Wednesday, November 29, 2006

i bet Beethoven never had to make Excel spreadsheets

There are a lot of supplemental documents that get made when you're doing the music for a game. Design documents, cue tracking spreadsheets, implementation notes ... I'm stuck in one right now. It's terribly exciting. I had originally thought that it might have been better in the olden days when you didn't have to deal with these things to make music, but then again there wasn't much to do back then when you weren't making music except for make babies or go crazy.

Tonight Manda and I are meeting with a photographer we're considering for our wedding. You can see his stuff here. I really like his work. Hopefully our meeting will go well.

Guess that's it. Back to Excel.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Yeah ... problems with the Nintendo Wii. It turns out that flailing your arms around like a crazy person in front of your TV might not be the best idea ever.

Want more proof? Try here, here, and here.

Monday, November 27, 2006

who knew?

Apparently the world does not wink into existence each morning when my alarm goes off at 7 am. Apparently it's around much earlier than that. Manda and I got up before 6 today to go out walking. We're trying to get some more exercise into our lives these days. I'm finding that parts of me that I didn't think had muscles actually do. And they ache.

The long weekend was very nice. Spent lots of time in my pajamas with Amanda and Final Fantasy XII. It's a good game. Our poor cat was freezing cold all the time. Amanda and I kept piling on sweaters and stuff, but our cat was simply resorting to trying to smash her body up against ours at night. So, we bought a heater and now she's content and happy.

That's about it. Pajamas, video game, warmer cat. That's what 5 days of vacation boils down to for me. It's not much, and to be honest, I'm pretty happy about that. I needed a nice long break of nothing. It's been a very long period of being very busy at work and the down time was heavenly.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

the shine is off the apple

Consider me naive, but I actually thought for some reason that people who bought hybrid cars are buying them - at least in part - because they care about the planet. Decreasing their fossil fuel consumption, reducing emissions, supporting corporations who are helping to drive eco-friendly technologies towards the marketplace ... But, like I said, that was naive. What I guess is really happening is that people are buying hybrid cars because gas is too fucking expensive and they don't want to spend so much on it. Nothing else. Sure, there are some people who care, but most likely it comes down to how frequently people need to fill up their tank and how that impacts their wallets.

So what was it that changed my perspective?

I was in line at a Burger King drive through a few nights ago. As I sat there, the hybrid in front of me got their food, traded the cashier their money for a soda, and then proceeded to wad up a bunch of trash and through it out the window of their hybrid.

Who litters in a hybrid? Shouldn't Toyota have some sort of LitterSensor&trade that triggers an ejection seat if you toss crap out of your hybrid's window?

Anyway, it bummed me out and I realize now how dumb it was to think that the recent success of the hybrid was due to some large eco-awakening across the country. I guess it all just comes down to just dollars and cents.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

totally slackin'

On writing here. There's been so much that's happened in the last few days that I've found it tough to figure out where to start with it all.

The company meeting went well and our band's live performance was a smash hit. I keep getting stopped in the halls or congratulated in emails for helping to make it "the best company meeting ever." Turns out people like rock concerts more than PowerPoint presentations about sales figures. Go figure.

Other than that, I can very happily say that Music Sketch #7,493 was actually met with approval (muted approval, but hey ... I'll take anything at this point). Among the committee that have heard it so far, 1 person enthusiastically likes it, 1 person is content with it, and 1 person seems to be resigning themselves to it because of the rest of the people's interest in it. But, happily no one has said "Nope. That's not it." yet. We'll see what happens. I like the thought that I'm getting close to having people actually approve something on this score.

Manda and I have been playing a lot of Final Fantasy XII this past week. It's very good, if you're into Final Fantasy games. If not, I dunno ... I don't know if anyone who doesn't enjoy turn-based RPGs would enjoy it. But I'm into them and I'm enjoying and that's all that matters to me.

Let's see ... other than that, I couldn't be happier to be staring down the barrel of a three day work week. It's been a while since I had any time off and I'm really looking forward to 4 days of nothing but turkey, wedding prep, and (knowing me) naps.

God, I love naps.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

ah, the train

So full of strange people ... so wonderful and beautiful in their circus-freak oddities. I took the train and the ghost train shuttle yesterday like always, but for some reason it was FULL of special, special characters yesterday. Here's a run-down of some of my favorites:

1. Surfer Man - This guy was on the shuttle to work in the morning. He was standing next to me having a conversation with Granola Woman about the benefits of various local farmers' markets. Without a doubt, the best thing about Surfer Man was his complete ability to go 10 seconds without saying the word "like." I swear to you, this is an actual quote:

"It's, like, so great that, like, there's like, you know, like, soooo many, like, different, like, kinds of, like, squash, like, you knooooow?"

It must be, like, so hard for, like, anyone to, like, knooooow anything this poor guy is saying at any given time.

2. Aging Goth Man - Dear Depeche Mode fans, I've found what you're going to look like in 20 years. And guess what? It's not pretty. On the train ride home, some guy who obviously hadn't been hugged enough or something got on the train sporting his highly sculpted, orange-dyed hair and museum of facial body modification. Apparently, this inspired nearby Aging Goth Man to strike up a loud conversation with him all about how he loved the other guy's hair and has been thinking for a while about laminating his hair with some kind of heat activated plastic whatnot. Problem is, Aging Goth Man's sorta' gray hair was in some kind of state of strategically shaved/weirdly balding mass exodus. Basically he just looked like he'd be hit full-on in the face with a mid-life crisis and was pioneering some sort of Punk Rock Combover. I don't think it's going to catch on, laminated or not.

3. (and my favorite) Crazy OCD Woman - Yes, Crazy OCD woman got on the train at the same stop as Aging Goth Man. She proceeded to sit right in front of me, so I was privy to a fair amount of her crazy. First, she took the newspaper that was folded under her arm and proceeded to unfold sheet after sheet and blanket the train seat with them, all the while smiling this huge "Look at me!!!!" grin and trying to make eye contact with everyone around her. After she had safely shielded herself from the dirt of the train seat, she sat down (still making eye contact and smiling at everyone around), began mumbling to herself, and then leaned up against the unpapered window and train wall - which I can only assume is actually dirtier than the seat because of contact with everyone's hands.

Anyway, the grand finale came a few stops later she started to loudly mumble the words "Just in case" over and over again to herself. Interestingly, she then took out of her pocket a couple of folded one dollar bills, and handed them to Aging Goth Man (who was standing in front of her) and continued to say "Just in case. Just in case." He looked very confused by it all, but he took the money!

What the eff?! Who takes a crazy woman's money?

For all of its downsides, there's no denying that the train is always entertaining.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


I'm totally beat. Band practice last night. Band practice this morning. Band practice again tonight. It's like every day I have to perform a 2 hour concert, sometimes 4 hours. Totally exhausted.

On top of everything else, I finished my latest sketch. We'll see how it goes over.

Some positive feedback would be nice. But more than anything right now I just want a nap.

Monday, November 13, 2006

it's like the wind was knocked outta me

I'm totally exhausted today. I have no idea why. I went to bed early. I slept well all night. But today I'm just completely beat. Amanda got up at 5:30 in the morning today and I'm thinking it's some kind of sympathy exhaustion. It can't be real exhaustion 'cause I sure as shit didn't wake up when she did. At about 6:30 I realized she had left.

This weekend was busy. We did a bunch of errands on Saturday and then Sunday had the Band Practice/Engagement Party double-whammy. Second part first: Amanda's mom threw us (I first typed "threw up" but that's wrong) an engagement party Sunday afternoon as a chance for all of her friends and extended family to meet me before the wedding. It was nice. I met a lot of very nice people and they gave us wedding presents - which I hadn't expected. It didn't dawn on me that an engagement party was that kind of event. Turns out, it is. So, we have a bunch of nice new baking stuff and more power/hand tools than you can shake a stick at, which is good since currently we just have two hammers and a bunch of stripped screwdrivers.

Before the engagement party, I had been at band practice. This coming Friday will be the company meeting where we celebrate the release of Thrillville on Nov. 21st. As part of the celebrations, our company president has asked Audio Lead David Collins and I to put together a band and perform the four songs we wrote for the game live. So, we're doing our best to tackle the task at hand and put together a killer little set of music. Maybe that's why I'm so tired, though. I spent two hours jumping around like I was on stage. It's been a while since I've done that ... I'm not used to it anymore.

Anyway, guess that's it. It's Monday and I'm tired. And I have band practice again tonight. Followed by a two hour commute home. Followed by the grocery store. It's going to be a long day.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

the new political landscape

Ry and I were talking yesterday and decided that - now that the Democrats are in power in Congress - they should make one of their first orders of business the act of collectively rubbing it in the face of the White House that the American people can apparently only be fooled for about 6 years until they get angry and rethink things.

So, with that in mind, we started talking about some much needed revisions to current D.C. monuments. I thought I'd mock one up in Photoshop. So here's the updated version of the Washington Monument, post-Blue Tide:


I like it. It has a certain ... "what are you looking at?!" quality to it that you don't tend to find much in monuments. Well, except for this guy.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

sore winner

Last night, Manda and I were down in Mountain View helping out at the Registrar of Voters until about midnight for the mid-term election. Manda has been a lead for a few years now staffing and running a precinct supply return station and I've been helping out as part of the hired muscle.

All night I was completely glued to the election results as they were coming in - desperate to watch what was happening around the country and watching the statement from Red America that the neo-cons had officially squandered all political capital they once had.

Suffice it to say, I'm a very happy little democrat today. It's nice to wake up to a Democratic Congress and the ouster of Rumsfeld. Now, if only my back wasn't killing me, I'd be able to jump for joy.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

busy, bizzy, biz-A

I was going to say "I'm very busy these days, much like Tony, Toni, Toné" but I actually don't think they're busy at all. So, nevermind.

I'll give everyone one guess as to what I'm up to this week. Here's a hint: it starts with "sketc"

If you guess "sketches," you're right! Yes. I'm doing one more sketch this week. But the entire nature of the project has changed, much as it frequently does during the course of game development, and I'm adapting to the new situation. One day, if I can ever talk about it, I'll try and recount the story of "Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen: the Story of the Music I'm Writing Right Now."

Suffice it to say, music is at best a subjective experience and at worst a completely nebulous realm of art that is so difficult to talk about in a committee setting as to be nearly useless to even attempt. But, game development is all about committees attempting, so that's how it goes - regardless of whether or not it makes sense.

Anyway, I think I'm in a good position now. More creative freedom. More options available to me. The only thing I don't have is more time, something that continues to dwindle with every sketch I do at the expense of actual in-game content. Hopefully I can wrangle this latest sketch together quickly, get it signed off on, and then yump right into actual content creation. That's the goal anyway. We'll see what the committee says.

Friday, November 03, 2006


There's a homeless guy who hangs out around the area that I catch the Presidigo shuttle each morning. He's pretty filthy and seems to have zero fear of cars since he will frequently stand out in the middle of the street and speak to the invisible people he counts among his friends.

Usually, he's pretty tame. He mumbles to himself and his 'friends.' Sometimes he even picks up trash off of the streets and throws it away in the nearby trash can. But not today.

Today he was pissed. Here's what he was yelling:


Poor guy. Clearly he's having a bad day, and maybe reliving whatever bad day it was the got him out on the street. It's a shame no one game him "Happy Day."

Thursday, November 02, 2006


This evening, a big meeting is taking place - a meeting I'm not involved in. However, it will decide (hopefully) what project I'm on tomorrow morning. This meeting could have big implications, both good and bad, depending on how everything goes.

In the meanwhile, I'm just sitting around waiting for it to happen. I keep flip-flopping between a feeling of confidence and a feeling of near-crippling nerves.

I just want a decision to be made one way or the other. Until then, it's limbo time!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

genetic waste

That's essentially what one of my childhood friends describes my brother and I as. Between a family history of heart murmurs, color blindness, dyslexia, mental illness, and cancer, our friend Jeff decided that the Harlin family must simply just be a dumping ground for Darwinian used DNA rags.

Among all of that crap is my incredibly poor sense of smell, and therefore taste. For some reason, I have the worst sense of smell out of anyone I've ever met (with the exception of my brother, whose the same as I am). You can pretty much count on the fact that if you ever ask me "Hey, Jess ... do you smell that?" the answer will be "Smell what?"

That said, whenever I do smell something strong, it must really be unfreakinbelievably strong for my craptacular sniffer to pick it up. Take, for instance, the smell of downtown San Francisco this morning.

I stepped off of BART and instantly smelled something funky. I couldn't tell what it was, but I decided that it must have been the person next to me or something. The only problem is that the person next to me wasn't next to me for all that long. Not to mention, the further I went up towards the street, the stronger the funk smell got. It wasn't until I was standing outside on the street level that I finally was able to place the odor.

All of downtown San Francisco reeked of onions today.

I don't know why. Maybe it was because of the Halloween party held here last night. Maybe not. Whatever the reason, there's no denying that it was incredibly pungent. And like I said, if it was bothering genetic waste like me, it must have been driving everyone else nuts.