Friday, November 23, 2007

creepy saint freaky

I like scary movies. Not gory movies, mind you. Scary movies. The kind that are psychologically terrifying instead of bloody and full of dismemberment. I don't do well with dismemberment. Part of why I liked the movie Se7en so much was that it's fairly goreless despite the subject matter. Instead, the horror in the film comes from pure fear - the fear of madness, the fragility of sanity, and the power a single person's destructive lunacy can have on random strangers.

Today I found a webpage that left me with the same feeling I had watching Se7en, that same feeling of watching someone soft shoe off the deep end in a dress made of people meat. There is a ... performance artist? ... apparently in Los Angeles named Shaye Saint John. Whether Shaye is a man or a woman, no one really knows as Shaye has obscured his/her entire appearance with broken doll parts and thrift store clothes. And Shaye likes to make movies. Creepy fucking movies. Go ahead, check them out. They're the kind of home movies that David Berkowitz or the Zodiac killer would have made if they'd had a camera.

Which of these was said by Shaye Saint John and which are from serial killers?

1. I needed a little time on the wires."Corretta could you get me the simon says game? Its under Jordan's bed!"
2. I shall have them play in a darkened dungen cell with crooked cues + Twisted Shoes.
3. I miss my pretty princess most of all. She's resting in our ladies house.

Unsettling weirdity, all of it. And all of it stemmed from a comment on Digg. Apparently, today is the 20th anniversary of another particularly odd piece of weirdity - the pirate television take-over of CBS television in Chicago. You can see that clip here.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

uh .... how about "no?"

I just got stock advice spam from someone named VampireKing.

I think I'll pass on his input.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Yesterday I found myself aimlessly flipping through a copy of The Hollywood Reporter. As I thumbed through the pages, something odd caught my eye. Amidst the stories of "movers" and "shakers" that I don't recognize, interspersed among the ads, there was a full page apology from Warner Bros. Pictures. It read:

Warner Bros. Pictures
acknowledges and regrets
that a number of the music cues
for the score of
were derived from music
composed by
Academy Award-winning® composer
Elliot Goldenthal
for the motion picture
Warner Bros. Pictures
has great respect for Elliot,
our longtime collaborator,
and is pleased to have
amicably resolved this matter.

?! That was a surprise. It's rare these days that you hear about actual plagiarism cases and it surprised me that there wasn't more of a hub-bub about this. Someone has actually edited two of the music files in question side by side and you can listen to them here. Believe me, there's no getting around it. It's a complete rip off.

Bad times.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


I'm getting flashbacks of my late teens today. My sister is applying to college and, as everyone has to deal with during the process, she's in the midst of writing college admissions essays. I'm very appreciative that she trusts me enough to ask me to look her essay over and offer a critique.

But, man ... I had forgotten just how mind-numbing admission essays are. For those who don't remember, every college wants you to basically tell them how great their school is, how you've been dreaming of going there since before you could talk, and how - even though they're ridiculously close to Earthly perfection - the only thing that could possibly push them over the edge into actually being Heaven incarnate would be if they were to accept you.

"Since childhood, I have made it a personal goal to live each and every day by the three words that grow, shrink, and fade on the University of South Detroit's web page banner ad."

That kind of crap, a muddled diatribe about integrity, diversity, and about 4 different flavors of excellence. My sister is doing a great job jumping through the hoops so far, but the entire process just reeks of insincerity right now. In reality, it's very simple: they want her money and she wants a degree. I can see ass-kissing essays being an important part of admissions for places like Yale, Harvard, Stanford, etc. But University of Whereever, Iowa? Come on ...

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

what the holy freakin' fuck?!?

Ignorance is fuckin' bliss. Driving in to work today I was listening to NPR and they were talking about the burst housing bubble and its effects across the country. Specifically, they were talking about what the impact has been on house sellers.

Well, thanks to NPR, I come to find out that everywhere else in the country - except for the San Francisco Bay area - sellers are having such a hard time selling their houses that they're resorting to gimmicks and incentives to try and pull in buyers. What kind of incentives? Here's the list of things I heard them discussing:

- Rent/Lease-to-own agreements
- Money back from the sellers if you buy the house
- Buy the house and get a free Caribbean cruise
- Buy the house and get a free Jaguar
- Buy the house and get a free electric car
- Buy the house and get three free cars
- Buy the house and get a free boat

Meanwhile, here in San Francisco the deal seems to still be:

- Buy the house and get effed up the ass with a ridiculous mortgage for 1/3 of the house you can afford anywhere else in the country


Monday, October 29, 2007

music to vomit by

Someone on the Gamespot forums for Thrillville: Off The Rails mentioned that they've been searching online and can't find the playlist for all of the songs found within the game. I'd consider that to be interest; so in the interest of interest, here are all of the songs and artists found within the game:

"4ever" by The Veronicas
"Anysound" by The Vines
"Be Good To Me" by Ashley Tisdale
"Do What You Want" by OK Go
"East Northumberland High" by Miley Cyrus
"Everybody Wants" by The Moog
"Face The Facts" by The Little Ones
"Feelin' So Fly" by Tobymac
"Focus" by John Reuben
"Good and Broken" by Mylie Cyrus
"Good Evening" by John Reuben
"Heels Over Head" by Boys Like Girls
"Here It Goes Again" by OK Go
"I'm For You" by Tobymac
"I Want an Alien for Christmas" by Fountains of Wayne
"Maureen" by Fountains of Wayne
"My Baby" by Lil Romeo
"Nth Degree" by Morningwood
"Number One" by Alistair Lindsay
"Ocean Avenue" by Yellowcard
"One Original Thing" by Cheyenne Kimball
"Parklife" by Blur
"Potential Break-up Song" by Aly & AJ
"Ride" by The Vines
"Right Where You Want Me" by Jesse McCartney
"See The Day" by Alistair Lindsay
"Smile" by Lily Allen
"Sunshine Girl" by Britt Nicole
"Ten Seconds in the Saddle" by Chris Ledoux
"The Littlest Cowboy Rides Again" by Chris Ledoux
"Unwritten" by Natasha Bedingfield
"We Used to be Friends" by The Dandy Warhols

That's the list of everything that we licensed. The next batch of songs are the originals that we wrote for the game:

"Critic's Song" by Alistair Lindsay
"Dr. Kunkle's Funnkel Cake" by Father Torque
"Emo Skater Girl" by Mozingo
"Go For a Ride" by Mozingo
"Loop It" by 80-HD
"MyGurlz" by Spark Victoria
"Off The Rails" by Monkeynaught
"Perfect Day" by Rapscallion
"The Ballad of Bandito Chinchilla" by The Busted Bunk Band
"Usagiville" by Robotson and The Robots
"Whiplash" by Monkeynaught

Lastly, in addition to that, we featured a number of pieces of music from classic LucasArts games. My feeling was this: when you go to Disney World, you're surrounded by the music from classic Disney movies. When you go to a LucasArts theme park, you should be surrounded by the music of classic LucasArts games. So, I put music in the game from:

Peter McConnell's "Grim Fandango" score
Clint Bajakian's "Outlaws" score
Michael Giacchino's "Secret Weapons Over Normandy" score
Mark Griskey's "Gladius" score
Jack Wall's "Wrath Unleashed" score
Anna Karney's "Armed & Dangerous" score
Dave Levison's "RTX: Red Rock" score
and, of course, music from "Monkey Island" (I think Monkey 4, to be exact)

So, all of that, together with original instrumental music composed by Alistair Lindsay, consists of the entire score to Thrillville: Off The Rails.

Monday, October 22, 2007

time for a career change

Every day at 3 minutes after 4, I get an automated email from our company's automated SPAM filter. For a long time, it used to simply say "Junk Emails Blocked: XX" Well, not "XX." It had a different number each day, but you get the point.

Anyway, that was all it said until about two weeks ago. Now, every time I get the automated message, it has a little graph on it that looks like this.


I'm flabbergasted by this. A software and technology company like Lucasfilm seems to get an average of about 15,000 decent, non-SPAM emails a day. And every day, we get slammed with about 4 million pieces of SPAM, most of which (but not all) get caught by our SPAM filter.

4 million unique messages about Viagra, "high quality" Rolex replicas, and mortgage offers that I wouldn't touch with an herbally-enlarged stick. How do those people make money? Is it truly just a numbers game? If you send out billions of messages a day and get a fraction of a fraction of a percent to respond, does that make you a viable business?

If it is a viable business, why aren't we all just sending email to each other for a living? Why would anyone want to be anything other than a SPAMmer when they grew up?

Friday, October 19, 2007

eff you, brain

muh .... vivid nightmares all last night. I'm stressed and feeling messed up this morning. And tired. That too.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

off the rails

I'm a little late with this, but the latest game that I've worked on hit shelves this past Tuesday. "Thrillville: Off The Rails" is the sequel to the No. 1 new Kids' IP of 2006 and is how I've spent the last few months of my life. From about March to September, this was my life - writing songs, licensing music, transcribing lyrics, and ultimately, becoming the game's Audio Lead in order to bring this thing in without it crashing and burning.

At the end of it all, I'm really proud of the work I did and proud of the results. Once again, David Collins and I have produced a slew of new original songs for the game. You can check out 4 of the 5 here at my MySpace page:

"Off The Rails" - Hard rock title track for the game. If "Whiplash" was a love song from a guy to a rollercoaster, this is the flipside response from the rollercoaster to all those who ride it.
"MyGurlz" - My second foray into Hip Hop. I'm really proud of the lyrics on this one. To quote our company president, this is a "grrl power" track.
"Go For A Ride" - Another rock track, kinda' like Journey meets Boston meets Def Leppard.
"The Ballad of Bandito Chinchilla" - The theme song for one of the new mini-games in Thrillvile: Off The Rails. This one was a lot of fun to do. As soon as I saw the artwork for Bandito, I knew I needed to write him a song. I think the end result does him justice.
"Perfect Day" - 80s-styled goodness. Interestingly, David Collins was watching the "Some Kind of Monster" Metallica documentary right before he wrote this track. Apparently something about watching Metallica get in touch with their sensitive side inspires 80s drum machines. (By the way, since MySpace only lets me add 4 songs, you can find "Perfect Day" posted over on David's MySpace page.)

Anyway, just wanted to share the new work as I'm proud of it.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

when the zombie wars begin...

Everyone is going to want to own a couple of these things. In fact, when zombies are taking over the Midwest, I bet you this commercial loses its disclaimer at the end.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

what could bring me back

from the my hiatus away from blogging?

Bionic Commando for the PS3. That's what.

For those who don't know, Bionic Commando was a game for the original NES that had you playing as a bionic super soldier who couldn't jump. Instead, you had to navigate via your bionic arm through a ton of (mostly) vertical levels until you ultimately end up killing Hitler as he sits in his helicopter. Classic story? No. Classic game? Totally.

I still can remember the day that my dad drove me to KB Toy store to buy our original Nintendo. On the way there, I was trying to tell him that we'd need to buy a game, too. I think he started to get upset about the price. Anyway, when we got there, I tried to find a cheap game so that he wouldn't be upset. Whether it was suggested by the clerk or I picked it out based on it's cover art, I can't remember. All I know is that this was the first game we owned for the Nintendo and I loved every second of it.

When I finally bought my first Gameboy, the first game I got for it was Bionic Commando. Apparently better tastes had prevailed and they'd cut Hitler out of it in the Gameboy version.

But, finally, after 20 some odd years, Bionic Commando gets a proper sequel for the next gen consoles. I couldn't be happier. Something tells me Hitler and his helicopter won't be making a return this time around. Still, along with Megaman 2 and Crystalis, Bionic Commando is at the top of my list when it comes to classic gaming memories.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

not like riding a bike

I haven't written in a long time. Longer than I think I've ever really taken a break from this thing, whatever it really is. It's been a big roller coaster these past few months. Stressful, busy days at work. Depressing, difficult stuff in my personal life (family stuff, not Amanda). Life's been hard. One or the other is okay. At least you can deal with personal stuff if work isn't demanding 100 hour work weeks from you - or at least you can deal with work if you personal life isn't constantly nagging at you for attention and clouding your focus.

Things have been hard. Work has been a bit of a safety net, to be honest. Work is emotionless. Work is predicated upon professionalism and financial decisions, not shaky concepts such as loyalty, respect, and love. And the more I work, the more I can not focus on the depressing personal stuff that I don't have any control over, input into, or even real-time interaction with.

The problem is, the more I work, the worse things get for other elements of my personal life. I hate how much my work effects my ability to spend time with Amanda. There are times when I feel like a workaholic. And yet, I know that I would be totally fine handing this work off to someone else, if only there was someone else to hand it off to. I want to have a normal life back. I want to do things like go to the grocery store, or iron, or eat dinner with my wife. Normal stuff. But after working so hard for so long, I find it very difficult to go back to "normal."

I feel like I'm slacking off if I leave work at 6. It feels like I've only worked a half day. And then I go home and part of me is always thinking about work - what do I have to do tomorrow, what do I have to manage, what needs to be delegated/reassigned/put off until some other aspect of something is cleared up. I go to bed thinking about work. I dream about work. I wake up thinking about work.

I just want separation from it. I want to get back to a point where I'm able to leave the office at the office, leave the office at a normal hour and not feel guilty about it, and then go home and enjoy my time with Amanda.

Right now, I don't have that. And more depressingly for me, she doesn't have that either.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

christ ...

It's been one fucking difficult week, and it's not even over yet. I haven't written at all because I honestly don't know how to put down what's been going on. Suffice it to say, there's some bad stuff going on in my family right now. Really bad stuff. Problem is, I'm not even sure I know how deep the bad actually goes. Unfortunately for me, that means that my imagination is running wild.

I'm not sleeping. I'm distracted at work. I spent Monday and Tuesday feeling like a zombie, got better by Wednesday, and then found out that things were worse than I originally thought and now I feel like a zombie again.

Amanda's been very helpful and has been trying to talk me through the jumbled mix of emotions I'm going through right now. Ry gets back from his whirlwind tour of the world today. I'm actually going to meet him at the airport between flights in order to just sit down and talk him through everything, since he's just getting back home to the situation now.

This sucks so bad.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

how many em bees in a gee bee?

While I wish my mom would just get remarried to a nice IT guy, in the meantime all of her tech support issues fall onto the shoulders of Ry or myself. Ry, particularly, is where she usually goes for help - much to his discomfort and annoyance. I only tend to get called if Ry is unreachable. So, with Ry out of the country right now on tour with NOFX, I become the second string family IT guy.

Tonight I had the pleasure of trying to diagnose and trouble-shoot setting up a home wireless network over the phone. This is how things always go. Everything is always over the phone and it's always like trying to talk an infant through ... well ... setting up a home wireless network.

Me: Okay, well ... there are a number of things that you're asking me that I don't know because I don't know your computer's system specs.
Mom: I have a PowerMac G4. It has 512 em bees and 128 em bees.
Me: (long pause while I figure out that she means how many megs of RAM the computer has) Okay.
Mom: And I'm using OS X version 10.2.9. The software the man sold me is saying that I need OS X 10.4. Do I need to buy a new computer?
Me: No, mom. You can upgrade your system software without having to buy a new computer.
Mom: You can?

Etc. I'm convinced that when wicked IT people die and go to hell, they have to spend eternity helping my mom turn her iMac into a stand-alone web server.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

cellular, modular, interactive-odular

I see a lot of strange people on my drive to work through San Francisco. I've been wishing for a while that I was really great at photography so that I could spend a few weeks just driving around, or walking around, and taking pictures of the people who live in this city.

The costumes I see every day are so vivid. Sometimes they're ultra hip, like the heroin-chic 20-somethings that hide behind huge sunglasses and punk rock t-shirt they bought from Hot Topic. Sometimes they're strange functional juxtapositions, such as the corporate biker gang I saw yesterday - multiple Honda motorcycles, each ridden by a man in space-age helmet and gray business suit. Their ties were flapping over their shoulders as they drove. And sometimes, the costumes are just inexplicable. Like the guy I saw today who must have been 60+ years old and was walking down the street with an "MSU" cheerleaders' uniform shirt tucked into his brown polyester science teacher pants.

Sometimes, you find people who accessorize their costumes. For some people, it's arms full of shopping bags or the ubiquitous Starbucks coffee drinks. For others, though, those accessories are little crazy props.

Today I saw a man walking towards the bus stop. He was dressed in perfectly laundered and well-taken care of tourist clothes - Hawaiian shirt, a pair of Oakleys, beige shorts and some nice sneakers. In his right arm, he carried a long skateboard.

With his left hand, though, the man was talking into a banana. Just holding a banana up to his ear and chatting away into it like it was a cellphone. At first I thought that I had to have been mistaken. Luckily, I had the opportunity to stop right next to him at a red light; and sure enough, the guy was talking into a mostly ripe banana. He seemed to really be enjoying his conversation, too. This wasn't some kind of angry schizophrenic rant full of curses and misplaced hatred. This was just some crazy man on vacation, phoning home on his banana probably to tell everyone all about the great sites he'd seen and how he'd just skateboarded down Lombard street.

I'm going to learn photography and document these people. They're too interesting to just let them slip by unnoticed.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Happy Birthday, Rooni!

Today is my beautiful wife's 27th birthday.

So, when you see her, wish her well. If you don't see her, email her or call her and wish her well. She's wonderful and deserves a great birthday.

Besides baking a cake, I also offer her this to help celebrate: a video of some kid who's too afraid to actually sing the "Happy Birthday" song

Happy Birthday, babe!

Thursday, August 23, 2007


So much for my time off. I had to go into work yesterday and put out fires from 9:30 to 2 AM. I'm so sick of this project. I'm exhausted - fatigued to a fundamental level. I have to go in today again for the same thing. Same process. Same problems. Everyone there is exhausted. Producers are literally living at work right now. This isn't how work is supposed to be. This is a bad crunch.

I'm saying "eff you" to it all this weekend and taking Amanda camping for her birthday. I can't wait.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


I'm home this week sitting around in my pajamas and recuperating from the months of busy craziness I've been going through. I pulled off a minor miracle last week and whipped a game's audio into shape from nearly silent to rich and diversified audio.

I'm slowly returning to normal life. Last night, Manda and I went to see Superbad. Very funny. Pretty mindless, but funny none the less. While we were out, I kept making these inane jokes about how many people were out enjoying the evening Summer sun and walking around. I was shocked at how many people I saw who were in love - arm in arm or carrying their kids around. It took a while before I realized that I'd largely only been seeing the city streets at midnight where the only people you see are drunks or the homeless.

Suffice it to say, having been working until about 10 or later for the last 3 months straight, I feel like a stranger to regular life. So that's what this week is all about; decompressing and easing back into normal life before I start my next major crunch for Star Wars.

Friday, August 17, 2007


Ry just commented on my last post about a new trend in spam to pretend you're a hitman in order to scare your target into paying you. Insane and completely inhuman.

This reminded me of a story that was on Digg yesterday about how 58% of Americans have been tricked by spam. My first thought was "What? Those people are idjits." Unfortunately, I then remembered that about 2 weeks ago I was tricked for the first time.

On an infinitely lower level than hitman spam, someone recently tricked me into clicking on their spam link via a MySpace message. The message subject simply read "hey." I didn't think much of that. I get a lot of messages like that on MySpace and Facebook by people who either 1.) want to know when LucasArts is going to do Republic Commando 2 or, 2.) want me to check out their demos. So, whatever, I opened it like usual.

However, the message text then read "Hey, did you know that someone made a video about you?" This was a bit of a surprise. But, again, not completely unheard of. In the past, I've been sent links to videos that people have put up on YouTube with my music edited into new footage of things.

But, here was the kicker, the thing that actually tricked me into clicking through the link and falling for their crap. They had including a screen shot with the message and it looked exactly like this:


Right there above my head were the words "A Tribute to Idiots." Suddenly I had two thoughts. First, I was furious that someone would take my headshot picture and put it into a montage of "idiots." I couldn't think of anything I'd done to warrant that. Then, almost instantly after that, I thought "Thank God someone saw this and thought to let me know!"

So I clicked it. And it took me to a spam site.

What amazes me about the entire thing, however, is the inherent Photoshop skill that this spammer had bust out just to try and get me to price some "\/14grA!!!!1!!!1!". Ridiculous, and again, just simply infuriating. More than anything, I hate that my own stupid sense of pride made me fall for it. Who knows what kind of a-holeware I now have on my machine because of it.

Anyway, consider this a warning if you see a similar email. Chances are, your idiocy isn't actually being honored.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

the wolves in the internet tubes

This morning, I had the following spam line in my inbox:

"Still, the wolves' imperfect sending of the banners had prepared him."

There's something very unsettling about that.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

sooo.... tired ......

Too much work these days and not enough time to blog. I've been working until midnight or later every night for the last few weeks trying to clean up someone else's mess. Amanda is away on business for the next few days and I'm holding down the fort with work and late nights.

People are starting to express a concern about my burning out. I would tend to agree with them. Problem is, the work still needs to get done. And a big bug count doesn't seem to care if I burn out or not.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

"fuck...", a fuck, and fucked

I'm working myself into the ground these days. I'm working on a project right now that is about to wrap up, and to be honest, it's one of the hardest I've had to do professionally. Essentially, there was a situation where I've had to step into a role that I'm not familiar with, do a job that isn't mine, do it flawlessly, and do it within a week because that's all that the project has left. Success doesn't even mean critical acclaim; but rather - most likely - simply avoiding being slammed in the gaming press. It's a crappy position to feel as if I'm in.

On top of that, I feel like a total fuck because I forgot that yesterday was Ben's birthday. I called him and talked to him on the way into work today, but my cellphone kept cutting in and out and I don't think I was all that energetic due to being at work until 1:30 in the morning.

Then, on top of that, I yanked a filling out of my head today while I was flossing. So, now I need to find time to go to the dentist.

I'm having a rough week. There's a definite mantra of "it'll all be over next week" that keeps playing itself over and over in my head. But now I'm worrying that my body's just going to completely fall apart before I can get there.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


There's a new video up on YouTube for my favorite Trance act, Techno Squirrels, and it took my breath away. Not only is the new track fantastic, but the video is absolutely stunning. From LA's Union Station to Utah's Arches National Park, from the Tokyo subway to the Central Valley's wind farms, the video for "Unbelievable" is a time lapse tour of the world tying together the kinetic rhythms of urban life with the macro level changes of nature that only make themselves obvious through time lapse.

Techno Squirrels - "Unbelievable"

What I love most about Techno Squirrels is that they don't overstay their welcome. Their writing, production, and performances are top-notch; but beyond that they manage to dodge the grand conceit of Trance that assumes I want to listen to someone slowly develop an idea over 9 minutes every time I listen to a song. Techno Squirrels take a tight, solid, and succinct approach to their songwriting and it really serves them well.

There's something in their work that's reminiscent of Madonna's "Ray of Light" album (my favorite work of hers), but without all of the self-centered, "I am my own universe" lyric writing that Madonna's work has turned into over the last 10 years. There's also some noticeable Bjork influence, but without the inaccessibly dissonant insanity and idiosyncratic, yet unfocused melodies. Essentially, Techno Squirrels manage to be move beyond Trance in its strictest definitions and instead blend it with a bedrock of finely-tuned songwriting craft that instantly draws me in with each new track I hear.

Anyway, check out the video as well as the new album when it comes out Aug. 21.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

the pride of the US educational system

Last night, I stopped by In N Out on my way home for a little Animal Style dinner action. I ended up sitting next to a group of four college students. They sounded like idiots. It's part of the grand cultural disservice that regional accents can cause. These kids could have been geniuses (they weren't) and they would have sounded like idiots because they all had thick, "valley girl" accents.

They must have all been going into their senior year because they were talking about what life was going to be like after graduation. Then the following conversation occurred:

Black female student: I want to go somewhere, like, meaningful for vacation. Like Africa. But, like, you know. Somewhere where they don't hate us.
White male student: I think, like, the people of Sudan have better things to worry about than hating us.
Black female student: No. Not there. Somewhere meaningful to me. To my roots. Like Africa.
White male student: Um ... Sudan is in Africa.
Black female student: No, I mean, like Africa. Like Kenya.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

working weekend

In my office, I have two whiteboards. One is for internal development to-do lists, the other is for external development to-do lists. Last week, I held a little ceremony and smiled ear to ear as I finally erased the word "Thrillville" off of my external development whiteboard.

Turns out it was wishful thinking. So, now I'm stuck here at work on a Saturday. I had to bail out of plans that Amanda and I had and I'm hating myself for it. I promised her I'd go with her to a friend's "moving away" party as he's moving to Chicago soon. So, I say "yeah! let's go!" and then have to ditch her with only a day's notice.

I hate that. I hate that element to my job. I hate that my personal life is disposable and that fighting to have time to myself and my life can be viewed as being either 1.) disloyal to the project or 2.) simply unprofessional.

I'm starting to get grumpy and resentful, so I'll stop complaining. There's a possibility that I might be heading to England next week. Project before all else.

Oh well.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

the questionable foundations of my musicianship

Before I started learning piano and long before I started taking voice lessons, my very first instrumental tuition came in 1st grade.

The instrument they made us play might well have been some kind of hold-over torture device from the Middle Ages. It was one-stringed parent killer known as the Monolin, named such because it was a violin with only one string. Now, the string of a monolin was made of steel like a guitar string, but never changed as far as I remember no matter how dead the think got. And disturbingly, the thing even looked like a medieval crossbow:


That's the only photo I can find of one. It's from a scanned ad sitting in some online educational resource directory. This dirty lie of an ad is all about how it's "impossible to play the wrong string on a Monolin!" Unfortunately, while its only string was indeed unavoidable, so was the chance of making a horrific noise with that thing. Even 26 years on, I can still remember the sound of this beast. It was like trying to orchestrate for nails on a chalk board. Imagine the sound of trying to play a fatal car crash with a violin bow. That's a monolin.

Not to mention, that was when only one of those monstrosities was playing at a time. At the end of the tuition, we had a concert in which our parents were subjected to the sound of 40 monolins scraping out some tragic mockery of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" at the same time. How our parents survived, I have no idea.

And to be quite honest, I think our elementary school music teachers honestly hated our parents, because the next year they made us learn and then give a 40-instrument strong performance of the Flutophone:


The Flutophone is like a recorder, but worse and with a more emasculating name. Not to mention, it has translucent hot pink detailing which if I remember correctly, was very easy to break, rendering your flutophone useless. I must have gone through 4 or 5 flutophones in the course of the year.

With the flutophone and the monolin as my introduction to music, it's a wonder why I ever decided I was still interested in learning an instrument.

Monday, July 30, 2007

suckered again

Continuing my ever-susceptible streak of being suckered into partaking in Flash-based advertising, I've "simpsonized" myself at a Burger King site called As far as I can tell, their UI sucks and it won't actually save your character or export it correctly. I was able to email it to myself and snap a quick screen shot of it with PrintScreen.

Anyway, this is how it turned out. Not too shabby.


Thursday, July 26, 2007

the thin line between expanding your mind and becoming a total cook kook

Today is the 4th day in a row that I'm staying at work until the wee hours of the morning crunching towards the finish line for me on Thrillville: Off The Rails. I've been listening to the new PARK Radio tracks for hours upon hours, looking for the digital audio version of needles in haystacks: pops, clicks, corruptions from Pro Tools bounce errors, FTP transfer corruption, volume balancing snafus, etc.

Anyway, after listening to the same radio shows in 5 different languages for 4 days straight, I'm starting to go a bit nuts. Rather than stare off into space or watch waveforms scroll past me in Peak for days on end, I've been reading stories online a bunch while I listen to material.

Tonight's online journey began by digging around on Google Earth and typing in the name of world-wide monuments into the address bar. My favorite was the Statue of Liberty who is shot from above (duh, it's a satellite) but whose shadow casts the iconic image we're all used to of Lady Liberty. I also checked out the Great Wall of China, Mount Everest, Stonehenge, and Zero.

After that, though, I dug into Wikipedia and somehow got to a page listing all of the conspiracy theories detailed on Wikipedia. At the moment, I'm reading all about The Philadelphia Experiment, time travel, and the use of anti-gravity technology by alien spacecrafts.

Hopefully I won't find myself sitting here with a tin-foil hat by the end of the night.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

a brief history of the color red

I found this very amusing.

Monday, July 23, 2007

I'm feeling like Mike Rowe

'Cuz today I'm doing little else than cleaning up everybody else's shit.

Developing a game that's going to be released world wide in at least 5 different languages makes you reliant upon a few things. You end up particularly being reliant upon translators and the level of anal-retentiveness held by audio engineers in foreign studios. If I don't speak the language (which I don't), then I can't know whether or not a German line of dialogue has been delivered correctly. The only thing I have to go off of is the hope that the correct German file has been named the exact same thing as the English file.

Today I've been dealing with a gigantic clusterfuck that came from at least 5 completely unrelated problems that have derailed all of the languages for a game. One language was hosed by a careless mistake in a French recording studio. Another was hosed by a slow production team in Spain. Another language was botched up by careless transcription errors on the English side of things. German and Italian have both been struggling from a mixture of errors plaguing all of the other languages.

None of it is anything that I've had to deal with before. Somehow on this game I went from Music Supervisor to Audio Lead in the span of about 2 weeks. Lucky for me, I'm now serving as Audio Lead on this game while simultaneously being Music Supervisor still for everything else I'm working on.

I'm not having a very good week so far.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

in the wake of E3 ...

I finally get a chance to clean up my office today. It's been about a year since I last did this and there are documents, papers, notes, resumes, and CD-Rs everywhere around here.

I'm finding my implementation notes from LEGO II, my lyric writing scribbles from the first Thrillville, and more doodles than I can count. In fact, I'd had me recently wanting to start scanning in some of the better ones and starting a doodle gallery. Maybe I'll get to that.

The other big news is that I woke up this morning to the news that LucasArts had won an award from GameSpy for Best Trailer at E3 for the work we did on the Star Wars: The Force Unleashed trailer.

That was a rough trailer to do. We did so many versions of it trying to craft it just right ... I worked some long nights on that thing. It's nice to see it get some recognition.

My favorite part of GameSpy's write-up was this:

"watch the trailer again and pay attention to how well the sound communicates the action"

Sweet, blissful critical acclaim ...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

the great delusion

Someone please explain this to me ...

As the world slides further and further into despair, war, conflict, and poverty, the US stock markets continue to set record breaking numbers and make insane profits. They don't seem to take any notice any more to the flailing status of the US Dollar, the failed war strategy, or the looming threat of inflation.


What the hell are they paying attention to? Doesn't the economy have to be tied to something stronger than a simple wish for it to be doing well? Isn't this dangerous?

I honestly don't understand it.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Either someone at Google Ad Sense has hijacked the liberal blog or there's a serious malfunction with their keyword target marketing software this morning.

This is a screenshot of what the sidebar of Crooks looked like this morning:


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Happy Birthday

Today is the birthday of my good friend Seth. He's an ancient 31 years old today. So, in honor of his being 31 today, here's a video for him of Jean Claude Van Damme having an uncomfortable moment and getting laughed at on Brazilian television.

Happy birthday, hombre.

Monday, July 09, 2007

so much for the poetry of songwriting

Working on another Thrillville means working to license another set of music from record labels. While I can't get into which songs we're licensing, I will say that I've been busy over the last few days with my absolute least favorite part of music licensing: transcribing lyrics for submission to the ESRB.

You see, the ESRB (or Entertainment Software Ratings Board) are the people who figure out if your game is rated E for Everyone or M for Mature. As such, they have to scrutinize any and all content that goes into the game, including all of the lyrics to any songs found within.

So, it falls on me as Music Supervisor to make sure that anything and everything that can possibly be construed as a sung syllable gets reported, lest the ESRB hears something that they're not sure they can identify and delay the rating process. What makes the whole thing a bit frustrating is that their guidelines for E for Everyone content states that they're looking for "Soundtracks that contain profanity or adult themes, including edits or 'bleeps'." Pretty vague. Profanity can vary depending on your country. In the US, there are plenty of people who don't regard "hell" or "damn" as profanity, or at least as extremely minor profanity. In Canada, however, French-Canadians curse by saying things like "Chalice!" or "Tabernacle!," because they have a religious tone instead of a sexual tone. So, I have to transcribe absolutely everything and let them (the ESRB, not the French-Canadians) figure out if it's offensive or not.

Anyway, what the hell does all of this mean. It means that when I do this task, I have to first see if someone has typed up the lyrics online, then listen to the song while I scrutinize the online lyrics and make sure that they're right, then lastly add in and correct all of the stuff that the online versions leave out.

The one thing this has taught me is that absolutely no one knows what anyone is saying in any song. Ultimately, this means that the material the songwriter is trying to express rarely seems to get through to the brains of the listener. If the listener then tries to learn the lyrics off of an online lyric sheet, they're memorizing someone else's jumbled mistranscription and the whole thing perpetuates more misunderstanding.

For instance, this happened to me when I did the first Thrillville. The song "Emo Skater Girl"'s lyrics can be found on my MySpace page. Regardless of that, however, at least one version of the lyrics popped up online on a lyrics forum and is a garbled mess of what I actually sing in the song. For instance:

"You think I'm not/
I tried to hang but couldn't hack it"

is transcribed as:

"Think I'm not/
A try to hang the food and hacket"

Then there's the chorus:

"I'm just a nerd/
Lost to the world/
'Cause I'm in love with an
Emo skater girl"

Apparently ended up online as:

"I'm just a dork/
My stupid world/
Who fell in love with an
Emo skater girl"

And it's generally like that for every song I'm trying to transcribe the lyrics for. Today I found a song where "and it goes by like a bullet" was written as "and it can fly like a burden."

I don't know why lyricists try. It seems like a losing battle.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

off the rails

Well, it's official. Today LucasArts announced that we're going to be putting out a sequel to Thrillville this fall and I can finally say that I've been working for the past few months on said sequel.

Thrillville: Off The Rails has been keeping David Collins and I in the studio working on new songs since about March or so. There's some work here that I'm very proud of and I'll make sure to share it as soon as I can.

If you're interested, the info on the new game is here.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

the times they are a changin'

And by times, I mean staffing picture of our department here at work. On Monday, two new members joined the LucasArts Audio Department. The first is our new Audio Lead, Tom Bible. Tom comes to us from the UK where he likes sandwiches with butter on them and has a very different set of cultural references than we do. He seems like a supremely nice guy and I'm really looking forward to working with him.

The second addition to the crew this week is our second intern, Jason Clark. Like our first intern, Jason also comes to us from Ex'pression Center for New Media. I'm hoping that he can help to explain what that apostrophe is doing in the middle of its name. So far he's been doing some really unglamorous cleaning detail, but he freakin' rocked it out with the reorganization (can it be a reorganization if it was never really all that organized in the first place?) of our Cable closet. Among the oddities that he unearthed was a very special XLR->MIDI cable. Audiophiles right now are saying "WHAT?!" Everyone else thinks that I'm speaking gibberish. Suffice it to say, it's like have a cable that connects your printer to your refrigerator. Not very useful (to which I'm sure Seth will tell me I'm wrong for the sake of telling me I'm wrong).

Anyway, I'm heading home at a normal hour tonight and I'm gonna' go enjoy hanging out with Amanda before 10 PM on a weekday for the first time in a long time.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Friday, 6:45 PM

That's when I just received a request from one of the development teams to have a custom-composed trailer scored, edited, and mixed for Monday.

That's ridiculous. But I'm such an industrious little worker that my answer was - as always - "No problem!"

How do you say that it is a problem? It still needs to be done. I will do the job. Am I supposed to make people view me as a grumpy employee while I do it just because their request is unreasonable? Or if I make it clear once that it's unreasonable will they stop making unreasonable requests? Unlikely.

It's a no-win situation.

What would they have done if I'd left for the night already? Nevermind. I know the answer to that. I've been called at home before.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

big mistake

Coming back to work was a mistake. I'm still so sick. I need to be in bed. I need to be resting. I should probably even go to a doctor.

Instead I'm sitting here in my office as my newly-returned fever comes and goes, feeling clammy, and editing music to Quicktime movies.

I just walked out into the hallway and passed someone who, in response to my hello, simply muttered "... fucking 5 years making games just to get the life sucked out of me ..."

It's a happy industry sometimes.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

back in the saddle

I'm back to work after two days out sick. You know what I'm discovering? I habitually come back to work too early. I'm still sick and should still be home in my pajamas, but I had work I needed to do that I couldn't do from home. So I'm here.

I'm contemplating taking off early. I have a lot of stuff to do by next Wednesday, though, so I think I'm just going to be toughing it out. Problem is, part of what I have to do is some mixing work in the studio and my right ear is pretty cloudy right now from my cold.

So, on the one hand, I know I'm too sick to be at work. And on the other hand, I know that I have a lot of work that can't afford to have me be sick.

Life is a many-splendored tapestry of crappy options. Come to think of it, that sounds like one of those demotivational posters from


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

still entertaining myself

Manda and I are still home sick so we finally watched "Must Love Dogs" and "Taxi Driver" off of our netflix list. We've had them since we got back from our honeymoon. After all of that wait, "Dogs" was crap and "Taxi Driver" was scratched to the point that it doesn't play. Figures, I guess.

Anyway, I've been mindlessly rating movies on Netflix for lack of anything else to do. And, again, as I do this it's prompted some funny recommendations. Here are a few that made me laugh. then again, I am sick and a little stir crazy, so this might not be all that funny.

Like foreign independent films and British comedies? Obviously, you might like this:

Picture 4

Netflix calls it "a fascinating documentary that leaves viewers with (pun intended!) much to digest." I call it completely unrelated to any of the things that prompted it to appear on our list.

This one's for you, Ry. I don't know if you've ever seen Cirque du Soleil, but apparently the nexus of "The Fischer King" and crazy circus people equals:

Picture 3

Why "The Fischer King" has anything to do with wanting to learn eastern meditative stretching is beyond me.

Lastly, there was this:

Picture 5

Doesn't Netflix know that Transformers are toys for boys? She-Ra's for girls, damn it. Girls! Stop making me question my masculinity, Netflix.

Monday, June 18, 2007

entertaining myself

I'm home sick today. Actually, both Amanda and I are are home sick today. Saturday was our garage sale and it went really well with one small exception - we both are now suffering from too much sun exposure. I've got a helluva cold right now and Manda's home sick with a sore throat.

While sitting here at home babysitting my work inbox, Amanda asked me to update our Netflix queue, something we've been neglecting over the last 6 months or so. So, while I was poking around looking for some new movies to put on, I started rating the ones that I'd already seen.

I haven't really used Netflix all that much for anything other than just tossing movies onto my queue that I already know I want to see. So, today I thought I'd poke through the site-generated Recommendations page. Interestingly, their recommendation system seems to work pretty well. It's basically a big "if you liked this, you might like this" system and I found it was pulling up a lot of movies that I'd seen and liked in the past plus a handful of gems that look pretty good that I'd never heard of before.

As with any automated system, it has it's issues. Apparently it decided that since I said I liked Tim Burton's "Ed Wood," I must have a thing for crappy Sci-Fi and it started recommending Godzilla movies and crap like "Frankenstein Meets the Curse of the Wolfman's Mummy" (which I don't think is an actual movie, but should be).

By far, though, this was the weirdest recommendation:

Picture 2

What about "Citizen Kane" implies an appreciation for Rolling Stones concert vids?

Friday, June 15, 2007

second-hand weekend

Other than sounding like the crappy title of a Jackson Browne album, this post's title actually is all about our big garage sale we're having this weekend.

Since we moved in together two years ago, Amanda and I have been stepping around a bunch of duplicates of stuff - things we each had in our old apartments that we now find we have two of. We're tired of stepping around them.

Add to that old stuff we want to try and get rid of and some stuff neither of us even remembers how it got into our apartment, and you've got yourself a handy little garage sale this weekend.

Should be interesting. I've never had a garage sale before. The closest I've ever come was the time my mom decided that Ry and I had too many books (??) and that we should load them into our little red wagon and walk around the neighborhood trying to sell them to grown-ups. Needless to say, not too many grown-ups wanted to buy used copies of 5 year-olds' books. Go figure.

Anyway, I hope to have better luck tomorrow. Hopefully I won't have to trudge off with a red wagon this time.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


That was the price that the gas pump read when I pulled up to it yesterday after someone else had just used it to fill up their 21-gallon tank.


This is nuts.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

a moment of clarity

I know I tend to bluster here a bunch and complain about things almost endlessly. Largely this blog is just the pointless grumbling of a guy who's too cowardly to tell people off in real life. I mean, why would the world care if someone cut me off, if I got a traffic ticket, if I'm sleepy from working too much, etc.? In short, they don't.

But, beneath all of the complaining and crap that comes from me on a daily basis, there's the heart of a very susceptible humanist and a hopeless romantic. It's rare that I let my guard down completely and show just how much things truly and deeply effect me. Amanda sees it quite frequently, but the rest of the world doesn't. I think it's part of being an artist. It's common to say that artists are tasked with creating something out of nothing, but I think that does artists a disservice. Artists create something out of themselves, sculpting something new from a wellspring of emotions and personal experiences. As far as I'm concerned, that wellspring is mine alone, my source of inspiration and my creative capital and I guard it closely.

That said, every now and again, something affects me in a way that kicks down my barriers and strips away any and all pretenses that I may have about myself that I'm indifferent, ambivalent, or apathetic to the world around me.

This morning, as I drove into work along the same path that I take every day, a random sequence of events touched me deeply and broke my heart. I was listening to our local alternative rock station when a new song came on by a band called Plain White T's. The song, "Hey There Delilah," is so deceptively simple. Just a solo voice, a single acoustic guitar, and light string accompaniment. It's an approach that's been done so many times in the past and can be so trite if done wrong. But this song ... the lyrics to this song are so pure. Such a sincere statement of longing, of love, and of optimism. With each line of the song, I could feel it soaking into me, saturating deep into my bones.

Hey there Delilah
I've got so much left to say
If every simple song I wrote to you
Would take your breath away
I'd write it all

It pulled me in, and I found myself smiling lost in a wash of sense memories. Not specific events, mind you. Just feelings. Just an overall memory of what it feels like to be young and in love, what it feels like to be completely enraptured in another human being, just the relief and warm security of knowing that I'm loved.

And as the song continued, I simply slipped deeper into this mode of simply giving myself over completely to the influence of the song and its effects on me.

A thousand miles seems pretty far
But they've got planes and trains and cars
I'd walk to you if I had no other way
Our friends would all make fun of us
And we'll just laugh along because we know
That none of them have felt this way

And it was then, as I turned onto Lombard Street, with those last two lines still seeping into me, that I passed a skinny skeleton of a man standing on the curb. He was bald, lanky, his over-sized clothes hung from his body. His face was contorted in pain with his mouth wrenched into a wide-open frown, some sort of silent moaning. His arms twisted as if trying to tear themselves from his body and his hands were clawing at his own stomach. No one paid any attention to him as they passed by him on the street.

And we'll just laugh along because we know
That none of them have felt this way

There before me was the dichotomy of the human condition, pure love and pure loss mashed together through my windshield in the middle of another random drive into work. I'm not exaggerating when I say that my stomach clenched like I'd been hit in the gut. I felt compassion for this man that I rarely feel for anything, compassion driven by the waves of appreciation I'd been experiencing just seconds earlier for my own life.

Sitting here a few hours later, I find that I can't get the image of that man out of my head. And yet, strangely, I can't seem to shake the warmth from that song either. I suppose I shouldn't fight either. I don't know how to create a piece of art that would be able to express what I felt at that exact moment this morning. But I know that I'll file that moment way and draw from it some point later from my wellspring of inspiration.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

next target: my Day Camp trophies from when I was 5 years old

I mentioned that I've been having nightmares a lot recently. Typically, they've been the typical fair for me - death, violence, self-preservation, and the occasional Star Wars toy buying binge dream.

Last night, however, I had an annoying variation on a dream I've had many times in the past. I've talked to people about it, and I've been told that it's pretty common to have a nightmare where you're back in high school but at your current age. For me, this dream usually revolves around some sort of clerical error that's been discovered that necessitates me going back to high school to finish up some incomplete course work. Usually I don't know my schedule, can't find any of my classes, and stress out about the fact that I have no idea how to jump back into the middle of a scholastic year without any sense of what I'm supposed to be doing.

Last night, however, I had a dream that I showed up here at LucasArts in the Presidio. No sooner do I show up than I get snagged by Security who threatened to do a body cavity search, taken to a small committee of people, and then informed that they've discovered problems with my employment application. Turns out - due to some sort of clerical error - it's been discovered that I never completed some critical course work back in high school and so both my high school diploma and both of my college degrees have been summarily voided. In order to keep my job, I would have to return to high school, finish my diploma course work, then reapply to college and grad school in order to officially have my degrees reinstated. Meanwhile, I was going to have to keep up with work as well until they could find a replacement for me.

The whole thing sucked. It's only slightly less stressful than the reoccurring dream I have that I'm in opening night of a play and have no idea what the show is, let alone what part I'm playing or any of the lines.

Monday, June 11, 2007

busy bunch of restful nothing

Now that was a weekend.

Fast on the heels of my crappy week, I managed to have a hefty string of nightmares Friday night leaving me even more exhausted and dreading a busy social calendar throughout the weekend. Fortunately, however, everything that we'd planned in that busy schedule was nice and I'm back at work this morning feeling rested and recharged, even if I'm still having nightmares and not sleeping well.

Tina and Mat's barbecue was nice. They bought a house last year out in Brentwood, a neighborhood near Antioch, CA. It's pretty far from us and I know that the distance has been bugging Amanda since she feels like she and Tina don't see each other enough anymore. I think this is the actual map we used to get there:


Regardless of the drive, we had a really nice time. Manda got a chance to swim in their pool for a long time. Me and my ear-infection-prone ears got to sit on the deck and relax, which was Much Needed Relaxation Period 1 for the weekend. Plus, Mat has a bunch of games so I got my first hands-on experience with a PS3. I spent my afternoon digging on "Resistance: Fall of Man" and Mat's barbecue sauce-infused hot dogs.

Sunday we started off with a picnic with our friends Sharlene and Alan, or as I like to think of it, Much Needed Relaxation Period 2. We hung out on the grass of San Mateo's Central Park blabbing about nothing in particular (actually, about Google, Microsoft, and magical Mormon underwear - if you must know). After that, Manda and I headed down to Palo Alto for a date. We went to the Stanford Theater and watched 1951's "The African Queen" starring Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn. We finished the night off with some coffee and hot chocolate at a little cafe.

Good stuff, all of it. Now I'm ready to face the week headlong and tackle all of the crap that's waiting on deck for my attention. Christ ... that might be the worst mixed metaphor I've ever written.

Friday, June 08, 2007


As in "down in the." I'm in a terrible mood today. I was all day yesterday, too. I've been having a hard time here at work the last few days with a few issues. All of which have ended up really weighing on my mind and driving my mood into the ground.

Truth be told, I just want to crawl into bed, pull the sheets over my head, and ignore the world this weekend. Instead, we're going to a barbecue which, right now, sounds like the exact antonym of a solid round of cover-pulling anti-social behavior.

I've been snapping at my co-workers with jokes that are just a bit too biting and nasty. I've been blowing off meetings so that I can just quietly work in my office.

I need some things to be resolved around here so that I can get back to normal. Whatever the hell that is.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


That's how much my freaking lame-o red light ticket cost me.

That seem extortionate to me. Has it served as some sort of lesson to make me drive safer? No. I don't think I made a mistake in the first place.

The only thing it taught me is that that cop is a dick.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

mother nature at her best

Well, I suppose that's a pretty subjective comment. Still, as I was driving into work, I got to see another incredibly dramatic display of the beauty that happens when human art and nature do a little dance together.

I was driving by my favorite spot to check out the Golden Gate Bridge and had to pull over again and snap some pictures. As before, the pictures didn't turn out nearly as well as I'd hoped. It was absolutely beautiful.

On a clear day, you can see right across this little span of water to the other shore of Marin County.

Another shot of the same phenomenon. Amazingly, the fog just clung to the to low lying water and ran under the Bridge only coming up to the level of the road. Also, amazingly, all of these photos are untouched color photographs.

Amazingly, that lump of fog on the right side of the frame is actually a little waterfall of fog (fogfall?) spilling over the buildings of the San Francisco Marina District. It was gorgeous.

Anyway, just some beautiful stuff I wanted to share. Way to go, fog.

Friday, June 01, 2007

a new low

Spammers should be ashamed of themselves. There are few people in this world who have a more hated profession. Until this morning, I was ready to just lump all spammers into a single category of "decroded pieces of crap." However, the spirit of innovation and industry moves forward! This morning I discovered that there's a higher tier to spammers, a plane of existance more repugnant that just those who blanket the world on a single-minded crusade to enlarge the Earth's penises while refinancing our mortages. Spam writers are the content creators. Spam writers are the inventors of the image spam. Spam writers are the inventors of the literary quote spam and the garbled nonsense spam. And spam writers are the originators of the "I have lots of money waiting for you, if only you'll email me in Nigeria" spam.

But this morning, I got a new variation on that one and I find it to be completely disgusting. This morning I got a piece of spam claiming to be from Ron Miller, Account Manager of the Yorkshire Bank. It's the same story: someone deposited millions of dollars into his bank and in a few months time, all of that money will transfer over to the property of the government because it's being unclaimed. Now, aside from that just not making any sense, this email that is usually set in Nigeria with a list of Nigeria nationals as its main players had a few notable changes to it this time around. Particularly, the person who apparently deposited all of the money and "did not declare any next of kin in his official papers" was - in this email - a man named Joseph Grzelak.

Why is it so bad that it's Joseph Grzelak? Because Joseph Grzelak just happened to be a Battalion Commander for the New York Fire Department who died during the September 11th attacks, or as the email itself puts it:

"Joseph Grzelak DIED during the bomb blast that strook[sic] World Trade Center"

First of all, it wasn't a bomb blast that destroyed the towers. Anyway, here you have spammers trying to make it seem like this bullshit scam is routed in reality by claiming that a New York fireman deposited $43,600,000.00 into a random bank in Yorkshire and left no next of kin notification. Unfortuately for "Ron Miller", the victims of 9/11 are all well-documented. It doesn't take more than a simple google search of Joseph's name to discover that he had a wife, two daughters, and numerous cousins - all of whom miss him, all of whom loved him, and all of whom would probably be sickened and appalled to discover that their husband/father/cousin's name was being used to try and scam idiots out of money.

And just in case there was any doubt that the whole thing was bullshit, the name Joseph Grzelak vanishes half-way through the email and is replaced with the name "Gen. Hassan Fazi."

"I have contacted an attorney that will prepare the necessary document that will back you up as the next of kin to Gen. Hassan Fazi, all that is required from you at this stage is for you to provide me with your Full Names and Address so that the Attorney can commence his job."

The whole thing is disgusting.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

more than I could have hoped for

The game audio poll that I posted last week got posted on this morning. When I originally created the poll, I thought "It should be pretty easy to get about 1000 responses. That's all I really need."

Then I watched as it languished around 100 for about 4 days.

I was beginning to struggle and wonder if I needed to completely redefine my expectations. I was simultaneously wracking my brains trying to figure out every avenue I could to post this thing in order to get it some traffic.

- I tried submitting it to Craigslist. It got flagged as spam and deleted. Twice.
- I tried submitting it to Somehow I managed to undigg my own posting of it making its digg count go from 1 to 0. Needless to say, no one bothered to read the lame story with 0 diggs.
- I sent it out as a bulletin on MySpace and Facebook through at least 5 different people's accounts.
- I'd even toyed with posting it to's forums asking the Star Wars fans there to check it out. After talking about it with Amanda, we both decided that it'd get me more instances of "when r u giong to make teh new XWING gmae?" than anything else, so I scrapped that plan.

Amanda had been saying all along "Ask your editor at Game Developer for help." Needless to say, as soon as I listened to her advice I got a response from my editor saying "Kotaku will help you out." By Sunday night the poll had netted a grand total of 318 participants. Then it went up on Kotaku this morning. As of this evening, it's sitting at about 1600 responses.

Kotaku rocks. My editor rocks. Amanda rocks. Everyone who helped me by getting this thing out there or taking the poll rocks.

There's a lot of rockage in my world today.

Monday, May 28, 2007

finally! a house we can afford ...

If only it were for sale.

Its craigslist ad would probably read something like this:

CHARMING turret in desirable San Mateo hills! - $450,000

This adorable 1-bedroom turret in San Mateo is loaded with charm. Centrally located on a spacious lot, this one-of-a-kind find features:

- Old World charm
- Adjacent w/d hook-ups
- Close to shopping, freeways, transportation
- Plenty of available on-street parking
- Recently updated security lumber


Thursday, May 24, 2007


I hate that I'm too busy to keep up with this blog. Amanda and I are going to a funeral tomorrow for her grandmother. Then Monday is Memorial Day.

I plan to sleep in this weekend. I plan to do some cleaning this weekend. I plan to play some video games this weekend.

I need to figure out how to get my survey some more responses so that I can write my article next week.

This post seems like it's become more of a to-do list for me than anything else. I'm sure it's a fascinating read.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

for my next article

I'm conducting a brief poll. Anyone who plays or has played video games, please click the link below and help me out by answering a few questions.


Video Game Sound

Monday, May 21, 2007

just what the doctor would have ordered

if I'd actually spoken to one. This weekend was awesome. No work, tons of sleep, relaxation, lots of time with Amanda ... it was perfect.

Oddly the down point of the weekend was the Bjork concert we went to Saturday night. It was dull. "Bjoring" one could say, if one were so inclinded and ... so lame as to actually say something like "bjoring." Anyway, pretty boring show. She managed to not play any songs of hers that I like and did play my all-time least favorite Bjork song ever ("Pluto" off of Homogenic. I can't stand the screaming section).

The rest of the weekend rocked, though. Manda and I did some cleaning, we printed our wedding "thank you" cards finally, we played some video games together. I'm now all caught up on Survivor (thank you, TiVo).

I came into work today feeling rested, relaxed, rejuvenated, and probably a few other positive words that start with "r." So bring on the late nights, work. Bring on the working weekends again. I'm ready for you now ...

Friday, May 18, 2007

crunch time

Work in the game industry long enough and you'll come up against it. Hell, work in the game industry for 3 or 4 months and you'll probably come up against it. It's the term used to describe the soul-stealing period of time just before an important project milestone or the end of a project where lots of people are staying late, working 15 hour days, working on the weekends, etc.

It's tough. It's hard on people Hard on relationships. I haven't had more than 3 days off in the last month and I'm exhausted from it. I miss Amanda. I haven't really seen her much lately. These days I come home after she's asleep and sleep in while she's getting ready in the morning. We just sort of share a bed these days, not much else.

The thing is, it's not the whole company that's going through this right now. It's not even any particular team that's enduring it. The Audio Department, though, because we service almost every project that comes through the building, is slammed with what people keep referring to as a "perfect storm" of crunch times. We're fighting for time in the recording studio in order to record voice, music, and SFX. We're struggling to keep pace with the audio needs of 13 different projects, all of which are at different stages. However, milestones seem to be lining up into these ugly staggered messes that keep us going from crunch to crunch.

On top of that, I'm having band practices again. The LucasArts Band (as we're being called now) is being asked to play at our up-coming All Lucas Company meeting. So, this week it's been recording sessions, production work, and music supervision all day followed by band practice at night. My eyes are so bleary that I can't really read what I'm typing right now. It's all too blurry.

Anyway, I guess the point I'm making is that this is the hard part of the industry. You make a lot of sacrifices during crunch time. Personal life, sleep, health, hygiene - and in return you're supposed to take comfort in the successes of your work. It's probably just that I've been at this for a month, but that's seeming like a pretty lopsided rate of returns for me right now.

Luckily it looks like I don't have to work this weekend. I can't wait. I want to relax and spend time with Amanda. Not to mention, we have tickets to go see Bjork in concert Saturday night. Crunches make you treasure your weekends. I plan on treasuring every second of this one.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

the falwell fallout

It's interesting to read about the death of Jerry Falwell and see just how much hatred the man has fostered over his lifetime. I expected to be reading exuberant praise about his death on sites like Digg, Fark, and DailyKos, just like I expected to find sympathy and condolences on conservatives blogs like RedState. What I didn't expect was to see such negative talk on sites like CNN and the BBC.

I also learned today that Falwell and I shared a birthday.

For their part, CNN's site had this to say:
"One week before his death, Falwell told CNN's Christiane Amanpour he needed at least 20 more years to accomplish his vision for Liberty University.

Falwell told the story of Hezekiah, who in the Bible asked to live for 15 more years.

'I'm praying the same prayer with an option to renew,' Falwell said."

I believe the correct anime smiley for that is:


Guess it didn't really work out for him.

Saturday, May 12, 2007


Things are busy. Hecka busy. I counted last night. In my role as Music Supervisor (did I ever mention my title change? I'm now Composer/Music Supervisor officially), I'm working in one capacity or another right now on 13 different projects.


That's nuts. I've been spending a lot of time in the recording studio lately. I've been writing gobs of emails. I've been deluged by phone calls. We're still short staffed at in the Audio Department, though we are slowly staffing up. We've got a new sound designer on board right now who's great, a guy named Brian Tibbits. He's been a huge help towards alleviating some of our massive staffing headaches, but we still need to do more.

I have milestones popping up every other week or so due to overlapping projects, so I'm working all weekend and there's no let up in sight for the next little while.

Anyone want a job?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

um ... anything else?

By now, everyone has heard about the news stories regarding contaminated wheat gluten from China that found its way into the US pet food supply (did you know that as of this morning US officials are aware that it's made its way into the human food supply?).

Now, I listen to news radio for about 3 hours every day (an hour when I wake up, an hour while I drive into work, and an hour when I drive home). I read regularly. I read throughout the day. I read dailyKos and a handful of other political blogs regularly. I read at least the front page of the newspaper at least once a week. I'd consider myself fairly well-versed in current events, US politics, and the like.

So, all of that said, how the hell did I miss the story that Chinese cough syrup contaminated with antifreeze has killed 100 kids in Panama? I love my cat and all, but doesn't human death from contamination trump pet death from contamination every time? Why isn't this a bigger story over here? Is it just because it didn't happen here?

They killed kids. Kids. Why isn't the US media reporting this? On right now there are links to stories reading "NYC cabbies not sold on touch-screens" and "Mom incites fistfight on school bus, cops say."

Why doesn't it read "BREAKING: China kills kids, pets. 'Santa Claus and the American Dream next,' experts say"?

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

the theory

SPOILER ALERT: This entire post is about ABC's "Lost." If you aren't up to date on it, you probably don't want to read this. Actually, if you don't watch the show you probably don't care anyway.

A quick bit of background before I get into the meat of things here. I didn't watch Lost until this season. After hearing the general public and many, many friends rave about it, Amanda and I were invited to a friend's "Lost: Season 3 premier party" with one stipulation: we had to get caught up before we were allowed to join them. So, for two weekends in a row, Manda and I sat down and obsessively watched all of Lost. We loved it.

Now, when I told people that I had started to watch the show, the first question from them invariably was always "So? What's your theory?" As in "what's your theory on where they are/who they are/what the island is/etc.?" Theories abound on the web about the characters all being dead, the characters all being linked to the events of the show "Heroes," etc. There were a bunch of dumb theories that people told me about when I first got into these conversations, all of which I've since forgotten because of a better theory - our own.

I have to admit: I don't think I would have gone into the show thinking "What's the big secret theory behind all of this?" if people hadn't prompted that from me in the first place. Even now, a big part of me feels like maybe the viewing public should just take the storyline at its face value. Maybe there isn't a big metaphor. Maybe it's just a piece of fiction about a group of people who survive a plane crash and land on a creepy island full of science experiments. It's entirely possible that we want there to be more mystery than there actually is.

Anyway, that said, Manda and I do have a theory. When we told people about our theory, they repeatedly kept telling us to "write it up. You guys might be right. That's a great theory." So, with my first point in mind, while I'm not going to lay out our theory for what I think all of the characters/locations/events actually are and actually represent, we think it's entirely possible that we might know the basis for most of the characters, a way to explain some of their activities, some of their past, and predict some of their futures.

In a nutshell, it all comes down to Greek Mythology. A vast number of the characters, events, and locations all have direct and very accurate mirrors in Greek (and Roman) mythology. Let's look at a couple of the main characters first:

1. Jack - Jack is the Greek god Apollo. Jack is the neurosurgeon who graciously accepted the mantle of leadership on the island and spearheaded an initiative to find sustainable food, water, and shelter. Apollo is the Greek god of medicine, colonization, and the "carer of herds and flocks" (to quote

2. Kate - Kate is the Greek god Artemis. Kate is the fugitive with exceptional wilderness hunting and tracking skills and a loner with an almost skittish sense of individualism. Artemis is the goddess of the hunt and of the wilderness, frequently pursued by men but never caught. Artemis is also the sister of Apollo (perhaps why a romance never evolved between Kate and Jack).

3. Sawyer - Sawyer is the Greek god Ares. Sawyer is the scrupulous criminal without respect for anyone, anything, or any rules. He is violent, he's a killer, and his only weakness seems to be Kate. Ares is the Greek god of war. describes him as "the instigator of violence ... [who] could be bloody, merciless, fearful and cowardly and possessed no moral attributes." Ares only weakness was the beauty of the goddess Aphrodite.

So, that's just a quick look at three of the characters. But it goes on much further from there:

- Sayid is Hephaestus, the inventor for the gods.
- Hurley is Dionysus, the god of feasts and excess.
- Shannon is Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty and the wife of Hephaestus (before she died, Shannon was romantically involved with Sayid).
- Rousseau is Demeter, the mother who went insane after her daughter was kidnapped by Hades.
- Alex is Persephone, the kidnapped daughter who must spend her days at the side of Hades.
- Ben is Hades, lord of the Underworld and the kidnapper of Persephone.
- Juliette is Cerberus, the three-faced guardian of Hades. (Juliette has three "faces": her role among The Others, her two-faced role with Jack and the survivors, and her naive, third self that she displays in flash backs to her time before the island.)
- Roy is Charon, the ferryman of Hades.
- Desmond is Hermes, the fleet-footed messenger of the gods who is always running.

Some of the smaller storylines of the show follow specific Greek myths. Most notably, the story of Michael and Walt almost perfectly mirrors the story of Daedalus and Icarus, the father and son who were imprisoned, built their own means of escape, and on the maiden voyage the son was lost. John Locke's obsession with the hatch is a clear reference to the myth of Pandora's Box.

With so many characters lining up so incredibly closely to the old myths, it's hard for Amanda and I to think that we're too far off here. That said, there are some big holes in our theory. There are some major characters that we aren't positive about who they might be such as Boone (who might be Adonis), Charlie (who might be Orpheus), and Claire (who might subsequently be Eurydice). There are, unfortunately, also a number of characters that we just have no idea about such as Jin, Sun, Ana-Lucia Cortez, and Mr. Echo.

A recent new edition to the theory is the potential that John Locke actually represents Homer's character of Odysseus. I'm convinced that if you look at the story of Lost, John Locke is the main character. He has been specifically involved in every single major event that has taken place on the island. If it's an event that changed the course of the island's events, John Locke was involved.

So, anyway, that's the theory as it stands right now. I know this is insanely long, but I wanted to finally get it all down. Feel free to pick it apart, contribute, tell me I'm full of shit, pat us on the back, etc.

adios, homeownership

In a whirlwind weekend of meetings, viewings, meetings, and viewings, Amanda and I put our first ever offer on a house.

It's this great little place in San Mateo with tons of charm, close to a park, close to a Safeway, and close to both freeway and railway access. Downsides to the house include termites, an asbestos ventilation system, and windows that are all painted shut with lead paint. So, it's a fixer-upper.

The asking price was at the edge of what we were comfortable with paying, but it's so damn cute of a house that we decided to just go for it. So, Friday night, after 3 hours of reading and signing paperwork, we walked out of the real estate office feeling really excited and nervous. Cue: sleepless night 1.

All the next day we waited and waited, desperate to hear back from the agency about whether or not our offer had been accepted. Finally, late afternoon, we got a call saying "Hey. The owner rejected your offer. He's decided that he wants to sell the house for $50k more than he originally listed it at."

Now, first of all, while there's nothing that stops him from being able to do that, it's just lame. If you want to sell it for a certain price, shouldn't you just list it at that price? Usually you list something for higher than you want, get offered less than you want, and haggle for some kind of middle ground. Here we had a situation were we offered more than was listed, and then were rejected by being told we hadn't gone even ultra-more over the list price. Again, later that evening we went in, signed a counter offer, and headed home. Cue: sleepless night 2.

The next day, we waited all day long - busily trying to distract ourselves as best as possible so that we wouldn't think about the house. Again, we got a call and - again - there was a counter-counter-counter offer. His new offer amounted to essentially "No, god damn it! Pay me more! MORE!!"

Cue: sleepless night 3.

By this point, we're both just completely nuts with anxiety, stress, and fatigue from not being able to sleep. Throughout Monday, we had to make a decision. Do we go higher? Do we pay a stubborn jerk more money than his house is worth just because he didn't list it high enough initially? The house is cute, yes. But it also has about 4 different ways that it can kill you right now, all of which need money sunken into them before the house is habitable.

So, we decided to call the mortgage broker. Bad move. The mortgage broker recommended to us turned out to be a flaky nutball. After acting grumpy and miserable for a while, he told Amanda that he'd run some numbers and then call her back.

Unfortunately, to him "I'll call you back" apparently means "I'll call your real estate agent and tell them that you decided you're not interested in the house anymore." So, two hours after Amanda was expecting a call back from Mortgage-Man, she actually gets a call from our realtor asking if what the mortgage guy said was true.

For us, this was the last straw in a situation that had been bad all around. We still love the house. We still think we could fix it up and live there very happily for years to come. Unfortunately for us, the whole host of characters involved in its purchase turned out to more of a comedy of errors than a Remax commercial and in the end we're still renters.

It was a good way to get our feet wet in the whole process, but I just wish it'd all gone smoothly. It really was a great little house. Better luck next time, I suppose.

Monday, May 07, 2007

i don't know what i'm talking about

Today on NPR, the topic of eugenics covered the first hour of Forum. The guest was talking about designer babies and where the line is between ethically limiting things like birth defects or Downs Syndrome versus making smarter, faster, stronger, prettier babies.

So, it had me thinking ... here's where I think the future will go.

The costs associated with designer babies will drop as technology improves and eventually even local clinics will be able to provide genetic profiling and gene selection. As such, genetic diseases will first be eliminated, then "undesirable" traits such as blindness, deafness, and dwarfism. When those are all gone, parents will want their kids to all be super strong, super intelligent, and ultra attractive. Unfortunately for the poorest of the have-nots, they'll still have babies the old fashioned way - devoid of all genetic screening. As such, since everyone will be super strong, super attractive geniuses, celebrities and sports stars will fall out of fashion as the dominant form of entertainment in the country. Instead, the unscreened will see themselves starring in a nation-wide resurgence of carnival freak shows where these Uber-Beings will go to see "The Sightless Boy" or "The Overweight Man."

Since everyone will be so smart, Ivy League schools will expand into franchises across the country while junior and community colleges go out of business. Everyone will graduate with an eye towards white collar work while smarter and smarter scientists will fully automate the manufacturing and service sectors of our economy leaving the poor genetically unscreened people to travel to other countries for work.

Eventually the genetically superior will be outsourced to other countries as a nation of managers while the poor leave the country for menial jobs. All that will be left are the droves of travelling carnivals roaming the vast empty wastelands of the mid-west and performing for each other between violent freak show raids where one carnival attempts to steal performers from another in nightly ambushes.

It's going to be a glorious future.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

I found it!

When I worked at THQ five years ago, we used to watch the web's first set of viral videos back before YouTube put them all at your fingertips. There was one in particular that we used to watch all of the time.

It's a video of some of the greatest karaoke I've ever seen. I don't understand a word of it (well, okay ... maybe one word, actually) but the performance by this girl is phenomenal. I've been looking for it since YouTube came around and I hadn't been able to find it until this morning.

Without further ado:

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

struggling with adulthood

I've got two things going on these days that are really stressing me out, both of which are endemic solely to adulthood.

The first is that Amanda and I have started to look for a house. I know it comes as no surprise to anyone that houses in the Bay Area are insanely expensive. Just for the sake of comparison:

Here's a $775,000 house in San Bruno, CA:

Here's a $760,000 house in Philadelphia, PA:

Why not compare two $775,000 houses? I couldn't find one listed for that much on Craigslist in Philly. $760k was the most I could find for a 4 bedroom, 6 bathroom mansion.

So this is what we're dealing with. Last night we drove around in San Bruno trying to find affordable places. And just so you know, San Bruno is the shittier, dirtier, more affordable cousin of San Mateo. But even here, the $600k-$700k houses were in the middle of industrial shitholes - streets littered with old Buicks, old tow trucks, and abandoned auto part warehouses that literally sat underneath the 380 freeway. I'm not going to spend $600k to live in that neighborhood when $600k in the rest of the country gets you acreage.

The second thing I'm trying to deal with right now is figuring out my 401k. I've been at LucasArts for over four years and never enrolled in my 401k. Stupid, I know. But it's something I'm remedying right now.

Unfortunately, when I start to look into the Mutual Funds that are offered to me through the company, I find that I don't actually want to invest in any of them. I feel like a complete hypocrite. Here I am struggling to buy American, donating to Barack Obama's campaign, and being the good lil' politically minded San Franciscan that I am ... and yet the Mutual Funds I have to choose from would have me investing in companies that I have serious moral objections to like News Corp (the parent company of Fox News) and Wal-Mart, who yesterday was named a major worldwide Human Rights violator.

Yes, I need to start making investments so that I can have retirement money in my old age. But I don't want to just turn a blind eye to what I'm investing in, bitch about companies that I feel are hurting the world, and then hypocritically make money off of them anyway.

I don't know what to do - about either issue, really. Housing or investing. I feel like I have shitty choices no matter what I decide.

Monday, April 30, 2007

I blame the Invisible Pink Unicorn

Apparently, Utah Republicans are debating whether or not Satan himself is behind illegal immigration.

Something tells me that 100% of the delegates at that convention can trace their ancestry back to American immigration.

Friday, April 27, 2007

if you're going to graffiti ...

in cement, at least learn how to spell first.


Otherwise you just create a lasting tribute to the fact that you're an idiot.