Further Weight Loss Info, Working from Home, and Tumblogging.

What up?!  Just a short post chock full of information for you, my avid readers.  First up on the plate is the great news that I am down now to 232 pounds (as of last Sunday 8/10).  That means I’ve lost 30 pounds since February – putting me at currently losing an average of 5 pounds a month.  Ah the glory of it is immense.  I was wearing 2XL shirts and size 42 pants (no belt necessary) in Feb, and now I’m back to regular XL shirts and size 40 pants (but I have to wear a belt with them to keep them in place).  Soon I will be down to size 38 pants again… maybe even size 36 which I haven’t been in since high school.   It hasn’t been nearly as difficult as I imagined it would be, either.  Like I’ve written before, all I’m doing is watching / counting the calories of everything I eat (maxing out at around 1800-1900 a day), and jogging on the elliptical machine for about 42 minutes three or four times a week.   The machine has a calorie counter on it, and I always burn a little over 500 calories every time.  I have no idea how accurate that is, though, but it’s a cool thought.  At least it’s working!  Heck now I barely have to think about the calories I eat – I’m more running on instinct now than actively counting calories.

It’s so easy – anyone could be doing this for themselves without joining any weight loss club, paying for a plan, or shelling out huge amounts of money on diet pills or whatever.  I eat mostly Healthy Choice and Lean Cuisine meals (2 of them a day – one for lunch and another for dinner), except on the weekends when I will cook for myself… or sometimes go out to eat and just get whatever I want regardless of the diet.  I eat a couple of packets of instant oatmeal for breakfast, or a peanut butter / banana sandwich.  I have snacks in between meals consisting of gummy candy and chocolate, whatever chips I want, microwave popcorn (those cool snack size bags), and so on.  I portion everything out, and take baggies of stuff with me to work.  I usually have a ham/turkey sandwich every day as well.  (I make my sandwiches on Publix Light Wheat bread as two slices is 80 calories as opposed to 140 with regular bread.)  As you can see, I’m not cutting out stuff I like to eat…I’m just eating less of it.

I even drink regular (non diet) sodas – one a day at the most – although lately I’ve been drinking a bottle of the Energy style of Vitamin Water every day to get my caffeine fix instead.  Not because I’m cutting out sodas – it’s just what I feel like doing right now.  I think it’s important not to try and distance yourself from the things you love to eat or drink.  It’s just important to not be a glutton about it.

One thing I do try to distance myself from is high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).  That stuff just gets converted directly to fat by your body, so if you’re going to eat or drink sweets try to get the ones made from sugar instead of HFCS.  I get organic ketchup because it’s made with sugar.  Low sugar jelly is often made with sugar instead of HFCS.  (Read the labels on the things you eat, folks.)  The sodas I drink are usually sweetened with sugar, although it’s hard to find them sometimes.  If you like Dr. Pepper, you should get it delivered to you from the original bottling plant in Texas, like I do.  They make it with sugar and it tastes so much cleaner than HFCS Dr. Pepper.  Their website is http://www.olddocs.com.  All Jones sodas are sweetened with real sugar.  I can’t find their Cola version in stores anywhere, but you can order it from their website as well:  http://www.jonessoda.com.  The Jones Cream Soda is absolutely the best cream soda I’ve ever had – if you like cream soda then I suggest you try it.  Boylan also makes all their sodas with real sugar, although I’ve never had one.  http://www.boylanbottling.com is their website.

In any event, each meal or snack is around 300 to 500 calories, and I eat 4 to 6 times a day depending on how many total calories are involved.  You have to do that to keep your metabolism high.  I take a multi-vitamin every day as well.  So there you go – the smart weight loss plan in which all that is involved is you, your brain, and your will power.  No companies or outside entities who want your money are involved.  Just you.

Of course, this just all plays into my ideal that people should learn to be more responsible for themselves.  I realize this plan isn’t for everyone because not everyone is going to be enough of an individual, or have a strong enough willpower, to do it on their own.  But you can – everyone can – all it takes is dedication and commitment.  If you can get fat on your own, you can get thinner on your own as well.  It’s not as complicated as the weight loss clubs and plans want you to believe that it is.  I am living proof of that.   The thing is that, depending on a number of factors, your body needs somewhere around 2000 to 3000 calories a day (give or take) just to keep you alive.  If you eat fewer calories than your body needs, then it will delve into your fat stores to keep you alive, and you will therefore lose weight.  It’s a fairly simple concept.  A guy my height and frame should be around 190 pounds, and at this rate I should be there around February or March next year.  I hoping that will be so.  Consult your doctor, formulate a plan, and start living a better life for yourself.

Another cool thing I want to mention is that Turner recently allowed my department to start working from home one day a week, and man it just kicks ass.  With gas prices as they are, it just makes sense for folks who can do their jobs from home be allowed to do so, as long as productivity remains the same or even improves.  So now I have an IP phone here at home, plugged into my router, and when I log into it I can get my support calls here at my apartment.  I use the VPN (google it if you don’t know what it is) to log into my computer at work, and BAM…everything I have access to there I can access from here.  Every Thursday I will now be working from home.  It just rocks to be able to do my job and not have to get dressed to do it (hahahahahaha).  That’s all I have to say about that.

Speaking of coolness, I need to take a moment to thank my good friend Stephanie Curtis for introducing me to the glory of Tumble Blogs – or Tumblogs…Tumblogging as it were.  If a Blog like this one is like a journal, then a Tumblog is like a scrapbook.  I often don’t have the time to write up full on posts like this one here, which is why I don’t post here as often as I’d like.  But on a Tumblog, you post just snippits of stuff.  I will post a picture one day, a video the next, then a quote (like how I love to quote song lyrics all the time), a short note in between, or maybe all the above in one day.  It’s all there and I will likely post a little something there every day.  So check my Tumblog out at:  http://commonterry.tumblr.com.  This space intentionally left blank.  (hehe) I hope you enjoy it!

Until next time,
B

Vacations 2008 – From Home to the Beach

So…wow…I have a lot to say about the past few weeks. July has been a pretty awesome month – vacations galore!

On July 6th I left Atlanta for a week’s vacation in which I planned to split stays in Charlotte, NC and Princeton, WV. I went to Charlotte, of course, to hang with my brother and his family. We hung out, played some Texas Hold ‘Em (as usual) and Grand Theft Auto 4 (a new tradition lol), and went to Carowinds on Monday the 7th.

Not being much of a partier, or really enjoying hanging around most people for extended periods of time, I have most of my fun with family and well-known friends. This means most of my time in Atlanta is spent working, or chilling from being at work. The main exception to this is when I’m playing D&D with my friends, but that doesn’t happen nearly as often as it used to. So it’s times like this that I look forward to so I can get away from the usual days of my life.

I had so much fun at Carowinds riding rollercoasters with my brother that I felt re-energized in a way that I haven’t in a long time. One coaster in particular, NightHawk, provided me with the most fun I’ve had on a roller coaster in my life, although it’s been so long since I rode the Hulk rollercoaster at Islands of Adventure in Orlando that I’m not sure I can make an honest comparison. I remember that rollercoaster as being the best I’ve ever been on. Hopefully I will make it back to Islands of Adventure soon. In any event, it was indeed some of the best, most complete, unadulterated fun I’ve had in a long time. We rode that one twice, and all the other coasters once. We also rode the drop zone twice as there isn’t much out there that can give you the rush of a free fall. A great time was had by us both.

It wasn’t just being at the park, of course, it was just experiencing it all with my brother and hanging out with him. We talked and laughed all day like we were kids again. I walked away from Carowinds feeling more alive and energized than I can remember feeling since my youth. Which is kinda depressing now that I think about it hahahahaha.

But of course all good things must come to an end, and the greatest of them seem to fade faster than most. Carowinds closed at 8pm that day, which is retarded if you ask me. It’s still daylight, and it’s certainly not a school night. Why not keep the place open until the freaking sun goes down? Freaks! Anyway, I spent that night at Lee Jay’s because I was exhausted from the day of glory. I spent the rest of the week (through Sunday the 13th) in Princeton.

I was also able to spend some awesome time hanging out with my Second Family, as well as my Mom, so I was able to enjoy much more positive emotions and fun on this trip than the negative shite. However, one other crappy thing that happened during this trip is that I have a feeling that “Darkening of the Light”, as it was intended anyway, is a dead project. Outside of Sheila and I, all of our stars and crew are steeped in college affairs and other real world concerns of youth. I’m still hoping we will finish the fight scene between my character and Kris’, so at least I can cut that into a standalone scene. Who know if that will happen, but I’m pretty sure that the movie as written will never happen. That bums me out, but life goes on I suppose. I’m sure if we all could just communicate better and more often, then it would be much easier for us all to coordinate our schedules. I guess we’ll see.

Sheila and Rob invited me over for dinner one night and we had a blast. Kris and I went to Wal-Mart to buy a game so we could all play something together. We got a game called “Apples to Apples”, and if you’ve never played it then I encourage you to go pick it up right away.

It’s a simple game to learn and start playing – about 5 minutes of prep are needed even if you are a first time player. The game consists of a deck of red apple cards, and a deck of green apple cards. Both sets of cards have words or phrases on them. Everyone is dealt 7 red apple cards. Play begins with one player being chosen as the “judge” for the first round. The judge takes a green apple card and reads the word or phrase on it, which also contains several synonyms in case folks are not sure what the word/phrase means. Then everyone else (other than the judge) picks one of their red cards that they feel most closely matches the green card’s meaning…or at least is funny and/or ironic. Like one time the green apple card was something like “Manly”, and someone put in a red apple card that read, “Rosie O’ Donnell”. LOL! The red apple cards are paced in the middle face down. The Judge takes all the red apple cards and mixes them up so they don’t know who put which one in, and then reads them all. The judge then picks the red apple card he/she feels is the best match for the green apple one. The person who put that red apple card in then “wins” that green apple card and scores a point. Then the person to the left of the Judge becomes the Judge for the next round, and so on. Depending on the number of people playing, after one person wins so many of the green apple cards then the game is over and that person wins. It’s an awesome game, and the rounds can get hysterical with some of the red apple cards that are thrown in to match up with the green apple card. I highly recommend the game – we played it several times and had a blast each time. The whole family can enjoy this one as Sheila’s younger son Trey, who is only like 8 or 9 I think, played the game with us and just had a blast. I am impressed with his word comprehension and his ability to play the game well. And also it can only help him learn what words mean that he’s never heard before, and build that vocabulary. Again, “Apples to Apples” is very highly recommended by me.

We also played a card game that Jordan taught us called “Marbles”. You pair up into teams, and each team has a code word, phrase, or even an action (like playing with your hair or something) that you work out with your partner in secret. Everyone has four cards in their hands, and four cards are delt face up on the table. The game encourages social interaction as you’re supposed to talk to everyone at the time while the game is going on – small talk, random conversation, whatever. Everyone is scooping up cards from the table, mixing them into their hand, and discarding others (you can keep a max of 4 cards in your hand). After a while of the cards on the table not being picked up any longer, they are considered “dead” and discarded. Then four more cards are dealt face up on the table for everyone to pick at. The object is to build a four-of-a-kind hand. Once you’ve done that, you try to work your secret word/phrase/action into the conversation so your partner notices it. If they realize it, they say “Marbles” and you reveal your four-of-a-kind hand and the two of you win that round. However, if an opponent suspects you are trying to alert your partner, then they can say “spit” and steal the win from you. It’s a really fun game that we played for quite a while that night as well.

I posted some pics from this trip to my Facebook page. The pics at the beginning are a mix of Christmas 06 and 07 pics with my (main lol) family, and the pics near the end are of the above described day with the Second Family. Here is the link to the album:

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=151186&l=1ea56&id=1175850700

I went back to Sheila’s the next night as well and we hung out more and played more games. While I was there, Rob and Sheila asked me if I wanted to join them at Myrtle Beach the following weekend for even more awesome fun. Given that I took so much time off this past winter shooting the movie, and I was sick 7 days this winter as well, I don’t have a lot of vacation time left (Even though I get six weeks off a year for combined vacation and sick time…tells you how much time I took off for [failed] movie making). After taking this week off, I only have enough time to take a break during this coming Christmas. However, I didn’t see a problem with me driving up on the coming Saturday and spending Saturday and Sunday there. So it was agreed that I would join them at the paradise of Myrtle Beach. They even convinced me that if I could arrange it, that I should also try to stay through Monday. I agreed and would probably be able to do just that. I was going to try and cram a week of glory into two days. Yes!

In any event, we played more game this night and a great time was had by all. I just want to thank the Second Family for having me over, feeding me, and spending this time with me on this trip. I had a great time, and only wish that we could all get together much more often than we can right now.

Another reason I went on this trip at the time that I did is that July 13th is my Mom’s birthday, and I like to go up there to spend it with her. I took her out to dinner a couple of times, and bought her a three-piece rug set that she wanted for the living room. She was very happy, and I’m sure it’s awesome to have as many of us as possible there on her birthday. Every time she’s in the living room now, and sees the rugs, she is reminded of our time there on her birthday, and she is happy. All is well in the world.

I left to return to Atlanta after spending some extra time with Mom on her birthday (Sunday the 13th). I took Monday the 14th off from work as well just to have more rest from the travel, and also so I could have time to do some grocery shopping and other errands before I returned the rental car to Avis. After doing all the shopping, I looked up how much it would cost to rent a car again that weekend for Myrtle Beach vs how much it would be for me to just keep it for another week. The weekly rate was just $80 more, so I kept the car for an extra week instead.

The 15th through the 18th crawled by as I waited for my trip to Myrtle Beach to arrive. I had never driven myself to Myrtle Beach before, so I mapped the route using Google maps and prepared myself for greatness. Until this trip I had only been to Myrtle Beach twice in my entire life. I went once when I was very young – I barely remember it. I couldn’t have been older than 8 or so. I fell asleep on a raft floating right at the shore. It carried me down the beach a couple of miles away from everyone, so when I woke up I was seriously lost. That’s pretty much the only thing I remember about that trip. Then I went three years ago with Mom, James, Lee Jay, Vickie, and Austin. We stayed a week at the Dayton House and that was an awesome time. Three years and no ocean…I was missing it.

It’s about a six hour drive from Atlanta to Myrtle Beach, which is the same amount of time it takes me to drive from here to Princeton. So I’ve been driving a lot of miles lately lol. I think I put 1800 miles on that Jeep I rented in two weeks. Craziness. Anyway, I left at about 9:30 Saturday morning, which is an amazing feat for me in and of itself (being up that early). I hit some traffic on I-75 S before I even made it to I-20 E because of road construction. Then I hit more congestion as I got close to Myrtle Beach because Saturday is condo check in/out day, so the road is always clogged. I eventually met up with Sheila and the gang near the Tanger Outlet mall, and I followed them in the rest of the way on a different route. I think we pulled into their condo at around 4:30 or so.

We went out to eat at Fudruckers that evening and then all went to see The Dark Knight. It was my second time seeing it…but more on the flick later. We walked around Broadway at the Beach and did a little window shopping that night as well.

The next day was spent almost exclusively at the beach. We stayed in the ocean and got pummeled by waves – it was a glorious time. I did a little sunbathing with Sheila, and I found it a wonderful, if not surreal, moment. 25 years, man…25 years and I never imagined us laying on the beach talking about the sun, vampires, exactly which chicks around us had purchased boobs, sons, daughters, husbands, and everything in between. And the laughter…let’s not forget the laughter. Some people out there never get to meet someone they don’t even have to speak to, because all it takes is proximity. Sometimes not even that; sometimes the distance can’t be too great. We are like the proverbial peas in a pod. I just cannot imagine a real sister being more a part of the fabric of me. I don’t see how it would be possible. Thank you, sis, for the day on the beach. It breathed so much more of the life back into me than Carowinds ever could.

Afterwards, me, Rob, Logan, and Trey went for a ride around Ocean Boulevard to see the sights. Man there are some awesome houses along the beachfront. It was beautiful, really, and I never took much time to pay attention to the local scenery at the beach. We also went to a gift shop where Rob insisted that he pick up a couple of souvenirs for me. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a proper beach towel, so I got one. Also I got a Myrtle Beach T-Shirt. My two-day week shirt – that’s how I will always look at it. Thanks, Rob! 🙂

Sheila fixed dinner for everyone that night, and it was awesome. We did more shopping at Broadway on the Beach, and we happened upon a store called “It’s Sugar”. They sell the absolute best Gummy Bears I’ve ever had at that place. I bought fifteen bucks worth, and they would have been worth twice that. We found a poster shop, and I bought an “Empire Strikes Back” one-sheet replica – very cool stuff. We bought Coke Icees and I couldn’t help thinking, “Could this day possibly kick any more ass?” Coke Icees just do it for me. Hahahahahahahaha

Later that night Logan and I stayed up half the night goofing off with the panorama feature on his phone’s camera. That’s the feature where a camera will allow you to take a series of 3 to 6 pictures, left to right; right to left; top to bottom; or bottom to top and the camera will “stitch” them together into one huge pic. It was glorious fun to create these huge pictures. I’m not sure why, but for me anything even semi-creative can be glorious fun. Logan is pretty cool too, so that helps. I took one where I started hanging upside down on the side of the bed, taking a picture of myself in the mirror, and ended up sitting up straight taking a picture of Logan. That was a freaking awesome pic. Logan took one that ended up being a series of pics of him shaking his own hand, hitting himself, kicking himself, giving himself a thumbs up…it was really awesome as well. It was hilarious and the perfect end to a perfect day.

So Monday came and it was the day I was dreading…sort of hanging over my head the whole time I was there. I knew I was going to have to leave them there and come back here by myself, and it was going to suck ass. But we still had a really great time. Rob suggested we all go to the Ripley’s Believe it or Not Aquarium, so we went. Man it was so awesome – especially the tunnel where the sharks and fishes were swimming all around you…even over our heads. I really enjoyed it, as you will be able to tell with all the pictures I took there lol. After the aquarium, we went to eat the Hard Rock Café. Another first for me! We have the biggest aquarium in the world here in Atlanta, along with a Hard Rock Café, and I’ve never been to either of them. In any event, it was awesome but it was also bittersweet. You know what I mean.

Well, what can I say? I went there with the mission of packing a week of beachy goodness into just two days, and man I think it was pretty much mission accomplished. I can’t thank Rob and Sheila enough for inviting me along. Lodging me, feeding me, sharing your vacation with me…my thanks are eternal.

So now I’m home, and the blahs are running deep. It’s back to work, and most of the days pass by like they don’t mean anything. I know that they do, of course, but I’m just selling my perception here, okay?

I just realized that this will be the first weekend in three weeks that I will be totally here in Atlanta. Not sure what I’m going to do other than just chill and relax from all the traveling. I’m thinking about not leaving the apartment at all outside of grocery shopping. Actually, perhaps I will go see The Dark Knight again.

Man what a flick. The more that I turn it over in my head, and it marinates within me, I’m beginning to think that it just might be my favorite movie of all time. It is THAT good. If you haven’t seen it, you must go immediately.

Heath Ledger…what a loss to movie lovers…and creative geniuses….everywhere. He made this comic book character seem like a completely real guy that you just might have the misfortune of meeting in real life. While I appreciate everyone else’s performances as well, I just can’t say that of them or pretty much any other performance I’ve seen in a long time. Every time I remind myself that we’re not going to get to see him do this again is heartbreaking.

But beyond Heath, this movie is just one of the most perfectly written, directed, photographed, scored, and edited flicks I’ve ever seen. If not the best. I’m still mulling that one. I think it’s going to take the spot, though. I see it coming. I can’t help but feel like just another part of the hype machine for this movie, but if any movie has lived up to the hype then it’s this one. I remember absolutely loving Batman Begins, but this movie makes that flick seem insignificant.

Anyway…check out The Dark Knight of you have the chance. I doubt you will regret it. I think I will go check it out again later today myself….

Well I guess it’s that time again. I’ve given up trying to talk myself into writing here more often, like I usually do around this point in every post, but I really do appreciate those of you who come here and check it out often. Sorry to disappoint, but at least it’s times like this that your patience is rewarded. At least, I hope you feel that way. I know I do. 🙂

Until next time….

B

Lonely Day

Hello all. Once again it has been quite some time between updates, but you should be used to that by now. Not a whole lot of stuff out of the usual work / play routine, though, so that’s probably why. I usually don’t feel moved to write up anything unless it’s significant. Also, I’m feeling a bit melancholy right now so hopefully that doesn’t bleed through too much.

Yesterday was Father’s Day, and of course I’ve been missing my dad a lot lately with the day approaching. I don’t really want to get into it too much because it’s already a depressing facet of reality to begin with, you know. I was watching my DVD of “Disturbia” (awesome flick by the way) yesterday and heard System of a Down’s song “Lonely Day” in it and it just hit me like a ton of bricks. What is the loneliest day of my life? It was every day that my Dad was in that damned hospital bed – struggling to breathe and dying right in front of me. It was the time immediately following his death. The wake…the funeral…having to leave all my family and come back to Georgia. All of those days are like one giant day of madness to me now. I want to take Father’s Day to remember his greatness, and I do, but it’s hard to not be sad that I can’t celebrate it with him.

It’s all the little things, you know? The little things you take for granted that you don’t give enough reverence to until you can’t do them anymore. I went to see “The Incredible Hulk” (awesome flick as well) on Saturday. The Hulk was my favorite comic book growing up…I subscribed to it for several years even…and I watched the TV show every week. Not being able to call up my Dad and talk to him about how much I enjoyed the flick is hurtful. He loved movies as much as I do, and seeing new movies was something we talked about all the time. Seeing a movie like “The Incredible Hulk”, that reminds me of being a kid again, it just seems unnatural that I can’t talk about it with Dad. But the fucked up thing is that it is natural. Life…death…they’re all part of the same circle. Right?

The circle continues as now I want to take a moment and extend my condolences to Butch Aaron and his family. Butch is in the fantasy football league of which I am the Commissioner, and his father just passed away late last week. I’m sorry, dude, I’m so, so sorry.

More on the circle as I now am happy to extend my congratulations to Burton Meahl and his wife on the birth of their third child, Casey Larkin Meahl. Like I always say, we need all the greatness in the world we can get due to the glut of dumbasses alive. So if Casey is anything like her Dad, then we’re screwed. (LOL!) No, actually, if Casey is anything like her Dad then the world just got a much needed improvement. Congrats, little b!

Life counts…and keeps counting.

Anyway…the one cool thing that’s happened to me lately is that I bought a sweet 42’’ plasma HDTV, along with a new DirecTV HD-DVR receiver. It’s such a sweet-ass-sweet setup, man! I love it. I got it in time to watch the tennis French Open on it, and wow that was so awesome to watch in HD. I’m a huge Ana Ivanovic fan, so I’m happy she won. I absolutely cannot wait for the 2008 NFL season to get underway now. Seeing NFL football in HD in the comfort of my own home is going to kick all the ass there is, all the ass there ever has been, and all the ass there ever will be, in the entire universe. Ah the glory will be immense.

Another cool thing is that I’m down to 240 pounds now. The rate of my weight loss has slowed, but I’m not in any kind of race to lose it or anything. I suspect that it’s because I stopped the working out I was doing a few times a week when my work schedule changed, but I recently figured out a comfortable way to fit it back into my day. Therefore, the weight loss has resumed. In any event, that’s 22 pounds that I’ve lost now since mid-February. Rock the hell on, biatches!

Well, that’s all I have for now, friends. Until next time….

B
————————-

Such a lonely day
And it’s mine
The most loneliest day of my life

Such a lonely day
Should be banned
This day that I can’t stand

The most loneliest day of my life
The most loneliest day of my life

Such a lonely day
Shouldn’t exist
A day that I’ll never miss
Such a lonely day
And it’s mine
The most loneliest day of my life

And if you go, I wanna go with you
And if you die, I wanna die with you

Take your hand and walk away

The most loneliest day of my life
The most loneliest day of my life
The most loneliest day of my life
Life

Such a lonely day
And it’s mine
A day that I’m glad I survived

— “Lonely Day”
System of a Down

Minor but important tidbit of Info

I have a minor update / post to make here to inform you all of an important bit of information.  When I originally set up this site, I wanted it to be commonterry.com, of course, but at the time that domain was taken.  The person who previously owned the domain let it expire at the beginning of 2008, however, and I purchased it yesterday.

Now you can get to the site by using either commonterry.com or commonterry.org.  They both point to the same space.  I may, at some point in the future, let commonterry.org expire, so I recommend you start using commonterry.com to get to the site now.  It’s only costing me $7 a year for the extra domain, so I may keep them both for as long as I live.  It’s just that I can’t guarantee that.  I might want to drop commonterry.org and purchase a new domain name for Second Family Flicks or something.  Anyway, just letting you all know.

I hope all is well with everyone.  Until next time….

B

Update / The Glory of 2008

The main gallery (not the DOTL Gallery — the one above that) and the list of things that aggravate me have been updated! Enjoy!

The only thing going on in my life right now that’s noteworthy is that I have moved to a more agreeable shift: 3p to 12a, Mon-Fri! Ah yes it is so wonderful! My natural tendency is to sleep from 3a or 4a until 11a or 12p. I just feel so much more alive now! I am more refreshed every day, and I don’t dread having to get out of bed and get to work on time.

Ah life can be a wonderful thing sometimes. I’m doing a job I really enjoy, I’m getting paid well, and I can do so on my natural body-clock terms. 2008 has been good to me so far. The glory of this year has been immense!

That is all for now….

B

On Tornadoes, Promotions, Dieting, and further DOTL Complications

As you all probably know, about a month ago downtown Atlanta was hit with a category F2 tornado. Before I write about it, I just want to send out some prayers to the family of the man who lost his life during this incident. Also I want to send out prayers to those individuals who were hurt, as well as everyone whose properties were damaged during the main tornado and the smaller ones that touched down as well that night. The CNN Center and the attached Omni Hotel were badly damaged, as well many of the surrounding businesses, homes, vehicles, and other structures. Even though you hear about such things happening on the news all the time, you never really grasp how fragile your whole world is until you experience something like this first hand.

It was Friday the 14th of March, 2008. I decided to stay late after work at the CNN Center because I was practicing with cutting some of the DOTL footage on my laptop, and just generally learning how to better use the Adobe tools. I didn’t decide to leave until about 8:40pm. Once I got outside, it was already raining. But that is nothing new because it’s been raining a lot here over the winter. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. No strong winds or anything like that.

I got home at about 9:15pm, and by the time I did the rain was coming down harder and the winds were picking up. Again, however, I didn’t think anything of it at the time. I turned the tube on and started fixing dinner, and about 20-25 minutes after I got home the local Channel 2 weather team cut in with their reports on the Tornado Warnings. Around this time my satellite signal started going out intermittently. However, it wasn’t happening like it usually does.

I don’t know how many of you have, or have had, satellite TV but usually during heavy storms you will see a lot of digital artifacts on the screen and the audio will start ‘chirping’ really loudly as the system is missing a lot of the digital information. However, my system was just going from full resolution to complete black and silence, and then back to full resolution again. I remember thinking to myself at the time that it must be storming worse than I’ve ever seen to cause the signal to go completely out all at once. Little did I know that a brewing tornado was passing over me at the time.

It wasn’t long after that when the news started reporting that what seemed to be a tornado had hit the Georgia Dome and the CNN Center. They were reluctant to call it a tornado at that time, but they kept showing 3D graphics on the screen that showed the rotation points where tornados could be brewing inside the storm. They could tilt the graphic up so you could see if the rotation was touching ground level (very cool technology by the way). There was a SEC basketball game going on in the Dome, and they kept cutting to footage inside where you could see the roof vibrating, and the catwalks swaying back and forth. It was craziness to see…I can’t imagine what it must have been like to be in there at the time.

The news crews had cameras downtown in no time. The winds tore a hole in the roof of the Dome. Windows were destroyed all over the place. Billboards were ripped out of the ground and tossed around. Several of the Olympic torch statues in the Centennial Olympic Park were ripped out of the ground. Apartments were severely damaged. One building had completely collapsed. Cars parked downtown for the SEC game and other events had their windows blown out, and many were crushed by falling trees and billboards. One taxi driver was interviewed beside his crushed taxi and told us about how the tornado had picked his car up, flipped it around, and hurled it down the street. It was chaos.

I feel extremely lucky that the storm only passed over my building, and also that I wasn’t outside walking around download just an hour later than I was. That feeling of good fortune increased as I walked around downtown the following Monday to survey the damage firsthand. I shot about a half an hour of footage downtown, so if any of my family or friends is interested in that then I can get them a copy on DVD. Crushed cars still parked in their spots where trees and other debris fell on them. Several days after the fact there still was glass scattered all around. Just about every building had multiple windows missing. The sign for the Chinese Restaurant “Golden Buddha” looked like a giant grasped it in their hands and wrung it out like a damp washcloth. The Philip’s Area façade was almost completely ripped away. It damaged the roof of the CNN Center as well, causing it to rain inside during times of inclement weather. Seeing all of that, I feel lucky that all that happened at my place is that the satellite signal cut in and out a few times.

I also have some pictures of the whole mess that a co-worker took. I will post those in the gallery (see the link on the top/right of the main page – note it’s not the DOTL Gallery as that is for Darkening of the Light stuff.) I’m going to look into taking some screen shots of my footage and posting it as well. Or perhaps I can post snippets of it…we’ll see what I can do.

I suppose there is no great segue I can make between describing the tornado aftermath and the content of the rest of this post, so I’m going to stop trying to come up with one. A lot of people’s homes, business, and their lives in general were harmed by that storm. So I kinda feel bad now about going on to describe happy times for me, but I suppose that life must go on. Maybe that’s the best segue we can have. Life, indeed, must go on.

Last month I had my yearly performance review with Turner Broadcasting, and wow it was a great one. I was awarded with a promotion, although it’s more of a promotion in name and salary than anything. I’m actually still doing the same exact job that I was before the promotion, but I’ll take the money and the slight prestige of course. I actually got two raises as a result of my review — one for the review itself, and one for the promotion. I probably shouldn’t go into any specific details, but I am now making several thousand dollars more a year now than I was. One is one, a couple is two, a few is three, and several is…more than three. If there is a designation for four, it would be more than that as well. So…there you go. You can imagine how pleased I am. I look back over the past 10-15 years of my life and I think…I suppose that if I absolutely had to go through all of that garbage to get to this place, then it was all worth it. I’m certainly in a better place, financially and professionally, than I’ve ever been.

And while I’m talking about self-improvement (hey there’s a good segue), I believe it’s time to report that I have put myself on a diet. If you read my last DOTL report, you may remember I complained about my appearance and my weight in it. When I got back home from that trip, I decided to go on a diet. I started on February 18th, at which point I weighed 262. I last weighed myself this past Sunday, which was April 13th, and I am down to 246. All I’m doing is counting calories.

I believe it is entirely possible that I was eating at least 1000 calories a meal before I started this diet. I ate fast food all the time – huge portions and all that. I’m sure I was eating 3000 to 4000 calories a day, and that’s just insane now that I think about it. Now I’ve cut back to approximately 1800 a day, plus I’m exercising a bit on one of the elliptical machine in my apartment complex’s workout room (30 minutes every other day or so). I am still eating basically what I was before, although I don’t eat a lot of fast food anymore. If I do, I look up how many calories are in any given item on their menu so I know what I can order. I think the main reason why many dieters fail is because they try to deprive themselves of the foods that they love. I’m not doing that. If I want pizza, I’ll eat it. I just don’t eat four or more slices in a serving – two at the most.

To me, it all comes down to your state of mind. If you want to lose weight bad enough, you will. It’s like quitting smoking. I smoked for about 12 years, from the age of 15 to about 27 or 28. I stopped a few times in between, but that didn’t last long. That was because I didn’t really want to quit (There’s a difference between stopping something and quitting. When you “stop”, you’re going to start again. When you “quit”, that is The End.) I enjoyed smoking quite a bit. But one day I realized how crappy it made me feel. I saw what it did to my Dad and I didn’t want that to happen to me, so I decided that it wasn’t for me any longer. That’s not to say that it was easy, and I still find myself occasionally craving a cigarette to this day, but it’s about making up your mind that you’re going take control of this no matter what. I am a firm believer in the ideal that your life belongs to you, and no matter the addiction or vice or whatever – it can’t control you unless you allow it to control you. Smoking cigarettes is a choice, and carrying this weight around every day is as well.

I am working to improve the quality of my life, and I’m hoping to get myself back down to somewhere between 190 and 200 pounds at some point in the future. Even if it’s just a pound or so a week, that’s fine by me because I know that I will reach my goal eventually. I have gained a greater appreciation for Lean Cuisines and Healthy Choice meals, I can tell you that. 🙂

So like I said, seeing how I looked in the DOTL footage led me to this place, and so now another glorious segue leads me to further adventures in the Darkening of the Light shooting schedule. I went back to WV to shoot more on the movie between 3/7 and 3/9. The 7th (Friday) was my travel there day, the 8th (Saturday) was our day to shoot, and the 9th (Sunday) was the day I would some back. Well, of course it snowed all day long on the 8th and we couldn’t go out to Pipestem. So instead we spent the whole day making up and then rehearsing the rest of our fight. We got that on tape so at least we’ll have it to work off of in the future. We also used the green screen to shoot close ups of all the dialog in the movie to be intercut in places during the scene. I will shoot some background plates at Pipestem, and will chroma key this footage so that when it’s cut into the movie you won’t be able to tell that when it was shot it wasn’t done at location. I’m excited to see the results. Anyway, we shot an hour of footage with all the dialogue for us both plus the shots of us rehearsing the fight. So that takes us up to 7 tapes (an hour each) of footage for the flick so far.

After that day, I went back to WV again for another weekend of shooting. This time it was 3/21 through 3/23. The same situation applied – 21st (Friday) was for the trip there, 22nd for shooting, and 23rd for the trip back. This time we had a gloriously beautiful day on Saturday and it looked like a certainty that we would finish the scene. But once again, fate had different plans for us. We got two set ups done, and were well into shooting a third when the unthinkable happened. My lightsaber hilt snapped in two right in my hands. It wasn’t because it was hit by a dowel or anything. We were just going through the steps of our duel and the damn thing snapped clean in two pieces, one in each hand, as if I took a freaking hacksaw to it. This royally screwed us at the time because we didn’t have a replacement for my hilt…they don’t make this version of the Hasbro lightsabers anymore (it is made in the style of Luke’s lightsaber he used in Return of the Jedi – not the style that he used in A New Hope and Empire that he lost along with his hand). I actually bought it for my nephew James back in 2005. So, since there was no more lightsaber for me, we had to pack up and call it a day. It was such a perfect day too, weather wise. The temperature was in the 50s when every other day that we’ve been shooting this scene it has been in the 40s. We were able to shoot just 25 minutes of footage on tape 8 on this day. Every time I think about it, I get pissed off about it again. We would definitely have scene 26 in the can if it weren’t for that shite.

Man…I just get the sense that we’re not supposed to finish this movie. Every little thing that can possibly go wrong is going wrong, outside of truly catastrophic things like losing or damaging one of the tapes or the camera itself. (Knock on freaking wood). However, I am encouraged at the thought that similar and worse things hampered the production of the original Star Wars as well. If you watch the documentary included in the box set of the original trilogy, it tells you about some of the nightmares involved. I can relate…in my own way. It’s just frustrating. We’ve put so much of our time and creative energies into this, and we have so little to show for it. I just want to get it done and show it to people. I just want everything we’ve poured into this to mean something. I suppose that if it’s meant to be, then it will be. Cross your fingers for us, and I’m sure some prayers would help as well. It certainly couldn’t hurt.

So, it’s been almost four weeks since the saber breaking incident, and too many things are going on in Kris’ world right now for us to finish scene 26. He’s been travelling here and there for Marshall orientation (he’ll be going there as well in the fall) and high school choir events. So we’re going to be extremely lucky to get back to Pipestem and find it still looking dead (as in the trees and foliage to not be at least budding with Spring induced life). This is going to at the very least change the scene as it was intended to be shot. We could always wait until Kris is on Christmas vacation to finish it, though, I suppose. We’ll see. Blah. I’m getting pissed off again.

Well, that’s the state of my life right now. Personally and professionally, things are great. Darkening of the Light stuff could certainly be better. I at least won an auction for a replacement hilt on eBay that is an exact match for the one that broke, so that’s good news. But still, like I said, it could definitely be better. All in all, though, I can’t really complain much. So I won’t. Indeed, I will be signing off, for now.

Take care, and come back soon for further readings of (I hope) interest. I keep meaning to update this more often, and perhaps I will start doing so soon….

Until then,
B

“The reason people find it so hard to be happy is that they always see the past better than it was, the present worse than it is, and the future less resolved than it will be.”

— Marcel Pagnol

“There are many things in life that will catch your eye, but only a few will catch your heart…pursue those.”

— Michael Nolan

“We cross our bridges when we come to them and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except a memory of the smell of smoke and a presumption that once our eyes watered.”

— Tom Stoppard

Darkening of the Light, Part Two

Recently I took another 10 day trip to West Virginia so that me and my Second Family could shoot more on our upcoming Star Wars fan film “Darkening of the Light”. If you missed the first report, scroll on down and check it out. If you’re all caught up, then please read on.

I took Friday, Feb. 8th, the entire following week, along with Monday, Feb 18th off of work for this trip (total 7 work days). I left Atlanta after work on Thursday the 7th and stopped by my brothers in NC for the night, which is about halfway to WV. I had planned on getting up at about noon and leaving for WV then, but I found out my nephew James wanted to come with me, so he could stay with us at my Mom’s (Granny to him of course) for the weekend. So I waited until he got home at 3:30, and we packed up and hit the road.

James and I were talking about playing some Xbox over the weekend, because he had just got the Star Wars Lego game, and Madden 08 (which I thought wasn’t even made for the regular Xbox). He was talking smack, telling me that he was going to kick my butt. I told him that I was going to kick his butt. He said that there was no way that would happen, and that he would kick my butt. Then I responded with what I thought was the ultimate slam: “You couldn’t kick my butt even if I were asleep!” But the quick mind of my 6 ½ year-old nephew put me in my place: “Then I would wake you up!” he said. Hilarious!

Not long after that, we got stuck at a traffic light that was red for what seemed like a short forever. After feeling like I had wasted a significant portion of my life, I exclaimed to James: “Man this light is going to take 10 years to change. By the time it does, you’re going to be 16 going on 17.” Of course, the next millisecond after I finished that blurb, the light changed. I said, “Oh…I guess not,” and figured that would be that. But James had other ideas. “Nope…I’m still six,” he said. LOL! That’s funny stuff.

That night I hung out with Kris and we started rehearsing. On the schedule for this leg of the shoot is just one scene, #26, but it’s one of the biggest set pieces in the film. The other big set piece it its sister scene, #27, with the both of them being lightsaber fight scenes that also include a ton of dialogue. Each scene is about 6 and a half pages in length. So Kris and I rehearsed not only our dialogue, but also the moves of our fight sequences – making up a lot of it as we went along. We rehearsed until 1am, and then it was time to get some sleep as we were scheduled to head out to the location at 10am Saturday morning.

The location this time around is Pipestem State Park, which is about a 30 minute drive from where we all live in Princeton. I chose this spot because we needed a wooded area with level ground, and there is little to no level ground outside the shelter around Pinnacle Rock State Park, where we will be shooting most of the rest of the movie. Kris and I drove around to several spots last summer on one of the days we weren’t shooting, and looked at several places. Eventually we settled on the area around shelter “B” at Pipestem as we could reserve this space, and therefore control other foot-traffic around it.

I know it’s more or less a cliché now for fan films to shoot scene in a forest like area. It’s cheap and easy, after all. However, for this particular scene, filming in the forest, especially during the winter, serves a purpose in the story.

We are shooting everything else during the spring and summer, and while most other scenes aren’t outdoors you can clearly see that everything is green and lively. However, in the past in this particular location a Sith Lord supposedly died. This destroyed most of the plant life in the area, rendering it withered. This is why this scene has to be shot at the time of year, despite the potential for cold temperatures and perhaps even snow. Luckily the weather forecast was looking to be in our favor, for the most part, for the week. During Saturday, we had sunny skies and mid 40’s weather.

We got out to the location on Saturday, and it looked perfect. No leaves on the trees, and dead leaves all over the place. Many of the trees limbs were all twisted in strange, eerie shapes. It really set the mood that I want to set. Once we got out of our coats and were walking around in just our costumes, though, it was really cold. But like I told the others: sometimes you have to suffer for your art.

This time around I had created an extensive shot list so we would know exactly what had to be done, if it had been done or not, what tape it had been shot on, and so forth. Last time we did a lot of stuff on the fly, by the seat of our pants, and when you look at the footage it really shows. We didn’t rehearse enough and plan ahead enough. This time we had hours of rehearsal and my spiffy shot list.

Despite the preparation, we didn’t get much done on Saturday. We spent a lot of time figuring out where the lights would be set up, setting them up (which meant getting extension cords out there for power), getting our huge flat board of wood out there so we could do some tracking shots (the wood is so we could push our dolly on it and have it roll smoothly), and so on. Also we discovered, much to my chagrin, that the tripod had broken at some point between now and the end of the last leg of the shoot. The handle that controls pans and tilts, and also of course keeps the camera upright on the tripod completely broke off. We eventually figured out a way to tape it on (woo hoo for duct tape), but the camera couldn’t be panned or tilted unless you of course moved the entire tripod…which in a major way pretty much makes the tripod pointless.

Also, I left the belt for my costume as Sheila’s house, but thankfully on Saturday we had Jordan there (and Jordon’s roommate Taylor) so they were able to go back and get it. While they were gone we dealt with the last of the setup issues, but we were waiting for a bit for the belt to arrive so it did eat into our shoot schedule. All my fault, of course. No matter how much planning and preparation I do…something always sneaks through the freaking cracks.

So, in the end, we did only 4 set ups on Saturday. We managed to get in one set up where Kris and I start our actual fighting, but by the time we got to that point it was getting late and colder. The scene itself starts out with a good bit of dialogue, so at that point Kris and I were cold and tired. Not to mention that I think there was a bit of nervousness with us finally getting to this point – shooting our awesome fight scene. What did all of this add up to? Well, Kris and I both did something that neither of us have done since we started this – we hit each other with our dowels.

In order to make doing the rotoscoping (the process of doing the special effect to the lightsaber that makes it glow) easier, especially to match up where the lightsaber blades are at any given point in the scene, we have one inch diameter wooden dowels (rods) screwed into our hilts. This also gives us something more substantial to strike instead of the plastic rods that come with most of these toy lightsabers. We also use the dowels because the plastic blades are not consistently the same thickness from end to end, so it sometimes throws off the rotoscoping process. In any event, that’s what the dowels are and why we’re using them. We have drilled a small hole into each hilt, and through the wooden dowels, and have screwed them into place in order to make fighting with them easier. Anyway, hopefully you can imagine what it’s like being hit full force by a solid piece of wood. It does not feel good.

The first take of the beginning of our fight scene, we flubbed because we lost track of what we were supposed to do next. On the second take, at about 5 seconds into it, Kris struck me on my right index finger. Initially I thought it might be broken, but that was likely because it hurts even more being hit hard by something when your skin is very cold. At it happened, it only gave me a blood blister…which is actually still under the skin of my finger right now. I like to think of it as a war wound LOL.

Thankfully Sheila is a RN, so having her on set is great in case of such accidents. Not to say that she isn’t otherwise needed on the set of course. (She is our costume master, so we NEED her on set for that. Also, she was running the camera because I was, of course, “acting”.) She looked at it and didn’t see a problem. I learned that having a broken finger wouldn’t necessarily preclude me from being able to move it – that is a myth. It would, though, hurt a great deal if I tried to move it. So since I could move the finger without excessive pain, then it wasn’t broken. So after several minutes I shook it off and was ready to continue.

Unfortunately for Kris, that wasn’t such a great thing. On the very next take, almost at the end of this portion of our fight, I struck Kris on the hand/wrist. We thought it was broken but thankfully that was not the case. His wrist swelled up a lot, but he was otherwise okay outside of the pain of aggravation of getting hit. With these two incidents, and the setting sun, we decided to wrap for the day.

We met later at Sheila’s to watch the dailies, during which I was in for some depressing moments. Look… I knew before all of this that I am overweight. I’m carrying about 60 pounds more than I should be. But man…on screen I just look like shite. My Jedi outfit, without the standard brown cloak, is white / off white and I look like a real life Pillsbury Dough Boy in it. Blah. Seeing myself in the footage just made me ill. I look sort of like some kind of caricature of a Jedi rather than a Jedi. I thought seriously about telling everyone that I just couldn’t do it – that we should get Nick or someone else to shoot the scene. We could just shoot them fighting, use that for Kris’ project, and forget the rest of the movie. That’s how crappy I felt after seeing myself. I guess it’s one thing seeing yourself in the mirror every day, and then seeing you as, I suppose, other people can see you. It was…depressing to say the least.

After much internal debate, though, I decided that quitting would be an awful example to set. There are going to be about 1.2 million times in your life where you are faced with moments and/or situations that you don’t want to face. It’s easy to give up, you know. I wouldn’t want anyone to think it’s okay to give up – especially all the teenagers involved in this project.

It’s cliché, yes, but it’s also true that nothing great comes easy. If it did, then everything in the world would be great. And we’d all suck ass because we’d have no character. You have to work for what you want. Sometimes you have to work harder than you though you could. Sometimes it seems everything in the world is against you, but even so you have to keep pushing forward. What else are you going to do? It’s true that we’re not always going to succeed. However, there’s a difference between giving all you got, but failing, and giving up. In the end, hard work, patience, diligence, and faith are rewarded. One way or the other – even if you fail, you are rewarded with self respect and the knowledge that you gave it all you had. When you quit, all you get is a whole lot of nothing. I’ve done both. I’ve given up before, and I know the difference between the two. I choose to give it all I have.

Okay…sermon over hahahaha.

Besides the negative self-evaluation of my appearance, I was happy with the footage. Sheila did awesome on the camera work, and Kris and I really work well together. He’s going great with his dialogue, and the fight choreography we’ve put together is great in my opinion. We didn’t get much done in terms of set ups, but we were on our way. That’s always a good thing.

Let me just say something here about trying to direct a movie when you are actually acting in scenes at the same time. It’s harder than you might think. I mean…I’m no actor. How do I direct myself? It’s also very disconcerting because I can’t be behind the camera creating the images I want to see. I have to explain to someone else what I want and hope they can capture that. We don’t have the time or money to do on set playback, really. I mean, we can always go back and watch it in the camera but we just don’t have time for that. So…that’s just another pitfall on the road of Super Independent Filmmaking (SIF). This isn’t independent filmmaking…it’s Super Independent. Everything that can go wrong with movie making goes wrong, and then even more when it comes to SIF. I can’t see the screen to tell myself, let alone the other actor(s) in the scene, that we’re hitting our marks or whatever. I’m having fun playing my character…don’t get me wrong. I’m just bitching I suppose. Which will lead me into my next bitch fest about having to be on the set with just three of us…again…but that’s for later.

Okay, so on Sunday we decided we couldn’t drive out to Pipestem due to the weather (it was much colder and very windy) so we decided to do something at Sheila’s. Right now Sheila and Rob are having additions built on their house, and one of them is a new master bedroom. There’s no way to get to the room right now except climbing a ladder, but it’s a huge room with a good space to hang the green screens. So…we decided to go for it.

We got up there, however, and realized we didn’t have much time on our hands to do many setups. Also, I hadn’t planned on shooting any other scenes, so I hadn’t done a shot list for anything else yet. After examining all our options, we decided to just have a photo call day. We took a bunch of pictures of all the main characters in our costumes against the green screen so we could composite them in whatever way we want for a “poster”. It was a lot of fun, and I have posted my favorites in the DOTL gallery. As always, you can check them out on the link on the right side of the page.

Well that was that for the first weekend. We had a lot of fun, but not a whole lot of progress was made on the shoot. Keep in mind as well that both our leads, Kris and Jordan, both have learning institutions to attend.

Jordan is in college at Marshall University, which is approximately 150 miles away from Princeton. So since it was becoming clear that we weren’t going to shoot any of Jordan’s scenes, she decided to not come in the following weekend. Therefore, the Sunday photocall was a wrap on Jordan for this leg of the shoot, as well as her boyfriend, Logan. We could have really used them on either or both of the following days we were on location, but of course the real world must take precedence. We are not professional filmmakers here…we’re SIF, remember?

Kris is a senior in High School, so he was of course in class Mon-Fri until a bit after 3pm. Mon-Wed we couldn’t shoot anything either because of school stuff for Kris, or weather related problems. There were several days in the time I was there where it didn’t get above the mid 20’s, and it snowed a couple of times as well. All in all, though, I suppose we did get lucky to have three really lovely days during which to shoot, even though it was never warmer than the upper 40’s when we were shooting. Two of the days during which we couldn’t shoot because of non-weather related issues, it got into the lower 50’s. Of course it did! It’s the glory of SIF. Hehe

In any event, we knew Thursday was going to be good for Kris to shoot some after school, and luckily the weather cooperated. So Sheila and I met a bit after noon so that we could get all the equipment packed up, and drive it all out to Pipestem to get set up before Kris was out of school and on his way. This way we could maximize our daylight and get as much done as we could in the roughly two hours we would have before sunset. One great thing is that Sheila purchased a new tripod, so we wouldn’t have to deal with that madness. Of course, we had a snag when Sheila couldn’t find the pants to Kris’ costume, and he had to stop by the house on his way out to get another pair. By the time he got out to the set and dressed, we had about an hour and a half to shoot. Also, I can’t forget to mention that, for the most part, Thursday was another 2 actor, 1 crew member day. Blah.

Man, I don’t want to have any more 3 person days on this shoot, or any shoot ever again for that matter. Every single freaking project I’ve worked on has had these types of days, and it just makes things more stressful than they otherwise are already. Although on Thursday, Nick and Kris’ girlfriend (at the time) Savanna came out to the set and pitched in some (which was awesome). The worst situation was to come on the last day we shot, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

So Thursday went much better than Saturday – meaning Kris and I got through the takes of the fight scene without hitting each other again. Due to that incident on Saturday we never finished that particular set up, so we picked it up from there and managed to do that one and three others. Four set ups done in just an hour and a half – extreme awesomeness. We were helped by the arrival of Nick and Savanna, with them helping us move things around when needed, slating the takes, and basically being production assistants (PAs). We probably wouldn’t have gotten as much done without them, so woo hoo for Nick and Savanna.

However, when we watched dailies later, we saw that on every take of the last set up, Nick was in frame the entire time. This camera we’re using has a plastic masking that covers the left and right sides of the viewfinder, and it’s designed poorly because about five feet of both sides will be recorded even though you can’t see it in the viewfinder. So sometimes you think you have a scene framed great, but when you play it back on a TV you get an “Ah shite” moment like this one. So this meant that although we did do four setups, we couldn’t use a single take of one of them. Time wasted that we certainly don’t have. The frustrations of SIF continue to mount.

So here there we were, with one day left we can shoot on – Saturday the 16th. We needed to get this scene completely done before the wildlife starts to bloom as well, and we still had 18 setups to do. 18 setups, and they are all for the same scene! I’m starting to feel the pressure of my usual over ambition when it comes to creativity. Why couldn’t I write a simple story for this project? Why did I have to tell a morality tale? Why couldn’t it have been: “Ha, you must die, Jedi,” with the Jedi retorting, “No, your evil must end!” and they fight and that’s it? I mean…honestly! It’s not like I can drive 430 miles to WV every weekend, or take another week off for this particular scene. We had to get this done ASAP for a multitude of reasons. But we just had one day. 18 setups. And then the clincher: Saturday happened to be Sheila’s wedding anniversary, not to mention that her younger son, Trey, had a Scouts function. Jordan and Logan are in Huntington. Nick has to work all day. Kris broke up with Savanna on Friday (the freaking day after Valentine’s at that) so of course she’s not going to come help. So who in the hell can we get to come help us out? Hey, why not Kris’ 13 year old brother, Storm?

I can’t explain how exasperated I was at the thought of having to go out on location and be creative in that situation without being excessively rude. But I can’t tell the story properly without at least mentioning it, so you’re not going to get the full extent of my state of mine here. Just to let you know. It certainly was another ‘ah man F this shite in the A with a wiffle ball bat’ kind of moment.

It isn’t enough that we can only shoot just 3 out of 8 days I’m in town. It isn’t enough that we have to have 1 person crew days. No…I have to have a 1 crew day with a 13 year old. A 13 year old who has to be my camera operator with absolutely no PA to help him out. Man, shooting a movie isn’t like taking photographs or making a home video. It’s a completely different mindset, and I’m going to have to give a basics crash course to a 13 year old! Hello! So now I have to have that on my mind while also trying to “act” and not get myself or Kris injured while we swing these dowels at each other. Perfect, I kept thinking to myself, just what a perfect ending to this week of mishaps.

But you know what? Storm knocked it out of the park, man. He just kicked all the tail in the universe there is to kick. He did everything we asked him to, and he did it well. We did a whopping 9 setups, 10 counting a pickup we decided to shoot out of the blue, on Saturday the 16th, and we did them in about 5 hours worth of actual shooting. The rest of the time was taken up by us having to get ourselves dressed in our costumes since Sheila wasn’t there, setting up, getting Storm prepped to be a camera operator and his own PA, and me having to find a dry erase marker.

Neither of us really had much of an idea how everything goes together on our costumes since Sheila always handles that, but we eventually figured it out. It took us like a half an hour, but we got it. Just getting them on, though, is one thing. Getting everything perfected and situated like they have been in other takes is something else too. It just sucked ass not having our costume magician there. We had to spend a lot of time on that that we otherwise wouldn’t have had to.

The slate we use to mark our scene is basically a dry erase board with a clapper on it. It greatly aides the editing process to slate every take you do, so we have been doing so. However, as we were getting ready to start on Saturday, I couldn’t find any dry erase marker. Sheila had been in charge of that on Thursday, and I was sure I didn’t have one with me. So I had to leave Pipestem and drive back to Athens (10 miles) to get to the CVS there and buy a marker. That wasted about 30-40 minutes. Of course, later that day I discovered I had one in my pocket the entire time. Ah the glory of SIF!

If not for these pitfalls, I’m sure we would have finished shooting this scene on the 16th, but as it was we made great progress. And much to my embarrassment, we got a lot more accomplished with the awesome Storm than I thought we would. There’s only one setup he shot that I think we will have to reshoot, but we can use about 99% of what he shot for us. I can’t thank him enough. Not only did he do his job well, he was a pleasure to be around. So all hats off to Storm McPherson. You rule!

That just goes to show you how little being negative and worried can do to help you. I wonder if I would have realized I had a dry erase marker on me if I had only been in a more positive frame of mind. Lesson learned, folks – like I said, patience, hard work, and faith are rewarded. If only I had a little more faith on the 16th.

Since one of the step ups we did on the 16th was a reshoot, and one was a pickup that doesn’t count toward the main shot list, we still have about 11 setups to do (10 new setups, and one reshoot of the last setup that Storm shot), plus a pickup or two as well, before scene 26 is “in the can”. I’m going to go back to Princeton for the weekend here in the next couple of weeks or so in order to accomplish that. I’m confident we can do that as long as we stay positive and focused, and the weather holds out. And despite our good fortune with the one man butt kicking crew of Storm, I don’t want to go into another day of shooting with one crew member ever again. We need at least two, so hopefully we can communicate with each other better in the future and make better plans. SIFfing is complicated enough, folks. It really, really is.

Well…that’s about all there is to report for the second leg of shooting on Darkening of the Light. Another week of highs and lows, but all in all a glorious time was had by all. We used another 2 and a half tapes, so we’re up to midway through tape 6 now. Since there is an hour of footage per tape, we have shot about 5 and a half hours of footage already. It won’t surprise me if we fill 15 tapes before we wrap. We’re getting a lot of good stuff, not to mention some fun blooper stuff and an awesome gag reel. Hopefully we can get this done and ready to watch before we all move into nursing homes. We’ll see….

Before I close this out, I want to add something not related to DOTL. Every time I go on a trip, I usually buy at least some new music from iTunes and make a new playlist in my iPod. The playlist always includes the new music, of course, but also random selections from my iPod’s library. However, this time was different. I will always remember this trip as the trip where I discovered the glory of Sara Bareilles. You know how you often associate great times with whatever music you were listening to at the time? To this day when I hear the song “Cruel Summer”, I think of driving around Florida while on vacation with my parents and going to see “The Karate Kid” at the theater. Damn am I really that old?

Anyway, I was sitting here at my apartment making up a playlist when the Rhapsody / Tivo commercial with Sara playing her song “Love Song” came on. Now, I had seen this commercial before a lot of times, but I suppose I wasn’t in the “look her up on iTunes” frame of mind at the time. This time I was, and man I am glad I did. Her album, “Little Voice”, is one of the most perfect albums I’ve ever purchased.

My Dad once said to me that he felt like if he enjoyed at least 6 songs on an album, then it was a good purchase. He would feel extremely disappointed about an album if he didn’t like at least that many songs on it. Nowadays I’m buying more “tracks” than I am entire albums to be honest, but that “measuring stick” is something I’ve never forgotten. I decided to look through iTunes and see which albums are my favorites. Here they are, in alphabetical order via album name:

“1984” by Van Halen – 7 songs (out of 9 total tracks)
“5150” by Van Halen – 8 songs (9)
“Audioslave” by Audioslave – 6 songs (14)
“Balance” by Van Halen – 7 songs (12)
“Binaural” by Pearl Jam – 7 songs (13)
“Breakaway” by Kelly Clarkson – 8 songs (12)
“Once more with Feeling” by Josh Whedon and the cast of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” – 10 songs (23)
“Cracked Rear View” by Hootie – 7 songs (12)
“Fallen” by Evanescence – 7 songs (12)
“For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge” by Van Halen – 10 songs (11)
“Fumbling Towards Ecstasy” by Sarah McLachlan – 10 songs (13)
“Hysteria” by Def Leppard – 9 songs (12)
“Looking for Lucky” by Hootie – 6 songs (12)
“Marching to Mars” by Sammy Hagar – 6 songs (11)
“Musical Chairs” by Hootie – 6 songs (13)
“No Code” by Pearl Jam – 8 songs (13)
“The Open Door” by Evanescence – 6 songs (13)
“OU812” by Van Halen – 7 songs (10)
“Secret Samadhi” by Live – 8 songs (12)
“Ten” by Pearl Jam – 10 songs (11)
“Throwing Copper” by Live – 12 songs (14)
“Tidal” by Fiona Apple – 7 songs (10)
“Van Halen” by Van Halen – 7 songs (11)
“Vitology” by Pearl Jam – 10 songs (14)
“VS” by Pearl Jam – 10 songs (12)
“When the Pawn” by Fiona Apple – 8 songs (10)
“Yield” by Pearl Jam – 7 songs (13)

Now I can add “Little Voice” by Sara Bareilles to that list: 11 songs out of 12. That makes it one of the most perfect albums I’ve ever listed to. Pearl Jam’s Ten, and two Van Halen albums (For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge and 5150) are the other three that come as close to perfection as “Little Voice”. Live’s “Throwing Copper” is really close, and I pretty much believe it should be on my list of “Damn Near Perfect Albums”, so there you go.

Anyway, “Little Voice” is an amazing collection of songs. Instead of listening to the playlist I made that included random songs and those from “Little Voice”, I have pretty much listened to just this album ever since I bought it. I listened to it the whole way up to WV, while driving around WV, the whole way back to Atlanta, and this week while walking to and from work. It’s just gorgeous stuff, and I believe I will forever associate it with this trip and working on DOTL. Therefore, it deserves mention here. If you think you might share my taste in music, I HIGHLY recommend “Little Voice”. Best $10 I’ve ever spent.

Well, that’s all I have to say for now. I hope everyone’s Valentine’s was awesome!

Until next time,
B
——————–

No
This isn’t about you
Even when you might think it is
Accepting no matter what it gives

At least I don’t
have to alter my ego
We’re not a star in the other’s sky
How honorable, but still a lie

I wish I could take these glasses off
And show you who I really am
The one inside the two
But would it mean anything to you?
I wish you would take this mask off
And see who I really am
What I’m sure we always knew
Will it ever be the right thing to do?

Time
Slipped quickly away
Gone like sand between my fingers
Like a sweet dream it lingers

See me
I’m my alter ego
Under the facade that I hide
Maybe you’ve always seen the other side

I wish you would take those glasses off
And show me who you really are
What we could always see through
What is there and really true
I wish you would take that mask off
And let me see who you really are
For the sense it would construe
Could it be the right thing to do?

Now I know what I’ve known I have never known
Now I see what I have had I could never own
These dreams I see
All that is me
Is there in you

No
This isn’t about you
I open these doors so I can see
These days I do what I do for me

At least I don’t
have to alter my ego
Always the defender
Always your pretender…

…even if we take off the masks.

–“Alter Ego”
Wrote the ‘chorus’ on 2/13/08
The rest came on 2/21/08
J. Brian Terry

My favorite teams are the Panthers, and who ever is playing the Patriots….

Okay, so check out this awesomeness. My brother came in town last week and we hung out a lot over the weekend. He has a PlayStation3 along with Madden 08. On his fantasy team he has Randy Moss and Wes Welker, so he has become accustomed to cheering for them over the course of this season. I, as most of you know, loathe the Patriots (Gaytriots). Therefore, the battle lines were drawn. Lee Jay and I would simulate the up and coming Super Bowl 42. He would be the Gaytriots, and I would be the Giants. We would set the stadium to be Arizona’s stadium, even, like in the real thing.

Madden 08 on the PS3 isn’t one of my favorite games because it doesn’t have coach mode in it. See, I suck at controlling players but I excel at football strategy. I would rather just call the plays and have the machine play out the action. However, on Madden08 for the PS3 (supposedly next gen gameplay…bah!) this feature is missing. If you don’t control the runners, the game will play out the action fine as normal. But when you call a passing play, you have to control the QB and throw the ball – if you don’t the QB will just stand there like an r-tard and let himself get sacked. You also have to control the kickers on kickoffs, punts, field goals, and extra points. This, to me, makes Madden become an arcade game rather than a football simulation. What is the point of having player ratings if there is a human element involved in the action? It seems pointless to me, but then again I’m not a fan of arcade football.

I grew up playing a complex board game my Dad introduced me and my brother to when we were very young called NFL Strategy, by Tudor games. If you love football, you would be doing yourself a favor by trying to get your hands on one of these awesome games created in the 70s (last I looked, there were several up on Ebay). This game, along with my Dad’s tutelage as well, taught me and my brother SO much about football strategy. We learned about charting tendencies, formations (offensive and defensive), What X; Y; Z; Mike; Sam; Will all meant, hash marks and strong/weak sides, game planning, and studying playbooks. The game came with about 40 offensive plays that ran the gamut from running plays (off tackle, dives, smashes, powers, and sweeps) to passing plays (screens, short passes, middle passes, and bombs), to goal line formation plays. There were only about 15 or 16 defensive plays, but every situation was covered from man coverage, to basic zones, weak zones, strong zones, double coverages, and blitzes. Because of this, I am a fan of football strategy. I want to be able to run the team, design my own playbook, create my own defensive schemes (I’m more of a defense guy…I’ll use stock offensive playbooks no problem), and call the plays. When you control players it becomes more about who can move their thumbs and punch buttons better, and much, much less about who can call a better game of football strategy.

Football strategy, and not arcade action, is what I want out of my Madden experience, and what I could get out of earlier versions to one extent or another. Once upon a time we could use our own playbooks in Franchise modes, but for the past several versions that feature has been missing as well. Why? Who the hell knows. Monkeys are at the helm of this franchise if you ask me.

Anyway…now is not the time for Madden criticism. Although, let me add the following if any powers at be at EASports might read this in the future: PLEASE find the people who created Sierra-On-Line’s Front Page Sports football games from 93-96 (not the buggy 97-99 versions) and get them to create the next versions of Madden. Tiburon just isn’t innovating or creating magic anymore. It’s like they’re just adding new layers of tar on an obviously rocky road. I think the building needs to be torn completely down and rebuilt from scratch. Madden 07 and 08 haven’t been “next gen”. They’re shite compared to what they should be, and they’re sure as effing hell not football simulations. If you forget about the graphics and animations, which of course are not going to be as awesome in 95 as they are now, the game play, strategy, and depth in the Front Page Sports games make the current Madden versions (and pretty much every version of Madden ever, really) look like tinker toys. The playbook, play, and game plan creators in the Front Page Sports games alone far outshine any similar features in any other football game that I’ve ever played. Hell, those games were shipped on freaking floppy disks! Hello! We have DVDs and Blu-Ray DVDs now, and we can’t innovate and implement features better than folks in 95?! Really? Asshats!

Ah, sorry, I got carried away there on a tangent. Now on to the coolness of this post: Me vs Lee Jay. Giants vs Gaytriots at the University of Phoenix Stadium. 10 minute quarters with accelerated clock turned on.

Now I’ve been saying all year long that the way to beat the Pats is to run a 3-3-5 nickel defensive as your base package. This is because it’s just as easy to defend the run as well as the pass in a 3-3-5, and you can also drop 8 into coverage if you want. You can’t do that with a 4-man line unless you’re gonna drop a lineman into coverage. I would dog (sending 5 at the QB) or blitz (sending 6 or more at the QB) on just about every single down, though. Zone blitzing would be something I’d do often when I’m blitzing – disguising coverage and making Brady figure it out on the fly. Granted, he’s good at that. But my D would be knocking him down a lot, and hopefully he’d get flustered. He’s an emotional guy, and I believe that if a team is getting to him often then he’d let it get to him. Knock him down, and step on him when you’re getting up. Step on his ankle too… you bet your ass I would do it if I were on the field.

So that was my defensive game plan in this game vs Lee Jay. It was a great first half, with the two of us trading touchdowns back and forth. I was able to run the ball well vs his D, and he was able to pass well against my D. If I got him to 3rd down, it was over as in the end his offense was 0 for (whatever…can’t remember the attempts) against me on 3rd down. However, there were several times I didn’t get him to 3rd down. It was NYG 21 NE 14 at the end of the first half.

Then all hell broke lose with my D in the second half. 16 total yards rushing allowed. 4 sacks of Mr. “I didn’t want anything to do with my pregnant ex-girlfriend or my child, especially when I could hang out with Giselle instead” Brady. 7 interceptions of Brady passes. NO second half points allowed! NYG win 31 to 14! Woo Hoo! Down with the Gaytriots! I played a lot of 3-3-5, but when it was clear that they needed to pass every down, I broke out the dime and dollar packages. I like playing the dime flat package because it puts everyone closer to the line of scrimmage. I think football is meant to be played in your face, and when my D lines up I want them to be smacking our opponents in their mouths! Yes!

I still sucked ass at controlling the QB, but luckily the NYG running backs were able to run all over the NE defense, like I think they will be able to do in the actual Super Bowl. I racked up something like 215 yards of total rushing, and I think just like 120 yards of passing LOL. Michael Strahan ended up with two interceptions and a sack, and was named MVP of the game. It ruled, and I hope it’s similar to how the Super Bowl goes this coming Sunday, February, 3rd. Please beat the CRAP out of the Gaytriots! Yes!

Well…that is all for now. Have a good one.

B

The Distance to Here

Howdy folks. Wow I’m a sucky blogger, huh? I swear I’ve been meaning to write something up since October. I was planning this post about how my brother’s cat had kittens and I was going to be bringing two of the kittens home with me. Why two? Well, supposedly, it’s been suggested to get cats in pairs when you can so they will have each other when you are not around. So, anyway, I did that. What follows is pretty much what I wanted to post back then. Following that, I will catch you all up with what’s going on right about now.

In October I was cleaning up my apartment, getting it ready for the arrival of the kittens. Since my divorce in 2005, I moved into a smaller apartment in the same apartment complex in Midtown where Leah and I lived. I’m a packrat, and having owned a house in West Virginia once upon a time, I have a lot of stuff. This is a studio apartment, albeit a somewhat bigger studio than your regular studio. It is just barely big enough to contain me and my stuff.

Prior to this cleanup effort, I had all of my moving boxes broken down and stuffed under my bed. I had all the Styrofoam packing for all my electronic equipment stacked in a corner in what is basically the living room. I always keep as many boxes as I can between moves so I don’t have to go looking for boxes the next time I move. I’m just practical that way. I keep all the packing for my equipment so I can safely move it the next time I move. Again, I believe that is just forward thinking at work there. Hehe

Anyway, I knew I had to get that stuff out of here and into the closet so that the cats wouldn’t destroy it all. So that meant I had to completely re-organize the closet. This closet is supposedly a walk-in closet, but there really isn’t much walking space in it even when it’s empty. (It’s approximately 10 feet by 4 feet.) That’s okay, though, because I’m not a chick with a ridiculous amount of clothes / shoes that I might only wear one time in the entire span of my lifetime. However, like I said, I have a lot of stuff.

So I started collecting stuff in trash bags that I didn’t really need, and collecting clothes that I couldn’t or didn’t want to wear anymore so I could donate them. In the process of doing this, I came across a bag that is stuffed full of handwritten poetry that I have done over the years. I used to write poetry all the time, but usually only when I was sad or pissed off. So most of it is ‘woe is me’ kind of stuff, but a lot of it I still like. Looking over it all, I’ve decided to post some of it on the site here. Be looking for that – when it happens there will be a “Poetry” link in the “Pages” list on the right.

Also in this bag I found other pieces of memorabilia. I like to keep things, like ticket stubs, that I feel like I will represent a cool memory that I will want to revisit in the future. I also keep other things that represent cool memories to me as well.

I have my ticket stub for Game 6 of the 1992 National League Championship Series – Braves vs Pittsburg. Why did I keep this stub when in this game the Pirates beat the Braves 13 to 4 to tie the series at 3 games all? It’s simple – because the next night the Braves won in spectacularly dramatic fashion in one of the greatest moments in Braves history. Sid Bream slides in at home plate and Braves Win, Braves Win, Braves Win, Braves Win, Braves Win…. That was awesome. Me and a friend of mine were watching it on TV, and we heard that people were storming Peachtree Street in Buckhead. So we drove downtown and danced in the street, literally, until 3 in the morning. There were thousands of people there. Somehow people got a hold of a HUGE wooden tomahawk, it had to be 12 feet in length at least, and we were “surfing” it around the crowd. I will never forget that. The cops blocked off the street so there was no traffic as if we were some kind of Parade, and we danced in the most famous street in Atlanta until the wee hours. That’s a life experience right there. You can’t really appreciate it unless you were there. We did the same thing when the Braves won the World Series in 1995…but it just wasn’t the same. At least not to me. There was just something magical about that night in 1992, and I will never forget it.

There are other tickets stubs in this bag. Very special to me is my first ever Van Halen concert – Friday, August 16, 1991. Just $22.50 a ticket LOL. Crazy. There is also a stub for the one and only time I’ve been to see Pearl Jam – October 4th, 1996. Most important of all, though, is the ticket stub that lead to a series of events that drove me to move to Atlanta for good: Atlanta Falcons vs Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, December 30th, 1990. Here is the story behind that.

I have moved to Atlanta twice. The first time I moved was a spur of the moment kind of thing. But in order to tell this story properly, I have to start at the real beginning.

In the fall of 1987, I went off to college at West Virginia University. Being the young, crazy person I was I didn’t do much learning during that time. Instead, I did a considerable amount of partying and beer drinking. I think I just let myself get overwhelmed with how huge that place seemed to me after spending my entire life in little Princeton. WVU has its own mini mass transit rail system, ok? Sort of like a mini-MARTA. That’s how huge the campus is. Anyway, I failed all my classes and decided to drop out after the first semester. I returned home to my infuriated parents.

I wanted to take the winter and spring off, and not go back to college until the fall of 88. I was all set to do that when one day my Dad took me to the movies, but on the way there had decided to chat with me about how important he felt it was for me to get back on the horse, so to speak, and continue my education. He had never finished college, and therefore had a difficult life professionally, and he didn’t want that for me. My Dad and I were very close, and I wanted nothing more, really, than for him to be proud of me. So I relented and decided to enroll at a local college closer to home: Concord College (now Concord University) in Athens, WV. I didn’t want to go back to WVU because I was afraid the same thing would happen. I felt it was better for me to take baby steps into the world at large.

During my first semester at Concord I met a lot of awesome people, and also actually went to classes and learned stuff (haha). Most importantly a former high school acquaintance invited me to pledge in the frat he was a member of: TKE. TKE had just recently come back from being suspended at Concord, so this pledge class was really small…just me and one other dude, Ron. Ron and I went through so much shite that semester pledging that we became close friends. Winter and Spring came and went, Ron and I became full members of TKE, and summer vacation was upon us.

Ron and I hung out a lot over that summer, and we were like true brothers. That fact is really only important for one reason, and it will become apparent later. It was a great summer, but that is another story for another time. Like all good things it must come to an end, and fall of 88 arrived soon enough. It was time to go back to college.

In October of 1988, my life changed forever. One afternoon some of my TKE brothers and I decided to have lunch together. We were all hanging out on the library steps, and I was grilling one of the new pledges about the greek alphabet. He was trying to get me to sign his pledge book, and I was enjoying making it difficult for him. We were all waiting for Dennis and his mysterious new girlfriend to meet us. I remember hearing some of the brothers whispering around me and the new pledge about Dennis’ girlfriend, and how beautiful she was. So I was curious to see her. Just as I let the pledge off the hook and signed his book, around the corner came Dennis and one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever met in real life.

All time stopped for me. I’m about to detail another life experience that I hope everyone has gone through at least once in their life. I fell in love with her – Christine Price – right at that moment when I first saw her. It was like everyone else around us suddenly disappeared, and there was only me and her. You can’t hold time back forever, so things started moving again – but in slow motion. She was coming to me, and the sun was glinting all around. Her hair danced in the gentle breeze of her movement. I was hammered with what felt like at least one lifetime of emotion all at once. It was overwhelming to say the least.

I’m not going to go into the whole me and Christine story here. That is also another story for another day. Three days after we met, I found out that Dennis had broken up with her so I went to see her. We kissed for the first time that night while the Beatles sang, “All you need is love”, and the rest is history.

Now me, still being really young and crazy, was way over my head being so completely in love with this girl. I totally lost my sense of self. I smothered poor Christine with demands of every moment of her free time until she just couldn’t take it anymore. She lived in Manassas Park, Virginia, and so when the summer of 89 arrived she left for home and we kept in touch via letter and phone calls. As she rediscovered what it was like to not have me hanging on her every move during the summer, she came back to college in the fall of 89 not wanting to date any longer. She wanted some space.

She had to come back to Concord a little earlier than other students for band camp. We hung out a little, but she was usually too busy, or exhausted, with band stuff for us to spend too much time together. However, that wasn’t the whole story. During band camp she had met a drum major and they had struck up a romance, so that was the end of our primary relationship. I was completely, totally, and in all other ways crushed.

I don’t remember much about college in the fall of 89. I continued to go to class, and I’m sure I learned some stuff. But I saw Christine all the time, and she wanted to be friendly with me as if everything was the same. I just couldn’t do it. Everywhere I went reminded me of her, if I wasn’t running into her where ever I went. I think the primary problem was that she and I continually hooked up on various occasions after her new relationship ended.

I had other friends who were in the band, so I would be in the music department from time to time, and I would sit down at a piano and start playing. Not being a good musician at the time, and pretty much playing the same songs over and over, she would know when it was me playing and would come find me. We would spend that day together, and usually that night too, and the next day she would want to go back to not being together anymore. It was really frustrating for me because I’ve always been a one girl guy, and I wasn’t used to being with a girl who wanted to have singular nights of passion and then walk away. (hehe) Sounds like most guys wet dream, eh? It was driving me insane. I mean…seriously.

In the meantime, my frat bother Ron had moved to Atlanta. He was continually calling me and telling me that I needed to move to Atlanta. December of 89 rolled around and I decided that I needed to make a change in my life. I was losing interest in myself, my life, and everything in the world that’s me and that’s truly important. I needed to get out of Princeton, away from Christine, and put myself back together. One Thursday Ron called, asked me to move to Atlanta, and I told him that if he could get up to Princeton and pick me up, I would do it. Any day, any time, just let me know. He said, “How about tomorrow?” HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

I was living with my grandmother at the time, so after that call I went up to her and told her I was moving. I explained that I had to get away because I had lost myself to Christine, and needed to rediscover Brian. Granny and I were pretty much best friends, so it was really hard on us both. But I think she understood where I was coming from. Then I got on the phone with Mom and Dad and let them know I was moving to Atlanta…tomorrow. That was a shocker as you might imagine.

So that’s how I initially moved to Atlanta. I was here for 4 months before Granny passed away. She left me her car, her house, and the land the house was on. I had done a lot of healing in that 4 months, and given this opportunity to own my own place, I decided to move back. As it turned out I didn’t have much of a choice because my “brother” Ron, while I was in WV for my grandmother’s funeral, had stolen my computer, VCR, and pretty much everything I had of value and disappeared. When I went back to GA it was all gone. I would have moved back to WV at that time anyway, but hey…it wasn’t a great time in my life as you can imagine.

As an aside, I’d like to point out that I’m not sure I would have made it through the loss of my grandmother, and Ron’s betrayal, had it not been for Christine. She stayed with me pretty much constantly for the rest of that semester and just took care of me. I just want to make it clear that I don’t think she ever fell out of love with me any more than I fell out of love with her. At least not back then. It wasn’t meant to be, obviously, but we had a connection that you don’t achieve very often in life. Some people you “click” with more than others, yes. And very, very few seem like just another part of you. I’ve had that with my best friend Sheila, and then with Christine. When you have that, you gotta appreciate it. We’re lucky that it happens at all, I think. I just wish I could feel that way again about someone. I think I could have had a chance with some of the other women I’ve known between now and then, but circumstances prevented us from really getting close. I just miss that sense of completion. Ah blah I’m getting away from the point of this post. I just don’t want to paint Chris in a negative light. Yeah we didn’t work out, but she is in the top three of the most awesome human beings I have ever known. I will miss her for the rest of my life.

Anyway, while I was living in GA I met a lot of awesome folks, but never got involved in any relationship with anyone. The whole point was for me to be away from all that and rediscover me. But I met some awesome ladies, one of them being Deana (pronounced Dee-na) Crisp. When I moved back to WV, I kept in touch with everyone via letters and phone calls.

So now we come to the ticket stub. December of 1990. I grew up a Dallas Cowboys fan, and a lot of my friends in Princeton are also Cowboys fans. A bunch of us decided that we would take a road trip and go to Atlanta to see the Cowboys play. At the time, I didn’t have a lot of money so I drove to Atlanta without enough money to rent a room for the weekend…even if I was splitting a room with the guys. But I had my Atlanta friends, so when I got into town I started calling everyone to see if I could crash for the weekend. Some folks turned me down, but I got in touch with Deana and she was happy to offer me a place to stay for the weekend. She was just moving into an apartment with another girl we both knew (we all had worked together when I lived in GA), so I helped them move in for letting me stay.

During that weekend, Deana and I started some innocent flirting. It was clear that we were attracted to one other, but we never hooked up during that time. After the football game, I went back to WV, but Deana and I spoke with each other almost every day. We wrote to each other often. I went back to visit her in February for Valentine’s and we just hit it off. I decided to move back and move in with her. I did so in March of 1991, and I’ve been here ever since.

So here is this ticket stub. Not only was it my ticket to that game, but it was, in many ways, the ticket to my future. It was a big part of what had led me to where I am now. But I like to do this…I like to look back on my life and sort of observe how the things that happened to me led me to where I am.

Me and Deana didn’t last long, although she was the first girl I got engaged to. But I was a jerk to her. She was wonderful to me, and I wasn’t totally over Christine yet. I took her for granted and was basically an asshole to her. I wish I could tell her that I’m sorry. I’m thankful for her, though, because if she hadn’t given me a place to crash that weekend, I might not be here right now. So all thanks to Deana! 🙂

I wonder if I had never met Christine if I would have felt compelled to move away from Princeton. I think I would have eventually, but certainly the path of my life would be different. So…wow…every little thing moved me along the path of life from there to here. My craziness at WVU. Dad convincing me to enroll at Concord right away instead of waiting. That invitation to rush TKE. Dennis being with Christine to introduce me to her. The rise and fall of love. Ron introducing me to Atlanta. The ticket to the football game. Deana inviting me to crash with her for that weekend. A blossoming romance leading me to move back. So…wow..it’s been a wild, crazy, wonderful time from then through the path of my life until now. But that was the beginning of what I consider who I am now.

This ticket to a football game…I’m so glad I kept it. I will want to get it out and look back on everything from time to time. I think it’s good to remain mindful of where you’ve been. I hope I will always………………………………………………………….…remember.

So eventually I straightened up my closet. I got the things out of the other rooms that I didn’t want the kittens to attack. Between then and now I have acquired the cats – they are named Buffy and Faith after my love for the TV shows “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel”. They both are just awesome cats. I will be posting pictures of them soon as well.

Between October and now I turned 39 (craziness), spent a week in WV for the holidays where I had a great time with my actual family and my “second” family (Sheila, Rob, Kris, Jordan, and Trey), concluded another fantasy football season where I won the point championship but missed the fantasy bowl again, and spent New Year’s Eve and the first week and a half of January sick just like last year (really bad cold that led to a sinus infection). I still feel a little off, but I’m getting better. I’m still enjoying my work with Turner Broadcasting. Life is more or less good. I’m happy that I’m here, that’s for sure.

I’m getting tired and I want to post this, but here are some quick things that I was going to write a lot about but will just touch on right now:

1) For what it’s worth, I am endorsing Mike Huckabee for President in 2008. I am doing this primarily because he supports the Fair Tax plan. (Even though I absolutely abhor the word ‘fair’. I don’t think there’s any such thing as ‘fair’, but that is, again, a story for another day. It should be called The Common Sense Tax, or the Better Tax, or something like that.) The mainstream media is going to more or less misinform you about the Fair Tax, so I want to encourage everyone reading this to please seek all information you can. Read, learn, and think for yourself. People like to use creative accounting to try to discount the concept of the Fair Tax. Don’t allow yourself to be fooled. Please make use of the links below.
2) http://www.mikehuckabee.com/
3) http://www.fairtax.org/
4) http://www.factcheck.org/taxes/unspinning_the_fairtax.html — yeah even read what others have to say about it even though they, in my opinion, don’t get it.
5) http://www.fairtaxcalculator.org
6) http://boortz.com/ — especially read Neal’s Nuze every day.
7) http://www.amazon.com/FairTax-Book-Neal-Boortz/dp/0060875410
8 ) http://www.amazon.com/FairTax-Answering-Critics-Neal-Boortz/dp/0061540463/ref=pd_sim_b_title_2/105-5353101-9129208
9) http://www.fairtaxblog.com/
10) On to other things – I’m hoping that the Jaguars beat the Patriots on Saturday. Go Jags!
11) I can’t decide if I’d like to see the Cowboys go to the Super Bowl, or Brett Favre and his Packers. Favre really deserves it, though. I’d love to see him make it back. I hope one of them makes it because I will be pulling for them to win it all.
12) I will post my poetry and pics of the cats at some point in the future – be on the lookout!
13) I can’t wait for Saturday and the NFL Playoffs to start up again!
14) I’m really tired…should have gone to bed hours ago….

Until next time,
B

——————————————

I hate the world today
Insane or stupid people
Always in my way
Though there are my selected few
You know who you are
You’re each a shining star

Yesterday I lied
Said I love her
But God knows that I’ve tried
It’s just that she is such a bitch
She always wants her way
She never scratches my itch
And she wants me made of clay

But I kick ass
Indeed I rock
They’re not worthy
To suck my cock
I am all that they will seek
With my tongue here in my cheek
I’m the dude; I’m the king
They wish they had my ring
Because I know they know what they cannot replace

What is left to say
Through the ups and downs
Life is but a play
I try to share the marquee
Here on my center stage
Was this their cage?

I just wish that they would try
To use their brains
But that assumes a lie
They cannot use what just isn’t there
Mediocrity feels fine
Instead of better they seek fair
And the fault is always mine

But I kick ass
I’m too cool
They’re not worthy
To eat my stool
I am all that they will seek
With my tongue here in my cheek
Yes I rule; I’m the king
Their bitch ass gets nothing
Of all I am just get the hell out of my face!

We all keep asking ourselves why, but the reasons don’t even matter
If you don’t believe in yourself, then no one else ever will

I’m the one
To answer their prayer
But they’re not worthy
To breathe my air
I am all that they will seek
With my tongue here in my cheek
I’m their dream; I’m the king
They had my sweet something
They let it go and now it’s gone without a trace

Don’t you
Forget about me
Don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t
As if you could
Forget about me

–“Cheeky”
J. Brian Terry
October 2007

Almost Home

So here I am, sitting in my place watching “Almost Famous” (The Untitled / Director’s Cut / “Bootleg” edition) and drinking a beer. I’m going to write along with the movie, so if it’s seems I’m being random – well, I’m sorry. I’m sure that the words and the moment will lead me along to a point. A point I want to convey or allow myself to see. I just don’t know what it is right now.

Wow, this movie pretty much breaks my heart every time I watch it. It’s beautiful. It’s classic. It’s funny. It’s sweet. It’s sad. It’s all happening. It’s pretty much perfect. I want to say that it’s “real”, but that is some kind of conceit, isn’t it? I think it just might be.

It makes me long to write my own sort of autobiography. (If you don’t know, this movie is semi-autobiographical for the writer/director Cameron Crowe.) I’d like to write about my Dad, and how he affected me. And how his death affected me, and continues to affect me. I have a Mom who freaked me out all the time. I have my Penny Lane. I’m there. I can identify. Ah man Tiny Dancer is playing….

Blue jean baby
L.A. lady
Seamstress for the band
Pretty eyed
Pirate smile
You’ll marry a music man
Ballerina
You must have seen her
Dancing in the sand
And now she’s in me
Always with me
Tiny dancer in my hand

Jesus freaks
Out in the street
Handing tickets out for God
Turning back
She just laughs
The boulevard is not that bad

Piano man
He makes his stand
In the auditorium
Looking on
She sings the songs
The words she knows
The tune she hums

But oh how it feels so real
Lying here with no one near
Only you and you can hear me
When I say softly slowly

Hold me closer tiny dancer
Count the headlights on the highway
Lay me down in sheets of linen
you had a busy day today….

–Elton John and Bernie Taupin

“I have to go home,” William says. “You are home,” Penny replies. This is an exchange I can identify with too. I’m there. I have to go home – I say that to myself all the time when I’m about to go back to Princeton. What does that mean? What the hell does that mean?! I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. Aren’t I already home? Aren’t I going to visit a place that *used* to be my home? The thing is, though, I’m going to a place that used to be my home where a great deal of the people that I love live. Who lives here in Atlanta that I love? Me?

Really?

Sheila always says something along the lines of Turner should open an office in Princeton so I could move back home. You know, man, every time I go up there lately I am so happy that I can’t articulate it. I really can’t, and that sucks for someone who loves to write. I wish I could share that, but it’s locked up in here.

Anyway – then I come back here and for about a month I waiver somewhere between persistent sorrow and depression. (This is pretty much where I am right now, of course.) Then it fades. I get on with my routines. I work. I hang out with friends. We laugh and have glorious and copious amounts of fun. I can walk to an 18 plex and see any movie that’s out now. I can go to a Braves game whenever I want. Hockey is starting up again and, yes, whenever I want I can go to see the Thrashers. I don’t even have to pay for it, thanks to the glory of Turner. I have a huge grocery store 3 blocks away. A CVS not even a block away. MARTA is 5 minutes away. Anything is a walk away. Everything is a walk away. There’s just nothing like the city, man.

Like I said – I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I have an idea of what would happen if I moved back to Princeton. I’d be in that state of joy I described earlier for about a month, and then slowly but surely I would sink into that sadness and depression that I also spoke of earlier. Only this sadness and depression would be ongoing. So…you know…that can’t happen. I can’t let that happen.

I just need to change the way I think and feel about all of this. When I’m going to Princeton, I *am* going home. But when I return here, I *am* home as well. I love this city. That’s what else is here that I love. I love the company of my friends. I love Turner. I love the Braves. I love the Thrashers. Well, I love hockey hehe – but I do like the Thrashers hahahahahahaha. I love the huge movie theaters here. And I love that it’s all just a walk away. I have to make peace with this.

It’s hard, though, when all you can think of is Sheila on the tennis court; or Mom and her laptop; or Kris and his goofy face in the DOTL footage, and we’re laughing at it like we’ve just discovered laughter for the first time (I will crush your head!); or me goofing with Jordan saying, “Ah I don’t like any of you anyway,” and her quiet, yet confident response: “Yes ya do.” Indeed. I look back at her and grin. What else can I say or do?

Ah man the movie is almost over. “Just get me to my bed.” Man there’s nothing like your own bed. I need to go there now.

What do you love about music? To begin with – everything. Yeah, I’m there too. Not so much the music of the 70’s, though. Not that it isn’t great stuff…don’t get me wrong. It’s just not as much my soundtrack as stuff from the 80’s, 90’s, and now. You gotta run with what speaks to you.

Ah! That’s it. If I’m here, I’m not there. But when I’m there, I’m not here. Maybe I’m never home. I’m Almost Home. Always. In a weird way, I like the thought of that SO much more. If you never get to where you’re going, then you always have something to look forward to. Is that crazy? Do you know what I mean? Are you there with me? I hope so, because it’s all happening there.

So now it’s done and credits are rolling. It’s a great flick, and I’m glad I was able to take it along the ride with me on writing this post tonight. What a fulfilling and cathartic experience. If you haven’t seen “Almost Famous”, then you gotta do it as soon as you can. It would be best if you can see the “Untitled”, “The Bootleg Cut”, director’s version. I ordered mine from Amazon and it arrived today. It has 39 minutes of additional footage and it elevates a great move experience into a perfect one. Give it a go when you can.

PS — if you want to see some pictures of us filming DOTL, then just check out the DOTL gallery on the “Pages” menu to the right….

Until next time,
B
————-

How can you see into my eyes — like open doors
Leading you down into my core
Where I’ve become so numb
Without a soul
My spirit sleeping somewhere cold
Until you find it there and lead it back home

(Wake me up)
Wake me up inside
(I can’t wake up)
Wake me up inside
(Save me)
Call my name and save me from the dark
(Wake me up)
Bid my blood to run
(I can’t wake up)
Before I come undone
(Save me)
Save me from the nothing I’ve become

Now that I know what I’m without
You can’t just leave me
Breathe into me and make me real
Bring me to life

(Wake me up)
Wake me up inside
(I can’t wake up)
Wake me up inside
(Save me)
Call my name and save me from the dark
(Wake me up)
Bid my blood to run
(I can’t wake up)
Before I come undone
(Save me)
Save me from the nothing I’ve become

Bring me to life
(I’ve been living a lie, there’s nothing inside)
Bring me to life

Frozen inside without your touch
Without your love darling
Only you are the life among the dead

All this time I can’t believe I couldn’t see
Kept in the dark, but you were there in front of me

I’ve been sleeping a thousand years it seems
Got to open my eyes to everything

Without a thought, without a voice, without a soul
Don’t let me die here there must be something more

Bring me to life!

(Wake me up)
Wake me up inside
(I can’t wake up)
Wake me up inside
(Save me)
Call my name and save me from the dark
(Wake me up)
Bid my blood to run
(I can’t wake up)
Before I come undone
(Save me)
Save me from the nothing I’ve become

Bring me to life
I’ve been living a lie, there’s nothing inside
Bring me to life

“Bring me to Life”
–Evanescence