Thursday, September 8, 2011

Labor Day Weekend 2011

I acquired a Flip Slide vidcam shortly before they announced they were canceling the product line, but I still love it. Plus, I got to pick my own design for the forward-facing side, which was really cool. And then it sat in my bag for a while. But this long weekend (I'm taking the whole week off, and Julie took the Friday and Monday bracketing the weekend) I decided to put it to use, much to Julie's eventual annoyance. No, she really was a good sport, as you'll see.

After a day or two of filming, I sat down with iMovie on the MacBook Air (11-inch, works great for WoW after a few setting tweaks) for another day or two and picked, chose, edited, titled, etc. my way into my first iMovie. I also learned how to use iTunes Home Sharing, which was very cool.

So, I now invite you to the exciting times at Castle Henderscott on this rainy extended Labor Day weekend. Let the snark commence.

Coming soon: I have footage from yesterday's pantry makeover, and soon I'll be turning it into another little vid. I know you're on the edge of your seats.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

American Idol Tour Season 10

Thia Megia solo
Shirtless Stefano
Junior VideographerSign Waver
James makes his entranceJames DurbanJames DurbanJames Durban
The day they announced when tickets would go on sale, I set the date/time as an appointment on my iPhone, with a 24 hour alert. When the alert went off, I notified Julie that her ticket acquisition skills would be needed, and she warmed up her TicketMaster muscles in order to secure us the fabulous tickets she did. As has become our tradition, we also each scheduled a day off for post concert sleeping in, which worked out well this year since the day after the concert was the Friday of Labor Day weekend.

We did manage to get a spot in the parking garage across the street from Worcester's DCU Center, but we were on the sixth floor, which meant a LONG time of sitting and waiting to exit after the show. Made for a short walk to the entrance, however. We did get there about 15 minutes after scheduled start, but I don't think we missed much. Paul was singing as we took our seats (floor, row S), and he's my least favorite of this year's bunch.

In past years (this is our third), the format was very countdown oriented and sectioned. This year it was really well planned, and while they did have the solo performances in order of elimination, the flow was much smoother, with the duets, small and large group numbers integrated so it seemed more like a single show than a series of performers.

There was a pre- or early teen girl in the row ahead of us, sporting a hand painted, "Give Metal a Chance," in homage to James Durban. Speaking of James D., he was the only one to make an audience entrance, which happened to bring him within perhaps ten feet of us as he crossed the floor. Julie was ecstatic.

The first photo above is James and Lauren Alaina performing simultaneous stage leaps - awesome! Click on the yellow flickr link to go through the whole set. Many of the photos have additional comments.

Directly in front of me was a budding videographer, who at maybe seven or eight years of age spent the whole concert standing on her seat, waving her multicolored flashing light stick in her left hand, while steadfastly recording the whole show on her iPhone. While wearing a fabulous poofy ballet skirt, no less. I do expect to see her at the Academy Awards one day.

I was disappointed with Thia and Pia's numbers, as they really went pop, rather than the jazzy (Thia) or ballad (Pia) numbers they do so well.

Everyone did really well, although Stefano still seems like he's doing his best to sing how he thinks a boy band hunk would sing. The low point was when he walked out onto the forward stage extension and peeled off his t-shirt in order to finish out his song topless. Cheese-fest, but the teens loved it, based solely on the squeal-fest that ensued.

Even the American Idol himself, Scotty McCreery, did very well, and I found myself dancing despite myself.

Another great Idol night. Can't wait for Season 11.

My rating: Transwarp (5 star)
Julie's rating: Hole in One (5 star)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Post Irene Power

Irene brought massive power outages, with ours joining the crowd at 10:00 Sunday morning. It just returned, a bit before 10:00 pm on Wednesday. This is 48 hours earlier than NSTAR projects it will have fully restored all their customers in our town, so we're tickled pink. So are the neighbors, judging by the whoopin' and a-hollerin' we hear up and down the street.

More Irene details later, perhaps tomorrow or Friday, with photos. For now, it's off to bed, secure in the knowledge that electronics are charging, alarms will chime in the morning, and I'll be able once again to log some Rosetta Stone (Spanish) and some dailies (WoW) before work.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Framingham,United States

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Prepping for Irene

The rain just started a few minutes ago, but already it's a downpour. The thunder had been rumbling around for a half hour or so, so I knew the window for storm prep was coming to an end.  The heart of the storm isn't supposed to get here for another 24 hours or so, but this is one wide-ranging weather system.  The good news is that we're well inland (about 30 miles west of Boston) so there's no storm surge issue, and we're at the top of a very long hill, so flooding really isn't a problem (we do get puddles in the garage, which is built into the slightly uphill side).

I got up early this morning with the intention of giving the lawn a last minute mow, but we'd had some showers overnight so it was just too wet.  Instead I weeded the gardens, and broke out the weed whacker to clear out the edges of the gardens and around the shrubs.  My hope was that the debris would get blown away by the storm winds, but I think this rain is just going to pound them solidly to the ground.  I also tackled the volunteer forest that had emerged at the edge of the mint garden after the initial foray with the string trimmer.  I don't know what these things were, but they were about three feet tall and appeared to be readying some prodigious seed heads.  The downside of the hilltop is the wind factor, so I took the preemptive measure of controlled-downing a dead birch tree that was threatening the yard.

The deck finally got the attention it deserved, and it is now clear of the assorted flower pots and trays that had been attracting all the dead leaves from autumns past.  The cute metal ladybug wind chimes usually guarding the raspberries have been garaged. I folded down the backs of the heavy adjustable adirondack chairs, and then decided to relocate them to the newly cleared deck.  The grill is securely covered and in a sheltered corner, along with the additional propane tanks.  I flipped the smallish round wooden  table over, reducing its profile and blow-away likelihood.  After I had gone back in, showered and changed out of my thoroughly dirt-covered gardening togs, I received an email newsletter from the local bird store.  I had earlier decided to leave the (empty) bird feeders on their hangers, since they would need to flip almost upside down in order to blow away, but the bird store ladies strongly advised bringing in all feeders. I tucked my feet into my Merrell's (the sneakers are soaked from the earlier tromping through the wet grass) and collected all four feeders, which are now keeping the metal ladybugs company in the garage.

So here I sit, watching the pouring rain and listening to the thunder. Jules had an optimistic 11:30 tee time at a course not too far from here, so I'm thinking she at least got in 9 holes before being called in.  We'll soon see.  I should have picked up some Duraflames for the fireplace.  Oh well, candles will have to do, because I'm in for the duration now.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Your Highness

We had a Natalie Portman mini-fest last night, where we each chose a movie from Amazon Unbox (downloaded to the Tivo), and we each happened to choose one of hers.  My selection was first, so Julie begrudgingly agreed to watch Your Highness, with the knowledge that her choice would be automatically downloading immediately after.

Your Highness is a spoof of medieval quest films, with a beloved, overachieving prince (James Franco as Fabious), his damsel in distress (Zooey Deschanel as Belladonna), a petty, unrealized potential, jealous brother (Danny McBride as Thadeous) and a mysterious warrior from another land (Natalie Portman as Isabel).  Overall, it's a crude humor, profanity laden, sight-gag ridden and at times gratuitously bloody movie that made me laugh out loud and revel in the bad-assery that is Natalie Portman.  Isabel is Amidala Unleashed and Padme with a Potty-Mouth.  She has Nina's insane drive from Black Swan, without the self-destructive bent.  The destruction aims squarely at her foes, starting with (spoiler alert) a sadistic captor (somehow they squeezed a Mad Max style arena scene into a knights questing movie) whose giant hydra hand puppet she dismembers one finger/neck at a time, finishing with an evil-soliloquy-ending javelin to the chest.

What's that? How are the rest of the cast/characters? Oh yeah, they're in there too. But let's just be clear - it's all about Ms. Portman, who can deliver outrageously tacky lines with such gravitas that you don't notice how offensive they would be had they been spoken by another actor in another setting, and whose fight scenes out-BAMF even Samuel L. Jackson.

My recommendation: set aside your bad taste filter for a couple of hours (in fact, lock it out of the house for the duration) and just go with it.

Warp Factor Scale: Warp 9 (4 star).
Tee Shot Scale: (I'l update it once Julie's awake, but I'm guessing it's a surprised Fairway/3 star).

Reviews and Custom Scales

I've designed some appropriate ratings scales, so I'll need to write some reviews to go with them. For reviews from a past blog-life, see this index to reviews on my old blog.  They can be quite entertaining.  I'm trying to remember where the fuck I found time to watch all that stuff, let alone write about it, while working full time and going to law school.  Oh yeah, Starbucks and Red Bull.

But enough nostalgia.  For reference, here are the scales: the Warp Factor scale for me, and the Tee Shot scale for Julie (I haven't told her about this yet, but I'm sure she'll love it. Or at least she'll humor me).

Warp Factor Scale:
Space Dock - No interest
Maneuvering Thrusters - 1 star
Impulse Engines - 2 stars
Warp 5 - 3 stars
Warp 9 - 4 stars
Transwarp - 5 stars

Tee Shot Scale:
Rain Day - No interest
Out of Bounds - 1 star
In the Rough - 2 stars
Fairway - 3 stars
On the Green - 4 stars
Hole in One - 5 stars

Saturday, July 16, 2011

What's in a Geek Name?

A colleague was wearing an awesome DS9 t-shirt at the office the other day, and my complimenting him on it launched us into a discussion thread that went something like this:

  • I mentioned that my niece and her husband were considering the name Julian for their upcoming noob, and my feeling that if this were to be the first name, the middle name should be Bashir.
  • He wondered whatever happened to that actor, as he could not recall having seen him in anything beyond DS9.
  • I said that he was in that Oscar-nominated movie in the desert, with Matt Damon, but I couldn't remember the name.
  • He recalled that it was Syriana.
  • I described another movie he'd been in, that I couldn't remember the name of, but it was with Patricia Clarkson.  He didn't know who she was, so I mentioned The Station Agent, that she was in with that guy Peter whose last name I couldn't remember but I held my hand up at about 3.5 feet to indicate his height. I also said he was in that show with Carla Gugina, and of course I couldn't remember the name, but it was awesome.
  • I then excitedly recalled that he was in that show on BBC, where portals in time open up randomly and stuff comes through.
  • He rolled his eyes at me and proceeded to chastise me for not being able to remember the title Doctor Who.
  • I rolled my eyes further and chastised him that they don't use portals to time travel on Doctor Who, they use the TARDIS.  There are rifts in Doctor Who, but not portals.  Although possibly that fireplace to 18th century France could be classified as a portal.
  • He then correctly placed the show as Primeval, which he had never seen.
  • He left my office, and I was left secure in my geek status, even though I was having serious trouble remembering names.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year 2011

I see I haven't posted since last spring.  I would say the biggest contributors to my noncontributions to the blog world have been:
  1. World of Warcraft
  2. Shoulder injury
Let's start with the shoulder injury, since the root cause was the subject of previous posts: those raised beds.  I did clean out the area for the two additional in front and built the last two beds.  Then I took on the task of moving the dirt from the huge pile in the front yard into the beds.  Most unfortunately, I thought it would go faster if I used a bigger shovel, so I dragged out the snow shovel and scooped huge piles into the wheelbarrow, which I filled to brimming and pushed up the hill.  Over and over and over.  Yeah, not so bright.  After a couple of months of thinking the pain would pass, I saw my doctor, who sent me to an ortho, who gave me a cortisone injection and sent me on my way.  That eased it a bit, but even that small relief faded.  Eventually back to the doctor, who sent me to physical therapy.  Another couple of months of stalling, and now I'm in my 11th week of PT, with some improvement.  The PT did warn me that with the nature of my injury and the length of time I had been dealing with it, I should view my progress on a month to month basis, not week to week.  So I have hope, and am already planning my gardening for next year.

On a related note, the dirt pile in the driveway remained through the summer and fall, though not as massive as upon delivery.  It sprouted tall plant life and became a sort of wildlife refuge, which I thought was pretty cool, even though it blocked my side of the driveway and I had to navigate the Mini around it daily.  One day eleven turkeys were meandering around and through it, and on several occasions entire flocks of small birds would launch themselves from it when I pulled into the driveway.  Julie was not amused.  I was rescued by my sister and nephew, who came over one afternoon prior to snowfall and cleared away the last of the pile.  My existing framed beds are now nicely topped off, and I have a couple of new unframed beds for next year.

On to World of Warcraft.  Sometime in the late May timeframe I finally tried WoW, which I had been avoiding for years as I suspected I would be drawn in to the world of online gaming like a speck of space dust to a black hole.  I was right.  In recent weeks, however, the Azeroth fever has broken, and I've cut down my logged in time to permit the return of other pastimes.  Jules is immensely relieved.

So anyway, blah, blah, blah.  All this to say it's New Year's Day, and time for fresh starts.  I changed the design of the blog a bit, and hopefully I'll be returning on a more regular basis to entertain with tales from my continuing adventures.  Happy New Year!