equivocality — Jeff Ngan's collection of thoughts, experiences, and projects, inspired by pretty much everything
01 Sep 06

Musical Context

For years, I lis­tened to music based on my mood. Playlists were well suited for this. I had one full of sad songs for my sad days, days that would last months at a time. I had one with only quick-paced, aggres­sive gui­tar riffs and lung-spitting screams, for the pock­ets of rage I’d encounter every now and then. One that was mostly elec­tronic inspi­ra­tion — songs that would move me when I needed to move. One for the par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult days, con­sist­ing of stoic melodies that could fill me with grit deter­mi­na­tion. There was even one for the bit­ter­sweet moments, per­fect for a post-show buzz. Every song served a par­tic­u­lar purpose.

This mot­ley group­ing of sin­gle tracks may have been the result of the way I dis­cov­ered new music. Tenaciously, with ears always open, I would record as much as I could that caught my fancy, jot­ting down any dis­cernible lyrics I could use as a basis for a search, and never stop­ping until I could find the song. Hysteria, by Muse, is just one exam­ple, which I hap­pened to dis­cover while watch­ing an awards show. For a long time, it remained a song I’ve enjoyed on my for it’s sub­tle build-up, and ener­getic, nearly chaotic, synth-inspired bass lines.

Things changed when I lived with Trolley. He exposed me to bands of dif­fer­ent gen­res, and being a musi­cal col­lec­tor, this expo­sure took the form of com­plete albums. One of them hap­pened to be Absolution.

Now that I have the entire album, Hysteria is known to me as track 7, com­ing after the pen­sive Interlude, but before the gen­tle, ethe­real, Blackout. In this con­text, pre­ceded and suc­ceeded by two equally sig­nif­i­cant tracks, the song doesn’t sound the same.

Eventually, none of my playlists were appro­pri­ate for what I was feel­ing. At first, I thought that this was the result of increas­ingly sub­tle or com­plex emo­tions, but I’ve come to real­ize that it’s sim­ply because I’ve matured, and as a result, my emo­tions have evened out. With the wis­dom and seren­ity asso­ci­ated with grow­ing older, came the loss of emo­tional highs and lows that would inspire me.

Now it’s become dif­fi­cult to lis­ten to a song in a playlist. Every album has an order. Every track has its place. Listening to a song out of its musi­cal con­text may be hard, but lis­ten­ing to music with­out the rush of inspi­ra­tion is harder.

And this has become my musi­cal context.

30 Aug 06

A Few Portraits

Thumbnail: Bronwen in the darkness
Thumbnail: John on the bench
Thumbnail: Lacey on the couch
Thumbnail: Darren in the park
Thumbnail: Don Pita
Thumbnail: Chaos looks
Thumbnail: Jenn as the thunderbolt

A few por­traits taken over the sum­mer. Most are taken with the 24–70mm f2.8, which has come to be my main por­trait lens, instead of a prime like the 50mm. I find that I can take advan­tage of the wide end of the lens to come up with some inter­est­ing dis­tor­tion, such as the first one that really brings out Bronwen’s eyes. Unfortunately, it’s so heavy that it’s dif­fi­cult to hand-hold steadily, so most pic­tures are taken with bright ambi­ent light or a flash.

25 Aug 06

There's Never Enough Time

New lay­out. Back to my old grayscale style, because that’s how I’ve been feel­ing lately. Neutral. Took me about three days, mostly from scratch. I was sat­is­fied with the old one, until two months ago, when I began read­ing sev­eral design/typography/colour books at work. The pow­ers that be let me spend around $300 on edu­ca­tional mate­r­ial, and as I explored each one with fer­vor and thirst, I began to notice all the fun­da­men­tal design mis­takes I made. Ignorance is bliss.

It’s Friday night, and with my legs curled under me, Dolly sniffs at my feet, look­ing for an oppor­tune space on my lap. Fall is approach­ing. The win­dow in my room remains open as soon as the sun sets. I’ve been over­whelm­ingly busy, and as a result, I haven’t quite caught up on any sleep in the last two weeks.

11 Aug 06

What Can I Say?

Things have changed.

I don’t write the same any­more, or about the same things. I’ve lost my fer­vent ver­bosity. Every time I sit at my com­puter, my mind blanks. Writing has become a chore. Even this entry has taken me days to think through. I find myself writ­ing and rewrit­ing every point, every paragraph.

In the begin­ning, blog­ging was a form of cathar­sis. Developing cog­ni­tively beyond my ado­les­cence was an emo­tional period, filled with con­fu­sion and grow­ing pains. The only way I could make sense of it all was to write out my thoughts, forc­ing myself to reflect and learn from every challenge.

It was also a use­ful tool in fig­ur­ing myself out, as a part of my life where I could approach things with the con­vic­tion that I lacked in the rest of my life. Now that I’ve gained enough con­fi­dence, it doesn’t seem so nec­es­sary to prove myself with words any­more. It would seem that I’ve become a vic­tim of my own self-assuredness.

I could fill this blog with entries, find­ing solace in the writ­ten word, when I was going through some­thing as sim­ple as a bad day. As time has passed, I’ve elim­i­nated most of the things that bother me enough to turn to this medium. It was a slow and sys­tem­atic process, both inter­nal and exter­nal. My new-found seren­ity has left me with lit­tle rage. I’m hap­pier now, and hap­pi­ness is too hard to write.

It would seem that I’ve run out of things to say.

There have been few epipha­nies, and even less inspi­ra­tion, in the last while. Maybe it’s because I’m in the mid­dle of a tran­si­tion. It takes a foun­da­tion of sta­bil­ity, some­thing I haven’t had in months, to grow. My life hasn’t quite set­tled yet.

Writer’s block is a sign that I’ve stopped grow­ing, a tes­ta­ment to what and how much I’ve been through.

But more impor­tantly, it’s a sign that I’m approach­ing where I want to go in my life.

04 Aug 06

The Maternal Grudge

Under the guise of some trou­ble with her iPod, the old sec­ond gen­er­a­tion clunker that I gave her last Christmas, my mother calls me on Saturday, close to midnight.

I can hear the con­ges­tion in her nose. She’s been cry­ing. It gets lonely when you’re alone in the house on a Saturday night, the same house you’ve inhab­ited for the last 15 years of your life with your façade of a fam­ily, and the façade is torn down.

Our last phone-call didn’t end well. She wanted to know why we weren’t as close as other sons with their mothers.

How can we be close”, I told her, “You go crazy every time I tell you some­thing impor­tant. You’re sti­fling. Overprotective. Growing up, it made my life a night­mare.” For the first time in my life, I revealed a glimpse of how she had wronged me, not even bring­ing up the mem­o­ries of men­tal abuse I keep buried in my chest for times like this, like an ember ready to be stoked into a fire.

It’s because you’re my only son, and the only thing I have left now.” Saying these words, spark­ing a sud­den real­iza­tion, makes her sob more. She tells me that she wants to start over. It’s never too late. She wants to be stronger so she can sur­vive this divorce, and close to me so she’s isn’t left with­out an emo­tional bond.

I can only say that I’ll have to for­give her first. Up to then, she didn’t even know that there was any­thing to forgive.

Unfortunately, for­give­ness isn’t some­thing that’s in my power. I have no pity for her. Knowing how vul­ner­a­ble, weak, and depressed she is just a reminder of my own child­hood, and only time has a chance at edul­co­rat­ing the bit­ter taste in my mouth.

So she calls me on Saturday, pre­tend­ing to need some help with her iPod, to see if I’ve for­given her yet. If I ignore her, I become as ter­ri­ble a per­son as she was. I only wish I could believe that she didn’t deserve it.

But I can’t.

24 Jul 06

A Bittersweet Comfort

Thumbnail: BBQ pork
Thumbnail: Washing veggies
Thumbnail: Cutting onions
Thumbnail: Shiitake mushrooms
Thumbnail: Washed veggies
Thumbnail: Bone China bowls
Thumbnail: Soup close-up
Thumbnail: Soup extreme close-up

A bowl of egg-noodles, with bar­be­cue pork, shi­itake mush­rooms, shrimp, car­rots, bok choi, and green onions in a chicken broth, is con­sid­ered com­fort food for most Chinese peo­ple. They say that com­fort food soothes the mind by act­ing like an opi­ate, hit­ting the recep­tors in our cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem. We go to it in times of stress, and in addi­tion to keep­ing us full, it keeps us pacified.

As Pat and Jen cut, and wash, and cook, they never nib­ble. Everything that’s pre­pared goes into the pot. Not too long, or the veg­eta­bles will lose their firm­ness. With chop­sticks and a spoon, they serve the noo­dle soup in large bowls. One eats from the spoon, which is used to scoop the broth, while the chop­sticks are sim­ply used to put the desired ingre­di­ents on the for­mer utensil.

I don’t have meals like this any­more. Chinese food is a com­pli­cated affair. It takes a mot­ley set of ingre­di­ents, most of which is only avail­able on a sin­gle street in this city, so I’m grate­ful for a real home-cooked meal.

Everything about it brings me back to a time when I was a child, liv­ing with my par­ents, liv­ing off Chinese food every day. The con­trast­ing colours of the pork against the noo­dles. The full aroma. The savoury taste of broth. Even the dul­cet slurp of noodles.

If only my child­hood was worth remembering.

17 Jul 06

What To Accept?

They always say time changes things, but you actu­ally have to change them yourself.

—Andy Warhol

Many of my rela­tion­ships, roman­tic or oth­er­wise, are often approached, at least par­tially, based on the hope that the other per­son will change. This change can take the form of some­thing as sim­ple as prompt­ness, as frus­trat­ing as tidi­ness, or as grand as self-centeredness.

Change, syn­ony­mous with improve­ment, has been the basis of my life. It takes a self-awareness of my faults, com­bined with a desire to change these faults, to improve. Assuming that oth­ers are the same way has been one of the biggest mis­takes I’ve ever made. When the veil is lifted, and I real­ize that some­one is stuck in their per­son­al­ity, I lose my faith in human­ity. For the frac­tion of peo­ple who are con­scious enough to know that they need to change, (and I mean this in an absolute sense, where almost any­one would agree that some­thing needs improve­ment, such as tem­per or closed-mindedness) only a frac­tion of those are actu­ally able to do so.

It’s not that some peo­ple have willpower and some don’t. It’s that some peo­ple are ready to change and oth­ers are not.

This means that when I meet some­one, I either have to accept or reject them for who they are, because that’s most likely who they’re going to be for the rest of their lives. I have to stop accept­ing some­one based on the hope that they will get better.

Acceptance, which has always been a dif­fi­cult thing for me, thus becomes the most impor­tant thing in my rela­tion­ships. It also remains one of the most hard­est things for me to change.

So should I learn to accept this about myself, the way I should learn to accept things of others?

10 Jul 06


Thumbnail: Bronwen kisses bear

Thumbnail: Bear on the rug

The best friend man has in the world may turn against him and become his enemy. His son, or daugh­ter, that he has reared with lov­ing care may prove ungrate­ful. Those who are near­est and dear­est to us, those whom we trust with our hap­pi­ness and good name may become trai­tors to their faith. The money a man has he may lose. It flies away from him, per­haps when he needs it most. A man’s rep­u­ta­tion may be sac­ri­ficed in a moment of ill-considered action. The peo­ple who are prone to fall on their knees when suc­cess is with us may be the first to throw the stone of mal­ice when fail­ure set­tles its cloud upon our head.

The one absolutely unselfish friend that man can have in this self­ish world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrate­ful or treach­er­ous, is his dog. A man’s dog stands by him in pros­per­ity and poverty, in health and in sick­ness. He will sleep on the cold ground when the win­try winds blow and the snow dri­ves fiercely, if only to be near his master’s side. He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer, he will lick the wounds and sores that come in encoun­ters with the rough­ness of the world. He guards the sleep of his pau­per mas­ter as if he were a prince.

When all other friends desert, he remains. When riches take wing, and rep­u­ta­tion falls to pieces, he is as con­stant in his love as the sun in its jour­ney through the heavens.

If for­tune dri­ves his mas­ter forth, an out­cast in the world, friend­less and home­less, the faith­ful dog asks no higher priv­i­lege than that of accom­pa­ny­ing him, to guard him against dan­ger, to fight against his ene­mies. And when that last scene of all comes, and death takes his mas­ter in its embrace and his body is laid away in the cold ground, no mat­ter if all other friends pur­sue their way, there, by the grave­side will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws, his eyes sad, but open in alert watch­ful­ness, faith­ful and true, even in death.

—George Graham Vest

A dog, sim­ply named Bear, meant the world to a hand­ful. His life was filled with plea­sure, though never spoiled, and free­dom, though always dis­ci­plined. In the last year, his health started to decline. He had a glass eye for his cataracts, heavy med­i­cine for his tumors, but through it all, he was happy, and there was noth­ing but hap­pi­ness for thir­teen long years.

Bear’s life rep­re­sented a child­hood, and all the inno­cence, insou­ciance, and bliss asso­ci­ated with it. Painful, yet impor­tant, his pass­ing is seen as a dis­til­la­tion of matu­rity. This chap­ter has ended, so another one can begin.

Requiescat in pace.

04 Jul 06

Canada Day '06

Thumbnail: Pat in the hat
Thumbnail: Chaos on couch
Thumbnail: Brother Mike
Thumbnail: Lacey
Thumbnail: Beer in hand
Thumbnail: Jenn with drink
Thumbnail: Sarah licks
Thumbnail: Karen laughs
Thumbnail: Winding down on the couch
Thumbnail: Breakfast of champions
Thumbnail: Maple leaf

For Canada’s 139th, Aaron and Karen braved the rainy weather and hosted a small gath­er­ing for a bar­be­cue. By the time I arrived, sev­eral hours early from help­ing Trolley in the morn­ing, I was tired, moody, and smelling rather fresh, so I decided to leave by the time peo­ple were sup­posed to arrive in the after­noon. Fortunately, Pat and Jen showed up early too, bring­ing with them a deck of Dutch Blitz. It was a game I had never played before, but grew addicted to quickly. The fast-paced, and con­vivial nature of the game light­ened my mood, and by the sec­ond round I was feel­ing jovial. There were other games too — bul­let chess, Trivial Pursuit (90’s Edition, which the guys won for the first time ever), Soul Calibur 2 — all of which I par­took through the rest of the evening.

I had such a good time that I ended up stay­ing the night because I missed my last bus. In the morn­ing, we slowly rose with cof­fee and greasy food, even­tu­ally play­ing some more Dutch Blitz before I had to leave.

It’s hard to remem­ber a time when I was so at ease in a large group, or when I laughed so much. Maybe we’ve finally cut out the intol­er­a­ble peo­ple, the ones who rub me the wrong way with their sim­ple pres­ence. Maybe, as a sign of my grow­ing con­fi­dence, I’m get­ting more com­fort­able around other people.

Or maybe it’s a com­bi­na­tion of both.

30 Jun 06

Moving On (An Update)

Thumbnail: Pint of Strongbow
Thumbnail: Two on flower
Thumbnail: Red wall
Thumbnail: Row of Pockey
Thumbnail: Bead poodle
Thumbnail: Shoe pot
Thumbnail: Bronwen at the Elephant and Castle

Trolley's Moving Out

Trolley’s mov­ing out, and tak­ing most of the liv­ing room with him. I’ve been pre-occupied with match­ing two-piece sec­tion­als, clever hid­den stor­age cof­fee tables, other things that are com­pletely unnec­es­sary in the hunter-gatherer sense of life. Pat’s tak­ing me fur­ni­ture shop­ping this Monday, from morn­ing to night. I’ll be in debt soon, going into my line of credit off my house for the first time, but it’ll be oh so worth it.

Father's Day Without a Dad

Father’s day came and went. I waited until the 3rd Sunday of June to see if my dad would call me first, but he never did, not since the divorce. Not ever actu­ally. It was always my mom who called, and passed the phone to him. We’d make small talk for roughly 30–60 sec­onds, and he’d pass the phone back to mom. The last time I spoke to him was when I went back home in April. At least my mom called to make sure I was okay after she broke the news. Even she told me to call him, but I don’t feel like it. If any­thing, he owes me.

A New Paddle

Table ten­nis at the club ended, as the venue is shut­ting down until the fall. The only phys­i­cal activ­ity left for me is the occa­sional match with Pat at his new place. I bought a new pen­hold blade, a Mazunov OFF+, and two Sriver 2.1mm rub­bers, mark­ing the first time that I started using speed glue with a cus­tom pad­dle. I’ve only had the chance to try them out a few times, but I can tell that the setup has been per­fect for my offen­sive style. I was appre­hen­sive of get­ting rub­bers that were too thick (2.4mm) and fast, for fear that my foot­work wouldn’t be able to keep up, but I’ll def­i­nitely con­sider it once these ones wear out.

Getting Slashdotted

I met one of my life’s goals when I was Slashdotted for my HomeStar Planetarium review. The vis­its for the first 12 hours nearly jumped to 15,000, but the server han­dled the load, albeit a lit­tle slowly. Something I can cross off my list.

I Quit

Another thing to cross off is quit­ting the weed. Not for John this time, but for myself. I’ve always had a love-hate rela­tion­ship with mar­i­juana. It’s not the same addic­tion as other drugs. Dr. Andrew Weil, who’s not a pot critic by any means, describes the prob­lem per­fectly in his 2004 book, From Chocolate to Morphine.

Marijuana depen­dence can be sneaky in its devel­op­ment. It doesn’t appear overnight like cig­a­rette addiction…but rather builds up over a long time. The main dan­ger of smok­ing mar­i­juana is sim­ply that it will get away from you, becom­ing more and more of a repet­i­tive habit and less and less of a use­ful way of chang­ing consciousness.

When I tried to quit before, I’d always tell myself “this is the last day”, but I’d say the same thing every day for months at a time. I’d always need an excuse to stop, but none of the excuses I could come up with would ever work. This time it’s offi­cial. I’ve learned all that I can from it, and lost all desire to get burned again. Darren tells me that he’s done too, and when he vis­its soon it’ll mark the first time that we’ve hung out sober in three years. I’m curi­ous if we’ll have any­thing in com­mon now.

New Business

There’s been an upturn of busi­ness. Through Pat, I got a small web­site con­tract for my per­sonal com­pany, and I recently joined a stock pho­tog­ra­phy site to make some extra money off my pic­tures. I take my cam­era with me every­where, and I don’t have to do any­thing for the roy­al­ties if other peo­ple pur­chase them any­way. All that’s left to do now is get­ting some model release forms signed from peo­ple of var­i­ous par­ties that I’ve taken. I also bought a book about real estate invest­ments in Canada, in hopes that I’ll soon be able to make my money work for me, instead of vice versa.

A Few Events

Aaron’s Canada Day bar­be­cue is on Saturday. Darren’s com­ing the next week­end. I’m also sup­posed to see Shirley at some point, since I haven’t seen her in half a year. I gave her a call two weeks ago, in hopes that I could take her fam­ily out for some dim sum, but she hasn’t returned. I’m a lit­tle hurt. We barely get to see each other any­way, but it’s hard to blame a mother of three for being too busy.

Not that I have much time myself lately.

23 Jun 06

Character Is Destiny

Thumbnail: Reading papers

An hour before arriv­ing, he calls me, excited, to let me know that he’s run­ning late. He explains that he got caught up in the cal­cu­la­tions for my natal chart. Out of the hun­dreds of read­ings he’s done, both per­son­ally and pro­fes­sion­ally, he hasn’t seen a chart like mine. It’s described as a bun­dle, where all ten plan­ets are con­tained within 1/3 of the 360° chart. This means that my energy is con­cen­trated, focused, self-driven.

The read­ing takes four hours of cal­cu­la­tions and prepa­ra­tion, with an hour-and-a-half ses­sion of thor­ough expla­na­tion. After help­ing him with his new com­puter last month, a triv­ial favour for me but a big one to him and his fam­ily, he offered a read­ing in return. I hap­pily accepted, never being one to dis­miss such a unique offer. He swore me to secrecy because he’s retired, and will only do this ser­vice as a spe­cial favour.

Before he begins explain­ing though, he tells me that I can take the infor­ma­tion he gives me for what it’s worth. He doesn’t tell for­tunes, he sim­ply sees pat­terns in the num­bers. It’s up to us, our per­son­al­ity, our deci­sions, to deter­mine our fate. “Character is des­tiny”, he says.

I can­not describe this man.

There’s too much to him. Too many facets, too deep a per­son­al­ity. He’s a book unto him­self. I could explain as much as I could about him, and one would still have no idea what to expect when meet­ing him. Even today, he sur­prises me every time I see him. I tell peo­ple that he’s a stay-at-home dad, an ath­lete, a writer, an astrol­o­gist, but I haven’t really described him at all.

The chart offers a sub­tle glimpse. The stokes are wide, large, and deep with con­vic­tion. It’s a mix of cur­sive and print­ing, a gen­eral insight­ing into his flex­i­bil­ity. His notes are messy, cor­rected. He prides him­self on being accu­rate, not vague like the far­ci­cal daily horo­scopes, and it’s for this rea­son that I start to believe him. There are things that he describes to me — my penchent for revenge, my philo­soph­i­cal pur­suits, my affin­ity for cer­tain sports — that slowly bring my ever-present, skep­ti­cal guard down. He says that I have a nat­ural cre­ativ­ity, that I’m visu­ally artis­tic, that I see colours dif­fer­ently from other peo­ple. Because of this, he encour­ages me to start mak­ing money off my art within the next 15 years, or I’ll have missed a good oppor­tu­nity. Sometimes it goes over my head; the posi­tions of my plan­ets, my houses, my sagit­tar­ius ascen­dant. He goes into so much detail about my career, romance, sports, travel, and friends that I can’t begin to list it all.

Although there are a few points of inac­cu­racy, I have trust in what he tells me. Ceasar said “men will­ingly believe what they wish”, and per­haps I’m sim­ply one of these men. So will this change me? Will I act on these new insights and become a self-fulfilling prophecy? Will I dis­card them, and end up with the same fate? Maybe it’s wrong alto­gether, some sooth­ing snake-oil, although I don’t think this is true for rea­sons I can’t explain. It’s too soon for me to tell just yet.

All I know is that I’d like to be like this man. I’d like to be as com­plex, as inde­scrib­able as he is.

Maybe one day, if des­tiny is character.

11 Jun 06

HomeStar - 21st Century Home Planetarium

Featured on Slashdot on June 12th, 2006, under Toys, Space, and Science.


Pat once told me that he har­bours an inex­plic­a­ble com­pul­sion to be in space. His belief is that when he’s finally there, he’ll have all the answers. Life. God. 42. The meta­phys­i­cal impli­ca­tions don’t make sense, yet this is what he truly thinks. It’s a strange hole in the log­i­cal being I know as Pat, and only the enig­matic curios­ity of the night sky can do this to someone.

I’m no excep­tion. Something borne in us from child­hood is a fas­ci­na­tion that stems from the unknown. The stars pro­vide enough for us to won­der about for a lifetime.

Unfortunately, for those who live in the city, there’s lit­tle chance to see the sky with­out “sky glow”, the annoy­ing phe­nom­e­non that drowns out a large num­ber of stars vis­i­ble to the naked eye and tele­scope alike. As a by-product of indus­tri­al­iza­tion, light pol­lu­tion has taken the sparkle out of the stars, and this is where the HomeStar comes in.

What Is A HomeStar?

Thumbnail: Hoodie view

According to the offi­cial Homestar web­site, (trans­lated through Babelfish):
“It is the plan­e­tar­ium for world­wide first opti­cal type home. It is pos­si­ble to exceed sev­eral thou­sand num­bers of stars that to project approx­i­mately ten thou­sand thing stars it can see gen­er­ally with naked eye of the human.”

Read the rest of this entry »

09 Jun 06

A Shattering Of Stability

Last Friday, my mom called me at work.

Do you want the piano?”, she asked.

Sure”. She must have detected the curi­ous hes­i­ta­tion in my voice.

We’re going to be mov­ing soon”, she fur­thered. There was never even a hint of mov­ing before, so I had to ask.



This is how I find out my par­ents are get­ting divorced.

My imme­di­ate feel­ing was that of resigned sad­ness, and a grow­ing resent­ment as a result of this sad­ness. I wished that they couldn’t affect me like this, that they meant noth­ing to me, but in the pit of my stom­ach, I know that they do.

It’s like won­der­ing if you’ll cry when your grand­mother dies, never believ­ing that you will.

Until it happens.

I should have seen it com­ing. A few weeks ago, she called to inform me that she was putting funds in my invest­ment account, so that she would have an acces­si­ble cache of emer­gency funds in case my dad ever left her. Like insur­ance, it’s another thing to have just in case, hop­ing never to need it. Even in my early child­hood, there were mem­o­ries I’ve tried to block out. Bloody gashes, divorce scares, plead­ing for us to stay together. All I ever wanted from them was a nor­mal family.

Thumbnail: Parents 1

Thumbnail: Parents 2

Lately, even in the last few years, every­thing seemed to be going well. The last time I vis­ited, they were doing things together. Dancing. Eating. There was even talk of buy­ing a new car. Now the real­iza­tion is set­ting in. That was the last time I’ll have seen them together. Married. As hus­band and wife. I took a pic­ture of them that week­end, when we went out for dim sum. My dad was order­ing food from the menu, and my mom was pour­ing him tea, arms crossed over his. It’s the last time I’ll see them together like this, and the only pic­ture I have of them.

I don’t even want to think of what the annual fam­ily gath­er­ings are going to be like, or how I’m going to visit them, indi­vid­u­ally, dur­ing the hol­i­days. How I’m going to react if I find out they’re dat­ing again.

All I can say now is that I’m disappointed.

02 Jun 06

Nick And Ali's Wedding

A trib­ute to Nick and Alison, my old laid-back room­mate (who taught me how to make a mean grilled cheese, offered a sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenge in Counter Strike, and intro­duced me to Lamb) and his new bride.

I would say some­thing about the wed­ding, but the video says it all.

Thumbnail: Brent
Thumbnail: Bronwen
Thumbnail: A Cupcake cake
Thumbnail: Greg and Amanda
Thumbnail: Trolley
Thumbnail: A shot in the mirror
Thumbnail: Signing
Thumbnail: Table settings
Thumbnail: Table six
Thumbnail: Karen in the dark
Thumbnail: Aaron drinks
Thumbnail: Three on the steps
Thumbnail: Final shot

At one point in the night I was run­ning around with my Karachi Outpost strapped on my back, and my cam­corder bag around my shoul­der, feel­ing like a one-man doc­u­men­tary team, even though my focus was on video instead of stills. There are a cou­ple of cam­era issues, such as focus and zoom speed that still bug me when I watch the footage, but until I can afford a Canon XL2 my cheap Hitachi DVD-cam will have to do.

Surprisingly, the eas­i­est part was pick­ing the song, some­thing that can take days itself. I needed a sin­gle track that would work through land­scapes, kiss­ing, and drink­ing, three things that evoke vastly dif­fer­ent emo­tions, and Tulips by Bloc Party was per­fect. Even the tim­ing of the lyrics worked out. I wish I could say that I was able to obtain a score for the music, ana­lyze it, and symet­ri­cally break down the scenes accord­ing to the devel­op­ment. To be hon­est I just didn’t have enough footage, so I just put what I could in the parts that would fit, with­out inter­rupt­ing the flow of the story.

The entire clip took about three solid days to com­plete, half of which was just get­ting the scenes in the right for­mat to work with in Adobe Premier 2.0. I was plagued by video for­mat prob­lems and asyn­chro­nous audio issues. It was also the first time I was able to try this lat­est ver­sion of Premier since I was run­ning 1.5 for a while. The process really pushed the capa­bil­i­ties of my sys­tem; load­ing only Premier with the whole sequence took up 1.6 gigs of RAM. Render time was about 20 min­utes on a dual-core AMD 4400+. Uncompressed video size is almost 2 gigs.

Influences were Michele Gondry from the Hardest Button To Button video, as well as the smart and witty stylings of Spike Jonze.

22 May 06

Dreams For Cash

Thumbnail: March of the elephants
Thumbnail: Floor design
Thumbnail: Grass angels
Thumbnail: Iron circle
Thumbnail: Journey tablet
Thumbnail: Ring table
Thumbnail: Paper bird

There’s some­thing about these small-town stores. They carry every­thing; books, art sup­plies, fur­ni­ture, candy.

The baubles, the African stat­ues, the organic cat­nip tins, the eso­teric wire sculp­tures, they all go home with some­one. Some of them will be thrown out in less than a year, oth­ers become heir­looms passed from gen­er­a­tion to generation.

In all their tiny beauty, they make a difference.

The peo­ple who work there are never the same, but there’s always one thing that’s con­sis­tent. You can see the inno­cence in their faces, a warm feel­ing of rus­tic integrity. They all say hi, and go back to what they were doing, never mind­ing your wan­der­ing pres­ence in the store. I think I’d like to be one of these peo­ple some day. Maybe when I retire.

Selling dreams.