Saturday, July 17, 2010


I was blindsided the other day. Caught completely off guard and got sucked in to watching a "reality" show. (I just can't bring myself to leave the quotes off that word.)

The offending--and I mean offending-rubberneck fodder was ABC's True Beauty in which, according to the network, "10 gorgeous people have no clue they're competing in an inner-beauty contest."

The irony knows no bounds when the hosts/judges on the show watch from behind closed doors as the contestants, who are competing for a position as the Face of Vegas, are given opportunities not only to show their prowess as spokesmodels, but are also put into situations in which they are tempted to be petty, dishonest, and downright snobbish. The hosts are really no different than the contestants. They are "beautiful" people themselves and it's implied that they have true inner beauty or why else would they be in a position to judge the inner beauty of others? Yet in an almost Clockwork Orangian scene at the end of each episode, they parade the faults of the fallen contestants before them for no apparent reason other than to provide some carnage for us at home to feast on. That seems at least as petty as the actions or inactions of the contestants. For instance, the last contestant to lose and get booted off the show and who was already in tears for having her dreams of being the Face of Vegas shattered, was forced to stand there and watch footage of her lying, cheating, and failing to help a pregnant woman with her luggage. In a truly awkward moment she said, "Can I go now?" To which the judges said nothing. You could almost see some uncertainty in the eyes of the judges who seemed like interrogators of a suspect who'd just "lawyered up."

The answer was, she couldn't go now, even though she had nothing left to lose and there was nothing to keep her there. We weren't finished beating her down for not having enough inner beauty. Here's another kick in the face for not being kinder to strangers. Here's one ostensibly to show how much better we are than you since you lied and cheated. Never mind that there's nothing "real" about this "reality" show.

It's a little disturbing watching the holier-than-thou, plastic-surgury riddled judges putting the smack-down on someone who just wants to be like them.

But this isn't limited to reality shows. There's a rubberneck quality masquerading as altruism in most TV shows today. Take Law and Order: SVU, a police unit devoted to helping victims of sexual crimes. Sounds like a noble idea. What's on screen, however, is every foul and deviant sexual practice you can imagine being catalogued for you in a titillating and grotesque manner. The show isn't about protecting the innocent at all. It's about shocking an audience who's senses are dulled to near incomprehension by the hundreds of other "ripped from the headlines" shows so they'll stay tuned through the commercials.

Television production values and even the writing have gotten much better over the years. TV execs have become adept at learning what the audience wants and giving it to them. It wasn't always like that. I've heard interviews with retired execs admitting that they thought they could tell the audience what it wanted and that's why most of the shows were so horrible.

But maybe what we want isn't so good for us. When Newton Minow was FCC Chairman in 1961, he said, "When television is good, nothing--not the theater, not the magazines or newspapers--nothing is better.
But when television is bad, nothing is worse." Now, almost 50 years later, the "Vast Wasteland" is only getting vaster.

Friday, November 13, 2009

This Just In: STFU

The federal Government has just announced a new Scientific Task Force Unit (STFU) whose main goals are to debunk all the misinformation, misstated facts, mis-attributed quotes, and other moronic notions that seem to be circulating in unprecedented quantities.
"Since the advent of the internet," says Mikael Bleschevenitz, Chief Scientist in charge of STFU and former Dean of the College of Mundane But True Information at Stanford, "there has been more opportunities than ever before for the gullible to be heard." While normally a champion of free speech, Bleschevenitz says that we should be championing factual free speech. He added, "I happen to know from personal experience that a duck's quack echoes. I take my pet mallard, Sophie, to the Grand Canyon every year."

Be sure to forward this to everyone unfortunate enough to be in your address book.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Desire and Anxiety

Anxiety filled every crevice. Every corner. It pushed on his chest from the inside making it hard to breathe. He could feel it foaming up from deep inside the center of his chest, expanding, making his arms and legs physically ache from the pressure. It made him want to cry, to let the tears spurt out as if from a fire hose.
He didn’t understand where it came from. It must be fear but of what? It happened every time he sat down to a project—writing a paper, drawing a commissioned portrait, editing a commercial. It was fear. Fear of not getting it perfect the first time.
It didn’t bother him quite as much when he was editing a commercial. The clients the TV station took on were so cheap that he didn’t care what he turned out. His buddies called him the turd polisher. That’s probably why he’d stayed at his job for so long—15 years now—because it was safe. He could polish turds with the best, and since no one paid any attention to turds, unless the stink was particularly bad, there was no real accountability. The clients who’d never done a commercial before thought he was amazing because they didn’t know what a better editor might be capable of given a greater budget and more time.
But when he sat down to write or to draw, he actually cared about what he was producing. He wanted it perfect. His life depended upon it, somehow. It was what he’d really wanted to with his life before he’d entered the advertising world as a lowest-tier tv editor. He’d wanted to be Ray Bradbury, then Tobias Wolf, then Richard Adams or a male Margaret Atwood. He’d also wanted to be Monet, Matisse, Degas, and even Warhol.
The force of his desire to create something that, at the very least, didn’t stink at all, and at the most, people would clamber to see or read or watch had always violently collided against this seemingly immovable wall of fear with him caught in the middle. He’d tried to reconcile the two, or to conquer the one and nurture the other (many times he wasn’t sure which he was doing to which). But he’d inevitably feel like he’d have to escape or be crushed.
He gave up the crazy idea of becoming a writer or artist for a time, feeling as if he were drowning in a sea of artists and writers who’d already expressed every idea humanity was capable of. But the idea kept pursuing him. Especially the writing idea. He went long, long stretches of not writing but it kept nagging at him, pulling at the hem of his shirt, needling him in the back of the neck. People had no idea he was a writer, or wanted to become one. Most knew he was an artist because he was always drawing. Drawing came easy and there was no pressure because he had no intention of trying to sell it or push it on others. No one saw his blog, though. No one he knew, anyway. He didn’t want them to. He only wrote because if he didn’t appease the nagging little pest every once in a while, it might irritate him to death.
He knew he’d have to write something substantial sooner or later, though. He’d have to brave the violent clash of anxiety and desire and either perish under the onslaught or come through it somehow a changed man.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Cheesy Song Day

I'm working on a cheesy show so I thought it appropriate to delcare today, "Cheesy Song Day." Enjoy.

Monday, February 23, 2009

An Unfortunate Reminder

Sometimes humility comes at a high price.

Last week I produced some tribute videos for my boss who died on Friday and they ran on the local TV station that I work for. It was a stressful day and I was hit harder than expected by the loss of this man. I received many compliments for the pieces and that felt good but I tried to keep it in perspective.

This morning that perspective was jackhammered into me with an email from a viewer which my GM passed on to me:

"I have nothing against ______________, but I was appalled to see a serious misspelling on one of the photos honoring him. I don't know who wrote it, but it was shown on ______. You may have heard from some other educated people in Utah. There's a photo of Mr. ________ with the phrase underneath - "He loved Utah. It's land, it's people." Everyone should know that the possessive form of "it" is "its" not "it's." "It's" is a contraction for "it is." This was terribly hokey and Utah doesn't need any more bad publicity. I have seen so many horrendous misspellings on ALL local news channels too. Just thought you might like to know. Sincerely ____________, Park City, Utah."

This has been a big wake-up call. Reading this email makes me realize that I'm as big a jerk as she is because I've been tempted to send out the same email when I see the very same mistake. But I never before took into account what extenuating circumstances might exist. For instance, there is a difference between a typo and a stupidity-driven misspelling or punctuation error. I find myself typing an apostrophe all the time when I shouldn't. That's what rewriting is for. In this case, I don't need a lesson in punctuation (what she has chosen to refer to as spelling) as much as a proofreader. And then there's the stress and shock of losing someone you respect and trying to do right by them by putting a tribute to them on the air in a timely fashion.

So I can't be too hard on this woman. I have been just as much of an asshole as she is.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Come on, Cyrano. Why her?

I went down to my home office last night to work but realized I wouldn't get much done because my son had to scramble to get his project done for the science fair and that he needed the computer. It's a fact of life at our house that if something is due tomorrow, he's pretty much starting it tonight--usually after 7pm. Even though he had the whole holiday break to work on it. Even though his mother and I (mostly his mother) badgered him about it every day.

So the futility of getting any work done and the lack of sleep but inability to do so that came from working on late-night projects for the last two days drove me to our new HD television that pulls it's signal not from a cable or a satellite dish but from a pair of rabbit-ears. I flipped through all of the new digital stations (a novelty that's already beginning to wear off) until I landed on the long protuberance that I instantly knew to be the nose of Cyrano. It was a stage play and I was mildly intrigued so I put down the remote and watched. I don't know how much of the play I'd missed but I entered in the middle of a duel between Cyrano and some fop. The actor playing Cyrano was a delight to watch. I don't like "Thespians" much--I prefer the subtlety and range of film acting. But this was no ordinary stage performance. For one thing, he didn't feel the need to shout as his counterparts were doing, yet he still filled the stage with his presence. I was instantly drawn in, not the least by the deftness with which he brought humor into the scene. I knew that I was familiar with the actor but I couldn't quite place him. It wasn't until a few scenes later that I realized it was Kevin Kline. So the comedy finally made sense--the kind of sense that can be summed up in 4 words: A Fish Called Wanda.

But it was more than just funny. Kline portrays Cyrano's confidence in his fighting and poetry that's born from the resignation of a man whose appearance is less than ideal with amazing agility. I absolutely loved it. I also loved how the audience responded to him.

Then there was Roxanne. I didn't recognize her at first, either, but it didn't take long to realize that that was the beautiful Jennifer Garner sitting there, enjoying Kline's performance with the rest of us. Then she started to speak and the beauty drained away. I hate to say these things about her because I think she's a great actor but her stage performance can be summed up in five words: A Fish Out of Water. She was the opposite of Kline in every way. There was no subtlety. She overplayed and forced her confidence and this exposed an odd lack of confidence. She contorted her face and gestured wildly, shouting every word. It very nearly ruined the whole thing for me. I got to the point where I had to ignore her and focus on the other performances. Kline's made the whole thing worthwhile but I can't imagine how much better the production would have been if they'd cast someone else for his leading lady.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Great Ideas

Journal Entry
November 8, 2008 6:48 am

I woke up more than an hour ago and have laid in bed in that dreamy, esoteric state that I love so much because of the creative powers it gives me. On those relatively rare occasions where anxiety hangs out in the background and doesn't assert itself, my thoughtful, expressive self becomes master and I solve all of life's problems. I come up with wonderful ideas and plans with exceptional clarity and focus. Whatever subject I give my attention to--a story idea, a journal entry, a talk, a way to help my kids complete tasks they are facing, or, as in this morning's reverie, polishing my resume--I have the answer in a few moments. And it's usually a brilliant and elegant solution to a problem I've been grappling with for ages.

Then I get up and all of that shoots down the drain with a sucking squeal.

That is why in many cases I don't get up until I absolutely have to. I can't bear to let any of the epiphanies--my babies, really--go. And some of them have to go. There is no way I can carry all of my breakthroughs and discoveries of the past hour down the stairs and to this computer. And even if I could, there is no interface invented to which I can attach my brain directly and transfer my thoughts like raw video. There's no firewire or USB connection in my head. The best I could do right now, for instance, is list the some of the topics and issues I tackled and try to reopen the channel and coax the brilliant ideas back into existence.

On the other hand, let's say for a second that I could do that; that magically or through some advanced technology I could capture (and make sense of) my thought processes of the semi-dream state. (After all, I'm not stupid enough not to think of keeping a notebook and voice recorder next to my bed for such moments.) There is always the danger that I was insane for a while there. In the past I have read--deciphered, really--the notes that I had jotted down in my altered state and I wasn't at all impressed with what I saw there. That could be intelligent, rational selection, or it could be the thug that my brain has hired as gatekeeper. I've got to fire that guy. There is this huge, musclebound, knuckle-headed, cretan that stands at the door of my mind with a clipboard he can barely read who refuses entry to anything not on the list. Since good ideas are usually radical breaks from what is currently accepted, not much gets on the list or past the bouncer.

Anyway, here is what I can remember of the issues that I tangled with this morning:

1) A great idea for a resume: Name. Heading: "Video Editor with over twenty years experience" List the responsibilities of my current job-14 years. Briefly list a few of the other jobs I've had in the broadcast field. List some of the freelance clients I've worked with. Include a less-serious section headed with some witty line about how it's not as serious but still important (I've forgotten the line) that has links to my drawings and to the "endorsements" of Robin Williams and Dustin Hoffman. Somehow I've got to show that I don't really consider them endorsements, per se, but that they're pretty cool pronouncements of my talents and abilities anyway and are from A-List actors. (Of course, thatwould be apparent without me flogging the point.)

2) Blog entry about why, even though I'm a registered republican and I voted for McCain, I'm excited and hopeful about the prospects of having Obama as a president and how I get to see the influence of the Republican majority here in Utah on small children, my own included. For instance, while waiting at the bus stop with my son, I heard some 5th graders lamenting the change, saying that he's going to raise our taxes among other things. And my own 5-year-old daughter saw a picture of the President-Elect and said, "That's Obama. I hate him!" to which I replied, "Why do you hate him? We don't hate him, He's our president." "He said children shouldn't watch any TV!" Was her answer.

3) Blog entry about my unique position on race--how that even though I'm lilly-white and of European stock, I have a different perspective in that I have an African-American cousin whom I saw blatantly discriminated against by people who should have taken him under their respective wings. This entry could take the form of an open letter to him about how I think about him almost everyday and how I regret that we've been out of touch for so many years.

4) Now, see. I had at least half a dozen more that I can no longer remember. Stupid bouncer.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Dance

It seems I'm never too busy to have a little fun when the opportunity arises. Glenn Rawson is a radio and television personality and author in Utah and Idaho. As I was putting together the promos for his show I noticed that, using some of the shots between takes and the magic of television editing, I could actually loosen him up a little. Here's the result:

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Annual Post

Once per annum around this time, I turn a year older. I can't seem to stop it. It just keeps coming. This year is no different. It brought with it no epiphanic fanfare or any type of life-changing realizations (unless you count that, fun as it was, I'm never taking the whole family to Tepanyaki Steak House again--too danged expensive!) In fact, it kind of sneaked up on me. It didn't hit me that I was having a birthday until just a couple of days before it happened. This may be due to the fact that my side business has taken off this year and I've been holed up in my cave for weeks concentrating on projects and deadlines and other people's lives.

Most of the projects I get on the side are retrospectives. This year I did three videos for the University. Two of them were for year-end events: The Athletics Department's Senior Banquet and Hall of Fame, and the College of Ed's Convocation. I spent days focusing on the lives of the Hall of Fame Inductees and the graduating seniors, examining their stories and getting them ready to be presented to others. The other video was for the the poli-sci dept. The department was honoring a local celebrity, a well-known pollster--and professor at the U--with a scholarship named after him. The video included appearances by an austere group of leaders and politicians, including US Secretary of Health and Human Services, Mike Leavitt.

I have done these kinds of retrospectives for years and one thing I've noticed is that they usually present a larger-than-life version of the person they describe. All of the interviews are with friends and family and the spectrum of their responses to the subject ranges from respectful admiration to downright gushy brown-nosing. Occasionally there will be a critical comment (and I'm not talking about the "Dean Martin's Roast" type of comment that's usually kept in for comedy) which is squelched immediately. In other projects I've even had to edit a few of those out of the raw video just in case it ever fell into the wrong hands. Sometimes I get to meet the subjects of these videos and get to know how much the video differs from reality. That used to shock me but now I realize that it comes with the territory.

This year was the first time I've been immersed in other people's personal history for so long, though. And it's made me lose track of my own life. Made me put things on hold. I can't tell you how much I looked forward to working out again. I couldn't do it because I was working around the clock and I was too exhausted to do it. But I'm back at it and it feels great!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Car Commercials

I'm an artist and a video editor, but not necessarily in that order. The two aren't necessarily interchangeable either. Rarely is there any artistic value in my day job putting together television commercials. I've done many commercials over the years and many have been for car dealerships. I'm doing one right now, as a matter of fact. This one is for san diego used cars . The internet has really added a new dynamic to the whole process of buying a car. I can't stand dealing with sales people so the prospect of doing all the research for a car online, away from the pressure, is appealing. You certainly can do a lot of things online these days. I've rented movies, bought a camera for my business, bought books and music and a lot more. I haven't tried buying a car online, yet. Maybe someday I will. Like I said, anything that gets me away from those awful high-pressure sales people is a good thing, right?

And Another Thing

Speaking of this whole probate thing, there seems to be a lot of firms out there who make it their business to help. For instance, the orange probate attorney. It's not something I've really thought about much, as I said. But there is a need. I think the thing to do, though, is to thoroughly research several companies online and what they really offer. Personally I wouldn't go for the advance. I'm more conservative when it comes to money. I think my mother did the right thing when she put most of her inheritance into investments. If there's a way to do that and shelter yourself from the taxes, that's the way to go, I think. That's where a good attorney might come in handy. I certainly want to be better prepared than I am so that my kids will be taken care of. It's something to think about.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Grabbing the Future Now

I never thought I'd have the opportunity to even think about dealing with an inheritance. Then my grandparents died and my mother and her brother inherited a tidy little sum. I watched my mom and dad decide what to do with it and they made some good choices and some that didn't go the way they wanted. But for the most part it's worked out. My parents are going to live a long time--they'll probably outlive me--so I most likely won't have to worry about what to do with an inheritance. But there are firms out there that help with the probate process. If only to help you get your cash more quickly. I haven't done all the research so I don't know what they entail. I suppose that if you need your money fast and don't mind paying a fee for it, there's someone who's willing to help get you and some of your cash connected right away.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

U2 3D

So I saw it yesterday at the local IMAX theater. From the very start I was blown away. And I'd already seen it a couple of years ago, sort of. I went to a pre-feature content conference in Los Angeles at a historical movie theater in Hollywood and met the 3ality folks who showed us part of the film that they shot with U2 to pitch this film. They disclaimed the lack of quality, saying it was only a trial run but it was astounding. I felt like I was at the concert.

And that's the way I felt yesterday, during the first song, only more so--and, later, less so. The first song is Vertigo, a track that will get anyone jumping. The speakers were cranked, as the elderly theater manager who admitted me warned. (It had to be a warning, although he worded it as a promise of exciting things to come.) When I say it's better than being there, what I mean is that thanks to the cameras we go places that even the most high-priced ticket couldn't get you into. We hover directly over Larry's drum kit and weave around through Edge and Adam and Bono on stage. And though these are the same shots you see in a "regular" concert film, regular shots don't come anywhere near this experience. This is an entirely new vantage point. Being a drummer first and guitarist much later, I wanted to stay locked in that position over the drums. The 3D technology disappeared and I was actually there, watching Larry smack those drums in his easy style. Cliche though it may be, I really felt like I could touch them. The being there sensation took a back seat after that song, though, and I'm trying to decide if that's a good thing or a bad thing. I forgot about it and just sunk into the concert itself. And that's what you do at a concert that's really in a movie theater in Salt Lake City. I looked around at the other U2 fans sitting around me, and no one was singing. One guy way below me in the first row was dancing a little and mouthing the words, but other than that no one was moving much at all. I saw a few foot taps but not even any head bobs. I wanted to jump up and start shouting but everyone was so subdued that I even felt self conscious when I noticed myself tapping out all the drum parts along with Larry on my knees. At one point I stopped this and then I thought, who cares? I'm listening to one of my favorite bands--in fact I'm not just listening, but I'm there with them. I can move around if I want to. Another factor that let me loosen up was the fact that the glasses are like blinders on a horse. They're blocked off on the sides so you can only see straight in front of you unless you turn your head. You tell this a Utah thing? Would theater-goers/U2 fans in other cities be so quiet?

Other than the surreal notion that you feel like you're actually at a concert but only virtually that made it seem less like I was actually there, was the film editing. I wonder if I'd feel this way if they had cut from shot to shot rather than using slow dissolves. The latter technique broke the fourth wall and let us know we were watching a movie. On the other hand, the word graphics animated on flat screens for the actual audience were flying at us in 3d space, even, at one point, swirling and weaving around the band members. It was so well done that it seemed like a possible effect at a concert making you wonder why they don't do it at venues. This is something the concert goers missed out on. Neener, neener.

The concert itself was amazing. Much of the content was edited out, I'm sure, to get the film down to an hour and a half, but I didn't go home feeling like they should have played this song or that. It felt complete. One of the reasons for this, for me, was that they played a completely unexpected Passengers song. Bono was even arrogant enough to try Pavarotti's part. I was part turned off by this arrogance, and part amazed that he actually pulled it off!

There are things you can get from this film that you can't get from the concert and there are certainly things that you can get from the concert that you can't get in a theater. Maybe the answer is to go to both. We all know that U2 need the money.

Friday, June 15, 2007


I mentioned earlier that I turned 40. This has a different effect on people online than it does in the real world. While there are pictures of me on this blog, there's no way for people who meet me exclusively in this realm to really see me, how I dress, talk, behave (or misbehave) so there's no surprise factor. When I say I'm 40, you have no reason to think otherwise. In the real world, however, people are utterly amazed when I tell them. Many of them don't believe me. They think it's some kind of joke. Thirty seems to them the more logical scenario. This has always been kind of fun. It's why I don't mind telling people. The fact that I didn't get married until I was 27 and my kids are all very young reinforces the whole thing. It's all made turning 40 a tad more bearable but I'm waiting for the big switch to my appearance like when I turned 30. Around six months after my birthday I noticed I was 50 lbs heavier. I'd been 135-140 lbs all my life but six months after turning thirty and ever since, I've hovered between 190 and 195. And then there's my hairline. Every day the top of my head is just a little more visible. It looks like the stubbly field in back of my parents' house where I grew up. This concerns me because I swore that my full head of hair would not suffer the same fate as my dad's which, except for a long combover, was completely gone from the top of his head by his late twenties. I have no plans for a combover myself, nor to repeat his disastrous attempt to hide the barren scalp with a wig which was such a drastic change for him that those who recognized him just laughed in disbelief. (Mom, if you're reading this, there's no need to let him know what I've written.)

So I guess what I'm trying to say is you don't know what getting older is until you experience it yourself, and I suppose if I asked my parents or someone in the twilight years, I still don't know. As I said before, 40 hit me broadside but I recovered quickly with the help of an author friend of mind. I was feeling like 40 was the end of the line because I hadn't realized my goal of writing a novel before then. I told her this and she had some very encouraging words to say. For one thing, she told me she was going to check up on me periodically to see if I've been writing everyday. And she gave me a book, Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamont. After reading that and writing nearly everyday for the last few weeks, I feel reborn. 40 is the beginning. And I'm learning more about writing by writing everyday than I ever did in school or from all those books and magazines that I bought. In the trenches is where it's learned. You read other books and other writers' advice but you don't learn it until you write for yourself. It took me 40 years to learn that.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

A Doodle for my Birthday

I've been getting some nice feed back about my drawing on YouTube so I thought I'd draw another one on camera to show a little of the process. You can see it here. This one's a lot more involved than the last one I did. Click on the drawing to see it on a much larger scale. I have a writer friend who thinks I should illustrate childrens' books in this style. It's an interesting idea.

I let my 40th birthday slip by back on May 14th without posting anything about it here. It was a rough day: The day I could no longer deny that I'm old. My body won't let me deny it either. A couple of days ago my car died and I walked the 8 1/2 miles home from work. When I got home 2 hours later, my knees and my left ankle were killing me. I used to do 20 miles in the mountains in a day!
On the up side, I still look young. I was editing for a client a couple of weeks ago and she asked how I could work so fast. (I think I was using photoshop at the time). I said I'd been doing this a loooong time, to which she replied, "How long can you have been doing it? What are you, all of 25?" So at least I can pretend I'm not old when I'm out of the house. My 3-year-old daughter won't let me forget it, though.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Back from the Dead

Last night: The clients are talking amongst themselves so I go in the other room to watch the DVD burner do its stuff. The video is 52 minutes long so the copies are going to take awhile but maybe if I watch it it'll go faster. OK, I don't believe that, but it's something to do. It's midnight and so much can go wrong still. I've already been up for three days straight to make the deadline and it absolutely has to be done tonight because I'm leaving for Idaho and my brother's wedding. We checked and re-checked the DVD project but when you change segments created in other programs and then re-import them into DVD Studio Pro, there's no telling what problems you can miss. This is week 3 of my work on the project and I don't want anything to be amiss.

Every day I've gotten up at 5 am and worked on it until it's time to go to work and every night I've stayed up late working on it. Then I pull the two all-nighters in a row. But it's still not as bad as last year. There were four all-nighters. I figured I was up for 102 hours straight with two 15-minute catnaps in all that time. It was interesting to see how my body reacted to it. Throughout that period my mind was clouded with a light haze, like looking through a dirty window. Most of the time I handled it just fine. I went to work and then came home and worked through the night until it was time to go to work again. There were times when my judgement was impaired, as if I'd downed a six pack in ten minutes, but most of the time I was able to function pretty well. My wife drove me everywhere because we never knew when my mind would shut down. It was like having epilepsy and waiting for the seisures to come. The problem with working like that is that there are invariably mistakes being made. I think I gave them four different disks before all the problems were finally resolved and I gave them the perfect one. That was delivered at a 7-ll at 1:30 am in the rain. It must have looked just like a drug deal. They were showing to the video to the parents, players, and coaches of the 15 teams in the club at 10am that morning. I waited all day for them to call me and tell me it was a disaster. But they never did. I finally called them and was told it was a raging success--be sure to send the invoice.

This year I was determined to get it done in two weeks with no all-nighters.


A large portion of the program is a collection of videos produced by each team. They are all of questionable quality and all on different formats. This year most of them were on DVD and that was great. But one was on High 8 and one guy even sent me a powerpoint presentation. In those cases all I can do is scramble to find away to convert it to what I need.

So I got the thing finished yesterday and gave them the disk, crossing my fingers that it would be perfect the first time but knowing down deep in my gut that it wouldn't be.

Sure enough I got a call with a bunch of changes. This time they wanted to be there with me. I'm all for that because we can get it right the first time. So we meticulously examined each segment after we waited for 45 minutes for one of them to render. Then, satisfied that all the changes were good, I opened the DVD menu project and examined them in there. They all looked good so we burned the disk and then made copies. That was another hour.

When it was done, we didn't even watch the disks. We were that confident.

I went home to crash. I wasn't going to get up for hours.

At 6am the phone rang. Two of the segments (which just happened to be the ones we changed) cut off at the end and would I please get down there right now and fix them.

I worked through my own personal fog and found the problem: The changes made the segments longer but DVD Studio Pro doesn't automatically adjust running time of the segments. You have to do that manually. I think I knew that but when you're drunk on no sleep the synapses just don't connect properly.

Well, the corrected DVD is in their hands and I'm in Idaho right now and the presentation is tomorrow.

I'll send the invoice on Monday and then I'll have peace until next March when it starts all over again. Only this time it'll be double: I have an almost identical project that I'll be doing for the University at the same time. I'm not sure how I'm going to swing that. But, hey, the money's good.