Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Working Near Film

For the last month and a half, some workers have been building an extension onto the face of the old post office building north of the highway. I didn't think much of it, other than that it was kind of flimsy (wood framework with concrete facade). They brought in cranes yesterday (like enormous cherry pickers, not the monstrous, skyline-changing cranes). I figured they were going to work in earnest. I was partially right.

This morning, as I was walking from the train to work, I noticed a lot of what looked like HMI lights on the top of those cranes. I thought that odd, and then saw what the big deal was. They weren't shining on the old USPS building, they were shining on the Gotham National Bank. Yep, the letters over the entrance had been changed for the new Batman movie. I didn't get a picture of it, because the cranes obscured the view, but it's definitely there. I might be able to get a glimpse of it on my way back home, but I assume they'll be there for a couple days. If I get a picture I'll post it.

So, when you see the next Batman movie, and you see the Gotham National Bank, you can know where it is.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Oh come on, you knew it was coming!

Every year there's a big warmup, and we think spring is here. Every year there is the subsequent blizzard that makes people complain about it being winter again. Yes, it's later than usual, and it's kind of funny in light of the Easter post that I recently wrote, but really, is this blizzard a surprise to anyone who's lived in Chicagoland for any significant amount of time?

Monday, April 09, 2007

Easter in Chattanooga

If you're linking from a goal update, this is our second trip this year. Our first is here.

This weekend, we went down to Chattanooga, where my aunt, uncle, a cousin and my brother live. It was one of the more relaxing family vacations I've had in a while (I've had some fairly relaxing vacations so far, but this one was a relaxing family vacation; big difference).

My uncle is a great storyteller. My mother, not so much, and my dad was all but silent on his past. Since my uncle has a great knowledge of our family history, he's always able to tell me something new that I don't know about my grandparents and/or great-grandparents. It's wonderful, because my grandparents were real movers and shakers, and I like to know the legacy I have. A couple small things: my grandmother lived next door to Thomas Alva Edison when she was a little girl. Not so much her doing, or anything that would affect her or my life, but it sure is cool. What was her doing, though was her friendship with Groucho Marx. They were staying at the Waldorf Astoria and she was in an elevator when Groucho walked in. She, being the irrepressible socialite she was, started a conversation, and they hit it off immediately. Evidently my grandparents went out to Palm Springs to visit the Marx household later on. These were two of the more memorable stories, but others were shining examples of a legacy of great deeds that I have in my life. It's a darn sight better than what I thought was there.

Chattanooga is a lovely city. We were actually staying up on Signal Mountain, which is this quiet little mountain community, as beautiful as it is relaxing. Chattanooga itself is a model for downtown renovation in the south, as it came from being a stagnating semi-redneck town to becoming a thriving artistic and cultural center in just a little over a decade. Both Heidi and I were discussing our possibility of moving down there, in an it-will-never-happen-but-it-would-be-kinda-cool manner.

It was Easter weekend, and most of my relatives are very involved in their church, so we spent a decent amount of time at church. It was more ritualistic than I'm used to, but there's room for all different styles, and I found it to be very grounding.

The road trip down and back was even kind of cool. As we went farther south, it looked like we were going forward in time. Spring got later and later the farther south we got. We started with the budding trees here, to the fully blooming trees down in Chattanooga. It made for a lovely trip.

We're glad to be home, as even a fun 10-11 hour drive is a 10-11 hour drive, but it was a great diversion for a weekend.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

On Death and Ressurrection

It's green out. For the first time in six months, there are leaves on the trees (OK, leaf budling things, but work with me here). For the first time in maybe six or seven months, you look out and are overwhelmed by green. Life is returning to the land.

I kind of wonder if the whole Passover thing was intentionally done in springtime. Originally, the Hebrews were in a desert country. The vast majority of Egyptian civilization was along the Nile, but that didn't really have the same kind of seasonal shift; flood season was closer to summer, and it signified the end of the farming season (as the farms were mostly submerged at that time). The Hebrews wouldn't understand it yet, but when they got to their promised land, Passover would be around springtime. I don't know how much the seasons change in Israel, but I do know that it is comparatively green (as opposed to actual desert), and that there is sometimes snow, so I would assume that there is some form of seasonal shift.

Anyway, Jesus was crucified just before Passover. He was dead for a full day (which was the Sabbath, so technically he was supposed to rest anyway), then returned to life on "the third day." This is a brief overview of the seasonal change, and a really interesting point, that right during the ressurrection of the world, comes the ressurrection of the Lord.

This intrigues me about other things as well. In northern Illinois, we have a contant reminder of the principles of death and ressurrection. In fall, things are in their sunset, and then they die. The world lies dead for several months. Then, in early April, the world comes back, green and more beautiful than it has been in quite a while. People are happier, life feel like it has more hope, allergies start to hit, it's just a better time (OK, not the allergies so much).

In California, I noticed a dominance of the "Health, Wealth and Prosperity" teaching in churches. Now understand here, I do believe that elements of that teaching are valid, and some of them do have scriptural backing, but it has no place in a church. If God wants you to be the head and not the tail, and you're struggling financially or have a chronic illness, then the obvious corollary is that God must not love you as much as the rich, fit guy over there (and there are a lot of those in LA). I'm sure part of that comes from a greedy subculture that dominates Southern California, but I also noticed that there is no real seasonal change there.

Here, you predominantly see a theology wherin suffering is a part of life. Pain causes growth and strength. Nobody likes it, until they look back on how they have changed over the years for the better. Is that because Chicagoans are smarter and more balanced? Well, yes, in part. But I also think the instinctive understanding of death and ressurrection allows people to accept a more balanced theology. Life is a great training ground; it can be a kind of a difficult place to call home.

And yes, there are places in Chicagoland that teach the prosperity theology, and there are places in LA that teach the death-and-ressurrection theology; it's just that each place has its dominant focus.

Anyway, that's me being all thoughty-like. Happy Easter!

Monday, April 02, 2007


I originally heard of this from my friend Zach. He had mentioned something about Will Wright (creator of Sim City and The Sims and countless other Sim games) creating a new game which was effectively sim-everything. It sounded interesting to me, but I let it go. I didn't know much about it, and figured I'd know more when the time was right. And so it came to pass that I'd hear snippets of what was proposed for this game, and I grew covetous.

Here's the deal. You start the game as a microorganism, swimming around in a little puddle, potentially in the primordial ooze of your planet. As you eat and get bigger, you can reproduce and evolve. Soon, you develop complexity, becoming an animal of whatever design you choose. The program will determine how the beast should move, based off of the design (in the first video, Will Wright creates a three-legged thing with a hand on the tail arching over its back, and the program figures out how that thing will move). Anyway, after being a beast and attempting to make your way in the world, you reproduce and evolve, eventually developing the brain capacity to reach sentience. That starts the tribal phase. You're no longer evolving as a species, but instead you're evolving as a culture. Your tribe grows and develops, eventually becoming a city. As you develop your city and your culture, you develop technology, including space travel. You move out from your individual planet into the solar system, colonizing and terraforming other worlds, abducting things, making treaties, starting wars. It's life starting on a small scale, and developing into a huge scale.

One of the better things about this game is that it's largely about design. Sure, you're all about building a greater and better society, but its the design element that's so appealing.

When Matt was here a week ago, he showed a few videos that I had heard about, but had never seen. This first one is at the Game Developers Conference in 2005. It makes me drool, and it's nearly two years old.

This next one is at E3, 2006. It shows the game being more developed, which is cool, and ends with Robin Williams designing a creature.

Keep in mind, these videos are 40 minutes a pop, but they're so very yummy. It's making me quiver with anticipation. It's making Heidi say, "We need two computers, so we can both play." It's making Matt consider getting a Windows system.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

2007 Goals, Update 3

As usual, I'm seeing how my goals for this year have progressed. Not a great deal that has changed tangibly, but there's stuff in the works.

1. Get at least 5 union voiceover gigs: I just sent out my first promotional mailing to ad agencies. That will likely pay off in the future, but it hasn't just yet.
2. Get one national gig: See #1.
3. Get at least three agents in the local market: I have one; no change from late last year.
4. Get into both SAG and AFTRA: Bupkus
5. Drop my bodyfat to 12%: We've been going to the Y every weekday at 5AM. Lat week was a low-motivation week, but we're plugging away. Still no actual number to hang onto yet.
6. Travel at least four times: 1 down, 3 to go
7. Get my headshots done: I'm waiting to lose a bit of weight, as I tend to hold a lot of my weight in my face. Still, it's a bupkus right now.
8. Join the Fighting 501st: I'm waiting till it's warmer before I can set up a card table in the garage and get to work.
9: Get out of debt: We just paid off one moderately sizeable bill (literally a couple minutes before I started this post). There's quite a bit left, but we're on our way.
10. Brew at least four batches of beer: 1 down, 3 to go. I'm not sure if I'm going to kit it this next time or follow a recipe.
11. Read the Bible from beginning to end: I'm a little behind, but moving along with this. So far, so good.

So, the year is 25% over, and I'm not quite 25% done with all my goals. Some of them, moving along pretty well; some, not so much. Plans for this month: Pray. Read. Travel. Work out. Eat smart. Do some cleaning in the garage so I have some space. Get more cards so I can finish the mailings (a complete mailing to ad agencies is a five-week process). Plan for the next brew. I might do a talent agency mailing, but we'll see how everything works out.