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Friday, January 28, 2005  

Almost Over
I can hardly believe that today is Friday. This week seemed to exist outside the normal flow of space-time. Or was that just me? I dunno, when the Monday morning starts off crappy, and only gets worse from there, the pressure exerted by this ever-increasing poop-mound crushes the very ability to reconcile the passage of time from whatever dark recesses of my lizard-brain are responsible those functions.

Just to recap, on my way to my car Monday morning I discovered my car had been burgled; its passenger window shattered and my stereo brutally mined from the dash. The weather men shamans foretold of more coming rains, so a replacement window had to installed ASAP. Then we discovered one downfall to my once-new job: a new and inglorious tax bracket. The bulbous and unlubricated phallus of the federal tax code erased our sugar-plum dreams of a no-stress spring jaunt to Vegas and left us wondering how to prevent this next year. That was Monday. The week continued along these lines, spiraling to a near comic level of unpleasantness. Until today where the usually bearable office chaos has escalated into something akin to a big-top circus fire mixed with a bank robbery. I would really like to just curl up in a dark corner somewhere with innumerable prescription drugs.

But I think I can finally begin to see the light at the end of 5:59.

posted by JMV | 1/28/2005 03:17:00 PM

Tuesday, January 25, 2005  

As I (very) briefly alluded to on Friday, Julie and I got to go see a taping of the NBC show “Scrubs.” Those of you who watch scrubs on KNBC here in LA may have seen the crawl during the first minuets of the show last week announcing a contest for tickets. I happed to have the TV on when the trusty TiVo switched channels to record scrubs and I immediately entered the contest. A couple of days later we got an e-mail from NBC w/ detail on how to attend the taping, and after some work-politics sorted out we were able to go.

Scrubs is traditionally a “one-camera” show, which means they shoot an episode like a movie and not like a sitcom, but for this episode, entitled “My 4-Camera Dream,” the whole of the second act takes place within one of J.D.’s fantasies. The hospital has been transformed into a sitcom reality where things are brighter, louder, and everything works out in the end. So the production shot the sequence like a typical sitcom would be shot: w/ 3 cameras in front of a live audience. Bill Lawrence, the creator of scrubs and Spin City, introduced the idea and mentioned that he wanted to give the cast the opportunity to perform for a live-audience for a change.

The cast, or course, loved having the instant feedback of a coupl hundred people laughing at their jokes and so they all played up to the audience and hammed it up, which was a lot of fun to watch. During the down-time while the crew set up a scene the audience was entertained, first by The Blanks (better know as Ted the Lawyer’s a capella quartet from the show,) and even Colin Hay (frontman and songwriter for the seminal Man at Work) who did a couple of his songs that have been featured in the show! The special-guest of the episode was non-other than Clay Aiken, who may have been exciting for some.

As for the rest of the cast, Sarah Chalke (Elliot) was like 100x hotter in real life (and she even said "hey, how's it going" to me,) Zach Braff was, as expected,
cute/hunky and very funny. He also has a potty mouth, loudly proclaiming "fuck!" every time he bobbled a line (the best thing was seeing/hearing J.D.’s “voice-over voice” actually come out of Zach’s mouth.) Donald Faison didn’t seem too have to stretch far to get into Turk’s skin as he was hyper, jovial, and the hammiest of the cast. Neil Flynn had only tiny scene in the show, but he also had probably the funniest joke. He is a great example of an actor who has taken a bit-part and inflated it into a fan favorite, and the many Kramer comparisons made that night weren’t too far off base.

Perhaps the thing that made the greatest impact on me was the efficiency in which the whole operation was run, and I would often find myself watching the movements of the cameras and mics instead of the actors delivering lines. We also managed to score a script from a 3rd season episode and a signed cast 8x10 thanks to Julie’s quick responses to some scrub’s trivia.

In other news, WTF is up with the Oscar nominations this year? I find the whole thing bemusing, and whatever faith in the institution was restored for me last year by LotR's sweep has been washed away by this year’s glaring omissions and sycophantery.

posted by JMV | 1/25/2005 03:57:00 PM

Friday, January 21, 2005  

No Time
Crazy day at work today, plus I'm cutting out early to see a taping of SCRUBS (more on this later) but I had to Link to a story on Pitchfork about a NEW PORTISHEAD ALBUM!!! Have a kick-ass weekend, more updates next week (promise!)

posted by JMV | 1/21/2005 01:53:00 PM

Friday, January 14, 2005  

A joint mission between NASA, ESA, and the Italian space program just landed a probe on Titan, Saturn's largest moon! This is the kind og thing that just fills me full of steaming-hot awe! Even out f'ed up society has managed to fire a spacecraft clear across our solar system and land a probe on the surface of a distant moon. It took the craft 7 years to reach Saturn, but this morning radio telescopes around the planet tuned into the radio signal streaming data back from the distant probe. This kind of shit reminds me what "space-aged" really can mean. Who long until we set foot, not just probes, on extraterrestrial lands?

posted by JMV | 1/14/2005 04:40:00 PM

Thursday, January 13, 2005  

Terrible Two
Octopus Hat turns 2 today (See the very first post here)! What can I say, 530 some posts in two years isn’t too bad. The site has seen a shift in focus from a link-based site to a more personal site, which I guess has worked out as people are still reading it. In the coming year I will strive to be more prolific and keep the site thick w/ content (we’ll see how that goes.) I have been planning a redesign for quite some time now, and hopefully that will come to pass in the next month or so. So keep stay tuned for another year of useless crap and narcissism!

Here is a handful of my favorite posts from the last year:

“Ghetto of wannabes”
”Eureka Part One and Part Two
Writing and tone
SENT Opening

posted by JMV | 1/13/2005 04:40:00 PM

Tuesday, January 11, 2005  



The clouds have finally parted over the LA Basin after some 14+ days of rain! They whipped across the expanse of blue as if they knew they had out-stayed their welcome and where now quick to get out of town...

posted by JMV | 1/11/2005 04:48:00 PM

Thursday, January 06, 2005  

Musical Octys
All in all, it turned out to be a pretty good year for music release. This is the toughest Octy for me to award because there is simply SO much good stuff out there, and I can’t ever seen to get a handle on even a small portion of it (as was evident last year when I overlooked the Shins who would have given Radiohead some stiff competition for the award.) I tried to really capture as much a possible this year, and as a result I had one hell of a time narrowing down my list of notable releases (I don’t even get to mention Modest Mouse’s superb “Good News for People Who Love Bad News” in this post.) That said, the runner up this year is SMiLE by the venerable Brian Wilson. I really wanted to give this disc top-honor, and by all means it deserves all the praise that has been heaped on it. The penultimate album of sixties-psychedelia didn’t quite have the (commercial) impact it would have had 30 years ago, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still (way) ahead of its time. The album’s best features are the way it plays with time and space, both in the technical construction of the songs and the feeling that your listening to a time-capsule of a record, newly unearthed but already antiquated. I still kinda feel like I’m missing the big picture when I listen to it, like there is so much going on that is over my head, but the real beauty of the disc is that at its very core it is a pop album and therefore it is actually very accessible. You’d do yourself a favor by giving the disc a spin (or three.)

The Octy winner this year is a bit of a dark-horse, and even now I’m amazed that I’m awarding the Octy to the Ditty Bops’ premiere album and not to a more conventional disc. But there you go, I just couldn’t NOT give them the award. Their debut album is just THAT good. Infectious, witty, saccharine-sweet, heart-breaking, exciting, makes-you-want-to-dance-even-though-you-don’t-know-how; the CD has spun more times in my car, Julie car, our house, our iPods, and at anyone’s house who would let us put it on than anything else in recent memory. I feel wonderfully lucky that I was able to see them live at what must be the most intimate club in LA just before they launch into the stratosphere of stardom. For those who didn’t heed my earlier advice to purchase the album a month ago (or didn’t get one as an xmas gift from me,) The Ditty Bops is a masterful mixture of folk-rock, rag-time, post-punk, and singer-songwriter, all wrapped up with a big bow and tied by producer-extraordinaire Mitchell Froom who lends a warm, polished sheen to the album. I could go on-and-on about this record, so save me the trouble and GO FRIGGIN BUY IT (if you don’t I swear I will do a track-by-track review of this disc during the month of February.)

The Honorable Mention for this years award goes to the Shins: Oh Inverted World. Yes, I realize this disc “dropped” in 2001 but my thinking here is two fold: the album had TWO tracks on the Garden State soundtrack disc (which was HUGE this year,) and it is my god-damned award I was going to give it to Chutes Too Narrow since I didn’t discover that until this year but figure if I’m going to cheat, I might as well give it to the better of the two albums. SO there it is. I’ve sung the Shin’s praises several times in the past, so I’ll keep it brief now. The Shins fucking rock.

posted by JMV | 1/06/2005 04:07:00 PM

Am I Dreaming?
Some news came across my RSS feeds today that has really been bugging me. It seems a woman has sucsessfully had her pet cat cloned. I'm sorry, what? They can fukcing clone pets to order now? Yup. Re-pet on demand. This can't end well...

posted by JMV | 1/06/2005 01:54:00 PM

Wednesday, January 05, 2005  

Day 5ive
Today is much better than yesterday. I only kinda have the desire to stab someone in the throat. But all kidding (I wasn't kidding BTW)aside, I think the 1st phase is behind us now. The chemical adiction has been delt with and now we just have to rebuild our shattered psyche(s). Thanks for all the words of support. Keep 'em coming. The next big hurdle will be this weekend when we go out on Saturday night; until then I've got my altoids.

posted by JMV | 1/05/2005 04:31:00 PM

Television Octy

…back to the awards!

2004 was the year where Reality TV, like a serpent, turned upon itself and began to eat its own tail. But I try REALLY hard not to watch reality TV, so I’m not going to comment on that. Nope, instead I’d rather damage my brain with a combination of VH1 “comments by c-list celeb shows” and dull Victorian-era trephination drills. And with that I give you the runner-up for the award: The Gilmore Girls! Say what you want about this sometimes-saccharine-sweet, sometimes-heart-rending, ALWAYS-finely-crafted WB melodrama, but if you say something bad about it I’d be willing to wager that you haven’t seen more than 2 episodes. The show just can’t be disliked. Nothing else on TV is as well written, well acted, and genuinely touching as the fairytale-like chronicles of Stars Hollow, and I can’t think of another show on TV that as made me as misty-eyed.

But the award this year couldn’t go to any show besides The Daily Show! Nothing else on TV is as dependable in its humor (which is more often-than-not side-splitting) without losing its relevance and importance. The Daily Show has been steadily building momentum as a voice of the young nation sick of MTV style “Vote or Die” bullshit and Fox News propaganda since Jon Stewart took the reigns a few years ago, and it was the election year that fueled the show’s climb to critical mass. Stewart really stepped to the plate this year and delivered the kind of wit and satire that American popular culture had forgotten about; driving the show to unforeseen heights of influence. And that is why the Daily Show is so important: it has the power to change the way the “18-25” demographic looks at news and media. It has already begun. Stewart has received no end of accolades from “real” journalists (Tom Brokaw’s comments especially) for the job he was doing, and he has the cajones to stand up to the entrenched news-media and call it like he sees it. Whether you lean left or right, the kind of discourse that the Daily Show brings to a group of people that are usually considered to apathetic (or stoned) to even pander to is a positive thing. The man is a rising star, and I predict he will be a force of chance in the coming years.

posted by JMV | 1/05/2005 01:57:00 PM

Tuesday, January 04, 2005  

Day 4
I've become increasingly self-conscious during these past 4 days of no-smoking. I worried that I'm annoying those around me with my irritability and periodic shouting about needed a smoke. But I have to just say, "fuck 'em" and be loud and obnoxious and let everybody know that I'm quitting or else this whole thing is going to fall apart...

The really frustrating thing is, at this point, I'm not even sure why I set off on this path in the first place! The whole of nicotine addiction is WAY more insidious than I could have imagined. It is like I've lost a close friend (non-smoker will think that is hyperbole, but fuck them they don't KNOW Jake Camel like I knew him.) The minute to minute cravings are not that bad, (especially way out here in day 4,) but the thought that I won't ever be able to enjoy another cigarette after a movie, or after a great meal, or during a long-drive while stuck in traffic is terribly depressing. I feel woefully unequipped to deal with this unexpected sense of loss.

Any ex-smokers out there have any words of advice?

posted by JMV | 1/04/2005 11:24:00 AM

Monday, January 03, 2005  

Day 3
Julie and I have set-out on the most cliche of New Years resolutions, and decided to quite smoking cold turkey. Today is day three of our expedition into the firey depths of hell, and I really underestimated the pull exerted by the nicotine. Yesterday was a fun mix of petty bickering and gum-chewing, and today doesn't look to be any better. I keep hearing people say that the first 3 days are the toughest, adn after 14 days you are home-free. To this I say, WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU MEAN 14 DAYS!!! ARE YOU FUCKING NUTS? It is day THREE and I'm ready to crawl over broken glass for a butt... So yeah, wish us luck.

posted by JMV | 1/03/2005 10:48:00 AM
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