Saturday, April 28, 2007

One for the Kids

Ever since I abandoned the baby-centric confines of American Babies, I've been posting more frequently because I can get back to bitching irreponsibly about everything without seeming like I'm stealing thunder from the kids. However, it's been a while since I've talked about the kids directly, and not in a pedestrian sort of way. So here it is. To prove that they're still around.

It's hard to talk about Alex first without talking about his face. He looks like he's been in a couple of barfights that he's won, judging from the smile that always finds it place on his face. He's got scratches and scabs from his own doing, and he always looks a bit blotchy. Yesterday we went to the playground and it wasn't exactly summer weather. Lingering around 40s or so, and he had just a long sleeve shirt and a jacket on. After a few minutes, I looked at him, looked at the other kids in the playground, and my boy is the only tyke that's drenched in sweat. You could tell from the way his hair's all matted down. I don't suppose Hawaii would be a good idea for this internal combustable boy.

Communicating with Alex is still a bit of a challenge. Even though he does know a lot of words and is observant, he is either slurring his words or mispronouncing them so he's only understandable half the time, or he's just too distract and crazy to express himself. I get a little frustrated at that sometimes, because the only way to actively get his attention is to play with him. I guess that's normal for most boys his age, but it would be nice to be able to talk a little bit. When he talks though, he does have a bit of humor behind it. Most of the times it's unintentional. The other night when my wife called, he ended the call by saying, "Dokie Dokie, Bye Bye, Mommy."

He's got the big brother thing streak in him, a trait that causes him to pick on his little sister frequently, but he occasionally throws her off by being a really nice big brother as well, sharing with her and giving her what she wants, regardless of whether she deserved it in the first place. He still turns a deaf ear to authority from time to time, toeing that line between what he can get away with. I know it's normal, though it does drive me up the wall when he's cheerful about his defiance.

Like me, he's got a healthy dose of anal retentiveness, and he'd always want something verified or done if he's got his mind set on it. The big thing now is that he wants his hug and kiss before bed. No more than once, but definitely a hug and kiss is required. Then, oddly, he'll say, "We hug and kiss already huh, Daddy?" And you'll have to say, "Yeah, we hug and kiss already." If you don't, he'll just repeat it over and over again, with increased anxiety and volume, until you acknowledge it by repetition. I haven't found out exactly what happens if you never reply, but then again, nuclear fallout, controlled or not, is illegal in this neighborhood.

He's really looking forward to the notion of school, I think he likes to socialize, play with video games, guns, and other boys. I'm sure there's nothing he'd love more than to go crazy with other boys.


Zoe surprises me sometimes, she's picked up this huge pool of vocabulary and there's nothing she loves more than to talk. Talk. Talk. Sometimes it's fun to talk to her, but sometimes it feels a bit like a strange run-in with an old high school classmate, the real chatty one, and you can wait for her to find someone else to talk to. But all in all, she does pick up a lot of things from us and from the TV.

Lately she's picked up a fear of bugs, whereby she'll run and start bawling like a Muppet. She didn't used to be this way, maybe she just realized that she ain't so big after all. She still likes to be known as a Ballerina, and it sorta bothers me that we can't afford classes for her.

Her dramatic flair did peak for a little while - a bump from her brother or a tumble will send her into a open-jawed wail - of course, if you witnessed the incident or know how quickly she snaps out of it if the right stimulus came along, you'd know that she's just testing how much drama she's allowed to dish out without being called on it. That little girl's learning emotion manipulation already. She serves ham daily and mugs for the camera.


It's weird to have them both this close and to see them develop into their own personalities. Both Alex and Zoe have somehow picked up things that neither my wife and I do very much, that aggressive boyness that Alex has and the girliness that Zoe has. But it's nice in its own way to see them find their voices and beliefs, yet frightening to know that it's way beyond our control.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Miffed, Inspired, and Scared, all at once.

Did a wedding last weekend, right? The guy calls me up and wants the video in the next three days so that his parents can get a copy. If videography was really that easy, then I wouldn't be trying to get out of it, now, would I? I had to call up and tell his answering machine that the contract does state 6-8 weeks, and that I'm working on some current clients right now, both of which are 5 months late. So, sorry buddy. You're going to have to airmail that sucker. You're going to have to wait two months before you find out that your friends, relatives, and especially your officiant had blocked all the shots of you guys kissing. I find this line of work frustrating because of this. I need my ego stroked more often and my workmanship downplayed less.


I was watching "The Incredibles" a few days ago, and the montage whereby Robert Parr is suddenly more inspired, playing with his kids, being more active, looking and feeling better, and just being a better person because he had just recently gone back to his superhero activities - that's what I'm thinking might happen if I get out of this funk. Having a certain control over my career might reinspire me to be a better person. Certainly less cranky. Heard from a few close people that he tend to like it when I feel good about myself - I guess it's somehow easier to deal with and generally more pleasant when I'm positive.


So, financially, we've been scraping the bottom, which really blares out the notion that I should hurry up and finish the weddings, and get some job to save some money for a house. But my wife, despite it all, still insists that I should just get that movie made. Otherwise it'll just bug the crap out of me forever, and I think she's right. It's like Rocky Balboa talking about having to release that beast that's inside him. That he had one good fight left inside of him, and that he needed to get rid of it to continue on with his life. Well, it's not my last fight, but I've got to release something sometime soon. I'm oozing it out my ears, practically.

But thinking about working for about a month on a movie with no pay, a budget that's probably going to be completely on credit, and a crew with low stipends? That's freaking the crap out of me.

Oh yeah, I have to write it too.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Life on Another Planet

I spent most of this morning pissed because I heard of the suspension of two NY DJ's. Not that I had any love for them, but these two idiots re-broadcast a segment that featured a computerized voice prank calling a Chinese restaurant, and then proceed to pepper the conversation with racist and sexist crap. That itself is really annoying, but there actually is support for the two DJs from the fans, and some from the media as well. I get a little tired of the double standards that exist between people of color sometimes. It seems like some racism get noticed and remedied, and some don't. Anyway, the support for the DJs is scary to me. They cite freedom of speech and expression, they cite that people need to get a life and learn to take a joke, and they blame CBS for the suspensions because they are censoring the shock jocks.

Now I don't necessarily want the jobs to be terminated, but I do want apologies to be public. Stupid, crass humor by shock jocks will always exist, but our society needs to be more unified as to what constitutes responsible entertainment and what doesn't. First of all, if you've listened to the broadcast, you'd know - it isn't funny. The joke isn't at all funny because unlike a good prank call, the caller isn't making fun of himself or the situation, it is simply insulting the victim. I'm sorry, but the primary premise of the joke - a computerized voice prank calling an Asian restaurant while throwing racist comments isn't funny. It's just mean.

Anyway, I've been just pissed about the whole thing - and I'd probably post something about it in a public forum or something. I don't know. It's eating at me. Spreading prejudices is just plain hateful for me.


On the brighter side, the news that Gliese 581 c being possibly habitable is just geeking me out. I'm not real big on astronomy, and not that into sci-fi, but hearing that there could be another planet that's habitable that's 20 light years away, and that if any of us wanted to visit - we couldn't. It would have to be what I read would be a "generation ship", a spaceship that's big enough to have a small population (so as to ensure genetic diversity) that carries on toward a mission that will last 500 years and many descendants, before they even get to the planet to begin any kind of steps toward populating the planet. That stuff is just mind-boggling. It's exciting and humbling at the same time. Just amazing. Read more about that here.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Hiring a Videographer for Your Wedding

These are some things to keep in mind if you're planning to hire a videographer for your wedding. I've run into a lot of these problems which could've been easily avoided if some ground rules are set. My regular readers won't care, but if this is googled, and it helps someone out, great.

Make a Timetable for your Wedding Day, and Stick to It.

During the invitation, stress that the wedding will start on time. There will always be stragglers coming in during the ceremony, there's no delay you can put on your wedding that will remedy that. Why the strict timetable? Because this will give both the videographer and photographer estimates as to when the important stuff happens, and they won't miss it capturing something else. You should have things like start of ceremony, start of reception, First Dance, Bouquet Toss, Garter Toss, Money Dance, Father/Mother Dance and Cake Cutting all laid out. Try to get them out of the way early in the reception, so that your guests will be able to enjoy all of it. I've had a garter toss at midnight when only a few gals were left, and I've had to miss a few things because the couple had scheduled those activities outside my time frame. Never underestimate your friends and families' ability to leave early during the reception. Remember, it may be full of commotion for the bride and groom, but for the guests, if the reception drags without any real activity, they will start leaving. A timetable is essential to a successful wedding day.

Assign a M.C./Coordinator

If you can't afford one, assign a family member to it. This family member should be the taskmaster type that likes to keep everything organized and going. A socializer would not be a good idea for this role. This person will be responsible for the timetable being upheld, and basically given the authority to act on the bride and groom's behalf. He or she will ensure that the happy couple are where they need to be when they need to be, and just make sure that the evening goes according to plan. This person can even be given the power to outrule any offending parents who might want to veer the evening a certain way - basically a voice and enforcer for the bride and groom who can answer questions.

Tell the Videographer of Special Circumstances

This might seem obvious, but then again, it isn't. But when there's something unique like a choreographed dance, a member of the wedding party singing, or there are many different speakers during the ceremony - anything like that, the videographer needs to know. That way the people can be mic-ed up, and the videographer can find the best angle to shoot from. Videographers don't like surprises, because we get caught off guard and miss something. And when we miss something, it's difficult to stop the action to remedy the shot, or reposition the camera.

Let the Pros do their Job

You've paid money for the Photographer and Videographer, right? Let them do their jobs, and get the best shots. Unfortunately, the bride and groom are usually too busy being married, so they can't do anything about it. But I've had two ceremonies whereby friends and family will have the gall to stand in front of my camera to take their own photos and videos. I shoot from the back because of two reasons - to get the couple walking down the aisle at the end of the ceremony, and to stay out of the guests way. I could certainly be position shotgun right by the bride and groom to get the best angle, but it would block all the guests from seeing the bride and groom. So it's no different when Uncle Jimmy decides to stand in the middle of the aisle trying to get a good shot. This is when the MC/Coordinator has to come in and shoo them away.

Your ceremony is a once in a lifetime moment. Don't let it be obstructed by overzealous amateurs trying to get a good photo or video. They mean well, but it is too difficult to work around. Let the photographer and videographer get first dibs.

Expect a Longer Turnaround for your Video

One of the first questions should be, "How far are you currently behind?" Ask for a honest answers. I myself would be forced to answer a few months, and I've heard horror stories about videographers being a year behind. I've heard from a client that her sister got married, had kids, and still haven't seen their wedding video. I'm not the best, but I'm not that bad. Editing is a lot different than just shooting a video. A videographer has to sift through hours of footage, score it to music, render the effects, author the DVD and design the case. They do take a lot of time.

On the other hand, videography are often small businesses and owners often can procrastinate, especially if they work from home. So, try to establish whether the videographer you have in mind will have a dependable and acceptable turnaround before you hire them.

Adventures in Hair Growth

I don't really know what prompted it, but I've just been letting my facial hair go crazy. I'm not particular fond that look per se, never looked at another man's stubble and wished it upon myself, or equated facial hair as a sign of masculinity. In fact, I didn't really think about it but a lot of my pallies do have facial hair - Brendon, Dansen, Cody, Jay... I just never really thought of it. I think my two main reasons for continuing this path of reckless hair surge is that I'm curious as to what I'd look like, without employing the use of a Sharpie, and that I probably want to look different for a role I'm thinking of for my new film. Yes, I imagined myself in my own film, though it's a pretty smallish role.

So far, the response has been 50/50. My mom asks me constantly why I haven't shaved, and to use an equivalent word for her Cantonese description, it's "icky". The direct translation is more like, "makes your flesh shrivel up", but I don't warrant it to be quite that bad. My wife doesn't mind - in fact, she's curious herself as to what it might end up being. Maybe a sailboat. Or a finely trimmed animal hedge.

Anyone who's looked at my hair growth will know by now, I'm not exactly follically gifted. I'm not balding or anything, but I tend to grow thin strands of sparsely laid out hair. So I'm looking less like Burt Reynolds and more like Fu Manchu, or Pai Mel, or any of those stereotypical Asian villains from exploitation films. I keep telling myself that it might improve into something a little more substantial - only time and reactions from other people's faces will tell.

I do have a certain level of obsessiveness with my hands, so I will play with my kidtee a lot. So, it's not fully grown, so it's not a goatee. Ha ha. I'd spend the whole time poking it, stroking it, bouncing it. Like some weirdo. I also don't think much about what it really is, like a goatee/mustache combo, but I'd think of it as my chin and lip bristly-bristly, which is what I refer to it with my kids. They don't seem to be too bothered by it in general, though Zoe sometimes try to pull hairs off. That's not that much fun.

Well, that's enough about my hair.


Yesterday we also went ice skating for the first time, if only those wankers didn't cancel their public skate for something else. Instead, we were outside doing some miniature golf, which we had planned to do anyway. It was fun, though 26 bucks is quite steep for a family of four. The course wasn't spectacular, but it was just right for the kids. A breeze for adults though. Golf turned into more like astroturf shuffleboard for them, they'd scoot the boot towards the hole or just pick up the ball and walk it over and place it right beside the hole.

And that's it for me.