Archive for November, 2010

Sporty Spice

After 3 months in the big chair I decided to finally try my hand at some sports photography. Actually, our usual guy tapped out last minute and the game was in Provo so I just went ahead and grabbed it.

Shooting games is not easy. I probably took 500 pictures and walked away with maybe a dozen that were usable. I’m a rookie, and my focus kept going onto the crowd. I have some really awesome, albeit blurry, action shots. *Sigh*

I hate Jimmer. I didn’t know anything about him going into our game against BYU and even when I was sitting on the court shooting this guy named Fredette kept getting in my view with his dumb, cocky face. I didn’t put 2 and 2 together till the game was over.

I really like that last one. Growing up with a mother obsessed with pictures of peoples backs may have affected my tastes slightly. And (below) Stew is the man.

The next week was our last home football game so I took our spare pass and went to get some more practice. Basketball was hard, football was harder. With more than twice as many players in action and a whole lot going on during the plays it was really hard to get a decent shot. Plus, even after borrowing my photo editor’s monster lens, I still needed something a little bigger.

Diondre doin’ what he does best: scramblin’.

That shot didn’t work out quite right but it looked really funny to me with the two refs chatting while the cheerleaders just stood there for a few minutes in their monk-esque white ponchos. Something went wrong because after literally just standing like that, they ran off the field without cheering.

Coach Anderson, maybe next year. *Sigh*

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As is my nature during long holidays, I went home to Huntsville for the break and in the space of 2 days watched 4 new movies. (Notice that I’m only counting the NEW movies that I watched). I’m having trouble finding it but somewhere on this blog is a post where I watched 5 movies in 3 days. (Kite runner was one of them, can’t remember the rest).

So, on turkey day itself we gorged ourselves with baked goods and headed to

1. Morning Glory

Let’s get the easy stuff out of the way first: Rachel McAdams is smoking hot. As I’ve said in the past I would love nothing more than to Mac her Adams and it was just as true during this movie.

The film deals with Cuty McCuteface being hired on as the Executive Producers of the last-place TV morning show “Daybreak.” She inherites an underbudgeted production with an pervert anchor with a foot fetish (brilliantly portrayed, as always, by the sensational Ty Burrell) who she quickly dispatches and replaces with grumpy-old-man Harrision Ford who is described as the third-worst person alive (numbers one and two being Kim Jong Ill and Angela Lansbury).

The plot is predictable: girl has 6 weeks to save show before it goes off the air, meets an attractive co-worker but has trouble balancing her work and personal life, Mr. Grouch has to soften up in order to be the show’s missing ingredient. That said, the show does bring a few aspects of originality to it, on the forefront is the decline of hard news in modern journalism and the attempt to balance entertainment fluff with hard-hitting information (a subject that hits me at the heart). The film also boasts a soundtrack ripped straight from my iPod (Collin Hay and Paulo Nuttini) and a heft dose of McAdams in her underwear, which makes up for how annoying Diane Keaton is. B

2. Danny Deckchair

First off, Rhys Ivans is freakin crazy. In case you’re a little weak on your pop knowledge of lesser-known Australian actors, Ivans is the crazy roommate from Notting Hill (There’s something wrong with this yogurt), or the crazy kicker from The Replacements (ole, ole-ole-ole), or crazy Mr. Lovegood from HP7.1.

I had heard about this movie year’s ago but had never quite gotten around to it. Basically, Danny ties a bunch of balloons to a folding chair and flies off into the Australian countryside, leaving his life behind (before you ask, YES, this movie was made before both Up and the Balloon Boy fiasco). He crash lands in the backyard of a soft-spoken civil servant (played by LOTR’s Miranda Otto) and assumes the identity of a visiting professor.

There’s nothing particularly astounding about DD, but it has the same quirky-awesomeness of othor low key foreign gems like Waking Ned Divine. You end up just feeling good during this movie and get some pretty good laughs along the way. B+

3. The Next Three Days

It might be because I don’t listen to the radio or watch television (thank you Cache Valley and Hulu) but I hadn’t really heard anything about this movie. It got a decent review in EW and I was at least aware that Russel Crowe had a break-his-wife-out-of-prison movie on the radar, but I was surprised at how not-marketed this movie seemed to be.

Pity, because it’s pretty good.

Crowe is a community college professor and family man. His wife is the hot-in-a-not-in-your-face-way Elizabeth Banks who about 6 minutes into the movie gets arrested and subsequently convicted of murder. Three years pass and her stay in prison as a guilty woman is pretty much a done deal. Crowe then, as the loyal pie in the sky husband starts devising a plan to bust her out of the joint illiciting the help of prison-break-extraordinaire Liam Neeson (in one, great Neeson scene).

Most of the movie is his preperation, stressing the lonliness yet unfailing attitude of raising his son on his own and providing just enough screen time to the freakishly attractive Olivia Wilde in supporting start. We watch as Crowe’s simpleton good-guy starts to dive into the criminal world as he tries to acquire the fake identification and funds he’ll need (including a few handy how-to-be-a-criminal videos from YouTube that make you wonder, Would that really work?).

It take s a little too long to get to the action but it is building and building, then hits. Act III of the movie is all prison-break and running from the law with a hefty share of “how’s he gonna get out of this?” moments that approach incredulity but under the guided hand of director Paul Haggis (Crash) never fall of the pit into the ludicrous. Every time he’s in a corner, he finds a “so simple it’s brilliant” way through, although taken as a whole it seems like a little too much good luck but not till the credits are rolling and you’re on your feet. B

4. Toy Story 3

I realize that I’m probably the last person on earth to not have seen this movie so thanks to some black Friday deals ($10 at walmart) my family obtained a copy (2 actually) and I was able to watch it (I don’t watch cartoons in theaters, usually).

Pixar movies come with their share of hype but rarely disappoint (I thought Up was so-so) and TS3 was no exception. Great animation, great jokes, and a little tugging at the old heartstrings. I did not cry though, so take that all you girly men out there (I probably would’ve gotten choked up, though, if I hadn’t been using every ounce of cinema-watching strength in me to keep my emotions in check).

Still, does anyone else think it’s messed up that they took Little Bo Peep away? I mean, she’s Woody’s girl, that’s so not cool. Typical for women though, to disappear once things start getting serious. A- (Just because I can’t give a cartoon an A).

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Cleaning The Sink

3. Become a true Aggie one more time
4. Clean the sink (again)
5. Sleep in my office

Not much else to say about this one. We rounded up the gang and got our sink-cleaning on. Probably the most fun you can have with 10 bucks and a sweet tooth. BTW, these pictures were taken on a camera phone, hence the odd red hue on everybody and the general grain. Also BTW, I really don’t have multiple chins, apparently I bury my face in my neck when I smile for pictures. I’m working on this.

My boy Tyler was a sink virgin. Awww they grow up so fast.

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I never had cable when I was a kid. We were an analog family. We still are an analog family. I was never aware of the world of music videos. I would see the odd thing here and there at friends houses, then after the advent of the internet I would look up my favorite songs online and by the time I got cable my freshman year in college my roommates had a standing rule of not watching anything besides sports center – and apparently, not washing their dishes, a rule my current roommates follow.

So, my exposure to music video has been limited to my own intentional hunting and finding. Generally speaking, videos ruin songs. Just this week in the office a Muse video – good band despite their involvement with the Twilight movies, though I don’t appreciate them as much as I used to – came on where teddy bears or gingerbread men – it was hard to tell – emerged from the ground and terrorized a city. Yeah, not the mental image that I had associated with that song.

Still, there is the occasional video that perfectly blends mood, meaning, and melody to make an audio-visual explosion of the brain. Here are two of my choices (note: there may be an ad before they start).

1. Best of You: Foo Fighters.

Curtain opens to a tight shot of Dave Grohls mouth literrally hugging his microphone and then the dam burst to a relentless emotionally-charged marthon of image and sound. Best of you, indeed.

2. Where are you: Our Lady Peace

Unfotunately, the embedding code has been disabled by request and I don’t have the time to hunt down a different version so, really, click here to watch. Really, click it, it’s awesome. From the opening seconds of a seemingly-German military march to a circle of African dancers jumping in slow motion, the video blends a dozen different styles and movements into one concrete room with a relentless drive. Fantastic. Seriously, click the link, and watch it.

It’s no coincidence that both of these videos are loud, fast, grunge. I can get my slow-music on but it doesn’t make for good video. Video needs speed and pulsating beat, driving the music into you temple like the drip of water at a Chinese POW camp.

It’s also no coincidence that both these videos are, for the most part, performance based. I don’t need stop-motion skeletons (The Killers) or Candyland breasts squirting foam (Katy Perry). I don’t need men in gorrilla suits (Bloodhound Gang) or any other gymick. I watch the video because I love the song and the visual elements should only enhance the sound, not distract from it.

So, Woodstockers, what’s your favorite music video?

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We were coming off the tail end of an Indian Summer here in Logan last week. Dark clouds were on the horizon so I grabbed my camera and headed to the Logan River trail for one last stroll.

This trail has always been one of my happy places. I used to jog laps on it’s one-mile track when I was training for my half-marathon, in the summer we rope swing into the river, and last Valentine’s Day Katie and I went there for a little bundled-up romantic walk.

And yes, I’m a country boy and sometimes I need fresh air and the sound of running water.

Fall is my favorite season, and Logan handles it fairly well. Even with a comfortable amount of urban sprawl you still manage to preserve some raw nature and farmland. The weather this year made for some great colors since we got more than the typical two-week buffer between summer and winter.

All talk of the season aside, it was a great walk that my Cannon Rebel and I had. We were interrupted by the occasional geriatric lovers and matching-shirt-clad family portraiteers, but all in all I cleared my head, which I was going to need clear for the ensuing weekend.

Check it out, TWIN benches :->

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Midnight Ramblings

I’m ok, it’s just a blog.

I think about death sometimes. Not in the pubescent “girl with a razor blade” sense, but in the logical sense. The academic sense. I look down the road ahead of me and read the road signs of crime, accident, decay and disease along with the signs of the times proclaiming the end of days with its tempests, earthquakes and rumors of wars.

The pendulum is poised and ready to swing, and the road ahead is long.

If all men die, and if I am sure to die then why not now? Would it really be better to take the risk of life? If my eyes do not open tomorrow I leave behind grieving parents, siblings and acquaintances. Yet, in that scene there is no weeping widow, there are no hungry children. There is no hurt that will not pass and no life that will go on hindered. No debts to be paid, no ripple in the vast sea of human existence.

There was a dream that was Rome, and I had a dream that was you. I would come home from work to find you waiting. We would fall into each others arms, cooing lullabies and drift to sleep. We would have the world at our feet and a song in our head and no one to share it with but ourselves. But you are not here waiting, you never were. You never said you would be and yet from the sands in a child’s hand I built a castle with turrets, spires, and impenetrable walls.

You think I’m talking about you. I’m not. I’m talking about something more than you.

If death is a symbol then I awoke one day to realize that I was lying in my grave, waiting for the diggers to begin. I blame you, and I blame myself. In the end it was only me and yet somewhere between hello and goodbye I was deceived. You convinced me to break my rules and then left me broken. You brought down my guard, needlessly, without purpose, and now I’m here.

So I wear black; because it looks good and because it feels right. Inside and out, a cold, distant and efficient man.

But he laughs, and he cries, and he looks great in his skin. He pays his taxes and mows the lawn. Do they see what happens when the door is closed, as he lies awake counting the stars? Do they see that no one is waiting, no lullaby is sung? Then again, should there be? Because the man in black has always been alone, he prefers it that way. He sees things not in how they are seen but in a way that only he understands, and only he cares. The trees fall but no one hears a sound.

And the clock ticks. It never stops, nor should it, nor will it. He hears its tick and he watches as the distance approaches with both darkness and light. He ties his shoes and wiggles his toes and takes a sharp breath devouring the air. Walking along he asks himself “If I had stopped to listen…would I be on this road tonight?”

No matter. There’s a storm ahead, and a storm behind but where he stands its only cloudy. The weather man says it’ll soon be sun, but why bother, it’s nice here and what the hell does a weatherman know. So he stops, in the median, and thinks about death. In the academic sense.

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An Excerpt/100th post

Apparently this is Wood’s Stock post number 100. I feel very accomplished, especially since my side project Wood Vs. Willis fizzled out at 27.

In a perfect world I would have planned something epic for number 100 but since I haven’t posted in a while I’m anxious to get something up. So, here’s the opening scene of a short fiction story I’m working on for an English class.

As you may notice, there’s a little bit of “Art imitating life” here, but in my opinion all fiction is auto-biographical. Burroway wrote that you love some of your characters because they remind you of yourself, and you hate other characters for the same reason.


Brent sat facing an empty desk. He tapped his foot on the floor and thought about the phone calls he needed to make. Outside, the sun was rising and the rays hit the blinds at just the right angle to enter the otherwise dimly lit room and produce a soft orange glow. Behind him the door shut, and he heard Mike walking back towards him.

“You know why I called you in here?” Mike asked slipping into his leather chair.

“I do.” He did.

“And you are aware that you screwed the pooch on that Bernstrum article?” Mike said, leaning forward and placing his hands on his desk, his fingers interlocking into one giant fist.

“I am.” He was.

Bernstrum, a local businessman, ran a rather successful appliance store that had just recently expanded into the tri-county area. He was a family man, a tithe-payer, and a lousy driver after a night out. Two weeks before, Bernstrum had wrapped his Hyundai around a particularly large tree. His passenger was a 17-year-old gem of a girl who at the time was wearing little more than the apron Bernstrum Appliance employees wore behind the register. The airbag, along with the bourbon bubbling its way to his liver, had knocked him out, meaning he didn’t have time to pull up his pants before the authorities and, more importantly, Brent arrived — camera in hand.

Sure, it was a decent enough story as it was; the kind of front page juice that made people look up from their pancakes and show their wives. Brent knew, however, that no misstep comes to the prom alone so he began to dig. Turns out Bernstrum funded his nights out with Tanya – the gem – with the help of some petty cash from the company and what was a nice little tale of “when good men go bad” was suddenly a good-old-fashioned scandal. His sources wouldn’t go on the record but Bernstrum was guilty as hell and no small-town broom-pusher was going to go through the hassle of a libel trial, so Brent slapped together a bundle of allegations and anonymous sources and sent the puppy off to print.

Ethical? Not even slightly. Brent knew the black, white and grey of journalism but in today’s market, where everyday another paper went under, the only ethics that he cared about was what got readers to the page. His editor, Mike, thought the exact same thing but had to play his part, which is why he was sitting, just then, in Mike’s office getting his slap on the wrist.

“If this guy sues us–”

“You can’t sue unless your rich or you’re innocent,” Brent said, “and Walter Bernstrum is neither. The guy is already waist deep in statutory quicksand and he knows that if he starts to squawk libel then the authorities will look into his finances and find the same things I did – the legal way – and then we’re home free.”

Mike was silent for a moment. He closed his eyes against a mental strain and let out a slow purposeful breath.

“All right, we’re safe. But that doesn’t change the fact that you broke every rule in the book, no listen to me, you built a story on unsubstantiated claims and published defamatory information without a single source.”

“It’s true, who cares who said it,” Brent said.

“The readers expect—”

“The readers don’t expect shit and you know it,” Brent said. “You think they asked themselves ‘gee, I’m not sure if this information in credible’? No, they laughed at that a stupid man was dumb enough to get caught and then turned to the funnies at the back.”

Another moment passed and Mike leaned back in his chair.

“You’re off the news desk.”

“Wait just one—”

“No, you know that I’m being soft. If you were anyone else you’d be sitting on your hands for month. Cameron has a story for you, we’ll talk again in a couple of weeks.”

“Mike, come on—”

“No,” Mike said, grabbing a pen and working at a paper on his desk. “You’d better get going on her story if you want to get paid this month.”

Brent sat staring at the top of Mike’s bald head. In truth, he had expected this. It wasn’t the first time he had been exiled to the features section for bad behavior. Most of the writers would kill for the bump to features but not Brent, he was a news man through and through. He knew there was no use arguing, mostly because it was less an argument than a mere formality, so with a sigh he got up and headed out to the newsroom.

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