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Saturday, August 30, 2003  

Culture Shock
For our first Friday night in the big city Julie and I went out with Beau and Mary to Dubliners, an "Irish Pub" on the Sunset Strip. The vibe of the place was very different than anything I'm used to. It was packed with hip Angelinos in their very skankyist club-wear, and everyone seemed to wander in circles trying to be seen by everyone. Nothing I wasn't expecting in LA, but it still kinda took me for a loop. When I hear Irish pub, I think pints, darts, and old bearded guys, not halter-tops, blaring hip-hop, and valets. It was a lot of fun to people-watch there though!

posted by JMV | 8/30/2003 03:38:00 AM

Wednesday, August 27, 2003  

Got the living room unpacked yesterday, the kitchen is done, and the Bedroom is coming along. I feel dreadfully out of the "loop" so to speak so I'm trying to catch up on my e-mail and some do some blogging. My goal is to re-launch this site within the month with a slightly new direction, but we'll see if I actually get around to it. Speaking of new direction, today we haven't had any food in the house until this afternoon, so we have been eating out a lot. The highlights have been Zankou Chicken for lunch yesterday. Zankou was one of the featured restaurants in the article I linked to a few days; its an Armenian joint that is famous for its roasted chicken. I had their signature dish, which is 1/2 a chicken with a Pita and garlic sauce (for like $4.50!) It lived up to the hype! Today my dad swung by for lunch and took Julie and I to the place that invented the "french dip" back in 1908: Philippe's! Philippes is downtown, about a block away from Chinatown, and it was easy to see why the place has been serving beef dips for 95 years. But now we have food, and can try out cooking in our new kitchen.

posted by JMV | 8/27/2003 09:39:00 PM

Tuesday, August 26, 2003  

All Moved In
And living in boxland. DSL isn't up yet, but luckily someone in our complex has an open access point so at least we can check e-mail and Mapquest stuff. Today while in Ralphs (a SUPERmarket) buying ant-death to deal with the infestation that was our kitchen Monday morning I realized how "small town" Santa Cruz is, and how much like the country mouse I felt. I mean you should have seen how many varieties of Feta were in the dairy case.

posted by JMV | 8/26/2003 01:25:00 AM

Friday, August 22, 2003  

In Lieu...
Nearly done packing, and the DSL gets turned off any time now. No real time or energy to compose my thoughts, so I'll let Mr. Tom Petty speak for me. Go listen to "It's Time to Move On" from Wild Flowers, "I Won't Back Down" from Full Moon Fever, "Kings Highway" and "Into the Great Wide Open" from the album of the same name.

posted by JMV | 8/22/2003 02:26:00 PM

Wednesday, August 20, 2003  

There is a Place for People Like Me!
And it is called Chowhound. Chowhound is an on-line community for people interested in restaurants, specifically the best in local out-of-the-way places. As the site proclaims: "Chowhounds are iconoclasts who spurn trends and established opinion and sniff out secret deliciousness on their own." One of the things about the whole LA move that excites me the most is discovering new places to eat, new favorite dishes, and new haunts. I must get this drive to discover the "spots" from my dad. My dad is a salesman, one who has been working in Southern California for like 400 years. His office has always been his car, and his customers far flung across the southland. In his decades of making calls he has developed an astounding mental database of places to eat. Places that you would NEVER, in a million years, just drop into expecting the best tamales. But he has spend untold afternoons asking his last customer before lunch, "Hey, what's good to eat around here?" My dad is better than google for figuring out where to grab lunch. Seriously, I can give him a major intersection ANYWHERE in LA or OC and he'll have the name of some hole-in-the-wall with some to-die-for dish. I want to start building MY chowhound map. I'm sure there will be a few strike-outs, and plenty of antacids consumed in my quest, but it will be worth it! And evidently it is the new hip thing to do...

posted by JMV | 8/20/2003 02:27:00 PM

Tuesday, August 19, 2003  

Call for Support
I've been meaning to post this for a while now, but didn't really know how to approach it. Last week, a good friend of my good friends was in a terrible and mysterious accident. Pasha was found thrown from his wreaked van in rural Texas with a head and massive leg injury. No one know what happened and he has not regained consciousness since being admitted to ICU. You can read about his plight here and read Jodi's call for support. I had only met Pasha once or twice, but he certainly left a lasting impression on me. The las time I saw him was at a New Years party (2000-2001 I think) where he was spinning fire; really an amazing sight. So, crank up your positive energy generators and send some his way!

posted by JMV | 8/19/2003 01:53:00 PM

Monday, August 18, 2003  

It's Kinda Like Jazz
The weekend, after Friday's activities, was completely uneventful. Saturday I did some cooking for the first time in AGES and had a ton-a-fun! I totally meant to blog about it, but it slipped my mind, so I'll quickly run through it now. We are trying to eat all the food in our freezer, so I decided to make a pork tenderloin (one of my favorite cuts of pork.) I usually cook the loin whole, and usually wrapped in bacon. This time I took a page from Andrew's playbook and decided to break the loin down into medallions. About a year ago Andrew and I were jamming with a pork tenderloin and we made the discovery that rosemary ( a very classic paring with pork) worked really well with orange, so I was thinking along those lines as I set up my mise-en-place. But I only had lemons in the house. No worries, lemon works well with white meats, and Julie had been craving rosemary so I figured I would give it a shot. I seared off the medallions (cut about 3/4 of an inch think) and reserved them. For the "sauce" (really more of a relish) I caramelized some diced onion, adding finely minced garlic towards the end before deglazing with lemon juice. I then added a can of sliced mushrooms (scoff at the can if you must, but they are great to keep in the pantry for situations just like this) and maybe a 1/4 cup of chicken stock. Reduced that by about 70% and added the rosemary and lemon zest (and some tabasco). Plated the whole thing on a bed of mashed potatoes, garnished with a rosemary sprig and more zest and served it up. It turned out really really good. The brightness of the lemon helped offset the slightly over-salted pork (I brined the tenderloin for the first time and it came out a little too salty.) I hope to get back in the habit of cooking more regularly once we are settled in.

posted by JMV | 8/18/2003 05:43:00 PM

Let me preface this movie review by saying I love high-concept Sci-Fi, one of my favorite authors of all time is George Orwell, and I have always enjoyed the classic dark-future novels. That being said I don't understand why "Equilibrium" got such a bad rap. The film, written and directed by Kurt Wimmer, is very much a "post-matrix" sci-fi action flick, and stars Christian Bale (who has the chops, but doesn't get the roles) and Taye Diggs (who also deserves full-fledged stardom) as super-cops in the ultimate dystopian fascist future. The film features an excellent supporting cast including Emily Watson, Sean Bean (Boromir from Lord of the Rings,) William Fichtner, and Dominic Purcell (TV's John Doe) who all do a great job and contribute to the believability of the sci-fi future. The world is a well stirred amalgam of classic literary dystopias, starting with a firm foundation in Orwell's "1984." But here Big Brother is replaced with "The Father," Thought-crime with "sense-crime," and the thought police with "the Clerics" (more on them later.) Wimmer adds elements of Huxely's "Brave New World" with a drug that all people are required to take daily ("the Dose") to dull their senses and remove both the highs and lows of Human existence (sounds a lot like Prozac to me,) and Brabbury's "Fahrenheit 451" with guys with flame-throwers torching priceless art. The film really comes off as a homage to these literary works with little nods to each text, which I really enjoyed.

In this dark-future world, the oppressive government is policed by "Clerics of the Tertragrammicon" who are basically a secret police force of warrior-monks trained not to feel and masters of a martial-art called "Gun-Kata." This element leads to some spectacular gun-fights that owe a lot to Hong Kong action cinema. The action sequences are very "post-Matrix:" ultra-choreographed, ultra-stylized, and wonderfully shot. There is no "bullet-time" or other direct Matrix rip-offs, but rather a lot of wire-fu, slowmo, and slick effects. The film comes off much more as a sci-fi action flick influenced by the Matrix rather than trying to BE the Matrix, and I think stands on its own very well. I think my favorite moment comes in the climactic sequence where John Preston duals his nemesis in a sword fight with guns. It sounds kinda weird, but it is what I wished the Neo v. Agent Smith scene from the first Matrix was like. Equilibrium is visually striking, it was shot by Dion Beebe who also shot Best Picture winner Chicago, and had top notch production design. The direction and camera-work is an absolute joy to watch for a technical-geek like myself. I love style. I even love it over substance a lot of times, and this movie delivers style in spades. From the baroque shoot-outs to the decadent camera movements this movie looks GREAT! It is really amazing to me that it only cost 20 million, but I guess that is was you get when you go with top notch character actors and not Big Names.

I really wouldn't be surprised if you haven't ever even heard of Equilibrium. It got "released" in December of 2002 in all of 300 theaters. There was NO marketing campaign to speak of, and the film left theaters with a paltry million dollar gross. Which is really a shame, because it is really quite good. So, if you have any love for sci-fi cinema and good shoot-outs do your self a favor and check out "Equilibrium." (Link to trailer).

posted by JMV | 8/18/2003 03:43:00 PM

Friends: Not Just for Breakfast
Monday morning. Not that days of the week hold ANY meaning to the unemployed. But this monday is different. The LAST monday as a resident of idyllic Santa Cruz. And a whole shit-load of things to get done before D-Day. In fact, I was looking through our relocating book to see what we're supposed to have finished at this point and it said that 2 weeks ago we should have called to confirm with any friends helping us move, and assign them shifts. What is with that? I guess maybe if we had like a 4 bedroom house shifts of unpaid friend labour would make sense, but we have a tiny 1 bedroom. I'll be happy if 4 people show up to help us out. So, instead of me calling and assigning you a freaking shift just leave a comment if you are going to be part of the crack truck-loading/unloading team! Pizza, beer, and your pick of any stuff that doesn't fit in the truck are all we can offer, but the help would be greatly appreciated!

posted by JMV | 8/18/2003 01:56:00 PM

Shotgun Effect
I've spent the last hour or so getting about 1/2 way through the hugest blogpost EVER, and after looking at it previewed, I've decided to break it up into several smaller ones that I will post throughout the day. Lots of good stuff, so stay tuned.

posted by JMV | 8/18/2003 01:54:00 PM

Saturday, August 16, 2003  

Five Feet Long and Luminous

Last night was really a banner evening for me. The first movie that I've been a part of since I graduated way back in 2000 had a semi-public screening at a real movie theater! It was very exciting, and there was a HUGE turnout (about 120 paying people above and beyond all the cast and crew who got passes.) The film was very well received, and everyone laughed in all the right places. The projection was a little dark, but that was due to the extremely long throw of the DLP the theater uses. Zack (the DP and editor) is going to lighten up some of the night scenes that he had previously darkened, so the DVD release will look much better. There was a temp sound-mix in place that had a few rough spots, but overall was very good. Apart from the excitement of seeing my name in the credits, I was floored by the comments made by a lot of the cast (who I hadn't seen since the wrap party.) Everybody had wonderfully nice things to say to me about how much of an impact I made on the film, and how professional I was on set. It was comments like those that really made me feel good! Julie and I made a quick appearance at the after party, before heading home to bed. We just didn't have it in us to Party it Up again. I want to thank all my friends that came down to see the screening, and say sorry that I didn't really get a chance to talk to any of you. I was just really overwhelmed by the whole thing! So thanks! You guys rock and really make the 16 hour days, sunburns, and blood-sweat-and-tears of filmmaking all worth it!

posted by JMV | 8/16/2003 06:52:00 PM

Friday, August 15, 2003  

Duct Tape and Bailing Wire
Just got back from Zach's house where he is furiously trying to get Trannies! finished up and exported for teh screening tongiht. They were unable to get a DVD copy burned so they are going to use my Power Book to play the movie through the projector at the theater. It is all very Mickey Mouse and VERY down to the wire, but I'm very excited! The Marquee at the theater even says "Trannies!" (I'll try to get a picture posted...)

posted by JMV | 8/15/2003 07:02:00 PM

Thursday, August 14, 2003  

It's Official!
We signed the lease and got the keys for our new apartment! Before today we had only seen the place once before for about ten minuets, on the same day where we saw two or three other apartments, so I really didn't remember it too well. I just remembered that I liked it. It turns out the apartment is SO much better than I remember! Much larger, lots of light, and a HUGE covered patio. I am exceptionally excited about it, and look forward to the interior design and the Ikea trip. I have pictures, but am mushy from the road (we spent 12 hours on the road and 24 in LA) so I'll post them latter...

posted by Julie | 8/14/2003 10:17:00 PM

Yeah, yeah, yeah
We are in LA. It is Hot. Had Pinks for dinner, and it was good. Pastrami+hotdog=hell yeah! Caught an AWSOME episode of the Family Guy, where Peter secedes from the US and creates his own country. Sadly, Julie doesn't "get" the show... Nothing much else to report, except for maybe this (not work-safe).

posted by JMV | 8/14/2003 12:14:00 AM

Tuesday, August 12, 2003  

And the Soul Still Burns
Just a quick reminder that the sequel to one of my favorite video-games of ALL TIME is out in just two weeks! I'm still up in the air about what system to buy it for, though of course I'm leaning towards the Gamecube. It really depends on what system has the best (and most economical) arcade sticks. Playing SC on a game pad is teh suck. If anyone out there in the ether knows of a way to get my good ol' Dreamcast sticks to work on either a PS2 or the Cube (or hell even an Xbox) PLEASE let me know. You will be handsomely rewarded!

posted by JMV | 8/12/2003 08:10:00 PM

Monday, August 11, 2003  

Blowing in the Wind
Julie and I are to the point in our packing where 90% of the stuff that we don't need on a day-to-day basis is packed up. All thats left is clothes, the kitchen essentials, and furniture. We are driving down to LA to sign the lease, fork over another thousand bucks, and pick up the keys for our apartment on Wednesday of this week. Then we turn right around and drive back to Santa Cruz for the "Trannies!" premiere. We'll be in Santa Cruz all that week, tying up loose ends and saying our goodbyes. Then its driving down the 14' U-haul on Saturday and good bye to our quite little beach community and hello to Hollyweird.

posted by JMV | 8/11/2003 05:07:00 PM

Saturday, August 09, 2003  

Remember when you first got your Gameboy, and you played Tetris on that little green screen until your eyes were bleeding? You started to drift off to sleep with your hands still grasping the sweaty grey plastic of the miracle handheld, so you finally turned it off and rolled over. But you suddenly cannot sleep, and all you see when you close your eyes are tetris pieces trying desperately to fit together. Thats how I feel, but instead of blocks, I see boxes.

But it really isn't that bad. We are making some good progress. 20 boxes packed, and we estimate about another 20. The disturbing thing is there are EIGHT boxes just of books. 3 of CDs, and 3 more of DVDs. I own too much crap. Some more packing in store for tomorrow, before we drive over the hill to visit the in-laws for my birthday dinner.

posted by JMV | 8/09/2003 01:34:00 AM

Friday, August 08, 2003  

I am SO lame
I just noticed that Octopus Hat is the #1 result when you google "jphnny depp."

posted by JMV | 8/08/2003 12:47:00 PM

Return of the Friday Five
It has been a few weeks since I've done one of these, so I figured I should get back into it...
1. What's the last place you traveled to, outside your own home state/country?
Vegas baby! Read about it, or See it!

2. What's the most bizarre/unusual thing that's ever happened to you while traveling?
On my honeymoon, Julie and I got stuck at the docks and they wouldn't let us board the cruise ship because we were missing some paperwork. We finally got it faxed and notarized, when they told us we couldn't board the ship because they didn't allow unmarried couples under 25 years old to share a state room. "But it is our HONEYMOON!" we protested... But still they would not let us on, because we had no proof that we were married. So we showed the guy my wedding ring with the dame date engraved on it, pictures from the digital camera from the ceremony, and a book of matches with our names and the date. And they finally (after 4 hours) let us on the damned boat...

3. If you could take off to anywhere, money and time being no object, where would you go?
Hmmm. Vegas is always an option... Greatest town on earth, and if money was no object, it would be even better! But Probably Europe (France and Italy in particular.) There is this little café in the shadow of the Paris Opera House with the best snails, and I've always wanted to take Julie there!

4. Do you prefer traveling by plane, train or car?
Plane. Though, there is something to be said about the good ol' American road-trip. The ultimate, "it's not the destination, it's the journey."

5. What's the next place on your list to visit?
New York (see a taping of Conan), Louisiana (I have a lot of family there that Julie has never met. Plus the FOOD!), Japan (always wanted to go there), Europe (see above), and Chicago (more food, more family.)

posted by JMV | 8/08/2003 12:40:00 PM

Thursday, August 07, 2003  

Craig's List the Movie?
Thats right, there is currently a documentary shooting about a day in the life of Craig's List. I'm not sure what else to say...

posted by JMV | 8/07/2003 09:20:00 PM

Sailing the 7th... Desert?
I was trying to figure out something to blog about, when I stumbled across this, a 1/2 scale replica of a Spanish galleon, built around an old school-bus to traverse the desert around Burning Man. I ran across a mention of it on Tiny Nibbles (she doesn't use permalinks, so scroll down to the 8/6 entry), the sex-blog of Venus Blue who is a sex-writer, Good Vibrations employee, activist, and all around cool chick from San Francisco. She mentions a private, all night, party being thrown by the Extra Action Marching Band where the Contessa will "sail" between "islands" set up in the desert, each island a different piece of a formal dinner party.

The whole things reminded me of the idea I had a few years ago about putting wheels on a cruise ship, and driving it to Vegas. Or better yet, put it on big-ass train tracks, and then you could have the ultimate party boat, in the desert, going to the best city on earth. I would still love to check out the Contessa in person, but the idea of Burning Man scares me...

posted by JMV | 8/07/2003 08:54:00 PM

Wednesday, August 06, 2003  

Red Carpet

I received my tickets to the world premiere of "Trannies!" the movie that I worked on last summer. Trannies! is an ultra low-budget, non SAG, movie that was shot on DV for (about) 20 days last July. It was written, directed, and produced by Matt Hals, who I met through my co-worker at UCSC Zach Davis (who co-produced, and was the DP.) The film follows three friends who move to Santa Cruz to start anew and get harassed by the local surfers. The cast was a mix of young professional actors, and local Santa folks, and is funny as hell. It is premiering next Friday, August 15th, at a local Santa Cruz theater (the Rio on Soquel st.), and I encourage you all to come check it out (the show starts at 9!) It has been a long year of post production, where Zach and Matt slaved away editing and mixing the film. I've seen a rough-cut and it is really funny! Since the cut I've seen, all the surfing action has been cut together and the film has undergone an extensive color correction process using the "Magic Bullet" software, so I'm very excited to see the final product.

And speaking of surf movies, tonight I finally got a chance to see "Blue Crush," the "surfer chicks are hard core too" movie from last summer. This film came out right in the middle of production on Trannies! and I was hoping it would herald the return of the surf movie. The movie was bad. It wasn't horrible by any means, in fact it had some nice shots and an interesting editing style. The surfing scenes were cut using a lot of different speeds, and freeze frames. It tried to be a little too hip for its own good in its visual style, but at least if HAD a distinct visual style. The script was weak, and the acting was... Well it was atrocious. I mean REALLY REALLY bad. The acting in Trannies! is considerably better, and I'm not just saying that!

posted by JMV | 8/06/2003 12:44:00 AM

Tuesday, August 05, 2003  

Just caught word that the Jim Beam storage facility in Kentucky has burned down! The facility held some 20,000 bottles of bourbon and acounted for 2% of Jim Beam's inventory. While that is really just a drop in the bucket, and I'm not a huge fan of Jim Beam anyway, it is still very sad. Worse yet is that the article mentions a fire, in 2000, that burned down a Wild Turkey storage facility, taking a million gallons of that sweet, sweet 101 with it.

posted by JMV | 8/05/2003 02:33:00 AM

Monday, August 04, 2003  

Pics Up!
I told you I'd get them up! Take a look at some pics from my birthday outing to the Rush Inn on Friday night. Pictures of the party are forthcoming, but I actually shot mostly FILM so it will take a little longer. I also realized that I never posted any pictures from Beau's 25th like I had promised. So, here they are!

posted by JMV | 8/04/2003 02:03:00 PM


Ever since I missed them play at Shoreline Amphitheater during their Amnesiac tour, I swore I would not miss them again. Then the live EP came out, and my desire to see Radiohead live became fervor. My wonderful wife, ignoring all spending limits set for my birthday gift, Ebayed a pair of tickets for the September show at the Hollywood Bowl!

Best. Wife. Ever.

posted by JMV | 8/04/2003 01:07:00 PM

The Next Big Thing
Or at least the next internet meme that will cross over to pop culture: the flash mob. I originally read about flash mobs on Boing-boing a few months ago, and have been reading more and more accounts of them since. I believe the phrase was coined by Smart Mobs author Howard Rheingold, and basically a flash mob is a highly organized spontaneous gathering of people in some public place. A hundred or more individuals are organized via internet and cellular networks to all appear in the same place at exactly the same time, do some specific action, and then dissolve into the city as quickly as they gathered. The purpse is anything from protest to the old hacker motivation of "because its there;" there was even a Matrix themed flash mob in Osaka for the premier of "The Matrix Reloaded." Warren Ellis will be participating in a London event, and moblogging it this Thursday. Check out the Smart Mobs Site, and These, accounts for more info. I think that this concept will soon break-out from web culture and enter into the popular consciousness real soon. Hopefully I'll be able to get in on any that go down in LA, and if anyone know how to get on that list let me know.

posted by JMV | 8/04/2003 12:32:00 PM

Sunday, August 03, 2003  

Commie Bastards!
Evidently Stalin (evil Russian dictator) tried to have John Wayne (American machismo god) assassinated because of his extreme hatred for Communism. According to a John Wayne biographer there were no less than 4 attempts on the Duke's life before he died of cancer in '79.

posted by JMV | 8/03/2003 03:00:00 PM

Innocence: Ghost in the Shell
Just got word of a new film that is either a sequel or a prequel of one of my favorite anime movies, "Ghost in the Shell." here is a short preview (17Meg MPG.)

posted by JMV | 8/03/2003 02:55:00 PM

Morning After
The Birthday/going-away party went off swimmingly last-night! We had about 30 people he for most of the evening, and everyone had a good time. The average age was about 25, and at one point I had the realization that at least 10 of us are unemployed. It is pretty scary that 33% of the population of the party was jobless.

But anyway I had a great time, and want to thank everyone who came out to party with us in Santa Cruz one last time! I'll try and get some pictures up today or tomorrow.

posted by JMV | 8/03/2003 02:48:00 PM

Saturday, August 02, 2003  

To celebrate my 25th we gathered a posse and destroyed a couple hundred dollars of sushi at my (second) favorite sushi joint in town, Mobo. Sake bombs and raw fish were consumed, a wonderful toast was made by Andrew, and then we were off to my very favoritest bar in Santa Cruz, The Rush Inn. The Rush is a dive-bar with a great crowd: half older local pro drinkers, and half college-aged indie rockers, and cheap drinks! We snagged some tables and ripped it up for a few hours. Good times all around.

posted by JMV | 8/02/2003 02:46:00 PM

Friday, August 01, 2003  

See They CAN be Used For Good!
A teen-aged boy used his phone-cam to snap pics of someone trying to abduct him, including the license plate, thus foiling the kidnapping attempt and giving police enough evidence to arrest the man. Who ever said phone-cams were just for upskirts and pimps?

posted by JMV | 8/01/2003 12:57:00 PM
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