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Trailers Without Pity: New Year’s Eve

15 Nov

Our new Trailers Without Pity is for the new Garry Marshall romantic something, New Year’s Eve. If it sounds familiar, it’s because he also directed Valentine’s Day and this one is basically the same thing with a new, cheap paint job.

I can only remember one such romantic comedy I’ve actually watched in the last three or four years and that was Going the Distance and it didn’t. And a movie overstuffed with characters and storylines and meet-cutes and a midnight deadline to declare your love… that just sounds exhausting. How do singletons do it? Texting? Dating via Facebook? The belly folds and dank alleyways of this culture are a mystery to me, as nebulous in my mind as a monster’s deep, foreboding pit.

Anyhoo! This is our second video of the season and things are rolling along. We should be back next time with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Speaking of dank, foreboding and mysterious.

You can check out the video below or on TWOP. Please watch the video since we dressed up in tuxedos for it.

Trailers Without Pity: The Muppets

3 Nov

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We’re back! Season Four of Trailers Without Pity has begun. The first movie we’re doing after our lengthy break is The Muppets.

I know there’s been a backlash against The Muppets and a backlash against The Muppets and as we were doing this video, it made me a little sad to realize that I fell right in the middle; I just don’t really have an opinion on The Muppets right now. I still find them funny when I watch them, but I don’t go out of my way to seek them out and my kids haven’t yet latched onto them. (Although Carolina’s favorite thing to say right now is, “ELMO! ELMO! ELMOOOOOO!”)

The first movie I ever remember my parents taking me to was The Muppet Movie. I don’t even remember the movie, I just remember the experience of going and hearing my dad tell people how much he liked the movie, too.

So, I really hope the movie is good and maybe we’ll end up taking the kids and they’ll remember that experience someday. Maybe Elmo will make a cameo and that will really make it memorable for Carolina.

Video below:

All Hallow’s Vacation

31 Oct

Illustration by Don Tate II / Austin American-Statesman

Today, I’m at home on the first day of a week-long vacation. It starts with Halloween and ends with the first day of Wurstfest, which seems to me to be some kind of divine calendarification, evidence that sausage and ghosts and perhaps God are all working together in some way. Maybe two out of three of those, at least.

The work trip I wrote about last time went fine. The kids were well-behaved and went to bed on time and there was even sleep to be had. That ended a week later when the weather changed, some allergens blew in and Carolina developed a bad, phlegmy cough (which sometimes leads to middle-of-the-night vomiting) that we’re still dealing with. Still, she just gets up and starts bouncing around when she wakes up, as if the psychic and also goopy wreckage of the night before never happened. She’s going to be one of those annoying people who never gets a hangover, I can feel it.

The vacation was… very necessary. We got more bad news at work last week. This was news that was scheduled. There was a meeting and a date and time for that meeting set and months of anticipation as to the things that would be announced at that meeting. All that was left were the details.

And yet, we’re all still devastated. We’re hurt and frustrated and knowing it was coming doesn’t make it any easier to swallow. This was the day before my last day at the office (which I ended up spending working from home). The last few weeks in general were really tough at work and I just bore down and tried to knock every single thing off my to-do list so that I wouldn’t have any loose ends or things to worry about when I was gone.

So here I am, first day of vacation, writing about work.

I wrote so much the last two weeks, a lot of it stories and blog posts scheduled to run later, that it’s going to look like I’m not even gone.

Last week, I did a Tech Monday column about Siri in which I asked her a bunch of questions about Texas and the lady of the iPhone 4S proved pretty convincingly that she’s no Texas belle.

This week’s Digital Savant column was a bigger piece, a lead story in Life & Arts in which I ask whether we might not all have a little bit of the online troll/griefer within us. This was part of the online identity series and as of right now, it’s the last officially scheduled piece of that series, but I’m sure we’re continue returning to the topic because there’s so many ideas that my editor and I have that deal with those ideas. I love the illustration that ran with it (it’s at the top of this blog entry) and the story, which I guess is half-essay, half-reported tech trend article, seemed to have worked out pretty well.

Also in today’s paper was a short story about SXSW Interactive’s ScreenBurn and I have a few more things in the pipeline for the rest of this week and next. The blog’s been busy with lots of tech reviews that’ll run as an upcoming roundup column and lots of stuff about Apple’s iOS 5.

We’re taking the kids trick-or-treating tonight. My wife and I went to our first Halloween party in probably about six or seven years and we even worse costumes. Mine was not so well-received and I blame it on the party being in San Antonio where, apparently, “Breaking Bad” is not a thing people watch at all. I went as Walter White, meth cook extraordinaire:

Halloween costume #breakingbad

We haven’t taken any photos of the kids in their costumes, but Lilly did get in some carving time yesterday:

4-year-old: carving pumpkin's sworn enemy:

Also on tap this week: new Trailers Without Pity season starts with The Muppets! That should be up in the next day or two.

Busy vacation! Hoping to do lots of writing, TV watching, de-cluttering, gym-going and Halloween candy eating.


6 Sep

Evernote's Rich Warwick. Photo by Laura Skelding / Austin American-Statesman

I keep meaning to update here, but over the last week I wrote so much at work in anticipation of vacation this week that I just never had the energy. Late at night, when I usually do updates or catch up on tying up loose ends, I would just go to bed early, exhausted. You know I’m tired when I don’t even have the stamina to stay up till 1 a.m. watching bad TV.

Last week, I had a lot of stories run in the paper and even more on the Digital Savant blog. I haven’t been doing lots of freelance writing lately and that’s partly because the summer head just drained me from wanting to add more stuff to my plate. Also, I actually got to enjoy the summer more this year: more trips to Schlitterbahn, more tubing, more time with the girls. It’s been a good trade-off and I’ve really been enjoying myself.

Monday last week, I broke a little bit of news. Evernote, the company that makes some really good note taking software across lots of different platforms, let us know early that they’re opening an Austin office and doing lots of hiring. Given that most of my stories and columns are planned out pretty far in advance, it’s not often I get a real news scoop, so I was pretty thrilled to have this out there before anyone else.

The same day that story ran, I had a Digital Savant column about McCartney Taylor, a local beekeeper

Photo by me

who has gotten pretty popular on YouTube with his beekeeping videos. He was nice enough to invite me and a photographer out to do a honey tasting and to check out the bees. We weren’t wearing any beekeeper gear (and McCartney wasn’t even wearing gloves), so there were a few moments where I stood perfectly still while a bee sat on my neck. But the honey was totally worth it. In the column, he gives some really good tips for improving your YouTube videos. One of his suggestions, on getting the point more quickly, has already inspired me to want to change the format a little on our Trailers Without Pity videos when we come back from our hiatus in a few months.

This week’s Digital Savant column was a collection of mini-reviews of the MacBook Air (wow, thin, fast), T-Mobile’s Rocket 3.0 Laptop Stick and their 4G Slide Android phone and, lastly, Time Warner Cable’s Wideband Internet service. These were bite-sized versions of much longer reviews of each that I did for the Digital Savant blog. (It’s much easier for me to write long and then cut than to write short and leave tons of questions unanswered.)

And lastly, I had a story reverse-published into the paper about a local meme/website called Stocking is the New Planking. The designers who created it were a lot of fun to talk to and I’m glad they’re getting lots of attention for this very fun thing they’re doing.

As I mentioned, I’m on vacation this week. I don’t have any huge plans. We thought about going to South Padre Island but ended up tabling that until early next year when Carolina is (hopefully) potty trained and we’re a little more prepared for a lengthy road trip. So instead, I’m enjoying New Braunfels stuff this week (like tubing, below; APOLOGIES for the shirtless pic. I will pay your therapy bill if necessary).

It always seems to happen when I go on vacation that a major news story happens and this week, it’s wildfires across Texas. I was offline for a lot of Sunday and Monday, but I caught up in little bits and pieces and by the evening we started getting nervous that these fires were getting close enough to our area that we should start thinking about what we’d do if we needed to evacuate. We pulled together birth certificates, passports, IDs and talked about how we’d pack up the girls, our computer backups and other valuables if we needed to go.

The air has been hazy and we can smell smoke outside. The photos from the fires have been horrifying.

The wildfires aren’t THAT close to our town, but given how dry it’s been, what the winds have been like and how many other people in our area have already either had to take off or watch the news nervously, it never hurts to have some kind of plan.

Trailers Without Pity: Moneyball

27 Jul

It it quite true that my brother knows much more about sports than I do and that Aaron Sorkin probably does, too. Sorkin scripted the upcoming movie Moneyball, about baseball and sabermetrics (hey, wake up!), which stars Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill and Philip Seymour Hoffman. It’s also our last Trailers Without Pity episode of the season. We’ll be back in late October with new episodes.

If you get bored the rest of the summer, you could check out the Trailers Without Pity video archive/episode guide. Fun times!

Trailers Without Pity: Conan the Barbarian

15 Jul

We’re down to the last two episodes of Trailers Without Pity for the season (we’re not even sure what the last one will be; we’re still deciding). Our penultimate video for Season Three is this one for the pec-tacular Conan the Barbarian, a remake (or a reimagining? I’m willing to bet it was more making than imagining at work here) of the Arnold early 80s sword and crotch-garb classic.

I’m a sucker for these kinds of movies (or at least mocking these kinds of movies from afar); my favorite episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 remains Cave Dwellers, starring Ator the Juiced. I could watch that a million billion times. The new Conan looks even dumber and more expensive. It’s kind of thrilling, really, how respectably goofy it looks.


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