Tag Archives: geek

Let’s go See a Movie!

So, Indiana Jones and the It’s Fun to do Bad Things opens next weekend, perhaps you’ve heard.  

I want to invite all roadies who live in the greater Los Angeles area, to partake in a long standing tradition, the Opening Weekend Line Squat in Westwood.  Here’s what you do:  go to Movietickets.com, or Fandango, or whatever, and buy a ticket to the Friday, May 23rd 7:15pm show at Mann’s Village in Westwood, CA. It will sell out, I suspect, so don’t delay.   

When you arrive, and you should arrive by 6:00 at the latest, look for us planted in chairs near the front of the line, near BJ’s Pizza.  If you can’t recognize us, start shouting “Throw me the idol, I’ll throw you the whip!” as loud as you can, and then start acting out the face melting sequence from Raiders.  We’ll know it’s you.  We’ll let you go on a little while, but then, eventually, we’ll give you a wave and end your suffering.  

From there, you will enjoy the ceremonial rituals of The Opening Weekend Summer Line Squat, which include:

The mad dash to get seats. (we split into 2 teams, entering doors 2 and 3.  whoever has a better bead on a bunch of seats in the middle makes a run for it and shouts their comrades over)

The post mad dash smugness.  (this goes on for 25 minutes or so as latecomers look at you with envy and anger as they make their way to the balcony or the extreme left or right of the 1300 seat room.)

Cheering and Jeering previews.  (there is nothing like the unfettered delight or disdain of preview material at a Westwood show.  there’s a reason stars and directors will sneak in.  we let them know how bad they suck or rock.)

Cheering the THX logo.  At The Village, achieving THX certification means driving enough wattage through the subs to power an evil, impenetrable fortress.  There’s thx, and then there’s THeffingX.  

Oh yeah… then there’s the movie itself, and there is no room in town where it will look or sound better.  If the script sucks, they actually re-edit on the fly.  Ok, that’s not true.  

So, come one, come all!  The great thing about an experience like this is that it makes the quality of the movie almost irrelevant.  Almost.  

While I’m on the topic of movies, I’d like to point out that Prince Caspian opened below expectations this weekend, despite the reviews telling us that it’s better than the first film.  I have, many times, urged Christian people who complain about the lack of good content produced by major media outlets to speak with their wallets.  

This would be one of those opportunities.  

Welcome Back!

So, apparently our RSS feed has been down for, well, nobody knows quite how long. A while, anyway. It just kept showing no new posts, and then finally, nothing at all. It’s back up and running now, thanks to some fancy codin’ by an unnamed hero of the masses (named me). To all of our rabid fan (hey Bobby!) who thought we had folded up shop and moved the blog offline to Aly and Ash’s backyard, let me be the first to say …

… Welcome back!

Planned Downtime

Addison Road will be down this weekend. I’m switching over to a new server, with significantly faster load times, and less crappy downtime.

Please get all of your snarky comments posted here by tonight at 10pm, or risk getting that shakes until the site comes back online.

macheist ’08

Macheist is up!

macheist_med

If you’re a mac user, and you don’t know, then you SHOULD know! Macheist is a bundle of software from independent mac software developers (what does that mean, exactly? they haven’t signed with a major label? they do lo-fi development? their apps haven’t yet received radio airplay?). The more people who buy the bundle, the more apps get unlocked. This is some high-quality gear, and for $49 it’s tough to pass up.

Do me a favor, if you decide to do do it, use my referral link:

https://www.macheist.com/buy/invite/29317

Who’s in? What’s your favorite in the bunch? Which one looks most interesting?

Seth Godin on The Death of the Music Industry

Seth Godin (all-around internet guru guy) wrote an article on things that can be learned, by existing industries, from the slow and agonizing death of the music industry. The quote of the article has to be:

You used to sell plastic and vinyl. Now, you can sell interactivity and souvenirs.

Some of his language is a bit “insider” to the internet marketing world, but you can get past that and still hear what he’s saying. Here’s the article: Music Lessons.

(ht: Matt, the guy who built wordpress)

.mac abuse

I’ve started getting spam comments on this blog from websites hosted by Apple’s .Mac service. This is new to me, so I thought Apple might like to know about it. For a company that prides itself on usability, it was almost impossible to find this page to report the abuse. I finally had to use Google to search apple’s site!

This seems like a pretty expensive way to host spam. $99 for the year, and once you get busted the whole account, plus the credit card you used to open it, go on the “Naughty” list. It must be profitable, I guess, but I wonder how those economics actually work.

Grow Your Own Nerd

In 1987, my brother and I were in 7th grade, my dad was a High School math teacher making about $25,000 a year, and my mom was a part-time nurse working the night shift. We didn’t eat at restaurants, we didn’t sleep in hotels on vacation; they saved every spare penny and invested it for retirement and college. In 1987, we didn’t own a TV, didn’t have a radio or a tape player, and we were still 13 years away from getting a cordless phone. And yet, somehow, someone convinced them that they needed a computer in their home, that it would be important for us kids to grown up with one in the house. So, for Christmas that year, my parents bought us an Apple IIgs. By the time they finished buying the computer, the monitor, the upgrades, the printer and software, they had laid out almost $5,000, 20% of my dad’s annual salary, on something they would never use or understand.

When I look back on it now, I don’t think they’ve every done anything in their lives that was more out of character.

We spent Christmas that year with my dad’s parents in Phoenix, so they didn’t bring the computer with them. Instead, they wrapped up a programming book on how to write code in BASIC, and gave that to us. My brother and I were so excited to get the book that we didn’t realize a computer was coming with it. We spent the rest of that week with a pad of scratch paper, writing out programs longhand that we would enter into the new computer once we got home.

For my 7th grade science fair project that year, I wrote a program that plotted the results from the Apple IIgs’ random number generator, to test how truly random the numbers were. In 8th grade, I wrote my first software game on that computer. It was called “Ski Crash”, and it featured a stick figure who stayed in the middle of the screen while trees moved up the screen past him; you had to use the keys to move the figure across the screen and avoid the trees. It was over 1000 lines of code, and included an original soundtrack. I wrote a program that turned the QWERTY keyboard into a note-input keyboard, so that you could play melodies on it.

I became comfortable with computers, learned what they could do, started to understand the logic behind the moving symbols and cryptic number sequences. When I hit college, I entered Phil Shackleton’s course in Music Technology. It was like stumbling into a village in the middle of the Arctic, and discovering that everyone speaks the secret language you and your brother made up as children. I understood what was going on. I spoke the language of that class. I understood how to use the computer as a tool, and to make it do what you wanted it to do. I thrived.

I have a recurring experience in my life; I keep arriving at places and finding myself unexpectedly prepared. I’ll admit, this has left me with a nasty habit of procrastination, but it has also helped me make peace with my penchant for obsession over things that have no immediate value. When I started to make my way in the music industry, at every turn, it was my familiarity with technology that helped me succeed. Not my familiarity with any specific piece of technology (I was constantly running into new pieces of software and hardware, and the bizarre quirks that inhabited them), but familiarity with technology. With the language, and the logic, and the way it rewards a peculiar kind of curiosity.

I don’t know why my parents decided to do something so uncharacteristic as buying that computer for my brother and I. We talked about it over Thanksgiving this year, and they still seem a little surprised at themselves for having done something so impulsive. It was an absurd amount of money for them to spend, and it couldn’t have been easy for them to make that sacrifice. That moment, when they stood in the store listening to a salesman spin his pitch, when they looked at each other and said, “Let’s do it,” shifted the tracks of my life, and led me to where I am today.

So, in lieu of a more mundane answer, I think I’ll attribute it to two things. First, the prompting of a providential and forward-thinking God, the chess-master, setting pieces in motion before we’re even aware that a game is afoot. And second, parents who didn’t allow the limits of their understanding to bind the wings of their children, and for whom the suggestion that something might be important for their children’s future was enough.

On Beowulf and Yoga

After last Friday’s discussion of MoCap, The Uncanny Valley, and 3D filmmaking, I thought it was worth a follow up to discuss my impressions of “Beowulf,” as I saw it in 3D later that very day.

Oh, and I’m going to talk about Yoga, too.

First, Beowulf. Beowulf will go down in history as a film unlike most, in that I loved it and despised it at the same time. I want to go see it again, and I never, ever want to see it again. It’s been a long while since I’ve been so totally transfixed, awed, and downright stupified by the immersion experience of a film… oh, and also hated it.

The look of this movie is done a total injustice by it’s previews, which struck me as only moderately interesting. Visually, the only word that describes Beowulf is “Stunning.” I was wishing they would rewind the opening animated logos for the production companies before the thing even started.

The opening scene is a celebration in the mead hall of King Hroogar, played by Anthony Hopkins. I found myself dashing around the screen, trying to take it all in. The depth of field created by the 3D presentation means that a virtual “prop” like a goblet can be seen in utmost clarity as it reflects the light of a virtual fire roasting a virtual pig.

To get right to one of the questions we posed last Friday, which is, “Do the MoCap characters look better then they did in The Polar Express or Final Fantasy,” and the answer for me is yes and no. For some reason, elderly characters looked “right” to me. Perhaps its the flaws in the skin that make it so.

Anthony Hopkins’ capture is one of the marvels of the film, for my money, leading me to ask the question that Jeremy can perhaps answer, which is, how much, in the brave new world of MoCap, does a great actor influence the final, rendered and realized portrayal? Is Anthony Hopkins just that much more skilled then Ray Winstone, or Robin Wright Penn, that his facial muscles just give more interesting information to the computer?

So, have I painted a picture for you? Remember the first time you saw, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, or Jurassic Park, or more recently The Return of the King, and you just thought to yourself, “I’ve witnessed something wholly new and groudbreaking?” It’s like that.

So why’d I hate it? Well… first of all, Beowulf is one of the most relentlessly violent, downbeat, depressing films I’ve seen a a long while. The PG-13 rating is totally disingenuous. If this film had been live action, it would have been rated a hard R for violence. Limbs ripped, eyes gouged, chests opened, organs cut out, all in the aforementioned crystalline clarity of digitally projected 3D.

But oh no… it’s not just the gore. It’s just… sad. George McFly’s Grendel is awful to behold, in every way. The cast-off bastard son of a demon witch and a drunkard king, murderer and eventual victim of mutilation and violence. Grendel’s Mother is momentarily sympathetic in her grief over her freshly dead spawn, until that is she gets a whiff of Beowulf’s man-scent or some such thing and then I guess she’s cool… or something. We’re subjected to Beowulf himself, in all his masculine emo discontent.

Bleh!

This film is made for teenage boys, and lowbrow teenage boys at that. Calling it an animated film for adults is a mistake, as butt, dick, boob, and even midget jokes are present in spades. Hey look! Beowulf is naked, and a sword is perfectly placed to cover his junk! Get it? Here it is again!!! GET IT?!?!?!?!? DO YOU EFFING GET IT?!?!!?

Yes. I get it.

Our “Hero” is a one dimensional warrior in a three dimensional world. He’s all balls and no brain, and he pays the price. I cared not what happened to him. In fact, the only character I actually cared about was his sidekick, Wiglaf, played by the wonderful Brendon Gleeson. However, the film is such that, quite literally in the final frame, we are robbed of something resembling a completed story arc for his character.

Even the 3D effects danced on the edge of immaturity.  For every shot that could be described as lyrical, there was a shot that screamed, “Hey!  Look at me!  I’m in 3D!”  Hey, filmmakers!  No more spears in the face, right?

Then there are these two really strange bits of dialog dealing with the spread of Christianity through Europe that left me sort of scratching my head. Odd Line #1 – John Malkovich’s character to Anthony Hopkins early in the film, referring to the priests praying to Odin in the wake of Grendel’s attack:

“Shall we also pray to the new God of the Rome, The Christ?” Interesting, I thought.

Fast forward to the 2nd act of the story, set 20 years later, and outta nowhere comes Odd Line #2 – Beowulf to Brenden Gleeson’s character as a band of marauders attempt to invade Beowulf’s kingdom, something like:

“No heros left in the world, the Christ God has killed them all.”

Huh? What? Is there something you’d like to share with the rest of us, Amazing Larry? Aside: if anyone outside of my immediate family gets that obscure dialog reference, you get a gold star.

Beowulf will not be a runaway hit, because Robert Zemeckis is a boy, and he had new toys, and boys with new toys (even boys who are brilliant filmmakers) do not always the wisest decisions make.

*************************

For some reason, this exercise in masculine excess crossed paths with another train of thought in my head, which is that of Yoga, and they both happened to fall on the same weekend.

I’ve been stagnant in my weight loss for weeks. It’s been terribly frustrating. I up my running. No change. My knees ache and pop. No change. 7 miles. Yes, for those of you who knew me as a cheeseburger snarfing lard-ass, 7 miles. No change.

ARGH!

In desperation, Friday morning I followed Erica to the Yoga class at our local gym. I had tried Yoga before in a class setting a few months ago, and I made it about 10 minutes before I bailed. Feeling like a clumsy pig on ice is not my idea of weight-loss recreation. This time, I was desperate. I knew that I simply was not going to finish losing this weight the same way I started, and I was determined to see it through. I stuffed the mental protests from my conservative evangelical upbringing, took off my shoes, aligned my chakras, and went for it.

I loved it. By the end of the hour, I could feel every muscle in my body. The next morning, I REALLY felt every muscle in my body. They felt elongated. I felt as if I had been tested, and passed, albeit with a fair amount of sweating and near-falling. For anyone who thinks that Yoga is for hippies and soccer moms, I’d like to challenge you hold a Warrior 2 pose (considered basic, FYI) for 30 seconds and see how macho you feel.

Yesterday, Monday, I went again, by myself. This time, I wore longer shorts and a looser shirt so that I wouldn’t worry about revealing my junk to the instructor. (I didn’t have a conveniently placed CG sword handy, you see.) I came earlier, so that I could stretch my muscles instead of leaping right in like I had before.

I sat on my little mat for 5 minutes listening to the ludicrous plinky-plunky music and relaxed and prayed. It was the first time in awhile that I had taken 5 minutes to just pray when I wasn’t in immediate need of something, I’m ashamed to say. I think I had forgotten how powerful Jesus is, because He came to meet me in the group classroom at 24 Hour Fitness in Thousand Oaks. He’s cool like that.

Somewhere in between my prayer and the beginning of the class, two young college-aged Beowulfs walked in the room, swords a-clanging, if you know what I mean. They had clearly come upstairs after spending some time lifting weights and ravishing maidens. Their gym shoes squeaked in the erstwhile quiet, and their “Whispers” were audible to all. One of them was clearly dragging the other, who was mocking the whole endeavor. “It’s not as easy as you think…” was the last thing I heard before the instructor started talking to us about finding our center and becoming one with the earth.

“This is going to be awesome,” I thought to myself.

Sure enough, even as I experienced a phenomenal growth from one session to the next in terms of balance and flexibility, our young Beowulfs grunted, strained, squeaked, and cursed their way through the session. I think the rest of us were blessed with a delightful mixture of pity and smugness. No one grew discernibly agitated at them for their disruption, even though the instructor had to spend a majority of her time correcting their poses so they didn’t tear a hamstring. I think they were actually trying, which is always an endearing quality.

They made me feel like I was Madonna. I was centered over the earth. I was balanced in my space., or some crap like that.

Yoga is teaching me something, but I don’t know what. I don’t care that the teacher is a new age, post-modern, post-Oprah, fortune-cookie philosopher. I don’t care. Her spine is straight and she has an appropriate amount of body fat. She can touch her toes.

My spine is still bent at the top from all those years of carrying around a hundred extra pounds. I can see my toes now, but I can’t touch them. My right shoulder is slightly higher than my left. I’m a mess.

I’m reversing two decades of poor physical decisions, and I don’t care that a Hindu meditation art is going to play a part in that process. Jesus is cool like that. When she says find your “self,” I think, “Find who God made you to be.” When she does the relaxation thing at the end and gives a quasi-space-age-sermonette about not letting your family negatively impact your energy over the holiday season, I think, “Honor Thy Father and Mother,” and, “Husbands should love their wives as they love their own bodies.” When she starts talking about modified plank pose, I think to myself, “Oh, the burning!”

You get the idea.

Dear readers, I don’t really have a way to link these experiences together for you in anything resembling a coherent thought, but they’re all connected in some sort of ironic, existential, spiritual cluster – eff.

Site Redesign: Reader Input

There’s a blog redesign a comin’ probably during finals week of this semester. WordPress has upgraded their software several times since the last update, and our current design no longer works. Also, creating new blog designs is the greatest means of procrastination ever, and Lord knows I’m not about to start grading thesis papers until at least 3 weeks after final grades are due.

So, blog redesign. Like all good blog dictators, I realize that it is occasionally important to appear concerned with the ill-informed and petty views of your consumers, and to that end, I’m looking for some feedback from you on what does and does not need to stay.

What do you think, addison roadies? Still like the taglines, or time to go? 3 from the archives still something you use? How often do you use the search feature? Any festive color suggestions? Let me know what you think is important to include on the public face of our little inter-web community, and what you think should be shaved off like 4-week old back hair.

spam-licious

We’re under a massive spam attack right now. There have been about 600 spam comments lobbed at this blog since 4AM this morning. They come in floods, 30 or so in about a minute. They’re trying to overwhelm the spam filters, I think. It’s making it difficult to post or comment, because the database has to handle huge chunks of data moving in and out, and the spam filter slows that down quite a bit. It’s not a problem when one or two people are commenting at once, but it is a problem when a spam-bot tries to cram 30 at once down the pipe.

All that to say … I hate spam. I hate that it, apparently, works. I hate that a few nefarious cretins have destroyed email as a useful communications tool, and are now trying to destroy blogging as well.

What I like, however, is akismet. It was built by the same people who designed WordPress (the software that runs Addison Road), and it just plain works at preventing spammy comments. How well? Since I installed it, there have been 200,689 offers for home mortgages and penis pills that none of you got the chance to mock (or click through on, bobby).

Jetta-Tastic!

Jetta

I am so in love with this car. It hugs the road, kicks like a mule when you step on the gas, and I love the diesel rumble. I’d tell you the gas mileage, but I’m still on the first tank, so I don’t know yet. The kicker? I jumped in for the first time, turned the key, and a flat panel touch screen popped up out of the dashboard. Turns out the guy who owned it before me dropped in a $1400 alpine car computer system, complete with DVD player. Sweet!

Drop-bys and test-drives welcome. Come see the new little bundle of joy. And also, I think we had like a kid or something recently, so there’s that too.

[flickr pics]

An Open Letter to My Productivity

Dear Productivity,

It is with great sadness that I must announce the following statement: As of today, September 25, 2007, I am hereby terminating our long-running relationship.  Today, Halo 3 was released.

Throughout the years, you’ve been there for me countless times. From the 9th Grade history reports that were started 3 hours before they were due, (before the internets!) to the current client who doesn’t mind paying a little extra to have their edit done ahead of schedule. With you by my side, I’ve managed to finish high school, learn all about computers and entertainment technology, and make mix CD’s for my girlfriend. Without you, my car would be on blocks in the front yard. The dishes would pile high. The cat would starve. Through thick an thin, you’ve provided me with the motivation to create, love, prosper, and above all else, survive.

Signed,

Zack
Retarded Videogame Junkie

CC: To my Wedding Video Clients – your wedding really wasn’t that big of a deal, anyway. I can probably mail you a DVD that was shot at the same location, and if you squint, that bride and groom might look familiar. Hopefully, your photographer doesn’t own an XBOX360

CCC: To my Girlfriend – If you feel like you have no choice but to make out with girls, I totally understand.

Bleep, Blorp, Blawsome

I’ve gotten several emails over the past week asking what an appropriate gift might be for a father on the occasion of his son’s birth (or possibly for the father’s birthday, which is coming up …). The answer? A Thingamagoop from Bleep Labs! I can’t believe you didn’t already know that a monophonic analog synth-filter robot was the traditional First Son gift.

Check out the video. I’ve never gone so quickly from not knowing something existed, to neeeeeeeeeding it now now now now!

Here’s the order form. Check with Corey on the colors. He’s good with that kind of thing.