Archive for July, 2006

Quick Dialogue Interlude

Sunday, July 30th, 2006

This actually happened just now:

Her: Remember those pants I wore to church last Sunday?

Me: ( … blink … )

Her: Which do you like better, those or these?

Me: ( … blink … blink …)

Her: You can’t decide which you like better.

Me: Actually, I’m still stuck on, “Remember those pants I wore to church last Sunday”.

And that, dear readers, is just one more example of the difference between men and women.

And may it always stay that way.

The Proof of My Labors

Saturday, July 29th, 2006

There is no Parish-Delta CorporationAs you know, my chief excuse (I have many, but this one leads) for my light posting this past month has been that I’ve been working on my entry for NBC’s video promo contest for The Office — and, miracle of miracles, I actually finished and turned it in.

No one is more surprised than I.

And you can watch that video here.

And if you’re a YouTube member, and if it wouldn’t be too much trouble, consider leaving a rating and a comment.

And please be kind.

Furthermore: If you are someone that I know personally, or one of my blogging friends that I feel like I know personally after all this time (Kim, Pam, Steve, Mando, Erin, Logtar, Grant, Gerard, Nels, Renny, and anyone else I might be forgetting): Would it be too much to ask to suggest that you give me the benefit of the doubt and rate it 5 stars, for friendship’s sake?

If not, I understand.

The ratings, after all, supposedly don’t effect the judging, but some of the other entrants are apparently going around giving one-star ratings to the rest of us, so it would be nice to balance things out.

And of course, if you don’t have a YouTube account, it’s free to open one up, and it’s simple, and you’ll have one eventually, so do it now.

Okay?

Anyway, a few points about the video:

1. I’m under no delusion that my entry might win, because some of the other entrants seem to be professionals, or at least have professional equipment, but I’m really glad that I entered. I learned even more about video editing, especially about working with such a short form.

I discovered that half a second can make a lot of difference. Even adding or subtracting two-tenths of a seconds can dramatically improve the timing of a segment.

That fact, of course, means that lots of decisions have to be made about pieces of footage that barely last an eyeblink.

2. There were about 400 other entries, out of over 2000 that joined the group, so that means that more than 80 percent of those intending to make videos didn’t.

On the other hand, many of the entries were obviously made by the same people, and submitted by hastily created accounts, so there were less than 400 other people (or groups) competing.

I could have made several different versions myself, since I had over an hour of footage to work from, and only had to fill 20 seconds, but my focus was on producing one good entry. Plus, I was trying to get some better interviews on the last day of work before deadline (I couldn’t, too many nosy bosses around) , so I was editing feverishly for the six hours before the deadline.

I never would have thought that 20 seconds could take so long to edit.

3. Like many of the other entrants, I used the documentary format of the show itself, but I didn’t see any others that appeared to be unscripted. After all, the concept of the show is that the just turn the cameras on workers in an office, and they aren’t told what to say.

Of course, the show is fiction, so naturally it’s scripted, but I figured that telling people what to say would violate the documentary spirit, so I just turned the camera on, and asked a few stock questions to help get them warmed up. It worked pretty well, giving me lots to work with.

Unfortunately, we kept having the sound issues with the lapel mike, so about half of the footage had sound that either had a loud, uncleanable hum, or a very low volume that couldn’t be pumped up. Still, I had a lot to work with, so I can’t complain.

4. On the subject of sound, at least we used an external mike. I was amazed by so many of the videos, otherwise professionally made, that used the camera’s built-in microphone, so that the sound is almost totally inaudible.

It just seems strange to put so much effort into scripting, acting, and filming, and then skimping on the audio, especially when you can get lecture mike for as low as thirty bucks, or at least dubbing the voices in later.

5. One last thing: Our video was chosen as one of the Top 11 entries by Office Tally, “the Official Fansite” of the show, whatever that means (isn’t that a contradiction in terms?), so that’s pretty nice.

You can watch some of the rest of the entries here.

We’ve already gotten close to 2000 views on the two slightly different versions of ours (only one is the official entry), so I tell my co-workers that were in the video that they’re my “global movie stars”, which is sort of true …

Anyway, check it out, and please vote and comment if you can.

Puppy Pictures!

Tuesday, July 25th, 2006

I don’t have much time before I set out on my evening walk, but, as promised, here are pictures of our new puppy Bristol.

Is he cute?

Seriously: He’s taken to us pretty well, but the more he tries to play with Molly, the more she growls and snaps, so we’re going to have to watch that. Plus, he’s begun to test the boundaries of how much he can carry things off and possibly even cause a little destruction.

Other than that, though, you couldn’t ask for a sweeter dog, and he’s obviously been somebody’s pet, since he’s house-trained and responds to tone of voice.

So we’ll have more pictures (and video!) to come , so, in the meantime, click on the picture above, and check out all 22 (!) pictures we’ve posted so far. Be sure to view the larger version of each pic, to get every precious little detail.

Teaser Trailer, Details to Come

Saturday, July 22nd, 2006

Okay, three quick things, which I hope to write about with more detail later:

1) Tried to start my pickup today, but the battery was dead; d’oh!

2) Got my entry completed, submitted and accepted for NBC’s video promo contest last night, just barely under the wire. It’s a bit ragged, and I know we won’t win, but it’s a fun little video, and my co-workers were real troopers, and they might get a kick out of getting their faces seen. I’ll link at a more convenient time.

3) Now, the big thing: We were supposed to go to Denton tonight to get interviewed by a new Pomeranian, which, if all went well, we might be able to get next week.

Well, everything went as planned … except that it went TOO well.

And we came home tonight with a new pomeranian.

And yes, yes, pictures will be forthcoming.

Quick post, just to be posting …

Wednesday, July 19th, 2006

Check this out: Bed Jumpers pool on Flickr. It features some excellent in-air captures — not just up and down, but flying from one mattress to another.

You’re welcome.

Too Hot to Blog

Tuesday, July 18th, 2006

FutureWell, okay, that’s not true, I’m just too busy, but this magazine came in the mail yesterday, so I just had to scan it. (Click here to view it full size for maximum effect.)

But it’s 107 freaking degrees, so I’m playing the excuse card.

Anyway, other things: I’m working on a video for NBC’s “The Office”, but it’s like pulling teeth — two thirds of the interview footage I’m getting of my co-workers is having major audio problems: Sometimes it’s an overwhelming buzz, or there’s almost no sound at all.

And the deadline is this Friday.

Still, it’s doable, and some of the footage I’ve gotten so far has wonderful potential, and the folks that I need to re-tape might be warmed up the second (or, in one case, third) time around, and turn in even better performances.

Or they could be like, “Do we have to do this AGAIN??”

Fortunately, the one whose footage I flubbed twice so far, Aracely, is a real trooper, and, long-term, she could be good partner for producing future videos, having been my cinematographer for an impromptu stop-action animation a couple of years ago.

I only regret that one of the people whose sound didn’t come through is the only other person I work with who has actually seen “The Office”, and he wasn’t there today, but I hope we can reshoot tomorrow or Thursday.

Anyway, that’s what I’m up to, so we’ll see y’all in a few more days …

Totally Obligatory

Friday, July 14th, 2006

Against my better judgment I’m taking time to post:

Another 100 freaking degrees day. I go on my half-hour lung-walks every day around sunset, but it’s still like strolling in a giant pizza oven.

Speaking of my walks: Even though I’m getting plenty of exercise (and losing a little more weight! woo hoo!), I’m not able to use my arms much, or else I pay for it with my still-healing spine and ribs. I usually spend each summer doing work around the yard and garage, but this year the chores are confined to watering and light junk-shuffling.

As a result, I feel like I have no strength in my arms any more.

On the plus side, I could probably kick down a steel door …

Speaking of my walks: This might be the first time in my life that I have actually enjoyed and looked forward to exercise.

One reason is the nice scenery, and another is the excellent thinking time that it gives me, and of course the physical benefits as stated above, but mostly it’s the music: My 3000-song MP3 player set on shuffle, making every walk a musical smorgasboard. Of course, I have all these songs on my computer, but I don’t know of any software that can randomize all the songs from that many directories without having loaded into a single active playlist — and it’s the randomness that makes it so great. It urges me to listen to songs that I wouldn’t have thought about otherwise.

Tonight, for instance, I got “I Dreamt I Was a Soldier”, by the Decemberists; two obscure lesser-known Enya songs (in a row! rando-tastic!); an equally obscure song by the Guess Who (it rambled too much, I skipped it about halfway through), and “The Enchanter” by Robert Plant.

Then we finished up the home stretch with Paul McCartney’s rousing, raunchy “Smile Away”, from the Ram album, which I listen to occasionally anyway.

I think my wife was a bit unsettled to see me come dancing and air-guitaring into the house …

Speaking of music: You’ve probably heard by now that Pink Floyd found Syd Barrett has died. Our good blogging friend Stevein Newcastle has a definitive tribute to Syd, as we knew he would, having long been a great source of PF links and vids.

(Fract_L, Todn8r, Spook — are y’all reading this? Go check it out, seriously.)

And finally, speaking of my regular readers, thanks to everybody who left words of condolence over our loss of Schotzy — especially to Pam, who put a tribute link in her sidebar.

Those thoughts really meant a lot to us …

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Okay, sorry to end on a sad note, but I’ve got to go now … I shot some excellent video footage today, so I need to go edit it while it’s hot … And hey, at least I posted!

Schotzy R.I.P., 1990-2006

Sunday, July 9th, 2006

It’s been a sad day for us: We had to have little Schotzy put down today. He was 16 years old (the picture above is from 1999), and for the past several months his health has been taking a turn for the worse. The past few days he’s been getting weaker, and he’s been in pain, and today he couldn’t even stand up.

Schotzy in 1999But we had ten great years with him, and he’ll always be in our hearts. We got him from a home with four kids under the age of six, which is probably the little-doggie idea of Beirut, so we think he liked it here too.

So go visit his pictures on Flickr, and take a few minutes to join us in remembering this sweet little pup.

Guilt

Saturday, July 8th, 2006

Okay, fine, I’m posting again, you happy?

It’s not that I can’t think of anything to say; a lot of bloggers will quit and say it’s because they couldn’t think of anything to blog about.

I don’t have that problem. I could do 400 words about a patch of dirt on the sidewalk.

Seriously, don’t get me started.

I wanted to post about stuff this week, like Kenneth Lay (a massive heart attack was to good for him! — that seems to be the sentiment of everyone I’ve talked to), the continued lameness of the U.S. Big Brother program, the nice beneficial rain we’ve gotten, observations on going to the airport as transportation and not as a passenger, our situation at work (SERIOUSLY, don’t get me started).

But I spent my time in other ways.

A month or so ago, when I started really getting into this video and animation work, I would quit about an hour before bedtime and post something.

Later, I would think about all the progress I could have made on my video projects in the time it took me to do a reasoned, semi-well-crafted post.

Well, this past week or two I let video have priority, and I’ve really accomplished some neat stuff in the waning hours of the day, and the creative momentum tends to build over the days.

I’m not quitting blogging or anything, just re-prioritizing, at least temporarily.

Maybe.

Anyway, I’m posting today because Vickie and others have guilted me into it.

So: You happy now??

Happy 4th of July!

Tuesday, July 4th, 2006

Since we had an immense rainfall today — A downpour! A deluge! A gully-washer! — I’m using my raindrop bullet point here, even though it has little to do with the holiday.

Deal with it.

Anyway, we probably had more rain in one hour today than we’ve had in three months. Plus, it probably ticked off lots of people who were on the nearby lakes with their boats for the holiday, so that’s a bonus.

Back to the holiday: Here for your edification and mine, are the Wikipedia articles on the holiday itself, the Boston Tea Party, Ben Franklin, and the Liberty Bell.

Consider yourself educated.

Too much useful knowledge? Okay, let’s popcorn it down a little, with 1776, a 1972 movie musical (starring Mr. Feeney from Boy Meets World!), and the more recent — and immensely more well-known — National Treasure, a pop thriller that’s like DaVinci Code meets Indiana Jones meets, well, 1776.

You’re welcome.