Saturday, April 29, 2006

Stick It.

There are two things I love about a movie theatre experience. One of them is not the popcorn. I'm talking about the certain steroids that can juice up an audience like a rock concert. Amazingly enough, the new gymnastics film, STICK IT, is pumped with those drugs.

Of course, this film was not my choice since yesterday was Lyndsey's birthday. The only thing I was expecting was a great performance by Jeff Bridges, and what I got was something more. I was involved. I was rooting for the girls. I was laughing with the guys. Sure I was turned off by the cheese and the formula, but the film's challenge at gymnastics scoring was too cool for school. A great twist in an otherwise standard fish out of water sports film. The most magical moment was at the apex of conflict in the story when Haley Graham (Missy Peregrym), after being confronted with some old challenges, lets her emotions take over in the middle of a balance beam routine. We can tell she's hurting as she almost loses her balance. She goes into a hand stand, stretches her legs out, and then, the camera takes her perspective, looking down onto the beam. In dramatic slow motion (and formula foreshadowing a fall), we see a single tear drop onto the beam; cut to a medium shot of the bar, the tear so heavy it splashes chalk off the beam...I'm squeezing the armrest as we go back in full motion. Haley flips back onto her feet struggling for composure and we see she's just wrecked by the past. It's a beautiful moment that makes a 'who cares' guy like me care for gymnastics. She finishes her routine, and walking out of the arena were told about the past.

The two things I love about a movie theatre experience are:
1. Audience Participation--When a film hits you right where you weren't expecting and you react in the 3rd dimension. For me it was squeezing the armrest. For everyone else, it was clapping with excitement during the final act of the film.
2. Audience Inspiration--When a film hits you right where you weren't expecting and in the end makes you want to tell someone you love them, or apologize for what you did wrong, or research a topic you thought you weren't interested in, or question yourself and others. For me is was about wanting to FLOOR IT with my school work. For everyone else, it was getting on their feet and dancing in their seat after the final act of the film. Or the guy who stuck it to the theatre by offering ROCK! fingers in the form of a shadow puppet over the projector. For Lyndsey, it was saying, "If I weren't pregnant, I'd do a cartwheel down the aisle."

Although, after rereading this, they could be combined into the one thing I love about a movie theatre experience: the audience.

Friday, April 28, 2006

More Short Films.

I was telling a classmate of mine how I was reminded of a particular animated short film when looking at his character drawings. Quite unique. As far as most of MY sketches; well, they remind me a lot of the animated shorts by Don Hertzfeldt. And that's not exactly negative. It's amazing just how much story and emotion this guy can pack into his 2-6 minute films with little or no dialogue and the most elementary of drawing techniques. Pure genius...alas, I guess I'm not that good.

Genre. Don's first film.
Ah L'amour.

Funny, funny stuff.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Balancing Act.

Speaking of inspiration, I've been thinking a lot about some of the great animated short films I've seen over the years and the level of respect I have animators. I have no idea where they come up with some of this stuff. From old Disney's shorts like Tortoise & the Hare and Mickey & the Beanstalk (which you can now get on iTunes), to Wallace & Gromit claymation and Pixar digital shorts. Luckily, I came across one of my favorites that you can now check out on the web. It's an Academy Award winner from 1989. About 6 minutes of so. I love a good metaphor.


Sunday, April 23, 2006

The Creative Shroud.

The impending duties of fatherhood are upon me...and Ian hasn't even been born yet. It's only 10 after 10 in the evening and I feel like a hand towel wrung up and ready to dry. It's not any different from what everybody else does: laundry, cleaning, household chores. What's draining is that it happens every weekend. With school and projects clouding over my mind for 3.5 days (sleep fills the other half Monday-Thursday), and family man rounding the week, balance is lost. That's not like me. I've often said that family is my biggest inspiration; can you believe film is a distant second. But I can't seem to be inspired in my current projects. Challenged. Yes. Excited. Yes. Inspired. Not quite.

I finally finished McLuhan's "The Medium is the Massage" after wanting to read it since Hank's class 5th quarter. I finally got the book yesterday, and read it in 3 hours. It's over 150 pages and mostly a picture book, so don't get too excited. But it's the pictures that tell a great story. The few words that invigorate the mind. Occasionally, a page and a half of classical poetry not even Mozart could compose. If only I could harness it. My goal would have been to remember a simple 6-word phrase to fill you in on; alas, I would have to grab the book to find it. It's my mind that needs massaging. As an amateur designer, I worry about the real world. I worry about finding inspiration in the everyday. All I can think about is joining my wife in bed, comforting her during these last few weeks before Ian is born. Perhaps he'll be the inspiration I've been looking for.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Celebrity Seins.

There are 3 signs to look for when spotting a celebrity: sunglasses or glasses (if they don't normally wear them in the public eye), baseball cap, and an untucked screenprinted t-shirt. They don't often come into our bookstore, but being located in the heart of the city, near a train station and up the street from the Fox Theatre where artists often perform, makes for a good place to hang out during the day of a show. I've seen a few here and there like T-Boz (the 'T' in TLC), Colin Quinn, and Vern Yip (from the original Trading Spaces), but today was something to report about.

I was on the other side of the music department when I heard Elton say, "Hey, you're Jerry Seinfeld, nice to meet you. Yeah, the soundtracks are right around here." W H A T !? I peeked over the soundtrack sign, saw a baseball cap, then glasses, then the comedian himself. And I can't believe I didn't offer my usual over-the-top customer assistance! As an employee in a retail shop, yes, we're supposed to greet and offer service to every customer within 10 feet (it's in the handbook); but as a celebrity (or any other person for that matter), they don't always want to be greeted by every employee within 10 feet. So I headed back towards the information booth disappointed that I headed right towards the cafe when I should have gone left towards soundtracks.

A few minutes later I noticed Mario Joyner was perusing the shelfs behind him. For all the SEINFELD fans out there, Mario was the driver of the 'Maroon Golf' in the episode "The Puerto Rican Day" when Jerry and the gang get stuck in traffic during the middle of a parade. Of course Jerry was driving his "Black Saab." Mario is also a comedian, you may have seen him back in the day on MTV. He's opening for Jerry at tonight's show at the Fox Theatre. Both are great LIVE, saw them in Dallas 2 years ago. It was quite a morning seeing the king of my all-time favorite television show. The only words I got to tell him were that I was excited for his animated film coming out this year called "Bee Movie". I asked if there was a release date yet, and he answered, "Yeah, it's coming out November 6th."

"That's great," I replied with a smile, "I can't wait to see it."

Didn't get into my previous internship with Dreamworks Animation (who's producing this one), or my collection of all the Seinfeld DVD's so far, or that I wished they could organize a reunion. I did however give my props to 'Maroon Golf'. His simple response was, "Heh, yeah." I can only imagine what he said under his breath. Oh and, Jerry purchased the soundtrack to the film "The Wizard of Oz", in case you were wondering.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Blinded by Chester.

Ranger & the Cat
Originally uploaded by jtpuck.

Chester is the neighborhood cat that drives every dog on the street absolutely crazy. Ranger's favorite thing to do when he sees the cat is make an attempt at jumping through the window, only to find a plate of glass fogged by the warmth of his barking breath. On an occasional afternoon while Ranger is tanning on the back patio, Chester will scurry around the corner appearing face to face with our orange & white pushover. It's a Mexican standoff without guns and moustaches. Today was the mother of all cat teases. Someday I'll unhook the beast and give Chester the scare of his nine lives.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Halfie with a Mission.

I was on my way home today around 1:45pm and desperately needed to get a Borders Scholarship Application into the mail by 5. There's a P.O. on Dresden, just off Clairmont a mile or 2 from my duplex. Upon exiting 85-N I notice the whole off-ramp is backed–up like getting preshow tickets to Episode 1. I think "accident", no big deal. 5 minutes later I get to the light and cops have the left turn blocked off. I'm forced to go straight to Shallowford and turn around on the feeder. No big deal. Getting back to Clairmont there's more cops, but traffic is moving. No big deal.

I see muchos gente de Latino Americanos walking around wearing white t-shirts. Brain flips on. Immigration law, Atlanta Farmers Market, barricades I saw leaving my house this morning, Dresden Rd, Buford Highway, Taco Veloz, QT @ Buford and Clairmont, pan dulce, elotes, Brownsville, Charro Days, Elizabeth street, parades, P R O T E S T, post office.

Traffic halts.

A Very Big Deal.

As the Tripping Daisy disc I started when I left school fades into The Verve Pipe, I inch closer to Buford @ Clairmont, it's 2:38 and the rest of Clairmont is closed to thru traffic. Without lunch and an umpteenth personal realization that I'm Hispanic and wish I spoke Spanish, I call Lyndsey for assistance. She wants refreshments and offers a potential shortcut to her office (which come to find out everyone else knows) where there's a PO box that picks up at 4:30.

I'm there by 3:25 and Lyndsey gets her Dairy Queen Chocolate Sundae. I hope I get the scholarship.

Funniest thing I saw while in traffic (at least it's funny to me): guy-in-a-tie steps out of a silver Land Rover, passenger side, to smoke a cigarette. Driver rolls the window down as not to halt conversation. As the car crawls, smoker hops onto the side rails grasping the luggage rack, takes a drag. Apparently you should not smoke in a Land Rover. Got that, Anne?

Thursday, April 6, 2006

Holy Stock, Batman!

Sweet & Sexy Duplicate
Originally uploaded by jtpuck.

One of the perks of working mornings at Borders is that I get to unbox and tag New Release CD's and DVD's before the Tuesday shelf date. I smirk at the new Troma film, gasp at 100 copies of Chronicles of Narnia (in 3 editions no less), and get a quick glimpse a lot of new CD cover art.

This was the first time I saw this: 2 albums with the same stock image. Witness Poison's new 'Best of' record and a 'sweet and sexy' collection of New Urban Jazz, both released this past Tuesday. Reading the stats on the back of one of the albums gave photography credit to Getty Images, the stock capital of the web. So I went and found it with 3 key words...can you guess them? Yep, legs, sexy, and stockings. I figured 'sweet' might not exactly work.

As a student designer, stock photography websites are great places to find images for projects. Depending on the subject matter, it can take 3 minutes (like above) or 8 hours. Often times, 8 hours. As a personal goal for this quarter, if I need an image, I'm going to try and take it myself. I hope I don't need sweet and sexy legs with stockings.

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Georgia Aquarium

Georgia Aquarium
Originally uploaded by jtpuck.

Pops-In-Law came to town last week and we made a little visit to the new Georgia Aquarium downtown. Billed as the largest aquarium in the world, this place was very cool. It was setup like any other theme park with different themed sections. Very interactive, and with some great aquariums overhead and down below. Here's one of them. On the left is a 'people mover' where you can stand and be taken through, or you can walk at your own pace on the right. Very, very cool.

Getting Older.

Yesterday was the first day of my 7th Quarter at Portfolio Center. Turns out things were a little hectic. Schedules weren't completely ready, some instructors were taking a quarter off from particular classes, and some of us were still waiting on financial aid to come through. Most of that has been taken care of; but I'm still waiting on my schedule. Had my first class last night though, thanks to a call I received. BRAND INTERACTIVITY, exploring how a brand can translate onto the web in a world that is no longer based on simple functionality. How can you create a brand experience? What does it mean?

Funny thing is that half the class are a 4th Quarter group. Folks that that have pretty much grown up on the web. I was first introduced my senior year in high school. Our school got connected and our whole class registered for FREE Hotmail accounts. It was unbelievable. Most of these guys were designing web pages by their senior year in high school. That's unbelievable. For the first time, as far as I can remember, I feel old. And that idea of the young guys taking over your job is on display right in front of me. Thankfully, I'll be graduating first.