Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Coming soon: Mario At Work (a new blechg)

One thing I'm consistently warned about is that everything I post on the internet is reviewed by future employers. (And sold to marketers and advertisers. Oh, sorry, I meant to say my data is mined. Same thing.)
I'm not ashamed of my sociopolitical opinions, but I would like to write about stuff I do that I can actually get paid for in a neutral setting. So I set up a blog for the following topics:

Programming Topics:
App and Site Development
Design
Science

Post-Production Professional Topics:
Animation
Visual Effects
Editing


General writing stuff can still go here where no one can find it. :p
UPDATE: It's live! Check it out!

Friday, July 6, 2018

Belief Grief

Much has been written about the Five Stages Of Grief. It is experienced with people when you lose them, but what about something even more important? A deeply held belief that, in many ways, defines you...and it's a lie. You're wrong, and you're caught.
Imagine how awful that must be. What goes through a person's mind throughout the transformation. Like fixing an addict or a cult member...who tend to show the same creepy, desperate characteristics of your least favorite online commenter or angry social media poster.
So you go through the five stages as follows. See if you recognize these from, say, social media:

Denial: There is NO evidence to support that! Also, the hundreds of links you've provided with detailed evidence in every single one is wrong because I don't like those sources because they are dumb and so there.
Anger: YOU DIRTY ROTTEN CUCKOLD! You're through, pal! Get me?!?!?! You'll never eat at a nice restaurant while I'm alive!!!
Bargaining: Yeah, well, YOUR side has jerks, too!!!
Depression: Oh my god...everything I know is a lie. Everything...they're all laughing at me, I'm a failure, kill me...
Acceptance:

Sorry, I've never seen any examples of that last one....at least not on social media.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Motivations

A wise man pointed out that motivation is bullshit: :) Sometimes it's not that simple, of course.
I like to hang out on sites where I am given prompts - questions to write long answers for, or projects to draw or code or whatnot - to create. When I don't get the prompts, I am truly useless.
Why is that?
If you have the same problem and you came here for advice, well...sorry.
I'm bringing this blog back to work through problems, and like you, I hope to solve them...but that is the always moving goalpost that life makes us score on.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Rock bands and startups: A Field Guide

Rock and roll, as it was once known, mutates and reinvents itself and reboots itself and fights day after day to keep up with a changing world. Just like small businesses, or as they're known these days, startups.
What kind of people go into a winning combo? Let's take a look:

Lead Singer/CEO


Talks louder than anyone in the room. Reads and plays your emotions better than anyone in the room. Doesn't always make sense, but everyone loves her/him anyway.

Guitarist/Developer


Builds the sound and vision by hand with almost supernatural skill and smarts. Is usually a douchebag.
(A lead singer is an asshole, which is different. A douchebag will snipe, spill sarcasm and undercut your dignity and confidence; an asshole will beat you up if you cross her/him, but have a beer with you later. Who would you rather hang out with?)

Bassist/DevOps


Nobody really pays attention to her/him, but you know what? Nothing gets done without her.

Drummer/Manager


Her or his big racket holds the whole ridiculous enterprise together. Ignore her or him at your own peril.

Keyboardist, DJ/Designer


What the fuck is s/he even doing? Search me, but s/he really ties the operation together.

Everyone has a job to do here. Sometimes you get a one man band,

or a guy who can do a whole lot of things well,

but those stars are rare. A great team is always a beautiful thing.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

What do "Dr. Strangelove" and "Reservoir Dogs" have in common? A lot!

(caution: Spoilers for both movies ahead! Watch the two movies for a double feature or separately, then you can read the below. NO spoilers for "The Great Dictator")
This fateful Election Day Eve, I watched Charlie Chaplin's "The Great Dictator" and Stanley Kubrick's "Dr. Strangelove (or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb)" back to back. I had never seen the first, but I had seen the latter many times. You always hear about Charlie Chaplin being the greatest performer of comic cinema history - he's one of those performers you hear that about until you're sick of hearing it. Yet watching him literally float across the screen, you get what all the hype was about. Much like Stanley Kubrick's directing.
Now that the axe has fallen (on democracy's neck), I was thinking what would be a great pairing with "Dr. Strangelove" and for some reason I came up with "Reservoir Dogs". What do they have in common?
(Did I mention there are spoilers here? There are spoilers.)
Both feature an apocalyptic calamity brought on by a few reckless, violent and insane alpha men. One calamity is global, the other personal, but the scenarios follow a similar path. And there are parallels here with the characters, too:

The Architect Of War


General Turgidson / Joe

The boss. It's his war. He plots the strategy and directs his troops to battle, strangely gathering bravery from the notion that he's not going to be on the front lines. This being the movies, that doesn't save him...either of them.

...and his Enforcer


President Muffley / Nice Guy Eddie

President Muffley (Peter Sellars) makes a big noise about Turgidson's shocking disregard for human life, if only because he doesn't want to be seen as "the greatest mass murderer in history". But he acts reactively to Turgidson's demands and the situation of the rogue nuclear attack - Turgidson's wishes become his orders. At least Nice Guy Eddie (Chris Penn), for his bluster and awful wardrobe, doesn't forget to admit "Daddy" is the boss. President Muffley doesn't go there, but it's clear - it's Muffley's War Room, but it's Turgidson's war.

...and his Ruthless But Loyal Executioner


Major Kong / Mr. White

They ARE the front line. Skilled, efficient, stone hearted killers. Still, they got nothin' but love their team: King Kong (Slim Pickens) loves his crew on the doomed bomber, and Mr. White (Harvey Keitel) loves his posse, especially Mr. Orange. Yes, he fights with everyone, but he makes up, at least long enough to torture the unfortunate Officer Nash. Or at least until with Joe (Lawrence Harvey), he can't.

So with this posse, what could possibly go wrong?! Enter...

The Agent Of Chaos


General Ripper / Mr. Blonde

Pissed off, crazy outlaws with nothing to live for or lose. Balls over brains. And they're in exactly the wrong place at the right time. General Ripper (Sterling Hayden) defies the US government, sealing off his base from the outside world and launching a nuclear attack on Russia on his own, all over fear of "commies" and a vague threat to his "precious bodily fluids". Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen) upends the diamond wholesalers' heist by shooting unarmed employees, and kidnaps a cop so he can torture him to death, basically because "they set off the alarm". But they both really did it because they can. And everything goes right to hell.

The Two Faced Liar


Ambassador de Sadesky / Mr. Orange

When is being a two faced rat a good thing? It isn't, so you try to find truth in your loyalty inside. Ambassador de Sadesky (Pete Bull) is just a proud Russian patriot, and Officer Noondyke (Tim Roth) is just a cop handling a real bad situation.

The Failed Voice Of Reason


Captain Mandrake / Mr. Pink
They tried to warn them. Captain Mandrake spends his screen time trying to reason with General Ripper, and then with Sergeant Bat Guano (Keenan Wynn); Mr. Pink fights (literally) to keep Mr. White on the game plan, plaintively bellowing "We're supposed to be professionals!!!" But if you think herding cats is hard, try herding unhinged killers having a bad day.

He Who Stands To Gain From This


Dr. Strangelove / Whoever would buy stolen diamonds from these guys

Seriously, who the fuck would do that? Even the Agents Of Chaos aren't that nuts.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Movies of 2013: a roundup

OK, here's where I always do the Best/Worst of 2013, but as it turns out, I didn't see the best or worst. In fact, I only went to the movies a bakers' dozen times, which is unheard of for me. Frankly, it's been that kind of year...even the Oscar rush quality blitz of recent days has been kind of lackluster. And I haven't seen one nominee. Yes, old and out of touch.
So before I go back to watching TV (or worse, playing video games) here's the roundup:

THE AWESOME ONES
The Canyons
Inside Llewlyn Davis
The Counselor
Holy Motors
38 Witnesses
World's End
Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing
Adieu Berthe
THE LESS AWESOME ONES
World War Z
Stoker
Prisoners
Tango Libre
Dario Argento's Dracula
THE NOT AWESOME ONES
The Raven
You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet
Haute Cuisine

So if you missed any of these, well, don't worry. They'll be up on Netflix or your favorite stream service soon, or maybe on some channel you can TiVo and never watch.

Monday, October 21, 2013

We are Generation X, and we still suck.

Hi, I'm from Generation X. Remember us? Basically if you're mid 30s to around 50 (in 2013), you're one of us. That's right, Generation X just turned 50. Think about that for a second.
It's no surprise there was no celebration.
We were quite the rage for a while, after which we learned the hardest fact of life in a new millennium: no one gives a shit for very long about anything. And the irony is, that is entirely our fault. In fact, most of the horrors we are facing right now in the world are pretty much the result of our incompetency, indifference, lack of drive and lack of common sense. If we didn't do it, we were helpless to preventing it from happening.
America as a super power, for example. Europe is a little sister to us, loving but kind of embarrassed at their big dumb brother who doesn't even get why he can't hold a job (or a girlfriend). They are host to a number of former failed super powers - Spain, Holland, Italy, Germany and Russia - so it makes sense they'd be kind, as we are about to join that club. South Asia has crushed us with their work ethic and devotion to education, while we continue to play mall cop to the planet. Anyone feel they'll be as benevolent in victory? Me neither.
The internet is another example (ahem) and something we claim credit for. Bullshit.
The internet can be traced back almost to the "Greatest Generation" (Generation G?!), specifically 1968, when the military created Arpanet as a post-apocalyptic means to communicate. And it was released for public use by order of ultimate Generation G icon George Herbert Walker Bush! And then it was developed from a secret network to Net 0.1 by the nerdiest Baby Boom minds, led by Generation B geniuses such as Tim Berners-Lee, Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs. (Al Gore was strangely absent. Good thing he decided to concentrate on environmental science instead!)
What did we contribute? Essentially we loaded it with porn, penny stock traders, stolen goods on eBay and Bit Torrent, ads for insurance, video game shoot 'em ups, and videos of pets doing tricks. And bugs like Stuxnet, which will do more to bring a real apocalypse than any zombie plague ever will. And more porn.
It was inevitable we'd screw things up. We were the first generation to come of age with a pass to slack off. So that was our name, the "slackers" - living in spare family rooms, watching TV and getting loaded. Because we came of age at a time when we had, as a nation, a wealth that will probably never be equalled in the world again. And like any good rich boy or girl, we mismanaged it. Our subsequent Gen-X leaders in government and finance and business, our best and brightest, crashed that ship and burned it and it's now a ruin on the bottom of the ocean, and we don't know how to build another one. But damn if we can't build a thousand apps to help you score with chicks.
So clearly, we are not coping with middle age and going gray well, because we wasted our prime utterly and completely. I am particularly sensitive to this as a single man, because once upon a time, men in their 40s were prized for our awareness of ourselves and what women need from their man. That's exactly not the case anymore, as any woman who seeks love online will tell you right off. Goodbye "Mad Men", hello cock selfies.
We like to say "60 is the new 40" and "You're as young as you feel", as if to reassure ourselves that we can still put together a 10th inning upset and accomplish something our millennial successors won't hate us for. The 1968 Mets would be amazed at a upset like that. (And if you get that reference, you're probably Gen-B.)
There are some who are bringing the world back to normal, and making an effort to make it better as if such a thing was possible. And once again, as it should be, it's the young people. Y and Millenial have brought us Occupy, Ted.com, a Mobile internet, 3D printing in your home, Maker Faires in every town, HD video production tools in every home, and the Criterion movie library streaming on demand. They're saying no to cars and fast food, having sex without marriage and kids (like, a lot) and demanding substantial changes to the way we think about our jobs and homes and bodies.
OK, we created the Criterion library in the first place. (Oh, how we love TV.) So maybe we don't completely suck. Besides, they brought us hipsters, twerking and Justin Bieber, so maybe they will screw up too.
Or maybe we'll have to settle for being #1 at that.