Monday, April 26, 2010

Little Things

1) Two weeks ago I was sick most of the week. Luckily I have a sweet boyfriend who brought me soup and Sex in the City. Isn’t Bert the best?

2)As I mentioned in my last post, I had not one, but two different interviews about my animations go up that week. And on top of that, the Nightly News at Nine won “Best Series” in the Bricks in Motion 2009 Awards. It’s been nice to get so much positive feedback about my work. It keeps me motivated.

3) The little time I did spend at work that week I was either noshing on a delicious breakfast buffet (part of a half-day retreat) or having amazing luck with finding parking spaces on campus. Praise be Aquanetta (the goddess of parking spots and hair-dos according to Bert)!

4) The weather is not super warm, but it’s been nice enough to walk outside and feel the wind on your face and not feel like you are going to die. It’s wonderful. Although Fall will always be my favorite, Spring has its merits.

5) After much prodding from me, Bert started a blog. He may already have abandoned it, but I’m glad he at least gave it an effort. He has been very restless since becoming unemployed and it’s nice to see him being productive and trying new things. He has also been looking into government programs that will pay for him to take classes. And he had a phone interview with Jim Beam. All very exciting.

6) We had a nice weekend. On Friday night we went to Coalfire for dinner (excellent thin crust) and saw The Cabinet at Redmoon Theater. It was not your typical play, as the characters were all puppets. They used mostly 3D puppets, with a couple interludes that used projection and transparency paper puppets to great effect, and two pop-up books. The puppeteers were also an integral part of the show, They open and closed different doors, hung upside down, shimmied through tiny openings, and of course, their hands were everywhere.
The story is about a sonambulist who is at a mental institute and is used by the director to commit horrendous murders while sleepwalking. The whole show had a very Burtonesque feel, very macabre and morbid. The puppeteers were all dressed as creepy asylum doctors. Very cool.

7) Saturday morning we had a nice brunch at Orange.

Bert got the French toast kabob and I got the tropical Pancake Flight. The tropical pancake flight had four stacks silver dollar pancakes with the following toppings (listed in order of deliciousness from most to least)
A: Coconut and Pineapple (the whipped cream was coconut infused too)
B: Mango and Papaya
C: Strawberry Kiwi
D: Banana and Passionfurit. (I’m not sure why this was so bad, maybe passionfruit isn’t actually as tasty as I think it is.)
And of course, a place called Orange has amazing fresh squeezed orange juice. Mmmm….

8) Saturday night we went over to Jeremy’s place and played Trivial Pursuit and Fluxx with him and Andy. Also there was a lot of wine and by the end of the night we were singing karaoke and then Bert and I weaved our way home.
Aside from that it was a calm weekend. We watched 30 Rock and stayed in my apartment and I animated while he watched Defiance and it was nice and domestic.

9) I’m a couple episodes into season 2 of Twin Peaks now, and really I’m enjoying the ride. There have been a couple dull moments, but mostly it’s been quirky and mysterious (even though I’m spoiled for the murderer) and delightful. Picking up after the cliffhanger of season 1 with this excruciatingly slow scene with the senile room service guy was incredible and I think a perfect example of what I love about this show. It is capable of building suspense and mystery, but is always conscious of that and playing with the viewers’ expectations (but not in the Whedonesque trope-subverting style that can induce whiplash when taken too far). I think my new favorite character is Albert, the aggressively cynical, yet fastidiously non-violent FBI agent.
Speaking of Whedon, I also just got the Buffy Chosen collection. It makes me so happy to know I can pop in a disc whenever I want. I am going to continue my efforts to get Bert hooked on the show, despite the fact that it’s clearly too campy for him. “Hush” was a bust, but I’m going to try and get him hooked on Faith, so I can at least get him to watch season 3. Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!
Stephanie and I watched Moon. It was delightful. I would watch it again right now, and that’s a rare thing for me. A+

10) I just finished two animations. The first is a deleted scene for New Beginnings. Of course when I say deleted scene. I mean I scripted it and recorded it with Stephanie, knowing full well that it wouldn’t fit into the main narrative. It’s not like I had animated this and then decided not to include it at the last second when I was editing. I try not to waste any frames. I’m really pleased with Robert’s frantic run after Sherry and the suave way in which she switches between hair and helmet and back again.

The other animation I finished is the claymation Tiffany and Krista and I conceived for the Aniboom Sesame Street Competition. The three of us came up with the concept over several meetings conducted by conference calls and group gChats (we briefly thought about using Google Wave and then laughed heartily). Tiffany and I did the animation over 2 Sundays and one Thursday night (with an addition Sunday for test animations). Krista made us some great storyboards to follow and recorded the voices with her younger sister Candace and her friends. Seth helped up out animating one Sunday. Aside from the Fire Escape Intro projects, this is the most collaborative animation project I’ve ever done. I’m very proud of how it turned out. It’s definitely the most adorable thing I’ve ever made.

Color City Hide & Seek: Yellow

The claymation that Tiffany and Krista and I have been working on for the past month or two is finally finished! Vote for it here

Watch more cool animation and creative cartoons at Aniboom

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Me me me

1) I turned 25 this Saturday, and while I usually don’t make a fuss about my birthday, this year was a bit more of a production than most and it all went off wonderfully. I got the expected flood of well wishes on Facebook, (although a few people commented a week early and apologized for being belated, which was bizarre) and several e-mails, cards and other notes that made me feel warm and fuzzy. I also got some nice gifts. Bert got me a gift certificate for a manicure and pedicure, because he know s it’s something I’d never get for myself. Stephanie got me an awesome Fat Pony ceramic figurine, and a t-shirt with a velociraptor dressed up as Sherlock Holmes. Tiffany and Seth got me a cool magnetic puzzle cube that has famous paintings on every side. Jenny, Leo and Isaiah got me a cool LEGO set. My parents sent me a generous check, which I will probably use to buy the complete series of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and pay off some of my credit card bill, because I’m practical like that.

2) On Friday Night Bert, Stephanie, Paul, JJ, Tiffany, Seth, Max and I went to Andalous for dinner. Despite a scheduling mix-up by the restaurant we got our table and there was delicious Moroccan food and lots of wine and everybody paid for my dinner so I felt special. Then we went to my place and played a little Boom Blox and then Cranium and Max got ice cream from Walgreens and it was a delightful evening. I went to sleep warm and happy.

3) On Saturday Bert and I slept in and then he went on a mysterious errand while I lazed around some more and watched the latest episode of Lost (we finally got some dimension hopping!) and otherwise relaxed. Then we went up to his place and I did laundry while he finished watching Season 2 of Torchwood (poor Tosh). I finished reading A Long Way Down and then it was time for book club. After most of the people had arrived Bert brought out this incredible LEGO cake and they sang Happy Birthday and it took me three breaths to blow out the candles and I couldn’t think of anything to wish for because when you’ve got a boyfriend who is getting you LEGO cakes, what else could you possibly want?

Book club was good, I chatted with some guys I didn’t know very well and when I decided I was tired of being social I went into Bert’s room and laid down on the bed because it’s my birthday and I can sleep if I want to.

4) On Sunday, Bert let me use his car, I picked up Tiffany at her place and we went to the Blick’s at North & Clyborne to get some white clay, black posterboard and a hole punch. We stopped at that bagel place that I’d always seen when going down North but never been at. It hit the spot. At my place we spent a couple hours building geometric shapes out of LEGO to be the cityscape for our claymation. Krista’s storyboards were very helpful in coming up with the city. Then we set it all up and did a few overhead shots, which forced us to figure out the order in which the events take place. It was a very productive afternoon.

5) Rewinding before my birthday weekend, I had some delightful dinners this week. Monday Stephanie came over and we ate peanut chicken and watched the end of Arrested Development Season 1. On Tuesday I went to Paul and Stephanie’s and we had the cinnamon chickpea dish and watched the Doctor Who episodes about the Library and River Song. Wednesday Bert cooked salmon with basil pasta and spinach (very good and healthy) and we watched the pilot of Twin Peaks. Thursday he drove us to Smoque for some amazing barbeque. So a very good week.

6) I spent a good amount of time working on the Chapter 1 DVD. Got the projects laid out in DVD studio Pro and make some awesome label art. I’m hoping to have these out by the end of the month, I’ll be sure you let y’all know as soon as they are available.

7) I also spent a lot of time answering questions for a couple online interviews. The first is for the site that hosts the Streamys and is the primary news source for web television. I e-mailed them a couple weeks ago to let them know NNN exists and see if they were interested in doing a story. I got a very energetic e-mail back with a good set of questions. I spent a couple days writing up my answers and Stephanie was kind enough to help me edit them. The second was an unsolicited request from my friend Lindsay to be part of her Inspiration Collective series. Her questions were a lot more focused on me as an artist as opposed to NNN, so the interviews had very little overlap and it was a lot of writing about myself. And here are the finished interviews: TubeFilter - Inspiration Collective.

8) I finally bought some Animal Collective albums. I had a few songs on my itunes from various mix CDs I’d received and I listened to them a lot on Pandora, but I’d yet to really delve into their work. I started with Sung Tongs and have since expanded to Prospect Hummer and Strawberry Jam. Good stuff.

9) Spent most of my commuting time this week reading “A Long Way Down” for book club. When I first read the description I was skeptical, it seemed like it would be a very trite and shallow treatment of a pretty heavy subject (suicide). I ended up being pleasantly surprised. Maureen was definitely the heart of the book and went through the biggest change over the course of the story. Jess was also really well written. The two guys were pretty inconsistent though. I’d give it a B-

10) I started watching the first season of Twin Peaks. Wow. I can’t believe this aired on network television 20 years ago; it’s so quirky and creepy. The theme music does such a good job setting the mood and the crazy characters all play off one another very well. I don’t care that the acting is all completely over the top and melodramatic. I love how extreme everything is. I just got to the first dream sequence. “Lost” wishes it could be this weird.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Time time time

So this blog has devolved from once a day to once a week to about once a month. And I don't always number things form 1 to 10 anymore. So be it! Here's some wonderful stuff.

Things with Bert have been going well. We're approaching 5 months together and still going strong. We've been spending a lot of time together and enjoying it very much. Our time together isn't very exciting to describe, it mostly involves sitting around watching 30 Rock, Sex in the City, playing Lego Star Wars, making dinner and such. But we like it. We've gone on a couple nice dates recently, went to a nice Indian restaurant, Marigold. We walked around Lincoln Square last weekend. Now that the weather is getting nice, we have been strolling about outside more. We also went to Costco last week and now I have more handsoap and kitchen garbage bags than I know what to do with. Yay Costco!

Nightly News at Nine things have been moving along. I finished up Chapter 1, complete with an opening sequence and credits and am hard at work on the DVD. I recorded a director's commentary and have almost finished with subtitles, still got a lot of graphics to make but should have the DVD ready for sale by the end of the month. I'll let you know when it's ready. I've gotten my Illinois Business license and FEIN so I'm all set to collect sales tax as such. Very exciting!

Lego released some board games this month. I got Minotaurus and Monster 4. They are both quite awesome. I can't wait to play Minotaurus again (I have only played one incomplete game).

Tiffany and I did some animation tests for the Sesame Street animation.

The Van Gogh face paint video Talya and I did unexpectedly got featured in an e-mail to UChicago alumni. So that night I went home and spent a few hours creating a new personal website. What do you think?

Work has been fine. We've got new employees and I'm actually catching up on old projects. Spent a couple weeks printing and delivering DVDs and sending invoices. It was quite nice.

What else? Had some nice dinners with other friends. Always more dinners with Paul and Stephanie. Got Thai with Max. JJ came over one Saturday and we watched Night of the Comet.

This past week I got 2 wisdom teeth out. I've been floating in a vicodin haze ever since and gorging myself on ice cream, jamba juice and milkshakes. Yum.

I'm in the closed Beta for Lego Universe. I can't say any specifics, but it's quite fun. Saw How to Train Your Dragon today. It was good, better than I expected. I got birthday and Easter care packages from my parents today. Lots of sweet things. Hooray!

That's all for now.

LA is ridiculous

So it's been almost a month since Bert and I went to LA, but I'm still going to tell you about it because it was wonderful.

This was my first real grown-up vacation where I wasn't crashing with friends or my parents or attending a Lego convention. So just getting on a plane with my boyfriend and staying in a swanky hotel was very exciting for me. We went when it was still cold and miserable in Chicago, so the 60 degree weather seemed incredible. I wore short and sandals more than I would have otherwise, but it was wonderful to be able to go outside without several layers of clothing. Here's the view from our room.

The first day we didn't do a whole lot, checked in to the hotel (after I did some bad navigating), walked to the nearby CitiBank so Bert could get cash (his card stopped working), walked along Santa Monica Blvd, got some fries, took a nap, and then for dinner we went to El Compadre, a nice little Mexican place with flaming margaritas that was just a little ways down the street from the hotel. Of course since this was LA when we were walking around we saw a nail salon that was completely mobbed by paparazzi, at dinner Bert recognized a B-list celebrity at the table next to us and when we returned to our hotel that evening the lobby was converted into a swanky pre-Oscar party. Weird.

Friday we were more adventurous. We drove to the Watts Towers or "the Hub of the Universe" which ended up being a bust because the tour guide abandoned us. While we were waiting we fooled around with my camera a little bit. In fact you can see the tour guide leaving in the background of one of the videos.

Even without the tour we were able to get some nice pictures through the fence.

Then we went to Venice Beach to see all the artists and other characters. We were implored by several nice people to go be evaluated for medical marijuana at one of the two competing "Kush Doctors" on the boardwalk. We politely declined. Bert witnessed a drug bust (that was also being filmed) when he went to the bathroom and we got slices of pizza that were more expensive than advertised. We also stuck our feet in the ocean and I gave a dollar to this guy for making this awesome sand dragon.

Then we went back to the hotel and took a wonderful nap, then we had dinner at Yamashiro. It was very cool. A converted Japanese shrine in the hills overlooking the city, the ambiance was top-notch and the food was excellent too. We started with an amazing albacore ceviche, then I had chicken teriyaki and some kind of tasty dessert that I can't recall. Guess that's why I should do these sooner than a month after.

Saturday it was rainy but we had an indoor day planned anyway. We started off with brunch at bld. OMG it was incredible. I got a frittata and Bert got ricotta blueberry pancakes. If I ever go to LA again that place is on the top of my list. So tasty. The guys at the table next to us were discussing a script one of them is working on, but he was afraid to go into details "because you never know who might be listening." Don't worry dude, even though you are talking loud, we have no interest in stealing your ideas. LA is ridiculous.
Then we went to LACMA. The contemporary art museum had some koontz stuff, which I appreciated for its bright colors if nothing else. And it also had these massive steel sculptures that you walked through/around like a meditative labyrinth - quite awesome. I don't remember a whole lot else that we saw, aside from the architecture of Japanese art pavillion which Bert described "like being inside 60's Disneyland." We also went to the La Brea tar pits since they were right there.
That evening we met up with Dana and her date Justin. We had dinner at the Velvet Margarita Club, went to a small art show at a video game school and then went to see Quick and Funny Musicals by the Upright Citizens Brigade. Ghost Slut was probably my favorite. In addition to the cast sporting several celebrities, we spotted Paul Dooley in the audience. It was a very nice evening.

We spent most of Sunday traveling. We did have a nice outdoor breakfast at a diner down the street before heading to the circus that was LAX. All in all a good vacation.

Here's a video from Isaiah's brithday party I found when I was fishing out the other videos for this post.