Just as I was heading downstairs this evening after rollerblading, a glint of color caught my eyes through the blinds and I saw some amazing colors coming in from the sunset. I tossed a shirt and shoes back on, then grabbed my digital camera and ran five blocks to get a less obstructed view of it all. All blues and pinks and quite lovely.
Also, tonight TG cooked up the meal de la meal. Homemade pad thai tofu and lemongrass soup, and I whipped up some mango lassis to go along with it all. It was all quite yummy and I was in full-on bliss mode after devouring it all. As a bonus, there's enough left over for lunch tomorrow...
Although the highly unusual temperatures have me worried about another drought in the coming year, I've been out and taking as much advantage of them as I can. After a beginning part of holiday vacation that was spent eating lots of food and sitting around, I've managed to get back into almost a summer routine of exercise, as I've rollerbladed almost 10 miles a day for the past 3 or so in a row. If things continue through the end of the month, this will be the first December on record here to have absolutely no moisture on record. As much as I enjoy getting out and enjoying temperatures in the 50s, I'm about ready for some snow.
What if you threw a party and nobody came? TG and I found out again last night, but we ended up having a good time anyway. After whipping up a nice batch of food, we stayed in for the night and ate and drank and played some scrabble while Lee "Scratch" Perry, Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds, and Brokeback played in the background. One lonely soul showed up later in the evening, and we continued the small gathering with talk of impending war and the current administration before moving on to slightly more uplifting topics of discussion.
It's holiday break, so I've been relaxing a bit and trying to stay away from the computer a little more than usual. I've been having a nice time off from work, both managing to get some things done and spend some quality time with friends and family. I finally managed to finish up my favorite albums of 2002 list, although it may change over the course of the next couple months... I'm taking submissions for readers lists as well again this year (after the great response from last year), so if that's your sort of thing, get over there and contribute.
I'm not sure if you've been paying attention to the radio lately, but there's an up-and-coming single by the group 2 Live Mew that's pretty much tearing up the charts lately. It's sort of an off-key, glitch-hop track that seems to be so popular with the kids today, and just so you have a chance to hear it, I've put a MP3 copy of it up on my site for you to download and check out. Just click on the artwork below to download it.*
*In case you haven't figured it out, this is the track that I put together with TG. Think of it as our little gift (hopefully it's at least good for a laugh) to you, and we hope that you have a safe and happy holiday season.
Went to see Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers this evening, and although it pains me somewhat to say it, I was somewhat disappointed in it. Technically, it's a masterpiece. The sets and costumes and CGI were all top notch, and even though the character of Gollum had his quirky moments, I was highly impressed with the level of work done. In other words, it completely put Jar Jar Binks to shame. On the other hand, my problems with the movie seemed to be more with tone and structure more than anything. Instead of simply letting scenes speak for themselves, there was almost always a reaction shot from a character, and while it worked at some points, there were too many where it felt extraneous and downright cheesy. Not only that, but there seemed to be a much more gratuitious use of slow motion camera shots during moments that were obviously supposed to be 'touching' or 'moving' anyway. Again, it goes back to simply letting a scene speak on it's own, rather than pounding the viewer over the head with a certain feeling that is trying to be conveyed. Honestly, there were more than enough breathtaking images in the film to make me happy, I didn't need to see character after character trying to drive the point home with an anguished (or whatever else) look.
I don't mean to say that I didn't like the film, because on the whole I enjoyed it, but overall it felt like it had sort of been 'dumbed down' from the first one. I know that people will probably hammer me for my statements, as the praise seems to be almost universal for the film, but PJ should have trusted his instincts a little more instead of always placing endcaps of someone (mostly) overacting to drive the point home. All of the above said, I'll still be all over the third one.
While I don't bike to work nearly as much as I used to (due in large part to TG and I working only a block from one another and therefore carpooling seemed more sensible), but I've seen a lot of bikers lately that give people who bike a bad name. Before I complain a bit, let me explain that I'm completely for bikers having the same rights as cars. In the past couple days, I've not only seen bikers going down major roadways (when there were double sidewalks especially constructed to contain both bikes and pedestrians (of which there were none) only a few feet away), but tonight there was a biker riding on one of the major streets in town that I take home and he didn't have a light or even reflectors on his bike (and he was wearing all dark clothing). During the summer, it might not be such a big deal, but when he made an illegal lane change in front of me, I could barely see him in the early darkness of winter. While there's something to be said for proving a point (although I don't know what the fellow tonight was trying to say by swerving in traffic), doing something that could get you killed isn't exactly the best way to go about it.
Finished up reading A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again by David Foster Wallace the other evening. Unlike his two books of short fiction that I'd read, his non-fiction work was much less hit-or-miss to me. I really really enjoyed just about every single piece in the entire collection, and quite a few of them were absolutely hilarious and completely engrossing and insightful. His two works on tennis (one a memorium of youth, one a profile of a high-rank pro) kept me rapt despite my lack of interest in the sport overall, and his reflections on the Illinois state fair and a cruise ship vacation should be read by just about everyone. Immediately afterward, I tore into Crashing The Party by Ralph Nader, and found myself again highly pissed off about the 2000 election and politics in general. More on that book when I finish it...
Forget all the bowl games this year. I've heard that the latest action on the line in Vegas is whether the band known as Marianas will finish their album and have it out the door by the end of the year. According to insiders, there have been differing reports from within the band camp as to whether things can be wrapped up by the end of the palindrome year, and oddsmakers are responding accordingly, laying the line down in opposition to the band being able to complete things. According to local bookies, early betting has been heavy, even generating more interest than this year's BCS championship game. The young trio knows that the odds are against them, but they're strengthening their resolve and vowing to put the smack down on all the naysayers. I'm not a betting person myself, but I wouldn't count them out.
After realizing that the picture I put up earlier this month makes our living room look a little drab, I decided to take a picture of our newly-decorated Christmas tree (with presents!). Much more colorful than before, it now has ornaments, as well as several small (cute!) felt animals decorating the aluminum branches.
Over the course of this weekend, I managed to finish raking the entire backyard, and filled 15 30-gallon lawn bags in the process. Along with rollerblading about 6 miles today, it made for one of the better exercise weekends I've had in quite awhile (the absolutely insanely nice weather helped in making me forget about most computer-related things for two days).
Went to the first holiday party of the year tonight, and it was pretty darn fun. TG, Aaron, and I all went and ended up staying until the wee hours. Met some new people, had some good conversation (including talks about teeth getting knocked out, horrible car accidents, and shoplifting while young). Had my first true glass of egg nog for the year, and decided that we're going to have to have a little get-together at some point over the next couple weeks.
A quiet night at home after a frantically busy week. Decided to rent a movie, and picked out Human Nature, which was written by Charlie Kaufman (of Being John Malcovich and the forthcoming Adaptation). I'd seen previews for the film earlier in the year, but it seemed to be rather unceremoniously dumped in theaters without much of a push and subsequently banished to purgatory before rising again on DVD. As it turns out, it's a scattershot affair, but not in a bad way. Kaufman seems to want to take on litterally every fact of human nature (natch on the title), taking a rather cynical look at our insecurities, neurosis, and other flaws. In placing them in contrast with those of the animal world, it makes for an interesting (if somewhat disheartening) look at how we act toward one another. There are moments of extreme humour, but also some weird moments that are a bit confusing (and would probably actually piss off most viewers). That might explain why it never really caught on in theaters, but I think it's a decent enough film to not completely write off. Although it has a couple weak spots, it's definitely worth checking out if you're a fan of offbeat, dark comedies.
Another frantically busy week, so it's fortunate that the weekend is arriving soon. Planning a little take-it-easy time, as well as finishing up my holiday buying and raking the leaves out of the yard. I'll write more after I've slept a little...
I can hardly believe that two weeks from tomorrow is Christmas Day already. As usual, I've somewhat procrastinated in terms of getting gifts for everyone, but I've pretty much got everything figured out in my head, I just need to go out and actually make purchases and wrap a few things. At this point in the game, I've learned that unless you really know someone, gift certificates seem to be about the best way to go. It probably seems like the lazy route to go, but it seems like people have honestly enjoyed them just as much as physical gifts for the most part. People like to pick things out themselves and it's sort of like a mini shopping spree when you've got a gift certificate in hand.
Also in realization with the above, it's weird to think that the year is just a couple weeks from being over. 2002 seemed like it went by both quickly and slowly at the same time. I feel like I've packed quite a bit into the year, including meeting some excellent new friends who I also happen to be in a band with. Like always, I'll probably have little year-in-review lists in the upcoming future (both for music reviews and other stuff), so if you enjoy that sort of thing, just stay tuned...
I've picked up 10 huge bags full of leaves already this fall, and there's a lot more to go still in the backyard. While having two really nice large trees is our yard is something that I wouldn't trade away, I haven't been able to quite muster the courage to completely tackle raking the entire yard yet. I've been doing allright so far, and I'm probably almost half done with everything, but it gets dark so early and my weekends already seem completely packed.
Many of my friends and loved ones know that I have sort of a weird fascination with numerology. I'm not the kind of person who knows Pi to hundreds of digits or anything like that, but I have a fairly good knack for doing math quickly in my head, and I often keep track of little patterns and trends or make mental notes of certain numbers that I run across in my daily life. At any rate, one thing I've done since starting the site is keeping track of stats. At first, it was like a weird sort of addiction in which I would check my stats constantly, often back-tracing DNS numbers to people that were surfing my site and even remembering many of these numbers and being able to make reference to them. One of the easiest things to keep track of, though, is simply how many people are viewing the site and this week the little site that I started back in 1997 reached sort of a big one. I've never kept a hit counter (it's sort of impracticle for the site, since there are so many ports of entry that people use), so my measure of how many people are reading the site has by default become how many page views I have. While that's a number that also gets somewhat distorted (due to search engine robots indexing the site, etc), it's still a fairly accurate judge, and to make a long story short(er), almostcool.org passed the one-million page view mark this past week and it made me a bit happy. While that's not a lot of traffic compared to a lot of sites, it was a nice number for me to get excited about, and considering it's 50% higher than the total number of page views I had last year, it seems like traffic to the site overall is growing.
If you're one of the people who has swung by the site and read anything (obviously you are, if you're seeing this now), I thank you. I know the site itself hasn't always been that interesting, but I've still had a busy year, and the forthcoming album release is something that I'm really proud to be a part of. Again, I'm flattered that anyone swings by the site, and I welcome everyone back. To be honest, it's probably some of the best money I've spent (in paying to host this site), and it's probably saved me from therapy on more than one ocassion.
There is a house just a couple blocks from us that puts the Griswolds in National Lampoons Christmas Vacation to the test. It's almost to the point where you need sunglasses to drive by at night, and I can't imagine what the neighbors think (this display has been up since just past Halloween). Feast your eyes on holiday spirit gone overboard (those lights in the trees in back are at least 50 feet in the air).
Also, I think (unless there are minute changes) we put the finishing touches on another track this evening. It was just started a week ago, but it's one of our nicest ones now (IMHO). Hopefully we can get the thing out the door by the holiday break... Oh, and new reviews.
Wow. I've been even more neglect than I thought possible lately with the site, but busy in other respects. The little music project known as Marianas is still chugging along and even starting new songs at this late point in the game. Most people reading have probably lost interest by this point, since the release has been pushed back so many times, but just know that we're sounding better and better and in the end, the music will hopefully reflect that fact. Early next year, I promise.
I finally finished up a roll of film the other day, and it was one that had been in the camera for literally a couple of months. I've given up making excuses for my lack of photography, and simply offer up several new pictures (just click on the one below to head directly to the photo section). The funny thing is that even after not taking very many pictures lately, I'm still very picky in regards to what I think is a good image. Looking through the photos on initially getting them back, I was sort of discouraged at what I thought was a lack of decent images out of the 24 that came back. Upon subsequent looks, though, there were a solid little batch of pictures that stood out. Nothing groundbreaking, to be sure, but definitely some nice little textures and even a couple inadvertent photos that I ended up liking quite a bit.
More thoughts coming tomorrow. After this last holiday, and the past four splendid days, let me just say that I'm thankful for many, many things. I'm a lucky fellow, and I hope that all my family and friends know that they mean a lot to me. I may not be the best at showing it all the time, but I'm grateful.