When you blink your eyes...

Busy few weeks...

The last 2-3 weeks have been really busy for me....

Work has been insane. On a project that is very frustrating at times and everything has to be done NOW. It hasn't been like this until now but I do think it is temporary, so hopefully that will be over soon...

However, I've seen 3 great shows recently. Wilco, The Shins, and Rilo Kiley. All well worth the effort of going to them. Wilco and Rilo Kiley I just decided to go at the last minute when I found out there were tickets left, I'm glad I did. Also, I've met some really cool people recently.

I'm excited about the chance to do a lot more photoshoots this summer. I want to really explore what I can do with a camera. I love the idea of people being able to see through my eyes through photography. I also want to get more into some video work at the same time, I enjoy both mediums. Editing photos and editing video really have some complementing aspects and are both just a lot of fun for me to do. I think it was nice that I kind of developed my still photography skills before going into video, I think it made a big difference in my composition on video.

Here is a picture I took awhile back of my good friend Deb. I love it because it captures her attitude so well.

Deb

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The new machine

I have been researching a new computer system for awhile and finally went ahead and ordered most of the pieces last night. First of all something has gotten a bit jacked with my old desktop machine, I think a bit stick of memory or something. It can be unstable at times. So, I need something more reliable. Also, I want to get into more video editing and very stable environment to do a lot of photoshop work. I went ahead and got something that should have a good amount of power, reliability, and a lot of storage for all my data.

Here are the parts I've ordered so far:
Motherboard: Asus P5AD2-E Premium
Processor: Pentium 4 3.0Ghz LG775 with 2MB cache.
Memory: 2 x 1024MB Kingston DDR2 memory
Video: PNY Quardo 540 PCI Express 128MB w/ HDTV output
Storage: 2 x 160MB SATA Hitachi Raid 0 for video capture/editing, 1 x 250MB SATA Hitachi for other data, 1 x 80MB SATA Hitachi for operating system and program files.
Optical: Plextor external firewire/USB 2.0 dual layer DVD burner.

I still need to decide on a new case. I'm planning on getting something with a 500W power supply with a lot of cooling for all this equipment. Also, I would next want to get 2 LCD Monitors to go along with the dual DVI capabilities I have but I may wait a bit on that since that is going to be probably the most expensive piece of the whole system.

The motherboard is one of the top of the line boards from Asus right now. It does have 1394b (800mb/s firewire) and dual 1 Gb integrated lan adapters. Also, of course the PCI express to host the new video card. I made sure this time the memory I bought was on the recommended list because I've made the mistake a few times of trying generic memory, its never worth it.

I'm also considering getting an entry level professional sound card. Depending on what I find in my research I may just end up going with a creative labs audigy or something. I used to work there and I feel they have pretty decent sound products even though I know there are higher end cards out there.

I'm excited to get it this, fortunately I found one reliable vender that had all of this with free second day shipping so I should receive it pretty soon.

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Self expression

I just decided to start writing on the blog again. So here goes...

I've been taking a lot of pictures within the last couple of months. Including a new set of black and white photos from downtown Oklahoma City, Tulsa, a set from the Death From Above 1979 concert in OKC as well as a few sets of my friends that I've got a lot of positive feedback on.

Death From Above 1979 @ The Green Door

I've had some people say that some of my stuff is actually worth selling. Only recently have I started thinking that I may have some material good enough to sell. So, who knows what will happen there. I still just enjoy capturing the world as I see it. Its only been within the last 6 months or so that I've really felt I have command of my equipment and can make it do what I want to really capture the way my eyes see something. I got a new 50mm prime lens with f/1.4 that I've been using a lot lately. I try to use it exclusively for anything where people are the main focus. I can work in low light without using a flash which allows me to get much more candid poses.

I've also been getting into digital video within the last couple of months. I've always been into movies and use that and television as a learning tool in getting ideas on what is good and bad regarding composition and lighting in photographs. I figured a logical extension was to attempt to take my knowledge of still photographs into moving pictures. So far I really enjoy it. I've mainly just taken some random videos here and there but its been a lot of fun and I'm happy with the results. I've seen several situations where there was something interesting that wouldn't have made a good still photograph but turned out to be something good for video.

In addition, I've gotten back into attempting to write a screenplay. I wrote my first 15 pages today. I had been filling a notebook for months now and feel like I have a good concept for something interesting. I don't know for sure or it if it will be something I'll ever let anyone read. But it was enjoyable to let all those ideas spill out. If anything, I've got a lot of usable ideas for something if the story doesn't turn out to be something interesting. They say to write about what you know so that's what I'm writing about. At first I had trouble in not just writing down things exactly as they happened, but now I think I'm getting the hang of just being inspired by things that have happened to me and people I've met and spinning that into something else. Also, condensing multiple people into one character. Anyway, maybe someday it could be a usable script. For now, it has been a good learning experience. I do feel like I can grow these few scenes I have into a full feature length movie if I put the time into it. Its just hard to say how interesting it will be at this time, I feel like it will be good but since I've never done it before I can't say for sure.

I guess I sound pretty creative lately after all that. It feels good to just let yourself kind of flow out through all that. We'll see what comes of it.

Also, since the last blog I've permanantly switched to Firefox instead of IE after it crashed on me one last time. I recommend everyone switch to Firefox, I haven't looked back since the switch. I noticed my blog page is kind of jacked up in Firefox seeing as the footer shows up somewhere on the top right. I'll try to fix that as soon as I get a chance.

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Sights and Sounds...

I've put a fair amount of work into re-configuring my entire photo gallery layout. I had planned on writing my own system, I had a good framework designed but I realized it would take way more development hours than I had time for at the moment. I went ahead and implemented the php Gallery for the time being. Its a big improvement over what I had but there are several features I hope they add in the new version. I tested the Alpha version of Gallery2 for awhile but I found it to be more trouble it was worth attempted to re-write it to fit into my layout. Gallery1 was much easier to hack at this time and also seemed quite a bit more stable. I'm trying to go back and put descriptions and titles in for everything but it will take awhile to get to all of them. I noticed several months back that the way I was saving the photos was destroying the EXIF data. You'll notice that only the new galleries have that information present. I may try to go back and fix that on the old ones some day if I get the time.
Judy and the Dream of Horses

I have added a few new sets that were not previously in the old gallery. I added 5 more photos to the last England set. I also added the set of The Decemberists from last October.

I have the search feature implemented where you can search from the main page through all the keywords and captions. Comments are allowed per picture and per gallery. I also have the view count for each gallery and image enabled. Also, I think the slideshow feature is pretty cool.

I have also started updating my current music and concerts again. It still isn't fully complete but I went back and added most things I could think of for the last several months into the database.

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The art of the mix cd...

Making a mix cd for me is a very important artform. It is a way I can express my musical tastes in terms of my relationship to another person and their musical tastes. I have many self-imposed rules that are often changing and I try to add and break my rules as often as possible. I often think of the line from High Fidelity where Rob is making the mix cd for Laura. He says something about how it is a delicate thing because you are using someone else's art to express your feelings. I also take that very seriously.

You've got to really catch their attention in the first song. Maybe even bring it up a notch in the second song. Third song I like to switch it up a bit. Like Rob says, you don't want to blow you load to quickly. A mix CD is all about the momentum, one false move and you can ruin the entire flow. Even if you have all the right songs you can still ruin it by putting them in the incorrect order. I like to try to make the end of one song flow into the next song. Another technique is to abruptly switch to something with a different tempo or loudness, that helps to keep people's attention.

The most important songs are the first and last song in my opinion. When first coming up with the idea for a compilation I pick the first and last songs pretty close to the beginning, that's how I define the rest of the CD. Sometimes I like to have a strong dichotomy, totally switch it up half way through just like a Stanley Kubrick film.

I like to always try to challenge the listener. I first must know what kind of music they like and what the person is like. I choose several artists that may be somewhat similar to the ones they already listen to. Then I try to throw in some stuff that may be in the same ballbark that I think is really good that they may like to try.

Another important thing is the theme. I often like to have a cohesive theme throughout the compilation, sometimes only loosely followed. Sometimes I first choose a song on its title and see if it will fit into the sound I'm going for, if it does that's a bonus. Also, lyrical content themes are important.

A very important thing to me is the coolness factor. Using older and more obscure material is a bonus if it fits. Putting artists the listener has never heard adds to the exotic nature of receiving the compilation. I try not to put anything on the compilation the listener may already own or have heard often. I also like to try to shock the listener if possible with something weird or unusual.

Recently I've got into just putting excerpts from certain songs that are too long and just have a certain part I want to include into the mix. This helps to tighten up the mix and take out extra stuff that could lose the listener's interest. It can also be cool to take short excerpts from TV shows or movies and use them as segues, this can really help to add to the personal nature.

I will write more about mix cds later when I think of more...

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Fabulous muscles...


I have read good things about Xiu Xiu for some time but I finally picked up a copy of their Fabulous Muscles release last week. The sound is all over the place but very original. A lot of synth and electronic but still has a garage punk sound at times. Also, a few slower unabashedly personal tracks are on the album, especially the title track. The sound is very fresh to me. At times the lead singer reminds me of David Bowie. I enjoy the juxtaposition of delicate sounds on one track then they loud and brash sounds of a subsequent track. I like artists that keep me guessing as to what they are going to do next.

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I put up 1 more set of photos from the England trip. This one features St. Paul's Cathedral, The Thames river walk, The London Eye, The Tate Modern, and London Bridge. Only 1 more set to go to finish it all off. I've drawn it out long enough and I hope to get that done soon. I'm also working on re-doing my entire photo section to be more database driven and add more features to allow more dynamic display abilities for the photo sets.

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This is the story of your gypsy uncle...

I went to another great show at Opolis last night. The Decemberists made their first ever visit to Oklahoma in what turned out to be an outstanding performance.

I've been into the Decemberists for nearly a year now and have grown to really love their album, Her Majesty. Colin Meloy, the lead singer, has a very unique voice and outstanding writing ability. The lyrical content is very smart, intellectual and at times satirical. The dripping sarcasm brings artists such as the Smiths and Belle and Sebastian to mind.

The band turned out to be excellent live. The last concert I saw at Opolis was another great band Spoon which was a very respectable show. This performance I think was as good or possibly even better. I was curious to see what Colin looked like in person. I imagined a short and skinny man to produce what is at times a rather effeminate sounding voice. While he was at or below average height he wasn't as skinny as I thought he might be. He had a head of bushy dark red hair and glasses. His stage presence was very warm and inviting. His delivery was always confident and skilled.

Another performer who really impressed me was the keyboard/organ player. I don't know her name but she didn't strike me as the type you often see in a rock band. She proved to really be a skilled musician and really added to their live sound.

I told my sister before the show my 2 favourite songs by The Decemberists were "Red Right Ankle" and "I Was Meant for the Stage". It turns out those were the 2 songs they played for the encore. I couldn't have asked for a better set list.

I did get some good photos but haven't had a chance to upload them yet. I'm trying to work in completing the England photo sets. I was able to get the Liverpool set completed tonight. Look for the Manchester photos and the last of the London photos soon to finish them out.

...

I am watching SNL right now and I just saw something hilarious. Ashlee Simpson is the musical performer. She was about to start playing but they totally messed up the sound and started playing her dubbed lip sync vocals right at the beginning before they even started. It made her look like a fool and she started doing a goofy dance, then started laughing and walked of the stage. The band played some generic sounding post-post emo wanna be guitar riffs then they just cut back to a commercial. Good thing I have tivo so I could re-live the humour again. At the end of the show Ashlee claimed "my band starting playing the wrong song, so I just decided to do a ho down".

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Sticky Wicket...


I just had an epiphany this evening. It was something that never occurred to me before and for some reason it really made something special to link up the third of this trilogy. I had always known that Warwick Davis, the legendary wee actor, skillfully played both Willow and The Leprechaun. Not until only moments ago did I realize he also played Wicket beginning in 1983's Return of the Jedi. This is a trivia fact I feel ashamed not to have discovered until now. But I now feel complete in my Warwick Davis knowledge. I now proclaim Warwick Davis to be the greatest midget actor of this or any other era. In your face Verne Troyer.


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Birth of cool...

I'm sitting here on a beautiful gray and dreary Sunday Oklahoma City evening enjoying the soothing sounds of Miles Davis - Birth of Cool. I've got my balcony door with the sound of rain hitting the city streets as a constant comforting sound in the background. There is an exquisite layer of fog hovering just below the tops of the tallest buildings. The sound of a train in the distance seems to somehow fit in with the with the meandering trumpet. I think this might be one of the more beautiful days I've witnessed from my balcony. I love the rain. Also, its really not very cold at all. The cool breeze is just right.

Earlier today I played in my first soccer game in about 10 years. It was a lot of fun. The first indoor soccer game I've ever played. However, it was brutal. I knew I wasn't quite in condition. Luckily, I wasn't alone as others on my team were the same. Indoor soccer is a lot like hockey. Extremely quick with a lot of substitutions made. I did decent considering how long its been. I knew exactly what I wanted to do in my head but just wasn't quite in shape to make it happen every time. I'm excited to start playing again, hopefully I can continue this will force me to get in really good shape.

I hope it continues to rain.

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But hey whose on trial?

I've now listened to Antics nearly 10 times in its entirety since I obtained it yesterday and here are my feelings on it. At this point I think it is the perfect follow up to Turn on the Bright Lights. If Turn on the Bright Lights is a dark shade of gray I would say that Antics is still gray but a bit lighter. There is a little more hope here. A little more maturity in the musical expression. In no way have they went to a more pop sound. The album is possibly a bit more accessible on a whole. It is hard for me to be objective on this in that I am so familiar and in tune with Interpol's sound that it seems very accessible to me at this point.

When I first put the disc in driving back from lunch I was singing along as loud as I could not even knowing any of the words. I don't know of many albums I have done that too. Yesterday I felt track #6 "Not Even Jail" might be one of the weakest tracks on the album, today I know think it is one of the stronger tracks. I think that says a lot about the quality of the album as a whole.

I have tried to analyze what is I have liked so much about Interpol over the last 2 years. I think it is their emotional expression is very close to the way I often feel or the way I want to feel. I would say it is kind of an understated and sophisticated sound. At times dark and brooding with flashes of brilliance and light. The sound is often clean. Paul Banks' voice is very soothing to me. He does have an uncanny resemblance to the voice of Ian Curtis yet I find Paul Banks to have a more smooth an pleasing voice. The lyrics are often cryptic yet have subtle and familiar meanings to me.

I almost feel bad and get frustrated at times when talking about how much I like Interpol because the music is so personal to me. I am trying to get over that. I also feel selfish in a way and don't want to share this music with anyone or only certain people. That is probably silly but that just shows how strongly I feel about this music. Overall, I am very happy with this follow up. I was worried that Antics would not be up to the same quality as Turn on the Bright Lights but so far I feel it is at least close to the same quality. I am confident this disc will stay hot on my rotation for some time to come. Turn on the Bright Lights still gets frequent plays even after 2 years.

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