down, adventurous, unexpected year of my adult life. i'm still recovering and reeling from some of it and astounded that so many drastically different things could happen in just one year.
i have no clue what to expect from 2011. none.

and yet, i find myself looking forward to the unknown adventure.

what are you least excited for in 2011?
the cruciatus curse.