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I love music, books, movies, blah, blah, blah! I love people, learning new things, and always progressing to be a better person.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

School Days...

Anyone who is in school or finished with school knows that when you are done with the crap you don't want to study, you get into the crap you DO want to study and it becomes a breeze!
I am currently in my prerequisites for film and that includes taking a Photoshop basics class.

Here are some of the projects we started with...

First Project (Below) - Our instructor let us do a small collage on our own. Note: This was pretty much my first time on Photoshop since Sophomore year of High School so forgive the fact that it's crap.

First Lesson (Below) - Text and Image layers. This was our first assignment teaching us how to layer our images and use the text tool.

Second Lesson (Below) - Gradient tool and masking layers. We were taught here how to blend two separate images together and use the mask layer.

Text Collage (Below) - We were instructed to make a collage using different text and color tools. The Dorothy image is by a British Graffiti-Artist named Banksy.

Web Page & Slicing Tool (Below) - We were instructed to create an index page and use the slicing tool to link the pages. I did not post the rest of the pages because I had to do them by hand in HTML and they suck.

Patriotic Collage (Below) - I hate this kind of required stuff. The kind where we have to do a cheesy theme...but it was fun to flex my new knowledge.

Final Collage (Below) - This was our final collage in Photoshop. It was simple but fun. The headline was originally going to say "In Nomeni Patri, Et Fili, Spiritus Sancti" But that would be a touch too blasphemous for my liking. The funny thing is the picture in the bottom-left-corner is one that Brad Taylor had previously Photoshopped himself into...see if you can spot him.

The Photoshop section was a blast...I probably won't use it as much with my degree but it's always fun to learn. Right now we are starting our Adobe Soundbooth section and then onto Premiere!

Even though this is only a beginning class it really gave me a taste of what is to come in the more comprehensive courses, and I have to be honest...I CAN'T WAIT!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Books I am reading / Want to Read Before The New Year

I love to read...but I also am also easily distracted by movies, school, TV, etc. So I have decided to get back to my regular reading regimen and hit the books. It's been fun so far; Erin loves to read as much (I dare say more) than I do, so we have found ourselves cuddled up on her couch warmly reading to our hearts' content.

I have started off pretty spastically in terms of what I am reading. I bought The Year of Living Biblically, by A.J. Jacobs, after Erin heard the author's interview about the book on public radio. And I literally just grabbed The Bourne Supremacy off the shelf. (That book, I must say, was not all that entertaining. The Bourne Identity as a book, however, was INCREDIBLE.) My hopes are to read a healthy dose of fiction, non-fiction, and educational books altogether.

I have also started off slowly with reading about 100 pages a day, and once I got into the swing of reading constantly again I have lifted my page limit and just read until I feel like stopping.

I have also added the occasional graphic novel or two. A lot of people talk down on comics, but I dare you to read V for Vendetta or The Watchmen and not be moved by the heavy political and social undertones of the time which still reflect today as well as the near-Shakespearean dialogue of Allan Moore.

So, here is a list of books that I have read, am currently reading, and want to read before the end of the year. (Short descriptions are included on some; for more in-depth coverage on each book, just click the linked titles.)

Books Read This Month (October 2009)
This was an interesting piece of fiction. It's an account of the unknown years of Jesus based from the point of view of his pal, Biff. There is some fun religious fact and a ton of religious fiction that has nothing to do with Christ but if you can put your tongue in your cheek and take a step back, you will probably enjoy this book.

The Year of Living Biblically - A.J. Jacobs (341 Pg.)
A.J. Jacobs' experiment/memoir is a fun, insightful, humorous, and sometimes touching read. The author, a secular Jew who describes his involvement in his religion as, "I am Jewish like the Olive Garden is Italian," and "The only Jewish thing we did was when we put the Star of David on our Christmas Tree," decides that with the birth of his son, he should explore and seek religion for himself. He does this by deciding to follow all of the rules in the Bible (the big ones and the lesser-known strange ones) for an entire year. This includes the ten commandments, the not wearing of mixed fibers, stoning adulterers, etc. To be fair, he has a panel of religious experts representing Orthodox Judaism, Evangelical Christianity, and Agnosticism to help him with any questions he had. The year-long journey is a fun read. But...the only thing I felt a little cheated on was when he studied the New Testament. He admits to learning a lot and coming to a large respect of Jesus Christ but also says that because of his Jewish ancestry he had a hard time allowing himself to really get into that part of the Bible due to loyalty to his family. I understand his loyalties, but I find that hardly objective in a sense.

The Bourne Supremacy - Robert Ludlum (The Bourne Identity is MUCH better) (646 Pg.)
David Webb is coerced into becoming Jason Bourne again when his wife is kidnapped by the government in order to have Bourne kill a copy-cat assassin who has taken the Jason Bourne name and is using it to kill in China. A slow read that tends to repeat facts over, and over, and over, and over, and...you get the point. But I will admit that no one writes action sequences quite like Robert Ludlum.

Nothing Very Important and Other Stories - Bela Petsco (208 Pg.)
This is an interesting book. The author is a long-time friend of my father and used to teach English at BYU. It is a collection of short stories surrounding an older missionary who is a convert to the LDS church. It's part autobiography and part creative non-fiction, with some fiction mixed in as well. It was eventually banned from Deseret Book due to some "inappropriate themes" But after reading it I can only assume it was for putting a close magnifying glass to the realities that some (and hope to God not all) people face while on a mission. And since the story was told from a convert's point of view, I found it to be quite refreshing, objective, and even spiritually uplifting.

The Halloween Tree - Ray Bradbury (145 Pg.)
A classic story of friendship and the true meaning of Halloween. I loved this movie as a kid and was happy to find out that it was a Ray Bradbury story. A group of friends search for their kidnapped friend through time and make a beautiful sacrifice for him in the end. 

Graphic Novels Read This Month (October 2009)

V for Vendetta - Allan Moore & David Lloyd

Hellblazer: Dangerous Habits - Garth Ennis

Hellblazer: Damnation's Flame - Garth Ennis

Hellblazer: Freezes Over - Brian Azzarello

Hellblazer: Highwater - Brian Azzarello

The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite - Gerard Way & Gabriel Ba

The Umbrella Academy: Dallas - Gerard Way & Gabriel Ba

Currently Reading

The Complete Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1138 Pg.) I found it odd that the first Sherlock Holmes story ever written was a complete anti-Mormon propaganda piece. Arthur Conan Doyle eventually apologized to the Mormon church for "misrepresenting" them in such a way, but not publicly, and several decades after he had success in writing the book. It's in my opinion that he jumped on the anti-Mormon fad of the time (during which a large amount of new missions were being activated and an even larger amount of anti-Mormon literature was published). I enjoy the author's writing style but really can't shake the fact that "Sir" Arthur Conan Doyle is an opportunist in the worst sense of the word.

Books I Want to Read Before The New Year (Before January 2010)

This is a non-fiction book from the author of Fight Club and Lullaby.
"It's the closest thing he may ever write to an autobiography, Chuck Palahniuk provides answers to all these questions and more as he takes you through the streets, sewers, and local haunts of Portland, Oregon." (Summary taken from the author's website) http://chuckpalahniuk.net/books/fugitives-and-refugees

Hopefully I will finish all of these before the New Year! 
Also, if anyone has a good suggestion on a book or Graphic Novel please post them.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

New York, New York, NEW YOOOOOORRRRKK!!!!

I posted a small blog about our trip to New York, but after Erin read it she said, "You know we also had fun in New York too..." And she is right. I just wanted to convey through my previous blog about my disdain for the airport and our trouble with it...not with the trip to New York itself.

So, here is our good New York Experience.

Now, I don't mean to ring our own bells here but we hit nearly every popular landmark on our first day. We entered Manhattan in a Cab, driven by the most angry man I have ever met, he became even more irritated when we said we were probably going to just buy a Metrocard for the rest of our trip.

Once on the island of Manhattan we saw the Chrysler building (Even though we weren't allowed inside), we saw the New York Public Library (Currently under renovation but also where they filmed Ghostbusters), We took the NBC studio tour, Visited ABC studios, and the Empire State Building.

At the Empire State building we met a nice family from Salt Lake City who were visiting the city with their newly returned missionary son, who had served in New York. Along the tour he gave us some great places to visit and eat for cheap, seeing that everything in New York costs an arm and a leg. One being a Texas BBQ place that would give you half a BBQ chicken and meal for only $5.00.

After a very long day of walking (really the only good and fast way to travel in New York...other than the subway.) we went back to our hotel and ordered Chinese food at 2:00 in the Morning! This is the thing I miss the most about New York, we could pretty much find any sort of food and entertainment at all hours of the day.

The next day we bought our Metrocards and boarded the subway for the first time. I really don't know what people are so afraid of when it comes to the Subway.

There is a basic, unspoken, subway etiquette.

1.You don't talk to anyone and they will do the same to you. Let's face it in the subway it's hot, it smells funny, and no one gives a damn about where you are from so lets be like my family and avoid meaningless conversation.

2. If a woman, enfeebled, or elderly person boards and you have a bench seat...give them the bench seat. Come on, let's be polite.

3. Begging or panhandling is illegal. But that doesn't stop them from doing it. So it's up to you...donate, don't donate, I chose the first of these two but then again I was only there for a week.

4. Don't act like a tourist and people won't treat you like one. We were mistaken for New York natives by most of the people we met "including the usher at the play we saw on Broadway."

So, follow these rules and you will do fine.

We boarded our train and took a trip to WTC ground Zero. (Pretty Much the end of the line) It was in the middle of re-construction and we really didn't get to see that much due to high fences and blockades. I hate to say it but it's hard to have a touching moment when a security guard is screaming "NO PICTURES!" at you.

We then took the very long walk along the Hudson river where we got the breathtaking view of The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. But by this time our feet were KILLING US! So in typical tourist fashion...we kept walking. We ended up in China town and Little Italy (Running North and South of each other). It was like walking through a giant sale. Tons of people on the sidewalks screaming out variations of "Want a Rolex? You come in and buy! Massage ten dolla! This all high quality stuff. You want a table?" It was like salesmania there! China town is where we did most of our gift shopping. I bought T-shirts for all of my friends and family as did Erin and Diana. We eventually tuckered out and had dessert in Little Italy, a ricotta cheesecake that was AMAZING! We then boarded our train and arrived at our hotel around 3:00 A.M. We hit the sack and didn't get up till TWO in the AFTERNOON!

Getting up that late was okay, as New York is the city that never sleeps. We showered and dressed up for our most exciting day...TIMES SQUARE and BROADWAY!!!! The only reason anyone should go to New York! Times Square was packed with the tourists, locals, and once again...salesman. But it was a good thing because it had started to rain and umbrellas were only $3.00. We walked the brightly lit main street and checked out the stores. We then stood in line for our play on Broadway. Avenue Q, probably my second favorite musical of all time, the first being Crazy for You (you can't beat Gershwin).

Avenue Q is an homage to the PBS children's television program Sesame Street. Unlike Sesame Street, Avenue Q openly addresses adult topics such as racism, pornography, and homosexuality; in fact, because of its adult language and content and "full puppet nudity", the show specifically disclaims any connection to either Sesame Workshop or The Jim Henson Company. The characters who are not puppets relate to the puppets, rather than to the actors holding them. The puppets also speak directly to each other and never to the actors operating them (although at the end of "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist", Gary Coleman puts his hands on the shoulders of Kate Monster's puppeteer). During the course of the show, a puppet character may be operated by more than one of the actor-operators, although the same actor creates the voice for a particular puppet even if he or she is not holding the puppet at the time. The puppeteers wear nondescript black/gray clothing while the puppets and the three human characters (Brian, Christmas Eve and Gary Coleman) are dressed in bright colors.

I have to say that though it had some course language...It was HILARIOUS! Wouldn't suggest some of my friends see it but if you want...C'est la vie.

After the show we found a fun 1950's style diner with great food and singing waiters...super gay singing waiters. None the less it was fun (and expensive).

We spent the rest of our trip revisiting the places such as the Hudson River and Ground Zero. Then packed up to head ourselves home.

All in all it was the best vacation I have ever had...except for the 9 hour wait on the tarmac and sweltering heat.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Proof That We Are Slowly And Willfully Slipping Into Banality! (Copied From My Facebook Page July, 2nd 2009)

I was online today doing my math homework when I decided to take a short break and watch a Gorrilaz documentary on YouTube. I was enjoying my time learning how a very artistic and groundbreaking group came together when I stumbled across this...


The link, as posted above, is a YouTube channel for an obvious candidate for ADHD, Meth, or both, named Fred. For some reason, Fred gets around 6,000,000 views and was recently nominated for a Teen Choice Award. 
My question is....WHY???? Why do we allow this to become popular? It's not funny, it's not in the least original or even witty! It's a kid who filmed himself rattling off dick and fart jokes for ten minutes and then speeds up the sound in Adobe Premiere...yet...He's getting an award for it? 

When did I fall asleep and then wake up in a place where everyone is okay with mediocrity? 

There are thousands of talented writers, comedians, musicians, etc., that have so much to offer, but none of it is seen because for some reason everyone's eyes are attached to something completely useless!

It's this strange mentality we have that makes us ask, Why should anyone read Infinite Jest, Breakfast of Champions, or The Epic of Gilgamesh when everyone is slobbering over Twilight and whatever excrement Dan Brown is crapping out? 
Who needs Arrested Development and good writing when we have American Idol, Reality TV, and Fred?

Well to the people asking those questions F*@K You!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Weight Problem

My mirror is a liar. A real cold, son-of-a-bitch liar too. Because every time I look in the mirror I think, "Hey, I look pretty good. Everything looks proportionate." And then I start off on my merry way...that is, until someone takes my picture. 

Because cameras are the bringers of truth...chubby, no-neck, spare tire, man-boobs truth. 

It's strange that I can look in the mirror and feel like myself but whenever I see a picture that someone has taken of me I think, "Who in the hell is that guy? Did he eat the Mirror Me?"

But it's high time I take responsibility for my own actions. 
Five years ago I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism
In one month I went from weighing a healthy 150 pounds to 190 pounds. I was exhausted to the point that I once slept an entire 24 hours (6:00 P.M. to 6:00 P.M.)
I was then put on medication that helped regulate my metabolism again.
I exercised regularly an eventually got back down to 150 pounds... I looked like this...

Me One Year Ago...

I then broke my foot playing indoor soccer and over the 4 months I was in the cast I got off my exercise regime.

But...I now have to take responsibility for the fact that I am yet again back to the unhealthy weight of 190 pounds. Here is me now.

Me Now...

If what you're thinking is HOLY CRAP!!!! Then you are right!

But I can't blame the cast for my weight gain. I went through the last year and have come up with some startling evidence that this is all my own fault.

Neil's list of evidence why he HIMSELF is the main reason he is fat now...

1. After I order at a fast food place, when I pull up to a drive through window the employee is always surprised that there is only one person in the car.
2. I once bought a deep fryer for the sole purpose of deep frying a Twinkie and a snickers bar...Granted, I only did it once, but COME ON
3. I eat maybe one meal a day and it is usually a BIG meal and late at night.
4. I never exercise anymore.
5. I nearly pass out when walking up the stairs in the Gunther Trades building, so I have been taking the elevator, even though it is slow and takes longer.
6. I always eat out. I can cook and pretty well but have just been too lazy!
7. My sleeping patterns are atrocious. On days I have classes I get up at Seven A.M. but on days I don't, I stay up late the night before and sleep in till noon or one.
8. The rare times I do bake or cook I end up making Muddy Buddies or cookies or something high in fat.
9. I drink Mexican Coca-Cola like it's Ambrosia.
10. When we go out to eat it's usually at places that serve hunks of meat on a sword.
11. I have become a lazy asshole.  

I am sick of this! So...it's time for a change. I have got a gym pass and am turning my life around. Starting NOW!

Here is the plan so far:

1. Get on a regular sleeping schedule. Be in bed by at least Eleven and up at Seven on School days and no later than Nine on Days off.

2. Eat three meals a day at the same time every day. I will try to keep it at least 1600 calories and have a small snack in between meals.

3. Eat at home more often or at least pre-prepare meals so I don't fall behind.

4. GO TO THE FU$%ING GYM! And don't miss any days barring Sundays, injury, or death!

5. Take responsibility for my actions when it comes to my weight.

Well there's my rant for the night. Hopefully it will work out and if you have any tips feel free to post them...but please be gentle.

Thank you,


- Neil Hiatt

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Napoleon Complex or Lack Thereof

For those of you who know me, and the few who don't, I am short...or at least that is what people keep telling me. I stand currently, without shoes, at 5 ft and just barely 8 inches. Throughout my life I have never felt disadvantaged or embarrassed about my short stature. It has not hindered me in social or dating situations, nor have I ever lashed out in violence because I've felt inadequate because of my size. But it's odd to see the people who are short in stature, like myself, fall into the stereotype of the dreaded "Napoleon Complex."

According to the ever so "accurate" (;-p) Wikipedia:

" The Napoleon complex is a colloquial term describing an alleged type of inferiority complex which is said to affect men, who are short in stature. The term is also used more generally to describe people who are driven by a perceived handicap to overcompensate in other aspects of their lives. This term is also known as Napoleon syndrome, Short Man syndrome, Little Man syndrome and Small Man syndrome. It does not appear in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The Napoleon complex is named after French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte."

I find it funny that because one person was perceived as short and because of the power this person obtained, anyone who is short is now stereotyped with being a megalomaniac.

But, apparently, the Napoleon part of the complex (according to sources) was not entirely accurate:

"The conventional wisdom is that Napoleon overcompensated for his short height by seeking power, war and conquest. However, Napoleon was actually of average height for his time period and misconceptions may have been due to an incorrect conversion of his height; historians have now suggested Napoleon was 1.68m / 5 feet 6 inches tall. The perception that Napoleon was short may also be related to his often being seen with his Imperial Guard, who were of above average height. In psychology, the Napoleon complex is regarded as a derogatory social stereotype."

So in reality Napoleon was of average height for that time. Also, according to scholarly research, Jesus would have been of diminished height as well, because of the localization and height for that time period. And, seeing that Jesus had control over the Earth and Man...was Napoleon (being that he was short and had control over of over half of the world) ever blamed for having a Jesus complex? I doubt it.

Short people of the world! I say, rise above this stereotype. If you are under 5 ft 10 inches, DO NOT BUY A MASSIVE TRUCK to compensate for your literal shortcomings. Do not pick a fight with every person who is bigger than you, like some bull dog who is foaming at the mouth! Rise above them in all the ways you cannot physically do so! UNITE!