The problem with having a specific layout style is that it only caters to one mood or topic.
In an attempt to achieve even more universal mid-tone minimalism, I’ve re-aligned things a bit: more contrast, bolder titles, composition to a vertical rhythm, and a lack of that titular capital E that was taunting my sense of alignment.
Let’s see how long this lasts.
The number of comments I’ve received has exceeded the number of entries I’ve written, the latter of which passed 1000 this year. I remember when I first started in 2002, using a basic content management system I wrote with Perl scripts. It didn’t even support comments. Eventually I moved to Movable Type, and finally settled on WordPress.
I’m glad to say that I don’t get any more of those random one or two word comments that never actually say anything, although they’re pretty common on other blogs.
They give me feedback, make me think, and further the discussion of what I say.
Edit: I found out today that the release date has been pushed back until September. Very disappointing.
In this secret society, the competition is brutal and the stakes are high. It is the unsanctioned, underground, and utterly unhinged world of clandestine Ping-Pong tournaments. Down-and-out former professional Ping-Pong phenom Randy Daytona (Dan Fogler) is sucked into this maelstrom when FBI Agent Rodriguez (George Lopez) recruits him.
Balls of Fury, a comedy that mixes ping-pong, matrix effects, and Christopher Walken, comes out in less than a month. George Lopez’s Scarface impression is spot on, and the fact that it’s based on Enter the Dragon (although the title comes from another Bruce Lee movie, Fist of Fury) gives it even more super awesome flava.
My friends agreed to come watch it in the theaters with me. Even Bronwen is going to make it, travelling over 700km to be here. I’ve been chomping at the bit to see this since John sent me the trailer last year.
This Sunday, I’ll be flying to New Hampshire — with cohort Louise — for two weeks of training. The schedule is pretty open, with nights and weekends off, giving us a chance to travel and explore.
Confidence and sociability comes and goes in cycles for me. When I first found out about the trip I was at a low-point, so I wasn’t feeling strong enough to make extra plans. Such plans would have included taking a few extra days off to meet Maggie (aka number18) at my transfer in Philly on the way back. One day I’ll get to meet her and take pictures of her.
The good thing is that I’m on an up-swing right now, so the excitement is starting to settle in my brain.
It was an entertaining night. A sit-where-you-please atmosphere, devoid of stiff shirts and long speeches. Rob even donned his baseball cap for the entire ceremony. I got to know Mark better too, in the car and at the table.
The only thing that marred the evening was Sarah proving herself to be an idiot, devoid of any social graces or conversation skills. At one point, she brilliantly remarked that she “loves Johnny Cash” when the DJ put on Love Me Tender. Another person I put on my list of people to avoid like they’re coming at you with a bottle of horse semen.
I tried to get as much bright, high-contrast photography as I could, playing around with both direct and bounced flash. I also got to try a different photo workflow, which involved separating the colour channels and pulling out bits for contrast. The 24-70mm is supposed to be the bread and butter of wedding photographers, and this makes perfect sense to me now as it stayed on my camera for most of the night.
When I die, let there be no obituaries or announcements, for the ones who should know, would know.
Let there be a gathering instead of a funeral, where my friends can relax and speak what they wish.
Let the dress be casual, for no one should be anything but themselves around me.
Let there be mention of my flaws, for there would be no truth or humanity without them.
Let there be humour and laughter, for I love these things in my life.
Let there be no religious service, for my life has been devoid of religion.
Let there be as much celebration of my life as there is mourning that it has ended.
Let everyone have a copy of Turn On The Bright Lights by which to remember me.
Let my ashes be scattered, for I hope to carve my name on hearts, not marble.
As far as bachelor parties go, Rob’s was a low-key deal. Seven of us in all. Half were from out of town, so we drove to Kingston to meet up.
The first stop was Aaron’s dad’s house. Parked in his driveway was a 1980s Lincoln Continental Town Car, before they started to downsize the series. It’s a massive car, with what looks like a complete couch in the back. As the coupe, it wasn’t even the full-size model. This is the only car that pimps teal.
Most of the day was spent giving each other welts in speedball, which I learned is a testosterone fused version of paintball. All speed and all accuracy. I wasn’t used to a lack of conventional cover (in favour of inflatables), or the small playing area, but managed to survive without any body hits.
Of course, being his bachelor party weekend, we had to put Rob on his own team, though he didn’t quite find out until it happened. This follows the tradition of other fraternizing celebrations, such as birthday beats.
It was back to the hotel to get changed, and off to Rob’s favourite place to eat, which was a Chinese buffet. It also happened to be Chinese New Year, so they had an entire roast suckling pig, though no one else dared to try it until I assured them it was safe.
More time was spent back at the hotel, in the hot tub, playing poker poker, breaking electric heaters in the exercise room.
Before leaving the next morning, we went across the street to the conveniently placed Golden Griddle, an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet for the gluttonous masses. I’ve never been one to get their money’s worth out of buffets, but I’m sure that Rob and Aaron more than made up for my relatively small portion. I can’t imagine putting such lead into my stomach every weekend. Unlimited bacon and sausages should be reserved for bachelor parties, business contracts, and maybe the occasional bris.
Drinking was limited; Rob was still recovering from strep throat, as can be heard in the videos. More energy was spent making sure Sergio had a successful blind date; a testament to how much Rob takes care of his homies.
This week, I received a small package from Brenda and Jack.
It really touched me. Not because of the amount of things in it, but because of what was in it.
A T’ai Chi handbook. Dark, thin chocolates; my favourite kind. A chopstick rest in the shape of a cat. They even put money in a red envelope, following the Chinese tradition of wedded couples giving money to the unmarried. Everything in a red bag with red wrapping paper, the Chinese colour of luck. This isn’t their culture, but they’ve made the effort to understand it. They probably had to go out of their way to find this stuff, things which aren’t available just anywhere.
I’ve done nothing to deserve this.
The funny thing is that Brenda and Jack are the parents of an ex. I can hear John warning me, “They laced the chocolates with arsenic”. I’ve been fortunate enough to get along with the parents of many of my girlfriends. I used admit to Pat that I wish they could replace my own.
These are people who know me and my interests.
More than my own parents ever did.
Bronwen is my original muse. We happened to meet shortly after I got my SLR camera, and ever since, she’s my primary model when doing photographic tests and experiments.
These were taken over the course of about a year. From before we started dating to passed the break-up.
Every angle captures a different side of someone.
Looking back on these reminds me of how much I miss it when she had red hair, which she dyed for me (but didn’t like to admit it). Too bad I can’t convince her now to do it again.
So I wasn’t being completely honest when I said no more tea. I’d simply switched from black to orange tea. Even that didn’t work though, and a mild panic attack had me down to even lighter, Chinese tea.
A warm, relaxing mug can be rather addicting.
The great thing about tea is that it doesn’t just taste good, it serves a purpose. Cleanses the palette. Aids digestion. Combats the Yang of greasy foods with Yin. Green tea in the morning serves to awaken the senses. Longjing calms the mind at night.
The steeping process is beautiful. Green tea is especially prone to scorching, so the water can’t be too hot, or the tea will turn bitter. Not hot enough, and the leaves won’t fully release their flavour.
Note: Each frame of the video is a different photograph, taken five seconds apart. About thirty minutes in total.
It’s Friday. Pizza day. At Louise’s house, the parents don’t feel like cooking, and the kids get a treat.
The slices are out. The salad’s in the serving bowl. Everyone has an accommodating fork, napkin, and slice. I see Eric move a hand to his face in the corner of my eye, and assume that he’s started eating.
As the guest, this means I’m allowed to eat too. I take a bite out of my slice, but before I can even chew, I realize that Eric was just scratching his beard. With a smile on his face, he says “Don’t forget about grace, Jeff”.
It’s a double whammy.
It reminded me of something that happened when I was a teenager. Matt was over. Pizza night. As the guest, Matt got the first slice. He waited while the rest were being handed out, but my dad, without any sense of formality, took a bite as soon as he had one. Neither of my parents noticed, but there was a startled look on Matt’s face. He quickly closed his eyes, held a fist to his face (not a clenched one, but as if holding the beads of a Rosary), and said a prayer in his head.
I always imagined that it went, “ThankyouGodforthispizzaandformygracioushosts”, because he was done so quickly.
It made me wonder, what was in that look? What do those who ask thanks of their meal think of those who don’t? What do Christians think of those who don’t say grace? What do Muslims think of those who don’t fast? Are we unappreciative? Do we take our food for granted?
Eric’s tone is kind though, not condescending or judgmental, as if to say, “We only ask you to do this for the sake of our kids”.
Louise asks Sarah if she’d like to say grace. She sings a song that bears a striking — excuse the pun — resemblance to the melody of the Westminster quarters (along with choreography).
Hark to the chimes (arms held upwards and open)
Come bow your head (hands together in prayer)
We thank thee lord (arms upward again)
For this good bread (hands together again)
But as a seven-year-old, Sarah doesn’t know the right words. She says “heart” instead of “hark”. “You” instead of “thee”.
No one mentions it though. Not everyone is perfect. One can be forgiven.
Even me, I hope.
The Canon 15mm proves to be a complicated addition to the lens arsenal. As a photographer, you really have to understand how to handle the distortions, even when it’s on a 1.6 FOVCF body. It’s obviously not meant for portraits; faces end up being comically disproportionate. It’s great for context shots though, when the surroundings say more than the subject.
I got a contract under my personal business, my first. It’s made my schedule rather busy. There isn’t much time to just laze around on the weekends anymore. I have to plan my fun.
Tai Chi classes have been suspended indefinitely, as the teacher’s wife has just been diagnosed with cancer. While I miss the relaxing two-hour sessions, I don’t miss waking up at 5:30 in the morning on Saturday to make class. With the extra time, I flirted with the idea of picking up piano lessons again, but I’ve decided that it would too much of a commitment right now. I still need some form of physical activity, in addition to the Tai Chi Yang form practice on my own, so I’ll probably be going to table tennis again.
I’m off to New Hampshire for two weeks next month, for industry job training. I had to find my passport, issued five years ago for my trip to Hong Kong/China/Macau, with my dorky glasses and hair parted down the middle. In addition to my old address, my mom was listed as contact in case of emergency, but I changed it to Pat. It would have been John if he wasn’t so far away. Pat’s also a good person to go to in a crisis; he’s the one who always keeps it together.
Ever since Trolley moved out, I don’t get introduced to awesome new music anymore. The latest find (on Jeff’s recommendation) is Wicked Wisdom, featuring Jada Pinkett Smith as the frontwoman. I never would have believed a band with Will Smith’s wife would be so good.
I don’t know how serious you thought I was about being the best man or MC if you ever get married. I know it may sound crazy, but you getting married is as important to me as it is to you. I love you, and I know I don’t tell you that enough. You are a true friend to me, and you know that I don’t have many.
I see this as a great opportunity to do something for you, because you’ve already done so much for me. Let me take on the responsibility and support you, to be there for you on one of the most important days of your life. I easily put aside the differences I’ve had with any potential people you may invite (I think that we’re smart enough to be open and discuss this), because it’s about you, not me.
These things are usually planned pretty well in advance though, so I won’t be surprised if you have someone else in mind. I understand that we’re talking about YOUR big day, so you should have the people YOU want involved in YOUR wedding. To be honest, I’ll be happy with whatever decision you make, because I’m happy if you’re happy. Bottom line.
In any case, let me know when you pop the question, and WE WILL FEAST.
I wrote this two years ago.
Pat proposed to Jen a couple of months later. Several months after that, they bought a house, delaying the wedding until this year.
Last week, Pat asked me to be a groomsman and co–MC.
When I found out that Jason would be best man (as well as the other MC) there was a tinge of jealousy in my heart, followed by an overwhelming sense of guilt about this jealousy.
To feel this way was a bit of a surprise. Jealously has never been one of my prominent emotions. It made me realize that I’m a little insecure in my relationship with Pat. There’s so much good in him, compared to the hatred, darkness, and weakness in me. He’s not my opposite, but he’s the person I’m constantly striving to become. Just being around him makes me feel elated and relaxed.
The frustrating thing is that I know it’s his wedding. He should be able to do whatever he wants. There’s no rivalry between Jason and me. As studier of people, I have every bit of faith in Pat’s decision. The logic has finally kicked in, and I feel a sense of warmth and security about being up there with Pat, a group exclusive to a handful of people out of a seemingly endless number.
It’s only now that I realize how selfish and inappropriate it was of me to ask. Running around, making sure everyone is having a good time, giving toasts, hosting games, the duty of MC isn’t even something I normally want to do. I only asked because it was a way that I could show how much Pat has done for me, a responsibility I’d take on gladly.
I’m scared that I made him feel obliged, and I’m ashamed of being jealous for that split-second.
Maybe that’s what love is.
Unfounded insecurity. Jealousy without reason.
A feeling that overwhelms logic.
I never used to answer my phone.
Part of it was because I was being stalked by a crazy girl for a while. Somehow she got my number and called a few times, but Trolley picked up and was able to warn me.
The other reason was because I used to be stoned almost every minute off work. Dealing with people in the outside world was an instant buzz kill.
It’s only recently that I’ve started taking calls again. The languid process of rehabilitating my social skills has been rather slow. Sometimes I get so busy that I don’t have time to check my messages, and they build up into strange archives like this, circa last month.
John gives me the funniest advice sometimes. I never did call the girl. Anyone who comes on that strong is usually trouble.
Dan is easily the most loquacious person that I know, yet he’s perfectly succinct when leaving messages. I find it funny that he always leaves his number at the end. I guess we don’t see each other enough for him to be sure that I haven’t lost it. Last time was November. I should give him a call.
One time, Pat asked me for my birth date. He told me that he wrote down the date and stuck it to his fridge, so he would be reminded every time he went to grab something to eat. Apparently, he’s terrible at remembering birthdays, so for him to remember mine was quite a gesture.
My dad left me two messages. They’re rather short, so I’ll give a quick translation. First call: “Jeff, it’s Daddy. Just calling to talk. I’m guessing you went out. I’ll call you later, bye bye.” Second call: “Hi Jeff, it’s Daddy. Daddy moved, so there’s a new address and number. I’ll call you later. Bye bye.” The first two words he says are are my Chinese name, and “Daddy” doesn’t need to be translated.
This is the creepiest message I’ve ever received. I have no idea who it is, but they know my name. I can’t even tell if they’re male or female. I tried to do a reverse lookup on the number, and called it even, but it’s not in service. The only words I can make out are “Hi Jeff, this is Emily…had to fight for your number…maybe you want to chill some time”.
Even though we already broke up, Bronwen has no problem telling me that she loves me, then calling me a loser. To this day, our relationship is defined by this very repartee.