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This is a fake smile. Well, not really a fake one – but you know, I can’t ever ‘smile’ for the camera, so I have to start fake laughing – otherwise it won’t look right.Photo taken this morning in um, you know, our um, set – our dining room.

I know. If you checked our blog this morning… or earlier this afternoon, you were probably thinking that my whole ‘blog everyday until the wedding’ statement from yesterday would be erased from my memory just like the years 1999 – 2005. But no… not yet.

Lots to do tonight. Clean. Eat. Set some lights up and see how it looks. Take some photos. Take some videos. Watch a movie. Do some laundry. Eat. Sleep. You’re awesome. Friday. Be here now.


From Here On Out

Hello! How are you?

Well, according to the counter, we have 52 days until our wedding. Plenty of time to finish getting ready I suppose. Plenty of time to blog too. So. How about we blog everyday until then. Sounds awesome. Especially considering the relative hiatus that we’ve been on. Especially considering that you would think that during said haitus I would have lots of new material to show (ha, like I actually make stuff). Of course, maybe it’s because I’ve just been thinking a lot and reading and generally learning some stuff – and not just haphazardly clicking photos and/or video. Who knows. Maybe I’m just stalling from actually getting something made or finished.

… and taking a cue from Finding Forester – where he says just type something, even if it’s just copying text, until you feel like writing – I’m going through old photos that I didn’t know I had and checking them out again… but at least I’m in the mood to talk… kind of. Coffee Time.

I haven’t really talked about school too much lately here because it’s just been such a back burner subject for most of the past year. Online school is… well, unless you’re taking math classes – the online format is simply not nearly as time intensive as other classes – at least… it doesn’t have to be if you know how to work the ‘system’ – but that’s always the case with school.

So. My final class before I graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Finance is… College Algebra 101. And surprisingly, I haven’t had any real trouble with any of it. I mean, sure I have to refresh my memory on how to solve particular equations… but it’s a lot easier than when I took it over a decade ago. Wow. I’m old enough now to refer to things ‘over a decade ago’.

Oh yeah, that’s right. I’m 30 now.

And unlike some of my many other endeavors that drop by the wayside after one or two mentions here, never to be spoken of again… I’m still working on that short film. No really, that’s part of the reason why I just haven’t been making anything – cause first I don’t want it to all out suck, but that means that I actually have to learn some things. Like lighting. And some stuff with After Effects. And then we have to build the special FX setups. And then you know, other little things like story.

And while there is that whole ‘just film it’ mentality… that’s how I do everything I do – with little planning and just going. And while I’m generally fortunate with my mistakes and chance outcomes… it’d be nice to have a little more control over the end product, instead of always having to just hope for the best. Besides, it’s not like there’s a rush to provide the world with yet another really awful/boring/meandering/pointless short film – hello Jason Schwartzman and Wes Anderson ala Hotel Chevalier.

(Just for the record, I really like Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, and parts of The Darjeeling Limited. The Life Aquatic was too Wes Anderson indulgent for me.)


A Thin Dark Waltz

Posted this to my facebook a few days ago – but I’m out of any other material right now so it’s getting posted here also.

I’m just been having trouble making anything – aside from the fact that we haven’t really left the apartment too often lately (except for food from Willy’s – those burritos are so good.) I’ve taken more than enough video of general random things from every single excursion we’ve taken, whether dinner or lunch with friends or just a trip to the store. I mean – how many music video montages can I make? 50. Apparently I can make at least 50 – because that’s how many I’ve made.

Oh. So I finished a screenplay for a short film. I’ve let it digest in my head for a while and new bits and pieces are continually coming up and it’s slowly growing from 8 minutes to roughly 20 now – and that’s cool I suppose. Still. Taking the baby steps that we’re taking – it should be interesting. But clearly, this is my new current side project until my next one – and even then, I’m hoping to carry out this one since it’s taken up considerable space in my head for a few months now.

Picking up a green screen today for testing and checking out the feasibility of some of our special fx shots – I know! ha, our short film will actually have special effects + gallons of blood. I know, you’re probably already thinking about how awesome this is all going to be. Way Awesome.

We’re gonna shoot scenes for a trailer first – since we’ll be able to knock that out in a day – and then maybe if that comes out well enough – some other people will want to join in on the project. So we’ll see how that trailer goes.

Hey, less than 60 days until we get married. Crazy.Awesome.

Repeatedly Leaping

On a completely different note – and because I have to make sure that I don’t always use photos/videos that match my written posts – here’s the trailer for this movie. It’s Korean and it’s awesome – a little slow though, so don’t go into it thinking it’s completely action packed – because it’s that slow cooking type of vengeance.

So. We’re continually making new plans – but along with the crazy ideas that come from my head – we have opportunities that come at us – and since most of them are actually good opportunities – we have a hard time resisting. We have a hard time choosing not to go along for the ride – because as irrational as it seems to us (or our families!) – taking chances is something neither of us have ever really been afraid to do. So – ignoring the urge to hide in a hole as opposed to throwing ourselves out there and taking that chance (whatever it is) – we go.

I guess it helps if you’ve got a decent track record of things working out for you.

I guess Leah has a better track record than I do at making those things a success (I’m one of those failing as many times as it takes type of people – and believe me, I’ve tried MANY things and have failed MANY times – although I suppose I have actually learned from each one – I just wish that I didn’t have so much to learn.)

But it’s the middle of the week – my immediate boss is out until Monday, and I’ve got my home computer back up and running – I had totally screwed some Vista files up and then things just weren’t going so well. And then the easy-disk-factory-restore wasn’t working according to plan. So while there are smarter ways to do this – I had to install/reinstall XP and then Vista… a couple of times. I know. I totally, totally rock.

I’ve noticed that… while we refrain from typing out every little problem in our lives (or even the big ones) here on this blog – we have them, and things really get messed up around here when we pay too much attention to those problems – as opposed to seeing them as obstacles to whatever else we’re trying to achieve. And I know it’s probably one of those annoying motivational speaker type of perspectives – but really, it’s easy to see a big life-altering problem as… the focus of your life – and we all do much better when we are able to step back, and not stare at the roadblock, but the path around it – always keeping the end in sight – or at least the next checkpoint.

Which probably explains why this new opportunity has appeared as if to remind us that we’re all kinds of awesome and we have a purpose – and that our problems are not that purpose.

Oh – and in case you’ve ever pondered why I post these videos all HUGE – it’s because I’m just tired of going to websites and seeing the little video boxes and having to watch those – when clearly, by my example, we can all post BIG size videos – same goes with photos. This wordpress template was chosen because there was a substantial amount of post ‘body’ space – and I was also tired of seeing small photos posted on people’s blogs – especially PHOTO blogs – and I know gallery plugins are available so that people can go through them and see the photos in the bigger sizes – but why not just POST it all huge. 🙂 Especially if it’s your photo and you want to show it to people?

And THAT is why nearly all of the photos and videos around here take up the whole screen.

Have an awesome today.


BeatWatch – Running Out of Time from BeatWatch on Vimeo.

One of the things I bought after Christmas (with the gifted money) was the Four-Disc Collector’s Edition of Blade Runner. Now, I know that to some people it’s a slow movie – but it moves at the pace that nearly ALL noir films move, so it’s on par with its genre. If you’ve ever seen it on television and even remotely liked the movie, you shouldget a dvd/blu ray copy and watch it on the best widescreen HD television you can find. For me it’s at least in the top 10 if not the top 5 visually great movies – ever. And that opinion includes all of the things beyond simple, flat imagery – mood, nuances and vision among all of the other criteria.

In other news – the day we got back to Atlanta, my laptop died. Oh it was expected – I have been getting an ‘iminent hard drive failure’ notice for the past year. And there are probably some things that could be fixed (power supply would be the first check) – I decided on a replacement since that laptop was roughly 5 years old (it was a year old when I bought almost 4 years ago.)

Since I’m not into building systems anymore (I never really was – that was and is still the area for my brother and father) – I decided to order one from Dell – they had the best ‘deal’ by several hundred dollars lower – oh, and I decided that instead of a laptop, I’d get a desktop – with a 3ghz processor, 4 gigs of RAM, and a 24 inch monitor. Sadly, it won’t arrive until the end of this month.

Innocence from Marc Sarro on Vimeo.

While I originally thought that the 2nd Ghost in the Shell movie was slightly self-indulgent, I think I’m changing my mind – or rather, I think I’m okay with it now. Oh, and a re-release of the movie will come out on January 13 – from Bandai instead of DreamWorks – who released the FAIL version (ha, I guess there is no english dub, and then the subtitle track is actually a hearing impaired track – which means that it has action descriptions like ‘footsteps’, ‘gunfire’, ‘door opening’…)

In other news… I finished reading Call of the Wild, and White Fang. I liked Call of the Wild considerably more. Currently, I’m reading this book:

Now… there are some criticisms about this book – specifically that it’s near fiction in its depiction and interpretation of Chairman Mao… and even before looking up what other people have said about this book – I could tell from reading the first few chapters that the authors really couldn’t help themselves from expressing their contempt for Mao. They attempted to come off a somewhat scholarly – and did considerable research, however the writing oozes with their hate for this man who did considerably terrible things. While I don’t think that they were incorrect in most of the events they document, I do think that their interpretation of Mao’s motivations range from generally correct – to completely biased, false, and even made up. If I were an academic, it would be difficult to not label this book as historical fiction. Still – it’s a good read and since so much of history is shaped by those who write it… I’ll make my best attempt at finishing the book.

More News Later

Nothing too insightful today – big concerns are happening so just this video right now.

Me eating bits of frog at a restaurant mid-way up the mountain at the Lonji Rice Terraces – not quite sure if they just buy bags of assorted frog parts and throw them into the stir-fry, but it did seem like I had most of a complete frog in there… well, I don’t think I had the head – but I did have legs, and body and most interestingly, the hands – and the hands weren’t cut up – more like they were cut off at the wrist and thrown in. So you could definitely seem the ‘hand’ shape and then feel the cartilage like bone move around in your mouth… actually, it was exactly like you would imagine eating a little hand, with the skin, ligaments and bones.

Still. You’ll see the relatively narrow pathways along the mountain and then I think you can get a good sense of the steep drop off sometimes… but when you’re up there… you don’t really think about that too much – you just… keep going up.

The video skips less if you let it fully load then play it.

Lonji Rice Terraces

Inman Park 4th of July Picnic

Last Thursday we discovered that our neighborhood has it’s own newsletter/neighborhood organization. There is a good core group and they actually hangout and have ‘porch parties’ (I think that’s cool since we never had anything like that in AZ – but no one ever hung out on their porches – not that anyone had a porch worth mentioning (except maybe if they had a pool in the backyard – but nothing like the porches they have out here in this part of the country.)

It is interesting how they actually act as a cohesive neighborhood community – where people know each other, they’ve lived here for over 20 years, and they gather in the square (or Springvale Park since it’s more hidden and private than the actual Inman Park) – all of it looking like some sort of town picnic you would see on Gilmore Girls or some other television show.

Oh and the Inman Park Neighborhood Association provided the core foods + Beer + Soda + Wine. Lots of drinks – and that’s always appreciated.

The food was really good.

Rather than baking a cake, Leah bought one that was undecorated and then… decorated it! So it was halfway homemade. 🙂

It’s also nice that our landlords’ husband is Leahs’ current boss & they’re quite active in the whole Inman Park scene. So they know most of the people and even introduced us to many more people than we can remember today. An added plus was having one of her co-workers/friends come along with her husband and son.

Now. To exaggerate the whole ‘neighborhood community’ of the whole thing – the kid games are what you ideally want at such an event: sack race, three-legged race, balloon toss, egg race… yeah.

Leah here! I wanted to type, too, but I’m letting Mark do all the photo editing/posting work. Haha. So, Inman Park…wow. A real TV-type neighborhood, but cooler…cuz they have grilled tofu at their picnics! Yum. And a neat mix of people, too… renters, homeowners, 20-somethings and 60-somethings and kids and families and artists and business people, and everyone seems to hang out together and there is a great sense of community. Which will be awesome for my Community Partnerships focus that makes up the core of my Social Work program.

… after the picnic, we made our way to the other side of the tracks to Cabbagetown (literally just on the other side of the tracks.) Our friends Anna & Chris live there and that’s where we spent the evening looking to the sky and watching fireworks (while being eaten alive by bugs.)

Still. Those shots and everythings are for another post.

For the rest of the photos from the: Inman Park Neighborhood Association’s July 4th’s Picnic. Click Here.

Have an awesome Saturday.

Asus eee Pc – The Best Travel Laptop

So. I just wanted to say that I have gotten about a gazillion compliments and questions in regards to my laptop. Almost every time pull it out and set it up, a person will first stare at the laptop, and then ask me if it’s a real laptop.

They react the same way when Leah’s the one using the thing too. Just amazed at how small it is, and then that it does nearly everything you need it to – and then when we tell them it was only around $300 U.S. – well then, that’s just amazing. Ha.

Leah’s gonna get one now for when she starts up school in August – except she’ll get the blue one.

It’s been handy for work too – although it isn’t a good replacement for a computer, it allows/makes it possible for me to do my work – relatively speaking.

So this machine has simply been amazing and it’s enabled us to do a lot on this trip that we otherwise wouldn’t – mostly document it as much as we obviously have. But even then, it’s helped with storage of photos and communicating with people back home. Most importantly, we have rarely had to wait for an open computer at a hostel. Most of the hostels we’ve stayed at have WiFi so I can always get my own connection without having to wait.

Yes. I’d recommend this travel laptop for anyone who’s going abroad for a few months or a year. Weighing around a kilo, it’s practically nothing and it’s nearly indestructible – relatively speaking. And even if something does happen to it – the investment was pretty small – compared to other laptops of the same size and almost the same portability which costs at least twice as much or more.

Naxi Hospitality

Yunnan province has many different minority groups, and Lijiang is home to several, but primarily to the Naxi people. The Naxis are ethnically Tibetan, speak their own Naxi language and use a pictograph writing system- the oldest still in use, in fact. They are a matriarchal society, whereby the women inherit all property, can have multiple lovers, and are responsible for supporting their children, moreso than the fathers.

We’re at Mama Naxi’s guesthouse and have been lucky to experience Naxi hospitality and nurturing. Mama, who fills the main building (Bldg 3) with her loud voice and great food, has been awesome at scoring us the cheapest plane tickets ever, as well as arranging our transport to Shangri-la/Zhongdian today. She cooked a 7-course meal last night and we all sat around stuffing ourselves silly. And it only cost 10 yuan- that same meal would have cost over 100 at a restaurant! And it was so great. Picture!!

That was taken before the last dish came out. It was broccoli, wok-fried and flavorful.

Baba lives at the the building we’re staying in. He’s a much quieter, meeker, but just as hospitable, version of Mama. So, if you ever come to Lijiang, Mark and I absolutely recommend this guesthouse. But do try to get a private bathroom- the shared bathrooms aren’t very nice. That’s really my only complaint. Everything else has been wonderful here- great food, our laundry was done super-fast and cheap, all our travel arrangements were made in like 10 seconds and for a much cheaper price than I had budgeted, our room was even way cheaper than we had anticipated. It’s just been a great experience here!

In Search of Breakfast

Every morning, we generally wake up around 5 or 6am, and wait a second, then make our way onto the streets in search of some food. America has no concept of street food (other than say a hotdog cart) so we’ve just been indulging at nearly every opportunity we come across.

Usually we just head out, off of the main street and down a promising hutong (side street). We’ll pass a lot of spots that just seem to be packed with people, all of them hunkering down and grabbing a bowl of steaming soup. But this they serve Chinese breakfast soups naturally and they’re just not nearly as appealing as even regular soup for breakfast. Many of them seem to be of the egg-drop/wonton/hot and sour variety that we have back in the states. So soup is a no go for breakfast here.

We nearly always pass by some vendors selling steamed buns (baozi) and I can never turn those down. So that’s been breakfast for the past few days. Today we also found some steamed rice cakes wrapped in palm leaves (or banana leaves) with beans in them – not so crazy about the beans but the rice part was good.

Leah also tried some of the eggs that we kept seeing everywhere. Apparently what they do is boil the egg, crack the shell, and then soak it in a dark tea so that the egg can soak up the flavor.

On the way back from today’s breakfast excursion, we decided to be fancy and stop at the UpDown 9 restaurant.

It was quite good and a nice middle ground between faux upscale and street. Just a comfortable spot that the locals also eat at where we tourist can go and not worry about being ripped off to shreds because the prices are all printed on the menu.

I even got coffee.

They didn’t have rice made so I had to order a noodle dish. Beef and noodle something – but it was really good. Leah also got a noodle dish and it actually was very similar to a dish that my mom makes from the Philippines called pansit.

Then walk back to our hostel and get ready for the day’s adventures. That’s breakfast nearly every morning – except for the few times we have it prepared at the hostel we’re staying at. Sorry about this VERY photo intensive post. I think that I’m just too excited about having a internet connection that makes it possible.

The Village of Aishanmen

We stayed at The Giggling Tree Hostel in the very small village of Aishanmen – about 3 km outside of Yangshuo.

It was nestled deep in the Karst mountains and away from the busy streets – in fact you have to drive on a bumpy dirt road for a while to get there. But it’s worth it, and there is no way I would stay anywhere else when visiting Yangshuo. Except they don’t really have internet there.

The owner has a laptop that he sets up for a few hours as a time – and it’s dial up. So yeah. But if you don’t need the internet – it’s a great getaway.

I wandered a few times and went through the nearby villages, usually I ran into some kids who would walk with me for a little bit.

Again, the Giggling Tree Hostel was great – but the town of Yangshuo I can do without.

The Dragon’s BackBone – Longji Rice Terraces

Longji Rice Terraces

I was very happy to be leaving Yangshuo today. It started out quite well with our taxi being about 20 minutes early so there was no need to worry about being late for the bus. The only moment of slight panic was when the bus arrived but our travel agent hadn’t shown up to give us the plane tickets we had purchased the day before – he said he would show up before we got on the bus.

Just before things got really panicky, he zooms up on his scooter and pulls the tickets from his pockets – this guy was amazing. Seriously. After a grueling experience booking our first plane trip from an actual airline counter – that took 1.5 hours – and this was with a computer! We stumbled upon Robert and his little booth of a travel/tourism outfit.

He’s very unassuming and plain looking, but he speaks enough english and he handled everything we needed – without any problems. In fact, any issues or concerns we had were absolutely no problem for Robert. We needed a bus that would take us up to the rice terraces (a 3 hour drive up north) but were we could store our luggage (travel backpacks). Check. Then we also needed that bus to drop us off in Guilin – Check. Oh yeah, and we needed to book plane tickets – and for it to not take 1.5 hours. Done.

At the end of this trip when we gather all of the resources we used – Robert and his outfit is the ONLY place we’ll list for anything in Yangshuo other than the Hostel that we stayed at that was actually outside of town.

I would not want to be with anyone else other than Leah on this trip. She is awesomely the most best and super greater than fiction. (See? She’s so great that my grammar gets all F*cked up.)

FOOD. Today I had wild frog and rice cooked in bamboo. Frog taste like really greasy chicken – and this wasn’t just frog legs, it was the whole thing chopped up. I couldn’t eat the um, hand? I tried to get over the fact that it looks like a tiny little hand… but then when I tried to chew it and I felt each bone… yeah… I spit that back out.

The trip was definitely worth the effort. Looking back, even climbing the literal gazillion steps was worth it. The terraces really are quite amazing and unbelievable. There aren’t just a few, or a couple – there are entire mountain sides that have been cut into. If you have any idea what a regular untouched mountain side can look like, and then to carve out the flat terraces… you can understand how hard it would be to do such a thing without bulldozers and to do it around 500 years ago.

It was difficult to take photos of the terraces – too much mist made it hard to see anything at all… but everything was still really great.