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The long weekend has been moving by rather quickly, but at least I can go to bed this Sunday night knowing that I still have a day of vacation. Gotten a lot done already, including a bunch of work in the bedroom finally this afternoon. Over the course of the past month, work on the room had gotten pushed aside, simply because the temperatures were so hot that it made work unbearable, but with temperatures in the 70s and a cool breeze (and even a bit of rain), it wasn't too much of a problem in there today. Unbelievably, I actually finally scraped the last bit of tile and tarpaper from the floor today. The wood beneath still needs a little bit of cleaning before we rent the sander, but that was one long process that I was glad to put the cap on today.

Last night, TG was out of town, so after I got some things done on my own, I decided that I'd go out and rent a stupid movie that I knew she wouldn't care to see. First on my list was Star Wars: Episode 2, but for some reason or another the video store had sold all their copies of that movie on DVD. I ended up wandering around the store for awhile before finally completely shifting mindsets and picking out Blackhawk Down. It was some time ago that I read the series of article that the book about the event was in turn based upon (which the movie in turn was based upon), and I decided that I'd buckle down and check it out (after mentioning it well over a year ago). I'm not a huge fan of war films, especially when our country is in sort of a clusterfuck situation anyway, but it was a fairly decent flick in terms of capturing battle (but not for really going into much detail beyond that). Some interesting editing tricks that sort of helped drive home the point sometimes, but it wasn't nearly the most moving war film I've ever seen. Moreso, I'd call it a product of its times. There are moments of philosophizing, but as with any really messed-up situation in which there's no real clear-cut political reasoning for being in a place (as was the case with Somalia in 1993), the film mainly focuses on a group of soldiers all trying to just stay alive in some unbelievably difficult situations. It's super violent and pretty intense, but because there are so many people that it follows, there's no way to form much of a bond with any of them. The focus is on the fight itself mainly, and over the course of almost 2 and a half hours, there's plenty of that.

On a happier note, our Simpsons Season 3 box set arrived last week and TG and I have been merrily plowing through the episodes of that set as they gradually get better and better (we've already watched one-fourth of them). We ran into this problem last time as well, as they can't seem to keep these things coming out fast enough to keep us happy. Season Four hasn't even had a release date announced yet, unfortunately, and at the rate we're going, we'll have this one finished by the end of next month.

Damn. The year is almost two-thirds over now. It's absolutely flying by and I'm trying to keep a grasp on everything that I want and need to get done by the end of the year. To be completely honest, almost everything technically falls into the "want" category, but if you know me, you know that getting lots of things done are important.

We had band tonight as usual, and once again cranked out the beginning of what may or may not become another song. It's a completely different way of writing tracks than we're used to, so we're going to have to start going over all the stuff we've recorded and pulling out the good bits to arrange and turn into actual songs. Starting is easy. Finishing is hard.

At any rate, one of the things I hope to keep on track is the music reviews, and I actually churned out one extra this week.

You might think that I'm lazy for not posting more, but once again it's simply been that I've been away. I've been busy doing other things, life things, and therefore sitting and posting on the computer simply doesn't take as much presidence. Things are pretty good all around, although I could once again stand the weather being a little cooler. Today might have been the warmest (or hottest) at 103 with a 115 heat index. I was outside for part of it, and even though I wasn't really doing a whole lot that was physical activity, I was indeed sweating like a banshee. The next couple days are supposed to be brutally hot again, then a cooldown hits and it's supposed to be in the 70's by next weekend. It's about goddamn time.

On the band front, we're going through some flux, but it's a good thing. We're in that period right before we start getting serious to record again, and it seems like we come up with parts for a new song just about every practice. Lots of bits floating around that will eventually turn into songs. In the meantime, we got another review that is pretty positive. This last album was all about the slow, warm evocation of the countryside, but based on the beginnings of new tracks, the next release is going to be the party album.

You think I'm kidding, don't you?

I've been skateboarding to work over the course of the past week or so, which is the first time that I picked up the stick and actually rode it in probably years. When we moved, I actually used the thing to help slide along a couple pieces of furniture that were too heavy to lift by hand, and it's been languishing in the basement pretty much since then. Because the distance to work is about 9 blocks, though, it makes it just a little bit faster if I skateboard (although biking the distance seems a bit silly for some reason). At any rate, I'd been skating along to and from work now for a couple weeks, and I seem to have found about the best path in terms of smooth pavement (relatively speaking, of course). There are still some brutally rough spots (like the street leading directly from our house), but once I get on campus it's nice and easy.

That said, last night I actually fell and wiped out for the first time quite awhile. The night before that, I'd been put to the absolute test (getting home as fast as humanly possible as an approaching storm started cracking off lightning and blowing a stiff wind and the beginnings of a shower in my face) and passed with flying colors. Last night, however, was one of those times when simple lazyness got the better of me. I thought that the path I'd taken was smooth and clear, but a small stick had fallen between lunchtime and when I was going home from work and my front left wheel hit it and stuck hard. I fell forward, spinning my legs to try to keep myself upright while my right arm went down to catch myself and I curled my left hand to keep from banging my CD case (which also had my minidisc player in it) against the ground. The final result was two skinned knuckles on my left hand and a ding on my left big toe (just for reference, skateboarding while wearing sandles is sort of a dumb idea). All in all, I came out of the little spill fairly unscathed, so it wasn't an enormous deal. I just have to remember to pay attention a little more. It's not like I'm hardcore anymore.

It was 100 yesterday, it was 105 today, and the temperature is supposed to be about 100 tomorrow again before finally/maybe/hopefully cooling down on Tuesday night and sending us spiraling back down into the 80's (normal for this time of year). The air conditioner is chugging away and doing a pretty good job at keeping the house comfortable, but doing much of anything outside during the rather unbearable weather isn't an easy task. Basically, it was a weekend spent indoors, and much was accomplished.

Watched one movie this weekend, and it was after a slight snafu at the rental store. We picked out Invincible, the newest Werner Herzog film (starring Tim Roth), but when we got home, we had somehow been given Invicible, a horribly cheesy sci-fi-fu movie with Billy Zane and a bunch of other schmoes that could kick and punch lightning out their fists. The DVD had animated menus that reminded me of Mortal Combat and we called the place and got a credit. That mixup left us with only one DVD on the shelf that we hadn't yet watched, so we pulled out the Criterion edition of Spellbound and settled in for a little Hitchcock action. All in all, it was a good flick. Definitely not my favorite Hitchcock film (that honor goes to Rear Window), but there are enough great things about it to redeem it (including a Salvador Dali designed dream sequence). The acting was a little on the cheesy side for the majority of the film, but the ending tied things together nicely and bumped my overall enjoyment of the film up quite a few notches (including the infamous 'red frames'). If you haven't seen it, check it out, as Hitchcock rules anyway.

After this post, I think I will have officially become one of those people who posts a lot of pictures of their pet to their website. I'm not going to worry about it, though. If you wanted really insightful posts, you probably stopped coming to my site a long time ago anyway (now that I've almost completely shifted to talking about home improvements and music stuff). Besides, some people I know still haven't been able to meet Zoey in person, so I'm just trying to give them a good idea of her different personalities.

i want to chew on you

Another weekend has came and went, but fortunately it was another fairly accomplished one. Got some advance writing done for the site, and some things picked up around the house that were generally getting a little bit neglected. Although we're severely lacking in terms of rainfall over the course of the past month, the temperatures have generally been a little bit less severe than they could be for this time of the year. Of course, that usually means that it's still in the lower 90s or so, but that's much more manageable than closer to 100 with more humidity. We're having guests again over the course of the next couple weekends, as well as a wedding to attend, so August stands to be one of the busier months on record.

Last night after a rather full day, I relaxed a bit and played with the puppy while watching Aguirre, Wrath Of God. I'd seen the beginning of this film back in college during a film class and pretty much completely forgot what it was, save for the opening images that stuck in my head. Eventually, I found out what film they were attached to and ended up picking the film up for cheap at a local used DVD store. If you haven't seen the film, let me just tell you that it's epic. It was shot on and around the Amazon river in the 70s by Werner Herzog and is the story of the Spanish Conquistador Pizzaro and his attempts to find El Dorado. There are images in the film (such as the opening one of hundreds of soldiers and slaves trekking down the side of a mountain out of a cloud) that will stick with you for a long time, and Klaus Kinski (in a performance that I'd read a lot about) puts forth a performance that's powerful without being over-the-top (although it certainly has something to do with his crazy eyes). Although there were a couple somewhat hokey parts (where it seems like they went for a cheap laugh during a serious moment and deflated the whole thing), it's overall a great flick that I'd highly recommend.

As a funny side note, there were a couple parts in the film where a character played a little pan flute melody to try to rouse the sagging spirits of the party. During these moments, the dog (Zoey) would look up at the television inquisitively and cock her head back and forth from side to side. It was hilarious, and quite cute. Another interesting side note is that the soundtrack was done by Popul Vuh, an experimental electronic band from the 70s. It was minimal and haunting and quite good, and unfortunately (as I discovered through a bit of searching), it's also out of print. Good stuff.

I'm a sucker for deep-sea creatures, so I was absolutely astounded when I watched the video on this page today. It's literally one of those things that you can't even believe is real when you first see it. An octopus has such amazing camoflage that it looks like a special effect when it comes out of hiding. In addition to the video above, the entire site has a motherlode of cool pictures and other videos of beautiful water-dwellers.

This is an oldie but a goodie. I'd forgotten about it for some time but was reminded of it recently and had to share it. Most people have probably seen it by now, but it's a perfect idea of a fairly harmless prank turned photo project that warms my heart. Some of the reactions are priceless, especially this one.

Even though the weeks have been busy, I've felt really motivated lately to listen to and write about lots of music. A couple years after starting the review section (way back in 1997), I went through periods about every 6 months where I thought about simply shutting things down for good, but for the past year or so I haven't felt that urge at all. In fact, I've felt more inspired by (perhaps because I've finally started creating some) music than ever before, and writing about it seems to come out as a less-painful extension of that than it used to. I'm not sure it makes any sense to me either, but hopefully it keeps on rolling. I posted the usual batch tonight.

How perfectly indicitive of how my past month has been going. I wrote up an entry the other night (see below), then forgot to upload it to the site, therefore making the actual space between site updates almost two weeks (except for the new reviews, which I was only half a day late with. I've already got everything written up for the update this Friday, though, so hopefully I can keep them rolling out.

In addition to the usual things that are keeping me busy, I've got lots of projects in the pipeline. It would be sort of unfair and silly to share them at this juncture, because most of them aren't much more than ideas, but seeds are slowly being planted and hopefully around the beginning of next year I'll have several interesting things to talk about (in addition to the usual nonsense that keeps you coming here). This week is already flying by, and that's a fine thing by me. My plans are to work on remodeling and music this weekend, with the other usual nonsense scattered in for good measure. I know what you're probably saying right about now. You're thinking, "that's really great, but do you have some more pictures of your puppy?" Well, in fact, I do...

about to be mischievous

Just like that, July is gone and we're suddenly well into the 8th month of the year. The last week has been rather head-spinning again, as one could maybe guess by my complete lack of posting. I think that's the first time since I started this section that an entire week has gone by without a post, but that's what happens. Life gets really really busy and updating this thing doesn't really take priority anymore.

But now I have a couple minutes on my hands and I thought I'd try to play a bit of catchup with the past couple days, if only to help myself remember what happened if I ever look back at this entry. Last week flew by, with one night of band practice and friends coming in from out-of-town. Andrew and Aimee were visiting from Portland, and we hadn't seen them at least since last holidays. There was a party at the house of a mutual friend and we stayed up until the late hours on Thursday night, then had another little get together on Friday evening as well. On Saturday, TG and I just tried to play a little catchup and get some things done around the house. Did some more work on the master bedroom and I mowed the lawn for the first time in almost 4 weeks (even though it barely needed it after getting so little rain in that time) and did a bit of weed wacking. Went to a little get-together at a co-workers house last night to see some remodeling projects that he'd done, and it was inspiring to see that someone had made their house look really nice without spending an absolute load of cash (which is easy to do when you're talking home improvements).

Finally, we relaxed last night late and finished the movie we'd rented the evening before. We figured that if we were going to pay the late fees, we'd might as well get through the whole thing. Fortunately, it was easily one of the best movies that we'd rented in a long time. I'd heard good things about The 25th Hour, but it still surprised me with how good it was. A great flick from Spike Lee, probably one of the best of his entire career, actually. Everything about it was great, from the cinematography to the score to the casting and acting. Highly recommended.

Today, it's time for more catchup and possibly some music if I can squeeze in some time to work on stuff before the working week kicks in again.

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