April 7, 2008

Free Hugs?

YES! Hugs for free! I love this concept!

And by "free" I don't merely mean you don't have to pay money for them (that would be wrong on so many levels, anyway). But rather you get it regardless of who you are, what you look like, where you come from, where you're going, or whether or not you know the person you're hugging. That is such a sweet deal!

Think about it: we all know each other to some degree already. We all come from the same Creator, and we're all in this human experience together. So why be afraid to show love by hugging? My personal experience of hugging strangers is this: those that accept the hug are touched on a deeper level than if they had simply received a "hello," or even a handshake. I've seen complete strangers tear up after receiving a hug from me, not because I'm such an awesome hugger (although I am...if you don't believe me come on by and I'll give you one for free), but because there is such a lack in human interaction, in the open expression of LOVE for each other, that when people receive it, it can be a highly spiritual experience for them.

Skeptical, are you? Then go out into your lives, into your workplaces and homes and churches and communities, and start hugging the people you see on a regular basis. Once you feel warmed up, start hugging strangers. You will be amazed at what that will do for your life. If done in the right spirit, it can be life changing. Isn't that so cool?

Check out: www.freehugscampaign.org

April 1, 2008


Jerry Seinfeld, in one of his classic sketches, said that for men growing up, "being a superhero wasn't a fantasy. It was an option."

Nobody knows this better than me, a bonafide grown-up wanna-be superhero who happens to have a 3 year-old son with similar ambitions. The difference between him and I is that I am fully aware of the facts:
1. I can't fly.
2. I am NOT invincible.
3. I do not look good in bright-colored tights.
4. I know the truth about "special FX" and "CGI."

For my boy, however, these are all just minor formalities that are easily overcome by popping his favorite CD in the stereo (a mix of Superhero theme songs from their beloved cinematic counterparts), strapping on his reversible Velcro Superman/Batman cape, and climbing up on the nearest piece of furniture for the full effect. For this kid--my son, my flesh and blood--being a real superhero is like being anything else. Anybody can do it as long as they're committed to going all the way. And believe me, he is!

"What do you want to be for Halloween?

"What movie do you want to watch tonight?"

"What do you-"

"What about-"

"Indiana Jones!" (He's the exception to the super powers rule)

"Superman! I already told you!"

And it goes on and on. This isn't a bad thing, mind you. There are a hundred other things he could be interested in, things that don't promote the standard superhero qualities of courage, strength, selflessness, saving people in need... He could be calling me "dizzad" and asking for a toy "gat" and some "bling" for his birthday. Thank goodness he ain't some wannabe original gangsta, or I'd be set-tripping on his baby grill while he's still tippin' with his mini-homies, and then 86 'em all outta my crib straight-up!

The day will come when this kid gets to learn that superheroes are a thing of fiction, of fantasy, of make-believe. He'll get to find ways of coping with the reality that he'll never be invincible, he'll never be able to fly on his own, he'll never have a good reason for donning an emblematic, tights-based costume for the good of mankind. But the beauty of what he's living now is that he'll grow up knowing of the joy one feels by serving his fellow man in heroic and courageous ways, and if he's lucky, he may find himself in a career that allows him to do that on a daily basis. Saving lives, living in integrity, and standing for truth, justice, and the human way--these are the qualities all real-life heroes should have, no cape required.

But for now, I'm gonna let the kid fly.

March 27, 2008

Indiana Jones 4

I can't seem to get enough of this trailer! The movie opens May 22nd, and believe me, I will be first in line! Click the widget to view the trailer...it is definitely worth it. In fact, if enough of you click the widget (and it would have to be a ton of you) I might win a chance to go to the premiere! For those who know me well, you know how big of a deal that would be. Click away!

March 19, 2008

A Max Caliber Exclusive!

This just in! An exclusive scene from the upcoming MAX CALIBER movie was sent to me by none other than Max Caliber himself, Chris Cowden! He's currently editing the film in Thailand, where it was also filmed, and it should be released some time this year (probably around Summer). Hope you like it!

I Believe In Chris Nolan

Summer 2008 will be big for movie goers, with the announced releases of big-ticket blockbusters like The Incredible Hulk, Wall-E, The Happening, Indiana Jones 4 (my personal fave), and many others. Amidst those summer releases is Chris Nolan's follow up to his refreshing take on the Batman franchise, Batman Begins.

This year's installment, THE DARK KNIGHT (yeah, dog), promises to be darker, sleeker, and badder than its predecessor, thanks in part to the late Heath Ledger's ominous performance as the Joker--which, based on what I've seen thus far (photos, trailers, & the IMAX short film that screened before I Am Legend), could and should be considered the truest on-screen Joker portrayal ever, rivaling even the versions we've seen in the Batman comics. No offense, Jack Nicholson, but I think Ledger has you beat as far as creepiness goes.

Nolan has done for Batman what many other studios seem to be attempting for their failed franchises. For example, the HULK franchise is getting a facelift, tummy-tuck, and lobotomy with this summer's release of The Incredible Hulk (Edward Norton, who I think is one of Hollywood's best, plays the big green guy). The X-MEN series, which ended on a somewhat flat note with the lackluster X3, looks to breath new life and audience-interest into the franchise with the upcoming WOLVERINE (an X-MEN prequel of sorts). And let's not forget goldenboy JJ Abrams' no-small-feat-of-a-revival prequel to every Star Trek movie (or TV episode, for that matter) ever made, with his hip incarnation of STAR TREK, coming out the end of this year. Lots of big kids calling "do-over" this year, and I'm confident the results will be worthy of some good theater-time this summer, popcorn in hand, of course.

Regardless of this total disregard for original story (heh heh...like there are any truly original stories any more, right?), I am super excited about the Batman series and what it has done for the Dark Knight's character. I am also stoked about the marketing tricks Nolan and his team have pulled out of their hats this time around. Talk about smart advertising: It all started with a phantom website that seemed to pop up out of nowhere, the original www.ibelieveinharveydent.com, which consisted simply of a campaign poster for Gotham D.A. candidate Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart). Then there was another site, www.ibelieveinharveydenttoo.com, with an image of that same poster, only this one has been vandalized...a red smile and black eyes spray-painted on it (obviously the Joker isn't a big fan of Mr. Dent).

Then the sites vanished. Then the teaser trailer, which had a few soundbites over an image of the Batman logo being blasted by white lasers or something. Then another website for Joker followers, encouraging people to paint their faces like the Joker and take their pics next to some landmark in their city. Lots of people got involved, even out here in Utah.

Then came the big release of the current trailer, followed by an announcement that there would be a special, IMAX-only showing of the first minutes of The Dark Knight, which would play before the IMAX showing of I Am Legend. I actually went to I Am Legend just so I could see this short film, which featured none other than the Joker himself doing Jokerly deeds in a Gotham City bank. So cool. And so smart! I have been aching to see the rest of the movie ever since, and come opening night, I will be in line with ticket in hand.

Most recently is the reemergence of www.ibelieveinharveydent.com, only now it is a full-fledged campaign website for Mr. Dent, where fans can sign up for newsletters, join campaign rallies, visit with the Dentmobile, etc. If you haven't visited it yet, take a minute and drop on by. Check out the downloads section, where you can download banners for sign waving. Or go to the On The Road page and see if the Dentmobile will be in your neighborhood. If you're a fan of Nolan's vision, then you'll love this site. It's pretty convincing! I believe in what the Batman Begins crew are doing to this franchise. I believe it will be one of my year's favorite movies. I believe that Heath Ledger has made movie history as the Joker.

And I believe in Chris Nolan.

March 17, 2008

Screen Cleaner

PC monitors have a tendency to become foggy from the inside out, and it is a good idea to do a regular maintenance on them so that your picture quality is at its best. If you've never run this cleaning program on your computer yet, it's really easy. Just click the "Clean Monitor" button below to activate. It only takes a moment to complete. Thanks to Jase Bennett for sending me this info.


My Arms Hurt...

I don't know about you other guys out there, but I've landed a job where it is common practice for the administrators (who almost all happen to be women) to ask the gentlemen of the company--myself included--to handle the majority of the "heavy lifting." By "heavy lifting" I literally mean lifting heavy stuff that needs to go from one place in the library to the other. New furniture, old tables, boxes of who knows what, carts of books, and most recently, 47 big boxes of brand new arm chairs, which consequently had to be un-boxed and hand carried to the basement level of the building. Heavy lifting. And lots of it, too. The joke that is going around is that it's part of my "job description." That little comment always seems to raise laughs with the women here. I don't recall anything about heavy lifting in my job description. In fact, it wasn't even discussed in my interview (not that it would've affected my desire to work here anyway). Like I said, it's common practice, and I guess you could say I am getting used to it.

Now, I'm not necessarily against the exploitation of my genderical (is that even a word?!?) qualities if it means that the nice ladies on the 3rd floor don't have to carry lots of heavy crap. In fact, I'm usually the first to offer my assistance when it comes to things of that nature. It's what I as a child learned to call "chivalry." Also, it pays to be on the boss' good side, and they remember things like this when it comes down to evaluation time. Moreover, I really like my female coworkers. They're great people who genuinely appreciate the "heavy lifting" that we do for them. They even give us guys cookies for helping them. All in all, it's the right thing to do, and I shouldn't complain.

With all that said, however, the fact still remains...My arms hurt.

March 10, 2008

This Month's Poll...

I know you've all been waiting for this moment... I have posted this month's poll: WHO IS THE ULTIMATE IRON CHEF?

For those who know me, they know that I love the Food Network. I especially love the show IRON CHEF AMERICA, hosted by none other than the Food Guru himself, Alton Brown (one of my heroes). If you've never seen the show, here's a quick rundown: ISA is based on its Japanese counterpart, IRON CHEF, in which world-renowned chefs gather at Kitchen Stadium to do culinary battle against one of the reigning Iron Chefs - masters of world cuisine who have proven themselves on the food front lines. At the beginning of each challenge, a secret ingredient is announced, and the chefs then have 60 minutes to create from scratch 4 to 5 original dishes that feature the aforementioned secret ingredient. There are no limits to what these masters can create as long as they get all their dishes plated before the buzzer sounds, and they feature (not just hint at) the secret ingredient. Pretty exciting, right? Well, couple the action with Alton Brown's genius commentating and quick wit, along with some of the industry's best food critics as the judges and a full-on samurai as your host (sword and all...just watch the ISA ads), and you've got one heck of a great show!

So this month's question deals with who you feel is the ULTIMATE Iron Chef. Is it Mario Batali, the Italian Stallion of cooking? Is it Cat Cora, the Bay-Area Beauty with a knack for Mediterranean cuisine? Or is it Bobby Flay, Mr. Grill himself? Could it be Masaharu Morimoto, the Japanese legend? Or perhaps Michael Symon, Ohio Farmboy and Iron Chef newcomer? You decide!

March 5, 2008

And the Verdict Is...

"SHERBET"! That's right, it is a statistical fact, boys and girls, that more people pronounce the word "SURE-BET" than "SURE, BURT," or any other way for that matter. Here are the figures:

50 % say it like "SURE-BET"
33% say it like "SURE, BURT"
and surprisingly,
16% say it some other way.

(Some Other Way)

I'd like to thank everyone who participated in this month's poll, all 6 of you. You've contributed to society in a way the world will never forget. I will mail my findings to Webster Co. and demand that they include them in the pronunciation portion of the dictionary under the word "sherbet," so no other child will ever have to grow up confused about how to say it correctly.

Be sure to check back for this month's poll, coming soon! Let's keep making statistical history! Together we can change the world!!

March 4, 2008

Music Video by Second Person

Anyone ever heard of SellABand.com? If not, check it out. It's a cool site that has launched the musical dreams of a number of otherwise unknown but highly talented musicians. A good friend of mine, Cubworld, happens to be one of the SellABand poster kids (and rightfully so...he's awesome). If you have already heard of it, then you know that there is a lot of good music out there.

While in Amsterdam last August, I saw one of these groups perform live, with this video playing in the background. The group: Second Person. The song: "Wood." The video: Pretty dang cool. Actually, the story behind this video is that Mark, the bass player/leader of the band, wanted an animated video, and instead of toiling over it all himself, he sent out a cry for collaboration (which has to be my my new favorite word) to filmmakers and animators from across the world. They each created a portion of the video, he tweaked and directed and organized and pieced together each part of the work, until at last he had this visionary, Gorillaz-esque music video. The song by itself is a great work as well. Check it out. And if you like it, go to their page and let them know.

I'm Back!

It has been about a week since my last post, and since then I have had some life-changing, or rather, life-DEFINING experiences. It's not too often that we get to take a close look at ourselves and determine who we really are, why we were created, and just what it is we are here on Earth to do. Having gone through that myself, I can honestly say that I don't know how I was living prior to this past week!

Before you get to thinking that I've joined some cult or otherwise have completely lost my marbles, let me just say that there is a company called Impact Trainings (check out www.impacttrainings.com) that hosts these aforementioned "life-defining" experiences. I have attended 2 rounds of trainings through them, and plan to continue to attend the upcoming sessions later in the year. The people who run these programs are amazing...truly inspired. My experience of them is that they really get the whole mortality thing; that they have a good grasp on where the world is headed and what needs to change in order to save us all from some really bad days (putting it lightly). And everything they teach is centered on the basic universal principal called UNCONDITIONAL LOVE. That is a whole topic all its own, and I am sure I'll be writing some thoughts and feelings about that real soon. But to give you an idea of the way I feel, ask yourself this: What would your life be like, or how would your life be different, if you honestly fully loved yourself 100%, having forgiven yourself and everyone who has ever hurt you in some way or another (and I mean real forgiveness), and you didn't care about what others think or say about you because of the perfect way in which you love and know yourself? And what if you also had a pure knowledge that your Creator--that God in heaven who gave you your talents, abilities, your very life--that He loves you unconditionally and is aware of all the crap you go through in life, to the extent that no matter how specific you get with Him He is never surprised nor ashamed of you? Or if you, through real and tangible experiences, learned just exactly who you are, why you are here, and what your life's purpose really is? And I mean specifics, too...no vague and indescribable feelings, either. Whose life WOULDN'T change?!?

I've said it a million times and I'll keep saying it: those trainings are AMAZING!!

If you ever want to talk more about my specific experiences, drop me a line (or leave a comment) and I'd be more than happy to share some with you. They are sacred to me, and as such I don't feel it appropriate to post them on a blog (not exactly a "pearls before swine" sort of thing, yet it kind of is, you know?).

So that's where I've been...getting happy and loving and forgiving and all that good stuff! And because things for me have taken on new meaning, I expect the quality of my blogs to change just a bit (well, we shall see...I mean, that helicopter game was QUALITY!). The LIGHT IS ON and I AM HOME!!

February 26, 2008

Calling All Helicopter Pilots!!

I came across this site today, and am addicted. So like most addicts, I am attempting to get all my friends involved too so I don't feel like an outsider (heh heh...okay, bad comparison). Click the link and have fun!


February 25, 2008

And the Oscar Goes To...

I just wanted to voice my happiness at seeing Javier Bardem win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor last night for his chilling role as Anton Chigurh in the Coen Brothers' NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN. As far as memorable performances of the year go, Bardem's was by far the most memorable, or recognizable for that matter. You mention his name, and most people, even those who have yet to see NO COUNTRY will know 2 things: #1) What movie he was in, and #2) What his character looks like (especially the awesome hairdo). And that, to me, has memorable written all over it. Nice work, Mr. Bardem.

"What's the most you ever lost on a coin toss?

February 23, 2008

Kanye West Meets The Muppets?

I was listening to the radio the other day (101.9 FM KENZ), and heard a mashup that I won't soon forget. It's a tight mix of Kanye West's "Gold Digger" and the Muppets' tune "Manah Manah." Let me tell you, Kanye never sounded so good! I checked 101.9's website, but couldn't find anything there. Then I found a link to it on www.murkywords.com, and thank goodness I did, because it is genius. Have a listen, and crank up the volume while you're at it. If you're like me, you'll be singing it all day.



Artists in the Family

I wanted to take a second to spread the word about a Utah artist who, in my opinion, is really good. Brian Winget specializes in oil and acrylic paintings, and has a gift for landscapes. He is also known in Utah Valley for his murals, which he used to paint inside people's homes (i.e. bedrooms, kitchens, etc.). He is currently working on a curriculum for teaching painting to teens, which will begin in April. Here are some of my favorite pieces: (click the pics for a larger view)

Brook Grove

Morning Dew

Morning Walk

Salem Sunset

Summer Cabin

You can see more of his work at www.BrianWingetArt.com. And if you like what you see, be sure to tell him (click on the "Contact Us" link at the top of his web page).

Mr. Director's CD Review #1

This Week's Review: "INTO THE WILD" Motion Picture Soundtrack, by Eddie Vedder
* * * 1/2 (out of * * * *)

As winter drags on, and on, and on, I find myself listening to a lot of music that reminds me of the warm sunny days of my childhood summers. Stuff like "SUMMER'S END" by Foo Fighters, or "SILVER LINING" by Upstanding Youth (check out www.upstandingyouth.com)...the stuff that warms me from inside out, so to speak.

During my musical explorations, a friend of mine lent me a copy of Eddie Vedder's latest album, the original motion picture soundtrack to the film "INTO THE WILD." Being an Eddie Vedder/Pearl Jam fan I eagerly received the album and began to listen to each track just like I would to any other of his albums. It was great stuff. But about half way through track #7 I remembered that this wasn't just some solid rock album...it was a movie soundtrack! There are filmed images--cinematic expressions, so to speak--that accompanied these tunes, and I had been approaching it all wrong. So I stopped the disc and went back to track #1, "SETTING FORTH" and listened with my film-score ears. The result: WOW. I haven't even seen the movie (it's on my request list at the library...) but I could FEEL the images as if they were playing inside me; the angry teen, the misunderstood parents, the wide-open American frontiers, the complex adolescent relationships between boys and girls...they were all there, in the music.

Vedder's "WILD" soundtrack could be categorized as a rock album, with only one instrumental track (well, two if you count Vedder's howling on "THE WOLF" as instrumental). It debuted at no. 11 on the US Billboard 200 charts as a rock album, and the song "GUARANTEED" (which, along with "HARD SUN," is one of my favorites) was nominated for a 2008 Grammy award.

Sean Penn ("WILD" director) picked Vedder to provide the songs for the film, and most of the tracks on the album do appear in the movie. Composer Michael Brook (who scored the films "An Inconvenient Truth" and "Who Killed the Electric Car") is credited as composer of the orchestral score for "WILD," but I think the prize goes to Vedder, who was able to pair lyrical melodies with a visual story to create an album that both holds its own as a rock record while reinforcing the story's 3-act structure. What the heck does that mean? Track 1 ("SETTING FORTH") gets the story rolling with an upbeat jam that describes the hero's resolve to abandon his world to journey into the universe...

Be it no concern
Point of no return
Go foward in reverse

This I will recall
Everytime I fall

Setting forth in the universe

Act 2 really gets under way by track 3 ("FAR BEHIND"); the upbeat and happy-sounding guitar/drum rhythyms implying a sense of freedom and excitement that accompanies changes in life. Then it gets darker and more complex as Act 2 moves past the epic-sounding "HARD SUN" and into track 9 ("THE WOLF"). And just when it sounds like the protagonist will be consumed by loneliness and pain, he reaches a redemptive "END OF THE ROAD" to his journey into the wild:

I won't be the last
I won't be the first
Find a way to where the sky meets the earth
It's all right and all wrong
For me it begins at the end of the road
We come and go...

I really like this album. It's a great bridge between orchestral scores and guitar-driven rock melodies, and like the best of both of those, is able to tell a visual story through music alone. Definitely worth a listen (or two).

Thanks to www.lyricsmania.com for the lyrics.

February 12, 2008

Even Famous People Check Their Email...

About a month ago, I was really aching for a good story that I could adapt into a screenplay and eventually produce as a short film. It's common for me to read books, magazine articles, short stories, etc. and immediately start to mentally shoot their cinematic versions in my head. I'm a filmmaker at heart...it's what I do. During this time I had been reading a series of books by one of my favorite authors, and nearly everything of his that I've read would make a great movie.

So, whilst hankering for a new story, an idea popped into my head: why not email this author (the one I had been reading) and ask him if he would be O.K. with me adapting one or two of his shorter works into film? The worse that cold happen is that he'd say no, or just not reply at all. At best, however, he might (just might) say "Sure, pal, which story do you wanna do?"

With a quick Google search, I found an email address for him that looked legitimate, copied it into my email, and proceeded to write him a lengthy message about who I was, what my interests in film were, how much I loved his work, and so on. After a sufficient introduction (and careful wording...I didn't want him thinking I was some kind of fanatic stalker or anything; you know how it is when you're talking to a celebrity), I straight-up asked him my question: "How do you feel about somebody like me adapting one of your works into a short film?" And that was it.

30 minutes passed before I received a reply from the man himself. 30 minutes! He basically said "Sure, pal, which story do you wanna do?" No joke. He was friendly, he was appreciative of my praise for his writings, and he was more than approachable. I emailed him right back, told him of a few stories I liked. He replied again (same day), and said he'd mail me his collected short works (actual bound copies), just to be sure I had them to read! 2 weeks later, I got a box in the mail with 3 books, free of charge, and have been reading through them ever since. Just so you all know, I am almost done with the second of the 3 books, and I have a running list of 5 stories that I am considering for adaptations.

What's the moral to my tale? Even famous people check their email. Whether or not they respond to everything they get, that's a different story. I was lucky to get such a speedy reply (or any reply for that matter). But I had a valid question, I went about it in a professional manner, and I didn't say anything that would allude to my insanity (just kidding). No, really, celebrities are real people, and I bet most of them would LOVE to be treated like normal folk, even in their emails.

If you have a valid question for a celebrity, I think email is a great way to get your voice heard. Just keep a few things in mind:

1. Be yourself. Don't let your nervousness lead you to write stupid things that if said in person would get you a punch to the face.

2. Keep it brief. They may check their email, but they're pretty busy and won't want to read an essay (like this one I'm writing here...they'd NEVER read this; It's way too long).

3. Spell check. Trust me, it makes a difference.

4. Thank them for...Their time. Their influence in your life. Their sense of humor. Their cause. Whatever it is that has had an impact on you in your life. Be genuine. Don't be a kiss-a**.

5. Leave enough contact info for them to #1) be able to get back to you, and #2) feel assured that you aren't some freaky psycho hiding behind some alpha-numeric screen pseudonym.

Give it a try and let us know how it goes. I've had similar success with TV/movie producers, writers, a film actor, and my buddy Marc (who isn't a celebrity, but pretends he is).

February 11, 2008

Anybody ever heard of...

Since I started working at the library, I have been exposed to a wide array of new music, mostly by artists I've never heard of before. I try to listen to 2 or 3 new albums each day, and if I like it I will recommend it to people I know. Now that I'm a blogger (heh heh...and a geek), I figured I'd post my music recommendations here for you all to enjoy. Feel free to comment on this blog with recommends of your own.

Today's recommendations:
"Mezzanine" by Massive Attack
"Belmondo" by Japancakes
"Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace" by Foo Fighters
"The Campfire Headphase" by Boards of Canada
and if you can find it...
"Tango Saloon" by Tango Saloon

Foo Fighters is nothing new for me. I just wanted to plug their new album, as it is one of their best to-date. Check out the video for "The Pretender" from that very album here:


Welcome to the madness!

Blogs these days are a dime a dozen, so my addition of a blog is no big deal for the blogging world. That isn't to say that I'm not excited about this new blog. It seems that I've always got something to say about nearly everything, and now I finally have a venue for my views; a canvas on which I might paint my pictures of thought. Whether or not any of what I write here is relevant to the world in which you're living, I can't say. My only hope is that amidst the madness you discover something here that makes your visit worthwhile. If by chance you find yourself entertained, educated, or even outraged by one these posts, remember: like Steinbeck said, "No man really knows about other human beings. The best he can do is to suppose that they are like himself."

With all that said, Welcome to my Method of Madness!