The Universal Exclusive Post

Halloween Horror Nights is a month-long event that Universal Studios run every year, featuring haunted houses, scary shows and lots of costumed freaks running around with chainsaws and fake blood. Last night they shut down both parks and allowed only Universal Employees in (with one guest each). So being an employee of a vendor that deals with Universal Studios, I was able to get in last night thanks to some finagling by Bruce on my behalf. However what’s cooler is that Bruce’s childhood friend works at Universal building the custom cameras they use for filming in the studios, and has a Back Lot gate pass. So we got to arrive and check in with the crews and get into the park a good hour before the thousands of employees (who were lined up, waiting outside the main gate). Further more, I was mistaken for an off-duty park employee and got free novelty cups, that were good all night for $2 refills. It was awesome, all the restaurants were opened up and you could have anything in the park for free, temporary bars where set up on every corner (complete with skanky beer babes), and loads of effort had gone into the event to make it creepy.

Really nice, themed haunted houses, and “scare zones” where people accost you in the streets, and some really funny stage shows. Being that it was employees only, they pull out all the stops and get a little raunchy and try things they couldn’t do with regular guests. Their Bill & Ted show got an explicit upgrade and was absolutely hilarious. Mock Tom Cruises with Kate (and demon baby) check. Sam Jackson shooting ‘mutha fucn’ snakes!”, check. Other spoofs included a very flamboyant super!man, facing off in a dance contest with X-Man Juggy-naught and loads of sexual innuendo with Davy Jones and Jack Sparrow spoofs. It’s funny to see how much they can get away with, and was an awesome show. I’ve got a few Back-Lot shots and some clips to share, but only from the stage show unfortunately. All in all an awesome night, free food, cheap beer, and backlot access to an exclusive event; definitely a great set of perks from the new job.

This video doesn’t really do the awesome night any justice, but I wanted to get a video on YouTube. You get a good look at Juggynaught and Bruce chugging fog-machine gas though! HELLS YEAH!


The Self-Promotion Post

So my fantasy football team; The Orlando British Empire, are tearing up the league, 3-0 putting me in the top spot for my division. Not bad considering I’m a fledgling football fan. I’m sure that now that I said it, I’ll be jinxed for the rest of the season, but I wanted to boast before my winning streak comes to and end. Three teams have fallen to the Empire, (including Eric’s JMU Hotrods) and this week’s match ended with a crushing 100pt lead (168-61). Now I’m no expert, but that’s a lot. Go me. You can check up on my awesomeness at the league homepage in the links menu. Or just take my word for it and agree that I kick serious fantasy ass.

UPDATE: No sooner do I start to boast Terrell Owens trys to kill himself. Karma right there.


The Picture Post

Finally able to get some shots online! You may have noticed that a few of the posts have been updated with pictures since yesterday. Today I added some more pictures of the apartment as well. Now you have a reason to read the whole blog all over again! Dig back into that extensive 2-month archive of posts and experience them like never before! And by that I mean with poorly compressed images and bad photography.

The Out-of-Sequence Post

Wrote this Thursday night. Didnt have a chance to post till now:

I’m not sure if this post will make it to the Blog, simply because I don’t know if this mindset I’m in will last until Sunday when I’ll be able to post it. I’m sitting here at Cromar’s having just packed all my stuff back into the Focus, and I can’t help but feel really sad. It’s the same feeling I had the morning I left Virginia; this deep sadness that I’m leaving things behind. I am fully aware that this was only ever a temporary place of residence while I locked down an apartment, but seeing all my things being stuffed away again is really unsettling. Cromar’s was the only solid, familiar thing I could anchor too
during this move, and now I’m about to leave here for something completely foreign. While I’m sure I will be back here the next time family are in town or if Cromar’s crew visit, but I have this awkward feeling of finality about this step of my relocation. This house is father to a lot of fond memories for me; Memories of family, vacation and days where Disney was the best thing on the planet. I never got a feeling that this was “My Place” during the past few weeks, and I never settled in as I think I will in a more permanent location, but I really have loved my stay here, its been perfect. It’s really strange; I’m missing this place even though I’ll be here till Saturday morning. Am I clinging to what’s comfortable? Is this just another feeling as a result of missing family and friends? Whatever it is, it’s a pretty powerful feeling of sadness, and I very much hope it passes. On the plus-side my address wont be nearly as flamboyant…

The New Place Post

So I’m here in my new apartment. The weekend has been kinda crazy getting everything up and running, and heading out to buy this-and-that to make this place livable. I’m pretty much there, and with the exception of there being nothing at all in the living room besides a router and fan, the place is coming together. 1st major gripe: No warm water. I’ve had two unpleasantly frozen showers this weekend, and I don’t look forward to getting up for work tomorrow in fear of the third. Maintenance isn’t available during the weekend, so tomorrow I’ll have to raise some hell to get noticed. Bedsides that the place is in good nick; no screen door onto the balcony (everyone else has them), and some paint bubbles here and there, but all-in-all; pretty nice.

The whole apartment complex is pretty cool, and on a higher caliber than I’d expect for the price. Turns out the reason for that is that I’m less than a block away from one of Orlando’s many rough areas. Driving back the other day with my mattress was pretty scary, being that I didn’t want it flying off the roof of my car, I took non-highway roads on my way back, which unfortunately resulted in slow driving through undesirable territory. I saw lots of homeless people, was asked for change at pretty much every stop-light (who asks a guy with a bed on his roof for money?), and saw my first Orlando-hookers. This coming back from talking to the mattress salesman about where I was heading (for his take on the best way to get back without hitting the highway), and being told that he was mugged along the street he was sending me down. I think I’ve figured out the nasty parts and the best way to avoid them though, for the most part I feel pretty safe here in the apartment though.

Got pretty homesick for a while, one wave of many I’m sure. It’s a big change for me, and while I think I’m dealing with it all pretty well, I occasionally get hit with a substantial longing for familiar territory and being around family and friends.


The Check-In Post

Today I dipped off on my lunch break to check off on the apartment and get my keys. All in all I’m very pleased with the place. Smells like the paint and carpet, but that’s because both are bland new, which is nice. New vinyl in the bathroom and on the countertops too. Screen door on the balcony is missing, and a few chips off the sink, but besides that it’s in pretty good shape. Nice location within the complex, close to laundry and easy exit, but not facing the street, plus very close to parking. Heading back there after work to move my preliminary supplies in (which are getting hot in the back of my car as I type this) and will come back again tomorrow with the rest of my stuff from Cromar’s.

Yesterday I was stuck in downtown’s wonderful traffic (its pretty killer here, like beltway crazy but with more exits filtering) as I headed off in search of a mattress. Which I found, and at a good price. I’ll strap it to the roof of my car and bring it home tomorrow now that I have the apartment keys. Got a middle-of-the-range, full-size mattress (no box) and went to target and opted for the ‘luxury’ pillow top cover, hoping that if I get the expensive cover and a moderate mattress, that the end result will be worth sleeping on. Fingers crossed, worst-case scenario I’ve always got the air mattress.

Internet is to be hooked up this weekend, so barring any issues my next post should be from my new place.


The Ugliest Ogre Post

Ever see Shrek or the creatively titled sequel: Shrek 2? I did, and can’t say I was impressed. However the franchise is worth millions and makes loads of money in merchandising as well as DVD sales (did pretty well I the box office too if I’m not mistaken). Anyway, Amazing Pictures is opening a new store in Universal Studios that takes guest’s pictures and maps them onto the big bumbling ogre’s body. My assignment for this week has been to create templates for these images and run copies tests using the in-house software here to make sure they work. Interesting job if anything, but tricky. Doesn’t seem like something that’d be too hard, but getting the template to work with all faces isn’t easy. Being that its just Bruce and I down here in the art department at the moment, testing the layouts always involves him working the camera and me sitting stupidly, so there are a lot of embarrassing pictures of me mapped onto Princess Fiona and the Fairy Godmother’s bodies… The guys from the warehouse often cut through the art department to get to the offices and stop and laugh and the new guy with green skin wearing a dress. Guess I can’t blame them. The sad thing is though, my eyebrows are too pronounced, so I am very hard to map onto Shrek. No matter how high I raise them they still mess up the blend and you end up with a surprised looking ogre with 2 sets of eyebrows. How sad is it when you are too hideous to get stuck over a green monster’s face? Sigh.

For the record I am sick of all these 3D animated movies that are coming out. Besides a select few (Toy Story and The Incredibles) they have all been garbage. This summer alone we’ve seen 4 or 5 of these shitty animated flicks, and I’m fed up. They even have little animated movie battles between production houses (Antz vs. Bugs Life, Sharks Tale vs. Finding Nemo etc). Enough! Stop! No one wants to see Monster House or Any Bully, or Open Range or Over The Hedge. I don’t care which crappy celebrities you get to do the voices; Wanda Sikes can’t help your movies not suck.


The Love Bug Post

So there are lots of odd little critters running about in the wild down here that I’m not used to. The geckos are still my favorite and amaze me with how fast the can run and how well they can cling to the smoothest of surfaces. Giant locusts on the pool screen, 2- foot tall Red-Crested Cranes pecking through trash and nesting on people’s lawns, weird snails that cling to concrete buildings and a few other oddities. No deer or squirrels though, which is awesome. There is another creature in this area however that I had never heard or seen before. They are called ‘Love Bugs’. Named due to the fact that they are mating 100% of the time, these bumbling bugs look like a two headed flying beetle, connected at the butt to their mates. Being that they are two different bugs they fly allover the place and often just drop to land on your window or person haphazardly. Having never seen these horney little bastards before I naively assumed it was two bugs fighting the first time a pair landed on my windshield. Upon seeing three more pairs going at it on my front door later that day, I figured it out. I found out yesterday that apparently they are not native to this area, but sprung up like crazy a few years back off of a shipment of bananas or something. Also, apparently they contain a highly corrosive acid that, when smeared on a car, eats through bodywork “like in the movie alien but on a microscopic scale”. Not cool. It’s been highly recommended that I spray the Focus with a coat of Love Bug Juice (charming sounding) to prevent their noxious bowels from stripping my car.


The Postal Post

After many hours of meetings, form signing, phone orders and shopping around, I officially have an address, a phone service, and the internet all coming my way this weekend. Gimme a call or drop me an IM if you'd like my new location. This should help for all your Mapquests when you come and visit me. Because you are all going to come visit me RIGHT? For the record I accept care packages, love letters and all forms of hate mail. Send me an email and I’ll give you my new phone number too. I think I read somewhere that posting your number and address on the internet lead to sales calls, stlakers and eventually murder... or something… best play it safe eh. Phone and internet will be running on Sunday, and the move in date is this Friday. Going to be a busy week for me, looks like.


The Religious Mattress Post

First weekend in Orlando, as well as the first weekend where I didn’t have to do ANYTHING. It’s been quite a hassle getting down here and organizing this move. Lots of deadlines, meetings, phone calls and interviews, not to mention driving. And now I finally get a weekend to myself to sleep in, plug in the 360, laze about by the pool and watch some football. No rush on finding the hotspots in Orlando, I’ll find them once I move closer to the city. As is, I’m a good 45 minute drive both ways from town anyway, and I’m not desperate to drive unnecessarily quite yet. Plus come Friday I will have moved out to the new apartment and wont have the luxury of another weekend at Cromar’s house, so I wanted to make the most of my time here.

I didn’t think I was sleep deprived this week, but I slept like the dead. Something about a sunny room, warm weather, and a king-size plush that made it hard to get up too. I awoke to a knocking a the door, and was greeted by Mitch and Raymond, two Jehovah’s Witnesses that wanted to tell me all about how terrorism and evil wont be an issue for me if I join there church and get beamed up to God’s perfect kingdom when he returns. I spent a good half an hour explaining in a mellow and polite manner, why that made no sense at all, and actually got them to a point where they had no response. They left me with a plethora of booklets and a promise to return when ‘better equipped to continue this conversation’.

I was mildly productive this weekend. Got an oil change and tire rotation a the local EZ Lube, priced some mattresses at various different places and sorted out internet and phone service for the new apartment. Anyway, back to work this week, and into the new place on Friday, so I am excited should be a good week. Working on some graphical resizes for Nickelodeon Family Suites at the moment, nothing major, just reformatting of old designs into a new template. Getting to work with licenses like Dora, Rugrats and Spongbob is kind of cool though.


The Safety Post

So I naively thought that Orlando was the safe, happy little vacation world that I visited in my youth. Where the currency was smiles and Goofy delivers your mail. Alas watching the news last night that is not the case. Three separate shootings last night, one hostage threat in a hotel two miles from Disney world, a kidnapping of a four year old boy, and a car jacking that took place 5 minutes from where my new apartment is located (I saw the chopper hovering and assumed it was a weather/traffic reporter, I tune in later in the night to see the footage of the arrest via helicopter). Scary stuff. Talking to my co-worker George here at work I found that the area I am to be living in is known for hookers and hustling as well as frequent robberies and muggings in the neighboring plazas… not cool. On top of that, the Toyota Celica is the most commonly (or at least one of the most commonly) stolen vehicle in Orlando, due to their street racing syndicates that operate in the Orange County area. Why would that bother me? Well as of last week; I was told that I’d be swapping out my trusty Ford Focus with my parents for Dad’s Celica. I’m extremely stoked, the car is awesome, but now I’m going to be nervous parking it outside my apartment and sticking a club on it at night. I’m hoping that these sort of things are a rarity, and that George is being on the more pessimistic side of thought, but still, a bit of a wakeup call for naïve little Jamie.

Work was good stuff again for day two, I’m confident that I’m really going to like it here. My co-workers Bruce and George are great to talk to and a lot of fun, and the rest of the staff are so kind and welcoming. Wrapped up the Sea World project this morning and got it approved for use in the San Diego park, which is pretty amazing for me. Right after finishing that project they started me up with the next client: Universal Studio’s Islands of Adventure. It’s a similar project to Sea World, focusing on the P.O.E (point of entry) shots of park-goers, but new formatting and different themes. Another excellent big name to add to the portfolio though. Considering its only day two I’m doing pretty well for myself, and having a blast doing it. The free Bagels and Donuts in the office to day were icing on the cake.

The First Day Post

Today was my first day working over at Colorvision/Amazing Pictures, and so far so good. I got too meet my co-workers as well as tour the whole facility, which is much bigger and more comprehensive than I initially thought. My first assignment is an entrance frame for Sea World San Diego. Kind of cool getting all the high-resolution source images directly from Sea World to work with. My design is almost finished barring a few more edit sessions with Bruce the Art Director then they get sent off to Sea World Corporate for approval. I may just be a design-nerd here, but its really exciting to get to work with such high profile companies, and have pieces of work that will be distributed to hundreds of customers. Not to mention that I can now add Sea World to my list of clients on my portfolio page, which totally trumps the current big name (so long uBid!) on my list of local clientèle.

In other news I got my mail today and my much-anticipated driver’s license, gay address and all. I really cant complain though, living here wh
ile I search for an apartment has been a terrific way to start my instate living while at the same time search for a place closer to the city. Again cheers to Uncle Cromar.

The Sexy Table Post

I’m here at Cromar’s house and feeling very alone. All my belongings are scattered about the house in a manor that (I think) will help me find things, as I need them. Its so weird being here by myself. Sarah and Stefan both agreed that it was eerie being in the vacation home last week without hearing the screams of cousins and the laughter of aunts and uncles. Being here alone is even worse. I’ve set up my computer on the dining room table, which I recently found out has a table cloth on it for a reason. That being that the table is made out of an old carved bedroom door, which features ornate carvings of different Karma Sutra positions. Cromar has this house as a vacation home, and doesn’t spend much time living here (he’s usually in Scotland or Dubai) so the rental company has covered up the explicit table with a large tablecloth, which I find hilarious.

I stopped by the post office and cancelled the hold on my mail, so my driver’s license should arrive here as early as tomorrow. I am both anticipating and dreading its arrival. Obviously it’ll be great to have something other than an I.O.U. from the Florida DMV to drive on, but on the other hand the picture on said license is possibly one of the worst I’ve ever had taken and the address on it will be “Pink Grape Fruit Blvd”. I dread the next time I am trying to get into a bar or by some beer and I have to identify myself as the ‘pizza-face kid who lives on Pink Grapefruit’.

Work starts tomorrow, and I’m sitting here all unpacked at 2:00 with nothing productive to do besides sleep and make sure I’m there on time in the morning. I have a few of these posts I want to get online, but without internet access I dunno when I’ll get the chance. I’ll just have to do one big post at the same time.

The Arrival Post

As spacious as the seats were they just weren’t long enough for me to fully lay down, which lead to 90 different position changes over the course of the night. Waking up every 15 minutes to a dead leg or arm that’s completely numb kinda sucks, but still beats having to stay awake and stop for gas. We arrived an hour behind schedule due to some stoppage time in North Carolina that backed us up, but all in all the trip went by smoothly. I was one of the last cars to be unloaded off of the car storage container, which was a bit of a nuisance, but I took the opportunity to acclimate to the hot Florida sun. After being acclimated for the better part of an hour I was getting a little fed up of watching everyone else zoom off in their vehicles. Then finally my number was called (#72 not that you were wondering).

On the way through Orlando I stopped at the apartment complex to confirm that my application and checks had arrived. They hadn’t, which really irked me being that I sent them on Thursday of last week. I other bad news for me: the apartment I wanted had been leased. And the next available one is on the 22nd. Fine, not that big of a deal, but I only have Uncle Cromar’s house till the 20th… more on that as it develops. I ran out and got some money orders and went back, filled out another damn application and got approved for the 22nd. It’s at times like these where having the same name as your father really comes in handy: I was approved instantly with no additional deposit, an oddity considering I have no rental history. Suzanne (the woman doing the lease) realized she had searched under my father’s name after the approval had come through, and was cool enough not to say anything to her manager, saved me 400 bucks. Props to Suzanne.

The Overnight Train Post

Up early to start packing. Why I waited right down to the day of departure before I started packing my computer I have no idea…to many wires! It’s very strange to see my basement half empty and my car completely full. As I’m sure you know I am very much defined by my possessions and am very materialistic. To see my life in boxes and bags getting moved out is hard for me. Urgh, I don’t like change, even elective change.

I won’t lie. I cried on the trip out.

Half an hour or so later I’m at Lorton Station handing off my keys and checking myself in to the departure lounge. Strange not having my keys on me, even stranger that they are in my car along with everything I own. I have to say, this Auto Train isn’t a bad idea. A little more expensive than however many tanks of gas it’d take me to get down to Orlando, but getting to sleep and not having to worry about the drive or pay any attention to anything for the duration of t
he trip is very much worth it. Had I not just made the drive a week prior with Sarah and Stefan, then maybe I’d me more include to spend 12 hours on the road. Accommodations were spacious, meals were actually very nice, and I got to sleep. I met an actor in the dining car who recently shot a commercial for Ford where in he and four guys drive up to someplace and help a stranger set up a barber shop…yeah I dunno what that has to do with Ford’s either, but I’ll look out for him. Anyone else seen it? He’s apparently also in the new Mark Walburg-Football movie as a background coach. Obscure or not, he made for interesting table conversation.

The Hawaii 5-0 Post

Dad’s 50th Birthday Party was a blast. We spent the better part of the day getting everything finalized in the back yard. I am kicking myself for having to leave the day after it’s finally completed. It’s looking awesome back there. The tiki/pirate theme is a strange one in theory, but works really well. I’ll post pictures as soon as I have internet access at a computer that will let me. We had a great time, and I know Dad enjoyed himself. Stefan and I were bartending, which went well. Initially we got backed up, what with everyone arriving a the same time and us not really knowing the drinks we were making, but we got into the swing of things fast enough. Aunty Lel came over from Scotland and was able to make the party, plus Ali and Bob were there, which was terrific as it gave me a chance to hang out with them one last time before heading south. Paul stopped in too which was awesome and kept us company up at the bar. The hula dancing went over well, and Samantha had a blast. She was in from WVU for the weekend too, which marks the first time the whole family had been together in a good while.

The Penultimate Post

Started off my last day on a bad foot and ended up being an hour late for work. I stopped by Mason to make sure my bank account there was closed (I signed up as part of my Mason orientation weekend 4 years ago). Got there before the bank opened and had to wait around to find that I didn’t need to go in (as I had been previously told over the phone) to close it, and that was already terminated. It was weird to be back on campus. Even though I’ve been away for only a few months, it feels like an eternity since I was there. Crazy to think it was 4 years… nuts. Work at MowCow went as usual: Scrambling a little more to get everything done before I had to leave. Rick, Jerry and the guys sent me off in style with a generous bonus and terrific care package of food, which I will undoubtedly be living off of for the next month. I was planning on living off of Easy Mac and Tuna once I got to Orlando, and now I am going to do just that. Thanks a million guys.

Even though it technically wasn’t my last night in town, Dad’s birthday had my last night booked, so I wanted to say my goodbyes early. Erin was waiting for me at home when I got in from work (I was notably late coming in so she was hanging out with Mum in the kitchen when I eventually arrived). We hung out for a bit upstairs until we realized that Jevan and Paul were (and had been) waiting for us down in the basement. (Strike 2 for me). We all headed off to good old Auld Sheebean and met up with more of my NoVa crew Patricio, Alex and friends as well as Mason pals Brent, Sam, Jamie, Adam and Heather. I had a great time, even if I did have to hop from group-to-group (we had to split between tables), and really appreciate you guys coming out to see me off. Cheers for the beers, not to mention the memories and years of friendship. Leaving you all is one of the hardest things I will ever have to do.

Its time like these where I see how much I really love my co-workers, friends and family, and can’t help but second guess any motivation that would cause me to want to leave this behind. Everyone has to grow up, this I know. But I don’t know if I’m ready.


The last-week post

I’m trying to get ahold of my future employers over at Colorvision to see if I can’t postpone my start date till Tuesday next week, that way I’d be able to take the Amtrack with my car and avoid the miles on old ‘Luchadr’. Costs a little more than all the gas I’d need, but I can sleep en route and wont have to drive solo for 12 hrs. Can’t bring the cat though…so Coolio will have to wait until Christmas to make the move down, which is a bummer. Got to hang out with Darius and Jevan last night, and Patricio and Paul the night prior, Brent and Duncan tonight, and Erin tomorrow so I’m getting to see a few people before I head out. Sad truth of it is though that there are many people I want to see before leaving that I just wont get to. Oh well, there is always a Christmas visit to rely on (so I keep telling myself).

Dad’s 50
th is coming up on Saturday. Stefan and I will be tending bar for 40-or-so of Dad’s buddies, should be fun. It’s the maiden voyage for the Tiki-Bar out back, so it’ll be great to break it in at least once before I go. Still need to get him a card… On a random note: Here are a few shots from the road trip last week


The move-out post

Last week was the initial trip down to Florida to get everything sorted out before the big move. This was the trip that would (hopefully) give me an idea as far as a moving date, job location and sort out my driver’s license. Fortunately we accomplished just that. It’s official; my moving date is

September 10th 2006.

I will start work on the famous Sept. 11th for Aquent Design Solutions. And move into my apartment on the 15th (or 20th depending on when the apartment is free). Sarah and Stefan made the trip too and we had a great time staying in Uncle Cromar’s holiday home just south of Orlando. While this trip got a lot of my questions answered, the downside to all this productivity is that I need to be living in Florida in less than a week… I have so much to do before then it’s not even funny. So this next week will be stressful as hell, and let’s be honest; I would bet that the next few following are going to be pretty crazy also. The really kicker is going to be that I wont get to say 'good-bye' to the majority of my fellow Northern Virginians before I need to leave.