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Squared Sevens Blogging Corp.
Sunday, 11 December 2005
I hate talking to people on AIM
Girls be TRIPPIN!

Posted by nc/frodaddy at 10:24 PM EST
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Thursday, 8 December 2005
What's up.
I got off from work a little bit earlier today, so I've actually got a little bit of free time here. I'm pretty much just sitting around eating pretzels, so I might as well post about things are going lately.

Work. Of course, hours are up with the holiday season and all. But what's shockingly not up so far is sales. After a strong Black Friday, our volume has dropped way off to where last week was absolutely terrible. I mean, just way off from where it ought to be for this time of year. Remember, I work commission so I do actually care how much the store sells. We consider ourselves to be good salesmen, and the product's pretty good, so there has to be an outside reason for the low sales. This has led to all kinds of theories.

- The mall's target demographic. Affluent shoppers are sticking with Southpark, as it still has a high prestige attached to it. If we can't attract the shoppers we are supposed to, that is a problem. And remember, outsite the I-77 corridor there is mostly sparse, poorer demographics who aren't going to be buying Coach handbags (or $110 Wallabees for that matter).

-Design of the mall. I've had people tell me they disliked it as too "angular", and malls in general are on the way out anyway- people are getting too lazy to actually walk through a mall (I'm serious)

-Poor Promotion- there still seems to be a large amount of people who don't know that the new mall is there. There has been pretty heavy print and radio advertising for the mall, but still a lot of folks don't seem to be getting the message.

- The actual customers. My manager theorizes that everyone is 'house-poor'- all their money is tied up in their house and car, leaving little else to spend.

- People think the mall will be so crowded, that they don't even want to bother going. I've heard this from several customers. It's not helped by the fact that the front parking lot is always full, because people don't want to drive around to the other side- creating an illusion of a packed mall.

-The big thing this year is electronics- iPod, Xbox, DVD, whatever if it doesn't have an acronym it's not selling. I guess things like shoes are too old fashioned for Christmas gifts.

-But finally, and most probable, people are just being cheap this year. Either it's a sale, or they're not buying. Customers are also staying very disciplined this year as well, apparently- they know exactly what they are going to get, and that's it. I'm gonna have to blame high gas prices and the fact that most people aren't feeling too hot about the economy. Which leaves me feeling cold each Friday when paychecks arrive.

Posted by nc/frodaddy at 11:31 PM EST
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Sunday, 27 November 2005
One Day later...
One Day later...

And I'm still here. I worked through Black Friday (and Saturday) and lived to tell about it. There was certainly a lot of shoe sellin' going on, and fortunately most folks seemed to stay pretty level headed. I guess I'd better knock on wood, cause it's still early in the shopping season, so who knows what will happen later on as we start running out of Wallabees. I managed to get most of my Christmas shopping done already, which was a big goal of mine, seeing how I get all of 3 off days (including Christmas) during the month of December. Katie, you gotta let me know what you want for Christmas! Or you'll be seeing a whole lot of surprises under the tree Dec. 25th. Have it your way.

I finally got my JET application finished up and sent out on Friday. I'd actually been looking for getting that done and mailed out for quite a few months. Now the real wait begins. I'm real nervous about this, hope that everything goes well. I figure my sterling grades and previous study abroad/language experience should help out, but who knows. I'd better get a "Plan B" ready just in case.

Posted by nc/frodaddy at 12:14 AM EST
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Thursday, 24 November 2005
Turkey Day
Sometimes you feel like blogging, sometimes you don't. I guess for a while there I returned back to my famous "lack of updates" from my old Frodaddy website. I apologize. I've been pretty busy with work and everything, and besides I figured I should let Bobby Valentine and the Chiba Lotte Marines be my top story for awhile. And if I haven't been working or vegetating, most of my free time has been spent working on my JET application. Got to get that thing sent out for sure.

Today is Thanksgiving, and for my readers from other countries, all I can is you're missing out. It's a nice big holiday in the middle of the week where you can sleep in, watch the terribly corny Macy's parade, eat a ton of food, take a nap, enjoy the fall weather, watch football, and all for a reason that's actually decent (giving thanks) and hasn't been pimped out like all the other holidays have. So yeah, Thanksgiving is definitely nice.

Now, the day after Thanksgiving is a different matter altogether. It's the biggest shopping day of the year, when everybody decides to go friggin' insane looking for bargains. And I get to work that day, from 9AM to 9PM, when the mall will be packed with psycho holiday shoopers. Fantastic. But I'm looking forward to it in a sadistic sort of way, just to see how I will handle it. On the plus side, I will make a ton of money and I will get free pizza from Clarks (hopefully). But 12 hours though... phew. That is a lot any day of the year.

Posted by nc/frodaddy at 7:58 AM EST
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Wednesday, 23 November 2005
More Nihon Puro Yakyuu
Y'all ready for this? More Japanese Pro Baseball news. To follow up on my previous post, Valentine and his Marines won the inaugural Asia Series cup against top teams from Korea, Taiwan, and China. After getting into Japanese baseball since my trip to Japan I'm convinced that such international competitions (i.e. the World Baseball Classic) could be really great for the sport. Studying baseball in Japan certainly helped increase my interest of it in the States, at least a little bit. In more Valentine news, he recently re-upped with the Marines for 3 years, which seems like a very smart move for both of them. I'm interested to see if Valentine can repeat the success that he's had this past year. Can he keep it up, or did he just get lucky? We'll find out.

Also, Kenji Jojima (formerly of the Softbank/Daiei Hawks) signed with the Seattle Mariners this week. Big surprise there, as of course the Mariners are owned by former Nintendo Chairman Hiroshi Yamauchi and has had big success with Japanese ballplayers in the past. My impression of Jojima was that he was like a Japanese Mike Piazza- an elite slugging catcher who has a lot of charisma and has been fairly famous outside of sports. Of course, seeing how he is the first "import" catcher, effectively communicating with his English-speaking pitching staff could be a real problem. But definitely keep an eye on this guy- he's got the skills and the look to make as much of a splash as Ichiro if he succeeds.

Posted by nc/frodaddy at 12:49 AM EST
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Thursday, 27 October 2005
Baseball News
Congratulations are in order for Bobby Valentine (formerly of the NY Mets and Texas Rangers), who led the perennial cellal dwelling Chiba Lotte Marines to the Japan Series title. His turnaround of the organization from chumps to champs in a few short years is nothing short of impressive, too bad it will hardly get any press in the US. Meanwhile, runners-up Hanshin Tigers continue their reign as the lovable losers of Japanese baseball, coming up short once again.

For Valentine, it's the first time that a gaijin manager has won the league title, which is pretty exciting. Also, Ozzie Guillen and his Chicago White Sox won the World Series today. I guess all that I can say is- Hooray for obnoxious baseball managers everywhere!

UPDATE: Valentine calls out White Sox and MLB! Story here. I say more power to ya Bobby.

Posted by nc/frodaddy at 12:58 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 28 October 2005 11:50 PM EDT
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Sunday, 23 October 2005
Extra Edition
Sorry about taking so long to post this. But it's been long hours down at the shoe store and this is the first free time where I felt like doing anything. Anyway, here's what I learned about movies: Standing around all day waiting for other people is in fact, hard work. Even after one 9 hour shooting day in the sun, I was completely wasted and spent the next two days as a Zombie. How people do this everyday is beyond me. Now for the positives. Life as an extra isn't all hanging around with famous movie stars, but it still has its perks. I did get copious amounts of free food, I did get to use actual Hollywood movie props, I experienced an actual movie production, checked out an awesome Porsche Cayenne camera rig, spent plenty of time outdoors and made $50. So not too bad.

I woke up way early at 5:15 and made my way over to the speedway at about 6:30. Then I had to fill out payment vouchers, grab a bite to eat then head over to wardrobe. One great thing about movies is that even extras have to change clothes for every different scene. And by change clothes, I mean in a hot, musty, smelly tent that you have to share with other guys. Definitely no trailers for us common folk. I did get to wear a neat photographer's vest at least. Then it was over to the props tent to pick up a camera and bag. It was nothing fancy at all, but I still had to drop off my driver's license with the propmaster anyway. Then time for the first scene.

For the first scene, we shot a flashback victory scene where Will Ferrell met his future wife. This was the first time I had seen an actual movie set, a mock-up of victory lane at Bristol circa 1996, and let's just say that it had an extremely temporary look to it. Here I learned how slow the movie process can be when they had to delay shooting 15 mins. just to switch out the correct "flashback" car. While we were waiting for that I happened to look over to my left and saw Will Farrell chatting with the director. That was cool. Anyways, for this celebration scene I stood behind the car and pantomimed taking photos. Remember, no noises on the set- I couldn't actually press the shutter button as that would make noise. Several times me and my fellow photographers got blasted with stray confetti, which was a lot of fun. Next, the director got some different dialogue from Will's skanky on-screen girlfriend, including a family friendly airline version. My group of extras wasn't needed for this scene, so I just found some shade and relaxed.

Next up was the "victory lane" at Talladega, which consisted of two walls, a car, and the actors. This time I saw how stand-ins are used to help set up the shot, etc. Getting everything just right is a painstaking process, and I understand why it takes so long just to shoot 30 seconds of a scene. Again I was a photographer and lucky me I was standing about three feet from the two leads, so I could catch all the dialogue. This isn't Oscar stuff but there were definitely a few improvised lines that made me want to chuckle. In the scene Ferrell and Reilly give each other new nicknames, and I have a couple that I'd like to see make it to the movie. If they don't, well it will be my own personal DVD "behind the scenes" moment.

The final shot for the day was probably the most involved and complicated in the day and showed how tricky it was to create a movie version of reality. Basically hundreds of extras had to act like they were going through the ticket gate on their way to a race. Mix with security guards, a couple of camera moves, and Gary Cole (yes, Lumberg) running through the crowd and you've got a shot that took a surprisingly long time to put together. There was just a lot of different things to coordinate for one scene that most viewers won't even think twice about. But by this time everyone was getting tired and sunburnt after being in the sun for eight hours so this was definitely a tough one to do. Eventually after shooting around 10 times the director got what he wanted and wrapped the shoot for the day.

I was really interested to see how people handled the movie. Most of the employees were in fact really polite. I figured they would be total jerks, because that seems to be the Hollywood rep, but at least around us the workers seemed to be cool. Overall I would describe the atmostphere as business like but also quite laid back. Smokers would love working on a movie set because, well, you can smoke any time anywhere apparently. Hollywood also appears to attract quite a share of cute girls as well to work on movies, on-camera as well as off. I guess that's a big surprise there. As for the extras, there seemed to be some "weekend warriors" like me doing this on their day off, but for some of the others let's just say their employment opportunities were probably more limited. One guy I talked to was the night producer of a local TV station. I have no idea how, but he managed work all day on only two hours of sleep. I'll bet he slept soundly.

As for the actors, it was interesting to see that "crazy comedian" Will Farrell was in fact really low-key and laid back, while "serious actor" John C. Reilly was the wild guy. Unfortunately, Sasha Baron Cohen (Ali G) wasn't on the set that day. That would have been awesome to see. The person who gets the best job is undoubtely the Director. He really doesn't have to do a hell of a lot of anything at all- the Assistant Director (and others) handles all the minutae and grunt work. But guess who will get all the credit if the movie does well.

Well, that's all of it for now. If you managed to read everything this far, congratulations. I'm sure I'll think of some more stuff to post up soon. The movie, called "High, Wide, and Handsome" will come out sometime next summer. The wait begins...

Posted by nc/frodaddy at 11:03 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 19 October 2005
Press Photographer #3
Well, this sure is exciting. Looks like I might be in that Will Ferrell NASCAR comedy after all. Regular readers may know that I went to an open casting call for the movie a couple of months back, but after finding a full-time job, I couldn't get the time to participate. But I got another call on Monday, saying that they needed more extras. Tomorrow (Wednesday) is my only day off this week, so I called casting and told them that's the only day I could work. To my surprise they said that's fine, come on down to Lowe's Motor Speedway bright and early at 6:30 AM on Wednesday.

Based on the phone conversation, it looks like I will play a press photographer during a scene in Victory Lane. It doesn't take a genius to figure out it will probably be a climatic victory scene for underdog driver Ricky Bobby (played by Ferrell). Basically I was told to wear dress casual, khakis, and bring a couple of different shirts for wardrobe to pick from. I'll also get to use a prop camera, isn't that exciting. Now, it's definitely not a speaking part, and I bet I'll hardly be on camera (if at all), but it still should be interesting. Based on the location and scene, it's almost certain that the "Big Man" Will Ferrell will in fact be there tomorrow. Also since it appears to be a victory scene there's little chance of it being cut.

Overall I'm pretty excited about the whole thing. For a more average Joe like myself this has to rank as a once-in-a-lifetime experience. As someone who enjoys movies a lot, it will definitely be interesting to see how the movie making process works first hand. From what everyone says, the actual business of making movies is extremely boring, but even if things get bogged down, well it's only one day of my life. At least it will be a good story to tell everyone about. So be sure to stay tuned for further updates.

Posted by nc/frodaddy at 12:02 AM EDT
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Friday, 14 October 2005
What is it with Baseball?
It was bizarre, but not really surprising. It only seemed like a matter of time until something weird happened in another baseball playoff game. You've probably seen it already, but as In ALCS Game 2, Umpire Doug Eddings essentailly gave the home White Sox four outs in the bottom of the ninth by not communicating that he believed the ball hit the dirt on the thrid strike. And wouldn't you know it, that fourth out, former Charlotte Knight Joe Crede, hits a game winning RBI Double. Only in baseball.

Why does weird stuff always seem to happen in baseball? Think about it. Even in the past few years, we've had Steve Bartman, ARod punching the ball out of Bronson Arroyo's glove, that kid in Baltimore who snagged a HR for the Yanks, Whos Your Daddy chants, Byun Hyung Kim blowing two games almost identically in 2001, and so many more I can't think of. Even outside the playoffs, things have been strange, starting with the steroid controversy (especially Mr. Palmeiro), the tied All-Star game, Pete Rose, Ted Williams' corpse (RIP), anything with Barry Bonds, and of course curses galore. All this strangeness does do one important thing however- contribute to baseball's rich history, which still blows away that of any other pro sport in America.

And for Mr. Eddings? He gets to be the third base umpire for Game 3 in Los Angeles/Anaheim. That ought to be a lot of fun.

Posted by nc/frodaddy at 1:14 AM EDT
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Monday, 10 October 2005
Ebay News
Right now I'm selling this sweet NES set for my neighbor on Ebay. Why he would want to sell this just to make a quick buck is beyond me, but someone out there will be winning a very nice auction soon.

Posted by nc/frodaddy at 12:38 AM EDT
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