Friday, March 25, 2011

SoCal and Back Again.

Spring break was a much needed time to relax and allow my mind to turn to mush. Two ten page papers, a final exam, and an 8 minute short film meant I had plenty of reason to relax with a week off with no responsibilities.

My girlfriend and I started our vacation off by heading to Mountain High in the middle of the night. The plan was to get to there when it opened, but that meant driving all night long. The idea sounded a lot better in theory. My body was exhausted after a long day of running errands, so I was quickly getting more tired as time went on. My girlfriend and I ended up switching off every so often so that the other one could sleep. When we were getting close to the ski resort, we learned that the grapevine part of the I-5 was closed due to snow. This meant we had to backtrack and take an alternate route. Eventually we got to Mt. High about a half an hour after opening, but because of the snowy conditions, there were hardly any people there. It's times like these I love having a car with all wheel drive! It sucks putting on chains when it's dumping snow outside. While snowboarding, we met up with Peter, one of my old friends from high school. We snowboarded until our muscles told us enough was enough.


After snowboarding, we said our goodbyes and headed off to Orange County where my mom and brother live. Got in around four-ish and took a much needed nap. We spent the rest of that night just hanging out with the family and catching up. I also showed them the film I had been working on for the last ten weeks ("Rise and Shine") for my film production class at UCSC. We went to bed early in an attempt to catch up on some more lost hours of much needed sleep.

The next day we headed off to Encino near Hollywood to hang out with our friend and big-time film editor Nick Rood. He was kind enough to let us stay in his super awesome bachelor pad of a studio. Unfortunately, because of all the rain, half of his carpet got soaked. This meant that we had to move all the furniture from the wet part of the room over to the dry side. Besides the misplaced furniture, Nick did an amazing job with the setup. There were film poster covering every square inch of wall space, a sweet wool shag rug, and an awesome photo of Nick and my girlfriend as Star Wars characters.

Nick took Jenny and I around to do all the touristy stuff he had meant to do eventually. We grabbed a bite to eat at the famous "Pink's Hot Dog Stand" where I ordered a Mulholland Drive hot dog comprised of meat, bacon, mushrooms, and nacho cheese. Arterie clog to the max. After this, we checked out Studio Depot, a lighting and camera equipment rental house where Nick works. This place was a candy store for me. They had everything a filmmaker could ever need and more. They even had green screen booties for, you know, those times when you want to have invisible feet...

After this, we headed up to Runyon Canyon, a popular running/walking trail that looks out over all of Los Angeles. It's funny because living in LA most of my life, I had no idea about any of these places! I guess I just sort of took the city for granted, and never really did all the things that people come to LA to do. Either way, I'm glad I got a chance to check this trail out. The view was beautiful, and if that wasn't perfect enough, the setting sun was casting a golden glow over all of LA.

We spent the night visiting Jenny's sister who also lives in Hollywood before scouring the streets to find restaurants that were open at 11pm. We ended up just heading back to Nick's place to order a pizza. We put on a movie (Last Exorcism), but I passed out before the intro credits came up. Nick and Jenny quickly passed out as well. A good way to end a great day in the city.

In the morning, Nick had work so we grabbed some breakfast at an IHOP In Westwood before he left us. We mulled around in Westwood for awhile checking out the random camera stores and clothing shops. I was stoked to find where the Banksy piece was behind the Urban Outfitters. Unfortunately, it had been painted over.

This was the Banksy piece before it was painted over.
Banksy - Crayola Shooter

That night we met up with my aunt and her three kids who had recently moved down South from Connecticut. It was a bit jarring to see my family from the east coast hanging out on the west. It almost felt like we were all back in New York, where the rest of my family lives. We had some Italian and caught up with each other.

The next day, Jenny and I woke up at the crack of dawn. Thursday (3/24) was the release of the highly sought after "Huck Gee 8" Skullhead Dunny." We packed the car with blankets and jackets in case of rainy weather and made the trek back up to LA. Oh man is traffic bad. People aren't kidding when they say LA traffic sucks. I was cruising along the freeway at 75mph and out of nowhere, hit a parking lot of cars that weren't moving. As with any release, I feared that all this lost time would result in me coming away empty handed. After finding an alternative route, we wound up at Kidrobot LA two hours before opening (11am). Seeing that the line was only five people long, my girlfriend and I decided to take a stroll down Melrose avenue. We grabbed a coffee and just admired all the graffiti and urban art covering the surround sidewalks and buildings.

We spent the next hour and a half waiting in line in front of the store, eagerly anticipating its opening. It always gets me every time that the people who wait for these releases are not children but adults, some of whom are well into their thirties and forties. I don't know what it is about waiting in line for these sort of toy releases, but it feels cool to be a part of something not quite understood by most of mainstream society. Who in their right mind would wait two hours for a piece of plastic? I would! I also want to thank my awesome girlfriend for sticking it out with me in the line. Luckily for us it wasn't raining so it really wasn't that bad.

Dressed to Kill.

At 11am sharp they began letting people in to get their skullheads. I bought mine and that was it. Before heading off, I took my new companion out of his box just to see for myself how cool this piece really was. Easily one of my favorite art toys in my collection! Before heading back home, we made a quick detour after spotting an OBEY stencil up high on one of the buildings. Being a huge Shepard Fairy fan, I snapped a few photos before leaving. No doubt that this stencil would be painted over in the next few days.

Obey Sighting.

Back in Orange County I had a teeth cleaning appointment. They found a cavity so that was awesome. I spent the next two hours drooling out of my mouth like a fool. Back at home, Jenny and I went for a quick run to get ourselves back in the groove of working out. Later that night, we headed off to Jenny's dad's house to eat dinner and hang out. The food was delicious, the wine was tasty, and good times were had. After getting back pretty late, I setup the film Watchmen on the iPad. Just like all movies I try and watch when lying down, we both quickly passed out.

The next morning we finished packing and said our goodbyes before shipping off. We made it a point to stop at "The Bagel Shack" on our way out. They're the only place I know of that has a French Toast bagel. I don't know how they do it, but it's delicious! Other bagel chains really need to get this recipe, because nothing else compares. After bagels, we stopped by at my aunt's house to check out her place. Having only lived there a few weeks, it looked really nice and homey. It's really cool to see my family starting to move to the west coast. After saying our goodbyes to my aunt and cousins, we began our six hour trek back to the homeland.

The break isn't officially over, but I feel like I've done so much in such a short amount of time. There was never a dull moment. I was also able to finally take care of a lot of business that I've been pushing off for so long. It's always good to see family as well. I'm hoping that this last quarter at UC Santa Cruz doesn't kick my ass (I doubt it will), but if it does, at least I'll have these good times to look back on!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

"Rise and Shine"

In an earlier blog post, I mentioned that I was working on a short film for a class I was taking at UC Santa Cruz. Well, I'm done. Boy, does it feel good!

"Rise and Shine" a short film by Doug Smith

This film was a challenge to say the least, but that was sort of the idea. What's the point of making a new film if it's just like one you've already made? So for this film, I wanted to merge both live-action footage with stop-frame footage into one connected narrative. My other challenge was to stop frame a person, rather than a mound of clay or an inanimate object.

I definitely cannot take all the credit. This film was a collaboration between a few highly talented individuals. The main actress Kat Brown was as dedicated as they come. She had to perform every movement in the stop frame bit with her eyes closed, as well as having to keep her body extremely still. I still don't know how we were able to pull off some of the movements that we did in the film. Jennifer Kehl, my girlfriend and animator, spent as much time as I did behind the camera grueling over the animations of all the objects you see moving around onscreen (i.e. iPod, toothbrush, bagels, etc.). She also was a huge help in coaching Kat on how to move in slowed down movements. Lastly, David Lockwood did a brilliant job in creating an original score for the film. The music is phenomenal! I was honored when my teacher asked if it was copyrighted because I guess it sounded that good! I cannot wait to work with these individuals again on future projects!

A big thank you goes out to all the extras and people who made this film a reality. I'm extremely proud of the way it turned out. I hope you will enjoy it as much as we enjoyed making it for you!

I've Come a Long Way Since Dunnys.

Most vinyl collectors will agree that Dunnys are the gateway drug to vinyl toy collecting. There are so many different Dunny artists from so many different series, that it's easy to find a design or character that attracts you. Not to mention, they're cheap enough where you don't feel bad about getting a few every time you go to an Urban Outfitters or a Kidrobot Store. The problem for me is that having too many just creates clutter. They all just sort of blend together into a mashup of colors and hues. This is why I've decided to sell a large majority of my collection.

In an effort to refocus and slim down my toy collection, I've decided to sell 82 Kidrobot figures. It's pretty insane to think that I own that many 3" figurines. Yikes! I still have about 40 designs I'm still holding on to, but it feels good to get rid of the excess. This will also free up some space for some upcoming releases I'm looking forward to, such as the Huck Gee 8" Skullhead.

If anyone is interested in purchasing any of these Dunnys, feel free to contact me here or email me at

Here is the link to my SALE on the Kidrobot Forums!

DUNNYS FOR SALE! (Ye Olde English)

DUNNYS FOR SALE! (Random Series)


DUNNYS FOR SALE! (2010 Series)

DUNNYS FOR SALE! (FG/Simpsons/Futurama)


DUNNYS FOR SALE! (Chases and Rares)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Big News in the Land of Vinyl.

Well, I should be writing my term paper, but a quick break on the internet has led to a mandatory blog entry.

First and foremost, coming up on March 24th, Kidrobot is releasing their first 8" Dunny of 2011. The Dunny will be by artist Huck Gee, and will be an alternative colorway to the 8" "Glow in the Dark" Skullhead released at SDCC 2010. I'm so excited for this release because, despite the fact it being a "Dunny," Huck went ahead and cut the ears off the traditional Dunny mold. This toy will no doubt stand apart from the many 8" Dunnys crowding my shelf. Another reason to love Huck is that he works locally out of his San Francisco studio and he drives a Subaru Impreza STI! The release is limited to 650 pieces worldwide, and there's no doubt in my mind they will sell out in hours. Good luck to everyone trying to snag a piece.

The other big news is the recently leaked Dunny Series 2011 series set to come out around summertime. I hate to say it, but Kidrobot and Dunnys are slowly losing their appeal to me. It just seems like so many variations are coming out too often, that the individual designs lose their attraction. In the next few weeks I plan to sell a lot of my 3" Dunnys in favor of larger, more limited edition toys on the market. There are a few 3"ers that I really enjoy, but for the future, I plan to only grab the designs that I really like as opposed to trying to collect a whole completed set. Needless to say, the leaked photos of the 2011 Dunny Series has some pretty sweet designs. I'll have to see them in person first, but their are definitely a few that catch my eye!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Meet Milo.

So a few posts back, I wrote an entry about the artist KAWS. I mentioned that he had a release coming up, and that I was going to try to snag one. Well guess what. I am now the proud owner of a KAWS x Bape "Dissected Milo."

KAWS x Bape "Milo" Dissected

They had three colorways, but I went with the brown. I actually spent a little more than retail to pre-order one from Toyqube, a KAWS authorized reseller. On February 25th, I along with the rest of the world (or so it seemed) logged on to in hopes to get a figure at retail price ($180). I tried for the black one, but after a frenzy of server crashes, they were sold out. I read somewhere online that they sold out of their stock in a little under 22 minutes. There was 1,000 figures per colorway, so you do the math.

About a week later I got my awesome little guy in the mail. I can see what all the hype is about! These things are top notch. Medicom Toy Company does an amazing job when it comes to quality control. The only drawback to owning this piece is that I have no other KAWS pieces to accompany my Milo. Maybe one day, but for now I'm happy with my first KAWS piece.

KAWS Eyes.

From Every Angle

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Random Beat.

A slow shutter shopping cart photo; it's been done before, so what? I gave it a go. The cart isn't as sharp as I would have liked, but I'm happy nonetheless.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Short Film Idea.

This is my attempt at creative writing.

Working title: “My Life Sucks.”


A man, who daydreams of a better life decides to take action against his drab day-to-day lifestyle. Constantly looking upon past times that bring him joy, he is constantly reminded of his insignificant existence. I plan to pay extremely close attention to style in this film, possibly telling the entire narrative through a series of point of view shows. With the addition of a wide-angle lens, and a harness to mount the camera on my face, I plan to be able to use both hands as I interact with the world around me. I feel that it is the common route for student filmmakers to make films that deal with anxiety, depression, and suicide. With this film, I hope to transform that stereotype and offer salvation by giving the main character what he desires in the end of the film: a life free from bounds and limits where he can truly live at peace. At the conclusion of my film, I attempt to question the audience whether this is the story of a man who has finally found happiness in the afterlife, or if it is about a happy person dreaming about the ordinary, mediocre life he could have lived.Most of my past work has been very light-hearted and comical, so I want to challenge myself with creating a more dramatic story line. I would like to shoot in and around the San Francisco area so that I may be inspired by the urbanization and the new surroundings of the big city. The shooting of this film will no doubt take multiple days and multiple locations. Because of the lack of coverage of each scene (all shots will be most likely form POV), I will be sure to focus that each shot is carefully constructed and that camera movement is appropriate and deliberate. I have written my script and am ready to get started shooting as soon as the quarter begins!


Images of past events pass through my head. The memories feel so real. I can almost touch them, almost feel them, almost interact with them. For some reason, I can tell something is off. My mother is pushing me on a swing. I smile as the breeze flows carelessly through my hair. I jump into the pool. The floaties help me stay afloat. I can’t help but pretend I am a submarine searching for hidden treasures. I’m eating ice cream with all the fixings to make diabetic scream. The ice cream drips on my clothes and face, but I am indifferent. I’m building legos. I shove the instructions aside as I attempt to build what I see in my head. My mother tucks me in and kisses my forehead. She begins reading me a book. I don’t care for the story. The sound of my mother’s voice keeps me interested. As my mind succumbs, my eyes begin getting heavy. I do not resist the tendency to close them. I am asleep. In this moment I am happy. Too bad real life isn’t like this.

An older me wakes up in an undecorated studio apartment. A picture of my current girlfriend stares at me from my nightstand table as my eyes begin to focus. I quickly check my watch before exclaiming, “Shit!” I rush to get ready. I make coffee, take a shower, brush my teeth, shave, check my watch, put on my work attire, tie my tie, look in the mirror, grab my thermal mug and coffee, and head out the door. As I wait on the corner for my carpool to arrive, I see happy people all around me. Couples are gossiping, children are laughing, and everyone is happy, except for me. A high end luxury car pulls up and I get in. I greet my coworker Tom, who quickly apologizes for picking me up so late. I tell him, “It’s no problem.” As we drive to work he begins telling me about his life. Tom is married with two kids. Because his wife is the daughter of the CEO of the company, he had no problem moving up to head supervisor. As for me, I’m just a lowly office clerk. Everyday from 9-5 I log data, send out faxes, make copies, and make sure not to get in other people’s way. Tom also makes it a point to brag about his upcoming trip to the Bahamas with his family, courtesy of his wife’s father. Inside I hate him and his life, but I just smile. At work I do what I do everyday. I copy documents, type data entries, eat my pathetic ham and cheese sandwich, and count the seconds until I can get home and do it all again the next day. Tom has to work late tonight so I am forced to take the bus back home. I could never afford a car so I’ve always relied on others to get me around. As I step out of the office, it begins to pour rain. Luckily, I remembered my umbrella. As soon as I open it, the wind takes a hold, and blows it from my grasp. I chase after it. The umbrella eventually ends up in the street where a car promptly runs over it. I begin to walk back toward the bus stop as the rain beats down upon my head. Walking towards me is a man in a baggy sweater, hood pulled over his face. I feel out of my element but I continue to walk towards him. As I pass him, he bumps shoulders with me, knocking me aside. I shake it off and continue to walk past him. A few seconds later I hear the sound of footsteps getting closer. I curiously turn around. A fist comes flying from the sky and makes contact with my skull. I hit the cold, hard sidewalk like a bag of wet cement. Everything goes dark and I close my eyes.

Eventually I come to. When my eyes begin to focus, I notice a large amount of pedestrians standing over me. An older gentleman asks, “Are you okay?” I quickly rise to my feet and push past them. As I walk away from the situation, I begin rubbing my forehead, where a splintering headache has begun to develop. I bring my hand down and notice some blood on my hand. I should get this looked at, but at this point I just want to get home. I finally reach the bus stop where I stand and wait. I reach for my wallet in my back pocket and notice it is missing. I check my pockets, and nothing. I have no choice but to walk home. As I walk home, I notice a homeless man sitting on the side of the building. I notice he is holding a cardboard sign that reads, “At leest I am free.” I think about those words for the remainder of my walk home. As I walk up to my studio apartment, I notice a piece of paper stapled to the wall. As I approach, the large lettering is as clear as day. The paper reads, “EVICTION NOTICE.” I don’t know why I ever decided to live in this part of the city, the rent is astronomical for something that is the same square footage as my cubicle where I work. Paying rent has always been a struggle for me, so it’s no surprise that the landlord is kicking me out. According to the notice, I have one week to move all my stuff out. I enter the house and turn on the lights.

Even with the lights on, my apartment still feels dark and depressing. I microwave a cup of noodles and grab a Budweiser from the fridge. I sit on my broken Ikea couch and flip the television on. Every channel is a montage of commercials telling me how to get skinnier, look younger, and have a large genitalia. I let the sounds of the commercials fade out as I reflect on my daily ooccurences. Bad luck seems to follow me wherever I go. My quiet time is interrupted by a phone ring. I answer the phone. My girlfriend of 3 months is on the other end. The way she says, “hello’” I already know where this conversation is going. She proceeds to tell me that things just aren’t interesting anymore and that she feels like I’m holding her back from experiencing life. She’s probably right. She concludes the conversation with the famous last lines, “It’s not you, it's me.” After a pause, I say, “OK,” and hang up the phone. I snap my phone in two pieces before throwing it to the ground.

Outside, I lock the door to my apartment. Images of when I was a child being passing through my head. I walk along the dark empty streets of the city. I enter my neighborhood hardware store. I find what I am looking for and head to the checkout line. I look down at my one item, a ten foot line of woven rope. I feel weird just buying this one thing, so I look around the checkout line for something else to buy. I see a magazine on exotic beaches across America. I pay for both the magazine and the rope with a check. I walk home, taking time to look down at my recent purchases. An image of my mom swinging me around by my arms is overlayed onto the dark city surrounding me. I get home and take the items out of the bag. I put the magazine on my coffee table. I flip through it to see a wide assortment of beaches. I put the magazine back down and reach for the rope. I begin tying a very distinguished knot. The hangman’s noose knot looks a lot easier to do in the instructions. Finally, my poor attempt at the knot seems good enough to complete the action it wass designed to assist with.

An image of me as a child waking up in bed appears. I begin to tie the noose from a support beam in my apartment. The younger me pushes the door to my room slightly ajar. The sounds of crying can be heard from another room. Back in my apartment, I am staring at the noose. I walk away and go to my desk where I grab a piece of paper. The younger me creeps down the hallway. I see a light at the end of the hallway. The crying gets louder. I can tell by the deep sobbing, it’s my father. I peek in and see him with his head in his hands seated at the kitchen table. He notices my presence and looks up at me. I freeze. Something is terribly wrong. Back in my apartment, I am scribbling my poor attempt at a suicide note. I throw the first version away before grabbing a new piece of paper. I begin to write again. The image of my father staring at me with his tear-stricken, beady eyes haunts me. In a deep, low voice, he says, “There’s been an accident.” A blur of lights passes through my line of visions. Car sounds are heard. Back in the apartment, I finish writing the last word to my note. I step back to put the note on the desk on the note. It reads, “At least I am free.” I look further up on my desk where I have a framed photograph of my mother. I reach out to touch the cold, frigid glass separating me from her warms, smooth skin. I grab a chair and walk over to the noose hanging in the center of my living room. I stand face to face with the noose. In this moment I am extremely nervous. I begin blinking. My heart rate begins to speed up. Flashes of oncoming cars are seen. I blink faster. The image of my living room begins to fade. Blurred lights overpower my vision. The sound becomes too much to bear. Then all becomes quiet. Black is all that surrounds me.

After a few seconds, I wake up. I blink my eyes a few times allowing my vision to become sharp. I am on a sandy beach, like the one from the magazine. I look around and notice my girlfriend to my right. She smiles at my with a tender gaze. I smile back. I proceed to look at the horizon. A group of migrating gulls fly through the sky. The sun beating down on me feels good. In this moment I am happy. In this moment I am free.