Nov 282014

A random collection of thoughts:

  • Star Wars is a weird thing for me because it’s kinda split into two entities. There’s “my Star Wars“, which consists mainly of the OT1, a handful of the novels and games, a great deal of fan research, and some of my own twists on things. Then there’s “the Star Wars franchise,” which is everything with the name Star Wars attached. I get super-jazzed for stuff in the former category, while the latter category’s flame has long since burned out. I have no idea where these new movies/the Disney Star Wars era fits into those categories.
  • I don’t have any negative things to say about J.J. Abrams as a director. Any of the issues I take with the stuff of his I’ve seen have been writing-related. Sure, he has influence over that as a director/producer, but I don’t think those issues ultimately fall at his feet. I mean, I guess they do in a “the buck stops here” sort of way, but…meh? That he’s not working with Orci/Kurtzman/Lindelof this time, but rather starting from a script by Michael Arndt and retooled by Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi co-writer Lawrence Kasdan is at least encouraging.
  • This teaser has a strong fan film vibe to it for me, but I can’t quite put my finger on why. Vibrancy, maybe? Color timing not quite what I expected? Not sure. The very first shot, when Boyega pops his head up, is the one that feels the most fanfilmish to me. I bet that’s actually a location shot, but it looks like a greenscreen shot. Something about it just feels wrong. This comp2 also feels weird to me, color-wise, and to make matters even more confusing, I think it’s actually the human element that feels off. The helmet, the white vest, and the cockpit all look fine, but his actual skin just seems to…not fit.
  • As a rebuttal to the previous point, though, it’s worth noting that none of those shots likely represent “finished” shots. This far out from release, ain’t none of those gonna be final comps.
  • Good grief, John Williams. The shot where they hard-in on the Falcon with the fanfare swelling? Damn.
  • My initial reaction to the claymore lightsaber was a mixture of “gee-whiz!” and eye-rolling amusement. On thinking about it, though, it makes some amount of sense. What’s the one thing a lightsaber can’t immediately cut through? Another lightsaber. So, if you’re going to have a crossbar on your lightsaber, what do you make it with? Mini-lightsabers.
  • Favorite shot of the trailer was that lights-flickering interior dropship shot with all the stormtroopers. That was badass.
  • A reminder for everyone that this was the Episode I teaser. TFA’s teaser already has about 1000x as much attitude and tone.
  • Lucas approached Mark Hamill about reprising the role of Luke in an Obi-Wan-style mentor capacity during the filming of Return of the Jedi and speculated that it would film sometime in 2011. As pointed out by this redditor, “Everything that has transpired has done so according to my design.”
  • Did you notice the antenna on the Falcon? Not the old dish! (’cause, y’know, Lando knocked that one off)

In conclusion:


X-wings over water
Haters gonna hate
  1. Original Trilogy. Episodes IV through VI []
  2. “Comp” refers to “composition” or “composite” when referring to VFX. []
Jul 302012

I turned 28 on Saturday.

This is a curious occasion for me for a number of reasons. The first is numerological: this is the only time my age and the date of my birth will ever coincide, unless I live until I’m 728. We celebrated in proper style, with somewhere around 25 people attending a party that lasted until 6:30 the next morning. I am a little disappointed with myself for not drinking more than I did, actually, but we had great fun. My sister in law baked some amazing peanut butter cupcakes, and there were pies to be had as well. One of the more notable activities of the evening was the game Psychiatrist, which proved to be a lot of fun. I think we’ll be revisiting that one. Disney Action Princesses were also a thing.

28 is also “the year,” as far as “the plan” goes. It’s the year most novelists get their first publication out, and the book is on track to fit that mold. It’s also the threshold beyond which certain…expansionary discussions could reasonably start happening. I’m not saying those discussions are happening; just that this is when I feel like they could potentially start.

In some ways, 27 was a great year. In other ways, it was rough as hell. But I think all of the rough spots in 27 are ultimately going to have been worthwhile experiences that pay off in 28.

Here’s to the future.

It’s no secret that Tony Stark is a bit of a hero of mine. I am not the child prodigy offspring of a billionaire industrialist, though, so the odds of my ever achieving Tony Stark success is…even smaller than if he weren’t a fictional character. That aside, I apparently now have a target dollar value to aim at: $1,612,717,000.

Aside: I received this as a “silly” birthday present, which I of course immediately assembled and placed on my desk because awesome.

In news that shocks no one, the money won in the Pirate Bay lawsuit/trial is going go to…not the artists.

Hey, RIAA, there was this little movie a while back called Gladiator. You might’ve missed it; it wasn’t big or anything. There was a line in it that you might do well to consider: “win the crowd.” If you win the crowd, even a lowly slave-cum-gladiator can wield enough power to challenge a king (or, y’know, Caesar). You are not winning the crowd by being money-grubbing jerks that don’t compensate the people that make you rich.

There was a piece in HuffPo linked on Slashdot that caught my eye. Much as the Olympics (are meant to) represent the peak of human athleticism, there are yet greater achievements going on that we as a global society aren’t paying any attention to, and that’s sad. Especially when it involves sending an incredible piece of technology to another world to look for other life.

Next week, while we’re all watching NBC, a nuclear-powered, MINI-Cooper-sized super rover will land on Mars. We accurately guided this monster from 200 million miles away (that’s 7.6 million marathons). It requires better accuracy than an Olympic golfer teeing off in London and hitting a hole-in-one in Auckland, New Zealand. It will use a laser to blast rocks, a chemical nose to sniff out the potential for life, and hundreds of other feats of near-magic. Will these discoveries lead us down a path to confirming life on other planets? Wouldn’t that be a good story that might make people care about science?

Remember Richard Muller, the guy who stood up and told the vast, overwhelming majority of the scientific commnuity that it was wrong about climate change and that anything we were seeing was just circumstantial and definitely not human-made?

Yeah, he’s changed his tune. Completely.

Most people don’t understand just how catastrophic this is going to be–at this point, we’re not going to avoid it–because on the surface, it’s not obvious. People in this country, to steal the phrasing a friend of mine used, aren’t going to notice until “growing corn in Iowa becomes impossible, but suddenly Alberta[, Canada] is a fantastic place to do it.” I said to him:

Heh. At that point, famine and drought will have killed quite a few people in Africa, South America, India, and China.

But that’s okay, because those places are full of spics, chinks, and brown people.1

The NSA is spying on everyone, all the time, always.

I find this deeply bothersome in many ways, but in some respects I don’t care. Privacy is a big, big deal to some people. Certain things about privacy are a big deal to me. I don’t want my credit card or social security number spread across the internet for all to steal my identity with, for example. I’d rather not have someone take pictures of me siting on the toilet through my bathroom window, either. In the former case, it’s less because I care that someone has that information, and more because I care about the damage they could do with it. There’s nothing intrinsically problematic with me telling a friend what those two numbers are, because I trust that the friend–even with that power–isn’t going to do something dastardly with it. I don’t trust the rest of the world, thus I want to keep it “private.”

Some people have massive trust issues when it comes to the government. I…don’t really think about the government very often, except when something happens in the news, when it comes time to vote, and when it comes time to pay taxes.2 So, the NSA spying on the conversations I have with my wife, or my friends, or any of that…I just sort of shrug my shoulders. I’m not worried about what the NSA will do to me with that information.

But I am worried about what the NSA might do with that information on everyone. Expand the scope, and it becomes a lot scarier.

In something that will come as no shock to all you Nickelback naysayers out there, we now have scientific evidence that corroborates the general meme that pop music is more homogenous now than it was back in the ’50s.

That said, might one simply interpret this as the gradual honing of our understanding creating music that is pleasing to the largest number of people? While I’m sure a lot of people will balk at the finding on a knee-jerk level, I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing.

One of the author blogs I follow is that of Rachel Aaron. She posted this, which gave me some heart.

Here’s a secret, though. When I was starting out, I didn’t write every day. There were times when I quit writing for months at a time, or days when I got up to write and ended up wasting my entire two hours reading web comic archives. It took me a year and a half to finish my first book, and another year to finish my second. But there, friends, is the kicker. Though there were days I didn’t write, days I flubbed, sometimes even months when I walked away from the computer, I never stayed away. I always came back.

The difference between the writers who make it and those who don’t is that the writers who win are the writers who never quit. This is the secret to all writing: You only fail when you stop. So long as you are writing, even if you’re not writing as much or as fast or as well as you’d like to be, so long as you do not quit, you have not failed.

Along the same lines, here are two letters Patton Oswalt presented to Just For Laughs in Montreal during his keynote address. They resonate with the indie groundswell going on across all forms of popular media.

  1. And in case it’s not completely obvious, I was satirizing the typical close-minded–dare I say conservative?–view of the rest of the world that a fair block of this country seems to have. []
  2. And even then, I’m less thinking about the government and more thinking about making sure I have all my documents in order for my accountant. []