Thursday, December 24, 2009

My Norman Rockwellian Christmas

1) I had a short week at work, much of which was spent unpacking. Here are some photos I took of our new office space. Here's the entrance to our suite which has our big shiny acronym on the wall.

This it the hallway where most of the offices are. It has some chairs for sitting.

This is my desk. Look at the fancy track lighting.

I had more pictures, but they were all pretty barren/depressing. Once we're more fully moved in maybe I'll post some more.

2) OMGMYBFFJILL!!! “The Attic” (latest episode of Dollhouse) was so awesome. Echo and Dominic chase a killer through the minds of Victor and Sierra (and others) who are trapped in repeating nightmares. Secrets are revealed, and our heroes rally for the coming fight against Rossum. Only 3 more episodes to go I’m sure they will be action-packed.

3) On Tuesday Bert made me dinner again (salmon and couscous) and drove me home so I could finish packing before work the next day. He's so good to me :)

4) Got home with no major delays, despite the weather being bad in Chicago and tons of flights being cancelled. Somehow mine got through with only a short delay at the terminal and since I was on the plance already I slept through it so it was basically non-existent. Alright, now I’m going to recount the details of my trip home. Rather than have this list burgeon to 30 things I will list them as subpoints. I think I have things on the right days, it all blurs together a little. (A wonderful blur, of course.)

5) Christmas Eve
• Waking up after 10
• Sledding and playing in the snow with Jenny, Leo, Isaiah and Mom. I only have this video, but I'm sure Jenny and Mom have pictures they will share soon (hint hint). My favorite parts were racing down the hill vs. Leo and Jenny&Isaiah and when Mom went down and almost crashed into her trees.
• Good food - Asparagus soup (even if Stephanie hates it) - Brisket – Christmas Cookies
• Being together with the family
• The one gift I opened was Fluxx from Jenny and Leo. I previously played this with Robert, but the edition I got is slightly newer. It was still pretty crazy. Playing with 6 people, the rules could change entirely and back again in between your turns so we all learned not to try to keep track of them until it was our turn. It was a lot of fun.
• Then we watched a couple episodes of “How I Met your Mother” Season 1, which I had gotten for Jenny and Leo. Neil Patrick Harris is hilarious.

6) Christmas
• Got lots of awesome presents – 1st Season of 30 Rock, Wii Fit Plus, A Boy and His Blob (next game for Stephanie and I), Boom Blox Bash Party, a whole bunch of legos, battery powered speakers, the obligatory socks, a photo book of our trips to the shore, and this cool veggie peeler that comes from a whole line of kitchen utensils that look like people.
• Cinnamon rolls for breakfast
• Beat New Super Mario Brothers Wii with JP
• Had a delicious dinner with Turkey, Mashed Potato Casserole, Zucchini thing, Jenny and Leo’s cranberry sauce, sweet potato fries etc.
• After Isaiah was in bed we had pie and watched a couple episodes of Dollhouse.
• After the rest of my family was asleep, I headed down to the basement to my satellite studio and animating the first scene for the upcoming Anti-Orange commercial.

7) Boxing Day
• Got to see Talya for a couple hours in the afternoon.
• We had salmon and spinach rice for dinner – twas delicious.
• Put together one of the models of the Family House set that Jenny and Leo got me. I then fell asleep on the floor. It’s been ages since I’ve fallen asleep on the floor by accident. I was roused from my nap when I heard my mom talking to someone about how I had fallen asleep on the floor at which point I moved to the couch and completed my nap.
• Then Veronica came over and we caught up a little and then watched the final 2 episodes of Dollhouse Season 1 with my family. Epitaph 1 is still incredible, even the third time through.
• After my family went to sleep Veronica and I sat around talking for several hours. We talked about Joss Wheedon and his many shows. Then I was telling her about some of my long term plans for NNN and said “surely you also have big elaborate plans in your head for a sweeping epic story.” And of course she does, and then I convinced her to walk me through the main arcs for the first 4 seasons or so. It was awesome. Now I just have to bug her to make something with it.

8) Sunday the 27th
• Adam came over after lunch and we spent the rest of the day together. It had been more than a year since we last saw each other and with him living in Sweden, the opportunities to see one another are few are far between. So that in itself was nice, but then we proceeded to awesome things.
• We put together the LEGO submarine my parents got for me . Then we promptly took it apart and built some alternative models. We each worked on a monster or two on our own and then we tried combining them and ended up trading parts and refining each other’s work until we ended up with these three creatures.

• Then Adam and I worked together to animate a scene for the Anti-Green commercial. It’s been a long time since I animated with anyone. It was nice to have someone to run ideas past and to have another set of hands that could focus on a character in a multi-character scene. (The scene has 3 cheerful children, 4 sneaky snakes, and 1 giggling goblicaun)
• Adam joined my family for dinner – we had leftovers galore.
• Then I introduced Adam to Super Mario Brothers Wii. I took him through levels from a few worlds to show off some of the various powers Then we played through world 7 which my brother and I warped past. We had a lot of fun helping and thwarting each other. Then we went back and found some missing star coins to unlock parts of world 9. Lots of fun.
• Then we called up Jeremy and went over to his dad’s house to hang out. We played a round of Fluxx and Grave Robbers from Outer Space and then we sat around talking for a couple hours. It was good to catch up; I hadn’t seen or spoken to Jeremy for two years. Nice to know he’s still doing well. His girlfriend is also 33 years old - so I was able to tell that to mom, since she keeps bringing up Bert’s age like it’s a problem. ;)

9) I flew back to Chicago Monday afternoon. Getting through check-in and security took as long as you’d expect, so I had barely sat down at the terminal when it was time to board the plane. It was nice getting home early in the evening. It gave me time to unpack and unwind and prepare for the week. I watched the penultimate disk of Angel Season 4 while eating dinner, unpacking, and building the main model of the Family House that Jenny and Leo got me. A nice relaxing evening.

10) I know what you’re thinking, “That’s strange, Dave did a whole update about going home and being with his family and he barely mentioned his nephew.” But I’ve saved the best for last. :) I already mentioned that we went sledding on Christmas Eve Day, and of course there was an obligatory session of Baby Baby Baby Sliiiiide, but there were also a whole new host of games we played. In between all the other things I listed I spent a good amount of my time with Isaiah:
• Running around the first floor with Isaiah while saying “Beep beep”
• Playing with the Little People “Main Street” set. In addition to rolling cars down the ramp and taking them through the “car wash,” we also took the babies (Baby with a hat and Baby with no hat) to get ice cream and to go grocery shopping. I could not convince him that the bank or the post office were worth visiting, maybe next time.
• After I had built the Family Home alternate model, I had had a bunch of pieces left over. Isaiah asked if he could help with the house. We built a red bathtub and then he decided it would be fun to drive his red car through the big pile of legos. So he would drive the car through (each time proclaiming “Red Car - Splaaaash!” and “That was the biggest splash ever!” and then we would put the pile back together and do it again. And then after the biggest splash of them all we worked together to find all the pieces and put them back in the box.
• Isaiah got two Bob the Builder DUPLO sets, which he was very excited about. So there were some good times playing with them.
• There were also several games of hide and seek, although Isaiah did not always get that the place you hide is supposed to be secret, instead proclaiming loudly where he wanted to hide next.
• Of course he proclaimed a lot of things through out the holiday. Such as “Merry Christmas Uncle Dave!” “Christmas Cookies!” (to which my brother would respond “Christmas Monkey?”) “Hello in there!” (to the pits of his olives) and “A-men!” (after hearing Dad say it at dinner.
• He was definitely into opening presents this year. Here’s a video of him helping Jenny open one and another one of him finding a very special present from his grandparents.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

This was the week to be blogged apparently

1) Let's talk about all the ridiculous blog coverage Helios has received. First it was blogged by The Living Brick, a blog that focuses on more organic creations and things that fall outside the typical theme divisions. Then it got picked up by The Brothers Brick, the most read LEGO blog in existence (I think) which meant hundreds more views on the flickr page. Then, it was criticized (along with several other recent posts on TBB) by Twee Affect, a LEGO blog that doesn’t pull any punches. I guess it’s possible that it showed up in even more places, but this was the only arc that passed through the section of the Blogosphere I monitor regularly. I thought it was interesting.

2) As I said in the title, this was the week to be blogged. In addition to the 3 separate blogs that mentioned Helios, NNN got 3 separate posts on Brickspace. This is the first blog coverage I’ve seen of NNN, so it’s very exciting. Glad to see it getting attention that I didn't generate myself.

3) While I’m talking about NNN and it's slowly expanding audience I should mention that "On the Street with Steve Deepsea" has garnered enough attention to be eligible for the YouTube partner revenue sharing program. I submitted the application, if approved, there will be ads displayed on the video and I will get a percentage of the revenue. We'll see how that all goes. I doubt it will amount to much, but it's a start. Maybe some day far in the future NNN will even be profitable...

4) Before we get to that stage though, I continue to pour money into it. I recently ran some test ads on YouTube and Facebook. YouTube ads were far more cost effective. I never paid more than a few cents per click. Facebook ads averaged around a quarter per click, however I was able to target those ads to very specific demographics. For instance my last ad campaign was only displayed to people on Facebook who work for the LEGO Group (a very important market in my opinion).

5) Stephanie and I defeated two more kings in the king game. We are well on our way to world domination.

6) On Tuesday I had bert over for dinner. I made peppercorn chicken and asparagus. He seemed to like it. :)

7) Since I worked Saturday, I got to take Wednesday off. Bert was kind enough to lend me his car so I could finish christmas shopping. I went to Gaymart and got him tiny rainbow disco ball ornaments and a batmobile (tumbler) ornament, then I went to target and got Isaiah an R2D2 play-doh playset and got some clothes and such for myself and then I swung by Trader Joe's and loaded up on delicious things. So it was a very full day of running errands.

8) We moved our office this week. (I'll post pictures after the new year) so most of this week was spent packing and unpacking. There were unexpected difficulties, but mostly it was a pretty painless move. I still had Bert's car on Thursday and Friday so it was very easy to get to the new space.

9) On Friday Bert and I went to see Avatar in 3D. It wasn't great, but the theater experience was pretty great. It's called ShowPlace Icon and it just opened that night. We got VIP tickets, which means we got access to a special lounge and had reserved seats on a separate tier of the theater. The seats were really comfy and had gigantic armrests. All the staff was very helpful, I recommend it, just find a better movie than Avatar to see there.
Then we went back to his place and I helped him decorate his Christmas tree. I should have taken a picture. Oh that reminds me, people have been asking for a picture of Bert here. I stole this one from facebook:

Isn't he a cutie?

10) On Saturday we had brunch at Tweet. Twas tasty. Then he helped me make the chocolate dipped almond-butter cookies with sprinkles that my family makes every Christmas. We took them over to Paul and Stephanie's for the Holiday cookie party they were hosting. We went over to have dinner with them Craig and Ashley and one of Ashley's friends. Bert got to meet some of my friends and vice versa so that was exciting and all the food and cookies and wines were delicious. OM NOM NOM.

11) Also! Presents! Bert got me fancy wine glasses (by which I mean actuall wine glasses instead of the plastic ones I got from Target 4 years ago), a bottle of Gewurztraminer, and a year's subscription to Time Out Chicago (so I can know about things happening in the city and thus plan good dates). Stephanie got me Super Mario Chess, mostly because the figures are awesome and she wants me to make animations with them where Bowser always wins (as well he should).

Monday, December 14, 2009

This blog is two years old

1) Bert and Stephanie and I got dinner together at the little Indian Buffet by my house. It was the first time they were meeting and I wanted to make sure they approved of each other, being my boyfriend and my best friend. They hit it off, which wasn’t a surprise, but was still very nice. Also, I love that Indian Buffet.

2) The next day Bert had me over and made me dinner (I helped cut things up). It was a pasta dish with braised collard greens chicken, tomatoes, garlic olive oil, spices etc. preceded by an apple and fennel salad. It was very tasty and I even got a Tupperware full to take for lunch the next day.

3) I commuted down the Red Line with Bert the next morning and was able to nap next to him until Monroe; it was a very nice way to start the day.

4) I finally saw Citizen Kane. It was good. I won’t deny that. Best movie ever? Dubious. I know it was revolutionary when it came out and all that, but there have been nearly 70 years of films since then, plenty of time to make improvements. I’ll use the same analogy I made to Tiffany when talking about it the following day at work: the original Mario 64 was groundbreaking at the time but Super Mario Galaxy is undeniable a better game. Video games are not the same as movies, but I think the point holds.

5) I’m really proud of this green meteor I made.

6) On Friday Bert and I went to Pizza Capri by my house, where I got the rosemary chicken and potato pizza I love so much. SO MUCH!!!

7) Bert let me use his car to drive to work and back on Saturday so I didn’t have to use a Zipcar. He’s so good to me.

8) We went to a party together at his best friend’s house on Saturday night. It was immaculately laid out. I got to meet a bunch of Bert’s friends which was nice and in general I had a good time.

9) Sunday morning we got brunch at The Golden Nugget restaurant by him.

10) I made Paul an awesome Christmas present:
A) Paul loves hippos.
B) I reverse engineered this lego hippo made by another AFOL
C) I built the hippo in Lego Digital Designer

D) Designed a box

E) Ordered the set

This is the first time I’ve tried the Design by Me program. It costs about twice as much as I’d expect that set to cost if it was part of LEGO’s regular product line, but that’s to be expected when you consider it comes in a custom box, with custom building instructions and that the pieces have to picked out specifically. It will also take a couple weeks to get, but I think it will be worth the wait.

I ordered a Pi├▒atapotomus for myself so I can thoroughly inspect the packaging and document the experience for my fellow AFOLs. :)

Monday, December 7, 2009

It's official

1) I released the new NNN video. The first couple days after I put a new video out are always exciting because I get an e-mail every time someone adds a comment on youTube, or responds to the post I put on EuroBricks, Bricks in Motion, MOCpages, FaceBook, etc. Mmm… feedback.

2) We had an all staff meeting with awesome Pizza Capri pizza (Vendure and rosemary potato and chicken) and homemade frozen-yogurt. Delicious!

3) Deadlines are slipping on the client side, so I don’t feel so bad about being so far behind (for the moment at least).

4) Not having to stay late Friday or come-in Saturday. Go student workers! Man, remember a couple years ago, when not working ridiculous hours was something I put as a wonderful thing on a regular basis? I’m so glad we’re beyond that.

5) We had out second LGBT Alumni event on Wednesday. It was at In Fine Spirits, which is only a couple blocks from Bert’s place. I took him as my date. It was very nice having someone to escape to/with and who would hold my drink so I could eat the appetizers. JJ was there, so he and Bert got to meet too. Yay!

6) On Friday night Bert took me as his date to a Christmas dessert party one of his co-workers was throwing. I got to meet some of his work friends and the desserts were excellent. Also, the people throwing the party had a very cute dog and three-year-old son who I got to play with. None of the other adults seemed interested in bouncing a ball with the kid; I don’t know what their problem is. The kid said to me, “Are you Steve?” I informed him that I was not, but in fact I was Dave. He seemed disappointed. Steve must be awesome.

7) Saturday morning we had a nice lazy morning lying in bed. I had to get up to deal with work stuff over my cell phone (but at least I didn’t have to go to Hyde Park). We also had some good talks where we agreed that we were officially boyfriends. Yay! Then we got breakfast at Clarke’s. Lovely.

8) Stephanie came over that afternoon and we watched through the 2 new episodes of Dollhouse and played through a bunch of the awesome king game. Season 2 of Dollhouse is so awesome, all the stuff with Summer Glau was awesome and Topher + Victopher was almost beyond words. The main plot with the Senator was pretty exciting and used Echo and Ballard in appropriate and not too obnoxious ways.

9) In fact it was a weekend of television. I also caught up on Glee, 30 rock, and Community. And I watched some Angel for good measure.

10) I finally got around to taking pictures of my recent lego creations and posting them in the appropriate places, allow me to share:

I also got caught up in an impromptu building session, which led to a set for the next NNN video. Productivity can be so much fun.

Thanksgiving 2009

1) This was an even shorter week at work! But I still managed to accomplish a bunch of stuff. Enough about work.

2) My parents drove in Wednesday afternoon. I met them at their hotel downtown and then we drove up to my place and got dinner at Leona's. It was delicious as usual. We got a different type of bruschetta (a word that that's not in FireFox's dictionary apparently) that was delicious and I got the Romano chicken and pasta. My parent's split a pizza and I took the leftovers of mom's spinach pizza and had it a few days later. Mmmm... Then we went to the grocery store and got all the stuff for dinner the next day.

3) We decided not to do a turkey this year, because it's such a hassle. Instead we had salmon - we still made the mashed potato casserole though. We also had asparagus and the mashed hash browns and what not. Everything was wonderful, I was eating left over potatoes for a week. It was a relatively simple, delicious meal.

4) J-P and I played through a good deal of New Super Mario Brothers Wii. We occasionally helped one another out, but mostly we got in the way of one another's jumps and threw each other into enemies (and vice versa) stole power ups. It is totally awesome. The penguin suit and helicopter mushroom are great and the levels have been fun and only occasionally obnoxious.

5) Thanksgiving night I stayed at the hotel with my family. They were in connecting rooms, so we had the doors open while we each did our own thing (J-P and I were on our laptops, mom was quilting and dad was watching TV) while being together. And I got to sleep in a bed with a ridiculous number of pillows and have the breakfast buffet with my parents in the morning and then take a nap while they went shopping on Michigan Ave.

6)In the hotel room I finished reading “Seymour an Introduction,” which I had been working on for the prior week. Now I’ve read all of J.D. Salinger’s published work. It’s too bad that Catcher in the Rye is his most famous work - I think it’s his weakest. His short stories and novellas are much better. Franny and Zoey is probably the best, it is the best expression of the themes he explores in all his work. But I think Nine Stories and Raise High the Roofbeam, Carpenters are also great and I recommend them.
Seymour an Introduction though, well, I think it might be my favorite, but I don’t necessarily recommend it. If you read all his other novellas and are not turned off by the slowness, lack of action and indulgences of the narrator, then you can consider it. Basically it’s a narrator let loose, with only scraps of story to anchor him. Because I am fascinated by any character who is even remotely aware of the fact that they are a character in a story, narrators have always fascinated me as characters. This is why Halloween is my favorite song from Rent. Of course it’s rare that narrators ever spend a lot of time ruminating about themselves and their status as narrators. Usually they get on with the business of telling the story and sometimes disappear altogether as the story goes on. So for me, Seymour was a rare treat, but I can see how others would find it tedious and frustrating.

7) I also finished Angel season 3 that night. I have to say, it was an excellent season. Much of that is due to Amy Acker and Andy Hallett being around a lot, but I also thought that the arcs all played out nicely and there were a lot of good individual episodes as well. When I finish with Angel I’m going to make a guide of what episodes are worth watching (mostly for Lila’s benefit) and right now season 3 is the only season I would recommend as a whole with a few episodes skipped as opposed to vice versa.

8)On Friday we went to see “A Serious Man.” It was pure Coen brothers from start to finish. Meaning there were a lot of crazy characters in funny situations, a healthy helping of music and dream sequences, moral gray areas, and while there was certainly progress, it ends without closure. I recommend it.

9)Then we went to Glenn's Diner for dinner. My parents had eard about it on the show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. It is a unique mix of diner food and fresh seafood. I got one of the menu items that spanned the divide – the Apple Jacks encrusted tilapia. It was delicious. I would definitely go there again. My parents and brother went back to the hotel and then made their way back to PA in the morning. It was a nice couple of days with them and then I had a full weekend left.

10) Had a relaxed weekend in which I a) watched Mysterious Skin. I totally dug the ambiance of the film, the music and colors were phenomenal and the performances were good too, but it’s not really a pleasant movie to watch. b) finished animating the new NNN video c) went to Paul and Stephanie’s to eat raisin thing and watch the last 3 episodes of the Wire. The Wire is awesome and I recommend it with every fiber of my being. It is some of the television I have ever watched. I won’t say it’s the best because it’s hard to compare it with Arrested Development for instance, they are such different types of shows. Watch them both.

Weird formatting is from typing this on the train in Word

1) Okay, let’s talk about Bert. I mentioned him briefly a couple posts ago, but things have been going really well and it doesn’t seem right that you (the anonymous Reader) know so little about him. So let’s get right down to it:

The basics – he’s 33, works doing marketing for Hyatt, grew up in a small farming town in southern Indiana (just outside of Louisville, Kentucky), went to Knox College, currently lives up in Andersonville, has one sister and prefers dogs to cats.

Now that we’ve got the census data out of the way, let me tell about who he is. Being from the borderlands of the South, he has a slight but noticeable accent and is an absolute gentleman. He holds open doors for me and has even pulled out my chair for me when we go to a restaurant. It flusters me every time, but it’s very sweet. He is a little sassy, by which I mean he’s chatty and opinionated and teasing, but he’s not mean or catty like those stereotypes you see on TV (and in real life). He’s really a sweetheart. When we’re a lone together the sass is negligible. :)

He’s a little bit of a nerd, though he’s in the nerd closet to some extent. I think he just hasn’t been around enough nerds. Me, I haven’t been around non-nerds much in the past 6 years, so I’m not used to someone being reluctant to admit they love Star Trek. He also has been very coy about his interest in video games and photography. So I’m doing what I can to coax him out in to the open. Things are going well. This is easily the best romantic relationship I’ve been in (though it doesn’t have much competition).

He also has a good sense of humor and is always making me smile. :)

2) We went on a date on Wednesday to Chilam Balam, a tapas style Mexican restaurant near my place. Everything we had was good, but pricey considering the quantities. Then we got a drink at SideTrack, and then we kissed a little. :)

3) On Friday we went to Antica Pizza in Andersonville and then went to his place and watched Star Trek: First Contact. What an awesome movie. I stayed over and the next morning we went to the Ann Sather’s up there (OMG Cinnamon Rolls). Have I been to all the Ann Sather’s locations now? Anyway, it was a very nice time and definitely helped me forget about work for a while.

4) On Tuesday I went to Stehpanie’s and we had delicious chicken gyros from that place on Cornelia & Broadway. We watched last week's television on Hulu and the new Doctor Who special. Creepy water monsters are creepy and megalomania doesn’t really work out for the Doctor.

5) On Thursday Stephanie came over to my place and we played more of the awesome King Game and ordered in from Pockets.

6) On Sunday Night Paul and Stephanie had a big potluck Thanksgiving Dinner. I say potluck, but they made all of the essentials – extremely juicy turkey (you don’t even know how goods it was [unless you were there] – best turkey ever) stuffing (of the stuffed and unstuffed varieties, Smashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, rolls, etc. Jake brought sweet potatoes and there were lots and lots of desserts. I focused on the sweet potato pie, but there was a lot of deliciousness happening. I’m sure I’m missing some food, but the point is there was a lot of it and it was all wonderful. (I had a lot of good eating this week.)

7) I animated! Not sure exactly what parts I did, but it was stuff for On The Street.

8) Season 3 of Angel is legitimately good. They’ve got enough regular cast members now that they can really do the weaving overlapping stories that Joss Whedon shows do so well. It’s no surprise this floundered for so long. I’m glad it found it’s footing though. Now I actually pay attention to it as it plays instead of just having it as background noise while I build lego stuff.

9) The weather was pretty warm this weekend, I did a bunch of laundry and went for a bike ride.

10) You’ll notice I didn’t talk about work this week. It wasn’t a pleasant week by any means. Josh was fired, which was a long time coming, but not really fun. At least is was a short week. Oh I also had fun editing this Logan Ceremony highlights video

Sunday, December 6, 2009

NYC Vacation - Fall 2009

Nov 13-17 I took a long weekend vacation to New York City to see some friends, record some lego voices, and generally just get away from my life for a while. It was excellent.

My flight was delayed on Friday due to the tail end of a heavy rainstorm on the east coast. Southwest was kind enough to call my cell phone and inform me of the delay. Except I was already at the airport when they called. I used the extra couple hours to take a nice series of naps at the terminal. I didn’t mind, unlike Tiffany I feel very safe and comfortable at airports so as long as it isn’t an egregious delay, I can usually amuse myself for the extra time.

When I did finally get in, my doppelganger, David Pagano, met me at the airport. (You may remember we hung out at Brickworld this summer) Why is he my doppelganger you ask? True, we don’t look that much alike, however our names are both David Michael P_____, we’re about the same age and we both spend a great deal of our time making stop-animation movies with lego bricks. In fact, last year we tied for second place in this lego animation contest. Of course, he has gone a step further than me, and is actually getting paid by the LEGO Group to make animations (he did 6 awesome Space Police Videos throughout the summer - this is the first). Several of my friends have suggested I need to kill him and take his place, but since this is not Highlander, I think I’ll hold off on that.

So he met me at the airport and we caught up while taking a bus and a couple trains from Queens to Manhattan to Brooklyn and then walking from Brooklyn back into Queens (which made me appreciate my straightforward commute) to get to his animation studio. His studio is his old bedroom in his parents’ house. His parents must be even more generous and accommodating than mine, in addition to the studio proper, there were lego sets in every corner of the living room, strewn over the dining room table, and hiding in various nooks and crannies in the kitchen. The studio itself was a sight to behold (and I realize now, I should have taken pictures), the windows were blacked out, he had a nice big worktable, a computer desk in the corner and drawers and boxes of lego piled high in every other available space.

He showed me sneak peaks of the new stuff he’s working on for LEGO (my lips are sealed of course) and let me my play around with the models he had used to make them (I only broke them a little). He talked the process of working with the LEGO group on official animations; I made him show me how he organizes his pieces, etc. Then I had him record a couple voices, he’s the wolfpack fan in my latest video and he’ll be The Toymaster General in a video which should be out in Spring. After that he rode back into Manhattan with me and then we parted ways at Union station. All in all it was a really awesome afternoon filled with LEGO goodness.

Then I headed down to Wall Street to meet up with yet another David (there really are quite a few of us). David Massant lived in my dorm and shared an apartment building with me in college. He now works on Wall Street for Deutsche Bank. I got to his apartment about 8 PM on Friday and didn’t go outside again until about 2 in the afternoon on Sunday. In those 42 hours I watched TV and ate food and slept and talked. On Friday, David, his boyfriend Michael and his roommate Puvin ( I think that's how it's spelled...) introduced me to Firefly Vodka. This tea infused vodka is so tasty, it is very easy to drink excessive amounts without realizing it. This may or may not be what happened on Friday. Saturday morning and afternoon we were all recovering and then preparing for a Mexican potluck with their friends that evening. After dinner we ended up watching a bunch of funny youtube videos. Sunday was a very calm morning and I used the time to do some stuff on the internet. It was a very nice relaxing couple of days.

Then I headed up to Chelsea and met Lila at her apartment. About 20 minutes before I arrived she got an e-mail from her boss (at the Huffington Post) about a new work schedule that involved her working a lot of nights and weekends, never having 2 consecutive days off, and a schedule that alternated every other week. In short, a really terrible schedule that she didn’t feel like was sustainable for her. Using the lessons I had learned from my recent negotiations to get out of my promotion at work I was able to help her think about how to respond and work with her boss and co-workers to create a schedule that worked for everyone’s needs. It was nice to help her out and it made me appreciate how good I have it at my job.

About an hour after I arrived Eric came over, we went to the local video rental store and picked up Howl’s Moving Castle for later and then accompanied Lila to home depot so she could make a copy of her building key. She spent a lot of the walk on the phone talking about her terrible new schedule and Eric and I used that time to catch up.

Back at her apartment we threw a log on her fire, ordered some amazing Chinese take-out (spicy chicken, shrimp and noodles, pork dumplings, beef and green beans) and prepared ourselves for a voiceover recording session. The majority of the recording session we spent working out the Trifacto Jones song. It was really a team effort. I had written the song and come up with the basic tune ahead of time, but Eric’s conducting was essential to getting the timing and annunciation down and Lila’s soloing made the opening verses much more dynamic. We listened back to that and some stuff we’d recorded the last time I was in New York and that lead to creating Steven Mitchell and figuring out the voice for Rhonda Rhododendron. We really enjoyed ourselves. Eric and I were laughing so hard we kept messing up Lila’s recording.

Then we watched Howl's Moving Castle. This was the second time I watched it and I remembered the plot being a little confused, but I thought it would be easier to follow the second time through. It was still a mess. The first hour is really tightly done, after that it stats to fall apart. Still, it’s a Miyazaki film, so you’re so enchanted by the music and animation that you let things like plot chasms go. Afterward we went around the block to a diner for dessert. I got a big brownie w/ ice cream, whipped cream and fudge. It was awesome. Eric went home after that.

Lila and I watched some Arrested Development. Including “Pier Pressure,” which I will never tire of watching. After she went to sleep I stayed up and caught up on blog (only to immediately fall behind again…) The next day we got some delicious sandwiches – mine was turkey, brie, thin slices of granny apple and something else delicious. Hers was also good, the only ingredient I remember is cabbage. Then we saw Fantastic Mr. Fox which was delightful. We walked uptown so she could pick something up from a department store and then we parted ways at the subway station. I got to LaGuardia and back to Chicago with no troubles. A wonderful vacation through and through.