(older entries, separated by genre or date, are listed at the bottom of this page.)

Friday, March 30, 2012

Saltz McDrunkington's Summer Ski Festival 2012, part 2

I woke up on Sunday feeling shockingly decent. My legs had a little less energy in them, but my back was fine, and I wasn't anyway near as stiff as I had predicted. I am still shocked about this. Maybe Jake's basement couch is really THAT good. I don't know.

I went upstairs and as people got up, Tara went out and got the fixings for a huge breakfast, which, since it was the middle of March, we ate out on the deck. It was in the 70s again, and it was glorious eating out there. Here's a picture of Damien for no reason other than because I love Damien. 

After breakfast, I got to watch bedhead Wyatt stumble around the house and at one point, shove Damien aside, which was pretty hilarious. Damien then licked his fingers all over. It was pretty adorable and I couldn't help but think of all the pictures people take of babies with pitbulls loving them. This one's pretty funny- Wyatt looks drunk.

Wyatt, Kevin and I spent a considerable amount of time watching Yo! Gabba Gabba. This show is completely ridiculous and sucks you right in. I had always heard of it and even have a stuffed animal of the red guy I won at a fair on my desk, but had never known the Tim & Eric-like absurdity of it. It's pretty awesome. 

Most people left, and Kevin and I decided to accompany the Robertsons on a sweet ride alongside Lake Champlain. We always seem to go to North Beach when I visit Vermont, and this was awesome. Riding a bike when I thought I wouldn't be able to move was awesome. Riding a bike the day after skiing was even more awesome. Riding a bike in March was even more awesome than that.

It felt so good to be on a bike again- there's just a special feeling I get being on that god awful seat that only other people who love biking will ever understand. Of course I was on Tara's bike (the bike I flipped over and cracked my helmet on last summer), so it was a bit awkward (it's waaay too small), but it still felt great. We rode a few miles around the corner of the enormous lake, along paved walkways through millions of people. It was a lot like the Minuteman bikeway in Cambridge, only with an ocean-like lake alongside the entire way.


Here's a sweet spot, all instagrammed up for maximum pretty: 

These dudes were playing bike polo, which I didn't even know existed. Judging by the looks of these guys, this is the most hipster of all activities.

There were a million people on the beach. No swimming, but lots of sunbathing, frisbee, drinking, etc. Typical beach stuff. So weird to see now. I really wish the building on the right wasn't there, otherwise this would have been a perfectly symmetrical shot by accident.

We had a very relaxing tossing of the B, 

(in a warped world)

Wyatt tried his hand at being cute,

and we headed out. This is what the beach looked like, instagrammed: 

pretty awesome.

Here's another shot I love of Damien: 

We headed back, unloaded bikes, loaded up everything in my car and headed out. Kevin and I had a painfully long ride home- there were stretches where he was in and out of sleep and I was so zoned out that I wasn't even aware of it. It seemed to take FOREVER to get back to his house, and I immediately knew I was screwed once I dropped him off. 

After somehow getting him to his house and back (and driving on the worst roads imaginable), I began the trek from Sanbornton back to Somersworth. I put on my favorite album of last year and blasted it. I hit myself with cold air, I headbanged, air guitared, screamed, did whatever it took- and it was all useless. I can't remember the last time I had this much trouble driving home. The entire weekend- skiing, biking, partying all night and drinking, sleeping like 8 interrupted hours of sleep across all of that- it all hit at the same time. I wasn't even fighting off sleep- no, that would make sense. I was, instead, zoning out for 5 minutes at a time, having no recollection of what had happened. I wasn't just autopilot driving, I was autopilot singing. I was singing every word to the cd, driving along all the right roads at reasonable speeds, I just barely remember it. It was BAD. I'm incredibly lucky that my autopilot driving is good enough that I made it all the way back in one piece. I guess jumping from nothing for months to a super epic weekend like this isn't quite "no big deal" anymore. I guess at age 30, these things destroy you a little bit. 

I woke up the next day and could barely move. Apparently it took 2 days for the skiing to catch up with me. Oh well. It's not like I had to get up early and go to work or anything! OHH!

This was a great weekend with great people I don't see enough. Thanks for hosting, Jake and Tara. Let's make this a yearly thing, ok?

Stolen from Hannah. No Kristy, Hannah or Tom in this one, but I had a blast with you guys too. 

currently listening to: Marilyn Manson- Antichrist Superstar (how much does that not fit this post?!)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Saltz McDrunkington's Summer Ski Festival 2012, part 1

On Saint Patrick's Day, most people have parties and get wasted... and that's about it. I went here:

That's the view from the top of Mount Ellen, part of Sugarbush Resort, where Jake works. Kevin spearheaded a little revival of Saltz McDrunkinton's, a party we had probably 8 years ago that I think the full name of was "Saltz McDrunkington's Irish Pig, Booze, and Graphic Design Festival." It wasn't a huge deal, but we got Dustin, Amanda, Adam, Kristy, me, Kevin and the almighty Mysterio all the way from CT to come hang out with the booming household of Jake and Tara up in Vermont. Jake promised "spring skiing" (i.e. no woods, just tons of slush and light jackets). It turned out to be in the 70s the whole weekend (and 80s the following week), so this turned out to be quite the rarity: Skiing in summer, while it's actually March (and still technically winter).

I hadn't skied in 2 years and was pretty bad the last time out- in fact, I threw out my back worse than I ever have before and sat in the lodge for 3 hours by myself, then lay on a floor for the entirety of the day after. Good times.
This trip started out looking like it may be the same. The night before, I got drunker than I meant to (damn southern comfort) and was completely robbed of the only thing that would help me out, sleep. A sick baby upstairs + a house with like 12 people in it + me sleeping on a couch in the dead center of the house= me waking up 40 times and sleeping probably about 4 and a half hours of interrupted sleep. I also stubbed my toe so bad when I went to bed that, after feeling blood dripping through my sock, I realized I had pretty much knocked off my entire toenail. GOOD START. 

The next morning I had a horrible headache, felt carsick from riding passenger to someone driving manual (always seems to happen), felt incredibly hot dressed in a sweatshirt when the sun was blinding me, felt stiff and hurt, and was extremely worried I was in for some trouble. When I put on my 15 year old rear entry boot and nearly screamed from the pain in my half broken toe, my nerves weren't exactly calmed. But somehow I made it to the top of the enormous mountain, and gave it my best shot. 

After 1 run, I told everyone I would be spending the day in the lodge, playing with my phone until it died. Nothing makes a man feel more like a fat slob than skiing for the first time in 2 years with in shape people who have skied all winter (or at least more than twice in 2 years). Turns out that I'm in pretty bad shape. And even if I wasn't, holy lord did I forget how hard skiing is when you don't normally do it. I completely forgot how many tiny little leg muscle twitches were required just to stay balanced and not explode on a flat spot, much less on steep, mogul-ey slush/ice terrain. My legs were on fire, worse than I can remember. And even though I'm a fat pig, I bike and hike- my legs are pretty used to this stuff. But not skiing, skiing is a whole different story. 

But, after convincing myself to give it 1 more run, then 1 more run, then "this trail has more snow, no moguls and is easier, I'm sticking with this one," I ended up being out there for like 5 hours and having a great time attempting to remember how to ski. I had sparse moments of feeling it and remembering what the hell I was doing, but most of it was me awkwardly trying to not explode. But it felt real nice to be out there again, and I'm very happy that it was a "it's spring skiing, it's just great to be out here" kind of day. That, and the fact that Jake, who rules at snowboarding, was skiing all day. He was surprisingly good for someone who hasn't done much skiing, but he was all for taking it easy and hung out with me on the wimpier trails for most of the day. And what a beautiful day it was. Here are pics: 

Mount Ellen is either the 4th, 5th, or 7th highest mountain Vermont (thanks internet), but it certainly felt like we were on top of the world- I haven't been on another mountain where I could see that far in every direction- where I felt like I was on the highest point in the world before. It was pretty amazing.

Jake t-shirt skiing. RONDO!

Here's Dustin shredding the end of an all mogul trail. I did not ski on this trail.

A lot of the trails looked like this- just huge patches of dirt, grass, mud, rocks, etc. I was surprised they were even open, but they did have enough snow to get from top to bottom, so I guess if people wanted to give them a shot, why not?

The section before the chairlift line became a small pond by the end of the day.

Here's muscle Amanda and Dustin having a good laugh:

And here's Jake right after a wipeout on our last run, that I missed because I was exhaustedly taking a break and staring at the ground instead of watching him eat it. Other than Adam messing around and falling a few times doing stupid stuff, I think this wipeout was really the only one of the day, and it wasn't much. 

Dustin's instagram of Jake, Kevin, Mysterio and I hanging out at the lodge. 

It was a good time and I knew by the level of exhaustion I felt, I'd be sleeping well that night. 

We loaded up, stopped at a sweet grocery store and bought way too much food, then headed home for BBQ and beers. I showered up, and by the time I got outside, Kevin had, instead of relaxing, set up a slack line in the yard. Apparently the point of this is to be able to balance on it, then eventually do jumps/tricks. I was exhausted and just wanted to sit down, so I didn't partake. It looked pretty hilarious though. 

I really like this one- a pretty girl in a meadow looking curiously towards her mongoloid lover:

I had to take a super fall-esque emo shot of Amanda against a tree. It only seemed fitting on a summer day in winter to take a fall picture. 

I also couldn't resist taking too many pictures of Wyatt. He's incredibly adorable. 

"Hey guy with a camera, I'm cute!"

"See? Even when I'm tearing up, I'm adorable."

"Ok, that's enough."

We finally sat down for some grilled goodness, which Jake cooked on a webber grill missing a leg, held up by rocks but still crooked, inside a full sized broken grill. We then took the party inside, as it became freezing fast. Damien threw a fit for attention, 


then Jake and Adam did this, whatever this is:

With sick Wyatt sleeping upstairs, we took the party to the basement, where this happened: 

Kevin + alcohol= Kevin with no brain, and tonight was no different. As seems to be fairly standard with parties at this house, an art party broke out and some pretty awesome stuff was created. 

Something I've missed a lot at our little get-togethers has been being DJ and playing all the hits we used to sing along to in college. I brought it all back that night though, creating a spotify playlist to rival my best radio shows. So many hits, so much singing along, solid amounts of air guitar. It felt fantastic and was exactly what I needed to punch my lonely winter doldrums in the face. In fact, I was so busy DJing that I forgot to take any pictures of the completed art, which was pretty good. Dustin's involved sticking a squashed beer can to half a bottle of dripping paint on canvas. It was pretty sweet.

Tara partied with us until Wyatt finally woke up, which was great. She's been in mom mode for awhile, so it was real nice to rage it up with her. As the hours went by, people slowly fell to the night, including Jake, who fell asleep in a wooden chair with a beer still in his hand. Kevin, Tara, Kristy (who disappeared and came back with pizza, score) raged until Dustin got up from where he was sleeping 20 feet away, and turned off the lights, leaving me staring in silence at Kevin's glow in the dark dress. Looking back, this was the perfect ending to the day.

I honestly considered sleeping on my aerobed (which I took out of my trunk and un-boxed at 3 in the morning) in the garage, but I figured I would probably freeze to death, and it was just a bit too weird to sleep in the garage. So I dragged it downstairs to the basement instead, and when drunktarded Jake got up and wandered upstairs at 6 in the morning, I took his spot on the couch for a glorious but way too short 3 hours of sleep in addition to the 2 or so I got on the aerobed. I knew I would feel nothing but wonderful the next morning. It felt awesome to spend such a full day of quality time with awesome people doing stuff I hadn't done in forever, but I was fairly certain someone would have to build a people-sized spatula to scrape me off the couch in a few hours.
currently listening to: Bon Iver- For Emma, Forever Ago

Monday, March 26, 2012


Jetpack Comics, the greatest comic shop in the world (and where Rich works) keeps winning contests. The first was simple- people just had to comment on a website saying why Jetpack was the best. The second involved a little more work- putting the head of Dark Horse Comics' head honcho Mike Richardson on pretty much anything. I did a sweet picture of him as Spaceboy from The Umbrella Academy at my first sketchgroup attendance. 

We also made a few ridiculous gifs which, along with the billion pictures sent in, helped Jetpack win a visit from Richardson himself (which just happened Saturday). Here are the links to the gifs so they don't make this page explode while trying to load. 

So when Crossed, a comic I loved, announced a contest to promote the launch of a new Crossed comic, Rich came up with the idea to make a short movie. He asked me if I would edit it and to help out if I felt like it. I agreed, but wasn't too psyched about it to be honest. While I do enjoy putting together little videos (which have been a driving force of this blog), I was in full on winter lazy mode and didn't want to spend the time to try and make a movie- which I hadn't really done before. It was more of an undertaking than I wanted to commit to.

I was dumb though, because even though it took forever, it was a blast, especially the filming itself. 

Rich and Josh made tons of guts the night before (out of panty hose filled with paper towels, soaked in blood) then Josh and I headed to Jetpack to start filming when they closed. We brought Rich's super old video camera they shot every movie in college on, but figured Josh's iPhone would take better footage. Since I haven't quite bought that ridiculous camera I keep threatening to buy, these were our only options. 

Jaime came over to give Josh some sweet makeup, and we prepared for the mess. 

What started as some bumps and white,

turned into a very blatant cross I worried about,

and then ended up looking really awesome.

There was no written dialogue, no storyboards or big plans, just a basic story and old carpets that we were allowed to get all bloody. Hilarity immediately ensued with Rich not being able to get lines out. I managed to figure out a good opening that involved a cameo where somehow it looks like I'm talking when Jon Waugh talks. From there, it was pretty much Rich saying what he wanted to have happen, all of us together suggesting shots, and me somehow filming everything with both Rich's old camera and Josh's iPhone in the same hand. I'll be honest, I felt pretty cool doing this, even though Rich's camera yielded horrible looking video, and some of the iPhone shots had my thumb in them. I've never really directed anything before, and it felt pretty awesome to suddenly be sort of in charge of a video. It was all Rich's idea, but I had to think about how I would edit stuff later, so I had to think of everything like an editor. It was neat- my initial worries of the video looking amateurish and lame were pretty much in my hands- it was my job to make it NOT lame and instead as awesome as possible.

I definitely failed on a few shots that were either not great, or I didn't even think of how well certain angles would work. I also didn't really make anyone do anything more than twice, even though, in some cases, I wasn't psyched about how it looked. It was a definitely a learning experience, as, while editing, I immediately saw where we should have done things differently. "Why didn't I ask for another take when I still wasn't happy after 2?" I kept saying. Oh well, live and learn. If you haven't seen this yet, here, watch it now. Warning- if you're a wimp, then don't watch it. It's got some solid violence/gore. Make sure you click the gear button and change the quality to 720p, otherwise it looks awful.

Or if you don't like embedding, watch on youtube here.

Highest quality (select it from the drop down to watch in 1080) original (without bloopers). (if you watch this for the better quality, make sure you still watch the other one for the bloopers- they rule)

Good stuff. Based on Rich, Josh and Jesse's movies made during college, no movie is complete without a blooper reel, and no blooper reel is complete without Smash Mouth's "All Star." The "Whip My Hair" part was a pain to make but I laugh my ass off while watching it, so it was well worth the time. 

Here are some more PRODUCTION SHOTS: 

Rich laying down some blood catching plastic and rugs while Waugh stands there doing nothing:

Fake blood time: 

Setting up the wound:

The best Rich has ever looked:  

Dead Rich:

Headwound Josh: 

Beginning the cleanup: 

The actual editing of the video pretty much went like this: 

Step 1: Oh god this is horrible. Everything is so awkward. Oh my god why did I agree to doing this?
Step 2: Ok, some editing helped, but the hammer shot is the worst thing ever. 
Step 3: Ok, everything is better, but this has no feel. It's incredibly awkward.
Step 4: I need the most evil, horrible music ever to make this work. 
Step 5: Holy shit, this music couldn't work better. YES!
Step 6: I'm gonna try making the screen more red so the gore looks better and the video feels more evil and sick...
Step 7: That worked way better than it should have. I'm gonna make it more red!!
Step 8: Rich's review- the hammer hit needs to be cleaned up more, and it needs sound effects. 
Step 9: Rich records sound effects with his mouth into his phone and sends them over. 
Step 10: It works incredibly well. I have splatters, thunks, and guts sounds. Wow, this actually kind of works now. 
Step 11: Finish, export, upload, send out for approval, begin blooper reel/music video. 
Step 12: Crap, I have to go through all of this video again?! UGHKKK. My computer can't handle 7 minutes of video. 
Step 13: I need a new computer and video camera.

Everyone has been pretty psyched about the video, and hopefully Jetpack wins again. The link was re-tweeted by Avatar Press, the company that puts out Crossed. It was re-tweeted by a bunch of other people too, which rules. It doesn't have the number of views I was hoping for based on all the re-tweets, but I'm blaming that on people not watching the credits. Oh well. 253 views and 7 likes is still pretty sweet.

Making movies, although involving a ton of time editing, is super fun. 

currently listening to: It Dies Today- The Caitiff Choir

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Mount Agamenticus

Last week, when I was blown away that it was regularly in the sixties in the middle of March (it was 84 today), I decided to get the legs working again and go for a local hike. I found quite a nice little treasure only about 25 minutes away, but literally looking at a map for a mountain near me, then searching for details on the good ole internets. Mount Agamenticus in York, Maine, turned out to be perfect- a 2 mile loop around the mountain with a very manageable 700 feet or so of climbing. A 4000 footer this was not, and it hit the spot perfectly for a tired old man like me. 

Usually hiking in the summer, it was weird to see trails so hideously brown. But this trail definitely made me start thinking about mountain biking though.

The main loop I did, called "Ring" was perfect, and it's what I would recommend to anyone trying to hike here. It goes right around the mountain, with a brief detour to the top (via Witch Hazel trail), which you then walk back down to rejoin Ring. Whoever designed the trails here did a good job but got perhaps a little excited with limited space, making perhaps too many trails.


But I love trails, so all the power to you, pal. Walking down, I even saw some snow in some places.

But back to the summit, which is pretty awesome. Coming out of the trail, there were signs about work being done, and they weren't kidding. Apparently, from what little I read and what much I guessed, the people who manage the mountain decided to clearcut the entire summit to allow for better views. While the inner hippie tree-hugger in me (ok, maybe outer) weeps at the idea of killing nature to better view nature, I can't really argue against their idea. This is a small mountain, but the biggest within many many miles, so having the ability to actually see everything around you (from the Belknap region to the White Mountains) is pretty awesome. 

The top was literally a wasteland:

With, for some reason, a ton of buildings. One was a learning center, and the other a building dedicated to the conservation of the area. Unfortunately, other than buildings, the main area was just dirt (read: mud) everywhere and nothing else. If this is all grass in the summer (which I'm guessing it is), this is probably glorious.

I'm guessing this made a lot more sense when there were trees everywhere, but there was a nice mini observation deck to get some sweet views on the lower edge of the mountain. It still helped even with no trees.

What ruled about hiking on the day I did, was that I got to watch the clouds go from dark and murky with zero sun to full on changing-every-10-minutes cloudporn, to full on sunset with rays of light. It was perfect for an instagram addict. I took a bunch of shots using my rad HDR program on my phone. In fact, way too many to be honest. Here are the best: 

summiting the top of a wasteland against fire clouds

to find more wasteland. This is my favorite from the day.

The clouds were fairly standard cloudporn from the top of the observation deck,

but to the left, sun rays the likes of which I've never seen started cracking through,

developing into a weird circular formation that my 5th grade brain couldn't help but mentally nickname "god's butthole,"

to an exploding circle with rays of light shooting everywhere. I love this shot, especially with the tower in front of it:

The circle then exploded into scattered clouds everywhere. It was really pretty amazing up there, watching the entire murky sky break apart into sunshine right before my eyes with nothing else distracting the view, and nobody else distracting from the sweet sounds of Jimmy Eat World's "Goodbye Sky Harbor" in my ears.


A few people did show up though, by car. I learned after hiking back down and turning up the hill directly next to the base parking lot, that the summit was right there- just like a half mile up the road from the base parking lot. This meant to the mountain biker in me, that I could drive to the top, ride down, then ride/walk (definitely walk) back up. It also meant that since it was now sunset, I could drive back up to the amazing view I had left 40 minutes ago, now in sunset mode. 

yea, this is soooo touched up in the HDR program, but still. NICE.

This was a great small hike- perfect for family/kids or super out of shape fatsos who want to get their legs moving again. People are very dedicated to keeping it nice, there are learning centers and all types of conservation things, tons of information on little wooden stands all along the hike (from the history of the mountain to the science of mountains, trees, etc), and you can take in incredible views even without the hike. Nice find. Nice day in mid March. 
currently listening to: The Dear Hunter- The Color Spectrum (Blue)