my office building is next to a nursery. when the kiddos are out on recess, i hear everything that goes on. lots of activity, lots of energetic screaming. Sometimes it involves several of them playing a bunch of percussion instruments chaotically. It's pretty wonderful.
Something new that's happened this year is that at some point in the middle of recess, they make water available to the kids, and this gets announced by a woman who calls out "coooold waaaater!" in a sing-song voice. usually she repeats herself once, sometimes twice. Every time she does it, the words come out with practically the same inflection, the same pitch, and the same duration.
and there's something subtly clever about that - on a basic level, it creates an expectation and ritual for the kids so that even if they're far enough away in playground or are otherwise occupied to not process the actual words, they still process the sound in a way that makes the intent clear. But on a more subliminal level, that expectation and ritual i think creates an almost pavlovian sort of response out of the kids - upon hearing that singsong voice, it could make them realize "oh yeah, i'm thirsty," or, even better, make them think, "oh yeah, i should be thirsty."
i'm really tempted to try to grab a recording of it every day for a period of, i dunno, 200 days or something, and then see if i can turn it into a piece of music. I don't know if that will actually be worth the effort for the return, but it's a neat thought.
The first word that comes to my mind when i think about this movie is "stunning." The opening statement of the movie from a cinematography perspective as well as setting the tone for the entire movie was fantastic. The first twentyish minutes of the film that felt like a single continuous take captivated me in a way that made me not want to ever blink for fear of missing something.
I didn't really know anything about the film prior to going in to see it other than my brother telling me, "go see it. in 3d if you can." As a result, i was surprised that there were essentially only two actors in the entire film. I suppose it's not something i *should* have been surprised about since a common trope in most space movies set in realism is that of isolation, but it surprised me nonetheless.
for me, the first half of the movie was better than the second. the isolation trope was a positive one in that it created a sense of intimacy and focus around the characters that i feel gets ignored or underdeveloped in a lot of movies, and as a result i found myself very invested in both characters as people. and now that i type that out, it makes me realize the second reason why i thought the second half was weaker - because in the first half there was a lot more interweaving between the action vs the character development, and while the second half of the movie tried to do that, it didn't do it as convincingly for me.
This was due in part to the first reason why i thought the second half was weaker - the action that defined the movie was one of Bollock and Clooney having to deal with crisis after crisis after crisis in such a nonstop way that it started to feel too Murphy's Law to be realistic, and at some point, all of the close calls lost their urgency because it became fairly clear about halfway through the movie that it wasn't going to end in a tragedy where everyone died, so all of those close calls lost their punch. There's a scene close to the end of the movie where i wanted to laugh out loud because it felt ridiculous that they would try to introduce any peril at that point and not just end the movie.
but all of that is minor gripes for a movie that was incredibly well-crafted and absolutely breathtaking. It's definitely one of those movies where i want to watch it again and actually Pay Attention to it as opposed to what i typically do with movies and telly that i watch which is to have repeat viewings be more of a background activity. it's beautiful to watch, and beauty like that deserves to be watched with no distractions.
i posted some pics on my g+ page, but i never really talked about the whole thanksgiving dinner deal.
basically, since none of my extended family was going to make it to PA for christmas this year, i decided if i could pull it off that i would come home for thanksgiving instead and cook for the family then. So, turkey instead of pot roast.
I've cooked a turkey once before, when i was living with Katie. I don't think it was successful because we didn't quite know what we were doing, but i don't quite recall what we tried to do or what the problem was.
in any case, the menu i decided on before i got here was the following:
- alton brown's turkey recipe. My mom accidentally got a turkey that was pre-basted and the pot we had for brining wasn't quite big enough, but regardless of that, the turkey turned out fantastic, particularly given that the actual roasting time was only about 3 hours. I don't think i'm going to need to follow any other turkey recipe ever again - maybe different aromatics, but otherwise i think this recipe will be the recipe for life.
- chorizo and chickpea pasta. Before i settled on the Alton Brown recipe, i was originally going to do a turkey that was stuffed with chorizo because, well, chorizo. Alton Brown is very anti-stuffing, and i still wanted to do chorizo, so i looked up a random chorizo recipe. It turned out okay - it was more like a chorizo-flavored pasta rather than a real chorizo dish mainly due to ratio and i think because of the kind of chorizo i got, but it still tasted pretty good.
- a random mashed potato recipe. Kim gave me this recipe to try, and it was nice and simple and very successful. It's the sort of thing i'd want to try to vary some, maybe throw in some garlic the next time to give it some character.
- Alton Brown's glazed carrots. This was pretty simple to make and also pretty simple from a taste perspective. It wasn't bad, but i think next time i'm going to go for an alternative as the secondary vegetable.
- steamed broccoli. I added some tony's to mine, because, well, tony's.
i also used an alton brown gravy recipe that turned out pretty well, and we had some rustic bread on the table.
the whole thing was a lot of fun. I created a schedule to ensure that everything would come out at very similar times, and we made some adjustments as time went on and when we discovered that the extended family was showing up earlier than expected. I had a lot of random help in the kitchen - my mom and a couple of my cousins asking me if they could help and/or if it was time to do this step or that step. Thankfully all of that was fine, as i was keeping track of everything in my head *fairly* well (i accidentally neglected the carrot dish for an extra five minutes) and their help made it easier for me to think big picture and make sure everything was rolling.
i don't know what's going to happen next year for the holidays - likely i'll come home for christmas but not thanksgiving based on the likely schedule of the family, but if Tulane has another winning season next year and does the whole bowl game thing again, that could put a kink into those plans. It's tempting to maybe do turkey for christmas, but i don't think i'm done experimenting with the whole pot roast thing just yet. Maybe this year is the year i'll buy that dutch oven i've been wanting to buy and i can experiment with pot roast in new orleans.
i guess it's a given that because i'm passionate about poker that i would be passionate about this game. it's easily become my favorite tabletop game because of the blend of strategy mixed with high psychology.
i played the game for the first time in september and i liked it so much that i raved about it and decided to buy it. i brought it home for thanksgiving to introduce my family to it, and it was a big hit.
The analogy to poker is striking - i found myself "calculating odds" so to speak, and doing a lot of heavy people reading and situational reading. As a result, i won the second game because of my success of reading a situation correctly, and because my cousin angie gave away a tell.( basic rule telling, and then the sequence of events.Collapse )
the extended fam is coming back today to have a late lunch celebrating my dad's 70th birthday (as well as other november birthdays in the family), so there's a good chance we'll play this again, although my cousins might bring some of other standards of the fam which includes Ticket To Ride, Blokus, and a few other things like that. We'll see what everyone is into, but i think people liked it enough that we'll probably play it again.
i described Iron Man 3 as being a fun mess, but being a mess nonetheless. Switch that around and you get The Day of the Doctor - it's a mess, but it's a fun mess nonetheless.
It's funny because i'd say that the stuff that i didn't like vs. the stuff that i liked lays out pretty evenly 50/50. What's different about it was the weight, meaning that the stuff that was strong was far far superior to the stuff that was weak.( spoilers within for all of the new Who finales.Collapse )
yesterday when i was coming home from work, one of the traffic lights i had to go through had a glitch that i had never seen before.
i'm not sure if it's primarily a sensor traffic light (it definitely has sensors in the road for the photo-enforced deal) or a timed thing because it's on a fairly major intersection, particularly during rush hour. traffic was backed up more than normal, so much that i considered going an alternate route, but the one alternate route i knew about had some major construction going on it that reduced three lanes to one, and i figured that would be worse. so i pulled into the traffic area where people were waiting for the light to turn.
it was about ten minutes later that i discovered why the traffic on our end was moving so slowly: for some reason, the light would turn green for us for about one second only and then turn to yellow then red. the other half of traffic got a full green.
i'm certain that a lot of people around me were doing the whole impatient thing. i didn't have to be home at any particular time aside from watching the Saints game which was about three hours away, so i sat in traffic with what i can only describe as an amused curiosity. curious because i really wanted to know what caused the glitch to happen the way that it did - i tended to think that the issue had to be one of sensor, that for whatever reason the part of the light network that determined whether or not there was traffic in the lanes i was in was the glitch culprit. But i also know from fuzzy memory deduction years back in PA that generally lights have some minimum default or at least can be set that way, so if i'm a lone car in a sensor lane and the light turns green, it waits for a predefined and programmed amount of time after i'm off it before it turns red. and that led me to wonder if that was glitchy too or if the people that put the light in just set it for low tolerance because they're dumb.
in any case i think i ended up sitting in the intersection for about 20 minutes while cars eked out one at a time. i also was accidentally in the wrong lane and opted to go the wrong direction and u-turn as opposed to creating more tension than was necessary in the lanes that were already grumpy in the first place by trying to push my way into the lane i needed to be in. not that it would have mattered much i don't think, but there's a reflex i can have about stuff like that sometimes.
i remember back in the day i used to write multiple LJ posts a day and at least one entry a day and that was considered normal.
kind of miss those days. part of the reason i don't actually write as much is because i feel like it's now a social faux pas.
it might have been a fun mess, but it was a mess nonetheless. i found myself getting wildly distracted by some of the awkward dialogue as well as the overall feeling that conceptually everything about the story and the characters were sound, but the actual execution was a surface and shallow version of what it was trying to be. I wasn't convinced by the portrayal of Stark's PTSD. the relationship that Stark had with the kid was solid but incredibly fleeting. The whole War Machine/Iron Patriot thing, the Ben Kinglsey deal, the use of the president and the vice president, all of it felt kitchen-sinky and throwaway.( gender stereotype discussion ahead, spoiler warning too.Collapse )
there's actually been a whole lot going on in the past week or so, but a lot of it is not stuff i feel comfortable actually talking about. not because it's all bad - one thing in particular was rather Awesome, but it's also fairly personal not just for me but for someone else and therefore is not the sort of thing that i want to put out on broadcast.
A few random things i can talk about though, mainly music production things and one poker thing:
- my timpani piece, Timpani Forces is officially published. The publisher (tapspace) took a trip to PASIC this past weekend to pimp out all of the stuff from their new catalog of works of which my piece was a part, and Jim wrote an email to me and said that he felt like it was a very successful outing. I'm not sure what that translates to with my piece specifically, but these days i've been feeling pretty optimistic about it. I have a few people that i'm going to be emailing about the piece in the near future. I also wrote a couple of blog entries detailing the history of the piece, with one more concluding blog entry left to write. We'll see how far this takes me.
- Coming out of the road trip a week ago from San Antonio, i started messing with a binaural plugin in Live, something that i'm using so that i can write and/or at least sketch out the surround sound piece that i want to start this spring. That'll come after finishing the Liminal Space commission, which i'm behind on but plan on doing a lot of crunch time on this coming week.
- The TUMB drumline is probably going to be at its biggest this coming spring with anywhere between 3-5 snares, 3 tenors, 5 bass drums, and 2 or 3 cymbals. Out of all of those people, only one is graduating, and that bodes well for the following fall also. We've already gotten a bunch of names and recruits for this coming fall, and i've had some good interactions with prospects. It may be that we'll have to buy some more equipment for the new year - that'd be pretty nice, although i'd have to clear that large purchase with Barry. I've been busy prepping for some of that, rewriting the exercise packet and cadences for 5 bass drums, and trying to write more cadences for us to try.
- This past weekend i played on a 1/2 poker table where i accumulated a stack of $800 and yet was the third smallest stack on the table. It was heavy in action, in no small part due to a regular named Boudreaux who had $3000 in front of him and is always an aggressive player. One of the key hands that pulled my stack up over $1000 late in the evening was against him - I had AdAh, raised PF to $15. Boudreaux was the only caller. Board came out KcJc3d. Boudreaux opted to lead out with a $50 bet - way over the pot size. I tried to get a read on him, ask him, "are you overbetting the pot on a flush draw?" his response was "you know that i can definitely bet out flush draws." I decided to raise him $150. He flat-called. Turn came Ac. He bets out $350, which is only $50 less than what i have in my entire stack - basically a pot sized bet. I tanked for a good five minutes or so because i wasn't sure where to place him - if he had a made hand already, the flush or the straight, then the bet was a good one because even with top set i wasn't getting the odds to call. but i wasn't convinced that he had a made hand. Eventually i said, "fuck it", and pushed all-in. A few people on the table essentially yelled at me for taking so long as if it was an easy call to make, but Boudreaux is a very tricky player. What made me decide to push was some of the banter - I told him at one point, "i don't think i can lay this down", and it was clear that he wanted me to call, that he wasn't worried, but he made one comment that was, "two pair is difficult to lay down." I tried to decide if that's what he actually put me on, and came to the conclusion that he did, which widened his range significantly - he could have a set of queens or a set of 3s. He didn't end up showing his hand, i took down the pot.
This week will be all about prepping for next week's travel. Write a bunch of music so i don't have to when i'm at home. Get my recipes in order for when i cook thanksgiving dinner. Try to set myself up to see a few people when i'm home in addition to playing some cards.
And then it's December. Where did the time frickin' go. The season has felt pretty long, but November flew the eff by.
There was a point in my life when i learned to be more tolerant of films with high predictability, admitting that something predictable doesn't necessarily decrease its value. How a story is told can make a predictable story amazing and an unpredictable story an utter piece of crap.
Even so, it was pretty annoying when ten minutes or so into The Devil Wears Prada i knew exactly what was going to happen with everything in the film. Plot, characters, everything. When they introduced Simon Baker's character, they might have well tattooed "love interest for later" on his forehead.
Oddly, the film had a sort of Clockwork Orange quality to it for me, as in i spent most of it feeling pretty sickened by actions actually occurring and i was waiting for the end to redeem itself. It kind of succeeded, but not enough for me to get to the end of the film and say that i actually liked it.
that said, Meryl Streep was probably one of my more favorite antagonists ever portrayed in any film whatsoever. Very nuanced, very complex, very successful. Stanley Tucci was pretty great too, but i could be biased because i associate him with Lucky Number Slevin, one of my favorite films of all time.