Sunday, January 30, 2005

Because I'm bored, and I wasn't sure that Sarah would understand what I was talking about, I decided to make a little tutorial about how to do collages. (ETA: While finishing this up, I missed the first few minutes of Arrested Development tonight, because I have sad tunnel vision.) So. Here's the tool box, and here are the tools I use. I might occasionally use one of the others, but pretty much these are the ones I use.

Here is the layers window, with most everything labeled. I never change the fill of a layer, or create new sets, so I haven't labeled those since I won't be talking about them.

So, I'm going to start with the first picture I'm using in the collage (just random Eternal Sunshine caps), but I'll show how I clean up an image first. Here is the image, resized. Go to Image > Image Size. Make sure the width and height are connected by a bracket and a paperclip. Just change one number, the other will change so that the picture stays proportional and doesn't go all wonky and stretched. If you were starting with a large image, and after the resize it's reallllly tiny, go to View > Actual Pixels.

The larger the image, the more blurry it will get after you resize it down. Unless it's a super-high-quality picture, it's harder to resize a picture up. Go to Filter > Sharpen > Sharpen.

I usually only sharpen once, unless I'm going for a grungy look. This particular image is wide enough that I don't need to do anything else. If you're using a close up of a person's face, their skin might look a bit pixellated after a sharpen, so use the blur tool, set to a small round brush at about 30% strength (you can change these settings in the top menu), and carefully smooth out the skin, taking care to not blur the edges of any facial features.

The next step is to brighten the image. Take your sharpened background, and drag that layer down to the new layer icon in the bottom (the page with a corner turned), and make two duplicates. Or, you can highlight the background and go to Layer > Duplicate Layer. In your layer window, you will have two background copies. You can rename layers if you want to. Take the bottom duplicate, and in the blending menu (which now says "Normal") and change it to "Screen." Then go to Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast. I take the brightness down by 10-15, and the contrast up by 20-30, depending on how bright the image was to begin with. You can hide the top duplicate to see what it looks like by highlighting that layer, then clicking the eyeball off.

Next, select the top layer, the second background copy. Change the blending to "Soft Light." Go to Image > Adjustments > Desaturate. That makes this layer black and white. What this effectively does, by having it on soft light, is bring out the outline of everything in the image, so it's better defined.

Select the bottom background copy. Create a new layer by either clicking the icon in the layers window, or going to Layer > New > Layer. Change your foreground color to a dark blue, like #07214D. Using the paintbucket, fill in the new layer (make sure it's selected in the layer window.) Set that new layer's blending mode to exclusion. This layer should be in-between your two duplicated layers.

At the very top, create a new adjustment layer, either using the icon, or going to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Selective Color. Change the top menu from Reds to Blacks, then take the Blacks up by 10-20%, depending on how washed out the image looks. This selective color adjustment layer should be on the very top. You don't need to change the blending mode from normal. It doesn't change this particular image a lot, but I always do it.

If your image was very dark, you might want to duplicate your background copy layer set on screen once or even twice. I don't need to here. Now, I'm ready to move my cleaned up image into my collage. I can do one of two things. If I think I don't need to do anything else, I can merge my layers down. Layer > Merge Visible. That compresses all your layers down into one. I don't like to do this, though, because then you're stuck with one layer and can't go back to tinker. So I create a new layer on top, and then go to Image > Apply Image. That fills the top layer with your complete image as you see it, but lets you keep the work you've done if you decide to go back and change things later. Here's what my layer window looks like now.

I select my applied image layer, and then go to Select > All, or Control-A. Then I go to Edit > Copy. I need to create a new document for my collage, so I go to File > New. I set the height and width for this at 500 pixels. Make sure the resolution is 72 pixels/inch. I set mine at background color, which is black.

I place in my first picture into my document by going to Edit > Paste.

I can use the move tool to move the layer where I want it. In your layer menu, you can see the background, then the image you've just pasted in. I rename my layer so I can keep track of what everything is. I'll call it "Bed." After I fix up another image, I'll paste that one in too, and start blending images together.

Here's my second image pasted in. I want the bed picture to be on top, though, so I just highlight it in the layers menu and drag it to the top.

I don't like that it's smaller, so I'm going to make it the same size as the other picture. I go to Edit > Transform > Scale. I pull from the corner, and hold down the Shift key while I scale so that the picture stays in proportion.

It's gross and blurry. That's why resizing up doesn't always work. So I'm going to actually go back and redo that picture from the beginning, and repaste it in.

Much better. You can move layers off the actual document if they're too wide, like I've done with the new bed image. Now I'm going to blend them. Make sure the pictures overlap. In the layer window, highlight the image that is on top. For this one, I'm going to use the rectangular selection tool, with a 10px feather. I select on both sides on the join.

Then I hit delete.

By changing how wide I make the selection, and how large a feather I set, I can determine how gradual or abrupt the blend is. You may have to play with it, and keep using Edit > Undo to fix things.

Once I get the blending I want between images, I bring in my next photo. I move around my layers to get the positioning I want, by selecting each layer and then using the move tool to place them in the document.

I blend the top layer onto the bottom two the same way I did before, selecting horizontally this time instead. Make sure you have the right layer selected; the top layer is usually the one you want to blend into the bottom layers.

The blend between the top and bottom pictures is kind of boring. Blends don't work as well when you have a large contrast between light and dark, like here. I'm going to use a layer mask to get something a little more interesting. Highlight that top layer, then click the layer mask icon in the layers window (the rectangle with a circle in the middle). Make sure the colors are black in the foreground and white in the background, then select a brush. I'm going to use one of the Special Effects brushes that comes with Photoshop. I'm just going to brush straight across from left to right once.

You can see the edges of the bottom photos through the brush, so I'm going to go back and hide those. By clicking the arrows next to the colors in my tool window (to change the white to foreground), I'm going to pick another brush, one of the big Natural Brushes, and re-brush in the top photo to hide those edges.

All that's left is to make it a clean square, so using the crop tool, I'll select the part of the document I want and then go to Image > Crop. Make sure it's not set to a specific number of pixels or inches in the toolbar so you don't mess up your proportions.

Here is my layer window as it is now. You can see what the layer mask looks like on the top layer.

Now's when you do any effects you want to go across the entire collage. Do everything on a new layer, so if you change your mind, you can delete or adjust specific effects, and not everything at once. I'm going to create a new fill layer, using the icon in the layers window or going to Layer > New Fill Layer > Gradient. Photoshop comes with certain gradients, or you can make your own or download them. Here is the one I am using.

I change the blending mode to Color, and reduce the opacity to 60%.

That kind of washes the image out, which is okay for now, but the colors aren't bright enough for me. I'm going to duplicate that gradient (drag it down into the New Layer icon or select it and go to Layer > Duplicate Layer), and then change the blend mode from Color to Hard Light, keeping the opacity at 60%.

I like those colors, but it's still a little washed out for me. I create a new layer at the top, fill it with black using the paint bucket, and then set it to Soft Light. That's perfect for the top, but still a little dark at the bottom.

I keep that layer selected and put on a layer mask. I click and hold the paint bucket to reveal the gradient tool. I click on the representation of the gradient up in the toolbar to bring up the gradient editor. I choose the one that says "foreground to transparent," then click okay. I make sure my foreground color is black. Then I draw the gradient from the bottom to the top. What this does is erase that soft light layer from the bottom while gradually keeping it at the top, so it's a smooth erase of that layer from the bottom. (I hope that makes sense.)

I like to use brushes for texture, but I've downloaded most of mine, as I don't find the generic Photoshop brushes work for me. You can skip this step if you want, but I think brushes are what really make it interesting. I'm going to use some watercolor brushes and some paint splatter brushes here. I either use white, or select a light color from the document. Always use each brush on a new layer, and experiment with different blending modes and opacities.

I find that using brushes helps unify a collage, when you place them over more than one picture. It just kind of brings everything together. You can make them as subtle or obvious as you want.

One of the last things I do is text. is a great place to find really cool fonts for Photoshop. I'm going to use one here called LainieDaySH. I'll pick a color from the document using the eyedropper, and type the text in. Placing text over the blending points in a collage helps disguise them even more.

This text stands out pretty well, but sometimes it's hard to read. That's a good time to use a drop shadow. Make sure your text layer is highlighted, then go to layer styles, using either the icon at the bottom of the layer window or going to Layer > Layer Style > Drop Shadow. Change the distance or the size to get the kind of shadow you want. I'm using a distance of 5 and a size of 2 here.

I made two text layers, to change the size and location. I find that's much easier than trying to do everything at once. Since I want the exact same shadow on the other text layer, I'm going to copy and paste it. Right click on the text layer with the drop shadow and select Copy Layer Style. Right click on the second text layer and select Paste Layer Style.

The last thing I do is put on a border. You can do a simple, one-pixel stroke around the outside if you just want something quick and clean. Create a new layer on top, then select all. Then go to Edit > Stroke, and select a 1px stroke around the inside of the layer in the color you want. Here's a 1px stroke in a light blue from the image.

I'm going to do something a little fancier. I'm using a border brush I downloaded, changing the size from 100x100 to 500x500 to fit the image. You can also just place the brush in the center, and then Edit > Transform > Scale to make it fit the image. Here, I've used a border brush and scaled it to fit. I used a dark blue and then changed the blend mode to Color Dodge. Because it doesn't meet the edges completely, I've kept the 1px stroke border.

And that's it. Here's a final look at my layers window. The seemingly blank layers in the middle are my brush layers, which when using light brushes don't show up very well.

Earlier this week, Maja posted about how The Village was disappointing, and I was going to reply in her tagboard but I thought of too much to say, so I'm going to post about it here. I think what made The Village more disappointing than a movie like Van Helsing was that it actually had the potential to be a good movie, but didn't quite make it. I enjoyed it while watching it, but it just didn't hold up to after-movie thought and analysis. The story for the most part is good, the design was good, the acting was good, but where it fails for me is in the execution. I had major problems with the main "twist," which for me was the revelation that the villagers were actually living in a present-day wilderness preserve. Unlike the "twists" in Sixth Sense and even Signs, which held up the second time around when you knew what was going on, the twist in The Village isn't organic. Why did the village elders, who apparently were born and raised in contemporary America, begin speaking in a rather archaic manner? Because if they didn't, the audience would know something was wrong. This choice wasn't to support the story, but specifically to fool the audience, and that's just one of the things that made the "twist" cheap. Would the movie have suffered if we knew that these people had withdrawn from modern society? Would the movie have been less powerful if the monsters had been completely real, or hadn't existed at all? Because for me, the story in The Village wasn't really about the monsters or the time the story took place, but about the relationship between Joaquin and Bryce, and challenging the traditions of the society out of love. M. Night has either become so enamored of the idea of a "twist," or so fearful that a film of his won't succeed without one, that rather than just tell the story, he squeezes it into an artificially suspenseful framework.

For Sarah: Layering. First things first, make sure you have your layer window open. Windows > Layers. If you want to do a collage, create a new document the size that you want, then open all the pictures you want to use in the collage. You can either clean them up separately, which is what I would do, or do it after they've been assembled. (I always sharpen the first layer, duplicate it twice; set the bottom duplicate on screen and then lower the brightness and increase the contrast in the adjustments menu; set the top duplicate on soft light and desaturate it; create a layer in between the two duplicates, fill it with a dark blue, and set it to exclusion; I find that makes everything look a bit nicer, especially images with skin tone.)

So, if you copy and paste all your pictures into your new document, then arrange them where you want them. Each picture will be its own separate layer. You can double click the layer in the layers window to rename them to help you keep track. You can only move one layer at a time, the layer that is highlighted in the window. If you want all the images to just lay on top of each other, you can put a stroke around each image to keep them distinct. Highlight the layer in the layers window, then go to Layer > Layer Properties > Stroke. If you want the images to blend into each other, there's a couple ways of doing that.

You can do a layer mask. Put one image next to another, with some overlap. Highlight the layer on top in the layers window. In the layers window, click the square at the bottom that is a rectangle with a circle inside. A white square will appear next to the image in the layers window. Your colors should be black, with a white background, and you use a brush to erase the parts of the top image you want. The reason you use a layer mask instead of the eraser is that if you make a mistake, you just make the white the foreground color and the black the background color and brush the top image back. This is good for really precise erasing to blend two images together, and you can use any kind of brush you want.

If you want a more dissolve-y type blend, just overlap the images, then select the top image. Use the rectangle selection tool (the dotted rectangle), and in the top menu, put the feather to 5-15px. Then select around where the two images meet (half on one, half on the other), and hit delete. You may have to do it a few times to really get a smooth dissolve from one image to the next. For both this and the layer mask method, it's best to work on just two images (layers) at a time, then add the next, so on so forth.

I hope that's clear, and I also hope that's what you were asking about, hee. I don't know how much you know, and if I've just explained a bunch of stuff you are already aware of or what. You can always email or call if you need to. I think the selection tool is the easiest, but if you're really pieceing images together, a layer mask works best. Anyhoo. Hope this helps.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Added a relatively long foozes update. I feel I should inform people of that here, since I update foozes so infrequently. Anyways.

Jonneh! I love that scene from Benny and Joon. So, so quirkily romantic. This was also the easiest template I've ever made. (1) Get a high quality image. (2) Make it black and off-white. (3) Up the brightness and contrast. That's all! I love Photoshop. So much fun.

And...that's all. Oscar nominations post follows.
So, Oscar nominations. I'm just sad that Eternal Sunshine didn't get a BP nod, but not really disappointed, as I didn't expect it to. I am filled with hate about Jamie Fox(no)'s double nomination when Jim Carrey hasn't had a single nomination, so I'm pulling for DiCaprio and Freeman/Haden Church. Am sad that Freddie Highmore didn't get a supporting nod. Ditto for Kate in Finding Neverland, although I'm happy she was recognized for lead, although that wasn't really in doubt. I think of Kate, Cate and Johnny, Cate is the only one with a shot at winning, so I'm pinning pretty much all of my hopes on that.

I was happier with the technical nods, actually, where Prisoner of Azkaban got a few nods, including score, as did James Newton Howard for The Village score, which is gorgeous. Those are the only two scores I've bought this year, and I think they're both great in different ways, so I wouldn't mind that Oscar going to either film, or Finding Neverland for that matter, even though I don't really remember the music. Just in principle, it can win.

Back to TV, 24 was pretty incredible last night. A lot of the plot developments were fairly predictable, but were exceptionally well done. Shoreh continues to be awesome, and Audrey contintues to be horse-faced and uninteresting. I'm looking forward to where this season takes us. As opposed to last season, when we finally hit the first and-now-the-plot-unexpectedly-shifts point, when I started not caring. Although some of that was because of The Muppet.

Arrested Development was absolutely hysterical this week. I adore Liza Minelli on this show, and she adds this naïveté and enthusiasm and...niceness that kind of counterbalances a lot of the Bluths. I love Tobias singing “New York, New York,” and the bit with Michael showing up with her in the gay bar with the red jacket, pointy hair, and the fly on his face so that he looks like this gay drag impersonation of Liza Minelli had me on the floor, people. And the fact that it was so subtle, that I didn’t notice it until the second viewing, and that the show didn’t feel the need to call attention to it with a big glowing arrow and commentary from other characters or whatever is what makes this show great.

“GOB -bleeped- Lucille Two.”

Awesome. If I love Ron Howard for nothing else, it is his narration. Genius stuff.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

It's cold again! No! Bastard winter. I think I have been spoiled by four years in SoCal, because I am not feeling this at all. The only acceptable thing, for me, is being able to pile blankets a foot thick on my bed and then burrow inside in manner of cocoon. This is potentially outweighed by the chapped lips, though.

*sighs dramatically*

*puts on Carmex*

So, I'm slightly obsessed with the new Jet song, not necessarily because it's a good song, which it is, but because of my fervent hope that it signals a new wave of music, a neo-Beatles age of rock where songs have intricately constructed melodies, exacting harmonies, and quick, catchy hooks. Isn't it about time for a new music style, anyways? They usually seem to show up in the middle of decades, so let's go, people.

Lost was excellent this week. And not surprisingly, it was another David Fury episode, who of all the writers seems to grasp the interplay between the flashbacks and the island plotline the best. A lot of the other episodes have island stuff happening, then random flashbacks, back and forth, and while the flashbacks do tell us new things about the characters (or things we suspected), they just seem to be stuck in there, and every time we go to one it's a jolt. Fury's episodes have flashbacks that mean more because of what we've seen on the island, and make events on the island have more meaning, so each supports the other, and you end up with a single cohesive storyline running throughout the episode that happens to move back and forth in time, instead of an island storyline and a flashback storyline. (Another writer did a good job with this; whoever wrote the Claire flashback episode.) I guess it's not surprising, since Fury's from Buffy/Angel, a universe that did have its share of flashbacks, but more importantly had many episodes with shifts of tone or story contained within a single episode. And since I consider Lost a genre show and not a straight drama, mayhap they should consider getting some new writers who are more experienced in that style of writing.


Thursday, January 20, 2005

I hate Marshall. I hate him. I am done with him. You don't get to pick your family members, and as far as I'm concerned, he's only my brother because of genetics. I can't even stand to be in the same room with him. He's a fucking sociopath, and I mean that literally. He has no remorse or guilt for anything he does. He only apologizes if he gets backed into a corner and realizes that is the only way he'll get what he wants further down the road. He has no empathy; he honestly cannot understand what it's like to be in another person's shoes, so everything he does is so goddamned selfish and self-centered that when you try to explain to him your side, he just honestly does not understand. It's like explaining the color green to a blind person; he does not have the capacity for kindness. Everything he does is calculating, designed so that he gets what he wants with a minimal amount of effort on his part. He has friends, and teachers at school like him, which isn't surprising, really; I'm not saying he's going to grow up and be a serial killer, but killers with his kind of personality were usually well-liked in their community. I don't know how it works, but it does. I guess he just saves all his meanness and spite and...Christ, evil for the lack of a better word, for us at home.

He's fifteen years old but he acts like a child. He still throws tantrums. He refuses to do any kind of chores unless he's absolutely forced to. When he does finally do his part around the house, he does it so half-assed that you either end up doing it yourself or calling him back in, and when you explain what he did wrong, he freaks out. But if you explain ahead of time what he needs to do, he freaks out anyways. So in any event, it's full of drama and headache. Tonight, he comes home and won't hang up clothes until I yell at him for the third time, then calls me a bitch and says he's tired of me living at home and when am I going to leave already? Then, my parents leave to pick up Laura from college, and I leave to pick up Sarah from an after-school activity. We come home, and Sarah goes to get on the computer. She's home all of thirty seconds, when I hear him screaming at her from upstairs. I guess she got confused by the computer log-on screen (we usually leave it on, but we lost power today), and turned the computer back off, so he flipped out on her. She runs upstairs, sobbing, saying he called her a stupid idiot. He adamantly denies this, and while Sarah does lie sometimes to get him in trouble, since I heard him yelling at her this wasn't the case. I tell him to go to his room, which is all I can really do, and he just tells me "no" and goes downstairs. I call my mom on her cell phone, and she tells him to go to his room, to do what I say, and they'll talk when she gets home. As he goes past me, he snots, "I still got the best of you. Mom sent me to my room, not you." I know this sounds trivial and stupid, but when you deal with it twenty times a day every just overwhelms you. I ended up following him into his room and slapping him ineffectually on the leg. He jumps up and starts punching me as hard as he can in my arm (his usual attack). He's taller than I am now and wiry as hell, and my arm still hurts almost twenty minutes later. I, being stupid, kick at him in an incredibly girly way, and hit his upper thigh. He immediately grabs his crotch and screams that he hates me, I kicked him in the fucking balls (which I didn't), he hopes I die, so on so forth. I shouldn't have slapped him to begin with, but Jesus. So now he'll tell my parents I kicked him in the balls, and that'll be what we argue about, nothing that came before. (And I totally kicked him in the leg, and weakly at that, as he was facing away from me and my leg doesn't bend like that.)

I'm sorry for the long, probably boring entry, but I had to rant about this, and I don't even care if anyone read this. I just wanted to purge myself of the rage, and Laura's not home right now, and the rage won't be as satisfyingly incandescent if I wait another hour. God. I can't wait until I no longer live with him, and no longer have to worry about being around him other than at holidays, if that. He's just...a mean person. Fundamentally, that's the best way to describe who he is. There is no inherent kindness, or respect, inside of him. And that's just wearying to be around.

Also updated foozes. Nothing special.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

"I have a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell!" Aw, thanks, Mayakins. That was a very pleasant surprise to get in the mail. Although now I fail even more, as I just cannot get my shit together to send my Christmas presents, and I don't even have to do anything other than log onto Amazon and click. Ah well.

Howard Shore's Aviator score was declared ineligible for this year's Oscars, because the Motion Picture Score Branch Nazis decided there was too much non-score music. So even though Shore's won most of the critic's awards and the Golden Globe, he's done. They declared him ineligible for The Two Towers, too, stating that as a sequel the score didn't have enough original music. Then I guess they actually listened to the score, and realized they were wrong, but too late for that year. He got in for Return of the King, and of course won. The thing is, there are scores nominated every year in films that also include source music. There are actually very few movie soundtracks anymore that rely entirely on score. I swear to God, I think these people got confused by the use of instrumentals as source music. Like, Shore is not trying to pass off Tchichovsky (me?) as his own music, people. I read this great article at about the amount of work and research he put into this score, considering things like neo-Baroque motifs counterbalanced against neo-Classical motifs, and I don’t even know what that means except it sounds cool, and the whole score is considered ineligible because Scorcese decided he wanted a particular classical piece with large audience recognition for that one particular scene over score? It’s just so stupid and annoying, especially because I flove Howard Shore and was getting so excited about his inevitable win.


In other, non-awards show news, the ice is finally melting here! Huzzah! Remember, the ice storm I told you about over two weeks ago? That ice is just now melting. I left the house this morning to warm up my car, and I was like, dear Jesus, it’s practically balmy outside! I don’t even have to warm my car up, really! And the actual temperature? 31. It felt that warm.

Sarah made dessert last night, a ring of chocolate chip cookies around two scoops of ice cream topped with cherries. It was so hysterical, I can’t even describe it to you. We took pictures. I can’t wait to get them developed. It was this artfully created circle of cookies surrounding two ice cream breasts. And when Sarah got it...ah, those are the moments in life you cherish, people.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

I'm so over the Oscars. I'm totally into the BAFTAs now, where Kate Winslet got lead actress nominations for both Eternal Sunshine and Finding Neverland, where Eternal Sunshine got six nominations including Best Picture and Best Actor for Jim Carrey, and where Million Dollar Baby and Sideways combined for a single nomination. Awesome.

Regarding the Golden Globes, they started off really cool and surprising, and then ended up stupid and predictable. I haven't seen Closer, and don't really care for Owen or Portman, but they were a huge shock, and took some wind out of the Sideways supporting sails. Not that I wouldn't mind Thomas Haden Church winning, because dude, he's Lowell, but Virginia Madsen is not allowed to win, and as Natalie Portman will definitely not win the Oscar, this just helps Cate Blanchett. In terms of the other Kate, I've resigned myself to the fact that Kate Winslet will not win this year. But did she have to lose the Golden Globe to Annette Bening? In every clip I've seen of her from Being Julia, not only does she have one of the worst fake British accents I've ever heard, she's totally hamming it up. And her speech was so rehearsed and robotic and unenthusiastic, hopefully people will have listened to that and taken it into account. I don't want Hilary Swank to win, though, for what is essentially the same girl-masculine-tough schtick, so I'm totally pulling for Imelda Staunton. Go Imelda! Choose Imelda!

Speaking of acceptance speeches, Jesus Christ. Jamie Foxx. I hate him anyways, because of the irrational buzz surrounding what is essentially an impersonation, but dude. The sense of entitlement, and the swagger, and the carefully placed tears, and the stupid call and response singing he did just last week at the Critics Choice Awards. He's just so full of himself and far from humble and I hate it. I hate him. I hate his stupid movie, and I hate stupid Ray Charles for dying this year and making it worse, and I hate all the stupid people who are going to give the Oscar over Johnny Depp, or Liam Neeson, or even Leonardo DiCaprio, who was actually quite good in The Aviator, although perhaps not as quite batshit crazy as Howard Hughes should be portrayed on screen.

I think a lot about awards shows. I haven't even got into fashion or TV yet. Let's just say that Teri Hatcher looked like ass, I'm so sick of Desperate Housewives I want to projectile vomit, yay Jason Bateman!, Mariska Hargitay's dad crying made me tear up, and Sandra Oh had the most beautiful dress last night.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

I just finished watching the second half of an early XF episode in syndication and I still don't know what episode it was. Some of these shows, I probably haven't watched in ten years, and it was just completely strange. If you had told eleven-year old me that there would come a day when I wouldn't remember entire episodes, I would have laughed. The DVDs have come down in price, but I still can't afford them.

I was watching TV about a month ago, just flipping idly, and this car commercial came on that was lauding the remote starter the car was equipped with, and I thought, what possible use is that? You're going to get into that car to drive it, so why the need to start it when you're not actually in the car? And now I know. Because when it's five whole degrees above zero outside, and you have to start your car ten minutes before you actually leave so that your eyeballs don't freeze and fall out of your head, yeah, being able to start your car from inside your house would be a nice thing to have. So, Ford, or whoever, I apologize for doubting your ad.

KU remains undefeated. We continue to be Teh Asome.

If Hilary Swank wins her second Oscar this year before Kate Winslet or Cate Blanchett win their first, I will die. I can understand regular audience members, and even critics, being fooled by the whole deglamming thing as actually being acting, but why does the Academy, ostensibly people who make movies themselves, think this, too? Bah.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Today, I was driving home from work and it took me five minutes to figure out why everything looked so strange. Then I realized that the sun was out. I was like, "Why is the world all bright and shiny?" It's been so gloomy and overcast lately that it seems like the sun doesn't come up until about 8:30 in the morning.

Last week, everyone watches Lost again and it sucks. I bet no one watched this week, and it was awesome. I like the way this Stand-esque world is shaping up, with the survivors seemingly being pulled to one camp or the other. I also like the intimations that the Thing or the Monster on the island isn't just this scary single entity, but perhaps able to influence a person's thoughts and visions. The show is best when it brings the paranormal angle, like it did last night.

Ian Somerhalder's eyes are freaky.

To everyone who has emailed me recently: my email is Teh Wonky for some reason. I don't know if it's the email server or my computer, but I'm having a hard time getting into my inbox. (And complicating matters is the fact that they've disabled certain sites on the school server, so I can't get on at work.) Anyhoo.

Still preparing what were going to be Christmas presents. Le sigh. At this rate, it'll be Happy Easter! written on the outside.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Sometimes, when I have to do some monotonous and time consuming
task, I like to pretend I'm on The Amazing Race, because it makes it more fun.

"Shelve or Save? In this Detour, teams must choose between two tasks, each
with its own pros and cons. In Shelve, teams must alphabetize and order these
books in four categories: non-fiction, biography, hard cover fiction, and
paperback. After each book is categorized they must then wheel their cart
around the library and find the appropriate space for each book. The task isn't
physically demanding, but can take a while. In Save, teams must lose their job,
go home, and stop buying things and going out, to save all their remaining money in order to pay bills. The task involves no actual work, but there won't be much fun."

So, we had this big ice storm last Tuesday that canceled school for two days.
We are probably going to lose the big river birch in our front yard, which just
split down the middle as two of the big branches snapped under the weight of the ice. My dad and Marshall cleared a lot of it out already, but it's really
strange and bare looking now. Since then, the temperature outside has just
hovered at freezing, and there's been an almost constant drizzle, so I'm
scraping ice twice or three times a day, everytime I want to drive someplace.
Not to mention that I have fallen down in my driveway three (3) times this past
week. Thankfully, not the ass over teakettle fall, when both feet leave the
ground and you land on your tailbone (which I've done, once at school when
taking laundry downstairs, and wasn't that fun), but still. Falling down is never cool, and even if I know that no one saw and that no one would care if they did, since they would know it's icy out, I still end up feeling embarrassed for, like, whole minutes afterwards.

I missed the second hour of 24 on Monday, because I put my
VCR on timer so I could watch the Critic's Choice Awards. The VCR was an hour fast, so I'm hoping Fox or FX is going to reair it sometime. Speaking of the CCAs, I hate Sideways. My dad kept asking how I could hate a movie I'd never seen, and he doesn't understand that there must be a film each year I hate, and this year, it's Sideways. First of all, I feel it's taking all the critical acclaim and indie spirit that should have been going to Eternal Sunshine. And secondly, and I think this is pretty well established, I always feel distrustful and even hateful towards anything media-related that becomes very popular, either commercially or critically, if I wasn't a part of it first. I'm sure that if I hadn't started watching Arrested Development, when it won the Emmy and every
time I read about it, I would be rolling my eyes and hissing, "WhatEVER."

Thursday, January 6, 2005

I'm quite possibly the dumbest person alive. But more on that later.

Christmastime was fun. Laura got an Original Nintendo system, so we've been playing the old Mario games and such, which have been a lot of fun. It's kind of frightening when I'm playing, and a sudden flash of insight reminds me where the extra life is hidden, and I realize that I have stored that information for over a decade. Which explains why I would be taking midterms and think, "I just heard this last week in lecture. Why can't I remember?" Because that space was already filled. With Mario.

My mom had her violin restrung, so I've been trying to learn that, although my lessons have been halted since I broke an A-string a couple days ago. Stupid...strings. It just snapped, and I think I let out an Albert-from-The-Birdcage shriek, but thankfully it didn't snap into my eyeball, which is always the fear.

So, Laura and I finally went to see the respective movies we most wished to see. First, we saw Phantom of the Opera, which I wasn't too enthusiastic about, but I know what it's like to not want to see a movie by yourself and no one else wants to see it with you. We went to an early showing, where it was us and 70,000 senior citizens. Let me set the stage for you. The lights dim, the film begins with a black and white...anti-flashback scene, or something, and then boom! The Phantom music! Bam! Bam bam bam bam bam! The owners sing. Raoul sings. Carlotta sings. Christine sings. Raoul and Christine sing to each other. Laura turns to me and whispers, "Do they sing throughout this whole movie?" Apparently, she knew it was a musical, but not the extent to which. Which dampened her love for it quite a bit, I think. The movie was all right, the songs were the best part, definitely, and it was relatively strong direction for Schumacher. Emmy Rossum was okay, but no Sarah Brightman, that's for sure.

Then we left that theater and nonchalantly ambled over to where Finding Neverland was playing. First of all, Freddie Highmore deserves an Oscar nomination, and is also the most cutest adorablest kid I have ever seen in my life. But yes, I cried, to the extent that my throat hurt from trying not to sob out loud. And I knew what was going to happen! It's not like it was a surprise! This and Eternal Sunshine are definitely my favorite movies of this year, which brings me to...Kate Winslet. If she doesn't finally get her Oscar, I will be very put out.

So, Laura and I leave the theater. This was the afternoon before the first big winter storm we've had here in Kansas City. School was cancelled today and yesterday; we had at least an inch of ice, topped by snow, and it's so cold outside that absolutely nothing will thaw. When we left in the morning, my mom reminded us of the inclement weather soon to arrive, and as it was a bit drizzly, she reminded me to turn my headlights on. This is where the dumb comes in. Laura and I, still wiping away our tears, get into the car. I turn the key. Nothing. Because I had left the goddamn lights on. I sit and cry for about two minutes, Laura looking uncomfortably on, then instruct her to call our dad so he can drive up and give us a jump. The closest theater that was showing both movies is about 35 minutes away, so we just sit in the car and wait. We of course can't turn the heat on, because I had left the goddamn lights on, and it was so cold Laura said she was afraid she was going to lose consciousness and go into the Big Sleep. My dad shows up, we get a jump without incident, and drive home. We keep checking the car, but it doesn't appear that the battery was drained to death, so everything car-related seems okay. I, however, remain an idiot.