30 October 2009

The Warrior vs. the Arachnid

Have you ever killed a living creature with the pointy end of a sword? I'm not talking about on a video game. I don't mean in your feeble dreams in which you slay dragons. Have you ever actually slain a foul, incredibly gruesome beast with a sword, such as el cid, driving it through all layers of life until there are none left to gasp for air? Well I have.

Today, the foulest spider I've ever seen in real life -- more deadly than the crimson recluse, fouler (which seems to be the word of the day) than mayonnaise on a peanut butter and banana sandwich (or any sandwich...or anything...), with big, nasty fangs drooling venom at only the sight of my big toe in her 50 eyes -- chased after me today. Fortunately for me, I'm at least 3 times bigger than she, and the blunt force of my foot crashing down is enough to make even cinder blocks shudder. So I stomped. Damn. Missed. But she ran. And she was fast. I finally caught up to her, cowered in one of the four corners of my bedroom. Found you, spawn of SATAN! Alas there was no way my stomping could reach her there. Whipped off my belt and started swinging the buckle at her, but in vain. Then it came came into my head faster than it takes to watch the duration of a 30 second bunny cartoon: I have a sword! I have FOUR swords!

Ran into the office and picked up the el cid I carried on my back all the way from Spain - for this very occasion, I'm sure. Arriving back at the corner, I could sense her fear. Doom was imminent. Resistance, futile. I stabbed. I could hear the frail squeaks coming from her now mangled face. Stabbed again. And again. I listened with a sinister joy as she drew her final, fatal breath. It was over.

And yet, as I cleaned up the mess with a tissue, I was somehow still afraid of the foul creature. I imagined her crawling up my right arm, reaching my bicep, and sinking her vicious teeth through my flesh, through my muscle, through my bone, and poisoning me with her venom into my very soul (which was inconveniently placed under my right bicep). With that thought, I hustled and bustled to the bathroom and flushed her down straight away, watching as she swirled around and around, reassuring myself and the rest of the world, that she would never harm another living soul. Not now. Not ever.

Thank you.
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28 October 2009

Lotus Notes Ver 1.1.1

Some people were never meant for greatness. Take, for example, the developers over at Microsoft.

And speaking of software that has some strange quirks about it, my email client for work is called Lotus Notes, which is akin to Outlook or Apple Mail, the former without even the potential for the greatness aforementioned, the latter being perfect, or at least for this fan boy and his paragraph-sized run-on sentences, and LN being somewhere in between, has some strange quirks about it.

The neat thing, however, of LN is a handy, somewhat seemingly worthless feature called a personal journal. I've still yet to discover it's true reason for existence, but I've taken advantage of it to clear my head of the somewhat seemingly worthless thoughts and information that is stored in my skull in order to focus on the tasks assigned to me. I think I'll share what I've written so far.
10.19.09 - Apparitions and Telekinesis
This is my personal journal. I'm not sure exactly what I'm supposed to write here. Maybe I can discuss the difference between apparating and animorphism.

But then again, maybe not.

10.21.09 - Un Burro; Dos Burritos
It turns out that today I became the resident Mexican Chef. How does it feel to achieve such an achievement? I'll be honest: it feels good. Real good.

10.22.09 - Tom Servo
Today my computer froze 5 minutes after I turned it on. Leave it to Microsoft to suck.

10.23.09 - Hippity Hop
I was here a little early today. So I sat in my car and let the song finish. Then I casually walked in, still arriving 2 minutes early. Can I get a little "Huzzah!"

10.26.09 - What It Is
Wow. What a weekend. What a spectacular weekend. And what a fantastic cherry yogurt.

10.27.09 - Confunding Happenstance
Crustum Plantancius, more commonly known as banana bread, is not symbiotic by nature, although it is conceived as such by a wide number of members of the Plantandum tribe found in the northern regions of South America. Thought by many to be ground zero of true symbiosis, this tribe's home territory is rich with banana trees and copper, making it as valuable as a rug burn after a long day at work.

10.28.09 Insipid Ideas
Last night I took some cool pictures. It was pretty fun. Maybe I'll do that more often.

10.28.09 - Potato Center
I walked past a sign today that said Parkade Center and thought it said Potato Center. This kick-started my imagination. I started thinking of a store called The Potato Center. Not a restaurant. The Potato Center is a store that sells arts and crafts and lamps all made from potatoes, for potatoes or by potatoes. There would also be a food center in the Potato Center. A restaurant. I bet they serve deli sandwiches.
Now that that's out of the way, go do something productive.

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27 October 2009

New Post

I wrote a new post today. Actually I took some pictures. Some of these are from the same "shoot" as the photos I used to make the new banner ↑. And the other photos are of my kitchen when I had the missionaries over for dinner. I made sweet pork burritos Café Río style.

Have a nice day.
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22 October 2009


Going through some old stuff, I also found this silly video. Warning: this is proof of my eccentricity. Don't watch unless you are ready for the weirder moments of my life. And soon friends, soon I'll be making a video or capture some photos of my apartment and new life in MO. You've endured this long, (the Hess!) and thus it shouldn't be too hard to wait a little longer. Also, this may be a good time for you to catch up on a little light reading, start here with my first post ever and work your way to the present. Or not, you know...whatever.


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I dug up a couple of movie reviews that I wrote awhile back. Since I can't seem to muster up the courage to create a brand new post, I though I'd at least give you, my fans, a taste of my professional writing style. Prepare to be bored to tears with the longest post of my life:
  • Cool as Ice - Movie Review
  • Pan's Labyrinth - Movie Review
And so you all know, I got A's on both of these. A+ even. Enjoy...or skim...or enjoy while skimming. It's up to you, really.

Cool as Ice Film Review

The film “Cool as Ice” was written by David Stenn, produced by Carolyn Pfeiffer and Lionel Wigram, and directed by David Kellogg. The original music score was written by Stanley Clark and costumer designer was Ingrid Ferrin. Director of photography was Janusz Kaminski who later went on to work with Steven Spielberg in Schindler’s List in 1993 and has photographed all of his movies since. Cast included Robert Van Winkle AKA Vanilla Ice as John “Johnny” Van Owen, Kristin Minter as Kathy Winslow, and Michael Gross as Gordon Winslow, Kathy’s father.

During the opening credits, we are favored to a music video starring Johnny, in which he is established as a hard core rap artist, most likely very popular in his time. From the clothing and style of music, the theme is set right away to take place sometime in the early 1990’s. Johnny’s lifestyle and attitude are further developed as one of the female dancers from the music video approaches him and gives him her number. The story then begins as Johnny and his crew, consisting of Jazz, Sir D and Princess, hop on their motorbikes and hit the road.

During their road trip, they come upon a small rural town and Johnny notices his next victim: a girl riding her horse in a field parallel to the road. He miraculously jumps the fence surrounding the field on his motorcycle with no ramp, and lands directly in front of the running horse. This scares the horse, tossing the girl to the ground. After some kind words to each other, Johnny and his crew take off. Thus we can get a feel for Johnny’s character in the opening two scenes of the film.

After a short ride into town, Jazz’s motorcycle breaks down and the gang is forced to stop for a few days at a local garage while the two nutty owners, Mae and Roscoe, fix the bike. Fortunately for Johnny, this short delay gives him time to meet the girl riding horseback, since, as it turns out, she lives a few houses down the street from the shop.

The story moves on to the girl. In the few scenes following the motorcycle break down, we learn that the girl’s name is Kathy Winslow. She is a 4.0 student who has made her family very proud. She seems to be in a failing relationship with her boyfriend, Nick, and thus she is very drawn to Johnny and his carefree lifestyle. Her mom and dad, unbeknownst to Kathy, have been on the witness protection program her entire life.

The plot thickens as two thugs from Mr. Winslow’s past show up at their door and demand a sum of money within 24 hours. After two days, these thugs get impatient which causes them to kidnap Kathy’s little brother, Tommy.

Meanwhile, Kathy and Johnny seem to be getting along. After breaking into her room and waking her up early in the morning by stuffing an ice cube in her mouth, they go on what seems to be an all day, extravagant date, where they talk and discuss life from Johnny’s point of view. Seeing how careless and free he seems, Kathy falls deeply in love with him. Mr. Winslow is not happy about this and forbids her to see him again; he believes Johnny to be in cahoots with the two thugs.

As luck would have it, Johnny shows up to say good bye just after Kathy’s brother was kidnapped, notices a tape on the doorstep and hands it to the dad as he is kicked off the property. The tape turns out to be a message from the kidnappers demanding a large sum of money in exchange for the safety of the boy. Kathy, unwilling to call the police for help, and so in love with Johnny, refuses to believe he had any part in the whole charade, steals the tape and runs out of the house. She runs to the garage where Johnny and his crew are “keeping it real” and has Johnny listen to the tape. Johnny, being the detective that he is, analyzes the tape and figures out where the kidnappers took Kathy’s brother. Together with his gang, Vanilla and Kathy, ride to the kidnappers’ hideout, beat up the bad guys, and save Tommy.

The movie ends as Mr. Winslow apologizes to the overrated rap artist and watches as he drives away with his daughter, jumping her boyfriend Nick’s car, again with no ramp, as they ride away happy. We are then favored to another music video, this time with Kathy watching her new found love perform.

The two things to point out are the music and clothing. Costume designer Ingrid Ferrin does a very good job at depicting to exact detail everything about the early 90’s we only wish we could forget. Fluorescent colored, mismatching clothes, funky hair designs, and extreme baggy pants give this movie an unmistakable 1990 feel; furthermore, it gives Johnny a care-free, doesn’t-give-a-damn attitute right from the beginning. Ferrin also creates a perfect stereotype of the goody-goody straight-A student, and her not-so-friendly, jock boyfriend. She wears very modest clothes, seen in a white dress at parties signifying her purity, and he wears jeans with polo tucked-in and a letterman’s jacket. Composer Stanley Clarke does nothing less than create the same atmosphere through music and sounds that were very popular during this time period.

The film is meant to be a remake of classic “Rebel Without a Cause” starring James Dean. The story is told to show the differences between the careless Johnny and Kathy with her perfect life, and how the two coincide and attract one another. There is no doubt that director David Kellogg meant to teach the message to not judge a book by it’s cover. The rebellious Johnny is negatively judged by his clothing and lifestyle by everyone he meets, yet turns out to be the hero. Moreover, the film strongly depicts life in the 1990’s thus leaving the impression that it was meant to do so.

“Cool as Ice” is at best a film for nostalgic purposes only. It was not meant to be a comedy, yet it should only be watched by those willing to laugh at the horrible screenplay and acting to match. Though it is not rated the worst film of all time, it is considered to be in the bottom 5, not even worthy of the title cult classic.

Pan’s Labyrinth (AKA El Laberinto del Fauno) Film Review

The film Pan’s Labyrinth was written, produced and directed by genius Guillermo del Toro, a very successful director whose outstanding work includes The Orphanage, Hellboy and Hellboy 2. Other producers include Alfonso Cuarón, Bertha Navarro, Frida Torresblanco, and Alvaro Augustin. The original musical score was written by Javier Navarrete, the director of photography was Guillermo Navarro and the production designer was Eugenio Cabballero. Cast includes Ivana Baquero as Ofelia/Princess Moanna, Sergi López i as Captain Vida/Ofelia’s step father, Doug Jones as The Faun, Maribel Verdú as Mercedes and Ariadna Gil as Carmen, Ofelia’s mother.

From the very beginning of the film, noting the color scheme to the music, the overall feel of an imaginative, somewhat depressing story is set. The movie begins by telling the story of an old fable about a princess long ago that escaped from her magical world and lost all memory of who she was and from whence she came. The story goes that the princess would one day return.

We then meet Ofelia and her mother, Carmen, as they are riding in a car. The theme is set to take place in 1944 Spain, just after the Spanish civil war, and anyone who knows about the history of Spain will know that Franco is in power. This becomes important for particular character development. Carmen is a bit ill from her pregnancy, thus she asks the driver to stop the car. This gives Ofelia a chance to explore and allows for del Toro to begin to show that the magical world is intermingled with our real world. They are somewhere in the woods traveling to what we will find to be a camp/house where Capitan Vida and his men are staying.

Right away, Ofelia begins to see tid bits of a magical world as she meets a fairy in the woods as she explores. Her mother calls her to come; it is interesting the Carmen completely ignores her daughter when she tries to explain about having seen a fairy. This leads us to wonder if she the magical world really exists, or only exists in Ofelia’s imagination, and this theme is carried on through the entire film.

Upon arriving to the camp, we understand right away the type of man Capitan Vida is. As the car pulls up, he checks his watch and mumbles, “15 minutes late…” They are shown to their rooms as Carmen is put in a wheelchair and a doctor is asked to check on her immediately. As Ofelia and her mother lie in bed, we get a feel for the love that the mother has for her daughter and is only concerned for her well-being.

That night, the fairy the Ofelia met in the woods comes to her, bids her to follow, and she sneaks out to do so. She comes upon a maze in the forest with some old statues, follows the fairy to the center of the labyrinth where she meets the faun. It is impressive that she doesn’t seem to fear it, but walks up to it and begins talking to it. The faun repeatedly calls her “your majesty,” “princess,” etc. He gives her a book in which all the pages are blank and tells her that she has some tasks to perform if she wants to return to her true land.

Meanwhile, we begin to understand the reason the captain and his men are in the woods, and better our understanding of the captain himself. He is called out to talk to some men that are believed to be rebels that have been hiding in the woods and in a brutal way kills them both before learning that they were only out hunting for food. He is shown to be arrogant, angry at the world and somewhat sadistic, perfect for any captain of Franco’s army in Franco’s Spain; just like Franco himself.

The next day, Ofelia hides herself in a room and opens the book given to her by the faun. Suddenly, as if magically, there begins to appear drawings and writing on the once blank pages of the book; these tell her what tasks she is to perform. She trusts the housekeeper, Mercedes, to some of this information. Mercedes is reluctantly trusted by the captain, though we learn later that she is helping the rebels hidden in the woods by giving them medicine and access to the captains stores (food, medicine, supplies).

The real life story progresses as the rebels are found by the captain and his men; a battle ensues and they capture one of them alive. He is tortured by the sadistic captain to answer questions on the whereabouts of those who escaped the battle. He finds nothing out from the rebel as he refuses to talk, but learns that the doctor is also helping the rebels as he injects the rebel with a drug to end his suffering. Ofelia’s magical story progresses as she performs the tasks that she is told to do.

Ofelia’s mother soon gives birth, but due to the complications of the pregnancy (and partially to the fact that medical treatments hadn’t progressed too far), Carmen dies, leaving the son to the captain and Ofelia alone. Mercedes intends to rescue both Ofelia and her new little brother, but is discovered by the captain and has to flee. Ofelia’s final task is to bring the newborn to the faun. She manages to do this by poisoning the captain, taking the baby and running to the woods. Captian Vida weakly follows her and finds her in the center of the labyrinth; she is speaking with the faun yet it appears to him that she is alone, he can’t see the faun.

At this point, the faun, standing above what appears to be an alter, demands a sacrifice of innocent blood, meaning that of Ofelia’s brother. She refuses to hand him over, turns to leave and is shot by the captain. As she falls to the ground, he takes the baby and runs out of the labyrinth to find the group of rebels, led by Mercedes, waiting for him. They take the baby and do not spare the life of Captain Vida.

Back inside the labyrinth, as Ofelia’s body falls to the ground, blood falls onto the alter. She then appears to wake up, having been transported back to her own magical land, where her real father, her mother Carmen, and the faun are there waiting for her. The faun explains that she had passed her final task, sacrificing her life for that of another, and was permitted to enter back into her world from whence she had escaped.

As noted earlier, the story is very depressing. Del Toro does an excellent job at mixing the two stories together flawlessly. Director of photography Javier Navarrete does nothing less than del Toro by perfectly setting the atmosphere of the movie, and complements del Toro’s integration of the two worlds by creating a flawless transition between the magical and real worlds. Production designer Eugenio Cabballero helps also to create a perfect atmosphere by working with Navarrete, Toro, and of course the costume designers, to help create this atmospheric experience as well as depict life, clotihng and customs of Franco’s Spain.

Del Toro is a genius in the way he writes and directs all of his films. At the end of the film, we are still unsure whether Ofelia’s world was completely in her head, maybe meant to be her way of escaping the war and terrible things that were taking place around her, or if the magical world actually existed. There is even some symbolism in the movie referencing the magical world and part of the story to theology, as she once left home, had certain tasks to perform, and selflessly sacrifice her own life to return home to her true father.

This movie won numerous awards, including Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Foreign Language Film, Best Makeup, Best Original Score and Best Original Screenplay in the academy awards of 2007, and many other awards in all classes of film review. The soundtrack was outstanding, and its perfect integration into the theme of the movie, along with its powerful tones almost brings a tear to the eye. The movie was beautiful, and I would recommend that everyone that can handle a small bit of bloody violence watch it. It leaves you thinking and pondering life, different ways we escape reality, as well as theological ideas that tend to motivate and keep many going.

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I'm a terrible blogger. I feel bad about this.
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12 October 2009

I Know, Right?

There are some things that, in general, you don't tell many people. Or any one person, for that matter. I realize that was a sentence fragment, but deal with it. I've decided to list off a few things today that I normally wouldn't divulge, even to the pope. Guess you could say I'm just feeling like spilling the beans.
  • I ran out of gas last night for the first time in my entire life. I had no warning (except for the gauge pointing ever-daringly at a capital 'E'). No beep. No light. No sputtering of the engine as it drains its last drop. It just stopped. Fortunately, I was only a block up the street from my destination. Embarrassing, nonetheless.
  • I've watched more than one season of Smallville in less than 48 hours more than once in my life. Doesn't compare to this guy's watching the OC until sunrise, but on a scale from pathetic to 10, I'd say this is about a 3.
  • I secretly believe I'm as fast as Superman, and that, if I think hard enough about it, I can teleport from one end of the couch to the other.
  • Even though I bag on all things Microsoft and have sworn allegiance to Apple, I find it cathartic to work on a PC at work.
  • I lied on that last bullet. I even have to take my MacBook to work so I can escape Microsoft's evil grasp on the world a few times a day.
  • Just to make that clear, I'm obsessed with Apple and somewhat of a liar. :)
That's all I got. Maybe. What are some of yours?
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01 October 2009

Dear Blog,

I know that you are disappointed in me. It's my fault, I guess. Do you ever get those days where you come home from work and you're just tired and all you want to do is, well, nothing comes to mind? I know your answer is no. Clearly you don't. You're just a bunch of 1's and 0's, collaborating with other 1's and 0's to create digital memory which is then translated into what my 21 followers see as a digital image. Words, in other words. They see you as words. Nothing more. So why should I be expected to explain myself to you? I guess I'm not, since you have neither the capacity nor the human ability to have expectations. Now I'm just making things up. See what you made me do? Lie. And of course, as you may know, that is absurd: both me humanizing some binary code that is kept in existence somewhere in a vast cloud of digital space sometimes called the international superweb and the idea that you have the capability to have such human characteristics. You don't, as you know. Even the idea of you having knowledge is ridiculous. You know nothing. You're wasted space. You don't count. You don't matter to anyone. Just like facebook. To stop me from boring anyone today, like her, I'm going to stop. And you, blog, stop testing my intellect, because I know you can't test anything, and allow me to tell a story.

Today was a good day. The best day so far. I could hear the rain pouring down in buckets; a very peaceful sound while you're laying in bed, comfortably sane. Maybe on a Saturday morning, that is, when you aren't trying to wake up, and the somber feel that each raindrop emits as it falls, reaching terminal velocity, and splattering on the concrete, grass or rooftop, which impedes you from exerting any strength sufficient to get out of bed and go to work. Alas, I knew that I was going on a field trip today, and this gave me the proper umph! to [finally] get going.

Got to work at 7:30 and wrote my name down in the log book as I walked past the nice lady sitting at Becky's desk who greeted me with the biggest smile I've ever witnessed. Witnessing such a sincere, gracious smile made the muscles in my cheeks contract towards my earlobes, forming an upside-down rainbow with my lips.

The rain kept falling.

I changed from my Cowboy Shirt and slacks to some grey skinny jeans, white tennis shoes, and a red t-shirt that reads the working man is a sucker. The world knows where I stand.

We drove to the corn field. We were there on official NASS business which prevents me from further discussing what work was completed by our visit. I can tell you, however, that when rain mixes with clay-like soil, it creates a nigh-impassible pass between rows of corn. Steps 1-10 I still cared about dirtying my now muddy tennis shoes. Step 16 caused me to stick my sock in the mud while my shoe sank into the mud behind me. I struggled for 20 minutes to unstick myself from steps 64-65. Steps 100-130 were akin to soaping the kitchen floor and watching as a puppy whose head weighs more than its body runs across, tries to stop and slams its poor overgrown head into the refrigerator. Luckily, my own head is perfectly proportional to my body, meaning I did not fall in the mud.

The rest of the day consisted of me running some simulations in R on my beloved macbook. 'Twas by far the best day I've had. Thanks, NASS.


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