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another installment of the LLR book club

By September 22, 2009 geekery

When I’m not out busting-up vampire dens at the crack of dawn, or teaching the underprivileged kids at Breakdance Summer Camp, I like to spend hours playing Xbox 360 catch-up on my geek sci-fi/fantasy novels. Here’s a sampling of two of my favorite, recent reads from my book club (in which I am the sole member):

The MagiciansThe Magicians by Lev Grossman
This is the perfect book for folks who enjoy the Harry Potter, or for those who didn’t have much time to spend in Hogwarts (or thought that reading a series of children’s books was creepy). The Magicians follows young Quentin Coldwater’s enrollment at Brakebills magical university, where all the college students lead not-so-enchanted lives. It’s a story full of angst, sex, and magic gone horribly wrong – and in my opinion, does everything right.

Eternal PrisonThe Eternal Prison by Jeffrey Sommers
This is the third book in the ‘Avery Cates’ series, so I’m really doing a recommendation of three books here. The first book, The Electric Church was so compelling and cleverly paced that I tore through it in just over a day – the other two didn’t even last that long. The series takes place in a grim cyberpunk future, following gunner Avery Cates as he barely scrapes from one near-death situation to the next. If you’re into hard-edge sci-fi or daydream about all the badass things you’d say preceding a barfight, then I can’t recommend these books enough.

I would have mentioned Chasing Dragons (the latest Quantum Gravity novel by Justina Robson), but my Amazon delivery never made it to my door, so that little review will have to wait. I also read Ender’s Game again, now as an adult, reaffirming my belief that it’s truly one of the greatest science fiction novels of our time, though in good conscience I can’t write any more than that because I think the author is a total dickhole.

Anyway, this concludes another exciting installment of the LLR Book Club!

Meeting dismissed…

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taken three years ago today!

By September 9, 2009 geekery, Meta, PDX, Photography

I can’t believe how quickly the past few years have gone by! Although, I think that being in a different state and having a kid since our wedding definitely help skew my perception of time now. It’s been a wonderful three years with my lovely wife, KyAnn (six, really).

I can’t remember if I posted this pic last year on our anniversary, so I’m pasting it here again (though it doesn’t matter since my blog was obliterated since then anyway).

three years ago today!

Our wedding photographer wasn’t exactly the person we hired – she was a freelancer for the PDX wedding photographer we signed with. Though it doesn’t matter. I really liked her (her spikey hair fit right in with all our friends and family), and I think she did a fantastic job.
Anyway, when I uploaded this photo to flickr today I noticed the EXIF meta data embedded in the file and saw that our wedding was mostly shot with a Canon Rebel XT. No fucking way! I think she also had a 20D, but I didn’t even pay that much attention since my focus was elsewhere and everywhere.
Looking further into her camera settings, I’ve been able to reverse-engineer her shooting mode and setup. She locked the ISO, played it safe, and took some amazing shots. It really changes my perception of what gear I may actually need for some odd wedding photography jobs. For some reason, I didn’t even want to get into all that unless I had a camera at least in the tier above the Rebel series, or even go into a shoot with only one DSLR. But now that I have my 5Dm2 (and some serious glass), I’m thinking that my Rebel XTi – maxed out – might be a suitable secondary camera.
So now I’m thinking of uploading more wedding pics, just to look at the meta data. I can’t go back in time to chat-up the wedding photographer again, but this is definitely the next best thing. If you want to see more pics, our wedding video is posted after the post-break). Read More

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Not an uneventful weekend

By September 8, 2009 geekery, Meta

It’s Monday and I’m back behind my desk at work, blogging getting caught up on stuff after a lovely, three day weekend. As I was going through the motions, it didn’t seem like a whole lot of interesting stuff was going on, but now that I look back – it was rather eventful weekend. Here’s the breakdown:

1. Picked mother-in-law up at the airport, soon followed by two rounds of watermelon margaritas at Pappacitos.

2. Played a ton of Gears of War 2 with my brother, and virtual meatshield, Tater. He might not always take cover when necessary, but he does a smashing job of covering my butt while I run to the ammo resupply.

3. Saw Tarantino’s brilliant (and charmingly historically inaccurate) Inglorious Basterds and LOVED it – especially the random David Bowie song in the soundtrack. There is no way that nazi guy won’t get a Best Supporting Actor oscar nod.

4. Went to Gospel Brunch at House of Blues on Sunday. Even as a non-believer, there’s nothing quite like having a full gospel chorus singing and dancing while you sway in your seat, gobbling-up sausage and bacon.

5. Went to Bollywood dance festival at Miller Outdoor Theater. They played that “Jai Ho” song only thirty seconds into the show; kinda like Skynryd opening with Freebird. We stuck around long enough to see the Bollywood tribute dance to Michael Jackson’s Thriller – less zombies, but with more flair and unusual hand gestures.

6. Both my mother-in-law and I were violently ill with probable food poisoning late Sunday night (we think it was the pimento cheese), and spent much of the following day recovering, watching TLC marathons of Toddlers and Tiaras and Hoarders.

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September, I am ready for you.

By August 31, 2009 geekery, Photography

This is the first post in my “update the blog every day through the end of September” initiative, launching today at LLR-HQ.

i spy...

This weekend my family, and some fabulous out-of-town visitors, did some exploring around the Houston area. I finally got a chance to check out the Kemah Boardwalk, and scratch that off the list. If you want a random burst of fun this morning, crank up your speakers, head over to the Kemah website, and listen to their ‘rockin’ jingle. “The fun never stops at Kemah Boardwalk!”]

What else? I’ve been spending the past few weeks trying (sometimes unsuccessfully) to get all kinds of random projects and work-related stuff finished up. It’s mainly to get ready for more random projects and work-related projects, but also to prepare for the onslaught of new television shows and Xbox games that will start invading my home media center early this month. Basically, I’ve got a few weeks to get my stuff together before Halo:ODST drops, and I’m playing firefight mode all the time. Tomorrow I plan on posting my “watch list”, so if you have any good Fall viewing tips, let me know.

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driving through the car wash

By August 14, 2009 geekery, Photography

Yesterday afternoon before I went through the car wash, I decided to set up my Canon 5D2 in the rear window area, shooting back towards the driver’s seat. I wanted some high definition scrubbing going on.

driving through the car wash from JL Watkins on Vimeo.

I chopped off the extra footage on both ends of the movie, and then sped it up to a more bearable running time. It was an impulse idea, so next time I go through the car wash I have a plan to make it better. (Like not having a tripod on the passenger seat, for example)

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citizen robot (circa 1941)

By July 9, 2009 geekery, Photography

citizen robot (circa 1941)

While cleaning off an ancient old laptop, I came across a random folder overflowing with Canon RAW files. Upon opening a few of them, I realized that they were alternate takes from my 2004 “vote robot!” diorama photo that I never touched again processing the original photo.

So now, I’m going back through them and trying out different film stock filters on various shots. There are some that are considerably different, and are gonna be a fun side project. I think this one now looks way more Citizen Cane than its previous incarnation.

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Thursday Geek Links – July 9

By July 9, 2009 geekery

I know it’s still Wednesday, but I’m just jumping ahead on my imaginary ‘blogging duties’ and dropping these two fun, links I was enjoying earlier this evening. Also, there’s only two because I already forgot the other million funny things I’ve looked at in the past two days (I really need to start using stumbleupon or something).

1Marvel Universe “Hook-up” Chart – I think it’s actually called the ‘relationship map’, but it’s a insanely detailed diagram/tree, charting all the romantic affairs (including those in alternate universes) between characters in the Marvel U. Kinda give a whole new meaning to the mantra, “Avengers Assemble!” I like how Wolverine has the most links to other characters. Imagine how many more connections he’d have if he could remember the past 40 years! Also, I sorta wished that the the Avenger’s butler, Jarvis turned out to be a surprise lothario. [via Geekologie]

2 [Insert Psycho screeching shower scene music here] – Every now and again I’ll go back and revisit “Shining”, the viral-version of the trailer for The Shining, but recut to look like a feel good, family film. Well, I recently came across this awesome collection of similarly recut trailers making films like You’ve Got Mail, Mrs. Doubtfire, and even Mary Poppins (!!!) look like horror/suspense films. Most of them have been around for a while, but I also stumbled across a few that were an unexpected surprise. [via Urlesque]

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moonwalking the zombie apocalypse

By July 7, 2009 Eliza, geekery, Photography

As every minute bit of Michael Jackson lore is unearthed, his influence on pop culture becomes even more apparent as all the many connections he had to the music, film and TV industry are increasingly highlighted. Right now, I love finding bits-and-pieces, or samples of his work, in songs by other artists.

Here’s a mp3 stream of my favorite piece of MJ sampling: the rolling synth line from Thriller

Prodigy – “The Way It Is”

Michael Jackson already has his place firmly cemented in zombie pop culture, but doesn’t that song just make you ready to slice-up the zombie horde with a chainsaw, or mow down the rising dead in a stolen Range Rover? I don’t know. Maybe I play too much Xbox. Anyway, in keeping with the apocalyptic theme of this post, here are two other, similarly faux-eighties-old-school-zombie-fighting anthems that are already in my iPod for when “Z Day” drops:

Evil Nine – “They Live!”

Kavinsky – “Wayfarer”

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we’ll get through this together

By July 7, 2009 geekery, Photography

we'll get through this together

I was cleaning up my daughter’s toys the other day (mouse trap not included) and decided that her little, plush mice would make for some interesting photo scenes. Tonight, I shot the first of my new series…and yes, it’s a little darker than I originally intended. The next one will be much cuter, I promise.

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Monday links roundup – July 6, 2009:

By July 6, 2009 geekery, PDX

Here’s a quick list of things that caught my attention this morning while cruising the web before work:

1Top 10 Ironic Ads from History – This Consumerist article has some awesome items on the list, including a James Dean safe driving PSA and an advertisement about wrapping toddlers in cellophane.

2Better on the Other Side – Saw a segment on HLN this morning about how The Game and his colleagues threw together a tribute song to Michael Jackson (complete with music video) in 15 hours after the singer’s death. The song/video are decent, but I really liked the whole behind-the-scenes aspect of why and how they all got it done. I’m trying to find that video right now.

3Best Buy to Start Selling Green Vehicles – According to the WSJ, my favorite big box chain is about to start selling “green machines” in their stores. Stuff like Segways, scooters, and the like. Not sure how effective this will be, but anything has got to be better than going to a car dealership these days. Also, my bother once went to the mall to buy a compact disc and came home with a $14,000 truck, so maybe impulse buyers might be more likely to glide away on a Segway. The best part of this story: They’re starting it in PDX, naturally.

4District 9 – I haven’t heard much buzz about it, but I’m crazy obsessed with seeing District 9 when it comes out later this summer. I had to sit through several of those “commercials before the movies” things this weekend when I did my all day movie surfing extravaganza, and I saw numerous new clips of D9. Now I’ll see just about anything with aliens and robots blowing shit up, but the fact that it’s directed by Halo: Landfall‘ s Neill Blomkamp has made me rabid for this film’s release.


5Transformer Robot Really Transforms – Here’s the obligatory robot post in this list. It’s an underwhelming NASA/USC transforming robot, called Superbot, designed to someday murder humans and all their offspring ‘morph’ on lunar and mars missions to better traverse the landscape. Geekologie stated it best with: “…the only good Transformers are the first generation toys. And only in their packaging.” This robot seems kinda primitive, but I think once Skynet is up and running next year, we’ll see some major advances in robot technology.

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Is it July already?

By July 2, 2009 geekery

I just can’t believe how quickly these past few months have flown by! We went to Atlanta this past weekend for the NATAS Southeast Emmy Awards thing, which still proved to be fun even if neither Ky nor I were sent home with Emmy gold this year. It’s just an honor to be nominated, you know. (Perhaps the Lone Star Emmy nominations in a few months will bring some pleasant news).

Apart from “doing the family thing” I’ve just been trying to get everything organized in my life, both offline and online. You may have noticed some housekeeping going on here at LLR and some of my tertiary sites.
I’m flipping switches and knocking out projects.

Here’s a quick list of my current obsessions:

TelevisionTrue Blood, Royal Pains
Music – everything M.Ward (as per usual), Depeche Mode’s “Sounds of the Universe”, and White Lies. I just realized that I totally forgot to get the new Placebo album!
Video Games: Oblivion, Peggle, and I’m dying to get online and do some gaming with friends soon (Gears2 or Left4Dead anyone? I’m hungry for Horde/Survival modes).

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Salt water is not kind to the robot mind

By June 1, 2009 geekery, Photography

Here’s a little HD video I shot with my Canon 5DII of one of my robots being battered by sea water. Trust me, it looks pretty sweet in full HD. I’m probably going to have to upgrage my Vimeo account (and upload it there) to prove it.

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No time for duty free shopping!

By June 1, 2009 geekery

No time for duty free shopping!

Accidentally ending up in Montego Bay, Jamaica is the least of the problems for the Channel 6 news team. The sea water has already began rusting away the live van, and all their debit cards have been declined because they neglected to call their banks ahead of time to notify them that they would be in another country. Looks like they won’t be able to buy any fancy dinners to put on the expense report this time.

Of course, all of this contributed to them missing yet another live shot.

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That’s how I roll now.

By April 22, 2009 geekery

Gary Wann, promo jedi master

I snapped this photo of my boss, Gary our our way to lunch this afternoon. As you can see, we’re out on the streets, keeping it real. Last year I would have captioned this photo with something about how “moments later we challenged a local street gang to a breakdance battle”, but now that I’m 35 years-old, I realize that me and members of my crew are more like the “businessmen who threaten to shut down Breakdance Summer Camp unless they raise $25,000 by the end of the month”.

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