What a year 2013 ended up being. This was a great year to have my camera by my side. The year had me travel more than I have in some time and meet some amazing folks along the way. I entered a film festival 24 hour race. I was able to mark off “zombie game” from the list of games I’d like to work on and lots of other fun things……oh yeah and we bought a house
Much like last year I’ve decided to add iPhone pics because a few times the wife and I would be out during a fun event and the best way to document it is to grab the old phone. The year was exciting in many ways but unfortunately ended with Terminal Reality shutting down it’s doors after almost 20 years in business. Although this leaves some obviously doubt and unhappiness with me, what I have learned over the years is to be happy for the things around me. My wife, family, friends and good health along with a positive attitude towards the world are the things that keep my ticker going. This blog is a culmination of those principals and how I live my life. I look forward to the new year and the challenges and adventure it will bring
….here we go
The first big convention of the year was the Dallas Sci-Fi Expo. I really enjoying going out to these cons every year because of the cool Cosplay that is going on . I also get to see my good friends Grego, Stacie and Kaylah who run Bean Pot Toiz, Jason Chalker and his wife Lisa and both their art tables and Noel along with Jennifer and Chris who help run Piranha Toys. All of these great guys along with others make it a fun outing. This year I did more networking with Cosplayers and even though my work schedule didn’t give me too much time I did get to photograph a Cosplayer this year. I’ve been wanting to do this for some time and not working with a person one on one in a while had me worried about the rust. Luckily I met Anne who had some great Cosplay and is a great person to work with. We’ll see those pictures later but she found my pictures on Flickr and from there we worked out the rest.
February would be the month we shut down The Walking Dead and start to relax from a year of production. It was a cold month and this weekend day I was cleaning up and sketching while watching Jeff Tweedy on TV. Turns out Mr. Socks was a fan….who knew
We would not be the only ones shipping a game this year locally, Gearbox finished up Aliens and who knew we would duke it out for Worst Game of the Year….the trolls knew. Josh invited us out to the release party at the Granada and since the Walking Dead didn’t have a release party this one would work for me. This was also a time to catch up with old friends and celebrate the hard work it takes to make games. It is very easy for video game sites, YouTube reviewers and everyone to spew negative conjure but these folks forget about the family and friends of game developers who have to sacrifice their time and energy to this craft. No one in the industry wants to make a bad game but sometimes you work with what you got as that is how the world turns sometimes. This party had some double sided tape to it as Denise had just started working at The Sundown which is the restaurant next door to the historic Granada so the food we were eating was prepped by her and it was delicous. It was a nice night with friends
My wife is awesome and let me tell you yet another reason why this is. If you know me you know I love movies and the movie going experience. For Valentines day this year we watched the latest in the Die Hard series….A Good Day to Die Hard. Was it the best in the series? Hey whatever right?!? We drove down to the Studio Movie Grill (ONLY BECAUSE THE ALAMO DRAFTHOUSE WAS NOT OPEN I SWEAR IT WAS JUST THAT ONE TIME) and enjoyed some food and drinks
Another “convention” is TicketStock. I’m a fan of this Sports Radio station and not because I’m a die hard sports fan but this station really does bring something to the table I enjoy. I won’t try to explain it because you have to listen to it to get it but they do treat their listeners well and throw a once a year gathering. There are booths and other vendors showing off local stuff along with a live broadcast on Friday and Saturday. This year it was at the same event center as most of the conventions I would attend this year so it was familiar grounds for me. One would say I’m a marginal P1-P2….it’s a radio thing…..
It’s always cool to see stuff you work on in the public’s eye. One night as we had dinner at the GameStop next door I saw this guy standing up so I pre-ordered a copy for a cool key chain. I dig The Walking Dead so I have to say it was pretty cool working on this IP
On a late Saturday night before I would take my vacation trip to Seattle the gang headed down to Dallas for some late night adventure. Jeff pointed out that a pop up kitchen was going to serve Ramen at the Ten Bells Tavern. So on that cold night we went to Jeff’s hood. The gang of Roger, Cynthia, Jeff, Josh and myself went to check it out. It was some tasty ramen and the bar was a great little dive. Got to meet the owner cause Jeff is connected with everyone where he likes to eat. It was a nice little send off as I would be gone the entire following week.
The Great North West….Land of Sasquatch
In fall of 2012 my friend Rick Johnson asked if I would help him out with a top secret project. At the time Rick was working at Valve Software and from what he told me about this project it sounded exciting. I knew I would have some time off now that The Walking Dead was in submission and I enjoy hanging out with my good buddy Rick. We share our love for movie nights, fried foods and all things nerd. Little did I know that this trip would be a once in a life time type of event.
As this trip came close to the date my friend Rick would lose his job at Valve in what was a pretty publicized story in the gaming community. This all happened about two weeks before my trip so I didn’t know really what was in store but after talking with Rick he explained that everything is still cool and that I would get a debrief when I arrived. My concern was with Rick and his co-worker Jeri as I have been through something similar and I wanted to make sure they would be ok. Well not only would they be ok but they would turn into a super engine on warp drive. Never in my life have I seen two people determined and focused to build something as quickly as possible and do it with a tremendous amount of passion and emotion behind it.
I arrived that afternoon and on the way to Rick’s house we talked about what we would be doing. We were going to have a Game Jam for the week…..yeah I spent my vacation working the entire week long hours…….what of it? It’s what I like to do
I got the lay of the land from Rick (which was basically just his living room turned into an office) and off we went. The goal was to create a game using the prototype CastAR. That was the goal but with all the things happening around Rick and Jeri they had to do a lot of business and take care of a bunch of things during this time but you roll with the punches. We would be making a pirate ship game using some art I created and some voxel terrain. It ended up being tough trying to get the game done as Rick and Jeri and to focus on so many other things and with limited tools for them it was tricky but I was able to put on my HBO GO and knock out some stuff to play with. I can say that I had a ton of fun playing with the prototype and really was amazed by the technology they had come up with. I was also luck enough to be around to say I was there when Technical Illusions was born as they decided on that name for the company while I was there. A day consisted up getting up at 8AM ( I was stuck on Central Time all week) and we worked all day until about midnight or so and then watch either Police Academy or Sledgehammer (80’s TV show) and that was our week. Now during that week there was one night we had dinner with a special guest that wanted to meet Jeri in person. That person was no other than Felicia Day….you know she owns the internet. She was in town for Emerald City Con that weekend but had wanted to meet Jeri so we had a great dinner at a fancy dive in a part of Seattle that I’m not familiar with (honestly I don’t know Seattle). She was really nice and down to earth which made the experience great. We all talked about games, food, nerds, experiences and our cats. She was really interested in the CastAR but since it was still in a prototype phase and not at all mobile she would have to catch it another time. Very cool. We worked on through the week and our reward was a trip Saturday to Emerald City Con which turned out to be super awesome. Met some of Rick’s cool friends who joined us for the day. The venue is HUGE and it was filled with all types of folks. The Cosplay presence was massive. I wish I could have taken more pictures but at the end of the week I really wanted to enjoy the con and just check things out.
The week in Settle was an awesome experience and being able to help out in a small way with CastAR at the beginning was amazing. Jeri Ellsworth’s is one of the most intense and talented people I’ve been around. The only way to describe her is as a female Tony Stark with all her equipment and a house full of gadgets and things she’s created with other pieces of hardware is pretty incredible. If Jeri is a Tony Stark then my friend Rick Johnson is Gandalf conjuring magic with his code and creative ideas. It was great to work with him again on a focused project. They have created CastAR and I think they are going to make huge waves in the industry in which I enjoy being apart of. This was a great way to kick off the rest of the year and I would be joining them a few more times throughout the year
My brother is an assistant band director here in the area. We all grew up in band and were in percussion all 4 years of high school and with us being 3 years apart from each other the school had to put up with a Luna percussionist for almost a decade and the youngest of course would be the best of the bunch. We are super proud of him and the huge impact he is making with students as they all excel to huge achievements every year. He’s been teaching for over a decade now and I’m happy he lives in the area. On this night he was having his percussion concert much like what we had to do back in the day. They would preform their solos or ensembles from the year and they were on top of their game.
So after the percussion concert I was able to truck my way down I-30 to my movie night buddy Noel. I met Noel during his time with Texas Frightmare Weekend and we just got to talking. Turns out we had much in common when it came to hosting movie nights of films of our youth and just fun and interesting films. We are both movie lovers and he also has a great projector set up in his home. I headed his way under the threat of local tornado warnings (I didn’t know about those until I arrived). It was a double feature of Big Trouble in China and The Thing. Great night but was a long trip home in the crazy weather conditions
Back at the Dallas Sci-Fi Expo I took a picture of a Cosplayer as Arwen from Lord of the Rings. She was Cosplayed by Anna who found me on Flickr. We chatted and decided we should do a photoshoot together. So on a windy cool March Sunday we met up at a local studio so she could feature her Cosplay and I could knock off some rust of not being in a studio for some time. The studio was great and we had a lot of fun coming up with a few ideas. Time really few by due to some minor technical issues (batteries) and a costume change. She brought her Arwen from Lord of the Rings and Ramona Flowers from Scott Pilgrim. I had hoped to do a lot more studio shooting or work with Cosplayers but as you’ll see in the rest of this blog my year filled up really fast….
One of your fun events this past year was Geek Trivia at the Allen Wickers in Plano. Rachel is a great Quiz Master and loves Tim Tebow. We’ve had lots of fun and come in first a very few times along with winner a beer or two along the way. We’d like to do it more but you know how life gets in the way….stupid life
All the hard work and long hours of making a game is more than just about making games. It is the friendships and creative energy you put into something, hell it could be anything so long as you are putting your best efforts in it then it is something you’ll love. The Walking Dead may not have been received which huge praise but it wasn’t because of me not caring about what I was doing. We all worked hard and did our best with the time frame and budget given. For the very first times in my career of making games I got a copy before it hit stores from the publisher. I was proud to display this and show my friends. I still play it very now and then which is pretty rare when you work on a game as you are usually sick of it by the project’s end.
We also got a signed copy by Norman Reedus and in return we sent him a Project Cobalt (our internal code name) t-shirt signed by the team.
Later in that week leading up to the release of the Walking Dead we did a QA online via Vine in which we could take questions on Twitter and answer them via Vine. We had all the questions projected up in the company theatre and anyone who wanted to answer could volunteer. Prior to this Norman Reedus was also answering questions via Twitter which basically broke his Twitter account with the flood of questions. We had a lot of fun doing it and doing stuff for the community is always fun
As I was enjoying the time before the release of the game there was some catching up with friends to do. One thing we like to do with friends is play some boardgames so drinks and games it was. On this night we played Carcassonne for the first time. We had a lot of fun and it was good to see our friends Roger and Cynthia as they were getting read to have their addition to their family.
Being home meant more time in my office at home. I had a great set up and I started to think up of something my buddy Alex challenged me to do….”Hey we should enter that 24 hour video race”. I started to write down as many ideas as I could while I caught up on some shows and played Xbox. This was an ok set up but it would get better when we would move into our new house a few months later
I grew up watching boxing with my uncle’s back in the 80’s. We’d watch Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvelous Marvin Hagler and Roberto Duran just to name a few but over the years boxing has not been the same sport it use to be. In 1993 the Ultimate Fighting Championship started up and it was everything a kid like me wanted. It was real life BloodSport which game it a bad name over the years. I lost interest since it was only on pay-per-view but now that you can catch it on regular television and in sports bars I have really gotten back into it. On this night we went to sports bar around the corner to watch the evenings card and we caught Johny “Bigg Rigg” Hendricks who trains out of Dallas. Looking up his story and reading about the guy I became a big fan and we with beards stick together. It’s always good to catch a UFC fight and grab a beer
Walking Dead: Survival Instinct is released to the world and I went to get my midnight copy. It was cool to walk into my local GameStop and ask for my game with other folks doing the same. It came with my ear keychain and a kiss from my wife telling me congrats. Unfortunally there wasn’t much the company could do as far as a release party or anything so I put together a little release party for the team at the Kung Fu Saloon in Dallas (thanks to Jennifer Jennifer Pinney for grabbing pictures at the Kung Fu Saloon). They let us use the karaoke room to set up our game and the other karaoke at no charge. We had a nice little crowd show up and we all lifted our glasses for another game under the belt. It would be my 12th. We also has a little gift for our Producer and Creative Lead on the project to close the project. One of our artists Glenn used his 3D printer to make a zombie head caddie for their copy of the game. Sadly this would also be the last time as a whole team we would be together. Many folks began to leave the company or were laid off not long after the game but I can say that the team we had and the momentum we had going for us would have been good going into our next game if one had been lined up. The team of Project Cobalt was one of my favorites
Who doesn’t love a good surprise every now and then. Well to our surprise our good buddy Nick had completed his Masters degree which was a surprise to us because we didn’t know he was even in school?!? His fiancee asked us to meet them at Al-Amir which is Nick’s favorite. The gang would meet there and we really did surprise him. Turns out the place is has belly dancing on Friday and seeing that it was a Friday, go team. Food was delicious and the company was great. It was great to celebrate Nick’s hard work
I have always said this about Dallas and I’ll say it here again, there are some really cool things here but you have to go out and find them. Well on this night we went to a place that actually made me feel like we were not in Dallas at all. Jeff wanted Denise and I to meet him at Mr. Max which is a small, and when I saw small I mean holds about 25 maximum, authentic Japanese hole in the wall in Irving. Denise and Jeff have both been to Japan so I looked at them for their approval. It was amazing food and the atmosphere was great however everything was in Japanese so we had to ask for translation of what we were going to eat. You would never know this place was here as it doesn’t have any type of flashy signs or big “hey look over here” type of store front but its reputation is what keeps it going.
Since 2008 Denise and I have taken time in the Spring to get a garden set up. We do this because Denise loves to cook with fresh ingredients when she can but also because this is very therapeutic especially for me. This is my disconnect from technology and just doing something that allows you to turn it all off and watch these plants do their then given the right attention and care. We have been successful with some things and had a tough time with other during the Texas summers but this garden did well even after they were transported to our new home months later.
2013 was two years of marriage and I was lucky to find someone who enjoys the nerdy and dorky things in life that I do. We celebrate what marriage means but we also like to change it up and not always be the most traditional. I’m sure with age we’ll do more traditional things (Don’t worry Denise I promise all the anniversaries will be like this) but for this April 1st we headed down to the Granada to watch the showing of Spaceballs on the rooftop of where Denise works. We also did our annual pay out of “Piggy” and cashed that in. We had dinner, laughed enjoyed some drinks and watched Spaceballs…the movie. I could not have asked for a better partner in crime to spend the rest of my days with. I love you Denise
Dallas has a wide range of artists from and one of my favorites is the Vinyl scene that has built up over the past few years. The biggest group making the push is Cody Phillips and Shelby Miller. They run Vinyl Thoughts here in Dallas. They grab artists to create custom Vinyl toys for an art show sometimes twice a year. This time around they had a show at ATAMA at Mockingbird Station. Good to have some drinks and see some old friends. They had a blind box show with art by local artists and I was luck to pick one created by Jason Chalker
One of my favorite things about the Spring is the great Texas weather we have here. I enjoy getting a small fire going and grab a drink and just hang out. I also love to watch movies outside under the stars just like when I was growing up at the drive-in back home. This night was our first and last outside movie night we did at our rental house in Richardson. We really loved that house and the backyard could not be more perfect for having friends over. On this night we did an Edgar Wright double feature of Scott Pilgrim and Hot Fuzz.
I was asked by a former student of my brothers who is attending the University of North Texas if I would be a guest on their local school television show. When I was first asked I thought it was for a radio show but a few days leading up to the show I was informed that it was for a television show that aired on Time Warner Cable. This was part of their Radio/Television department at the university which is a good program from what I’ve read. I arrived at the university and was met by a production assistant and she brought me to the campus coffee shop which was the backdrop for the show. I was really impressed how well everything was run and I did nervous for a minute when I realized that there would be a live audience. The show was put on like a late night talk show with a host and co-host. It was a lot of fun and when it was my time to be up it was really fun and felt like a live podcast. We talked a little about my career and played some Walking Dead. Funny thing was the hosts seemed more nervous than me and afterwards they said I was the most fun they had all year because I didn’t have a script and just played it ad-libbed the whole thing. Unfortunately the show is not online
My nephew is only two years old (and only one and a half in these pictures) but on a Sunday Spring morning we took him out for some pictures with the Texas Blue Bonnets. I was really happy how these came out as taking pictures of kids are usually next to impossible to capture but he was very cooperative and the day was just right.
May would be the start of being really really busy but in a good way. Every May is Texas Frightmare Month and as I’ve blogged about before in the past it is hands down my favorite convention of the year. I’ve meet so many good people and enjoyed lots of good times every year. It is our little vacation in our backyard. This year as no different and with both Denise and I able to get most of the weekend off we took advantage of heading over on Friday early to catch some of our favorite movie stars and check out some of the booths a little early. We also got a bonus when we saw that our friend Grego and Stacie were helping with a friend’s booth. We got to have a great breakfast with them Sunday morning This also gave me a chance to get Danny Trejo’s autography on A MACHETE!! How cool is that. On Saturday night we went to special screening area that was showing classic horror movies and Denise and I took the evening to enjoy while having some snacks. The Shining ,it so turns out, is pretty creepy when you watch it at a hotel late at night in a dark room with just little red ambient light for mood…..
The Killers rolled through town and Denise loves them and probably has them in her top 10 favorite bands. This was a great concert but it was also when I was getting ready to enter a 24 hour video race at the end of the week so my mind was kinda all over the place. Once they hit the stage and blew the doors off the venue and with beer in hand it was a night for rocking out
For some time I’ve wanted to give making a film making a try but it was always one thing or another that would come up to block this. If you know me then you know how much I enjoy cinema and just the overall concept of filmmaking. When I got my 5D Mark II it was not only because it is a great camera for taking pictures but I knew that would lead to hoping to get something created on film. There was a day that Alex and I were chatting on IM and he mentioned that we should enter the Dallas 24 Hour Video Race this year. Almost without hesitation I said “Sure why the hell not, worst thing that could happen is we fall flat on our face but that is really the only way to learn”. Part of the rules outside of being done in 24 hours is to use props that won’t be given until midnight of the start of the race. We thought a concept like a movie trailer would fit for us because we could just roll in the items they gave us and since it’s a trailer it could be short and easy to cut right?…..right? Easy?
This was a brainstorming session that took a few hours to figure out a story line that we would fill in once we knew our props.
From this point we would be off to enter the contest….well hang on just one sec. There were a few things from the start that didn’t go off well and from the outset Josh and I thought we were doomed. Our audio mic turns out wasn’t not going to work directly with the camera so we ran down to Guitar Center with hopes of finding an adapter which turned into a rabbit hole and we ran from one Guitar Center to the next and ended up dead in the water on 635 in traffic. We decided to bail on that but in a last attempt for help Joel offered his Zoom for the day which would work perfect….if he didn’t live almost an hour north of were we needed to be when the contest kicked off. We were also getting news from Alex that he had gotten sick from something he may have eaten and was unable to help out. On top of that Josh’s battery was about to die so us splitting up was maybe not a good idea but luckily I had my back up charger in my bag so I began to drive up north as Josh stayed at the theatre to get instructions of the of the contest and what we needed to put in our short film. I met up with Joel to get his Zoom which worked perfectly and Josh got the information. In the end we spent the next 5 hours to planning and working on a shot list and order. The props we had to use were
A phone book
The BG letters that are around Dallas
A theme of Recycling
The lines “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country”
Our cast consisted of our friends and we filmed almost everything at Jeff and Josh’s home which had the most to offer as far as looks go. The two locations we had to shoot outside of the house really killed our time. Outside of that the day could not have gone better except for not having an onsite editor to assemble while we filmed which doomed us as for the amount of production value we tried putting into our short there was no way we could finish in 24 hours.
I cannot tell you how happy I was how dedicated everyone was helping us make this and putting their trust in us as shooting out of order probably put doubt in what we were doing. Josh and I also didn’t know how any of this was going to turn out in the end. Thanks to Evan Gill for taking pictures to document the day
So even though we didn’t finish in time we were allowed to still turn in our submission so we could watch it on the big screen a few days later at the Angelika. I headed back to Josh’s on Sunday and we finished the edit about 2am. It turned out the editing curse was not over because only a few hours after Josh finished the edit he ended up with a kidney stone and had to head to the emergency room early that morning. Josh ended up being ok later that evening so we headed over to check up on him and pick up the film so we could take it to the theatre for submission. Later that week I did something I had been dreaming about for many years, a film (although a short one) on the big screen in front of my friends and other participants. We were shown in the “out of competition” portion but after our showing that evening we had a lot of folks coming up to us telling us we had a great submission and it’s too bad we didn’t make it in time because they felt we had a chance to win. In the end it wasn’t about winning and more about going through the process. It was a ton of fun and it was because of my friends and family that I was able to get a chance to actually do this. Many thanks to Denise, Josh, Jeff, Alex, Nikki, Kris, Jen, Maya, John, Eric, Evan, Stacy and everyone who helped out along the way. Thank you all so much
So while all this things above were happening Denise and I were spending all the time in between looking up properties online and with our realtor. We wanted to stay in the Richardson area because we felt it was a great area not too far from Dallas and close enough to being up north that it worked well for our job travel. After many options and looking and looking and looking we found a place that Denise really liked. In order to lock up the house we had to make an offer without me getting to see the house as our realtor and her saw it during the weekday while I was at work. With other possible offers being put on the house we made ours and ours was taken. When I finally did see the house it turns out she made the perfect choice. Great kitchen, big backyard, an office for me and a nice living area. We got the keys a month before our lease was up and Denise’s birthday but it gave us lots of time to make our move. We love our house and look forward to creating many memories here.
After all the running around and and closing on our house I ran down to the Dallas Comic con to see some friends and snap some pics of the day. It was another big event at maximum capacity. Got to see my good friends from Bean Pot Toiz along with others and Alex and I got to meet some of the contestants from one of our favorite shows FaceOff on SyFy. Heather Henry is a Dallas artist and had a booth along with Eric Zapata. We got to meet them and Alex bought her Eraserhead baby thing she made which was pretty accurate. We got to chat for a little bit and they were some cool customers. It was a great show and some fun pictures
Usually when the summer roles around it gets hard to get out and do stuff even if it is indoors. This year I made it a point to join my friends in various events and stop being such a homebody and when you look around for events they just show up. On a June afternoon I got to watch Doug Benson do a live podcast recording of Doug Loves Movies which is a great podcast. I had to quickly put together a sign for the podcast which I showed him afterwards and he thought my name was Mormon….he was pretty high. This would also be the last time I would see by buddy Dave McGarry for a while as he took a job in Chicago a few afterwards
Archer is one of our favorite shows on television and when we heard that Archer Live was coming into town we jumped on board even though we had no idea what the hell Archer Live was actually going to be. Turns out it was the cast, or most of the cast anyways, sitting around telling stories about the show and reading live segments from the show while drinking. This lead to them firing t-shirts into the audience with an air cannon and playing Danger Zone every time they did it.
I have never really been a car person which doesn’t mean I don’t like cars it just means I don’t know the ins and outs of older cars. I’m no grease monkey or would know what to do with an older car. I would say that most of our family is that way but doesn’t mean we can’t learn with time. My brother bought a 1965 Mustang a few years ago and he’s been working with a friend of his to fix it up. In that he’s been learning about cars with a goal of taking his car out to some car shows. He invited me out to Frisco to a huge car show in which his car would be shown. It was really cool to see all the different type of cars and a lot of the classics. Turned out to be a lot more fun than I thought it would be.
By brother is a big Texas Rangers fan. I’m a fan as well as we grew up watching Nolan Ryan and Ruben Sierra back in the day so any chance to head out to the ballpark does bring back some good memories. My brother had an extra ticket and it was a nice way to lead into the July 4th weekend. We had great seats in the shade in almost perfect weather for Texas in June.
Happy Birthday America and in Texas that means BBQ. On our days off from work we went out looking for some delicious BBQ before fireworks with the family. I enjoy fireworks and getting a chance to photograph them is also fun. I’m never sure how they will come out as shooting them is tricky but I was really happy with my results. The next day was movie night with Josh and Jeff along with snow cones to cool us off from the heat.
One of the things I was super excited about this year was the opening of the Alamo Drafthouse here in Richardson. Having only been to a Drafthouse once before one would think I was a weirdo for supporting something so much before it was even opened. From my one experience and everything I’ve read about Tim League and what he thinks the movie going experience should be this is something I wish I could have been around from the start and someone be involved with the ground roots of it in Austin. From the type of events they put on to the unique movies they show during the year it is like the movie nights I’ve hosted for years now only on a much larger screen and around more people who feel the same way I do about movies. So during the month of July leading up to the grand opening the Drafthouse hosted the Rolling Road Show in the future parking lot of the Drafthouse. It made me so happy because since we had just moved into our new house we didn’t have our backyard and setup ready to host our movie nights so this was the next best thing (and obviously better). These were free screening and only required you to bring a chair or find a spot on the floor. We invited friends and went almost every weekend. I hope they bring back the Rolling Roadshow to the area
Since we spent so much time house hunting in the spring and leading up to Denise’s birthday I promised that we would take a vacation for her birthday this year to make up for not doing anything for her actual birthday. We also wanted to take a real vacation outside of Texas for a change. Since it was Denise’s 30th this year I gave her the choice of New York or California and the choice was San Francisco. We found a time that would work for both our schedules and we made planned the trip. We got a room near city hall and only got a rental for one day when we could cross the Golden Gate and head north to see the Red Wood Forest or as some would call it Endor. We had an amazing trip with such good food the entire time. On our first day it turned out that a farmers market went up just down the street from our hotel. We got some delicious snacks for the day and headed out for our adventures. We also caught up with an old friend of Denise’s who happened to live not very far from our hotel. Denise had not seen her since they childhood days in the Philippines so it was awesome being their for their reunion since then. She showed us some local bars and tacos joints that were very excellent. On the day we had a rental we headed up north to Sausalito to catch up with an old friend who I use to work with at Gearbox. She now works at 2K and it was great to see her and have lunch with an amazing view of the ocean. We headed up north to the Red Woods which was mind blowing to see in person but for me the real treat was set up by my friend Joel. He got me in touch with Fon Davis who has his model shop further north of the red woods near Skywalker Ranch. Fon Davis was someone who I was familiar with but didn’t put two and two together until I got to meet him in person. We got a personal tour of his studio and saw models on the wall from films like Starship Troopers and Star Wars: Attack of the Clones. It was so cool to just chat and see some very cool movie history. It also happen to turn out that my brother was training near Oakland and was staying with my cousin whom I had not seen in years. After a long day of adventure we headed up to his place and caught up with them for a bit. On our last day we were lucky that a food festival was happening in which blocks and blocks of street neighborhoods were set up with some of the best food I’ve tasted in years. The entire trip was a perfect get away for Denise and I and we could have not have planned anything better. We still love Dallas but for those few days it was nice to get some of that West Coast flavor
As the summers come to a close in Texas it usually comes with even hotter temperatures as one would think that it would start to cool down. My parents made a trip up to visit my brother and I. My brother was starting back up at a school and on a Saturday he mentioned he was headed southeast to a small town that was holding a car show that he was going to bring his Mustang for show. Little did I know that it was a small municipal airport and there were going to be World War II aircraft. It was a really really hot day but it was worth it to check out all the cool stuff. There was also a Helicopter out of Denton that was similar to what my father few in during Vietnam. All Veterans of foreign wars were signing it on the inside so it was cool to be there to see my father sign it with all those other names on there. It was a very special moment I was glad I could capture on film.
Once September starts to roll around we all prepare for things like Halloween and cooler weather. There always seems to be a creative feel in the air and getting to go out and see some art only adds fuel to that fire. It was time for another Vinyl Thoughts and as usual it didn’t disappoint. Great art and free drinks…who could ask for more
Throughout the year I kept in touch with Rick and Jeri as they were working on CastAR. They made a stop by Texas for Gearbox Community Days which shows off Gearbox games and lets the community talk with the developers. On short notice they boxed up their equipment and flew down and this made for a good test run for two weeks later. Rick and Jeri asked me to fly up to New York and help document the showing of CastAR at Makers Faire in Queens. I was super stocked to help as this would be part of the finishing touches before they would launch their Kickstarter to the world. I was going to be filming people play CastAR and get some interviews of first impressions after using it. I had never been to New York before so I was really excited to check it out. Even though we didn’t really venture out and really just worked the entire time it was still really awesome. Saturday night after the show we met up with some folks at a hotel bar and had a few things. Being surrounded by so many hardware hackers was pretty interesting and made me feel like a little speck on the radar being a software guy myself. It was such on honor to help out with the CastAR video and I think their video came out great…along with a bunch of other folks as it raised over 1 million dollars on Kickstarter. Check out the video to see some of my handy work at Makers Faire
October means my favorite time of the year with cooler weather and lots of changes in the air. This also for the most part is the end of the large sized convention season with Dallas Fan Days. So many great costumes and speakers and this year I had a little time to talk with RJ Haddy from FaceOff. He was a super cool guy and snapped some great pics as the costumes were really at a high level this year. Maybe getting ready for Halloween or maybe just a year’s worth of work being shown.
The month also has birthdays of now two of my favorite people. Alex and Coen share a birthday month and one was in a bounce house and the other was in a chicken house. One had a super awesome cake and the other had….well also a super awesome cake. Just another check mark on why October is awesome.
Is it obvious that I love Halloween? Maybe it has something to do with that fact that I was a week just past being born on Halloween or maybe it has something to do with movies. What I know part of it is the cooler air, the colors in the trees, the fun costumes and seeing friends. Since Halloween isn’t a real holiday it is like the best of Thanksgiving and Christmas without all the travel. We decorate the house up real good and invite friends over for scary movies every weekend leading up to the big day. This was our first year in the new house so we were not sure how to decorate up the house and we hoped the neighborhood would jump in as well. It took a little time but they did and we had a pretty decent turnout of kids on Halloween night. We also got in some really good scares with our jumping spider and Denise’s costume. This all lead up to my birthday weekend
I am very lucky to have a strong group of friends and family around me to support me and everything I do. The year was a good one as you can see from my blog above but from a work standpoint it really wasn’t. That said I am so grateful for so many things I have in life. I have worked hard and I will continue to work hard everyday and I have put people around me who do the same. My amazing wife and friends are important to me so at when birthday comes around it is almost as much about them than it is about me.
For the past few years we have rented a cabin, or cabin like place, near a lake and just turn everything off to the outside world for a little bit and soak it all in. Enjoy life because you only get one. This year as time grew close and we had not locked in anything we were going to pass this year but we found a lake house near lake Lewisville for about the same cost so we figured we should do it. It would be nice to have the place to ourselves and not have to worry about a gated community like the other places we had stayed before. Even though at first impressions it looked like a place from a horror movie it turned out to be really nice and the weather could not have been better. We did this the day after Halloween so the mood was great. We stayed the weekend but that Friday night we got to hang with Nick and Crane at their Halloween party which was a ton of fun. Everyone came by the next day and just relaxed and took it all in. My sister-in-law made the most amazing birthday cake to date. I hate sharks but I love the movie Jaws so her cake was pretty much perfect. As the evening came upon us we got a fire going and I set up a mobile screen and brought the projector so we could watch movies with the lake as our backdrop. With it being my birthday we watched one feature from Drafthouse Films which was just a series of awesome trailers called Trailer Wars and that was followed up with Birdemic 2. Sure not ground breaking Oscar worthy films but being with my friends laughing and drinking puts all things in perspective…..no matter what happens in life and no matter what curve balls are thrown by the world you keep swinging. It is those moments and all the ones I’ve documented above why I live and why I’m here.
So for my actual birthday on November 7th my long time good friend Alex bought Denise and I a ticket for a showing of Wes Anderson’s Bottle Rocket. This was also a night of tribute as the film was played in honor of Kumar Pallana who passed away in October. I’m a big fan of Wes Anderson and a really big fan of Bottle Rocket which was filmed in Dallas. There was a QA with the author of the book “The Wes Anderson Collection” Matt Zoller Seitz. Robert Wilonsky was the host of the evening with a screening of the original Bottle Rocket short film and a message from Wes Anderson about the life of Kumar Pallana. Afterwards we headed out for a drink to start year 37 of my time here on planet earth. Thanks buddy….
Thanksgiving was a pleasant surprise of flying home to see my folks. It was not really expected but Donna and her magic touch at Southwest got me a ticket home so I could see my parents and eat some turkey at their home. Thanksgiving as you know is all about football….I mean turkey…..ok who are we kidding it’s about football. We ate some delicious food and watched a lot of football so much so that the day after Thanksgiving we drove up to Corpus Christi to watch one of the high school teams were my parents live play in their playoff game. It was a pretty cold night but the road trip and time with the parents is all that really mattered. It was a lot of fun and I was glad to be home since it had been a few years since I’ve been home. Love you mom and dad
As Christmas approached we got hit with the coldest storm in some time and much earlier than usual in Texas. We got hit by some serious ice and temperatures below freezing for 4 days and since the infrastructure is not set up for us here for that type of situation we got it bad. We got ready and that night the ice came it was about 18 degrees and at about 3am I heard the first of many tree limbs falling in our neighborhood and unfortunately for the neighbor his vehicle took the brunt of it. As the night went on it was only getting worse. Our house lost power while we were sleeping because the by morning we were starting to feel the cold in our house. We thought we would be able to hold out but by the afternoon it was about 38 degrees inside the house. Our friends Roger and Cynthia offered up space for us and the cats to stay as what we were being told was that power would be back on Sunday. We packed up and headed slowly over to their warm home for warm drinks and board games. The following day I came by the house as there was a possibility that the power was back on but it was not. It dropped to about 35 degrees in the house by then and outside it was about 15 degrees. I have never been that cold in the state of Texas before in my life and good thing for me I have my Russian, yes it was bought in Kiev, as it really did help. The power was restored by Sunday and we were able to come back home with very little damage considering. Having only lost some of the tree and some of our food in the fridge we felt very lucky. The neighborhood really got behind each other offering places for people to stay with children or older people. Days after some people volunteered their time to help with branch removal as it was pretty bad on our street. Even the Alamo Drafthouse open their doors to those without power and offered free soup and hot drinks along with kid movies all at no charge for those who were getting cabin fever. What this really showed Denise and I was that the neighborhood and city was picked for our home was the best choice we could have ever have made
As the year ended we enjoyed a holiday meal of lechón which is delicious pig Filipino style for Christmas as my in-laws. It was so good and having good company around make for a fun evening of opening presents and being around loving people. This also made the 2 year old super happy as he was flooded with gifts and picture taking
We finished out the year with our annual Win, Lose or Draw night at the new house. We had so many people and even thought I didn’t take a whole lot of pictures that night, cause I was enjoying the night, it was the perfect way to ring in the New Year. I also got to see the commercial I filmed over a year ago for the first time in front of all my friends which was pretty hilarious
….Well that is it…that was my year in pictures. I don’t think there is anything else to say that I have not already said in words or in pictures. I would say “I wish you all a good year” but instead I’m going to say…..Go out and make a good year. Take it and grab it and do the best you can. Sometimes you’ll fall and you’ll need to kick off a little dirty and say “let’s try that again” but just keep doing it. Keep good people around you and remember to make memories for you and your loved ones.
……Vámonos, amigos,” he whispered, and threw the busted leather flintcraw over the loose weave of the saddlecock. And they rode on in the friscalating dusklight.
(bonus pictures from the year…I hope they speak for themselves)