Saturday, December 22, 2012

after hours

maxx is my mom's cat. he's long-haired and orange, making him look like hermione's cat, "crookshanks." and while he's not my favorite cat we've ever had (that would be moke,) he is certainly the friendliest and most social. at night, he seems to enjoy exploring the house when it's quiet and everyone else has gone to bed.
so do i.

i love this house.
i like sitting by the hutch in the dining room, where just a enough light spills from it to make the room visible, but everything i still in shadows. i like looking at the kitchen and rewinding back through time in my memory, remembering how it's looked and changed over the years and the adventures that have happened therein. while i was on my mission in japan, my mom remodeled the whole kitchen and dining room to the point that, when i was sent pictures from my sister's high school graduation party, i didn't know it was our house until i recognized the dishwasher.

i love looking out the sliding door window at the soccer fields behind our house, and how the snow-covered ground sparkles like gold under the orange sodium-vapor lights of the parking lot. i feel bad for my future wife, missing these quiet moments with me.

i like that i'm no longer scared of the utility room. growing up, just being in there seemed a little creepy; if monsters were going to live in our house (or, as i became a teenager, "aliens"), this is where they would be. i'm now confident in my physical skills enough that i no longer fear the supernatural in that room and like looking around. so much of my life history is still contained on those shelves, it's almost like being in the ministry of magic's department of mysteries.

just off from that room is "the corner", a spot under the stairs where we were sent to sit if we misbehaved. i hated sitting under there.

it's late now and i need to get to bed, but i do enjoy these quiet times with just me and my house.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


lots of little notes for posts jotted down, but none that i really feel the need to write right now. and i usually write when i want to.
or, more correctly, have to.
i miss that passion.
but you can't really force it, sadly.

it comes and goes in waves, as they say.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

diving into the wave

i'd been thinking about my talk all week and had mulled around some ideas but still didn't have anything written down by yesterday evening. and instead of writing a talk, i went to the rec center instead.

and so when i sat down two hours before church this morning, i still wasn't able to focus much and was not really in the mood to write a talk. but i kind of had to. i couldn't even polish it during sacrament meeting like i sometimes do with my lesson because, well, that was when i would be speaking.

having taught sunday school for more or less five years straight and being up in front of people every other week (or every week last summer), i'm rarely asked to give talks. i think i've given three in that time. one i would like to forget, one was my "farewell" when i moved from utah, and i can't remember a third, i'm just guessing there's another one in there. so i really don't know how to prepare a talk. and so i showed up with several pages of notes, not sure if i would only get through a fraction of them or if i would breeze through it all in four of my ten suggested minutes.

sitting on the stand in my Christmas green bow tie, the relief society president texted me a good luck and i confessed to her that i was feeling very nervous and was having difficulty focusing on anything.

i was given the suggested to speak on "Christ in our lives," which was broad enough to allow me to speak on just about anything i wanted. and that sort of vague liberty can be a little paralyzing, not knowing which direction to go in. so, i did the best i could think of: i gave the talk that i wanted to hear.

i had numerous people come up to make and thank me for my talk afterward and throughout the day, which was encouraging.
the thing is, i mostly just quoted the charlie brown Christmas special and read a lot of psalms.
as jaime noted right before i left utah, "it's all about the psalms."

Saturday, December 08, 2012

little lion man

i guess everyone needs a nemesis, and i've finally found mine. this guy:

that little pony is a total punk. and every time we go riding, i have to spent 15-20 minutes locked in mind games with him before i can get the rope around his neck and lead him to the stables so that we can take the horses in the pasture. (the rope isn't visible because i'm holding him very close to make sure he doesn't get out.)

this morning i realized that i was out late last night with a group of friends at northgate (the place--and the only place--to spend a friday night at a&m) and was out riding horses this morning. it's official: i live in texas now.

and it's not that bad.

Saturday, December 01, 2012


God gave us memory that we might have roses in december.
j.m. barrie

Friday, November 30, 2012

boston in the fall

so it's been three weeks since i've posted here.

anyway, i went to new hampshire last week for thanksgiving with some pretty great friends.
that was cool.

she didn't want to be with daddy or even mommy, but "father goose."

including a large stash of stephen's hot chocolate.

apparently they don't sell frosted animal crackers
in utah anymore, so this was a big deal.

i'd explain that this is kirk with a turkey on his arm,
but i think that's kind of redundant.

joe and his pregnant wife.
she turned out to be cool and fit in with our group.
and she slapped me.

so this is maine.

goose rocks.

boston. : )

this guy was absolutely amazing and a great
showman. we estimated that he brought in $100-200
on this show and he deserved every dollar.

me and sam adams: identical twins.

at the holocaust memorial. couldn't resist snapping the picture.

even the back alleys in boston are awesome.

my favorite picture of the trip.

we made it to harvard.
wish i'd taken more pictures there. or even just looked around longer.

girls who wear shirts of skeletons in skirts are ok by me

i still hope that we'll make movies one day.
wish you could've been there.

Friday, November 09, 2012

she gets it

the only song i know of hers is "we are never ever getting back together," which i think is completely manufactured to be a "hit" but has still ensnared me in its catchiness to the point that i now know all words. whether it's in spite of that or because of it, there's something about this that i really love, though i can't fully explain it:

Thursday, November 08, 2012

to be a rock and not to roll

i'm really enjoying my dance class. we're onto our last dance of the semester, swing. i feel like i've learned "swing" at least three official times and i still don't know which is which. and the jitterbug that we learned in country dance last fall doesn't seem that different, either. the downside is that, if a girl asks me if i know how to "east-coast swing" i likely won't know which one that is. the upside is that a lot of the moves are pretty similar, so once i get the appropriate rhythm down, i'm good to go.

one of the biggest things i've learned about dancing the importance of your dance frame. as a guy, it's my job to lead. i need to choose the steps and moves to do but then also communicate that to the lucky girl as well. that requires a little bit of tension between the two of us. my hand on her back can give some indication, but a lot of it comes from where we hold hands.

if she's so stiff and unwilling to move, obviously that's a problem. it's just as much of a problem if the opposite is true; if there's no resistance in her arm and she passively lets me move our hands wherever, the whole thing is mushy and there's no way to communicate. no tension, no play, no fun.

but when there's a little bit of tension in her arm and also her posture, so that my pushing or pulling to the left or the right shows where we're doing, she doesn't just follow but keeps up with me. if you can find a partner like that, dancing is a dang lot of fun.

and i think i found a couple of girls who will be good partners for the swing test.

Monday, November 05, 2012

pangs of frustration

i suffer pangs of frustration, seeing there a wondrous array of books which i have spent many years preparing to read and gleefully collecting in dusty bookshelves... but now, just as i am able to handle the stuff, i must forego the temptation and delight because there is other work at hand. 
hugh nibley

Sunday, November 04, 2012

psalm 22

i think that one of the most poignant moments in the final hours of the life of the Savior was His exclamation on the cross, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (matt 27:46) i've heard it said that that was the moment when His Father withdrew the comforting companionship of His Spirit, so that Jesus would actually know what it felt like to be totally alone, the equivalent of having sinned to the point of losing the spirit of God completely.

a few months ago i picked up an old issue of the ensign that was lying on a table next to me because an article featured on the cover sounded interesting. and it was. then i flipped around and read a brief thought that was on the final page of the january 2011 issue.

the article noted that those words that Jesus spoke--"My God, my God, why hast thou forsake me"--are scripture; the opening verse of psalm 22, to be precise. Jesus often quoted scripture throughout His life and, if He's anything like me and my friends (and i like to think so), His reference of the first verse alluded to the following verses as well:
1. My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?
 2. O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.
 3. But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.
 4. Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them.
 5. They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded.
the verses cry out for God, admitting that they feel they have been forgotten or ignored. but then they remember and acknowledge that God is God, and that includes His character that He will always be with us and watch over us and help us. the next few verses reaffirm this explicitly, citing that those before them trusted in God and things worked out. and so the same must be true now.

and that's good stuff to remember. but what really makes this interesting is that Jesus, in a time of extreme difficulty and struggle, was turning to the scriptures as a source of strength. in essence, He was re-reading some of His favorite verses to remind Himself of what He already knew.
i do that, too, sometimes.

Friday, November 02, 2012

the grey area

so i know that fewer and fewer of you are actually around the byu area anymore these days. 
life does that to sometimes, i guess.
but if you are, you should really go to my friend kristin's art show this weekend.

like, really.

if you like they way i write/think/am, you'll probably like this show:
it's thoughtful, ponderous, clever, and really beautiful.

i won't be able to be there,
but i've been able to see the projects grow and develop.
this is good stuff.

the show opens this saturday evening, with the reception at 7:45 in the hfac main gallery
and will be on display until nov. 12

Thursday, November 01, 2012

busy weekend

we went to an art exhibit at the memorial student center, the ward halloween dance and supercult movie night at the viz lab. we had great success building a willy wonka costume at the thrift store, played mah-jong, watched a handful of good movies, went star-gazing, and baked chocolate chip cookies. we ate at the hullabaloo diner, kolache rolf's and layne's chicken (of course.) we stocked the drink fridge in the lab, did a photo shoot in the studio, rode rides at the carnival and toured the blue bell ice cream factory (the "gingerbread house" ice cream is AMAZING.)
not bad for a five day visit.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

count wonka

last night after everyone left the office, i swapped out all of their office nameplates with black and orange halloween names ("andrew kilzer" became "andrew killer", etc... for my own door i just went with "count dracula")

this morning in my dance class a few lucky girls got to swing dance will willy wonka.

i took this picture with the camera in my imac at work and shared it on facebook. posting the picture then making it my new profile pic meant it appeared twice on my timeline. at last count, the combined "likes" from the two pictures is at 93. i'm sincerely flattered.

i listened to oingo boingo's dead man's party, the good songs from the rocky horror picture show, an pretty solid halloween playlist on spotify, and watched thriller while waiting for my boss to come and check out my newest edit on my cancer video.

while i never watch network television anymore, i happened to check the guide just as it's the great pumpkin, charlie brown was starting. it's not the same as the Christmas special, but i think there's still something really great that it's still showing on tv almost fifty years later.

and i even took time for a real, sit down scripture study this evening.

"we are the dreamers and we are the music makers"

Monday, October 29, 2012

blank inside

taking a break from working in the lab and listening to radiohead's "king of limbs."

actually, i've been taking a lot of breaks. i think it might be time to call it a night.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

portraits in studio a

i thought it would be fun to do a photo shoot while janelle was in town, so i reserved the studio and a few lights for this afternoon. it was fun to play around with different lighting styles and find what i liked best. i haven't had time to go through all of them yet, but here are a few that i've tweaked a little.

Friday, October 26, 2012

citizenship in the nation

thanks to getting my voter registration submitted six minutes before the 5:00 deadline two weeks ago, early voting, and no lines at the memorial student center on campus, i voted yesterday.

i really don't like the idea of voting "straight party," since i think that candidates should chosen on personal positions and not just whether they're "red" or "blue" or "green" or whatever libertarian is. (yellow? orange?) but i do think it's important to know for whom you are voting. (i figured i'd use proper grammar here for once.)

as soon as i got the ballot booth and cast my vote for the presidency of the united states, i realized that there were six pages of other people running for other offices this season, too. these ranged from u.s. senators and district representatives to railroad commissioners and, well, other kinds of railroad commissioners. at first i started just picking names and considered choosing candidates from parties other than the republicans and democrats, just to help the little guys get a leg up on the pile. but i thought back to one of the lessons from boy scouts that has stuck with me for twenty years.

one of the required merit badges for eagle scout is "citizenship in the nation," which helps us... learn about the nation. i honestly don't remember anything more specific than that except this one thing that stood out to me: when you are voting, be informed. if you just randomly cast your vote, you are, in essence, canceling out the vote of someone who took their time to decide which candidate best represented their views.

four years ago, utah sent out a small booklet outlining all of the candidates in all the races and briefly listed their positions, platforms, or principles. in a move that would be quite high on the dork scale, i read through everyone and made a small list of who i wanted to vote for. and when i went to vote, i took it with me.

i didn't have any list or any booklet with me today. so i cast my vote for the only candidates about which i was informed and put my "i voted" sticker on my shirt.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

the little things

the last time i watched the royal tenenbaums was when i was in utah for mark's wedding. sariah and i watched it on my ipad and it was as good as when we first watched it together eight years ago.
actually, i think i love the movie more as time goes by.

yes, it's a great story about love and frustrations and family and forgiveness, but there are a lot of movies like that. so why does this one stand out for me? because of all of the little things about the way it tells its story, and even (especially?) those things that seem almost trivial but actually make the movie everything that it is.

  • the way the kids run away to the museum that is a total homage to my childhood book from the mixed-up files of mrs. basil e. frankweiler
  • the music from a charlie brown Christmas playing in the background as margot leaves raleigh's house
  • dudley kneeling down to hand eli his shoe after the car crash
  • the little dalmatian mice occasionally in the background
  • that there are bullet wounds in the characters' costumes at the end of margot's birthday play
  • that richie takes his shoes off during the tennis game meltdown
  • dudley pointing out that the gypsy cab "has a dent in it."
  • "and another dent here. and another one here."
  • the instrumental version of hey jude (my favorite beatles song) playing over the introduction
  • the faint sound of a bird screech and richie looking around for it before eli answers the door
  • the moment when richie watches margot step off the bus to meet him at the station
    • the line of men in white uniforms walking out behind him in slow motion while he watches her
  • the way that pagoda walks over to the balcony as soon as eli leave the room and says "there he goes."
  • that dudley has an extremely acute sense of hearing and absolute cannot tell time
  • the way that etheline gets so vulnerable when henry shares his feelings for her
  • the barrette in margot's hair
i could go on.

and yet i think it's even something more than all of those things, but that's the best i can figure out so far.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

jeff vs. the volcano

had i gotten around to finishing the wedding video i made for jack and natalie, the advice that jack's brothers would've given her would be that "you need to understand 'joe.'" they are, of course, referring to the eponymous anti-hero of joe versus the volcano.

like groundhog day, joe is one of those movies that initially seems like an innocuous mid-level hollywood star vehicle. yet the more you watch it, the movie reveals its deeper layers. it's the first of the meg ryan + tom hanks rom-com trilogy, albeit of the pre-nora ephron era. one of the movie's more daring and unique characteristics (for a hollywood film, especially) is that meg ryan plays three different  characters, all of varying romantic interest to tom hanks.

someone once noted to me that not only is it always the same actress, but each character is the kind of girl that joe needs in his life at that point.
that's interesting to think about....

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

the small iron wall

walking into church a few days ago, i thought about how, earlier this year, one of my friends noted that every time we did something it felt like a "get to know you" all over again. i inwardly admitted that she was right, but i figured it was her fault. i gave it a second thought when i kind of realized that a lot of my friends here seem to get stuck at about that point: nice, causal acquaintances, but nothing much more familiar than that. so, either everyone in texas is crazy/lame, or else it's me. both are totally plausible, but i decided to give "everyone else" the benefit of the doubt and take a look at myself.

it does seem that i keep talking with friends at church as if i just met them last week, rather than as people i've known for a year or two. maybe it's because i'm so busy with school that there's very little time to have people over and hang out and let those friendships wax strong. or maybe i have some residual subconscious defensive "walls" from trying to cope with suddenly leaving ten years of life in utah that i put up when i moved here two years ago and i'm pushing people away without even realizing it.
or maybe i've just become a prickly elitist snob?

this evening i had dinner with our relief society president. as we talked about life and how to live it, she made a few observations about me that were pretty much spot on with how my best friends in utah would probably describe me. and so i'm pretty sure i've just over-thought this whole thing and, while there's room for improvement, i'm probably doing alright.

Monday, October 22, 2012


i was looking at some examples of kinetic typography and came across one from the "lye" speech from fight club (note: there is a moment of rough language). which isn't too surprising, since a) kinetic typography is the sort of assignment that would be given in an undergraduate after effects class and b) undergraduate guys tend to think fight club is one of the most profound things they've ever seen. in all probability, it likely is the most accessible exposure they've had to something philosophical (editor's note: the kinetic typography video was made by a professional graphic designer and not a college sophomore as our writer brazenly presupposed.) i think it's a great movie, but i also think there are far greater things out there. (i think it's also one of the most popularly misunderstood movies of my generation, too, but that's another post.)

for those of you not familiar with the scene, edward norton jr. plays a man who feels completely hollow, with little more than apathy filling up his life of consumer products. he meets brad pitt, a cool, confident, rebellious soap salesman who seems to be everything ed is not and wishes he could be. (again, this movie really taps into the collegiate male psyche.) in the scene in question, pitt tells ed they are going to make soap, then proceeds to scoop a spoonful of lye onto the back of ed's hand.

the only thing i (and i think most people) know about lye is that it's used in making soap and that its at the very end of the "acid/base" ph scale that we learned about in high school chemistry. ed screams in pain as brad holds him down, forcing him to stop trying to ignore the pain and to face and accept it. as the narrator continues to fight, brad explains that pouring water on it (the instinctual reaction) would only spread the burning chemical. but if he relaxes and submits to pitt and accepts his philosophy that there is nothing to life, that god has abandoned them, he will pour vinegar on it to neutralize the burn. i suspect this scene comes across as a sort of enlightenment for a lot of people.

listening to the speech this time, i was surprised at how so very close it is to the truth. ed norton is struggling in pain, crying for help, and brad pitt is there, coaching him to not deal with this pain the way he would naturally think to. instead, pitt offers to help him with what will really ease his pain, but only if he will stop fighting him and completely trust him first. heck, when he screams "you don't know how this feels!" brad actually holds up his hand and shows the scar as proof that he's been through this, too. could it be any more analogous?

instead of looking to God, the whole speech is about how God has seemingly disowned them and that they need to confront the cold harsh reality that life is cruel, dark and empty. and it seems that a lot of people really resonated with the philosophies of this movie. the irony is that the actual truth is the opposite; that instead of fighting and finally giving up to accept that there is Nothing out there, the other half of our nature continues to fight until we relent and give up to God, accepting that He is there and He will pour the vinegar on us and neutralize the burn. oddly, the nihilistic center seems to make it much more appealing to so many people than the actual divine center.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


this week's sunday school lesson covered 3 nephi ch.12-15. today we made it through the first eight verses of chapter 12. basically, we talked about the beatitudes, and there's enough in there that that was pretty much my plan for the lesson anyway.

when we had about ten minutes left, i jumped ahead a few verses to talk about verse 13, where Jesus talked about being the salt of the earth. and while the manual and some of my own notes had some interesting points about what salt means and represents, i will always think of salt in light of how my brother wrote about it four years ago, in terms of cooking and the gospel.

i read it again this morning and the essay was even better than i remembered it. it's long, but if you have the time, i highly recommend it (again.)

salt by tim gustafson.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

so give it up and smile

our last time together
i think it's safe to say that i've listened to tally hall's first album more than any other album i've ever owned. between my car and my computer, i'm sure i've played it more than tmbg's flood (my very first cd, i think) or the eels' electro-shock blues or... i can't even think what might come close to it. i feel in like with them from their first harmonies of "welcome to tally hall" the night that they opened for guster and bought the disc from them after the show (at a discounted price.)

we listened to it on the way home that night, falling in love with them after the concert like the after effects of a great first date. they were eclectic and creative; every song sounded different, and while they had recognizable influences ("'sgt. pepper' era beatles meets the barenaked ladies," i'd tell peope), they were completely unique and refreshing. there were fun and bold songs that i liked from the start, but over time the quieter songs grew on me and became my favorites. it's the only album on my itunes where i have genuinely rated every song at five stars.

i would give copies of their cd to any friend who would take one. at each concert, we were bringing new friends who had also become fans. i'd reference their lyrics in texts with other tally hall fans. the great laurie jayne would leave me voicemails of her playing their songs on her ukelele. i learned all the words to the fast part in "ruler of everything." heck, i even got them to play a concert at an elementary school. when i mused about what i would do if i could only have one movie to watch for the rest of my life, i had a hard time deciding. but i knew without question that i'd choose tally hall if i could only have one album.

i went to their show every time they came to town and could die happy there. i danced and just soaked up the music and the energy. not only did i know every song by heart, i knew the band. and they knew us. if not by name, they knew we'd be there after the encore, waiting for their signatures on our newest shirts and to take our traditional picture. and they were always good sports about it.

then, life went on. i moved to texas. they released a second album and it was actually pretty good. yet i kind of just stopped listening to them. not abruptly; i didn't get sick of the album or them. it was just one of those times where i realized one day that it had been a while since i'd listened to them. that's how things go sometimes, i guess.

since i first heard them in 2007, marvin's marvelous mechanical museum has always been in the first slot in my car. and it still is. i reached the end of my general conference cds and so when it cycled back to number one today, i let it play. it's been months, but i still know every word and sang along with all my heart. because the fact remains: there's no one better than you.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

eating out in reno

getting food in reno has been interesting.
i didn't eat much when we were flying out here and so was happy to find out that we were staying in a hotel-casino, because that meant that, not only was our room cheap, there would be cheap food, too. and yep, there was a "as seen in the classic movie american graffiti" mel's diner in our hotel, which provided a good burger at the end of the day.

since we're trying to keep our expenses within the money the school gave us, my plan was to find a grocery store, buy some bread, peanut butter, and cereal and live off of that part of my meals. i asked the guy at the counter at mel's if there was a store close by. he gave me directions to a "safe mart" (or "save" mart?) that was within walking distance. jess and i looked up the directions on our phones. the yelp reviews for any of the grocery stores within walking. any place we could get to had reviews of two stars or less and reviews that left me sure i'd get hepatitis if we shopped there. there was a four and a half co-op that we could get to but was closed for the night.

the next morning jess found a boutique bakery a few blocks away that we decided to go to for breakfast. after walking past probably a dozen broken motels and stores advertising "LIQUOR and groceries", we got to "homage", a house that had been converted into a coffee shop/bakery. their music was as good as their pastries and we decided we'd be back every day we were here.

the co-op grocery store was clean and had good food but kind of blew our plan to stay cheap. it was a "whole foods" sort of place, where EVERYTHING is organic. i found a half-gallon of milk for $3 but cereal was a problem. it was all of the kashi stuff and a small box was a minimum of $6. this rate, finding cheap casino restaurant deals wouldn't be any more expensive. i considered the $2 bag of rice puffs, but they looked so "healthy" they'd make rice krispies look sweet. we ended up going with a small box of "save the planet" children's cereal, specifically "enviro-kidz leapin' lemur puffs", because they were chocolate and peanut butter. jess bought a loaf of sour-dough bread for $5 and the cheapest peanut butter we could find, which was the fresh-made from the machine at $5/lb. (the jar of almond butter was $18.) i grabbed a few extra plastic containers to use a bowls for cereal.

back at the room, i realized that there was no refrigerator (thank you, hotel-casino) and had to figure out how to keep my milk cold. and so i've been making trips to the ice machine down the hall every few hours to keep my milk fresh just like my grandparents did.

in all fairness to the co-op, we stopped in a gas station (need i say it was sketchy?) and the jar of jiffy in there was $5.25, so maybe we didn't do so bad after all.

but i had in-n-out for dinner yesterday, so reno has been a culinary success as far as i'm concerned.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

reno 911

decent view from the room
it's been quite a trip already and we haven't even done any light paintings.

we flew out of dallas because it was significantly cheaper than the usual houston or austin (or college station, for that matter) and left early enough to have some time to check out the scuba shop there. the store--literally called awesome and we may or may not have bought a few things at amazingly discounted prices. but we took longer than planned and through a slight gps mistake and a few other things ended up getting to our gate just as they were starting to board. i've had closer calls before (including in denver a few weeks ago), but it was closer than jess prefers.

as we were boarding they announced that the overhead bins were full and that we would have to check our carry-on bags to our final destination. this mean jess had to repack a few things, since she wasn't willing to let the camera gear get tossed around by the baggage handlers. as we'd taken our seats, i noticed that the entire bin above her seat was open empty. she said the same about mine.

we were waiting at the gate in phoenix when jess asked me if she'd brought her laptop with her out of the bathroom, because she knew she'd brought it in. she went back in to check and it wasn't there. as we were starting to figure out what to do, the airport paged her to come to the gate security desk. we met a jovial security officer who asked her if she'd lost anything her and, once confirmed, told us that people are usually pretty good about returning things like this and that someone had brought it by just a few minutes before. when he found out that jess was from north carolina, he mentioned that he'd live there for a while and said that it was where pepsi was invented (the name came from the "pepsid" drug that was a part of it. or something.) watching the talkative officer try to make small talk with jess was a little amusing for me.

we're at the sands casino-hotel, which is great, because that means the rooms and the food are pretty dang cheap. and the "circus circus" hotel here doesn't look at creepy as the one in vegas.

we were out for a walk around the non-scary areas this morning and saw a man get hit by a bicycler speeding down the hill. he was knocked to the ground, unconscious for a few moments, and bleeding some from his head. it was my first time ever calling 911 and they oddly took a very long time to answer. i gave the man my handkerchief to hold to his head and we left once the paramedics arrived and everything seemed to be under control.

i found the meeting time for the student ward here and we're about to head out. jess thinks me and my religious ways are a little strange but she's tolerating me as usual and has agreed to explore the campus while i'm at church.

Saturday, October 13, 2012


i consider myself pretty good at expressing my feelings
but there are stil some things i just don't know how to say

Friday, October 12, 2012


the saturday before i started school at the viz lab, we had "viz camp," where all of the first years had an orientation day to get to know the department, the faculty, and each other. as we were sitting around waiting for things to start, i was talking with people. there was the guy who would become my best friend in the lab, that cute girl who was never really around, and the guy with the conspiracy theories. there was also a quiet girl whom i tried to pull into the conversation, since everyone likes to be part of the group. when i asked her her name, she said it so quietly we had to ask her twice. "jessica."
i never would have expected that i'd end up having more adventures with her than anyone else in the room.

first off, if it weren't for jess, i'd probably have failed out of school by now. up until this this fall, i've had three viz classes every semester. and, every semester, jess has been in two of my three classes. we started hanging out when she offered to help me with my homework in my programming classes. because, despite being extremely quiet, she's not exactly "shy;" she's just not very vocal. she always seems to know what's going on with everyone in the lab and she's rather talkative online. it soon became a habit where, for each programming assignment, she would ask if i wanted help.

i didn't let her move her face at all for about half an hour
while i painted her. she was really sore and a little
mad at me. until she saw the photos.
but she's also somewhat blunt. and programming was so hard for me that it left me feeling frustrated and insecure sometimes. which made for an interesting (read: tense) dynamic between us on the nights before the assignment was due. still, without her, i never would've passed 270: beg. programming 1, 271: beg. programming 2, or 654: the digital image. and for that, i'm grateful.

our first semester here, she also took a swimming class. i didn't know grad students could take other, non-graduate classes. but i liked the idea of getting out of the lab and getting some good exercise and she talked me into taking a swimming class the next semester. this proved to be invaluable, the endorphins helping me get through the stress of grad school and life in texas. this, too, became a pattern, with me taking whatever kinesiology class the semester after she did; because of jess, i've learned to rock climb and scuba dive.

during the summer course my first year here, she got in the habit of finding new recipes that she liked and suggesting we bake treats for the class. so we'd spend sunday evenings baking something fancy like rocky road brownies or red velvet cake then bringing it to the lab on monday morning.

we've kind of become this sort of "odd couple," she the extremely quiet one and me being, well, me. but with just about any activity related to the lab, she and i are usually there together. 
i sometimes can't figure out why she befriended me. she's very punctual and ordered, continually checking her grades, working to do whatever she can to get full points on every assignment and always up to date on whatever's due. and because those sorts of deadlines tend to float past me unnoticed, she seems to be typing "sigh" online to me a lot. and i'm pretty sure she's glared me at me more than anyone else i've ever met.

my left foot.
last fall, when the master of fine arts degree was created, i was one of six students to switch over to it. and so was jess.
when we began noodling around with project ideas, she started experimenting with photography. since then, i've found myself at countless times in the studio with her, doing all sorts of odd artwork that repeatedly falls under the category of "stuff i never thought i'd be doing in grad school." i've painted on her. she's painted on me. she's photographed my feet.

when i was doing that my .jpg work, jess started playing with the idea of "light paintings." the basic concept is to go to a very dark or completely dark room, open the camera shutter, and move lights in front of the camera. since the shutter is continually open, the entire path of the light is recorded. in exchange for helping work through writing my own green screen program, i would go out with her in the evenings and help do these paintings. and we got pretty good at them.

taking it one step further, she would put the pictures online, create a qr code (like a bar code) for the picture, then tape the qr code at the spot where it all went down. so anyone who saw it and scanned it with their phone would then seen a picture of what happened at that spot.

here's video about it, in case you just skipped the last two paragraphs:

as we were doing a painting in the women's bathroom of the administration building late one night earlier this summer, jess mentioned that she was applying to some festivals and that, if she got in, she wanted me to go with her, since we've become a team at this.

a month or so ago, with as much excitement as i've ever seen from her, she told me that the work was accepted to an art festival at the university of nevada-reno. the festival is paying for her to fly out there and the department had some money for me to go and so we're leaving tomorrow for five days. part of me feels really cool, being an "artist" invited and paid to go to a festival and do work across the country 

as usual, this is one more thing i never thought i'd be doing in grad school.
with jess.

(and they've got an in-n-out burger in reno...)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

models. mayhem. soap.

early in may this year i went up to dallas for a few days because my friend kirk was there on a work assignment. i like kirk and we're about as alike as we are different, which makes for a really good dynamic and balance between us. and despite having only spent a relatively short amount of time actually with him in the years that we've known each, we seem to have an dang lot of adventures and stories together. so i was ok with taking a weekend in dallas. we had our usual lively discussion about movies and everything else over a good steak dinner then went back to his hotel room. there, he showed me some photography shoots that he'd recently been doing.

the other side to kirk is that he's very energetic and active, always doing something and planning something else (this is both a blessing and a fault of his at times) and it can leave me feeling unaccomplished, meager, or even lazy. especially when it comes to camera stuff; in our group, i'm the camera guy. so as he was telling me about how he'd signed up on this modeling website as a photographer and had just been shooting stuff for the fun of it and just to try out ideas he's had, i couldn't help but see myself as... nothing much.

the thing is, they were good shots and ideas, too. they looked really nice. better than anything i have (or do i even have anything?) and he wasn't doing this for something he'd been hired to do; just for the fun of it. for the love of the craft. i guess that's how it shows if you really love something; if you do it when you don't "have" to.

scrolling through the photos, trying to help him in his request for my opinion on which ones were the best, i was inwardly doing what i could to console myself. yes, i could be better and work harder and be more dedicated, but i must have done some good work somewhere in my life, right?
then he interrupted my thoughts:

"i got the idea from you, actually. because whenever you walk into your house, your walls are covered with stuff you've shot and it looks so cool and i wanted to do something like that."


inside, i blinked at that unexpected comment.


after some slow and feeble time working on the storyboards for my thesis project this evening, i just needed to remind myself of this.

please pardon the blatant self-indulgence. this is my blog, after all.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

why i can remember 30 years back

no matter how scared he is,
i'm ten times as frightened
tonight in the lab i was informed today that E.T. was released in theaters thirty years ago today. that is my earliest memory, probably because it scared me for years to come.

while i don't know how accurate these details are, i remember being in the theater with my mom and my sister (who would've just turned 1) and the faux-balcony/box seat to the left of the theater proscenium that was lit by an eery blue light.

but these are just blurry vestiges surrounding the moment that has been vividly burned into my mind for literally as long as i can remember anything: elliott walking through the cornfield, looking for the mysterious creature and suddenly finding him. the startled motions and unearthly screams of e.t. scared me for years. it wasn't until i was in my mid-teens that i was able to watch that scene and not be wracked with anticipation and still jump when he popped out. i could say that it's because i've always been a jumpy kid, but maybe this is why.
(here's a link if you want to see the scene in question)

once i conquered that fear, i would try watching the movie when it was on tv (remember when movies being on tv was actually kind of a big deal?) and would get creeped out by either him lying pale and dying by the river or else those faceless government astronaut guys breaking into the house to kidnap them. (staring at the space suits at the nasa museum earlier this summer, i got that same feeling after a few moments and had to walk away....)
at any rate, i still don't care for E.T.

  • post script 1: the last time i watched the movie was apparently ten years ago when it was back in theaters for it's 20th anniversary release and when, thanks to simple arithmetic, i first realized just how young i was when i first saw that traumatic movie. i had toughened up enough that i actually enjoyed it then.
  • post script 2: incidentally, the other memory i have that may be earlier than that is being sealed to my parents in the jordan river temple, which is really the emotional opposite; warmth, white, and peace.

Monday, October 08, 2012

never lost

what we have is a [goshdang]
miracle here and i'd like you
to kindly acknowledge it!
i have a "tally hall" key chain. it's about the size of two postage stamps placed next to each other. one side has say "tally hall" in white letters on black and the obverse is the opposite, black on white and even written backwards as if in a mirror. those clever guys... it's a nice replacement from my remote door locker that stopped working six months after i got my car.

about a months ago, the plastic with the logos started to come unglued. i should really stop being surprised about that: the heat and humidity here do that to everything. my "tally hall" sticker magnet that survived several utah seasons quickly dried and cracked in the texas sun. my "they might be giants" replacement lasted only a few months before succumbing similarly. and now the plastic graphics on my key chain have been slowing sliding off.

as i was leaving institute last week, i pulled out my keys and saw that the white side of the key chain was gone. i checked my pocket, thinking that i had been pulled on in there; i checked the ground around me and the sidewalk that i'd just walked down. nope. i considered going back and checking inside, but my keys had been in my pocket the whole time. i hated that it was lost, but there wasn't much i could do.
welcome to life in a telestial world.

leaving work today, i was walking to my car and saw what looked like a piece of tape on the ground by my door. i hoped for a minute that it was the missing part of my key chain but dismissed that as quickly as it came. i reached down and picked it up.

it was the white piece to my key chain.
i thought that was pretty cool and, better still, it was sticky enough that i was able to slap it back into its spot. i got in the car and then thought about this a little further:

i lost this a week ago.
i didn't even lose it here.
nor was i even parked in this spot when i lost it.
there are no pockets that this piece could have fallen into then and just now fallen out of.
the keys hang in the ignition, which is nowhere near the door. there is no place for it to have fallen from.
in short, there is no possible way for this to have been laying right beside my car.

but it was.

and there may or may not have been a little note with it saying,

Dear Jeff, 
Remember, nothing is lost to Me.
And nothing in your life is too small for Me to notice. 
Your Heavenly Father

in fact, i'm pretty sure that note was there.


Sunday, October 07, 2012


and sometimes life just
rushes the camera...
it's often said that the 1st assistant cameraman has the most difficult/important job on set, referring to their responsibility to correctly set and maintain the focus of the shot. because, if the focus ring on the lens is off, even by just a little, then all of the work that everyone else has done, no matter how well, is useless.

general conference helped me get things back in focus this weekend. there was nothing new, no new announcements or revelations (ok, there was the landmark announcement about changing the missionary ages, but that doesn't directly affect me in any way right now), but listening to the talks, the points that stood out to me answered the questions that i brought with me.

like a well-lit and dynamically composed shot, this weekend's general conference reminded me of what i already knew, but those little adjustments helped me to put my life and the things around me back into focus.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

short little thoughts

i gave a lecture on cinematography and layout to a class of undergrads yesterday. it felt good to talk about what i love again, if only even an hour.

tonight i played on our lab's intramural soccer team.

and now i'm going to bed an hour later than i'd hoped.

and i wish i could be in utah tonight.