From the B&B

Wow.. this is a fantastic old place, full of character.. reminds me of the shared academic house I stayed at when I visited Dani in Ithaca — varnished hardwood floors, high ceilings, intricately edged windows, beautiful carpets, antique dressers, stained glass, wooden staircases, giant shared areas with wicker furniture. The only complaint I have is that the walls are a little thin, so I can hear my neighbour chatting away on his phone. But I’m sure that’ll be over soon enough. The owner met up with us as we arrived at 8:20pm, and her son (no older than 13) helped us upstairs with our luggage! Crazy. Breakfast is usually somewhere between 7-7:30ish, but can vary depending on our schedule. Neat. There is only one shower and one bath to the six rooms up here on the second floor, so it’s going to be something of a scramble in the morning. There’s also a shower downstairs, so perhaps I’ll saunter down there in the house-provided robe. I dunno, I’ll work that out when I get to it πŸ™‚ Also, the owner didn’t know the terminology, but yes, there’s in-room internet by way of ethernet jacks (supply your own cable). I “accidentally” saw the house’s network closet in a kitchen closet, and it would be a pretty straightforward thing for them to offer wireless internet access by replacing their current hub with one that broadcasts 802.11. The only moderately tricky part would be the authentication such that non-guests don’t leech the signal, but I think a “good-enough” scheme would be to hand out a password that changes periodically.
Hmm. Police sirens. Kind of puts a damper on the mood. But not too much. Now to find out how the bed is πŸ™‚
PS: I’ve included a little rant I wrote on the way from Sarasota to Atlanta this morning — click that “Continue reading” link for more info..

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Back to Leesville

The B&B where I’ll be staying
So tomorrow morning I’m headed back to Leesville for a couple of days to do some additional training. If anyone would like a postcard, just send me your snail mail address (asterizk at the gmail), and I’ll try and find a store that sells postcards. πŸ˜€

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Memoirs of a Geisha

Director Rob Marshall, Ziyi Zhang and Ken Watanabe on the set of Memoirs
So I saw Memoirs of a Geisha yesterday at the dollar theatre. I should note I haven’t read the book, so this is from a newcomer’s point of view. Memoirs is a dark and uplifting picture of one geisha’s life, set in the first half of the 20th century. I was amazed how fragile the profession really is. A geisha is, as states the protagonist, a “living work of art” defined by her mystery, and is not just a prostitute with “a white face and painted lips”. A geisha is schooled in the art of conversation, dance, music and grace in all things, even how to walk. The geisha-houses (or, “tea houses”) are run by women, which is an interesting difference from the male pimps of contemporary western civilization. I should note that our geisha did not, however, choose her profession; she was sold by her parents, and there are few scenes of uncomfortable violence that make it very clear she was not there under her own will. The writer skillfully drops a beautiful analogy, describing the protagonist as water: “block water, and it will find a new path” — lending a sense of hope to an otherwise bleak setup. I’m not going to get into the plot, which was straightforward, but there is a definite moment where I suddenly realized what time period I was watching, and all of a sudden I had a rush of questions, which the movie proceeded to answer — which was thrilling.
Bottom line: definitely worth a watch, if not for its historical and foreign nature, then for the beautiful costumes, for which it won an Oscar this year. 8/10.

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Photos from John and Ivee’s pre-easter party

So last weekend was a big pre-easter shindig at John and Ivee’s! They hold it every year, but this year were going to a concert on Easter weekend, so they bumped it up a week. It includes not just a party on Saturday night but breakfast the next morning, too. Needless to say a good number of us just didn’t bother going to bed. Haha.
Click on the picture to view the album — speaking of which — my gallery is back, with a whole new organization scheme πŸ™‚ Speaking of the gallery, those WMC photos are uploaded, I just need to finish captioning them.

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Infusion – Legacy

Aquaman knows what to do
days seem shorter than they are
finished counting all the stars
feel the gears wind down again
another paycheck to cash in
may the lord of flesh and bone
leave you some to call your own
as we slowly feel our way
through another shapeless day
up the hill to sow some seed
nostalgia’s warmth is all we need
past dissapointments turn to steam
we’re superheros, in our dreams
throw the radio up high
watch it drown out half the sky
synaesthesia coloured blue
aquaman knows what to do
the secrets that we keep
send our children fast asleep
keep your head lights nice and low
it’s a subtle tempting show
through the windsweep we can see
a cinematic legacy
leaving cities paved with gold
to pilot frigates through our souls
[Infusion at Wikipedia] [Infusion at Progessive Sounds]

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Sarasota Film Festival: Fin!

So, the film festival ended yesterday. I think this year I went to more films than I ever have previously. I went to two more over the weekend: The Amateurs and The Hole Story.

The Amateurs is a heartwarming story about a do-nothing in small town America who tries to make it good by making a porno. The whole town gets behind him. No, not like that gutterbrain. Yes, it’s as ridiculous as it sounds, and a must-see. Stars Jeff Bridges. 8/10.

Despite its awkward title and the fact that it follows my review of The Amateurs, The Hole Story has nothing to do with porn. One day, in the middle of winter, a giant hole opens up in the middle of a Minnesota lake. No-one has any idea how it got there, but director Alex Karpovsky’s semi-autobiographical epic goes on a quest to find out. Oh, and it’s a got a great climax. Oh geez. 7.5/10.

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Configuration change

Okay, I’ve tweaked the settings on this here blog so your comments will now appear immediately. I’ve never been a fan of the “wait until your comment has been approved” system — it hinders discussion and it’s no fun at all for the commenter (it’s also the default setting for new installs of MoveableType). We’ll see how it works out.. as long as the blogspam doesn’t start getting out of hand I’d like to keep it this way πŸ™‚

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Davin trip ’06

Sunday brlunch
’06 already? Man. So as you might have guessed, I had a great time having Davin down last week. We got up to a number of things besides South Beach/Miami and WMC. We explored Lido Key beach and St. Armand’s Circle and its circus wagonwheels; the Mote Marine Aquarium with the giant squid, sharks, rays you could touch, giant sea turtles and manatees that wouldn’t come out of their corner despite the best pleas of the volunteers; drove all over town looking for an HBO series, Da Ali G Show on DVD, which we find at Video Renaissance; also took in a couple of Firefly episodes. And how could I forget our trip to Busch Gardens? We started the day off right by getting soaked by one of the water rides: kept us just the perfect amount of cool. I think we rode seven coasters by days end, including a wooden one that I think bruised my brain. Seriously. Okay, not so much with the serious but man — you haven’t… er… experienced all there is to experience with coasters until you’ve ridden the Gwazi at Busch Gardens Tampa. Be prepared to be useless for about half an hour or so afterwards. Perfect time to hit the Hospitality House and pick up a complimentary beer or two, perhaps hit the Zambia Smokehouse while you’re at it and be sure to get their macaroni and cheese as a side. And finish the day by riding the Montu: pure high-tech fun, about as polar opposite from the Gwazi as you can get while still talking about coasters. Had so much fun we rode it twice — the second time in the front row πŸ™‚
That was Monday night, and as you might know Wednesday is when we drove to Miami; Tuesday day we toured the plant and Davin got to see where I work; afterwards drove out 20 minutes to the north gate of Myakka River State Park to discover it was closed and we’d have to drive around to the south gate instead, then, almost canoeing, except it was too windy. Which in retrospect was okay, given the ‘gators looked hungry that day. Shortly after arriving back home, chopped up a whole lot of onions, chicken, tomato and added Patak’s curry sauce and bam! Instant curry. Except I think I made it a little too hot for a few people. To the would-be complainers: they say spices are good for your immune system, you know! You should be paying me! πŸ™‚ Ha ha.
[insert WMC here]
Coming back from WMC, at 5:30am I set an alarm for 8:30, knowing that Melissa would likely call around that time to confirm the 9:30am breakfast plans we sketchily made while I was getting crushed at the Prodigy concert the night before. Not exactly sure what I was thinking, hah, but we changed plans and went for brlunch instead zipped directly from there to the airport.
Jam packed. But not enough time to go looking for shark’s teeth in Venice, or check out the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) in Tampa, or visit the Kennedy Space Center on the other coast. Or visit the Salvador Dali museum in St. Pete. Or go scuba diving in the keys. Or check out Key West. Or go to a Lightning game. Yeah there were a few things we didn’t get to. All that means is he just has to come back πŸ™‚ Hee hee. All in all a great trip and my place felt eerily empty after he was gone, making me feel a little sad. But not for long, because now I know the power of TXTMSGING and can reach him whenever I want πŸ™‚

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Sarasota Film Festival 2006

So, the Sarasota Film Festival kicked off on Saturday. Over 180 films! Thanks to a heads-up from PatrΓ­cia, on the opening day of the festival, I caught a talk given by several of the directors/producers exhibiting at the festival. It took place at Metro. That was really cool; we got to hear their experiences doing the film festival circuit, budgeting, what it’s like to be an independent filmmaker vs. being funded commercially, and other stuff. Tip to first time filmmakers: if you want to show at Sundance, don’t submit your film to any other festival, or the Sundance folks won’t accept it.

L to R: (leaning over) Director Jaci Judelson, Tina Barney: Social Studies; Director Goran Dukic, Wristcutters: A Love Story; Director Van Fischer, Neo Ned; Director Susan Seidelman, Boynton Beach Club; Director I’m not sure, of some film :); Director Jay Wade Edwards, Stomp! Shout! Scream!; Directors Jenny Abel and Jeff Hockett, Abel Raises Cain.

That night we saw Wheel of Time, a German documentary about the habits of Buddhist pilgrims. A great film, done in true German style (that is to say, scientific and rigorous). At times I felt a little uncomfortable watching it, because it felt like the camera was invading these peoples’ sacred rituals, but nobody seemed to mind (the younger kids even hammed it up for the camera a few times). But wow… it was a real eye opener. I had no idea anyone could be so selfless. Amazing to watch. 8/10. Unfortunately the projection system screwed up and we were left for five minutes with audio but no video; it’s okay, though, we got vouchers to see another movie for free so alls well. Opening day woes methinks.

Sunday I saw Stomp! Shout! Scream!. It was a tribute to the 60s Beach party/Rock and Roll/Monster movie, set somewhere in the deep south. It was great, a true homage to a genre that really defied any sort of logical explanation. Director Jay Wade Edwards (of Aqua Teen Hunger Force fame) says they tried to play it straight and they do, for the most part. Except there are a couple of knowing winks to the audience that had me laughing out of my chair. It was this earnest dedication to the craft of making a quality, new picture in a genre that hadn’t seen any new films for decades, that caught my eye and caused me to pick up the DVD. You don’t often see people putting this much work into things these days and it’s clear Mr. Edwards and his crew loved every minute of it. 7/10.

And finally, last night I saw the documentary feature Before the Music Dies, which was, in a nutshell, an indictment of the current state of the music industry. From the summary: “With outstanding performances and revealing interviews, Before the Music Dies takes a critical and comedic look at the homogenization of popular music with commentary by some of the industry’s biggest talent. Using historic footage, the film looks at the evolution of American music and the artists who created it.” All I can say is, I can’t wait for this to come out on DVD (should be out this summer). It was one of the best documentaries I’ve seen in a long time. You can keep an eye on showings/release dates on their website. 8.5/10.
I’ve still got that free voucher, so I’ll be seeing at least one more film before the week is out πŸ™‚

Jay Wade Edwards doing Q&A after screening of Stomp! Shout! Scream!

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Migrating from Blogger to MoveableType

One of the problems I faced when switching over to my new domain was how I was going to get my entries exported from Blogger into MoveableType. Luckily there are a number of resources out there. One thing I noticed, though, is that the tutorial I followed, while really good, didn’t offer any Mac-specific help for getting your images off Blogger (mentioning only the Windows-only* utility WinHTTrack).
This post discusses a Mac alternative to WinHTTrack, the freeware WebGrabber 0.7.

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