Thursday, May 30, 2013

Learning to play a Hyundai . . .

Did you know Hyundai made pianos?

I've known since I was eight, back when my family bought the above pictured upright 23 years ago.  It's the piano I learned to play on, and it honestly sounds great, though I read a review somewhere that Hyundai full grands are not that good.  

I've known about Hyundai being in the musical instrument business long before I heard about their cars, which are fantastic.  Several members of my family own one, though I've got a Chevrolet.   Someday I'm destined to own a Hyundai, simply because I grew up playing one.  We'll see.  It would be classic if I ended up with a Sonata! (Another music connection.) 

My ultimate dream is to one day own a full grand Yamaha.  They're amazing!  Back at BYU I would go down to the piano rooms and play the Yamaha's . . . and then drool a little.  Steinway's are amazing, don't get me wrong.  They've earned the reputation they deserve.  My Grandpa R. used to own a Steinway full grand.  When I was a kid I played on it several times, but not understanding the King of Piano legend the Steinway has, I didn't appreciate it.

The Steinway piano was promised to one day go to me, but when my Grandpa moved back to Ventura he sold it for an electric piano.  I cried that day!  And even now, 13 years after he sold it, I'll bring up the fact that he made a bad investment choice in selling the instrument.  Acoustic pianos, if well maintained, maintain or appreciate in value, especially a Steinway Full Grand!!  Anything electronic, especially instruments with old technology, depreciate in value.  Logic.  I've explained this to him many times, but he still insists that his electronic piano is worth a lot of money.  The keys aren't even weighted.   -_-;;  He'll never get it. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Remembering Our Heroes

When I was in High School I had the great fortune to volunteer a few times at a convalescent hospital.  It seemed, really, that I didn't do much; mainly making crafts and talking to the patients. Though the service was small I did pat myself on the back a few times for doing charity.

I was humbled real fast that Summer of 1999.

The weather was hot, and July 4th was soon upon us.  My friend and I were asked to bring all those sitting in wheel chairs to the pavilion for a patriot ceremony.  The flag was raised, the words sweet, then something happened that I will never, never forget.

The person leading the ceremony asked all those who had served during World War II to stand.  Suddenly most of the men stood, and I was quickly humbled, tears running down my face.  Those men who I thought I was serving had given me the greatest service of all.

  We are the Land of the Free because of the Brave.

Sunday, May 26, 2013


(Deer Creek UT . . . taken with my cell phone.)

"Sometimes we look for those thunderous things to happen in our life for our lives to change or go in the other direction. We seek the miracle. We seek the parting of the seas, the moving of the mountains. But no, it's a quiet thing. At least for me it was."

~Ben Vereen

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Host: Movie Review

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

I've been really having a hard time writing this review for The Host.  I saw the movie a day before it was released, and here I am two months later finally writing a review for a movie that sadly got pushed aside and forgotten, with about a $26,564,000 domestic gross, and about $48,154,000 Worldwide.  Not very good numbers for a potential franchise hoping to cash in on the Twilight phenomenon.

I've never read the Twilight books, but I have read The Host.  The story honestly captivated me, and I couldn't wait to see it in theaters.  To date I've been twice.

Where the book succeeds the movie fails, and vice versa.

 For those who don't know, Earth has just been invaded by a group of aliens called Souls.  They're body-snatchers, unable to live outside of a shell, so they travel the Universe, living the lives and cultures of others.  They've done this on many other World's, and we're merely the next in line.  They take over, and soon our consciousness is erased, searching our memories to blend in.  There's no violence, theft, murder, war . . . they claim to be a peaceful race, only what they've committed is silent mass genocide.  They don't see it that way.

Then comes Melanie, a girl on the run who's survived the first several waves of captor, until she's cornered and gets taken over.  "Wanderer" is the Soul implanted in Melanie, but when Melanie is supposed to disappear, she remains: Watching, commenting, and trying to gain control.  But this story isn't so much about Melanie, but about Wanderer and what she gains while living here.

But unlike the other Worlds the Souls have taken over, our species is different.  We have emotion, distinction, family, motherhood, and relationships, things the Souls have never experienced on other Worlds.

That aspect never fully made it into the movie.  There's semblances, but the limited time a motion picture film is allowed actually hurt the movie in the long run.  The long book is able to fully explore the themes behind being human and our right to be ourselves.  Yes, there is the love quadruple, but there are many relationships Wanderer (Wanda) makes in the book that is cut in the movie, and these relationships help her develop.

She's also majorly beat up in the book.  Seriously harmed, whereas in the movie she is only slapped.  I read somewhere that either the director or the writer didn't like this fact, but it proves Wanderer's patients and strength, and how she is different then Melanie.  What she is willing to endure.

There is a beautiful friendship with the Doctor that all but disappears in the movie.  It's a relationship of trust and understanding.  But where Wanderer fully grows is through her relationship with Walter.  A minor character that dies of cancer in the book, so minor he's no where to be found in the movie, but so pivotal to Wanderer that his loss actually dampers her growth.

What the movie gets right the book gets wrong; What the book gets right the movie gets wrong.

None of the other Worlds are explained in the movie, and though it seems like an easy removal for times sake, those scenes were some of the most interesting in the book, and necessary for understanding Souls and the complex, unique situation found on Earth.  And they're necessary for understanding Wanderer, because of the many Planets she's lived on, which is quite rare for her species.  Most Souls live one or two lives before settling on a Planet to experience an eternity living as a single race over and over again.  Earth is Wanderers 9th Planet, and because of her experience and knowledge she is celebrated by her people.  She's never found a place that feels like home.

Some changes I did like in the movie was that some minor characters die who didn't beforehand.  This shows the value the rebels place on Freedom.  The lengths they are willing to go to protect and remain free.  And I also prefer the movies ending.  There are aspects to the way the book ended that didn't sit well with me.  I much prefer the way things are tied up in the movie.

Because of the deletion of some developments in the book, this movie does play a little more Twilight then is found in the written word, with the focus being on the love story.  There are some sweet moments in the movie between Melanie and her brother Jamie, and I like the glowworm cave.  Nice touch.

Beyond that, I was impressed with the acting of , who plays both Melanie and Wanderer, though the voice over work did get annoying at times.  I really don't like Melanie.  Didn't like her in the book; don't like her in the Movie.  I don't like Jared, either.  Just throwing that out there.  I really loved 's performance as the Seeker.  Always strong.  There are some tweaks to here character for the movie that I actually like.

Overall I did like the movie, and I wish more will follow, though at this point I don't think that's going to happen.  I would have loved to see where the story goes.  (As a note there's supposed to be two more books, so at least we'll have that.)

MPAA: Rated PG-13 for some sensuality and violence

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

ABC's Amazing Fall Lineup

(A postcard I got,
 illustrated by the sender from Russia "Svetlana.")

This series is a spinoff from Once Upon a Time, focusing on Alice and her adventures in Wonderland, and back home again in Victorian England.  When I heard about this show several months ago I was a little nervous, but after seeing the trailer I am beyond excited.  

It looks like it's going to be very good, maybe even better then Once Upon a Time.  Hopefully they'll keep the story concise and character driven, which OUAT got right in the first season, but struggled with in the second.

From what I've read across the net it looks like Sebastian Stan isn't reprising his role as the Mad Hatter, since he's busy with other projects (Captain America: Winter Soldier), and so forth.  And there's rumors that Cora, Barbara Hershey, may make a guest appearance as the Queen of Hearts.  That would be cool if it works out.

Originally Wonderland was going to be a mid-season show, airing when OUAT was taking brakes to fill the gaps, but the show was so strong that ABC is bringing it to us sooner as a Fall show.  That's hopeful!  As it stands the show will air on Thursdays.  Fingers crossed that it's really good, and gets a large audience to keep it going.  (Nothing's worse then getting into a show and having it get canceled with no conclusive ending.)

It's a Marvel television series developed by Joss Whedon, the writer and director behind  the mega blockbuster The Avengers.  The show is going to be about S.H.I.E.L.D., headed up by  Phil Coulson, played by Clark Gregg!  And we all thought he died during the Avengers!  The show looks interesting and fun. 
It will air on Tuesdays.

And of course Once Upon a Time is going to be on Sundays . . . unless they change it.  I really don't like when they start shifting shows around.  Many a canceled show that makes.  

So, to sum up:

Once Upon a Time: Sundays
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Tuesdays
Once Upon a Time in Wonderland: Thursdays

Yeah, it's going to be Epic!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Echoes of Star Trek the Experience

When I was in Las Vegas last month I wandered into the Las Vegas Hotel, LVH, which was the former Las Vegas Hilton, where Star Trek the Experience took place.  I was really sad when I found out the Star Trek experience was ending, and thought everything was removed.  As I wandered through the casino nostalgia hit me hard as I walked into the Trek Universe.  I wonder if there are hidden remnants behind walls.  

When I was much younger I visited twice.  As the "ride" starts you think you're about to board a shuttle craft simulator when you're suddenly transported to the Enterprise Transporter room, and then led to the bridge.  It was an amazing experience!  And I'll never forget the shock of being transported, by surprise, and having that opportunity.  It felt so real!  I can say I know what it's like to be transported 
to the U.S.S. Enterprise.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Star trek: Into Darkness, Movie Review

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Throughout the whole of the movie my mind was going "!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!," but for those who don't speak fluent explanation mark, let me translate:

"Star Trek: Into Darkness" takes place a few years, or so, after the first reboot of the movie.  James T. Kirk is captain now with Spock as his first officer, and while they've been away from the screen they've been off working as the crew of the U.S.S Enterprise, observing planets and civilizations, and getting into trouble in the process.  The Prime Directive must be followed after all, as Spock is quick to point out, but Kirk isn't one for rules.  Meanwhile an explosion in London wrecks havoc with Starfleet, peace is threatened, and Kirk, with his crew,  once again find themselves in the middle of all the action.

Ah!  I think I managed to write all that without giving anything away.  J.J. Abrams, the director of both this Star Trek and the last, plus the future main Star Wars movies, is known for his secrecy.  This movie has been shrouded in mystery, and guesses to who the new characters are, and how everything parallels to the original Star Trek universe, has been in speculation throughout the internet for months on end.  There are parallels, which makes being a fan and picking apart similarities between the old and new cannon fun.  Everything is possible in this new alternate universe, and because of that you don't know how things will go.

This movie allows us a glimpse of Earth in the future, and this little snap shot was unexpected and interesting.  Some of my favorite Trek episodes involve Earth and seeing the shows idea of the future, but that perspective was far and few between as crews gallivanted across the Galaxy.  Plus we get to see another known classic Star Trek alien, beyond Vulcans and Romulans.  I don't want to give this away, but honestly I loved seeing them in this Universe, and how they were reinvented of sorts.  Really cool.   

The cast is as fun this time around as the last.  The chemistry is as sharp, and everyone seems to be having a good time.  and are great additions to the Trek Universe.  I won't say who they're playing, because finding out is part of the fun.  

All in all my pleased Trekker geekyness my lend to the high rating of this film, but I had a thoroughly good time, and can't wait to see it again, which will hopefully be soon.  I can see hardcore fans having a hard time with certain aspects of the movie, but I was along for the ride.  And the ride was great.  

Star Trek: Into Darkness is worth seeing on IMAX in 3D.

MPAA: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence.

Sunday, May 19, 2013


 (My brother Robert Stufflebeam took this photo in Mesa Verde CO.)

"The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it."

~ Michelangeloo

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Kids React to the 80's!

My brother told me about this Youtube video, "Kids of Today vs 1980's technology," and I had to see it!  Gave me a real good laugh.  Makes my childhood feel quite retro.

And below is another such video with more kids, and more 70/80's technology, but it's all in French.  Regardless, it's still funny to watch.  I'm feeling nostalgic!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Biking Along the Information Highway

I biked along the Murdock Canal Trail for the first time today.  My brothers have been raving about it, having biked along the nicely paved path a couple times in the last two weeks.  I had never heard of the biking trail before, and as I was biking along today I couldn't believe I hadn't done this sooner.  The trail is amazing!  It's set up for walking, running, biking, and riding horses.  So beautiful and relaxing.  And there's rest stops, picnic stops, and drinking fountains along the way.

Anyway, as I went along the path today I noticed these orange polls, and that it mentioned Fiber Optic Cable running under the path.  I don't know what they're used for, but there's been a lot of talk around here about high speed internet via fiber optic cables.  So, as I biked, I was literally biking along the information highway!  At least the thought gave me a giggle.

Any who, when I got home I looked up the Murdock Trail, because I wanted to see how long its been around  Turns out the trail is so new it hasn't officially opened yet!  There were a lot of people going along it, though. No signs were posted stating the trail was closed, though according to the website they don't want anyone on it just yet.

The official opening is this Saturday, May 18, 2013!  The Murdock Canal Trail Website has a list of all the events going on, and there are so many!  It looks like the first of many ribbon cuttings is at the Orem 800 N point, and the celebrations, passport stations, more ribbon cuttings, etc, continue onward up through Lehi, at different times so you can go along the trail and enjoy each one.  All I know is what's on the site.  There doesn't seem to be more information then that.

Kinda cool to discover the trail right when it's been finished!  I think biking has just become my Summer addiction.   

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Star Trek VS Star Wars

It was in the sixth grade that I realized there was a rivalry of sorts between the Star Wars and Star Trek fandoms.  Honestly, rivalry seems too polite of a word.  

This knowledge came to my attention by my friend Jeff, who was the one who actually introduced me to Star Wars in the fifth grade, after he found out my brothers and I were huge Trekkers.  He was proud of the fact that he created Star Wars fans, but no matter how hard my brothers and I tried, we couldn't get him to like Star Trek.  Honestly, though, he wasn't even willing to sit through an episode.  Maybe that means my brothers and I were more open minded, because we did sit through all three Star Wars movies and gave the franchise a chance.

Jeff then told me that those who like Star Wars don't like Star Trek, and vice versa.  He eluded that it wasn't possible to like both.  How can you not like both!?  That was my reaction every time he brought it up, and he always brought it up after I tried to get him to at least watch a Star Trek episode, and he refused.  Goodness, I tried to get him into Star Trek: TNG when the show was still on air and they were in their final season, before Voyager was even a show.

In High School many of my Odyssey of the Mind friends liked brother Star Wars and Star Trek equally, but there were a couple in our group who were huge Star Wars fans, but didn't like Star Trek.  Thanks to that fact we had a group outing to see "Star Trek: Insurrection" when it was out.  That didn't sway any of my Star Wars friends to like Star Trek, but though I do like "Star Trek: Insurrection," it's not the strongest Star Trek film.  "Star Trek: First Contact" still holds the top Star Trek movie spot in my mind . . . that is until I see "Star Trek: Into Darkness" . . . ah, we'll see, First Contact is still a stand alone brilliant film.  I HATE the Borg, they freak me out beyond all sci-fi villains combined.  I even avoid all Borg Star Trek episodes, even the one with Q--Q's my favorite Star Trek character--but I still love First Contact.  The movie's that awesome.

Since High School I've completely forgotten about the rivalry, that is until news came out that J.J.Abrams left the 3rd Star Trek film directing post to direct Star Wars Episode VII.  That's when I found out the rivalry between the two fandoms was real!  The forums exploded!  Articles and blog posts were written.  Etc, etc, debates, commentaries all over the place declaring their yays or nays.  I'm a strong Yay.  I want the new Star Wars reboot to be as strong as the J.J.Abrams Star Trek reboot.

Of course I still haven't seen "Star Trek: Into Darkness," which isn't happening until Friday!  Ah!  So hard waiting when I know people have started seeing the movie on IMAX.  I've got high hopes, both in the next movie, and the future of the Star Trek/Star Wars fandoms.

Honestly, it's so much more fun loving both. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Behind the Scenes with Done With Gravity

My brothers and I put together a behind-the-scenes video.  We went ADHD style, like our payhone cover song, so that the process that went into the video can be viewed at once.  I've been trying to explain what we've been doing through my "Cerulean Jade Update" posts, but sometimes seeing is easier then explaining.   

Box 1, Upper Left: These are behind the scene videos and images.  Pretty much shots we've captured during the process of making the video, and some of the stuff we did to create the final product.

Box 2, Upper Right:  Is the music video itself, complete and unedited, so you can see the final product while watching all the other clips.  Instead of playing the vocal version of the song, this video is the instrumental track.  Personally I love listening to the song this way; it's strong enough to stand on its own.

Box 3, Lower Right:  Is the Original Animatic that my brother Robbie put together.  It's a video representation of the story board he made, and was the blue print that my brothers used to put the video together.  Watching it you can see what we originally envisioned, and how we changed things for the final video.

Box 4, Lower Left:  Are Shot breakdowns.  While Steven was working on the visual effects and graphics, this box shows the layers that went into the final shots, and how they were built.  Really amazing.


Monday, May 6, 2013

Japanese Television in the U.S.A.

Last month, when I was staying at the Stratosphere Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas Nevada, I discovered the most wonderful thing!  TV Japan.  NHK programming without subtitles or voice overs.  Of course I really didn't understand all that much, but I was able to decently follow along.  It was so much fun being able to watch real Japanese programing, which, since I've never been to Japan, I've never had the opportunity to experience.  I do watch NHK World which we get on a local Utah channel, but now I wish I could get "TV Japan" as well.  It seems pretty expensive, so I enjoyed the little bit I was able to see.

 A kid show where they were singing about breakfast and bread ("Pan," they've borrowed the French word for it).

There are all these different types of programs!  My favorite shows were the type of cultural or emotional programs where a celebrity watches with the audience, and you watch their reaction to what is being shown.  They show up as little boxes with their faces showing (you can see that in the first and last image in this post).  In the below picture these two guys were traveling in a town, and the show was live; the celebrity/person in the bottom left corner was commenting on what was going on while it was happening, and the two guys were talking to her as they visited a shrine, etc.  Honestly it was pretty cool, and a fun way to learn, too.

Most of all it was fun realizing that I was able to pick out words every sentence or so.  Makes me want to study harder.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Temple Square Gardens in Salt Lake City

 My sister-in-law and I have been talking, for a while, of going to the Tulip Festival at Thanksgiving Point.  That didn't happen since, after an awesome sibling trip to Mesa Verde, spending $10 to see tulips didn't sound all that appealing.  So I was delighted last week when they invited me to visit the gardens at Temple Square . . . where the tulips can be seen for free.

 No family blog post can be complete without a couple really 
cute pictures of my nieces!!!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Caesars Palace Las Vegas

 Caesars Palace is a childhood staple of mine along with Circus Circus, Excalibur, and the Mirage.  Back in the day I remember collecting those gambling cups, the ones that hold coins.  I had over 20 different kinds at one point.  A very easy thing to collect because they were everywhere, and they were free.  Just one aspect of Las Vegas that's changed.  But there are somethings that haven't changed, and Caesars Palace still holds some of that old charm.

The large, impressive mall inside Caesars Palace.  I think the new H&M used to be the FAO Schwarz toy store.

When I was a kid I used to stare at the ceilings and wonder if the clouds were painted or projected, waiting to see if they ever moved.  They never did.

The above is an animatronic show that used to play hourly.  It was a huge deal when this was first built!  And this fountain was always crowded with tourist waiting for the next show.  The show was impressive, and I was marveled.  Now it looks old and sad.  Do they still run the shows?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

National Association of Broadcasting 2013

 Last month was the National Association of Broadcasting.  It was my third time attending, the first time was fifteen years ago when I was fifteen.  (Technically you're supposed to be sixteen or older to be in attendance, and I felt quite rebellious through the whole of it.  That year the big thing was flat screen T.V.'s, which are now common place, but back in 1998 I was marveled by them).  One of the fun parts about the NAB is seeing new technologies and innovations, the next wave of film and production. 

 This year 4k, super high resolution digital film, was everywhere.  I watched the Canon Theater which showed clips in HD, 2k, and 4k, and the picture quality was
absolutely beautiful.

Another big thing for my family was the Adobe booth.  Usually we go and hang out and just watch presentations all day.  The last time I went to the NAB I did just that, not even venturing into the other buildings or sections.  This year the set up seemed even bigger then its ever been, always drawing a lot of people.  They were really pushing the cloud system, which of course we got.  I'm finally going to learn
 Photoshop and After Effects!

This booth shown above was my favorite!  I really want one of those DJI Phantom camera helicopters.  They had drawings at the end of each day, and I didn't win one, but I did get a shirt.  Actually, overall, I totally made out free goody wise at the NAB this year: tons of pens, a few shirts, a metal bottle, etc.  And we got some great programs to help improve Talea Studios and Cerulean Jade :0)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Inside the Bellagio: The Indoor Garden Spring 2013

Last year I put together a collection of pictures of the indoor Spring garden at the Bellagio.  This year, thanks to the National Association of Broadcasting, NAB for short, I got to visit the gardens again just last month.  Here are some pictures I took.  There was a butterfly theme this year with a butterfly house sitting in the middle of the garden.  I wish there was a way to go inside!  There were blue butterfly's, and the only way you could tell was when they were flying around.  So beautiful.