Saturday, March 24, 2007

Reach Out and Touch Someone . . .

today . . . i used a pay phone! no, seriously, i did. it was dirty and smelled of cigarettes, but i was able to make a call to Andy, and it totally worked.

"but, mike," you may be wont to ask, "what's a payphone? is that like a pre-paid cell phone or something?" ok, well, here's how it works. there are large boxes with anitque style hand set recievers on them, and buttons that you have to push to make a call. oh, and you have to insert coin money into them to get them to work. these boxes are attatched to their surroundings - not portable.

in exchange for this coin money - 50 cents these days (yes, dig deep into those pockets, or go buy something and get change), you can talk to your friends and family on their mobile phones. because, obviously you either forgot to plug yours in, or are from 1983.

also, it seems that you can call anywhere in the country for 50 cents these days. oh, and you can call international for a dollar. thats pretty good. maybe just airport pay phones work that way these days.

remember when pay phones used to only cost a quarter? no? well, i do. my mother used to always admonish me to have an extra quarter or two with me at all times, in case there was an emergency and i needed to make a call. that was back in the days of land lines and car phones.

and i remember when pay phones became 35 cents. what a pain that was, to come up with an extra dime.

who would have thought that, in this world of modern technology, where people would rather have a wierd ear parasite than potentially engage in face to face interpersonal communication, the good old fashioned pay phone would still prove relevant and usefull. well, usefull at any rate. i mean, payphones are so pase, that Andy took a picture of himself with one that we found the other day, because it seemed like such a novelty.

rember the days when people didnt seem afraid to talk to strangers on the street? you could just walk up to anyone else walking on the street and politely ask them for information, like directions, or the location of the nearest payphone.

i guess a diatribe on my feelings of the cell phone breeding interpersonal disconnect in our society are for aonther day. as it stands, i'm just glad that the pay phone actually worked.

Friday, March 23, 2007

We Found The State Line

so, in preparation for my departure from the country, i drove my car up to UT. i have nowhere to park it in LA, for an extended period, but i can park it at my brothers place in Alpine, as long as i can get my Uncle Vince to move his broken down Fiat's out of the way (why doesn't he just keep them at his own house? nobody knows. . . but i wouldnt want them at my house either). so its a good excuse to come hang out for a day, and stop in Vegas to see Jordan and Meg and their new baby Noah.
I met my brother in St. George, where he had to hang some pictures for work, and we went and drove the pathfinder around the desert a little. we found the state line, and the perfect place to cut firewood, apparently.
now, i'm hanging in Provo for the day. seeing the siblings. i was going to check out dan's new office, but i guess i wont have time. i'm back to LA in the morning.

a side note. i often forget how infuriating it is to drive in UT. the drivers here are the worst. when i was in college here, i used to try to give them the bennefit of the doubt. but now i just wish i could give them all driving lessons. lesson 1 - the meaning of multiple lanes (some are for driving faster, some are for driving slower) lesson 2 - the meaning of that blinking light at the 4 corners of a car. . . . (hint, its for signaling when one wishes to turn, or change lanes)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Summer In Berlin

well, its official . . . i will be missing the Ratatat concert on April 2. But i dont mind, cause i'm totally going to see Berlin instead! (take my breath away. . . ) BOO-YAH! and, witty puns and references aside (riding on the metro, ahh ah) i am super excited to have an excuse to live and work in a foreign country. "But, Mike," you may be thinking, "didn't you just get a new job working on Speed Racer?" well, funny you should ask. i DID, in fact, just get a new job on Speed Racer. and, it just so happens that this job is the one taking me to Deutchland! i stalled telling due to the fact that i had not, untill today, gotten my itenerary.

well, my friends, i will officially be flying on the 26 of March, from LAX, on Lufthansa, with a brief layover in Fankfurt, arriving in Berlin at 12:45 (approx) on, i can only assume, the 27th. my return is currently scheduled for Sept. 5th, and lets keep our fingers crossed that it stays that way. The longer the better, i say.

needless to say, as much as i hate packing, and the logistics of leaving a place i've been living in for the better part of 2 years, i am SO ready to get out of LA. and what better excuse than to be working on an excellent project with exciting people? i am looking forward to reuniting with my friend Dorian, with whom i worked on Stealth (yes, that cinematic masterpiece - but, hey, its what got me the job!), as well as connecting with some other animation related friends who live in Europe. most notably Jan, with whom i hope to eat some white asparagus, and Wojtek, who's new film i hope to see, as soon as its done.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Demon on Wheels

YES! I get to work on a new adaptation of Speed Racer! inexplicably one of my favorite anime cartoons, ever!

ever since i was in college, i have wanted to do a remake of this classic show. but the Wachowski Brothers beat me to it. . . luckily, i get to work on it! i am SO geeking out.

yes, i did buy the box set the day discovered it on the shelves, back in '02. yes i did carve my most recent pinewood derby car into the shape of the Mach 5.
Go, Speed Racer, GO!

Burn This Mother DOWN!

is it just me, or are you ever set upon by morbid thoughts of destruction. the one i find myself having most is: sometimes i just wish that everything i own would go up in flames. burn to the ground. be reduced to unrecognizable ashes. i get this feeling most when i am packing my stuff, in anticipation of some sort of move.

being that i am a pack rat, i generally have too much stuff. it seems to be genetic, from my fathers side. i become sentimentally attatched to the most worthless items (dont throw away that plastic wind up walking tea pot! it reminds me of when i went to siggraph, this one time. no, i dont remeber when. . . yes, im sure they'll make more . . . no, you cant throw that one away.) so, i find myself plagued with these morbid thoughts of distruction. if all of my stuff just burned down (or . . . up . . .) , i would be without the burden of things. i could start over. it would be all new. fresh. then i realize that i would probably just buy all the same stuff over again, and nothing would really be solved. then i am afraid that my stuff will burn down. . . cause then i'd lose all of those pictures of places i went with people. all those sketch books and edless piles of fine art that i have generated over the years. the few pieces of hand made furniture crafted by my father. the guitar that my grandmother gave me, which illicits the envy of most guitar shop techs. the only piece of written history of my grandfathers time in WWII, which i hurredly wrote in a notebook in the car one sunday afternoon on the way home from church, when he finally and uncharacteristically opened up about it, and those G.I. Joes that Cubby gave me for my birthday.

thats when i then fear that my stuff WILL burn up, if i keep having these strange little wishes for it to happen.

i hope my stuff doesnt burn up. ever.

be careful what you wish for.

another one bites the dust

in keeping with my "why do people keep hitting me?" motif for the month, i submit my newest exhibit - the new bike helmet. though hard to see from the picture, it's smashed on the side from an impact. namely - my head impacting the asphalt on san vicente.

this makes 3 broken helmets due to bike crashes for me. however, this is the first one which was not directly due to a fault of my own.

on friday morning, after nearly a full week of jonesing for a bike ride, i finally got on the ol' road b bike and headed out for a spin. i started by heading west on broadway, towards the coast. the plan was to hit the coast, head north to san vicente, take that up to 26th, loop back to the coast, and then back down to broadway and home. not a huge circut, but a fun one, and would offer a good little exercise jaunt. i like this route because it makes a nice loop, and also because there is a designated bike path along the whole route.

now, i will say that one of my biggest fears on these roads is not getting hit by a car, which is a fairly obvious fear/obstacle/problem, but having someone open there door on me without enough warning to miss it.

well, friday morning it finally happened. as i headed up san vicente from the coast, i was just getting warmed up, thinking about my day, and wondering why the lady on the sidewalk was straddling her dog and talking on her cell phone, when suddenly - WHAM! there was a door in front of me, and over the handle bars i went. now, i didnt hit a fully opened door, or one that had been open for a while - i hit the end of the door, where it connects to the car, as it was just being opened, and quickly. at least, thats how i remember it. in any case, i went head first into the pavement - good bye new helmet, thank goodness i was wearing it - and rolled over my right side, as i am normally want to do when crashing, not unlike an albatros. . .

so, luckilly there were no cars anywhere to run over my head, now in the middle of the road, and luckily i wasnt going fast enough to actually hurt myself more than a little headache, road rash and sore neck. i went to the hospital just to make sure. they gave me some heavy duty muscle relaxers, which work too well, if you ask me (sleeping for 11 hours? whats up with that!?)

so, i have gotten a red helmet this time . . . hopefully it will make me more visible than my sliver one . . .
here's to hoping.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Costco, how could you . . .

i hate to say it, but costco has finally let me down. i was afraid that their perfect track record with respect to myself was too good to be true - and apparently it was. i am seriously disappointed in the new development.

last week, i went to costco to get some new tires put on my pathfinder. currently, the tires becoming more bald and less safe with ever passing mile on my car are Michellin 255/65 R16's. a fine tire for the highway, and around town, but, as my brother so astutely pointed out the othe day, after my tailpipe became detatched from my auto, i should get better tires - ones that are meant to be used off of the road - because i'm allways taking my auto off of the road anyways, and breaking things off of it. well, his wisdom is sound, so i decided to get the BF Goodrich T/A KO tire. a tire specifically designed for autos like mine, to give a little more off road performance, while still being decent around town.

so, i went to costco, and they said that they could put the BF Goodrich tires on, if i ordered them on the internet. so, i went home, ordered the nearest size i could find - the 245/70 R16's. these tires would fit on my car. they are, however, a bit taller and a bit skinnier than my current tire. i couldnt order these tires for my Pathfinder 'SE', however, i could order them for the Pathfinder 'XE'. so i did. the rim is the same size, so, the tires would fit. and i think they would fit well. in an earlier conversation with a costco employee, it was discussed that i could put 255/70 R16's on my truck, no problem. there was even a michellin version of the same tire i currently have in that slightly taller size. i figured, a slightly skinnier tire would be fine as well, i mean, the only thing that really matters is the rim size.

so, my tires were ordered and one week later they arrived at costco. i was so excited to get new awesome tires! but it was not to be!

well, apparently costco is not allowed to put a tire on a car that is skinnier than the existing tire. and they have very specific sizing charts saying which tires they can and can not put onto a car. well. . . . according to costco today, the only tires the will even consider putting on my car are new Michellin's - the same as the ones that are currently on it. even though the new BFG tires would have fit. they claimed that the skinniness was the problem, so i asked if they could appropriately help me order 255/70 R16's, because BFG doesn't offer the T/A KO in a /65 model. then they confessed that they could only put on a tire that is the exact same size as the current tire. the only one being the road worth michellin

now, to Costco's credit, BF Goodrich does not say on their website that the tires i want are appropriate for my car. however - i am not the average user. and if the tire fits on the rim, i should be able to put it on my car, if i want to. so, now i have to find a place that will put the tires on my car. the service guy thought maybe SEARS could and would. the real disappointment here was that i had to waste a week and a half to find this out. now, i have a severly abbreviated time frame before i have to leave the country. who knows if i'll be able to get the tires i want . . .

Monday, March 12, 2007

Nerds are funny

today, Dan sent me one of the best comic strips ever. . . no, its not always funny, but who cares. the guy makes it cause he likes to, and he makes enough money to make it his job, so, i'm glad he does, and i'm a little jealous. and, even though i'm not smart enough to get all of the jokes (no, i get the jokes, sort of, as in: why they are funny, or, supposed to be funny. i just dont know anything about physics, so i'm sure they would be funnier if i did)

yes, i wasted a large portion of my day reading nearly every comic. yes, i bought a t-shirt.

here are a few strips that made me think of people i know. if you dont get it, dont worry about it, you're just not as cool as us.

(ok, this one more for the "writing about it in the blag" than for the real subject matter of mispronunciation)

Solvang . . .

i never posted about the trip, but morgan did. . . here's a highlight.

bummer. . .

in three parts.

part one: my little digital cam in acting up. it just doesnt want to play anymore. it has decided not to open its lens . . . so i can take no more interesting pictures. this is a major bummer. i wanted to take pictures today of my beach cruiser and my road bike. the cruiser because i have spent the majority of the morning and eary afternoon riding around on it running errands, and i wanted to brag to the virtual world about how my life is better than theirs, and the road bike because i never took a picture of it. my cell phone is also acting up, and i cant send or recieve picture messages, so i cant take a picture with that either - for those of you technophiles who would immediately point me in that direction. yes, i've already tried it. i dont know why the fates had conspired against my visual accumen, but oh well.

my head feels funny. is it allergies? is it something else? maybe i will take a claratin and find out if that helps. i dont like it when my head feels funny.

my car . . . oh my poor car. why do people keep hitting it? is it because of andy? is he my bad luck charm? in the last two weeks, he has been in my car both times, and both times it has been hit. did i mention that he also dropped his motorcycle on it? it left just a little dent in the door, hardly worth worrying about, but was that the beginning of the end for my poor auto? two weeks ago, on the way to church, i was side swiped by a little lady who decided to turn right from the left lane rather sporadically (we were both heading in the same direction). unfortunately, i was in the right lane. how she failed to see my not-so-tiny pathfinder driving exactly to the side of her rater-tiny toyota matrix i fail to comprehend. but she did, and she rubbed my car a little bit. not too bad, her insurance is taking care of it. but its a hassle. two nights ago, on saturday, as andy and morgan and i headed to hollywood to get a little bite to eat at one of our fave little hollywood-kitch cafe's, i got tapped in the back on the 10, in traffic, by a girl in a ford torus. i didnt stop. i didnt want to deal with it. i know my car may be dammaged, but the tap was so light that morgan didnt even feel it. i've been tapped before, at higher speeds, with no resulting damage, but i think this one may have thrown out my alignment a little. so, i guess i'll have to get that checked. i'm not concerned about the cost, just the fact that it is a hassle bugs me. i suppose some of you are saying "hey idiot, you should have stopped" but i dont really care. the thing that bugs me is: why do people insist on hitting my car? i mean, if it was something i was doing, driving irresponsibly, or being retarded, then i could understand, but in both instances, i was being extremely responsible (believe it, dad). sooo . . . whatever. i just dont understand why people keep hitting my car. . . .

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Be-ACH! or, How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Pathfinder

Ok, lets be serious - I never worried, and I love my pathfinder. I love adventure. I love adventuring in my pathdfinder. I don't know what i'll do if i ever have to get another auto.
i will admit that i am stuck on the top of this wussy little hill. i will also, however point out that i only got stuck in the soft sand on top of the hill, which i only decided to go up after the tacoma in the BG couldn't do it. he got pissed, and tried to go up the bigger hill. well, guess what. he's stuck on that big hill. sooo . . .

luckily, our trucks were competent enough to be able to back out of our holes. . . for those less competent . . . well, there are solutions.
now, i do recomend driving your auto off road as much as possible. take the "road less traveled" as it were. i also recomend full comprehension of the clearance of your auto, or, your tailpipe might fall off. . .

yes, i did surgically remove the hanging tailpipe from the bottom of my auto with my bare hands. yes, i did feel manly. is this a good idea? well, if you are driving a short distance, its no problem. . . if you are driving a long distance, it is admittedly better to get it fixed before you go. . .
i love camping out. i love people in the desert. or, in this case, in the desert by the beach.
camping out with the peeps on the pismo dunes was way cooler than i could have ever expected. i recomend it.
p.s. eat your heart out tom.

I should have done this years ago

holy crap, where have i been? well . . . LOTS OF PLACES! but first things firs, i have been riding my new road bike. i love my new road bike. i have wanted one for about 2 years, but i just kept putting it off. finally, i did my taxes, and when i saw the tax return i was getting, i realized that i could get a bike! Than YOU, U.S. Government, for giving me a bike back.
(not the actual bike, but close enough . . . real picture to come)

so, what did i get? i got an '05 Sacttante CFR. "But, Mike," you may be thinking, "i have never heard of a Scattante, and that name sounds a little gay . . . " or "nice, but what does scattante mean anyways" (it has something to do with speed, in italian) to which i can only respond . . . me too. i had never heard of the brand, it is the Performance house brand, it turns out. But i dont need a name brand bike, and in all of my road bike searching, there seemed to be only one constant - not "how the frame feels" or "these components are the best" but "if you can do anything to get into a carbon bike, do it. get as much carbon on your bike as you can . . ." soooo, i was over at performance checking out bikes, and i saw this one. its black, has a full ultegra setup, flat spoke wheels, and a full carbon frame, which is pretty amazing. so, i bought it, considering it cost a couple hundred less than any other bikes i tried, and it was less than half the price of the next best full carbon frame in my size from this year. . . . so, i've been riding it, and it is excellent. it weighs 18 lbs.

here are the things i have learned:

for components, Shimano is the standard. with the componentry quality going "105", "Ultegra", "Dura Ace". now, what does this mean? for mountain bikers, its is most clearly translated as the relationship between "LX", "XT", and "XTR" respectively.

for frames, you got aluminum, aluminum with carbon fork and seat stays, full carbon. these days, all bikes come standard with carbon forks. carbon seat stays are "standard" for a price, and, of course, full carbon is the bomb. now, what does this mean? why is it important? apparently, carbon is good, not because it is light and strong, but for two things, mainly: vibration dampening, and speed transferral. because it is a more rigid material than aluminum, that is - it flexes less - the power of pedaling is sent straight to the wheels, and is not lost in the frame. however, even though it is a more rigid material, it disperses vibration better. that is, the intensity of the little road bumps that you feel under your hard as rock, skinny as a rail tires are somewhat reduced. mountain bikers: think "shocks", to a degree. . . a much lower degree . . . now, this vibration dampening doesnt nessecarily matter for short rides - you wont notice it so much after 20 miles. but it is apparently extremely helpful over the long haul, to help reduce fatigue, etc. hence - get as much carbon as you can. one bike shop guy - who must be sponsored - said that he had been riding a $3000 aluminum frame, that "they" had given him, and he "wasnt supposed to be seen on anything else" but one day he got on a bike that had carbon seat stays, and couldnt believe the difference that they made in dissipating the road vibrations. now, thats nice, comming from a shop guy, who, as nice as they are, you have to assume is trying to upsell you at every corner, but on my test rides, i noticed the same thing! even on a short around the block run. so, i am all for having carbon on the bike. am i convinced that full carbon is better than just seat stays and fork? for the "retail" money, no. but, then again, i dont get paid to race or ride my bike.

so, the verdict: i got my bike for $1000. a deal for a full carbon bike with an ultegra setup - i got the deal because it is an '05 frame. which bike would i love to own, if money was no object and someone was going to give it to me tomorrow? well, i road almost every bike out there, and, hands down the Specialized Tarmac was the "best" bike i road. it was comfortable and seemed to have nearly instant power transferral. how can i tell? um . . . yeah, i dont know, it just seemed that way. is it worth the money? um . . . no. not for me, at least. not now. i'll let you know if that changes. but for now, i love my scattante, in all its carbon fiber glory.
(specialized tarmac, bike of the future)