Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Florida Move Update: Staying in Hotels I Can’t Afford

Picture from the Universal Orlando website.

In a little over a month, Nicole and I will be heading back to Florida to look at potential apartments and attempt to avoid bug ridden slums. It’s quite frustrating evaluating apartments online, as one can find a website with great photos and glowing comments about a place, and then find a seething tempest of hatred in the reviews by former tenants. We’re not looking for the most spectacular apartment ever, just one that is affordable, safe, pleasant, and big enough that we can actually fit our stuff this time. Winning the lottery would certainly help in this search.

Our current plans have us leaving on October 9th and spending 3 days and 2 nights searching the area around Orlando for decent living accommodations. This process is going to be a bit exhausting, I’m sure, and possibly even a little stressful. I’m hoping it will go smoothly, but apartment hunting is a tricky, unpredictable business.

Monday, August 30, 2010

My Animatronic Friend

Picture from Garner Holt's website (The builder of this Oogie Boogie animatronic).

The internet was made for people that like getting lost down rabbit holes. Today I started my groggy morning by reading the regular Monday update of Miceage, a Disney Parks discussion board and news site, with emphasis on Disneyland. Monday is dedicated to construction and renovation updates around Disneyland and California Adventure. Greeting me in this update was the following photo (originally found on a twitter account called "MurphyTracker"):

Friday, August 27, 2010

NSP Review: Despicable Me Original Soundtrack

Image from Amazon.com

This year in movies has been pretty good for me so far. How to Train Your Dragon, Toy Story 3, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, and Despicable Me have all been winners, hitting both themes of maturity and complete silliness and oddity. Despicable Me is one of the biggest surprises, as I expected some Shrek-like reference fest with lots of scatological humor. Instead, I found a film that combined the emotion and heart of the Pixar films with the absurd physical humor of classic Looney Tunes, and somehow made it work beautifully. Plus, it featured the protagonist, Gru, punching a shark in the face, which is always a good time.

The soundtrack of the movie also tries to blend a party atmosphere with sweeter moments, and doesn’t manage to succeed quite as well. Part of the problem is that it’s a short album. There are only 10 tracks total, 2 of which are classic disco tunes “Boogies Fever” by The Sylvers and “You Should Be Dancing” by the Bee Gees.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Revenge of the Fear Sombrero: Universal Studios Taunts Me

The thing featured in that video above is called “Fear,” at least so far, and he’s the icon (host monster) for Halloween Horror Nights XX. A few weeks ago I wrote about my fascination with, but dislike of attending these Horror festivities, with my own suggestion of a “Fear Sombrero” for those of us with a more cowardly nature. (See said article for a full explanation, but to summarize, I suggested horror attractions let people who don't want to be scared wear a silly, obvious hat to let the actors know not to bother them.) With the theme and haunted house list officially released, I can now see that someone at Universal Studios Orlando is taunting me.

First of all, knowing that I’m a chicken and don’t like being scared, they go and make the theme of the entire event “Fear.” The event is already about making people change their underwear repeatedly, that theme just adds a bullet point in blood to my least favorite aspect of said events.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Gabe Vs. The Insects

One of the many creatures I'm actually not bothered by. I just didn't want to look at the ones that do bother me.
Photo from The Commons on Flickr.

I am not a fearless person, as I’ve established before. This is especially true when it comes to tornado spawning thunderstorms, needles, and various insects of a certain disturbing ilk. Unfortunately, something of these exact creatures are numerous in Florida, and I’m having to face the possibility I may have to face them one on one.

I find 99% of living things some level of cute, even ones that I wouldn’t hug with a 10 foot pole. I’m not sure how I’d hug something with a 10 foot pole, but I’m sure I’d fine a way. There’s a spider that lives on my car I consider a surrogate pet almost, and I find the Komodo Dragon at the zoo adorable. I’m pretty sure he finds that I look like a 5 course meal.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

NSP Review: Los Lobos Goes Disney

Image from Amazon.com

To those just joining us, on our previous entries I have professed my undying love for both things Disney and music. Surprisingly, my love of both does not often cross paths. While I do like some music from Disney films, and I do love the atmospheric music at the theme parks, I don’t generally go out of my way to listen to it. There’s so much great music in the world that it barely crosses my mind.

That is, until I saw a relatively new (okay, released late 2009) collection by Los Lobos. The album, entitled “Los Lobos Goes Disney,” is a bunch of covers of various Disney songs from both movies and the parks. Los Lobos have a definite connection with Disney, including providing the theme song to preschooler beloved Handy Manny. Thus, the album isn’t exactly out of left field, though I was definitely interested to see how the Lobos incorporated their Chicano rock with Disney classics.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Unbearable Heaviness of a Bazillion CDs

Image from The Telegraph UK.

Note: Yes, a bazillion. You expect me to count all these things?

Now that work’s last big event for the year is finished, as we’re spending most of the year’s remainder reorganizing and planning, it's time to seriously plan out my quickly approaching move. One of the biggest obstacles I face is the unholy load of general clutter that Nicole and I have collected over our life. For me, one of the leading contributors to this mess is my out of control cd and dvd collection.

I’m sure there are many young men of my age that have far larger collections, but what I do have takes up way too much space in our apartment, and spreads its tentacles across every other surface. I can’t go a day without knocking over some random pile of music or movies. I predominately listen to music on my computer or in my car on my iPod, but I refuse to get rid of the physical copies of everything.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Weight is a Gift

Photo from The Commons on Flickr

“Maybe this weight was a gift

Like I had to see what I could lift
I spend all my energy
Walking upright”
-Nada Surf, “Do It Again”

Those lyrics are from a song by Nada Surf, an indie pop band who was most famous for being a now forgotten one hit wonder. They still release very pleasing records, but ones that I generally use as background music and don’t give a lot of thoughtful consideration. Sometimes, though, the lyrics shine through, and the above is one of the greatest examples.

Right now, there is a lot of weight bearing down on my family. My only remaining Grandmother is slowly, very slowly passing away from terminal cancer. This has virtually imprisoned my Mother in her own home. My Father and Stepmother are selling off their miniature horse farm, something that has been a part of my life for over a decade, while wiping the slate clean with everything in the family business. Even Nicole has her own weight, as she continues to deal with the day to day realities of a job she doesn't enjoy and is worn down by daily, with doubts that she’ll ever find something better.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

NSP Review: John Mellencamp- No Better Than This

Album art from John Mellencamp's Webstore.

I have an interesting history when it comes to John Mellencamp’s music. As a child, I liked it along with everything else I absorbed, not really having the facility to distinguish good, bad, or mediocre. All I heard was music, there was no divide between country and rock, and I had no clue why people found AC/DC offense or why Achey Breaky Heart was ridiculous. When I reached my high school and college years, I developed a pretentious loathing for my home state, and since Mellencamp is a product of Indiana, he received that hatred as well. You should have heard me howl when he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Since graduation, however, I’ve matured in my opinions, and somehow wrapped back around to loving John Mellencamp. Partly its because his music is just plain good and enjoyable listening, without pretension. He’s also an artist that does what he wants and doesn’t care about image, changing his name back from his rock star moniker of “Cougar” and stopping politicians who misuse his music. Integrity is the best way to describe it, something a lot of artists lack these days.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

I Don’t Hate Indiana (We just have issues with each other)

Some people might assume that I hate Indiana. Let me start over. Pretty much everyone would assume from what I’ve written that I loathe Indiana and view it as a giant black hole that sucks the life out of all who remain in its grasp. This is understandable, since while I do write nice things about parts of it, I also have a manic drive to escape as soon as possible.

However, this does not mean that I hate Indiana. I have a lot of fondness for the state, even with its many, many, many flaws. Recently, I’ve run in to some individuals that use “midwestern” as an insult and generally look down upon my area of the country. It’s incredibly irritating and frustrating, and makes me stand up and defend my home even when I’m planning my departure. I really do wish I could stay in Indiana at least part of the year, but since Nicole or I have yet to win the lottery, that dream isn’t possible.

Monday, August 16, 2010

NSP Review- Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

Last night, Nicole and I ventured off to Fort Wayne to look at crafty wedding items, eat dinner, and see a movie. That movie was Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World. This happened to be the completely wrong choice for Nicole, since she was suffering from having slept only 2 hours the previous night, and wasn’t feeling very well either. Bad fiance moment on my part, for sure, and general tip: don’t take a suffering girlfriend to a movie with extremely loud music, explosions, and lots of pretty flashing lights that may or may not induce seizures. Also called common sense, which I lack.

As for me, here’s the short version of the review:

If you’re under the age of 30, the movie is pure awesome exploding into the movie atmosphere like an awesome comet, and should be viewed immediately.

If you’re between the ages of 30 and 45, it’s a fun movie with a sweet romantic story wrapped up in a huge, video game related metaphor. The movie is loud, flashy, and chaotic, but it’s also genuinely funny and worth seeing.

If you’re over 45, don’t bother unless you actually liked the previews. It’s a movie targeted toward a particular generation raised with insane postmodernism, and it is probably going to go over the heads of anyone who doesn’t have at least a minimal knowledge of what is Final Fantasy or Zelda.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Disney World- Optimistically Pessimistic

Recently lots and lots of news has popped up about Walt Disney World. Most of the stories are tales of the amazing spate of new attractions and additions at nearly all of the different parks. Examples include a new Monsters Inc. roller coaster at Hollywood Studios, a new country and renovated pavilions at Epcot, and new developments at the Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland expansion.

The latter story is based on actual interviews with Disney executives and while there are little details, at least present real information. In contrast, the other stories are equally vague with no real sourcing, based on rumors and “rumblings.” This means it must be a slow news week, since these kinds of rumors have fun rampant on the internet for years upon years.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Nixon Segretti Productions- A Manifesto

Turkey presentation for Thanksgiving, 11/18/1969
There are two turkeys in this photo that received pardons. Photo from The Commons on Flickr.

One of my favorite movies of all time is 'Dirty Rotten Scoundrels'. The tail of two con men competing for dominance on the French Riviera, its a movie that combines beautiful locations, great writing, and two brilliant actors (Michael Caine and Steve Martin) at the top of their game. Another reason I love the movie is that I can relate to Michael Caine’s character so well. I mean, other than the whole conning people out of huge sums of money bit.

Michael Caine plays a sophisticated, classy gentleman who bilks money out of the greedy and stupid, and utilizes it to fund public gardens, museums, and other preservations of art and culture. One quote in particular strikes especially true: “Freddy, as a younger man, I was a sculptor, a painter, and a musician. There was just one problem: I wasn't very good. As a matter of fact, I was dreadful. I finally came to the frustrating conclusion that I had taste and style, but not talent.”

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Opening Pandora's Box, Volume III- NSP Radio

Draagbare radio / Radio hat
From The Commons on Flickr. Most awesome photo and hat, ever.

It’s been a week of Pandora Radio listening, and I have held true to my goal. Even though I’ve reached for iTunes many times wanting to hear a specific song, I have focused my listening completely on Pandora. Which really, really sucks when you want to listen to some pure background music but have to hear some blaring Guns and Roses track for the millionth time in your life instead.

As noted in my last installment, Pandora focused almost completely on indie rockers for the first 10 songs, with some classic ultra-soft rock thrown in for good measure. The only songs that picked up the tempo much were screechy alternative kids trying to sing, but failing miserably. The station was turning out alright, but I wasn’t exactly impressed so far.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Mighty Boosh Makes My Day Bright

Today's blog post was short because I was busy producing the physical catalog for our latest auction. I manage to put them together in record time, but it pretty much wrecks any creative juices I have for a good period of time. When I feel tired and drained, I just need something silly to lift me back up again. Lately, that thing has been The Mighty Boosh.

It's a thoroughly bizarre British television show that makes little to no sense, even if it does have a plot line every episode. It's also apparently airing on Adult Swim now, though I prefer it in its original, unedited form. The series follows Vince and Howard, two lifelong friends of completely different outlooks on life, that somehow manage to continually encounter surreal, psychedelic adventures and not die in the process, all while never learning anything from it.

Sometimes the humor is downright twisted, but other moments are just pure, simple pleasure, like the "crimp" (short, A Capella song) above. Now I just need to find a bouncy castle to celebrate another project's (near) completion.


The Heat Goes On

Hot day in N.Y., after a swim in fountain. (LOC)
From the Commons on Flickr.

Nicole and I have received many different responses to our plans to move to Florida. While most everyone is supportive, we still receive some advice and information that’s meant to make us consider our choice more closely. One of the top things we hear out of everything is “You know, it gets really hot in Florida.”

On the surface is a true statement, though one that’s bleedingly obvious. I’ve been to Florida in the summer, and I have experienced the heat. Yes, it was hot, and I did sweat a lot. However, this statement of hotitude also implies something else, that Florida is so much hotter than Indiana. Bull chips.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Art of Screaming Seagulls- A Winona Lake Evening

Canal Boats

Yesterday, Nicole and I made one of our ventures off to nearby Winona Lake. This may seem odd, since we currently live in an apartment across the street from a lake. The big difference is that while our lake is packed with houses and has no real beach to speak of, Winona Lake has a nice beach, a canal filled with turtles and fish to watch, and an entire artist’s colony known as the Village at Winona. As mentioned before, it’s one of the few places I’ll truly miss when we move to Florida.

Village Barber
The Village at Winona has a whole collection of random stores and restaurants packed into a few blocks. There's a barber (who happened to be on vacation, apparently).

Monday, August 9, 2010

Opening Pandora's Box, Volume II- The First 10 Songs

Public Domain painting by John William Waterhouse. Found at http://lostpedia.wikia.com/wiki/File:Pandora's_Box.jpg.

To recap, I am only listening to music on my computer through Pandora internet radio this week. This is in attempt to see if I can train a station to actually work with my musical tastes. They are so disparate and random at times that I wondered if the service could truly adapt. Supposedly, Pandora learns what you like in music and plays only things that match up to those preferences.

I decided to record my first 100 songs played, just to get an exact idea of the music presented early on in the process. I also made sure to rate every song in that first 100 as like or dislike, to make sure I gave Pandora plenty of data on me to utilize. Technically, you’re only supposed to like something when you like “all parts” of it, which I started to do when it got past that first 100. As a side note, I do in fact like all parts of “House of the Rising Sun,” and give a little cheer when it comes on the radio.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Halloween Horror Nights and the Fear Sombrero

This is a real chicken, for representative purposes. Photo from The Commons on Flickr.

As I’ve mentioned, Nicole and I plan on making a trip to Florida in October to scope out our new habitat. I also want to spend a few days at Universal Studios while there. Unfortunately, this will be during their annual Halloween Horror Nights. This scares the crepe out of me.

I am a chicken. I do not find this a major fault. Yes, a coward may die a thousand times, but at least I live to die again and again. And really, it’s kind of cool to say you’ve died a thousand times. Sounds like something a Norwegian death metal singer would claim, right before a bandmate stabs him. Seriously, those guys are terrifying enough to be exhibit #1 why running and hiding is almost always the best plan of action.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Opening Pandora's Box, Volume I

I was following and commenting on a post on Twenty Sided (a blog by the guy who brought us DM of the Rings, one of the greatest web comics ever) about the Pandora music service. For those who don’t know, Pandora is a high-minded internet radio service that attempts to define the traits, or genomes, of all songs, and then learn what exactly you like in music. Theoretically, this will result in radio stations that play exactly the kind of songs you’ll like. I mentioned how I hadn’t had much success so far with the service, but honestly it was mostly because of underuse.

The only problem is that I’m already dedicated to another service that tracks my iTunes usage, Last.FM. However, Pandora is more sophisticated at the base level, and allows you to see what it is you like in music. As someone who once had delusions of being a music writer, I find it’s my duty to discover exactly what I like in music.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Of Proposals and Penguins

The big news in Nicole and I’s life is that on Friday, July 30th, I asked for Nicole’s hand in marriage. It was our year and a half anniversary, and everything worked out perfectly. Which is wonderful, since this event has been six months in the making, and I was just a little bit nervous.

I should really say eight or nine months, to be more still not precise. At that point, we began planning our one year dating anniversary. I decided we should visit Disney World together, as both of us have the right child at heart attitude. I also hadn’t been for four years or so, which is too long in my estimation.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

This Ain't No Party, This Ain't No Disco

When driving back from Indiana Beach, Nicole and I found ourselves increasingly lost at first, resulting in the trip taking an extra half hour to get home. This was a problem, as I start going comatose behind the wheel once it gets later than 1:00 in the morning. What saved us from a horrible tree maiming demise with much crashing and banging and exploding in a fireball (wooooosh) was that the song "Life During Wartime" came on the radio. I'd heard of the Talking Heads song before, and vaguely knew it was a classic, but it was one of those songs I'd never managed to hear.

Since Saturday night/Sunday morning, the song has now been in my head almost continually. I'm having to constantly drown it out in my head by blasting other random music (currently on Love's Forever Changes, hippy weirdness is a nice counter to hipster weirdness). I'm still glad for it though, because I not only know the song now, I've also witnessed the video above. It's from Stop Making Sense, the famous concert movie. It illustrates why David Byrne will live forever, while all that has come after him will wither and perish.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Nicole and Gabe Storm Indiana Beach

(Note: Pictures taken during daylight didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped because the day was insanely overcast. We didn't see the sun for the entire length of our visit.)

On Saturday Nicole and I ventured to Indiana Beach, an amusement park in Monticello, Indiana that takes up an entire peninsula in a lake. It's pretty much all lakeside, and is the closet thing you'll find to a seaside amusement park in central Indiana. The place is packed both with people and rides, and since it has free admission, all walks of humanity and inhumanity are present. It's also kind of like those ancient castles in Europe, kept in a preserved state of disrepair, but never really getting fully refreshed and restored.

Suspension Bridge Entrance to Indiana Beach
My favorite entrance to the park, over a huge suspension bridge that bounces as you walk. The big wooden coaster is the Hoosier Hurricane, which covers nearly the entire length of the park.
It's a fun, if a little rough, coaster that's mostly great for the view.

There's More Than Corn in Indiana (But Lots to Drive Through)

Nicole and I had a very big week last week with some big news, which I'll write about later. We also went to Indiana Beach last weekend and had a great time. I took lots of pictures and I'm working on a full report, but for now here's a selection of "artier" pictures that aren't good for descriptive purposes.