Time to recap my year using photos once again. I have done this for a few years now more for me than anything else because it’s important to reflect. I make it a point to grab my camera during events throughout the year to document the memories we make all year (they get harder to remember as my increase in age). This year I’m including pictures from my iPhone because that was by my side for a large part of the year and now that mobile pictures are so much better than the past….why not.
This year saw the end of a 3 year project that was the most challenging in my career and the start of a new project that would be a challenge in its own right. We reached our first year of marriage and met new friends along the way. It was really important to document this year because the past three years were really taken up by work and it was time to make up for memories that were not made during that time. I saw my vehicle of 8 years, which meant a lot to me, be updated with a new vehicle and I did something that only a few years ago I would never have seen myself doing.
I am thankful for my friends and family as they mean very much to me. This blog is for you as much as it is for me to show my gratitude
Let’s see what 2012 had to say…
We started the year by seeing old friends and finding a new place to eat burgers
One weekend in a nice brisk January night we met up with our friends Bryan and Vanessa for a little birthday get together for Bryan. We met up at a beer garden and ate some delicious food and beer. I also wanted to break out the new 5D
On a cold Saturday morning we went down to Irving to check out ZestFest and seeing how we are fans of “the con” we thought we’d give this a try. We found some great items and got to see some interesting folks who brought their best to burn our taste buds
In February, about the time we were trying to wrap up Kinect Star Wars, I took a break on Saturday to head once again to the Irving Convention Center to check out Dallas Comic Con. The DCC has really grown from the small little con it was only a few years ago. It has moved from Richardson to Irving in one of the bigger convention centers in the DFW. Although it started out really rough with bad organization of lines, guest tables and a few other items, they cleaned up their act by the end of the year. I’m looking forward to future cons and hope to see more cosplayers
As 2011 was a rough one, my awesome sister-in-law and her boyfriend got Denise and I a night at the Gaylord hotel. It was really awesome and even though I had to go to work the next day it was a fun night. We had some great food and conversation. Later that night we went over to the Glass Cactus which was connected to the hotel and it was…..interesting. The Glass Cactus is what you would call a cougar den. The band was a cover band playing “the hits”. It was a much needed night to relax even if it was just for a few hours
The week we got certified for Kinect Star Wars, I was able to take a night to enjoy my love for vinyl toys and I got to see my friends Cody, Grego and his daughter Kaylah. Vinyl Thoughts is a show co-run by Cody Phillips. They had an awesome theme of video games this year. There was some really great work. I would also make friends the next night with the uber talented Jason Chalker and his wife Lisa. We enjoyed a nice night at their house exchanging stories, talking horror movies and just enjoying the company
On Sunday April 1st we celebrated our one year wedding anniversary. With work and everything we kept it simple but that is how Denise and I like it sometimes. My sister-in-law bought us a little piggy bank for our wedding and since then we had been filling it up with change. As a little tradition we decided to take our piggy to the bank and we decided to do this every year. We ended up with a nice little pot that paid for a nice dinner. After dinner we headed home to watch the season premier of Game of Thrones with our friends Doug and Patricia. It was nice to celebrate our one year anniversary with them as they would watch the entire season with us, and the season ended a week before their wedding. We enjoyed our little one year anniversary cake and it was a perfect night for us.
On April 3, Kinect Star Wars hit shelves world wide. It was the end of the toughest project in my career but it made it and I was proud of my team and thankful for all the support around me from co-workers, friends and family. We had a get-together at a local Game Stop in Lewisville in the evening after a day of work but that wouldn’t happen without a little side story. About 5 that afternoon our area was hit with a tornado and also brought a massive hail storm. Both Denise and I work in the same area but our office got hit harder than her area. Thankfully her car was not damaged but my Mini took over 2500 dollars in damage that afternoon. It was intense and had many of us worried about repairs and dealing with insurance but once we arrived at the Game Stop we were treated to friends, fans and some of the 501st. The night was a lot of fun and really was a nice finish to this project.
This year my goal was to take more pictures than I did last year. I took on a few more jobs than I did in the past and I really enjoyed the time. This year Mario and I photographed a wedding in Athens, TX at an awesome winery. It was a challenge, as most wedding are, but we got some really good pictures and the bride and groom were really happy with our work. It fun to do this with my brother and I look forward to hopefully doing more down the road.
As the month continued we had lots of folks interested in Kinect Star Wars and we had lots of great folks support us. The 501st is a cosplay group that is very well organized and not only share their love of Star Wars with folks but their efforts go to charities or helping raise awareness for various groups. I’ve met a couple of people involved with them and respect the art they create in their costumes. They swung by the office to grab some pictures and play a little bit of the game. It was fun to talk with them while they were in the office.
If you have read my blog before you know my love for movies — horror movies and all things in between. Texas Frightmare Weekend is one of my favorite events for many reasons. Now that our wedding anniversary is around the time of this convention, it makes this time of the year even better. This event inspires me to someday make a short film as many of the folks here are doing that at this event. Sure these are mostly horror movies and would turn people off because of the genre but it’s still hard work and requires a desire to want to make something because of their love of film. This year the event was at the DFW airport instead of a hotel near the airport. This meant there was no zombie walk which I loved to photograph but instead they had a Prom party in honor of Carrie. This would end up being a ton of fun for Denise and I on Friday night and I was so happy to capture the video recorded :-). It was cool to see Michael Rooker and Norman Reedus talk about the Walking Dead. At this point we had not yet announced that we were working on a game based on the show but it was a nice preview of things to come. Throughout the weekend we met lots of folks from all over the country and hope to see them again next year. (This is the first time I will use a video in my blog but now that my camera can do that we may see more in the future)
May brought Dallas Comic Con back to Irving. This weekend my brother and newphews drove up to join me. Sadly Denise could not see one of her favorite man crushes, and one of mine also, due to work but Sir Patrick Stewart (aka Captain Jean Luc Picard) was attending and doing a talk. This was also when I really got to talk a little more with Noel Gross who runs Piranha Toys. I’ve known Noel through Texas Frightmare Weekend and we’ve communicated through the interwebs but Noel is a good guy and we learned of our shared love of movie nights with friends so we would later combine our powers. The con was not very organized but this would give the organizers a lot of feedback which they addressed for future events that worked out much better. It was a good time and we bought a few things including geek xmas ornaments for December.
The 501st made a few visits with us and on this day they come by the studio when we signed games, posters and consoles of Kinect Star Wars. We really appreciated them taking time to swing by the studio making this game special for all the tough times we had during production of the game.
In taking new photography jobs this year we were asked to take photos of a house. The goal was to take photos to help sell the house for use in commercial, photography or television use. It was an interesting challenge because the images have to show the space and how it could be used. That means these pictures had to be practical but also have to look visually striking. We spent a few hours setting up and waiting on the sun to be right but in the end it worked out. These are just a few that I really liked. The owners were really cool and the house was amazing with an incredible view of Dallas
One of the best moments of the year was seeing our friends Doug and Patricia get married in Red Rocks, Colorado. Not only were we attending but Mario and I would photograph the wedding. This added to the excitement but also added the stress of making sure our friends got great pictures that they would have for the rest of their lives. It was a perfect weekend as the weather was great and the city was very very much our style. This was also Denise’s birthday weekend so we got to all spend time together. We got in on a Thursday for the rehearsal that went well and helped us look at the lighting conditions. We were just about dead on our feet as our flight out of Dallas was very early in the morning. Friday was the wedding and it was such an amazing ceremony and it was great seeing our friends so happy. With Denise and I just reaching our one year anniversary it brought back a flood of memories. Doug and Patricia are music instructors so they had a custom drum made for the wedding. We were honored to be there and honored to be asked to photograph the day. On Saturday night we got to head down to an awesome arcade bar in downtown Denver. We got to check out the Red Rocks amphitheater and some of the city. Thank you guys for sharing your special day with us. It really was all perfect.
My sister-in-law is a talented person. She has been making cool pastries and one weekend she created us some awesome Game of Thrones cupcakes. We did a little photo shoot with them and our board game version of Game of Thrones. She continues to make awesome and delicious goodies
Part of the reason I told myself I would use mobile phone pictures this year was because of the random moments when I don’t have my DSLR around. On a hot summer night I was meeting up with my brother to give him a thumb drive with photos. We decided to meet at a Wal-Mart off central expressway. As I was waiting for him I noticed something going on next door. There was a Dallas Cowboy car club get together with BBQ. It was….interesting but hey that is what this blog is about. The interesting things I saw all year. This is Cowboy country and nothing is bigger than the Dallas Cowboys in this city.
This year also saw the return of the Hijinks Ensue Podcast. The podcast was always a blast to do but with the Kinect project at full steam for the better part of three years it really made it difficult to do. With Josh and myself really dug in on our respective projects this made it impossible for Joel to schedule. I missed doing this and I missed my friends but Joel had a good idea to pre-record some shows for a fall release. It was good to get back in front of the mic and I hope we can do more in the new year.
Over the years I have been lucky to make new friends. What is nice is that these are friends outside of the industry that I am in and that is a good thing. It is good to have friends to talk with about regular things and not just industry issues or work items. Nick has become one of those friends and his company is always fun. For a Saturday afternoon in the summer, a surprise party was set up for him at the Dallas Aquarium. It was my first time and it was a lot of fun. I wasn’t able to make it for the surprise but I watched the video later and they got him pretty good.
This year the 4th of July fell on a Wednesday which always makes it difficult to plan for much. Denise happened to have the weekend off which is very rare these days so we thought we should take advantage of the time. After work on a Friday night we packed up and headed to Austin for the weekend. With our schedules not alined much anymore it was important to make use of our time with a little adventure even if that was just 3 hours away in Austin. Our trip down on Friday night include Denise’s first attempt at the 6 degrees to Kevin Bacon game and Doug Benson podcasts. We rolled in about midnight and hit what would be our Austin BBQ tour of 2012. Our first trip was to a little dive my buddy Eladio took me to a few years back. You could say the place looked “shady” but the food was delicious. The next day we would head to Franklin’s which is hands down the best BBQ I’ve had in my life even though we had to wait in line for 2 hours. It was well worth the wait. The weekend would be our first time to an Alamo Drafthouse and a new love would be formed. We caught up with our friends Allison and Jim which made the trip all the more fun. It was a relaxing weekend as when I returned we would begin our heavy push for the Walking Dead towards the end of the year. This trip was exactly with Denise and I needed.
I have an amazing wife. She is amazing for many reason but in the top 10 reason is because she really gets my weird likes. For our one year anniversary of paper she bought us two tickets to see Tenacious D. Let me tell you right now friends, if you find someone who does that for you both, you make sure to take her as your partner in crime for all your days. The concert was a blast and it was Denise’s first time seeing the D live. It rocked our socks off and all I thought about was how awesome it was for my wife to do this for us to celebrate a one year anniversary
I am a marching band nerd. I was in marching band and it is in our blood. My brother is an assistant band director and my mom still follows marching bands back home. In Dallas during the summer is the Lake Highlands marching festival which showcases the best of the Drum Corp International band in the country. DCI is basically what you could consider professional marching for kids who want to further their music careers after high school. The skill and music is of a high caliber and if you have never seen DCI you should look it up. To me attending this festival usually means the summer is coming to a close. This year was no different and I always enjoy going
After years of hard work and long nights including giving up all his summers, my brother earned his Masters degree in music. I can’t put in words how proud I am of my brother. My brother moved to Dallas a year after I moved here to go to art school and he lived with me for about a year. We had some tough times trying to scrape enough to make it every day but I would never change how it was back then. We learned to survive and we became closer as brothers. Years later I would see him walk the stage after becoming a highly respected teacher, musician and person. Seeing him walk across that stage gave me such pride to call him my brother
(I added his graduation picture he used in his invitations. I took them in my house and wanted to show my old co-workers I still remember how to take these pictures :-p)
In September we hit a major milestone with our project and that same weekend Gearbox would celebrate the release of Borderlands 2. I have made some really good friends in the industry and many of them are at Gearbox. During my almost 8 years there I would become friends with Josh Jeffcoat who would one day be my best man at my wedding. I know how hard everyone works in the industry so being able to see my friends put another project out for the public to enjoy is a big accomplishment for all of them. I look forward to our day next year. Our friend Daniy drove down from Austin to attend the release party and she stayed with Denise and I for the weekend. It was great catching up and having her company along with seeing all our friends that night.
In trying to get as much practice with my camera as I could I was looking for any opportunity to work with models. A meet up group in the area was holding a workshop for shooting subjects in bright day time lighting. I already had some practice with this but the session included working with a model for a low price so I took advantage of the deal. Our model was great and I snapped some shots I was really happy with. I hope to get work with models next year as it would be great to get more of that in my portfolio
After my photo shoot I headed down to the Fan Days convention back in Irving. This con is really a follow up to the Comic Con from the summer but it is a really nice way to end out the year. The con also showed that the organizers of the Comic Con took all the feedback and fixed many of the issues that people were experiencing. Since our photo shoot took longer than expected I didn’t see as much as I would like to have seen but it was a good show with a chunk of the Firefly cast in attendance. I hope to spend more time next year and capture all the great cosplayers
My favorite month is October. If you know me you know this to be true. We love to decorate and watching scary movies and the weather gets nice out. I’ll just stick to the pictures on this one So many kids came by for candy this year and our scary movie nights were so much fun. Here is a list of what we watched:
Cabin in the Woods
Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Paranormal Activity 2: Tokyo Night
Mutant Girls Squad
Fright Night (2011)
The Ring (on Halloween night)
My birthday was around the corner and what more could someone ask for then for their car to break down. My 2004 Mini was my favorite car for many reasons. It the car I rewarded myself with after Brothers In Arms: Road to Hill 30. I took great care of her but sadly with 150,00 miles it was time we parted ways. Her power steering went out but there was more work that she needed that would have added up. Denise and I decided to make our first major purchase as a married couple and bought a new vehicle. We love our new Mini
Last year Denise and Rick came up with the idea of celebrating my birthday at a lake. They put the plan together and last year was a blast. It was so much fun that we decided to do it again and Rick signed up for a second year of flying down to Dallas and visiting us for the weekend. We changed the venue but we had just as much fun as the cabin/manufactured home was the exact same layout as the one last year. The fun thing about this year was the extreme high winds we would have to deal with 😐 The weather would not stop us as we had a blast playing games, eating like college kids and enjoyed the company of my close friends. Making memories to me is the most important thing we can do in our lives and this weekend was one of those times. I am grateful for the friends that have come across my path in this life and I appreciate their friendship. Thanks guys for such a great weekend
In Novemeber the Alamo Drafthouse hosted a “Welcome to the neighborhood” night in Richardson by bringing their Rolling Road Show. Denise and I are very excited for the Drafthouse to open next spring and on this night they proved to us that our excitement is justified. On this night they showed The Burbs staring Tom Hanks for free with food trucks lined up and a parking lot with plenty of space. The parking lot was in front of the future location of the Dafthouse which is down the street from our house and all we needed to do was bring our own chairs. We had a chance to meet the COO of the Drafthouse who was a nice guy and is looking to make Richardson an even better place for all of us. See you next year at the Drafthouse
My parents came up to visit us in October for a weekend. It was a quick trip but it was nice to see them. In this trip my mom gave Denise the secrets of making the Mexican traditional holiday food known as…Tamales. They shared notes and it would be Denise’s goal to try and make these special treats for holiday gifts and for our mouths. I hope this is a tradition we can carry on for years to come as my parents and their parents did years ago. I remember being a small Eli and being on the line to help make tamales. Yes it was an assembly line because making tamales requires a good amount of work to put together. After getting her notes together and all the things we needed it was time to assemble. We had fun and when we started full production we started our own little tradition of watching UFC and Futurama while making tamales. Some of you guys may be lucky enough to try some
As December rolled around after Thanksgiving it was time to prepare for the year’s end. We would start to shut down our project at work, getting the house cleaned up for the new year, got the holiday decorations out and bought a tree. Within all this I had received an email from a buddy and wanted to know if I wanted to be involved in a commercial. I thought “hey great, I would like to know what it’s like on a set” but what he was asking was if I wanted to be IN a commercial. It would be for eye glasses. I said “sure why the hell not” thinking “why the hell does anyone want this mug on camera”. Well after some text messaging back and forth the deal was done. I thought to myself on that day of the shoot “finally my beard has paid off for something.” It was an interesting day seeing other actors sitting around talking about the business as I was the outsider looking in. A cool experience indeed so be on the lookout on your television sets because you may see my mug
Terminal Reality had a White Elephant day at the office. We all bought a few gifts, wrapped them up and tossed them in a pile. Let the games begin. It was fun followed up by a potluck to help end the year. I walked away with a shirt that is seen below. It was a fun time and we would soon shut down the office for the year. We head into the year excited to share the Walking Dead video game with the world. Congrats on such a great year to everyone at Terminal Reality.
I didn’t want to end my blog this way but this blog means a lot to me and hopefully people read it and walk away from it with something. Denise was in a car accident one Sunday afternoon in December on her way home from work. For whatever reason I almost knew something was wrong when she called. My brother was here at the house with me when the call came in and we jumped in the car and we were there in no time. My heart sank because I had no idea how bad or to what degree I was going to show up and see. It was the first time we had something like this happen since we got married and I wasn’t sure if I knew how I would react. In the end we were lucky because Denise was not hurt at all and I am very thankful of that.
So why would I end my blog with this? I did it because I want everyone to know how thankful I am for what I have and that you never know what could happen on any given day and because of this make sure you make the most of everyday. Denise’s accident could have been so much worse but it wasn’t. I’m not trying minimize what other people may have gone through but with this also being the same week when someone took the lives of many children in Connecticut it really hit me. This blog represents some of the events in my life so I can remember them as and share them with everyone hoping that they do the same, maybe not a blog but take the time to remember the year. Take the time to look around at the friends and family around you and tell them what they mean to you.
I look forward to a new year and I look forward to making new memories that I will share again with everyone this time next year.