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.