June 30, 2009

Thoughts on Transformers

Last night I dragged Laura and her 15 yr. old brother to go see Transformers ROTF. Lots of cool effects, lots of explosions, lots of the endless spinning camera, lots of juvenile humor, and lots of complicated plot with little time devoted to it. There were also nice nods to the original cartoon series. A few moments of characterization, and a scene ripped right out of Star Wars (dialogue and all).

Most of this was expected when I bought my ticket. What surprised me most about the film was the sheer amount of money it brought in opening weekend: $200 million. This surprises me because this movie (demographically) is aimed squarely at teenage guys. Laura’s brother Ty thought it was the BEST movie he had ever seen. And I still have enough connection with my teenage self that I found parts of it really enjoyable.

But 20 million people in one weekend is a much wider scope than teenage boys. It led us to speculation about the immaturity of our culture as a whole.

Immaturity is not necessarily an evil thing, and this movie is a great case study for that. The messages were never wrong (as opposed to something like James Bond). It supported courage, selflessness, commitment, loyalty. It just never understood or communicated them very well.

It is a natural part of any growth process. The real problem occurring if there is no (or downhill) growth which sadly pretty well describes America’s cultural history.

There are a couple of questions that arise; the first being is there any hope of our culture maturing? Or asked another way, has there been any other culture or civilization that has walked in mass maturity; or is immaturity the natural state of mass man after the Fall?

The other major question is: how does an individual keep their maturity in an immature culture (without becoming isolated or an elitist)?

In the meantime here are some pictures of my transformers:

June 29, 2009


I passed!

I already bought my transformers and I got the frog pop up. Feels good to not have to worry about this again. As long as they don't come out with another one…

June 25, 2009

Memorizing Acronyms

Nothing like studying for a three hundred dollar test that is technical difficult on top of just plain tricky to put a damper on a perfectly good summer weekend.

I will take the LEED certification test on Monday morning. At least I have plenty of motivation to study.

If I pass:
-very helpful to my professional career
-Corgan will pay for half the test
-Everyone at Corgan receives a pop-up with a frog on it congratulating me for passing
-Good sense of accomplishment
-I get to buy a Transformer or two

If I don’t pass:
-I am out $300
-I will eventually have to take said test again costing me another $300
-When I take it again it will be a newer (harder) version of the test
-I don’t get to buy any Transformers

In any case I will be happy to get it over with so I can start enjoying my free time again (at least until I take the AREs).

June 23, 2009


New Ghibli Film!
Coming in August!
Go Watch Now!


June 17, 2009


So I ran across a blog yesterday called Terrible Yellow Eyes which is a forum for fanart of Where the Wild Things Are. It inspired me to create some of my own:
Also have some sketches I did before I drew the finished picture (which Laura called too weird/scary):
Also go watch the trailer for the movie, if for nothing else than a great song by Arcade Fire: http://www.apple.com/trailers/wb/wherethewildthingsare/

June 12, 2009

15 Books

A fun exercise from Brian.

Fairly quickly, list 15 books that have shaped the way you view the world.

1. Tenth Anniversary Calvin and Hobbes (Waterson)
2. About Time (Davies)
3. Fables (Willingham)
4. Rural Studio (Mockbee)
5. Go Down Moses (Faulkner)
6. Crime and Punishment (Dostoevsky)
7. Form Space and Order (Ching)
8. A Collaboration with Nature (Goldsworthy)
9. Conversations With Students (Kahn)
10. East of Eden (Steinbeck)
11. Out of the Silent Planet (Lewis)
12. Till We Have Faces (Lewis)
13. Hobbit (Tolkien)
14. Circle of Quiet (L’Engle)
15. The Complete Fairytales (MacDonald)

June 9, 2009

Mom’s Blog

My mom started up a blog. Go and amuse yourselves with old pictures of my dad. www.reflections-karen.blogspot.com

And here are some old pictures I recently scanned in:

June 5, 2009

California Trip Part 3

For our last leg of the trip we traveled out of Yosemite, staying a night in Death Valley before spending a night in Los Angeles.

Don’t ever buy a Sebring. We were glad to have a convertible for the trip (in fact if you ever rent a car for a California roadtrip, I highly recommend a convertible), but this car barely survived the stresses I put on it (crossing mountains and LA traffic being the things that it hated me the most for).

The Bristle Cone Pine Forest was the best unplanned thing we did on the entire trip. After driving up into some smaller mountains, we hiked through a grove of these awe inspiring trees (with a great vista of the Sierra Nevadas in the background). They can live up to 5,000 years, making them the oldest living organism on earth. They grow in very twisted shapes and their wood coloring has a great spectrum. You really felt humbled in the presence of such old lives.

My trusty copilot.

The drive into the valley in front of Death Valley was more fun than driving into Death Valley proper.

Death Valley.

Devil’s Golf Course

Badwater basin, lowest point in the western hemisphere

A Coyote who was looking for handouts

The house we stayed in at Hollywood. Great old house in one of the rich neighborhoods above Sunset.

Our room.

A Frank Lloyd Wright house down the street from us.

The Getty center, a huge art museum complex designed by Richard Meir.

The Walt Disney Concert Hall designed by Frank Gehry.

The Santa Monica Pier

June 4, 2009

California Trip Part 2

The next leg of our trip was Yosemite National Park located high in the Sierra Nevada range.
Us with Yosemite Valley in the background. El Capitan on the left, Half dome way back there in the center, and Bridal Veil Falls on the right.

Laura and I played in the boulders.

Half Dome from Glacier point.

Me with a fallen Sequoia.

Half Dome from Glacier point.

We stayed in Housekeeping camp, which is located in the middle of the valley. It turned out to be a great place to stay, within easy access to all the park’s trails and waterfalls. You got a little unit which was three cinderblock walls, a curtain for the fourth wall, a bed, a patio with a table, a fire ring, and a bear box. There were shared bathrooms and showers.

Laura eating strawberry smores.

A view of Yosemite Falls and our camp (the little white specks in the river bend) from Glacier point.

We hiked up the mist trail early Wednesday morning. It was about 5 miles out and back with a 1000 ft elevation gain and it went right past Vernal Falls. Vernal Falls is the Merced river plunging 317ft over a granite cliff. It is a spectacular sight and I recommend this hike to anyone who is going to Yosemite, but be warned that it is named the mist trail for a reason. You hike up a staircase carved in the cliff just opposite of the falls and get soaked from the mist from the waterfall. It is actually really fun.

A rainbow followed us on our decent.

We drove out of the park on Tioga road, a mountain pass through the Sierra Nevadas. The top of the pass was just under 10,000 ft and covered with snow.

Tenaya Lake

Laura playing in the snow.

June 3, 2009

California Trip Part 1

Our first leg of the trip was driving up Hwy 1 from Los Angeles to Monterey, a drive which hugs the dramatic Pacific coast the majority of the way.

The one thing you can’t experience through the pictures is the smell. The cold ocean air moving over the wildflowers and grass creates a sweet aroma that rivals desert rain for my favorite olfactory experience.

Also pictures really don’t give the full sense of the severity of the drop offs.

Here is Laura on some “pig trails” we found down to the ocean.

McWay Falls

Bixby Bridge

Elephant Seals

Which we dubbed “Giant Fish smelling, Fart sounding, Slug Dogs” which is pretty self explanatory.

This is one of two very small cliff-hugging dirt roads we found.

The Salinas Valley

The Monterey Bay Aquarium

Laura watching some Jelly fish (which look flat in this pic due to the glass).

The Sea Otters are worth the price of admission.