Wednesday, December 24, 2008

I'll Be Home for Christmas, Unless My Car Explodes ...

(still singing) ... please have no snow, or ice either because it'll make my car wreck ... and presents to drown my sorrow ...

I was driving to Ogden today, when I hit a patch of ice in between lanes on I-70 just outside Lawrence. My car spun from the middle lane all the way to the median wall - where the front left side made a hard, loud impact, smashing the entire front of my car as it continued to spin and slam into the back right.

It continued to spin, but I kept my hands on the wheel as all the alerts lit in my dashboard and my airbag failed to execute (thank God). By the time I managed to pull my car calmly to the shoulder of the road, without hitting anyone or seriously injuring myself, I think I had spun counter clock-wise 2 or 3 times; I barely scraped my knee and the impact knocked my glasses off. The catch-all wicker basket I keep in my car got smashed, and the presents went flying, but nothing inside the car, including myself, was seriously injured.

I was lucky. It's strange for me to be optimistic in times of crisis, but I managed to remain calm during the wreck - I know at first I yelled "Whoaaa!!!" not unlike while on a roller coaster, but a string of curse words cruised me for the rest of the thrill-ride until I finally stopped. I think, at one point during the spinning, I even smiled, just because the experience was so surreal, like when you're at a funeral - and so fast you can't catalog the appropriate expressions and sins to repent in time. I remember thinking, "Merry Christmas to me!" and betrayal because, "MY CAR WAS JUST BURGLED!"

Again, just like when I fell off that cliff, I was surprised that my life didn't flash before my eyes. How close to death must one be before all the flashing. I wanted flashing. I had to settle with flashers, well, flasher, as the only one of my lights that remains in any sort of tact is the back left side.

When I stopped, I tried to start my car again - my visceral reaction was, "Ugh, I'm going to be late for work." Kind of like when my car was burgled (what, like 3 weeks ago), when I wondered if I should just drive my car to breakfast without worrying about all the shattered glass.

I called 911 who transferred me to The Turnpike Authority, who dispatched a tow truck and a highway patrol officer (who had an I-hate-filling-out-car-accident-paperwork-where's-my-murder-case look about him). They took my information at the service station between Lawrence and Topeka. I had seen tow truck after tow truck and cop after cop speed by me as I shouted, "I'm right here!" I guess the other accidents were more serious; I hope everyone of them is OK.

Tow truck driver asked if I had a ride, but I didn't. He said he'd give me a ride, but I needed to figure out what I'd do when I got back to Lawrence. I called all the friends I knew that would still be in Lawrence over the holidays, and they were few. I was edging toward desperation when I called a few exes (one who called me later, concerned), but I ended up being able to easily rent a car (even though Enterprise employees have to get managerial permission for those under 25).

Tow truck driver drove me to Steve's Autoplaza in Lawrence (I recommend it to EVERYONE) while Highway Patrolman whistled on his very-un-merry-way. The woman at Steve's wore a shirt with a Santa Claus almost as big as mine and was most kind and caring as was the auto repairman.

They spoke with my insurance agent, listened to my babbling, gave their advice, and got me set up with a rental car from the Enterprise store across the street. I wanted something big and 4 wheel drive, and so they showed me the Jeep Commander, an almost Hum-Vee. I sat in the driver's seat and felt almost militant. Perfect. For a while, all my energy conservation crap broke off me like one of my headlights. I'm sure I'll feel guilty about it soon enough, but for now, just call me Private Whiplash.

Here are some photos:
The repairman said the back quarter (pictured here) of the vehicle would need to be replaced as well as the lift gate, the bumper, the tail light and something under with a name I can't remember.

Such carnage.
Both headlights will need to be replaced, as well as the entire coolant system, radiator, the front frame, the hood and most of the underbelly in the front.

Although the damage is primarily in the front and back, because of the kind of injuries my car sustained, it may be legally "totalled," which I guess means that the cost to repair the vehicle is 75 percent of its total worth.

I saw pieces of my car flying off in different directions, and when I exited my car, which I affectionately named Argo, I saw I-70ers run over the pieces, and tear them to shreds, while my bumper lay on the left shoulder by itself. I couldn't help but feel guilty for my car, like undead roadkill. I look at these photos and have the kind of sensation I'd get if one of my animals were injured.

This is Argo at the repair shop, and the white vehicle is my rental. Argo is still definitely better looking, well, maybe not NOW, but my Escape had a kind of timeless class that made me love it more than I probably should have. It was very dependable, always there should my friends need rescuing. It moved at least 3 people, carried my college career and fit snugly in my garage and in my life as the perfect car. I'm sorry I failed it.

Thanks for reading. <3

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Peeking Into Ogden: My New Home

In the last blog, I reported about my new job overshadowed only by the news of my robbery. However, now that I have some distance ... and a new window, I'm excited to show you a a glimpse of my work place, and the people I call my colleagues.

Ogden Publications, in Topeka, Kan., is the home of several magazines, including The Herb Companion, Grit, Cappers, Mother Earth News, Utne Reader, Gas Enginge, Farm Collector, Motorcycle Classics and Natural Home Magazine - and the home of my new graphic design/copy writing gig. My boss hasn't decided on my position title, so for now, call me Jack.

For my final editorial hurrah, I made our video holiday greeting card - made for each of the editorial magazines in my department: Grit, Cappers and The Herb Companion. I've embedded Cappers video, because it has all my co-workers (who were cooperative [and they were few]), followed by the more fun blooper reel.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Just when I get a job ... I get robbed.

I was robbed. Around 3 on Saturday morning, someone took a landscaping stone and smashed it through my front driver's side window. I was on my way to breakfast to break some news to my friends, when I walked up to my car and saw the shattered glass and stood dumbfounded and unbelieving.
When I opened the passenger door, I saw green shards of glass glittering and littering the entire front part of my car.

Pieces of shattered glass standing sharp against the dashboard, steerwheel and console like knives. Scrapes, tears and dents marking the devastating path of the stone that ruined not only the interior of my car but my day, nay my whole week.
I couldn't help but think, the one day I was prepared to give the best news, is the day I was betrayed, scared and sad that someone would do this to me. My car was sitting in my driveway, not 20 feet from my front door, an easy target because of a visible credit card. But it could have been worse.

I wasn't really shaken up until that night when I tried to fall asleep and raced back and forth from the window checking every sound on the street - envisioning my poor car raped by the light of the Christmas decorations. I felt sad for my car, like an animal, like it had feelings.

For the rest of the weekend, I stayed home, car safe and secure in my garage - but Monday I had to drive to work in Topeka, and with a missing window on a record-cold day, I wasn't very happy.
At first I thought it might be a hate crime - or a neighbor on the street I disgruntled with my particular love and flair for the holidays. But when the police officer who filled out my report told me that about five other cars on the street had also been broken into - and that two cars at a company near where I work were set aflame, I felt strangely better.

The good news I was going to deliver that day is that, I GOT A NEW JOB! I'm a graphic artist for a publishing company in Topeka. I start today (even though it's national "Call In Gay Day".)

And now a weird story: About a week ago, when trying to pull down the fake Christmas tree (to give away) from the attic, I noticed that a bird had shredded our dryer tube and nested in the end! I noticed a dead bird in the attic in October when I went up for Halloween decorations, but didn't really think anything of it.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

6NEWS Morning Update - November 25

Last night, I recorded yet another mock, morning show. Check out what's going on in Lawrence today!

It's true, I look a little haggard - I was rushed.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Captured Cats

You've heard of lolzcats? My cats are crazier - meet "captured cats."
My 3-legger, Pitters. Taken on a day when she was being particularly clingy.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

6NEWS Morning Update

In addition to working at The Herb Companion (on my blog The Garden Gnome), I've also been doing a Friday internship reporting for the local TV station Channel 6 News. My top shirt button broke right before this was filmed. Take a look:

This was recorded for the morning of November 18th. It was not aired live.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Shirtless Uniballer - Todd Reesing and Adolph Hitler

Right now, I'm working at a magazine in Topeka, and as part of my job, I get to use Google Analytics - a fascinating spy tool that tells you just about everything you've ever wanted to know about your Web site visitors.

For instance, did you know that people have visited Taylog in Turkey, Egypt, New Zealand (tell Lucy hi!), and some place called Saint Kitts & Nevis? And while most users were browsing in Internet Explorer, some came on a Playstation 3 and a Playstation Mobile?

Did you also know that, the search engine keyword typed most often that leads to my page is "todd reesing shirtless"?


Well, I thought that was kind of funny, especially because this blog has virtually nothing to do with Sports - and my attempts to actually take photos of Todd Reesing shirtless were, in effect, thwarted.

But, if that's what brought you here, be not disappointed - here's a photo I maliciously stole just for your appeasement.

Anti-climatic much?

Oh! And this just in:
Adolph Hitler really did have just one ball.

Karma can be a real bitch.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Better Hold On, Spider Monkey - Twilight, a Review

Rare are those movie moments that compel me to immediate blog action; having just witnessed a real gem, I am here to wish that rare they remain.

I try not to compare books to movies, but the movie Twilight actually felt like a spoof of the book. Following the plot-line so closely, it was one of those, "Scary Movie" flicks - only worse, because it took itself seriously, (fancy the work spoof-actors-of-America have ahead of them with this piece!)

Twilight was a hot mess on a hot summer day.
I came prepared with my "Team Edward because Jacob doesn't sparkle" t-shirt (with special hand-appliqued rhinestones!) matched with my Glittery smile and the best Twinkie persona in my closet, only to realize that I expended more time, effort and personality into my hand-made creation than the movie-makers of Twilight did in those 2 hours of craptasm.

Now, let's not fool ourselves, the unyielding, nauseating love in the book doesn't have the kind of prose that sings off the page, but the movie had all the character development and romantic thrill of a cheap porn, and when I could no longer stand the awkward intimacy between the two leads, I distracted myself thinking of clever names for the X-rated version while trying to dislodge a popcorn kernel from my gums.

Let's talk actors - Granted, Kristen Stewart, who plays Bella, looks the part well enough, but her mannish, awkward voice and unusual acting style took me out of the movie before the credits even started. And it couldn't have been ten minutes in before Bella meets Jacob (Taylor Lautner) - her Native-American love-interest, who was giving her the kind of stares that really do only belong in pornos. Once he was introduced, this Summit movie only went downhill, but I kept my silence, you know, trying to be polite.

Picture it: Jacob telling Bella how his tribe is supposedly descended by wolves and the Cullens are "cold ones".

Cut to: Stock sepia footage of wolves running through woods and the Cullens dressed in age-old attire feasting on humans.

While Jacob's acting did only get worse, then we were introduced to the guy who plays Edward, Robert Pattinson (whose forehead goes for days, doesn't it?). I thought he seemed like a poor pick for Edward, and I was totally vindicated.

Picture it: Bella takes her seat in biology. Edward is sitting at her lab table holding his nose and looking as though he's got a hurl or at least a good dry-heave coming.

Cut to: Me needing MY gag-bucket. The over-acting was strenuous - painful.

Picture it: Bella guessing what Edward is - with music-video like camera angles sweeping across the forest before landing in on a closeup of the leads.

Cut to: Me wondering if maybe we had somehow entered the wrong theater?

And then there's this chick named Jessica that we're supposed to hate, or rather, she's supposed to annoy us - like - ew, Jessica, go away. But sadly, Jessica was about the only good thing about the movie - like - please, Jessica, come back.

As for the rest of the Cullen coven, (who are all supposed to be timeless beauties), Rosalie had roots, Carlisle's makeup was too thick, Emmett was hot, Alice looked old, Esme was kind of non-descript and Jasper was a total freak. Seriously, he walked around with the kind of expression we might find in a Johnny Depp character.

I guess the fight scenes were kind of awesomely bad - I was loving the snarls and the intense stares -

Picture it: Edward's vampy sister, Alice, helping a bleeding Bella, while struggling to maintain her composure at the tasty treat.

Cut to: Her jumping on another vampire and RIPPING HIS HEAD OFF in blue-balled frustration.

Giggle. I had a violent laughing episode in response to that, and well, several other scenes once it became apparent that I wasn't the only one who thought this movie was just bad.

The music, the actors, the set design, the choreography ... everything was just WRONG.

Picture it: Edward staring into Bella's eyes and saying, "You're my life." Bella stumbling over the idea of Edward leaving her. Edward pretending to nap. An uncomfortable close-up of Bella's mother's face. Mike Newton humping a tree. The Gaysian. Edward's station wagon. Edward's sparkles, that really looked more like persperation, on a sparsely hairy chest.

Picture it: Edward flying with Bella up into a tree a la Crouching Tiger and saying, "Better hold on, Spider Monkey."

Cut to: Several more popcorn kernels becoming lodged in my gums on their way back out.

I can't wait for the sequel!

Pushing Daisies Canceled

Sounds like even Young Ned has his life-restoring limits - Entertainment Weekly announced yesterday that ABC will order no more episodes of its BEST show, Pushing Daisies. While production will complete on all 13 episodes, the article says they may NOT be aired due to failing ratings.

This is the most depressing TV news since Friends decided to call it quits ... the time that it actually did.

Freshman series Eli Stone and sophomore Dirty Sexy Money also took the hit at ABC - but they deserved it. At the very least Dirty Sexy Money, which was neither innovative or different from myriad other self-promotion-esque shows.

Pushing Daisies is my favorite show on TV now. The costumes, the sets, the story-lines, the effects, they're all so graphic, so unusual, such a positive departure from other TV shows today. Voice-over-narration done RIGHT, quirky scenarios, dark humor, subversive commentaries on acceptable social norms and performances such as our treatment toward death/funerals, comfort food and sexual relationships. This show was evolution. I guess I forget the US has a problem with such change.

Simply put, there is nothing on TV as good as Pushing Daisies.

Everyday I'm starting to believe more and more in John Stuart Mill's description of the tyranny of the majority - how democracy is flawed because the majority is not always right.

To illustrate the point, in the past month there have been a few shining examples: the passing of Proposition 8, California's revocation of same-sex marriages, TV's insistence that Paris Hilton's broken relationship with some dude named Benji is actually interesting news, the strange success of Perez Hilton and the cancelation of MadTV.

To drive the knife in even further, ABC announced that it IS keeping Private Practice, a considerably WORSE SHOW, bumping it up to a more competitive spot on Thursday nights. Private Practice is good for only one thing - Taye Diggs - and even he is overshadowed by some over-bearing woman a trite TV relationship scenario that should have died with disco.

Remaining as impartial as possible, I can name several inferior, uninnovative shows that should have kicked the can long before Pushing Daisies: Private Practice, The Bachelor, Brothers & Sisters, According to Jim, Dancing with the Stars, Super Nanny, Scrubs to name a few on ABC - and although I hope they don't cancel them, Pushing Daisies IS better than Desperate Housewives and Grey's Anatomy.

On other networks there are shows I do like and are doing swimingly that are not nearly as good as Pushing Daisies: Heroes, True Blood, Dexter, and Kath & Kim.

Pushing Daisies was a star in an otherwise blasé American TV line-up that is supposedly in its platinum period. Color me disappointed in ABC, call me sad about the future of TV, and think of me unhappy with the people of California and TV watchers everywhere.

Because of you, even Young Ned can't save our stinking TV souls.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Shooting Todd Reesing

Photo shoot with Todd Reesing: Kansas Quarterback

Get it?

If you did, congratulate yourself. You're analytical. For Quarterback Todd, Creative Director Darby and Public Relations Rep, Scott was it?, the humor was not so clear. For the majority of my friends, being analytical is not a problem. But in the rare case the joke in this photo is not immediately presentable, I give you Todd Reesing the Kansas Back of the Quarter.

I thought it was genius. I awoke from a bad dream, and it came to me uninvited like a headache or the here-and-there gay attack. I called it destiny. Darby called it strange. Still though, I was the photographer, and if a Kansas Quarter was what I wanted, then who were they to tell me different. Todd played it cool, even though, after a lengthy description, he still didn't quite understand the idea. But that's OK because he has a Public Relations Rep.

I recently got my new Camera, a stylish Canon 5d with a nice lens and an assortment of unordered, but not charged for, accessories. I like accessories, so I decided to keep them, and consider it cashing in on some good karma. I also ordered a lensbaby, a fisheye and a ringlight.

A lensbaby allows you to selectively focus one particular part of an image, without having to edit in photoshop. The effect is awesome, but the technique is almost impossible. After several tries, and a lot of patience on both mine and Todd's parts, eventually I came out with a decent, if not great, photo.

Todd is a cute guy, but to my credit, he photographs better than in person. Tan and muscled but short, baby blues and gleaming teeth, he wore a plain gray shirt with quilted shorts and flip-flops, just another summer frat boy, who runs around as a celebrity in some crowds. He's 19, maybe 20, and while you can see the child in him, it's obvious that his Public Relations Rep has him on a short leash. His jersey came down to his knees, literally. He told me that all the jerseys are that low to prevent, uh. "Plumber's crack?" I offered. He smiled and said something about the other team grabbing and tearing at his clothes.

I think it was unusual for him to speak to a non-fan. But I also think he appreciated it.

I'm told that he arrived 45 minutes late because of another student athlete Sherron Collins. Apparently the basketball player is embroiled in some sort of sexual civil suit, and the KU Public Relations and Athletic's department had more important things to deal with than a lousy photoshoot. When Todd arrived, he came without his jersey and football, and they had to be brought by Scott's assistant. A small inconvenience, but not altogether without perks.

Until then, I told Todd we could take a few studio shots. "You know, something real GQ," I said. "I mean, surely you've got a life outside of football, right? Let's show that." He smiled confusingly and agreed.

I decided to use the ring light. I really like the raw glow of the ringlight, and even while Darby didn't love this shot, I saw the sexual appeal of him as raw and smileless. I would have gone so far as shirtless, to really capture his sex appeal, had not Darby been uncomfortable asking. I was prepared to make him sweat and then photograph him shirtless. They didn't seem to understand that sex sells.

It was a good shoot that I prepared for all day. And thanks to the help of a friend, and the faith people keep having in my photography skills, I think, someday, I might really be able to do this.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Some Recent Photos

Here are some shots I've been submitting for my Photo-J class.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Touring Hollywood


The last few days have been quite eventful, or at the very least as eventful as Los Angeles public transportation allows. Saturday, after moving from Ramada Wrong to Ramada Right, I bravely navigated the world of Bus Routes to find my way to Hollywood Boulevard, (and by bravely, I mean I wandered through Koreatown until I happened upon the Metro) and eventually made it to the famous alley of the stars. I walked and walked ... and walked (it takes a while before Hollywood Boulevard gets good), but then I saw the start of the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Click here to see photos!

Elvis and the Beatles welcome you near a statue of four silver women holding up an arch and what looks like the upper portion of the Eiffel Tower with the word "Hollywood" across its spine. Click on the link to see some of the stars I felt compelled to pose with -- Michelle's was the only one in which I I got close to the ground (LA isn't the cleanest city in the world, and Hollywood is not an exception).

After a handsome day of sightseeing, I worked my hardest to return to my hotel with as much grace and dignity as I could muster. I found my way home, by way of Ralphs (think of it like a California Dillons or Hyvee, but cooler) bought some Cheez-Its and some Hot Pockets and checked in for the night.

Sunday found me walking more of the streets of LA, for when I woke up I learned that the house from Charmed is actually in LOS ANGELES and NOT San Francisco, and to cherry the cake, was only 4 miles from my hotel. Of course, four miles in Los Angeles is about 40 in Kansas. I walked most of the way there (even through Hispanic Skid Row and Historic Filipino Town) and when I finally saw it, I couldn't believe it! It was really outstanding to see "The Manor" from the show I had watched from start to finish (when Shannen left) right in front of my eyes. The most surprising feature of the house was how small it actually is. It's really not much larger than the house I live in now -- in fact, it's only about 800 square feet bigger, or about a modestly sized apartment!

Another surprise was that its neighbor to the left (the house's left, or to the EAST, as it were) is in dilapidated condition. The boards are rotting, the paint has chipped, and it doesn't seem as if anyone is home. The other Victorian houses in the neighborhood were the most intricate I had ever seen -- and were almost scary. The house across and down the street had one of those circular Rapunzel tower-type features (I don't know the name) with dismembered manniquen parts in the window. A head, an arm, just lying there as if in some horror movie! Talk about a fashion disaster.

I ended up taking a Taxi back across town (to avoid walking through Skid Row again (I know Mother would approve) and went to "It's a Wrap" a clothing store that sells retired studio and movie clothing. I saw some beautiful Victorian-style dresses from Paramount Studios, a lot of suits from NCIS, a pair of ice-skates from Blades of Glory, and a great amount of fashionable items from soaps like All My Children! But the nice stuff was too expensive, and the not so nice stuff looked (and smelled) like something from Goodwill.

SO -- I decided to walk to The Beverly Center, the famous mall in Beverly Hills, and let me tell you, if you have "people/crowd anxiety" do not go to this mall. There was not a single time I was there that if I had reached out my arms I wouldn't have hit someone -- it was packed! I went into several stores, including Politix and Bloomingdales and found a LOT of clothes I liked. I saw a terrific sweater and thought, wow, I want to buy that! So I checked the price tag, and acted cool when it read $585. So I didn't stand out, I calmly put it back and looked at some other sweaters before a cool exit. I don't think people were fooled, though, because I saw a number of Beverleans notice that I was wearing Sketchers. I don't care what you say, Sketchers are COOL!

I walked back to the hotel in the pouring rain -- and that was OK with me. I like rain, it along with all the Spanish-speakers here (more than English speakers, it seems) reminded me of my time in Spain.

Today I was an hour late at work because of an electrical outage at my hotel, followed by another burdened bout with the buses and a keypass that couldn't get me to the 15th floor. Once I did show up, I went to the editorial meeting and wrote Daily News clips for the website for the rest of the day. My original plans were to go to the Red Carpet event from the Critic's Choice Awards that I had gotten tickets to, but because I felt bad about being late, and because I'm in Los Angeles for this internship, I decided to stay at work. I tried to ask my co-workers what I could do post-work -- what I NEEDED TO DO before leaving LA. After a lot of brainstorming they decided I should go to a local mall (The Grove) and chase it with a movie.

I asked, "So, New York is the city that doesn't sleep, but LA does?"

"Yes, very much so. There's like .... nothing."

But I did make plans for tomorrow evening -- I got another TV Ticket (this time to the Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson) that is PEFECT because I can go there immediately after work (and have to dedicate 3-4.5 hours to the production!)

On my way home, I went by Ralph's again and visited the movie kiosk, "THE NEW RELEASE." Never heard of a movie kiosk? Neither had I! With over 100 titles, the kiosk works much like an ATM. Swipe your card, chose the movies you want to rent and they pop out like money. It's cheap, too! $1/day, and you don't have to deal with any annoying clerks, because the machine is completely automated! I picked up Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer and a horror flick called Slither (Stardust had already been checked out).

Sweet dreams, from Hollywood, well, Koreatown!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Mobile Blog

Arrived over the bright nightscape and rush hour traffic of the City of Angels. I know you're all expecting the cliché so I'm going for it: I'm not in Kansas anymore! Actually, I'm at baggage claim...