« September 2007 | Main | November 2007 »

October 2007 Archives

Visa regulations and foreign artists

Lots of foreign musicians and other performing artists even from friendly countries like the UK, can have a hell of a time getting entry visas these days. They often have to go to a consulate to be interviewed, racking up thousands of dollars per person, and many end up just not coming. :\

In related news, the master hard drive of Death Cab for Cutie's latest album was seized at the Canadian border by Homeland Security.

Golden Gate Bike

Most awesome bike ever. I especially like the toy cars. :)

The Go! Team at the Mezzanine in San Francisco

The Go! Team at the Mezzanine in San Francisco

(Project 365 Day 365 (actually 366))

[Because I accidentally labeled two days Day 86, I was actually done with Project 365 yesterday, though I thought it would be today. Look at yesterday's entry for more details. I decided to write my end-of-project notes there, since this entry's comment is going to be long enough as it is...]

A couple more shots:

The Go! Team with Melodica

You can't really see it well in this picture, but she's playing what I thought of as a "key-flute". It's apparently actually a melodica. (And I think the little bit of shoulder you see on the right is the leader of the band. :P)

The Go! Team at the Mezzanine in San Francisco

Today was an eventful day. First of all, I've been having kind of a bad week. So I was looking forward to tonight's The Go! Team concert. (They're this awesome band that's a mixture of 60s/70s pop, 80s action movie theme music, hip-hop, and cheerleader cheers!) I had bought two tickets, hoping to find someone to go with me, but I couldn't find anyone! I eventually I asked around at work, but all I found was someone else who also got two tickets but couldn't find a buddy. :P We decided to meet up at the show. The tickets were only $15, so eating the cost of the spare ticket wasn't a big deal.

Meanwhile, another friend mentioned that he's going to a screening Justin Lin's new movie. (Justin Lin directed the "milestone in Asian-America cinema" Better Luck Tomorrow. (Personally, I found Harold and Kumar to be a bigger breakthrough for Asian-American cinema.) Lin then "went Hollywood" and made Annapolis and The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. Now he's returned to his indie roots and made a mockumentary set in the 70s about trying to cast a double for Bruce Lee after his death in order to finish off Game of Death.) The director was going to be there, too, so I was curious.

I was running a little late. I had to go home after work to grab some stuff, including the concert tickets, and I couldn't find them! I eventually did, but that wasted some precious time. Then it started raining, and traffic slowed to a crawl on the highway. I noticed I was going to be at least 45 minutes late to the movie, so even though I already bought the ticket online, I decided to skip it. Oh well. More ticket money wasted.

I grabbed some dinner at a Korean place instead. (I love how at this place, when I ordered the rice bowl, they first gave me some Korean pancakes before the standard Korean appetizers, and then they gave me huge bowl of tofu stew on the side as well. One time when I was there they actually gave me free fish.)

Okay, so then I get to the venue, and I mention to the doorman that I have an extra ticket I'd like to get rid of. He tells me to go over to the line of people waiting to get tickets and just sell it to them. I go over there, and this big bouncer tells me I have to go around to the back of the line to sell my ticket. I'm a bit confused. Meanwhile, one of the guys in line who was about to go to the window says, "I'll buy it right now." The bouncer goes, "No no no. This is exactly what you can't do!" He directs me around the line to the back and tells me to do my business there. (I'm sure they had policies and all, but I didn't appreciate his attitude.) The guy who said he'd buy my ticket just gets his ticket from the window. I ask the guys in the back of the line, and they say they all have will-call already. So I think, screw this, decide not to bother trying to sell it, and just head on in.

As I walk in through the front door, my pager goes off! I'm on duty this week at work, which means that I need to go diagnose problems... Thing is, my normal phone broke last week, and I'm using an old phone with older phone numbers. I wrote down some of my friends' numbers on a sheet of paper, but I forgot to write down my coworkers' numbers. I want to ignore the page. I really don't want to have to go home at this point. But I don't have any of my coworkers' phone numbers to hand it off to someone else! I'm really stressing out at this point. All this crazy stuff happening, and now this!

Luckily, I eventually figure out how to use my pager to send text messages to my coworkers, and another on duty coworker tells me he'll take care of the problem. *Whew!* I breathe a huge sigh of relief at this point. I wasn't going to be able to enjoy the concert with this hanging over my head!

The concert, luckily, was awesome. The Go! Team is kinda weird in that it actually started out as an album recorded in some dude's parents' kitchen, and not as live gigs. There are lots of sampled cheerleading chants and such that are replaced by different singers in the live version. And a lot of what I thought was horns on the album was a harmonica live. I guess they don't have the money to bring a whole horn section with them. So musically, it didn't quite work as well, in that I think the album tracks sound better, but the ENERGY was definitely there! And they did have two complete drum sets. :) The whole crowd was totally into the music and jumping up and down and sideways throughout the show. It was great! That was exactly what I needed at the end of a rough week!

(I didn't actually manage to get a good shot of the actual band leader. After my encounter with that draconian bouncer, and because it was a relatively small venue, I decided to play it safe and only whipped out my camera toward the end of the show, when I wouldn't have much to lose on the off-chance they kicked me out. (...which of course I've never actually seen any venue do. That's another pet peeve of mine: unenforced (or worse: selectively enforced) rules that basically reward people who break the rules.))

Back when the show started, it had occurred to me that I had parked my car on Howard Street, where I once got a street cleaning ticket. (Street cleaning starts at 12:01am on that street. What the hell? People are still out! Literally like 20 cars in a row each had a ticket the time I got mine. So they clearly have no intention of cleaning the streets and actually enacted those times just as a source of income. :P) But anyway, I was like, no way I'm going to bother moving it now. This show is going to be worth it even if I get a ticket! :) And yeah, the concert was good enough for that. :)

This story has a bizarre coda:

After the concert, my newfound friend from work (the guy who also got two tickets and wasted one) had to retrieve his jacket from coat check. I told him I'd wait outside. But I was still kinda worried about getting a ticket, so I went back inside to tell him I was going to head out.

On my way back out, two tall guys in the coat check line intentionally blocked my path and loudly proclaim, "WAIT IN LINE LIKE THE REST OF US!" I think he was drunk. So I reply, "I'm exiting!" Then he's like, "Oh... He's EXITING..." His friends laugh. I find him so obnoxious at this point that I flip him off a couple of inches from his face. His friends are like, "Ooooo...." but they don't do anything as I leave. You have to realize that I can't even remember the last time I flipped someone off. It's just not something I do. Especially to 6-foot tall drunk guys. :P

Immediately afterward I felt kinda bad about it. I felt like I should've taken the high road. Maybe I could've said something like, "We're all having a good time. Why do you have to go and bring us down?" I don't know. :P Maybe flipping him off was the right thing to do. Who knows. So that felt like kind of a bummer end to the evening.

But then I got to my car... and no ticket! No street cleaning tonight. :) Yay! Happy ending to my day after all.

Plus today marks the end of my Project 365. Very eventful day.

I guess I was so pumped that I came home and typed like the longest Project 365/blog entry every. :)

How to accomplish anything

I just discovered the Wikipedia entry List of problems solved by MacGyver. :)

Lust, Helvetica

Lust, Helvetica

(Project 365 Day 358)

Last weekend, I watched the documentary Helvetica. Yes, the font. It's only had special screenings, not wide release, but it'll be out on DVD next month. The film mostly consists of interviews with typographers, and it's pretty crazy how excited some people get about Helvetica! It would've probably been better at 60 minutes instead of 80, but I still really enjoyed it.

Helvetica was invented in 1957 in Switzerland. It was meant to be the ultimate Modernist typeface, neutral, utilitarian, communicating information without adding connotations of its own. It has since spread to be, well, everywhere. I'm pretty sure the air bag warning on my car's visor flap (pictured) is in Helvetica.

So some people see it as practically the culmination of Western society or something. :P Meanwhile, other people utterly despise Helvetica (and they think Microsoft's clone, Arial, is even worse), because it has seen such widespread use by corporations, and because people are lazy and tend to just use Helvetica by default.

I took this photo right after watching the new Ang Lee movie, Lust, Caution (which the "Warning" reminded me of). I really liked it. It has this epic yet personal feel of a classic film. Lee put so much loving detail into developing the environment of World War II era Shanghai and Hong Kong. The movie is really intense (my new favorite word), which is also its theme. The much ballyhooed sex scenes are definitely relevant to the plot; they were more unnerving than titillating, showing the contrast between these moments of freedom and the cautious, calculated world that the characters usually inhabit. (I really liked the opening scene of four women playing Mahjongg, making ostensible small talk where they tensely and carefully choose each word.)

Hm. Maybe that's the argument against Helvetica. It's cautious. It's restrained. It attempts to reveal as little emotion as possible while speaking a controlled, calculated message. Sometimes we need more lustful fonts.

And yet, giving in to our primal desires may lead to tragic consequences... like bad page layout.

Helvetica: Toast Toast Toast and a half Lust, Caution: Toast Toast Toast Toast [ Rating Key ]

Movie: Michael Clayton

[ IMDb Entry ] [ Trailer ] [ Ebert ] [ Rating Key ]

Toast Toast Toast

I watched Michael Clayton today. It stars George Clooney, Tom Wilkinson, Sydney Pollack, and Tilda Swinton. Clooney plays the title character, a clean-up man for a major law firm. I wasn't very impressed with the plot, actually, especially the ending, but it did have very good acting. It's pretty much a movie to watch to see some good performances by some top actors. One thing I did like is that it didn't resort to tricks. It wasn't full of plot twists and such. Instead, you're pretty much told what's happening up front, and stuff just unfolds based on the natures of the characters.

So a while back, Matt Damon was on the Daily Show promoting The Bourne Ultimatum. They showed a clip of him talking to some British reporter, and it looks really stressful and stuff. Damon makes a joke about how the movie does contain a lot of talking, "but we're always talking REALLY INTENSELY." :)

After I watched Michael Clayton, I felt that it was like a Bourne movie, but without the gunfights and martial arts. 99% of the movie consisted of talking REALLY INTENSELY.

And guess what? It turns out that Tony Gilroy, the writer/director of Michael Clayton, was also the screenwriter for the Bourne movies! So I guess I actually guessed the writer based on his style! :) (The scientist in me feels compelled to point out that I'm committing the positive evidence fallacy, that there have probably been plenty of times where I noticed stylistic similarities and NOT have it turn out to be the same writer. But still. :P)

So yeah, go see this movie if you want to watch some good actors talk REALLY INTENSELY at each other for a couple of hours. Personally, I enjoyed it. I just wouldn't call it great.

I'm a deputy Answer Man!

I got my email to Ebert published in this week's Answer Man column. You can find my name in there right now, though the link will point to a new column next week. Here's the permalink to the Q & A in question. The even sweeter part is that he used my email as an answer, not a question (since it wasn't a question, I guess :P). I figure that makes me a deputy Answer Man! :)

Last week, Ebert was complaining about how many people with widescreen TVs view their 4:3 programming stretched. (Even worse, people often view letter-boxed widescreen programming stretched, and with the letterboxing!) So I wrote him a bit about the difference between pillarboxing on plasma TVs (where you have to use gray pillars to avoid burn-in) and on LCD TVs (where you can use black pillars), and he used that to respond to someone else's email.

I'm so excited. :)

(Now I'm just hoping I wasn't wrong, thus making an ass of myself to a national readership. :P)

Laser-based point defense system to be deployed against.... pigeons

So a couple of days ago, my friend Vinod showed me an article about how pigeons have been pooping on the heads of Cincinnati Bengals fans during games, and stadium officials wanted to use air-powered pellet rifles to shoot the birds down. The mayor opposed the plan, though, and now they're going to use laser pointers to shoo the pigeons away. I wonder if it'll work. I also wonder if this is the first time hand-held laser pointers are being deployed as less-lethal weapons?

Nordstrom Adventure, or: Do I really look that young?

So I'm sitting on the toilet in the Nordstrom bathroom, and someone knocks on the stall door. "Um.. Busy!" I say.

"Sorry," replies a little boy's voice.

Then a woman asks from outside the bathroom, "Are you still in there?"

The little boy answers, "Yeah."

"Have you gone potty yet?" she asks.

"No. Not yet." (There was only one urinal and one toilet stall, so he was waiting for me.)

A short while later, I hear a female janitor announce, "Housekeeping!"

"Busy!" I holler.

Little boy says, "She said, 'Housekeeping.'"

"But this isn't a house," I point out.

"I think she meant she wanted to clean the bathroom," he helpfully suggests.

So after a while, I finish up and exit the stall, and I see the boy still waiting.

"Whoa!" says the boy. "I thought you were a grown-up!"

I'm confused. "Um, I am a grown-up," I correct while washing my hands.

"Are you a teenager?"

"No, I'm 29!" I respond indignantly.

"Oh. Sorry." And he enters the stall as I head out.

About October 2007

This page contains all entries posted to the klog in October 2007. They are listed from oldest to newest.

September 2007 is the previous archive.

November 2007 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Powered by
Movable Type 3.3