Friday, September 28, 2007

Eastern Promises

Movie: Eastern Promises
Director(s): David Cronenberg

This is a simpler film than the trailers imply: basically a midwife in London finds a diary on a nameless Russian girl who dies while giving birth. The diary, when translated, tells about the girl's horrific imprisonment and rape at the hands of Russian mobsters, and thus the midwife gets embroiled into the criminal world. The film is authentic all the way with brutal violence, plenty of Russian language with English subtitles, and superior acting. It's extremely well done, but in the final analysis I wanted a touch more depth. It's all plot and the story just ends without any profound life lessons or impact. But other than that, it's a superior film.


Friday, September 28, 2007

Across the Universe

Movie: Across the Universe
Director(s): Julie Taymor

I had seen the trailers which intrigued me, but I didn't realize this was a musical. It's basically a story set to the music of the Beatles. The story is a simple love story about a boy from Liverpool named Jude who meets a girl named Lucy in New York City in the anti-war Vietnam era. The music is well integrated into the story and beautifully done, and I really liked the majority of the visuals and dancing and performances. A few of the songs are weaker and didn't interest me as much (some were too long), but most I liked, though I'm not familiar with many Beatles' songs (some I knew but never realized were Beatles' music). Some of the anti-war stuff is a bit too preachy with obvious pointers at today's "war" in Iraq (though it probably does fit with the era), and much of the 1960's hippy vibe is idealized. Still, it's a fun film -- good music, cool people celebrating life, clever camerawork and elaborate visuals, and a satisfying story -- but I wouldn't take it as seriously as it seems to take itself at times with its overly dramatic anti-war imagery and pro-free love idolatry. Just see it for the entertainment value.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Invisible Prey

Book: Invisible Prey
Writer(s): John Sandford

Strange, rather pointless novel. It's got a one-shot premise about "invisible" robberies where someone is killing elderly people while robbing them of selected expensive antiques so subtly that no one notices the thefts. But our "hero" cop gets involved and figures things out and tracks the criminals down. What's weird is the lack of characterization -- I suspect these are characters the author has used in previous novels and that's why they aren't explained, but I found it jarring and odd. The novel also has a tasteless quality to it: ruthless murders happen almost at random and are described with such dispassion it feels dirty. The ending is equally strange: it's a decent resolution, but bloody and violent in a way that feels unexpected and wrong. Basically, it's just a poor novel all the way around.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Home Again

Movie: Home Again

I made it back alive and in one piece. While I really wasn't gone that long -- just two weekends -- with everything I did on my trip it feels like I've been gone a month. I traveled light and did not take a laptop with me, relying on my iPhone for Internet access, and it worked wonderfully. I had intermittent access in Missouri and my Uncle's rural home, but other than there where the connection was sluggish, it worked great everywhere I went. Unable to do any work (without tools I couldn't even feel guilty about not working), I really did end up relaxing. I now feel refreshed and revived, though I am tired and probably behind on my sleep.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Resident Evil: Extinction

Movie: Resident Evil: Extinction

I liked the earlier two films, but this one falls short. It has a couple nice moments, but much of the film is routine zombie slashing and not particularly inventive. The film ends awkwardly, grinding to a halt versus soaring to a climax, leaving you with a "That's it?" feeling. Not terrible, and it actually fit my fatigued mood perfectly as I enjoyed not having to think, but there's not much here you haven't seen better before.


Monday, September 24, 2007

Lost in New York

Our plans sounded fine when we made them: after Spamalot, Peter and I went to Brooklyn for supper and to his place for a film. The plan was I'd return to Philip's at midnight (or later) when he'd be home to let me in. Time flew and it was suddenly 12:30 a.m. Sunday night and I departed from Peter's a little apprehensive about riding the subway in the middle of the night out to East Harlem. The subway ride was fine, utterly uneventful. I got out near Phil's and free from the underground, called his cell phone. Oddly, it went straight to voice mail. I left a message and walked on. But by the time I got there he hadn't called back. I called again, and then again a few minutes later. The apartment door was locked, and other than some "ladies" on the street corner, the area was strangely quiet and deserted, completely different from the previous two noisy nights.

The buzzer on the door did nothing (I found out later it doesn't work) and I racked my brains for a solution: I had absolutely no other way to get a hold of my cousin. If his mobile phone was turned off or out of power or broken or he was merely sleeping, I had no way to get in touch with him. I only knew the first name of his roommate, and I didn't know anyone else in New York. I had my cousin Peter's number in Brooklyn, but not only was that a 45 minute subway right in the opposite direction, Peter had told me he always leaves his phone on vibrate: he would be unlikely to hear me call. What was I to do? Here I was alone in East Harlem, with nothing but the clothes on my back, no way to get inside the apartment building, no way to wake Phil, and it was nearly two o'clock in the morning!

My first thought was that Phil had accidentally left his phone off and was sleeping: but surely he'd wake up a wonder where I was. He'd notice the voice mails I'd left him and call, right? But it might be a while before he happened to wake up, so I thought maybe there'd be a 24-hour restaurant I could hang out in. But this was East Harlem: even the McDonald's was closed except for the walk-up window. Google Maps on my iPhone was useless for finding a hotel (the one it found nearby turned out to be homeless shelter). Finally I found some cops and asked them for help. They were brilliant, suggesting that I was nuts for being there in the middle of the night. "What are you doing here? This isn't a safe place. You shouldn't be out here!" I was like, "Duh! That's why I'm asking for your help!"

Finally one of them suggested I find a taxi and have the driver find a hotel; that seemed as good as anything, though I dreaded the thought of what a hotel in Manhattan would cost me. The cost would be even more insulting since it would only be for half a night and I didn't even have a change of clothes or anything else for a comfortable night's sleep!

The taxi driver turned out to be a great guy: the first couple of places we stopped at were full, but then he found a place off Central Park that had a vacancy. The desk clerk said, "You know this is dormitory housing, right?" I was like, "Huh?" I soon learned this was a hostel, so most of the rooms were shared, with bunk beds. Under most circumstances that wouldn't have been my travel accommodation of choice, but in this situation it sounded perfect: for about $35 I could get off the street and sleep in relative safety and comfort. Much better than crashing on a bench in Central Park and probably not waking up!

I was a little nervous about the room as I made my way down the hall. What if someone stole my wallet or iPhone while I slept? But I was soon comforted in an usual way. The room was dark but I saw an empty lower bunk and took it. I found an awkward brick in my back and thought at first it was a heated blanket control unit as it had a cord attached. But the cord ended in two small knobs and wasn't connected to anything. Suddenly I realized I was holding an iPod with earbuds! Sure enough, when I touched the controls, the iPod lit up brightly in the dark room. For a moment I wondered why someone would leave a perfectly good iPod -- then I realized that the bed I was in was occupied! Probably the person had gone to the restroom or something. So I hastened out of the bed and up to the unused top bunk. Sure enough, a few minutes later a figure came in and climbed into that lower bed and began playing with the iPod. I lay back thinking, "Well, this can't be too unsafe if someone's willing to leave his iPod in the room."

I won't say I had a great night's sleep: I slept in my clothes with my shoes on and a hand on my wallet and iPhone. The place was quiet and I was tired, but I was also keyed up, uncomfortable, and my contacts were killing me since I had no way to take care of them. (I'm really not supposed to sleep in them but I had little choice.)

In the morning, I checked my iPhone but there was nothing from Phil, which I thought was odd. I knew he had to get up early to get his daughter, so surely he would have noticed my voice mails and called me. But nothing. I sent him a text message, and for good measure, an email as well.

At about 7:30 or so he called. He was shocked to discover I'd been trying to get a hold of him. "I have no messages, no voice mails, no missed calls, nothing," he said. "This is terrible. I had no idea. I waited up but when you didn't come or call, I figured you must have decided it was too late and crashed at Peter's place." Phil had seen my email and that's why he'd called.

We eventually learned there was a problem with AT&T's network that was effecting Phil's phone. If he reset his phone the new voice mails would show up, but they weren't showing up automatically when received. He'd also missed calls from other people. Emails went through fine, but not voice mails or text messages.

In the end, everything worked out fine. I had a bit of an adventure, and there was no real discomfort and nobody got hurt. It was a good lesson in over-reliance on technology: we should have had a backup plan. The same scenario could have happened if Phil had been hit by a bus or lost or broken his phone. It's really not good to only have a single source of communication. Something to think about.

I have chalked the whole thing up to a wild New York adventure! Though I must say I'm glad it's over.


Sunday, September 23, 2007

More New York

Sunday morning I again had minimal plans. I was to meet Peter later for Spamalot, but my morning was open. Phil had to babysit his daughter, so he would be occupied. I headed off in search of breakfast and adventure. Phil had told me of a good soccer bar where I thought maybe I'd stop by to check out the Manchester United-Chelsea match. I noticed it was "near" the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue and I really wanted to see that famed glass cube, so that sounded like a good starting point. I actually got on the correct "downtown" subway train and got off at 59th and walked. I spotted a sit-down breakfast place where they made omelets to order and had a delicious breakfast (with potatoes grilled with peppers and onions and real fresh-squeezed orange juice). Refreshed, I head off toward the Apple Store, passing places like Bloomingdales and other landmarks. Just as I got to the Apple Store my phone rang it was Peter, wanting to meet for lunch at 12:15 on 8th and 42nd Street. Since I was on 5th and 59th, I'd have a bit of a walk, which was fine.

The Apple Store is amazing: I thought the glass cube was just sort of an advertisement, but it's the actual entrance. You descend a spiral staircase of glass stairs and you're in a huge open space filled with people and electronics. The place is vast and packed with customers -- there must have been at least 200 people at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday morning. The store is open 24/7 and I'm told it's nearly always busy. I wandered around and checked out the myriad accessories on display (a far better selection than at most stores). I wasn't there to buy anything, though it was tempting: with so many people pulling out their credit cards you felt compelled to join in the fun. I overheard at least seven different languages. Most Apple Stores just have a "Genius Bar" -- this one had an "iPod Bar" and a couple other help locations as well. One gal was giving a live demonstration of the iPhone: a camcorder was positioned above her hands and the video feed displayed on several huge Apple monitors around a table so customers could watch exactly what she did with the iPhone and learn how to operate it. Another guy stood in front of a huge stack of iPod Nanos and sold them: if that was all you were buying you could just go to him and he'd ring you up on his portable credit card scanner and off you'd go. I watched and he was pretty much constantly busy, selling a nano a minute.

After the Apple Store, I walked the width of Central Park (the "short" dimension), which takes like ten minutes. I passed the smelly horse carriages with tourists lining up to pay money to ride around the park. The park itself has always amazed me: it is so huge and beautiful with ponds and lakes and winding paths, all right in the middle of the city.

Then I walked down 7th Avenue. At one point I looked up and realized I was passing Carnegie Hall. Walking around New York is like that: you never know what you'll find. I (eventually) hit Times Square, walked through the theatre district near Broadway, and found that 8th Ave. was blocked off for a street fair. It reminded me of the open markets in Dakar: throngs of people, vendors everywhere selling everything you could imagine. I'd eaten just a couple hours earlier but my high activity and all the food smelled so good I was soon hungry again. I met Peter at about twenty after and we found a nice Mediterranean place for lunch. My "shwarma" was not a sandwich like it usually is, but it was good (not the best I've had, though). There was plenty of food, however: Peter and I were both stuffed when we finished. At close to two we headed off to the theatre.


Sunday, September 23, 2007


All I knew about this musical is that it had something to do with the film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." It turns out it's basically the film turned into a stage production: the same lines, songs, and classic jokes. This could have been disappointing, except the stage version is different with some new songs and some amazing production values and little inside jokes. One of my favorite things was the role of the "Lady of the Lake," a minor character in the original that gives Arthur Excalibur and makes him King of Britain. In this version, the Lady's a diva, and after not seeing her for a while, in the second act she comes out dressed like a lounge singer and sings "What Ever Happened to My Part?" with hilarious self-absorption and jabs at her agent for getting her such a sucky role. Awesome!

I really enjoyed this. It was simultaneously new and familiar, totally hilarious, informal, cool, and fun. It really fit my mood as with sensory overload from my travels I'm not sure I could have handled a serious play.


Sunday, September 23, 2007


Movie: Murderball

At Peter's loft in Brooklyn we watched this cool documentary on "Wheelchair Rugby," a violent sport for paraplegics. The documentary's whole point is about how we misjudge people and make assumptions of capability based on what we see are handicaps: in reality these guys are superb athletes, incredibly competitive, and the film captures their drama well. It's a touch manipulative, like all documentaries, but it's well-meaning and though the subject matter is occasionally lurid as though trying to hype things, it's an important topic everyone should explore.


Saturday, September 22, 2007

New York

I arrived at JFK just before midnight last night. The flight was uneventful, which is always best. My cousin Phil had borrowed a car and was able to pick me up, which made things easier, and we drove to his apartment in East Harlem. It was probably 2 a.m. before I actually got to bed and despite being tired, it took me a while fall asleep: it was hot so the window was open and the street noise was incredible. I'm used to the quiet of rural silence and on a Friday night in Manhattan it seemed everyone was out in the street partying. There were constant shouts and yells, music blaring from a half dozen boomboxes, people laughing and talking loudly, and the roar of bus engines as they revved past. I woke up a few times during the night and it seemed to me it wasn't until nearly 5 a.m. before things quieted. I'm sure New Yorkers get used to the noise and don't hear it after a while, but it sure kept me awake.

I was up shortly after eight, surprisingly not as groggy as I expected. There was bright sunlight coming through the window and it looked like a glorious day. At about 8:30 Phil and I walked around the corner to a little coffee shop and had breakfast (I had a decent omelet). Then we road the subway downtown to the Greenwich Village area where he was to work. From there I set off on my own. I had the whole day to kill and no set plans. This seemed odd but turned out to be fantastic: there really no better way to explore New York City than by walking it. Last time I was here I road the subway and took taxis and left with only a vague idea of the city's layout. This time I walked. And walked and walked and walked. I think I started somewhere around 34th Street (just south of Central Park) and ended up in Battery Park (the northern tip of Manhattan, where the ferries take you out to Ellis Island). That's a long walk. I did not take the direct route, either, wandering around, stopping at City Hall Park for a rest, swinging by Ground Zero (not much to see except construction and tourists), traipsing through the financial district and wondering why so many restaurants were closed and the place had few people and then realizing it was Saturday and Wall Street was closed. I had my iPhone with Google Maps so I was never lost -- but without a particular destination in mind, I just wandered. It was around noon when I got to Battery Park and just as I arrived it started to rain. The blue sky had gone, replaced by gray, and the misty spray I initially ignored soon became a downpour. Everywhere in Central Park vendors were rushing to cover their displays with plastic tarps to protect their merchandise (postcards, pictures, sketches, etc.). I chatted with one and he told me the rain was totally unexpected and unpredicted. He naturally was annoyed. I hung out with several hundred others in the Ellis Island ferry ticket shelter, waiting for the rain to subside. I had contemplated going out to Ellis Island, but the crowds and weather dissuaded me. There was a long line just to buy tickets, and an even longer line to board the ferry. The ferry itself is open to the elements and the ride looked cold and wet and I had no jacket with me and was dressed in short sleeves. I also saw no indication of the length of the boat ride, but I figured that at minimum, it would probably take several hours to get to the Ellis Island and back, depending on how long you spent on the Island. Since I had to be back at Phil's by five, I wasn't sure I had the time. I also was getting hungry and needed lunch soon.

Earlier I'd called my other cousin, Peter, who live in Brooklyn. He doesn't work on Saturdays and called me back and said he and his flat-mate were heading into town that afternoon, so we decided to reconnect later and meet. I got tired to waiting for the rain to stop -- it had lessened and I decided to brave it and resumed my walk, this time looking for an eating place. I was a little picky: I didn't want to go to a national chain and I stay away from fast food now. I also wanted a sit-down place. I headed off in a direction to see what I could find. Now a key attitude when in a foreign place is to at least pretend you know where you are going: walked with determination and confidence. It keeps away a lot of the riff-raff who target tourists. Unfortunately, this was a tourist-heavy area and I guess my attitude worked because I was accosted several times by people who wanted directions! One guy was hilarious. He wanted to know where to get on the Staten Island Ferry and I knew that, so I told him, but he wouldn't believe me! I was like, "Why do you ask me if you aren't going to believe me?"

I ended up passing the Wall Street bronze bull, which was surrounded by Japanese tourists taking photos of each other in front of it, and soon found myself in front of Trinity Cathedral. At this point the rain was really coming down again, and since I still hadn't found a place to eat, I ducked into a Borders bookstore. I had no intention of buying anything, but as I passed a "New in Paperback" display a book on soccer cried out to me and I began scanning it. It was really good and I bought it. I sat and read for a while, but it was restless and getting really hungry (by now it was after two o'clock). I decided to pay for the book and brave the rain in search of food. Right as I was paying for the book my phone rang and it was Peter: he was on his way downtown. He told me where he was going, but the places he mentioned were unfamiliar and I was in the middle of a credit card transaction and distracted. All I really heard was "I'll call you when we're down there."

Outside, it was really raining, but I couldn't wait. I needed to eat. But it was really coming down and in just a couple blocks I was soaked. I began choosing my path based on scaffolding location, as walking under the scaffolding was almost dry. Then I passed an entrance to the Fulton Street subway station and something clicked: hadn't Peter just mentioned that? I tried to call him but just got voicemail: he was probably already underground. Then I saw a little burger place with sit-down tables. That sounded as good as anything and I got a turkey burger which was delicious and didn't have too much bread (the bun was grilled). It was good and hit the spot, though a bit pricey at $8 with no fries or drink. Right after I finished and was trying to decide what to do next as it had stopped raining, Peter called. I went outside trying to figure out where I was; one street sign was obscured. He said he and Jon were on William and had me head east (an adventure for me to figure out since I'm terrible at compass directions). As I walked, we were still talking, when two things happened at once: up ahead I saw William Street and Peter suddenly reported that he and Jon were at William and John. "I'm on John and I can see William!" I shouted, and then I saw Peter with a cell phone to his ear. I hurried forward and we connected. I couldn't believe it. "I had lunch like two blocks up there," I told him. "John and Nassau." Peter and Jon had come out of Fulton Street Station and it was a terrific coincidence that we happened to be at the same place!

We then headed over to South Street Seaport where we found a TKTS booth with a ten minute line (instead of the three hour line at the Times Square location) and bought tickets for the Sunday matinee of Spamalot. I hadn't even been thinking about the expense of the tickets and was a bit shocked that our "half off" tickets still cost $60 each -- yikes! NYC is expensive.

After that we wandered the seaport (similar to San Francisco) and eventually walked up to City Hall Park (where I'd been earlier in the day) and over to Chinatown and Little Italy. Peter's friend Jon has been in New York for eight years and really knows the city -- it was handy having him as a guide. At about 4:45 p.m. it was time for me to head back to Phil's place, so with Jon's help, we found a subway station where I could catch the "6" train which took me to 116th Street, just two blocks from Phil's apartment. Phil had given me his only set of keys, so I needed to be there or else he wouldn't have been able to get in. He arrived just minutes after me -- I'd just barely gotten into the apartment. He'd picked up a rented "Zip Car," a cool New York system where you can reserve a car by the hour via the Internet and with pickup locations all over the city. We changed clothes and head off to Giants Stadium for the soccer game.


Saturday, September 22, 2007

MLS: New York Red Bulls vs. New England Revolution

Soccer: MLS: New York Red Bulls vs. New England Revolution

My cousin Phil has a season ticket package for the New York Red Bulls and gets a free membership to a sort of pre- and post-game club at the stadium. We arrived a the stadium an hour early and went to this pub for drinks and sandwiches (my grilled chicken was huge and delicious): much healthier eating than stadium fare. The game itself was excellent: New York and New England are big rivals and the atmosphere was great. Unfortunately, New York's defense was occasionally amateurish, and mistakes cost them. Though the Red Bulls dominated and should have won, they created tons of chances by kept failing to score. Then they left Taylor Twellman unmarked on a corner kick for the Revolution's first goal. But New York fought back with a goal of their own just before the half. In the second half it was a repeat: more NY pressure and attacking chances galore but no Red Bull goal, and then one half-chance for Twellman and he converted his second. Fortunately Angel got one for New York to tie it before the final whistle, but it was still a frustrating and disappointing day for Red Bull fans. Even worse, New York had a goal unfairly disallowed: the replay showed it was not offside and there was no foul and it should have counted, but the ref called it back, costing the Red Bulls two points in the standings. But it was still a fun game with plenty of goals and I was certainly not disappointed.

After the game we headed home, but got stuck in horrible traffic on the George Washington Bridge where repair crews had it down to one lane. It took us a full hour just to cross the bridge! Another late night but we consoled ourselves with Baskin Robins' ice cream and rewatched the game's key moments on TV.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Last night I arrived in Springfield, Missouri where I am visiting with my Great-uncle and great-aunt. I haven't been here in a few years, so it is wonderful to see them and my old town (I lived in Springfield for a few years in elementary school). It is interesting to see the way the place has changed and the way it is different from places I'm familiar with today. This country is so huge with such diversity -- it is fascinating. I love to travel and see the differences and unique aspects of difference cities and areas.


Sunday, September 16, 2007

MLS: Houston vs LA

Soccer: MLS: Houston vs LA

This was my first chance to watch the Houston Dynamo in person and it was an excellent performance. They got a bit lucky, facing an devastated LA team and gave up a poor goal off a corner kick, but totally dominated and controlled the game. It was tied after the half but seconds in to the second period Mullan's great play caused him to be fouled in the box and earned Houston a penalty kick which Dewayne De Rossario converted easily. With the lead again, Houston crushed the Galaxy with pressure, winning every second ball and every 50-50. Other than a couple chances, LA could barely get the ball out of their half of the field. The pressure finally gave when two Galaxy defenders each stopped thinking the other had the ball and Houston's Ricardo Clark stuck out of a foot to poke the loose ball past a helpless Joe Cannon. Joe again kept his team somewhat in the game as he made a number of fine saves. With the win Houston again are atop the Western Conference table and clinch a playoff spot, and LA's chances of making the playoffs are nearly gone.


Saturday, September 15, 2007

Shoot 'em Up

Movie: Shoot 'em Up

I got to see this while in LA. To describe this as "over the top" is gross understatement. This is so outrageous it's really a hilarious parody of action films. The plot is basically about a guy who witnesses an attack on a pregnant woman: toughs want her dead. So he kills them all, delivers the baby (while shooting bad guys), uses his gun to shoot the umbilical cord in half, and when the mother is killed, escapes with the baby and attempts to preserve his life. It gets more absurd from there, absolutely gleeful in its ridiculousness. It really is fun, if you're into this kind of a flick (and this is practically the definition of a "flick"). Two thumbs way up.


Friday, September 14, 2007

Soccer Trip

Soccer: Soccer Trip

Tomorrow I head off for my trip across the country. This is the first purely vacation trip I've taken in a long time. I'm not even bringing my laptop -- I'm going to attempt to keep up with everything via my iPhone. That will be an interesting experience in and of itself. The plan is to head to L.A. to watch my favorite MLS team, the Houston Dynamo, take on the LA Galaxy on Sunday. Then I'll fly to Missouri to visit with relatives for a few days, and then I'm off to the Big Apple for another soccer game, the New York Red Bulls versus the New England Revolution. It should be a fun trip, book-ended with soccer games on each coast.


Monday, September 10, 2007

3:10 to Yuma

Movie: 3:10 to Yuma

I've never seen the original, but it feels like it would have a hard time matching up to this one. Christian Bale as the flawed rancher hero and Russell Crowe as the charming villain are amazing, and the story and script really bring out the moral ambiguities of the situation. The plot is bare bones: the leader of murderous pack of outlaws has been captured and must be taken to the town of Contention to meet the 3:10 train to Yuma (which will take him to prison and the gallows). But no one wants the job because everyone fears his gang will kill to set him free. A desperate rancher takes the job for cash, but is it worth his life? Fascinating story and the ending is not what you expect at all.


Saturday, September 8, 2007


A couple weeks ago I bought the book Getting Things Done and I have been hard at work since putting its ideas into practice. A key concept of the book is you must get your entire life in order: you cannot leave "open loops" of things unfinished. So my first task has been a mammoth one: sort and process the hundreds of boxes of stuff I have in my garage and house that I never unpacked from my move to Oregon two years ago. Much of that stuff was in boxes in storage while I was in California and it's stuff I haven't gone through in decades. I never had the time (or took the time) to sort through everything in the past and just moved it, and of course that's been a huge open loop for me, always feeling like "someday" I needed to get around to sorting through things and getting organized. So for the past two weeks I've been working. I moved my office (swapped it with the spare bedroom) which is a zillion times better and makes much more sense structurally. The new office is larger and can double as a spare bedroom if needed, which is awesome. It's also organized from scratch to fit my work needs, with places for all my office supplies, storage, files, and more. Everything is organized and labeled. For instance, I used to have four 11x17 boxes of nothing but cables and cords all jumbled and tangled together. We're talking A/V cables, computer cords, electric cables, phone wiring, you name it. So I literally wrapped up every single cable with zip ties and filed them each in their own labeled plastic box (over a dozen of them). Now I can actually find an extension cord or USB cable when I need it!

Among other tasks, I have installed new shelving, new ceiling light fixtures, and bought and installed new shelving units in the garage. It's been a long two weeks. I've been physically exhausted and tired -- I haven't done so much manual labor in years. But it's healthy: I feel my psyche relaxing and being healed from all the stress and chaos I've put it through for years being so disorganized and carrying such a huge burden. I'm still not done: a few more boxes in the garage to process, a garage sale to do, and a few rooms in the house that are not quite purged of clutter yet, but I'm getting very close. I am not kidding when I say that I've accomplished more in the past two weeks than I have in the past two years. It's amazing and I feel good. Next I need to use the principles of GTD to establish some organization routines for my daily life and work, create a filing system, and then actually start getting some real work done. It's been a sacrifice to get here, but I am confident it will pay off. I'll be more organized and able to concentrate, keep up with my projects, keep all the projects moving, and I've no doubt I'll be inspired and more creative. I'll also live without guilt and be able to relax and enjoy life instead of my subconscious worrying and nagging me about things left undone.


Monday, September 3, 2007

Stuart Little 2

Movie: Stuart Little 2

Somehow I missed the first one. I thought I had it on DVD but couldn't find it. So I watched this one a bit in the dark about who Stuart Little was (other than the obvious fact that he's a mouse). Apparently he can talk and he's treated like a miniature human, with ridiculous things like him going in as a sub in a kid's soccer game. (The ball is 10 times bigger than him -- what's he supposed to do? Squash himself? How does that help his team?) So that aspect I found odd and confusing, but the plot itself, while heavy-handed, was decent and the overall film pleasant and entertaining. Great for kids, certainly. Stuart befriends a hurt bird who it turns out is working with the evil Falcon to steal Mrs. Little's wedding ring, but of course plucky little Stuart faces his fears and saves the day in the end. Hooray.


Sunday, September 2, 2007


Movie: Croupier

This was not what I expected at all. It's slow, odd, and rather boring. It's about an aimless guy who gets a job at a London casino as a croupier, then gets himself involved in some sort of robbery scam. It didn't make a lot of sense to me. I never could figure out who the guy was or why he did what he was doing (like cheating on his girlfriend, which made no sense). Weird.