About Me

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

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Payson Poof

I want to talk to you about a strange phenomenon I have noticed while living in Utah.

If you have ever taken a drive southward from Salt Lake City to Las Vegas you might notice a cultural change...especially in hairstyles!

For example, let's say you were in Salt Lake City. This might be the typical hairstyle you would see there...
Salt Lake

Notice how the hair is neatly cut and styled. Not at all poofy and contains very little hair spray.

Now, here is a Provo Hairstyle.

Okay, the hair is a little bigger and has a some more hairspray. Also, the hair seems a tad-bit self-righteous...

Here is a Spanish Fork hair style
Spanish Fork

Big difference here. Notice how the height has increased exponentially as well as the amount of hairspray and angst.

Now onto the Payson example

WOW, the height of the hair has reached epic proportions, and hairspray levels can now be picked up on most Geiger counters.

Finally, Nephi

Oh my God! Run! Run for your lives! It has become self aware and is feeding!

So, as you can tell, there is a pattern here: The farther south you go in Utah, the higher the hair poof gets and the more hairspray is applied.

And, it follows a Bell curve. As you approach Nevada the hair begins to descend again as shown on this graph...

For Example, here is a photograph of a hairstyle in Las Vegas, c/o Ryan Reason Photography
Las Vegas

Notice how the hair has rested back into a regular size with less hairspray. Also, you should notice that this hair is a naughty girl.

So in conclusion, much like Stonehenge, the statues at Easter Island, and Bigfoot the "Payson Poof" is one of those wonders of the world that neither science or logic will ever figure out.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Why A.D.D Can Kiss My A...S...S!

"You have A.D.D."

She just came out and said it as if she were stating a fact and not an assumption. My mother might as well have said, "Neil, 2+2 = 4, and you have A.D.D."

I cocked my head to the side, my face slowly collapsing on itself from the mere weight of her words, which were still drifting back and forth in the air as if they had been hanged for treason...and rightfully so.

"Excuse me?" I asked.

We were driving to Kohler's Food Store in Highland. I was invited under the pretense that a movie rental would be involved only to find out this was one of my mother's classic "bait and switch" methods. She would invite you for something fun or interesting but end up giving you bad news or take you to a secret family therapy meeting instead, much like one would dupe a drug addict into an intervention...only I was fourteen and the hardest drug I had tried at that time was Advil.

She continued, "I read somewhere that people who have A.D.D. argue, and you argue, so you have A.D.D." It's this kind of logical fallacy and circular reasoning that has started wars and crusades, yet she blames me for starting arguments.

(Note: At this point in time I would like to point out my mother's credentials. Her name has never had a prefix like Dr. or a suffix like M.D. attached to it. She has a bachelors degree in office management and at best has worked in different secretarial and administrative assistant jobs most of her life. Which is fine when paying for groceries but fails to qualify her to make a professional medical diagnosis.)

"You're going in next week to get tested."
And that was it, at least for the moment. I was sent in to get tested for A.D.D.

The doctor diagnosed, "He does not have A.D.D., nor does he need to be on medication."

This, apparently, was not a good enough answer for my mother. She then called my school and demanded I be accommodated for A.D.D. (Note: I had a 3.0 average at this time and was getting along with all of my teachers.) They held an accommodation meeting at the school which included the school board, all of my teachers, my mother, my father, and step-mother...pretty much everyone but me. At this point I didn't even know there was a meeting.

It was here that she took a turn from parenting into "Oh my God, she did what?" territory.

My mother showed up to the accommodation hearing, fresh from having plastic surgery, with a letter from the doctor, you know the one who said I DIDN'T HAVE A.D.D.? Saying I needed to be accommodated for A.D.D.

This came as a shock to my teachers, all of which had nothing but good things to say about me, the school board, who have the records of my G.P.A., and my father, who was in the office with me when the doctor said I didn't have A.D.D.

So, as in typical fashion, they put the issue to a vote. The entire room voted AGAINST accommodating me because they all believed, and quite correctly, that I didn't have a learning disability or A.D.D...did I say the entire room voted against it? I'm sorry, I am forgetting one person...my mother was the only vote in favor.

(Note: immediately after the accommodation hearing my father and step-mother went to the Dr. who wrote the notes' office and asked him why he had written it. Come to find out, my mother had called his office every day for the last month and held him on the phone. And I quote, "That woman held me on the phone for 50 minutes, 50 minutes...so, finally I just gave her what she wanted so the school would accommodate him." Malpractice issues aside...what a douchebag!)

Still not satisfied, my mother took me to yet another therapist, where, without getting tested she said, "My son has A.D.D. and needs to be medicated," to which the doctor insanely replied, "Okay."

I was placed on a moderate dose of Ritalin, God's gift to lazy parenting. After three months there was NO CHANGE, except I couldn't stop my teeth from chattering, and it kept me from sleeping...ever!

It was during a routine doctor's appointment that my father had driven me to when it came out I was on Ritalin. My father, who didn't know about the new doctor or the Ritalin, then told me about the accommodation hearing...and it was here that I stopped taking my pills. I asked the new therapist the next week to test me for A.D.D. and informed him of the accommodation hearing and the previous doctor's diagnosis. He tested me...and concluded that I DID NOT HAVE A.D.D. AND DIDN'T HAVE TO BE MEDICATED!

(Note: so what's the count here? Two Doctors, a school board, my teachers, my father and step-mother all saying I don't have A.D.D...My mother still says I do. They have a word for this in the English language: it's called crazy.)

Anyway, I only bring this up because aside from graduating from high school with a 3.0 I have, for the last THREE SEMESTERS in college, acquired a 4.0 and am one semester away from being on the DEAN'S LIST at UVU!

This should put the proverbial nail in the coffin to the notion of me EVER having a learning disability and should shed a strong light on the negative effects of using drugs as a last ditch effort to control someone's personality for selfish reasons.

But as with time I move on now, a damn-fine student, a good person, and with the weight-lifting reassurance that right is on my side.

Love always,

Neil Spencer Hiatt

P.S. A new and interesting fact about Ritalin...It stunts growth. Thanks, Mom.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Fun With Photoshop 2

"The creative person is both more primitive and more cultivated, more destructive, a lot madder and a lot saner, than the average person."

One of these days my moral compass will set itself right, and I will no longer have this damnable need to say, write, film, or post every idea that pops into my head.
Hopefully, by the time I find myself in a right state of mind I will have long been dead.

So, without further interruption,

Neil Hiatt's Latest Photoshop Playground (All Originals)

1. Mein Kitten, by Adolf Hitler

For me, when hatred and evil block all roads ahead, I find the best thing to do is laugh. It takes away the evil-doers' power over you and makes their ridiculous presence as meaningless as it should be.

2. In His Own Words

The term "puppet-regime" has been thrown around a lot for this fellow.
So I created a fake book for him.

3. Vamp-Balls

A website I frequent with great joy is Cracked.com.
Every month they hold a Photoshop contest,
and this is an entry I created for next month's "If you could create anything in pill form" contest.

4. Optimus Purim

Purim is one of the most joyous and fun holidays on the Jewish calendar.
It commemorates a time when the Jewish people living in Persia were saved from extermination...Optimus Prime is a Transformer.

5. Anti-Smoking Ad For School

For anyone who doesn't know me, I HATE anti-smoking ads. But since this was a required assignment for my photography class I reluctantly played along.

6. Panoramic (Click On Photo To See Full Size)

This was a panoramic picture assignment in my photography class. I compiled six different photos in Photoshop to make this one of the Spanish Fork valley.

8. Gay Transformers: "Robots Into Guys"

The old Transformers cartoon theme song went, "Transformers: Robots in Disguise."
Like so:
Robots in disguise sound bite

But my friends Devin, Kyle, Brad, and I started saying, "Gay Transformers: Robots into Guys."
So I made this one to go along with that.

9. Cheer Up Keanu Day (My Contribution)

A little while ago a picture was taken of Keanu Reeves looking sad on a bench. So, someone on the internet decided to make it "Cheer Up Keanu Day." This was my contribution.

Anyways, these were fun to make and I hope you enjoyed looking at them.

Thank you!

Neil Spencer Hiatt

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Few Flix I Am Excited For...NOT TWILIGHT!

"A film is never really good unless the camera is an eye in the head of a poet."
- Orson Welles (Director of Citizen Kane)

Ladies and Gentlemen...the summer movies have officially kicked off (girlish scream!)

We've had a pretty slow start this summer--with the exception of Iron Man 2, which rocked my socks--with a paltry June lineup of duds (which saddens me because I expected more out of Shrek 4 and The A-Team), but with Toy Story 3's release, and its positive box office draw and stellar reviews, Summer, (at least for me), has officially started.

But with the summer movies well on their way, here are a few that I am really excited for...

Neil Hiatt's List Of Movies He Is Jacked About

1. Inception (July 16th)

Inception is the highly anticipated new film from writer/director Christopher Nolan (director of The Dark Knight, Batman Begins, Memento, The Prestige, Insomnia, and Following). Christopher Nolan has become a rock star of the cinema in recent years with his deeply visual and character-driven films. With his knack for incredible storytelling, he has rarely in his career given a movie that he hasn't poured his whole heart into, and it definitely shows on screen.

As for Inception, Warner Brothers has kept a pretty tight lid on the overall plot of this mind-bending thriller. As much as I can piece together, Inception is about a team of thieves, but not your typical kind. These criminals steal ideas from the subconscious of people in a dream state. It looks like the kind of movie for which you will have to put your thinking caps on and NOT TALK IN THE THEATER. Inception stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, and Michael Caine.

Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is about Scott Pilgrim, played by Michael Cera (Arrested Development, Juno), who must defeat his new girlfriend's seven evil ex-boyfriends to win her heart. I know that doesn't sound very awesome...but here is the kicker. First, it's based off a very successful and entertaining comic book that fuses video game style fight sequences, pop culture, music, and interesting characters into a fun story. Second, the movie has been directed and co-written by Edgar Wright of Shawn of The Dead and Hot Fuzz fame. Not to mention that Edgar Wright held a private screening of the film for the holy trinity of writer/directors Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction, Inglourious Basterds, Kill Bill 1 & 2), Jason Reitman (Up In The Air, Juno, Thank You For Smoking), and Kevin Smith (Clerks), all of whom gave the film glowing reviews.

3. Predators (July 9th)

Predators is about a group of trained warriors and killers who wake up on a strange planet only to find out they are being hunted by something dangerous.
Predators, a sequel in the Predator franchise, is produced by Robert Rodriguez (Once Upon A Time In Mexico & Sin City) and directed by Nimrod Antal (Kontroll).

4. The Expendables (August 13th)

This one is a guilty pleasure for me. The Expendables is a balls-to-the-wall action movie written by, directed by, and starring Sylvester Stallone (Rocky). Oh yeah, did I mention it also stars Jet Li (Unleashed), Dolph Lundgren (Rocky IV), and Jason Statham (Snatch), with appearances by Bruce Willis (Die Hard) and Arnold Schwarzenegger (EVERY ACTION MOVIE EVER!)? Is there a plot to this movie? Probably...but who cares; it's a freaking action movie!

5. Tron Legacy (December 17th...I know December is not Summer but I AM excited for this movie).

Tron: Legacy is the sequel to the movie Tron. It's funny to see how far special effects have come from the first film, considering how groundbreaking they were originally. But with original cast members returning, Oscars in tow, might I add, this one looks like it just might blow some minds.

6. The Green Hornet (January 14th - Shut up about these months not being in Summer already)

The Green Hornet is based off of the 1966 television series that launched Bruce Lee's career. It is about a young, wealthy newspaper owner Brit Reid and his assistant, Kato, who masquerade as crime fighters by night.
The most interesting thing about this reboot is that it is written by and starring Seth Rogen...the originally overweight, dick and fart joke telling, king of blue humor movies such as Knocked Up, Zac and Miri Make A Porno, and The 40 Year Old Virgin. But, he has lost a ton of weight to play this role and odd casting should never sway you from seeing a movie (e.g. Heath Ledger as the Joker.) So, odd casting aside, what does this movie have going for it? Well, three things: 1. The main villain is played by none other than Oscar winner Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds) who played the downright evil Col. Hans Landa last year. 2. The director of the film is Michel Gondry, the visually stunning director of Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind. 3. Just look at that trailer. It might just be awesome.

7. Red (October 15th - I was using Summer as a framing device for hell's sake!)

RED stands for Retired & Extremely Dangerous. It's based off of the DC comic book series of the same name. In Red a group of former black-ops badasses reassemble to take on a high-tech assassin. For a comic book flick, it sure does boast an A-list cast, including Bruce Willis (Die Hard), Morgan Freeman (The Shawshank Redemption), John Malkovich (Burn After Reading), and recent Oscar winner Helen Mirren (The Last Station). That's right, Ms. High Society herself, Helen Mirren, is going to play a badass...if that doesn't put your butt into the theatre, then I don't know what will, and may God have mercy on you.

Well, in the upcoming months ahead I hope that none of these films will disappoint...But, only time, and my movie snobbery, will tell.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Mountain Goats

There comes a time in your life when you stumble upon something that rings so eerily true to your life it's frightening.
That is how I felt listening to The Mountain Goats for the first time.

The Mountain Goats consists of singer-songwriter John Darnielle, bassist Peter Hughes, and drummer Jon Wurster, with Darnielle acting as lead singer, guitarist, writer, composer, and pianist.

Behind the upbeat tempo and melody lie John Darnielle's hauntingly poetic lyrics, telling stories of love, loss, child abuse, and just getting the Hell out of where you are.

My first experience with The Mountain Goats was the song "No Children," an unflinching narrative on divorce and saying exactly what the couple is feeling.

It was these painfully honest lyrics that drew me to The Mountain Goats, but it's not just the angst ridden songs that kept me interested.

Take these two songs for example...
Song 1

San Bernardino is about a young, unmarried, pregnant couple who delivers their baby in a hotel room off of the interstate. Even though no one believes in them, they believe in each other.

Song 2

Woke Up New is song about overcoming fear and moving on after a separation. In my mind, this song is what the characters from No Children thought the day after the other was gone. (Note: the music video posted above was directed by Rian Johnson of Brick and The Brothers Bloom Fame. Sorry about the bad quality, though...YouTube troubles.)

It is with great respect that I add John Darnielle to the list of people I admire.
It's his ability to take his life experiences and then say more in two minutes than most musicians could say in twenty albums. More than that, he puts on one hell of a live show.

I know this because I saw The Mountain Goats perform last night at The Urban Lounge.
(Note: while The Urban Lounge has great sound and a close proximity to the musicians, there were a SHIT-LOAD of people who thought it would be appropriate to carry on loud conversations throughout The Mountain Goats' set...MAJOR FAUX PAS!)

Erin and I went with our friends Brad, Libby, and Joel (short for Joelbert.)
The show got off to a late start (doors opened at nine...opening band went on at 10:00 P.M.) with the opening band The Beets from Queens, New York. The Beets reminded me of a cross between Ween and Daniel Johnston but with tighter pants and less artistic credibility, but nevertheless they put on a decent show.

After a short break, a sudden blast of Iron Maiden came through the speakers signaling The Mountain Goats to the stage.

Throughout the night they played a wide range of their popular songs as well as some new ones. Sometimes full band, sometimes just John Darnielle, and at one point he even came out into the audience and screamed his lyrics into Joel's, Erin's, and Libby's faces (what showmanship!) Coupled together with the stories shared by Mr. Darnielle, it was a spectacular concert and a great experience to see one of my idols in action.
He explained how he even recorded a song from his recent album in Salt Lake City. He had the idea for it on the tour bus while reading the Bible and watching Italian horror movies simultaneously, and once they pulled into Salt Lake they dropped into a studio and recorded a demo.

At the end of the night he took the time to sign autographs, and I was glad to see how down to Earth he was, especially since he has fans in higher places than Utah.

Namely, Stephen Colbert and his patented Colbert Bump.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
John Darnielle
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorFox News
"Is that all you've got old man? As you shake your fist at God."

All-in-all it was a fantastic night filled with music, friends, and autographs...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Top 10 TV Shows From Across The Ocean!

Television, idiot-box, boob tube, TV, telly, baby-sitter.
It's the reason we set our Tivo. Hell, it's the reason we even have Tivo.
Television is the best friend of the American middle class.

Fun Fact: At one point in time Television sets would emit enough radiation to be picked up on a Geiger counter.

But, some of us are limited to only what we are shown here in these United States.

Fun Fact: Television shows are also made in the United Kingdom. In fact, a lot of the shows we have here in America are remakes of U.K. shows. Not to mention the censorship in the U.K. is a lot more relaxed than it is here in America.

So, here is my list of Awesome Telly shows from the U.K.

Neil Hiatt's List Of 10 Awesome U.K. Television Shows

Written by Simon Pegg and Jessica Hynes, and directed by Edgar wright.

Here is a clip from Spaced where Tim is ranting about Star Wars: Episode I.

Before there was Hot Fuzz and Shaun of The Dead, there was Spaced.

Spaced follows the adventures of Tim and Daisy, who rent a flat under the pretenses that they are a couple. I know that sounds cliché, but honestly that plot point is hardly brought up in the show. Spaced is an homage to several pop-culture mash ups, including, but not limited to, Star Wars, Goodfellas, Pulp Fiction, Star Trek, and Dawn of The Dead , just to name a few. The show is littered with interesting characters like Marsha the alcoholic landlady, Brian the troubled artist, Twist (Daisy's best friend), and Mike the gun-crazy best friend. Between clever writing and stellar perfromances from the cast, Spaced makes it very high on my must see U.K. TV list.

Here is a clip from I.T. Crowd Spoofing Anti-Piracy Ads.

The I.T. Crowd is a show about two computer nerds working in the Information Technologies basement of the spurious Reynholm Industries. Their boss, Jen Barber, is computer illiterate but holds the whole group together. I typically don't like "taped in front of a studio audience" TV shows, but this one has gags in top form.

A Clip from the U.K. Office (Jim is Tim in this version and Dwight is Gareth.)

No, I am not one of those people who thinks the British version is better than the American version and vice versa. But you have to respect where the American version comes from. Thank you, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, for creating this masterpiece.

A clip from Garth Marenghi's Dark Place (the bad dialogue, acting, and editing is intentional.)

Now here is a show that was WAY ahead of its time.
Garth Marenghi's Dark Place is a spoof TV series about an unearthed '80s horror TV show, complete with intentional poor production values, awful dialogue, bad acting, and hilarious violence. The series is set in a hospital in Romford, which is situated over the gates of Hell.

A Portion of John Cleese's Fawlty Towers.

Fawlty Towers is a television show created by John Cleese and his now ex-wife Connie Booth. Post-Monty Python, Fawlty Towers is a show about hotel owner Basil Fawlty's incompetence, short fuse, and arrogance, and how they form a combination that ensures that accidents and trouble are never far away.

Clip of Mr. Bean painting his house.

I watched this show on those late nights I couldn't sleep. It ran on PBS after Red Dwarf and Monty Python's Flying Circus. A hilarious show of ingenuity and very little brain power, Mr. Bean is about a man named Mr. Bean with a child-like nature. When faced with life's problems, he'll always be sure to come up with something inventive to assist him. Starring the ever-funny Rowan Atkinson.

The ship's robot goes through Psych counseling.

A show about the adventures of the last human being alive and his friends, stranded three million years into deep space on the mining ship Red Dwarf.

My Favorite Monty Python sketch Upper-class Twit of The Year.

Before the Holy Grail there was the Flying Circus. The original surreal sketch comedy showcase for the Monty Python troupe.

Funny moments from The Thin Blue Line.

Another Rowan Atkinson show, The Thin Blue Line involves various mishaps at a police station in an English hamlet. The main character is the anachronistic yet charming and funny Inspector Fowler. As a foil to Fowler, Inspector Grim is a bumbling, seething idiot.

Funny moments from The Black Adder.

Finally, and, of course, another Rowan Atkinson-created show (co-created with Richard Curtis of Love Actually fame). Black Adder is about how Prince Edmund, a.k.a. the Black Adder, constantly schemes to take the crown from his father and brother with the help of Lord Percy and Baldrick.

There you have it, folks. The tip-top from the Brit-top.

Happy Watching,

Neil Hiatt