1 Step Closer to a B-Foot Pyramid

Tonight at ski team practice, besides the typical chick-hauling that occurs when we do pyramids, we actually had, for us at least, what we’d call glass calm water. Now it wasn’t actually glass, but close enough for us. At the end of practice, some us decided to do some braced barefoot step-offs in anticipation of someday basing a barefoot pyramid.

The first time I ended up being the odd man out in the set and just practiced a barefoot step off in the bubbles behind the twin rig. Made the step off, but the bubbles were not fun. But getting the practice step in calmed my fears of trying this out.

Second set, I’m up. I have my foot planted and I’m waiting for the guy next to me step off since he had planned on stepping first. Well, the speed my have been just a touch slow, and boom, face plant. We gather ourselves and take another shot at it. This time the speed was probably a little hot. We get the driver to back off a bit. My partner never really gets comfortable enough with his plant and yells to me, “You comfortable?”

At that point I decide to step.

Then I step.

Without missing a beat, I answer back “Yea.”

By this time we had progressed past the calm area and were now getting in the slightly rougher stuff. I’m now trying to brace him and help him hold his spot as I keep my spot on the curl. Finally, exhausted, I call it before I hurt myself.

Best part, I made my step while braced. Something I hadn’t done before.

On an unrelated note, our twin rig is delivering some super smooth pulls of the dock… Now if it only had a speedo…

One last note… Driving to practice, rain. Leaving practice, rain. I’m getting tired of dodging raindrops all the time.

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Summer is Here!!!

It appears that summer is finally here. Yes, finally here. The weather last week seems to have finally pushed spring out and summer in. Last week featured a variety of crazy weather. Storms pretty much daily. Mad-City managed to get in our practices between storms, downpours, etc, but dodging bolts of lightening just isn’t that fun. Wednesday’s practice was cut short because of some severe weather that moved through. Thursday’s was delayed due to storms moving through.

Friday, summer began. Beautiful weather, hot, clear, blue skies. Saturday, just like Friday. Our practice Saturday morning was very likely our warmest practice of the year so far. The air temp was already in the 70s. A very nice change from the 50s and 60s we had been practicing in. Sunday, was just hot and humid. We put out a good show, but nothing special since our practice up to this point had been limited.

Then on Memorial Day, I played uncle. I took my sister and her family out to the lake. We taught Anna, my seven year old niece, how to ski. She got up on the boom on her first try. The first two times she skied I dragged along side of her on the boom so she was a little more comfortable in the lake. The third time, she went by herself and did great. Next time she wants to go on the short line. Both of my nephews also skied, but they had both gone before.

All in all, a good Memorial Day weekend to kick off summer.

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Storm Clouds

Crazy weather! Yes, August 18th of 2005, we had some extreme weather move through the area. But, being die hard skiers, we decided to wait out the storm. So after the downpours were done, we suited up and did some skiing. Overhead we had blue skys and calm wind. Looking south from our ski site, across the lake, we could see some amazing storm clouds. Little did we know that while we were skiing, Stoughton was being hit by tornados.

The photo above is what I took with my camera phone that night.

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My Concert Complaints

So I’ve seen a fair number of concerts over the last few years. It helps to do the occasional stage hand work to see some of the shows I’ve seen. One thing I’ve noticed is that some of the audio mixers that travel with some bands just don’t know what they are doing.

The last few major concerts I’ve seen or worked at are:
Tim McGraw and Faith Hill
Kenny Chesney
Green Day
Tim McGraw
Dave Mathews Band
Beastie Boys
Billy Joel and Elton John
Pearl Jam (three times) at Alpine Valley

All of these concerts took place at either the Kohl Center or Dane County Coliseum, both places that are acoustically horrible.

For Green Day, DMB, Beastie Boys and Billy and Elton, I couldn’t believe how good they sounded. Lyrics as clear as day and music that was just as good as the album. Green Day and Beastie Boys especially. All of the Pearl Jam concerts I’ve seen, they’ve been mixed damn near perfectly.

For Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, Kenny and Tim McGraw by himself, I honestly couldn’t believe how bad the mixes were. The music comes through clear as day and sounds great. The vocals, however, just really couldn’t be heard over the music consistently, and when you go to see a band, at least from my perspective, you want to hear the lead vocals clearly. The Tim and Faith show from just two days ago wasn’t as bad as the KC concert, but it was by no means good. There were parts where I couldn’t hear the singing.

The KC concert from last year was the worst case I’ve seen of this ever. I was about 20 feet from the stage and for many of his songs, especially the more up-tempo songs, I couldn’t hear him at all. When he would do a ballad you could hear him, but that was it. And this is very disappointing. Hopefully, when he is back in August this manage to fix this problem. Last time he came through, I wasn’t the only one complaining. A lot of people complained.

What I think happens is this groups do their rehearsals somewhere and the setup the mixing and get everything sounding perfectly. But then they go to other buildings/venues, and every building is acoustically different, and they use the same settings. Simply put, this doesn’t work and it shows. At every venue they need to adjust the mix so it comes through clearly and I don’t think they do this, probably because they don’t have someone traveling with them capable of doing this.

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Upside Down Titanic

That is what I’ll call the movie Poseidon, because that is basically what it is. The following review contains spoilers… you’ve been warned.

I caught this movie earlier this week on the local IMAX. And the IMAX made it look good. Going in to the movie you really need to suspend your belief on reality.

First off, you have to believe in the way they portray rouge waves. Bases on my ever so brief research into this subject just a moment ago, it seems that the typical “rouge wave” can be roughly 3 times the height of the waves around it. So if there are about 10 meter waves, you might see one that is up to 30 meters (11 stories) high. So being as how the ship was sailing through pretty much glass calm (for an ocean) water, having a massive wave like the one in the movie come out of nowhere, not quite believable.

If this wave was caused by a seismic event, based on what I’ve learned about tsunamis lately, they really don’t take form until they hit the shallower water by land, and in the movie, they are in the middle of the ocean, no land in sight.

If you believe the wave that big can “magically” appear, then that wave is also going to “magically” appear on their radar and give them significantly more time to react than what they get in the movie. Going in I didn’t think they even tried to do anything to react to seeing this massive wave, but they did, just too little, too late.

The movie as a whole, was an excellent popcorn flick, entertaining pretty much the whole time. Enough story to keep you interested in who makes it off the boat, just a bit of a love story, and unlike the Titanic that took 90 minutes to hit the ice berg, this movie flips the boat over just a few minutes in, and 90 minutes later, its done. And it even has pretty decent special effects.

The movie does suffer from what I like to call the Air Force One problem. Right at the end of the movie, there is just some really cheesy looking special effects. In Air Force One, it was the plain crash, in this movie, it is the life raft. I think they ran out of money and still had a few shots left to do, so they hired a kid of the street to finish up the effects. Really bad.

Other than that, it was an entertaining summer movie. I’m guessing seeing it on the IMAX helped, but it was fun. Not mind blowing entertainment that one will talk about the next day, but makes for a fun ride.

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Robot Chicken

For those who haven’t seen Robot Chicken, here is a taste…

Vader Make a Collect Call

Check it out. It’s part of the Adult Swim block on Cartoon Network. I’m really not sure when it’s on, my ReplayTV just records it automatically whenever it airs. Yes, it is that good.

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Wisconsin Weather

Gotta love Wisconsin weather. Yesterday, not great, but about 70 degrees, cloudy, calm winds, great waterskiing weather for the spring. The lake was calm and smooth as butter.

Today, maybe a high of 50, 25+ MPH winds, and now, there is definitely some snow mixed in with the rain.

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M:I:3 – This Time It’s Personal

That would have been my tag line for the movie. Now those of you I’ve talked movies with know that I absolutely hated the 2nd movie in this series. I absolutely despised it. When I went to it (the 2nd one) I ran into a friend who had just seen it and he thought it was horrible. I still went in to watch it because I didn’t really trust his reviews that much, lets just say they were inconsistent. I thought the first one was decent. Slick hi-tech gadgets in spy vs. spy battles. Ving Rhames was ultra cool as the gadget guy. So I was hoping of more the same from the second.

Boy was I disappointed. But then, a few days later I ended up trying to see another movie that I wanted to see but was about 15 minutes late, so to be fair knowing I had a negative connation going into it the first time, I decided to give it one more try. It was painful. 20 minutes into the movie, I kept thinking to myself “why can’t everyone just die, then the movie would be over!” No such luck. I never expect much in the way of plot from what I like to call “popcorn-flicks”, but some plot connecting the dots is always nice. The plot connecting the action sequences flat lined. It developed no interest for me, and I really didn’t care what happened. Later, I read an article about in EW that discussed how Tom and John (Woo) came up with their plot for MI2. Here’s what they conservation went like:

John: I always wanted to crash a plane into a mountain.
Tom: We can do that. I like motorcycles.
John: We’ll put in a chase sequence then. I like kung-fu.
Tom: We’ll do some kung-fu fights then, maybe on the motor cycles…

And they came up with all their action sequences, gave them to a writer and said “here, write a script for these action sequences.” I’m guessing mere minutes later a writer handed them a script going “done!” And they filmed the resulting crap.

Ving Rames was nearly non-existent and he was the coolest thing from the first one.

So now on to the newest flick in the series, #3. This time they got someone that can actually pen a decent story, Mr. JJ Abrams, to write and direct it (he’s come up with Alias and Lost in case you didn’t know). With him at the helm, I figured I give it a chance.

I was pleasantly surprised by this movie, not that I expected much. Ving was back, there was a plot, I actually felt some empathy for the characters and wanted them to succeed and survive. All the sequences showing Mr. Cruise running got pretty old, and if I watched it again, I’d probably find some more stuff to complain about as well, but it is a popcorn flick and for the 135 minutes or so, I was entertained. Yea, they blow up lots of stuff and cut from one bit in a fight to another so fast that you really can’t tell what’s happening, or get a sense for how the fight is going if you could really watch it, but hey, as I ate my popcorn and drank my soda, I was content.

And why do I suggest a tagline, well Tom’s engaged in the movie and his wife was kidnapped and he has to get her back. So it’s personal. Kind’ a like when in Jaws 4 (I think), the great white migrates south to the Caribbean to harass the wife of the cop that killed Jaws 1-3. The shark had a personal vendetta. Thankfully, MI3 it just a bit better the J4.

And does Tom Cruise being a complete nut case in real life affect my review. Nope, I could care less what he does off screen, just as long as he doesn’t kill people and stuff. He made Top Gun and Days of Thunder (oh wait, they’re the same movie, just one had jets and the other had race cars) two of the most kick ass popcorn flicks of all time. So in the end, I just want to be entertained. Plus, he was willing to rip on himself by spoofing MI2 in AP3:Goldmember, so in the end, I think even he realized 2 sucked.

[This is quiet possibly the longest movie review I’ve written and, surprisingly, very little is actually about the movie I’m reviewing. I guess it just goes to show how much I hated MI2.]

[Finally, I know people are looking at these blogs I’m doing. The little counter keeps going up. Will someone please post a comment? Agree or disagree with a review, random skiing tips, or just know how to keep a bird from flying into a window repeatedly, let me know.]

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United 93

This is a movie that is kind of hard to describe. I’m going to assume that is an accurate portrayal of what happened that morning basically because I haven’t heard an uprising of complaints saying it is completely inaccurate, and based on its content, we would have heard those complaints if it was. I realize what they portrayed on the plane is somewhat of conjecture based on the calls they received, but they didn’t make it overly dramatic or anything like that.

I found the movie to be hard to watch. Not because it was done poorly, or was over the top, or anything bad to say about the movie. It was more because of everything going through my head as I remembered that day.

I had a meeting that morning to get my house plans approved and then drove to work listening to CDs all the way there. Upon going in to work and then up to my desk, even though it was a bright, sunny day here in Madison, upon leaving the elevator, I couldn’t help but get a strange feeling. Although it was nearly 10am, nobody was at their desks. Then I saw everyone at just a few people’s desks, huddled around the radios, listening. And then I couldn’t believe what I heard…

The movie doesn’t paint a good picture of how the government and it’s agencies operated that day, but not because of the people doing their jobs, but because the people doing their jobs knew something was happening but couldn’t do anything about it. They were screaming for help, asking for support and for the very, very difficult decisions to be made and the help and decisions were not happening.

If you can take going through that difficult day again, this movie is well worth watching. Not because you’re going to walk out entertained, not because you’ll walk out pissed at the government’s inability to do anything, but because you’ll have realized that a lot of people were trying to do something that day and we do have everyday heroes living among us. And how that one day changed your life, your country and your world.

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