Ouch

Nathan
Imagine how painful it is to step on a Lego, then imagine taking a bath in them. That’s just gotta hurt.

If you’ve been reading CNN.com, you probably read this article about Lego Artist Nathan Sawaya, who quit his job as a lawyer (in New York City? Probably a well paid lawyer) to play with Lego bricks. I, er, mean “art” with Lego bricks.

Clear plastic crates stuffed with LEGO bricks in every hue are stacked high against the walls. A computer sits on the floor, but it’s not functional. The red, yellow and blue replica is made entirely of LEGO.

In fact, everything in the room is made of LEGO; a cash register, a monkey, a bowl of fruit, a vase of flowers.

Here in Sawaya’s Manhattan studio, the 33-year-old artist snaps bricks together to create sculptures, big and small. His medium may be a beloved kid’s toy, but some of his signature pieces are incredibly grown-up.

CNN: How is a LEGO artist different from a LEGO hobbyist?

SAWAYA: I get paid! In all seriousness, I’ve tried to take LEGO in a direction it’s never been before. I’ve tried to put it in a museum setting, and I’ve created very large-scale sculptures that are on tour for the next couple of years. And that’s something that I think is a little different from your average hobbyist who’s really just building for fun

CNN: What does LEGO capture that other media do not?

SAWAYA: LEGO is something that almost everyone has played with at some point in their lives. I notice a lot of times when people go to my shows they want to touch the sculptures.

I receive many e-mails from people who have seen my work and are then inspired to get down on the floor with their kids and build. In fact, the museum show also has a building area for kids who are inspired to build their own artwork after seeing my pieces.

I will always defend Lego as an art medium not that removed from paint and canvas, pencil and paper, or clay and pedestal. That said, I’ve no illusions about my own abilities in the medium. I’m a part-time hobbyist, and my Legoing reflects that. Go to Brickshelf, go to Lugnet, and you will see some truly amazing Lego works.

(Not, mind you, that I’m not a sucker for compliments regarding Hogwarts…)

Oh, and Lego related (for the Romulan fan who might be reading this …)
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career assessment

So my career assessment yesterday morning consisted of …

1. Editing my resume
2. Editing my cover letter
3. Giving me a bunch of handouts
4. Showing me the career center’s “library”
5. Preparing to drill into my head that getting a job is itself a full-time job

Actually, there was some good information on some of those handouts, and the “library” seems to have some excellent resources — I expect I’ll be heading down next week for a browse. In any case, I was expecting a 200-question scantron or something. Luckily, my counselor seemed overjoyed that I wasn’t expecting a job by the end of the week and had set “realistic” goals for myself.

Five Places I Eat At Regular Like

So J$ tagged me with a meme (but I’m doing the “abridged” version): “list out your top 5 favorite places to eat at your location.”

Top five favorite places to eat out? Are you kidding me? Five favorite? I’ll have a hard time thinking of five places I’ve eaten out at more than twice in the last year …

1. Dizzy Issie’s.
300 w. 30th st., Baltimore City
(410) 235-0171

Although I think I’ve only been there half-a-dozen times or so in the last two years, it really is the epitome of what a “neighborhood” bar should be — cozy, compact, good food at a cheap price.

2. Bruce Lee
1815 York Rd # B, Timonium
(410) 252-8866

Located next to the Mars supermarket at the intersection of York and Ridgely Road (technically, Lutherville), it’s my one-stop-shop for Chinese food. My one stop menu item? General Tso’s chicken. It’s Chinese food … Americanized. And there’s a big — gignormous — poster of the Yangtze Kiang on the wall. No, not the crashed runabout. (Also: this one’s a cheat, a take-out, not an eat-in, place).

3. The Nautilus Diner
2047 York Road, Timonium
(410)-561-9236

This is one of those places where either the food is great and the service is lousy; or the service is great and the food is lousy. If only they could find some balance between the two …

4. Bateman’s Bistro
7800 York Rd, Towson
(410)-296-2737

Okay, so Bateman’s was a popular lunch/dinner destination for me over the last year at school. The big draw was that it was located on campus, and in fact, I had an evening class in the fall semester located in the same building. Here’s to going to class blastered!

5. The Grocery Store (Gucci Giant)
York Rd, Hunt Valley

WHAT? It’s like a big take-out place, when you think about it …

Clearly, I don’t get out enough, as those are the only four places I’ve eaten out at more than once in the last year. I should try expanding my horizons …

Forget Disneyland – Wait For Hogwartsland!

From the BBC:

The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter will open at the Universal Orlando Resort, in Florida, in 2009.

Harry Potter author JK Rowling said: “The plans I’ve seen look incredibly exciting, and I don’t think fans of the books or films will be disappointed.”

The park will feature rides, shops and attractions based on Harry Potter locations like Hogwarts and Hogsmeade.

Oscar-winning production designer Stuart Craig, who has worked on the Harry Potter films, is leading the creative design for the park to ensure it remains faithful to JK Rowling’s vision.

“Our primary goal is to make sure this experience is an authentic extension of Harry Potter’s world as it is portrayed in the books and films,” he said Craig.

Yeah, I realize I’m a twenty-eight year old kid. What can I say? By feeling young, I hope to keep my youthful appearance for decades to come.

UPDATE:

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“It’s a good day to plow some wheat.”

I don’t know if you plow wheat, or harvest wheat, or smoke wheat cigarettes, or what the fuck you really do with wheat (make bread, blah blah), but apparently something involving wheat is a common greeting in the Great Midwest: “It’s a good day to plant wheat!” And this is something I learned tonight, at a cookout in Highlandtown. I also learned that diet Pepsi black-cherry vanilla tastes surprisingly well. (I also confirmed that I’m a pretty lousy parallel parker, but, surprise surprise, I don’t get a lot of practice at it here in Timonium).

When I got home, Tippy let me scoop her right up, and when I dropped her onto the bed, she collapsed into a puddle of mushy fur (think Odo reverting to his gelatanous state in DS9) and was content to fall asleep purring while I rubbed her head. I don’t know what she’d been doing in the few hours I was down livin’ dangerously in the Big Bad City, but I can guess: some of my redneck neighbors apparently had family over for a cookout here in lovely suburban porch/deck-less Timonium. They moved the party into the narrow strip of grass between the east side of my building and the overgrowth of trees and bushes that no one seems ever to trim.

Anyway, thankfully I wasn’t home, because, since I live in a “terrace level” (read: basement) apartment, if I’d opened the blinds in my bedroom window, I would’ve had a low-angled view of about a dozen fat rednecks lounging around in cheap lawn funiture while the chief redneck cooked up some Superfresh-brand hot dogs. This explains the empty beer cans I saw illuminated in my high-beams when I pulled into the parking lot tonight.

So, I’m pretty sure Tippy spent a good chunk of the night on the bedroom window sill, between the window and the blinds, allowing herself to be tormented by chunky redneck children. I’m also pretty sure Tippy is stupid.

In any case, it’s 10:15 and I’m bushed. I’ve been watching the History Channel’s Star Wars: The Legacy Revealed and I’m just rolling my eyes full time. Hidden symbolism, analogies, give me a break. So far, no one’s talking about the “hidden symbolism” of the Special Edition: revisionism!

I’m off to bed.

Undergraduate Imposter!

It is true that, with my final undergraduate semester behind me, I went briefly into “the dumps” and wished I had another semester or two ahead of me. However, I also never considered going as far as Azia Kim at Stanford:

Azia Kim was like any other Stanford freshman. She graduated from one of California’s most competitive high schools last June, moved into the dorms during New Student Orientation, talked about upcoming tests and spent her free time with friends.

The only problem is that Azia Kim was never a Stanford student.

Kim moved into Okada 108 on Apr. 18. She told student staff that Stanford Housing had approved her transfer from Roble because she had more friends on East Campus.

“At RA training, this will be one of those stories that you would never expect to happen,” said a resident assistant who lived with Kim. “It’s kind of impressive, how she was able to figure everything out and trick so many people.”

Still, Kim had neither a Stanford ID nor a key, forcing her to sneak into meals and enter her room through its window, which overlooked the Munger construction pit, the Wilbur parking lot and a dumpster, three feet off the ground. Zhou never noticed, as she spent nearly all her nights in her boyfriend’s room.

“She took off the screen and always left one of the windows wide open and the blinds up,” Zhou said. “I just guessed she always wanted a breezy room.”

To avoid suspicion while in Okada, Kim pretended to be a sophomore majoring in human biology, going as far as to buy textbooks and study with friends for tests she would never take. Residents of the 94-person dorm were none the wiser.

“She really knew her stuff, and really knew the schedule,” Zhou said. “For HumBio, she would say, ‘I have a midterm Monday in this room,’ and I knew that was true because my friends are HumBio [students].”

Police are currently investigating the situation. They could press trespassing or theft of services charges — Stanford Housing charges unauthorized visitors $175 daily, bringing Kim’s eight-month liability up to $42,000.

But after filing a report with the Department of Public Safety, Zhou doesn’t think much will be done.

“The police just said, ‘If we see her on campus, we’ll evict her,’ and say, ‘Don’t do anything anymore,’” Zhou said. “Even after hacking into my email account, they said there’s nothing they can do unless she was using it to fraud anyone. I don’t think they’re going to do anything.”

But closer friends hinted at deeper troubles underneath a sweet veneer.

“There must be something big behind this,” said Lee, “because I don’t think people behave this way for no reason. We’re hoping she gets help if she needs it.”

I’d say … yes, she certainly needs help.

BSG DVD News

Unfortunatly, it isn’t about the forthcoming third-season DVD release (everything I’ve heard indicates late summer, early fall), but about an HD-DVD box-set of the first season. All I’ve got to say about the ongoing format war between HD and Blue-Ray is that I don’t have the money or the desire to invest until either one format has succeeded, or both have failed (and, y’know, ultimately until they drop in place so as to be affordable).

Hey, Gump!

So in the summer months, when the days get darker later and college kids come home from far, far away, and high schoolers get to pretend to be grown-up by staying up late, the business trends tend to shift. It’s a good thing for people like me who work late or closing shifts — things tend to be steady (or downright “slow”) — until it begins to get dark. 7:30 is usually the magic hour. In the winter, often, at 7:30, the sinks are filled with hot water, the front line is broken down, and people get to bagging up trash and sweeping and preparing the mop bucket.

Yeah, and then the summer rolls around, and business actually hits at 7:30ish, and often continues up to and past closing (at which point people get told “sure, we’ll bring this out to you in thirteen hours when we reopen!”). Why is it good for people like me? Because I often work “late” or “close” shifts, and by 7:30, if there is a “rush” driver, he’s usually long gone. Long story short — more runs, later, with fewer drivers, means more moolah in my wallet.

Thursday was a night like that. Zebulon running around all frizzy, the store a wreck, and the phones just absolutely refusing to shut the fuck up. Our phones don’t actually have a ring — they buzz. A nasty, annoying, skull-scratching noise that just drives a person absolutely up the fucking wall.

I had fourteen runs working five and a half hours on Thursday night. Showed up at 4:45, and finally left at 10:30 after sweeping and taking out the trash. I had six runs by 7:30, and seven by ten, which is when I took my final run (#14) waaaaay out to Phoenix Road.

I can’t say I’m unhappy — needed the cash. Plus, Gump, who occasionally teases me in my comments “Hey, you cut me off today!” or “I saw you driving down so-and-so road”, stopped in for an order of chicken strips. If he’d introduced himself before Zebulon rang him up, I would’ve made sure he wasn’t charged — alas, but I did make sure he got an extra blue cheese dipping sauce (hey, I do what I can).

Also annoying? The door chimes when people enter or exit, so that if the staff isn’t upfront (on slow days, the manager often loafs around in the office and I often loaf around in the back reading) and Greg recently changed it (because certain managers *cough* don’t hear the chime) to a “grandfather clock tone.” It’s been driving me up the fucking wall (and, no, not the proverbial wall, the walls at work are very very real!)

This July, Forget the 4th: The Date To Remember Will Be July 24th

DVDActive has early news on the forthcoming region 1 DVD release of Hot Fuzz:

Universal Home Video has sent over early details on Hot Fuzz which stars Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost. This new Edgar Wright directed film will be available to own from the 24th July, and should retail at around $29.98. The film itself will be presented in anamorphic widescreen, along with an English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround track. Extras will include audio commentary, deleted scenes, outtakes, an exclusive Fuzzball Rally feature, a Man Who Would Be Fuzz feature, a Hot Funk feature, and more. A HD-DVD/DVD Combo release will be available seperately for $39.98. Stay tuned for the full details just as soon as the disc is officially announced.

I’m totally hosting a Hot Fuzz viewing party! Might have to make it a double feature — start off with Shaun of the Dead and do it all proper …

Ode To Microwave

When I first moved out on my own (with the dreaded awful horrible roomate), my parents gave me their old microwave. Granted, it had spent five years or so unused on a shelf in the basement, and big and brown and ugly, but it was still one less expense I was going to have to come up with.

So, I moved out eight years ago, and the microwave continues to work wonderfully (although now that I’ve written this post, I wonder how long until she bites the bullet). I set it on fire once, and it still bears the scorch marks along its inside walls. I was reheating a plate of food, oh, six or seven years ago, and had set the plate atop of a paper towel. Yeah, well, after three minutes, that paper towel was rapidly being consumed by flames.

If memory serves, I ripped the door open and threw my glass of milk (well, contents of the glass) onto the burning paper towel.

I’m pretty sure I wound up ordering out that night. And, every now and then, I can still smell the mangled odor of burned, crispy milk.

Three Reasons Why They Build Movie Theaters

star_wars_poster

Okay, okay, ironically enough, this poster was for the 1997 release of the “digitally enhanced” and craptacular “Star Wars Trilogy.” Today, of course, May 25th, 2007, is the 30th Anniversary of the theatrical release of the original Star Wars, back when its title was, quite simply, “Star Wars” (no bloody “Episode IV: A New Hope” bullwarky!).

I think I might celebrate by watching my DVD of the classic, un-Special Edition “Han shoots first” version of the film.

End of Term Results

Remember when I predicted my grades?

Well, here’s what actually I got:

History of the English Language — C+
Film & Literature — B
Introduction to Classical Mythology — B+
Tradition & Form Western Fiction — A

Semester GPA: 3.165

(No snark about getting a B in Film & Lit, neither. It wasn’t reading books then watching the movies based on ‘em. It was very abstract — Shakespearean comedies and romantic comedies from the 1930s and 40s. Very abstract.)