Friday, March 30, 2007

jiggity jig

I'm back in Philly for the weekend. Everyone's favorite Ben Rose is getting married this weekend and, while he asked both Ry and I to be his best men, apparently I'm the only one not "cavorting" around "South Asia" "filming a documentary."

That's right. I'm casting the Shadow of Doubt. : P I think Ry is really off overseeing the first initial industrial throws of his very own sweatshop. Either that or trying to win himself an award so that he fits in.

Anyway, I miss Manda. I'm off to go get fitted for my suit for the wedding.

Didn't I just do this? I'm having flashbacks. Oh, and a small part of me thinks that I have a brain tumor. I have a headache in the back base of my skull that won't go away.

Christ, I'm such a hypocondriac.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

reaching millions with my useless opinions

I was on the radio today, specifically NPR. The show Forum was asking people to call in and give their recommendations for good books that they'd read recently. Most of the suggestions were non-fiction and had something to do with either 1.) war, 2.) the ecosystem, or 3.) conspiracy theories. I was getting a little bugged that I wasn't hearing anyone call up and suggest any fiction.

So, I called. I called and suggested a book that I read while we were in Canada. It's called World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie Wars. Ry would hate it. Seth might like it. Everyone else ... ?? Who knows. Anyway, you can check it out here on Amazon. It's good. Despite being, ultimately, about zombies, it's a great look at just how any kind of global pandemic might impact nations, populations, and humanities general outlook on matters ranging from consumption to capitalism to the dissemination of information. Cool book. Not to oversell it, but I kept getting a 1984 vibe from it.

Again, Ry would hate it.

Anyway, check it out if you're so inclined.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

sweep the leg

Everyone's favorite front man from The Nodd turned me on to what has since become one of my absolute favorite music videos ever.

If you haven't seen this masterpiece from No More Kings, check it out here.

So good.

Monday, March 26, 2007

at the risk of ripping off

There was a huge mass of high school students waiting on the train platform this morning. I guess the entire 11th of San Mateo High was heading off to a field trip in the city or something. Anyway, it was rather annoying. First off, how any guy in high school ever manages to get a girlfriend when they're all greasy, oily, and pimply is beyond me. I'm thrilled to be long past that part of my life.

Anyway, when they all piled onto the train, most of the students were complaining about how there weren't enough seats for them all to sit down/sit together/sit far away from someone/etc. However, while most of them were looking for seats, there was one particular genius who truly had his finger on the pulse of the situation.

11th Grade Brainiac: Dude ... everyone on this train is wearing shoes.

Brilliant. I don't know if a field trip is going to do that kid any good.

Friday, March 23, 2007

stories from the train: the longest elevator ride

You know that moment in life when you step into an elevator with someone who you only kind of know as a passing acquaintance? Maybe they're someone who works on the same floor as you. Maybe they're someone who lives in the apartment three doors down from you. Anyway, you get what I mean. It's that person that you get into the elevator with and then have no idea what to say to them, yet feel compelled to have some kind of conversation. The usual bullshit topics like weather, nearby holidays, or whatever you might be carrying come up.

Them: Oh, just getting back from the grocery store?
You: Uh, yeah. You know ... finished off my cereal this morning.

Or whatever. They're painful conversations, all of them. Luckily they only last a few floors at most.

That is, unless you manage to find yourself in one of those conversations on the train. The two poor schmucks in front of me today on BART were both taking the train up to some sort of corporate event in the city. Unfortunately for them both, they managed to get into the same train car together and sit in adjacent seats.

Thus began the 40 minute version of that painful elevator conversation. I really felt bad for these two people. They clearly didn't know each other and had no business talking together for 40 minutes. And yet, they must have passed each other in the halls at work or been CC'ed on the same emails enough to feel obligated to talk to each other.

There was a lot of:

Guy: So ... (awkward pause) do you know who's going?
Lady: No. Not really. (awkward pause) Do you know if Shirley is going?
Guy: Oh .. jeez. No, I don't know.
Lady: Hm. (pause) I don't know Shirley, but I thought she might be there.

Christ, it was painful to listen to. There were a lot of tight-lipped smiles, a lot of fake laughs, and a few gems like this:

Guy: (after about 5 minutes of awkward silence) Heh. I meant to bring a paperback book to read on the train, but I forgot.
Lady: Oh, that's a shame. (5 more minutes of awkward silence)

They talked about the weather. They talked about their kids. They talked about what they're kids are doing now that there's nicer weather. It was agonizing to listen to. They were just trying so hard.

I honestly don't know if I would have done anything differently if I had been in the same situation. It certainly isn't socially acceptable to say "Hey, look. We don't know each other and it's clear we have no idea what to say to each other. Would you mind if I just sat here and played a cellphone game instead of pretending that I'm enjoying this uncomfortable moment we're having?"

Of course, it sure would make life easier if you could say that.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

one of those days

I couldn't bring myself to get out of bed this morning. I don't know what's wrong with me, but I have no energy, no drive, and no desire to do anything but sleep. It's not like I've been staying up really late. I go to bed around 11 each night and sleep for about 8 hours. But, I just couldn't get up today and I'm tired all of the time at work. If I could build a little nap shelter under my desk like George Costanza, I would.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

stories from the train: your tax dollars at work

Last night, I was riding home on BART like I always do and, as always happens, there were conversations taking place that I can't help but eavesdrop on. Last night it seems that I ended up sitting behind two guys who had never met before. The first was a civil engineer from China who has been working here in the States for years. The other guy was just some curious old man, as far as I could first tell.

You see, when I first got there he was asking Mr. China all kinds of questions about waste treatment and filtration. They talked about sewers. They talked about processing solids (ew). They talked about disposal of toxic chemicals and how long it takes for things like that to break down if they end up in the San Francisco Bay.

Mr. China was very well-versed in all of it and Mr. Old-Guy honestly struck me as somewhat senile. China would say something and then old guy would completely not understand it and respond with some statement of complete ignorance contrary to whatever it was China just said.

China: And that's why the water in San Jose is not only double processed, but they have a tertiary processing system to ensure that it's all very, very clean.
Old-Guy: Oooh! I understand now. So, you can dump anything you want into the drain and San Jose will clean it up?
China: (appalled) No! No, no, no. No it's not good to do that at all.

Etc. Over and over again. Eventually, Old-Guy said something like "See, they don't give us any guidelines like that at the school." And then I realized ... holy shit, this guy's a teacher/substitute teacher. He started to talk about how they pour acids down the drain in the chemistry lab classes. China was very bothered to hear this. He told Old-Guy that he had to properly dispose of stuff and that things should be stored safely and in separate containers.

Old-Guy: Oh! I understand now! So, we need to have two separate cabinets: one for acids and one for everything else.
China: (pause) No, no that's not what I'm saying. Why would you want to do that?
Old-Guy: Well, what if you were to put a bottle of acid next to a bottle of ... like ... cyanide?
China: (appalled again) What kind of school has bottles of cyanide?
Old-Guy: Oh, well, it was just the first thing I thought of.

Anyway, this ridiculous conversation went on for a while and eventually I found out that I was wrong. Old-Guy wasn't a teacher.

Old-Guy worked for the county as the person who specs out safety requirements for schools and government buildings. He went on to tell story after story about how the agency that he works for (which he never named) is tasked with making sure that everything is up to code throughout the county. However, while they're required to do it, they aren't funded enough to actually follow through with it.

Old-Guy: We're supposed to certify all boilers every year and make sure that they're working properly, not putting out carbon monoxide, etc. But, we just don't have the manpower to actually do that. Elevators, too. You know all of those elevator certificates? That's us. But we don't have the time to check things. We only take a look at it once someone calls us to let us know that there's an emergency with them.

Needless to say, I'm not exactly feeling so safe this morning. That was not the kind of peek behind the governmental curtain that I really needed.

Monday, March 19, 2007

tahoe lotta nuthin

Lake Tahoe is lame. My apologies, Lake Tahoe, if you're reading my blog; but you're lame and I thought it best to let you know it. Manda and I were there for the weekend this weekend as her maid-of-honor's now-fiance was throwing her a surprise birthday party/engagement hooha. Rather than drive for 10 hours on Sunday, Manda and I decided to head up on Saturday, spend the night there, go to the party, and then drive back on Sunday.

The only flaw with that plan was the "stay in Lake Tahoe on Saturday Night" part. Man O'man ... was it ever dull. First of all, Tahoe only has two things going for it: skiing and casinos.

As for the skiing, Amanda and I don't know how to ski. Which isn't really a problem when it's 75 degrees and all of the snow is running off of the mountain in liquid form anyway. I guess the locals call it "water." Anyway, there were a lot of unhappy people walking around with their jackets draped over their snowboards because all of the lifts were shut down. Doops. Shoulda checked the weather first, dorks.

Good thing for them, they have the casinos in the nearby Nevada side of Tahoe. Now, Manda and I just paid for our wedding, I need a car, and we want to save for a house. The absolute last thing that sounds like fun is dumping any amount of our money into the pockets of a casino.

The only thing that sounded like it might be fun was to see a show while we up there. Doops. Shoulda checked online to see who was there first. Turns out we had the chance to spend a bunch of money to either watch bad magicians, watch Michael Crawford sing "Music of the Night," or watch some porno Adult review thing that - based on the reaction we kept seeing the poster get - was going to be full of horny fat scary drunk guys. It just so happened that it was also St. Patrick's Day which meant that every asshole and their brother was out drinking and wearing ridiculous green foam top hats. I saw a bunch of guys with beads around their necks and don't really know what that meant. Best as I can figure, they were given the beads by flashing their man nipples at the crowds of grumpy snowless snowboarders.

Needless to say, we didn't end up going to any of them. Instead, we went back to our hotel room, played some Scrabble, and ordered "The Queen" off of pay-per-view. Good movie. But not really good enough to make Tahoe suck less. God damn, we're a wild pair, aren't we? Scrabble and The Queen!! Rock that, bitches! : )

The party the next day was fine and congrats to Tina and Mat on their engagement. I could feel myself starting to come down with hives being so close to wedding planning again. Poor guys ... they have no idea what they're in for.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

seriously ... Ry ... where's yours?

The past weekend I called my mom and my sister to tell them all about the award show on Thursday night. I got my sister on the phone and the two of them were both very congratulatory and excited. My sister listened as politely as she could before she nearly burst from holding in her own news for so long.

She'd just won an award, too.

She'd been in a dance competition that weekend and had just placed 1st for her solo dance as well as 1st place for her duet. Now, she's eligible to go to Las Vegas in June to compete at a national level. I was extremely congratulatory and excited and told her how proud I was of her and how much I would try to make it to Vegas to see her dance. That's when she told me another piece of news.

My dad was in San Diego that weekend accepting his own award.

Apparently he was being honored with some sort of Top Surgeon of 2006 Award or something. I googled it, but can't seem to find any specifics of it (I'm sure Ry knows all of the details). Anyway, he was out doing that while my sister and I were also off winning awards.

How often is it that three separate members of the same family win awards in their respective fields on the same weekend? It's gotta be pretty rare. Anyway, I just thought that was worth noting. Way to go, Harlin family.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

what a nice surprise

I've been here at LucasArts for 4 years and worked on more Star Wars projects than I can remember right now. Ironically, I'm on the front page of this morning, but it's for Thrillville and our GANG award.

You can check it out here and watch a little Behind The Scenes video about the music for the game.

Pretty cool and totally surprising all at the same time. I never thought I'd end up on the official site for Thrillville work. Not that I'm complaining ... : )

Monday, March 12, 2007


GDC knocked me on my ass. I spent all weekend recuperating in my pajamas. I had blisters on my feet, stiff muscles, and spent most of Saturday and Sunday either sleeping or wishing I was asleep.

There were so many people there this year who wanted to sit down and talk with me, meet with me, lunch with me, etc. I couldn't keep up with it all. Not to mention the times I had to head into the office for meetings or work. Not to mention the award show Thursday night.

It was long and I'm still beat. Today I'm dusting off my inbox and trying to catch up on all of the stuff that I neglected while I was gone. Lots of email issues. Lots of little administrative music things here and there. But they pile up fast. I was hoping to finish a new song today for a new project. Looks like that will have to wait until tomorrow while I work on some Star Wars Galaxies paperwork for Business Affairs.

You hear that, John Williams? I'm doing more paperwork for you. How's writing music going? I miss it.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

this isn't how it was supposed to go

Yesterday was really nice. Everyone at LucasArts was incredibly complimentary about the win with emails coming at David and I from all corners of Lucasfilm wishing us well. At the end of the day, we got ambushed by the Thrillville team with some celebratory cakes and we hung out, talked about the award show, and ... well ... ate cake.

At the very end of the day, just as I was leaving, I thought "Hey, I'd better snap a photo of the award so that I can send it to my mom and dad/post in on oogu/etc." So, I took the award off of its perch on top of a filing cabinet (we haven't built a trophy case just yet) and took it into the studio to get a nice music-related shot of it.


Photo done, I decided it'd be nice to place it on top of the center speaker in our surround moniter set up so that it would be displayed nicely for anyone who came in. I'm still not quite sure what happened. Something about the top of the monitor and the bottom of the award didn't like each other. In a fraction of a second, the GANG award that we worked so many long hours for tumbled off of the monitor and smashed onto the studio floor.

Once again, the award is back on top of a filing cabinet. But this time, it's being hidden in my office because it's currently snapped in half.

I feel like a complete retard.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

we won!

I know that I've been ignoring blogging the last few days. I've been hanging out at GDC meeting and greeting and schoomsing and ... fmoosing? Anyway, tonight was the GANG awards and tonight "Dr. Kunkle's Funnkel Cake" won the award for "Best Original Vocal Song - Pop."

I'm really happy about it. I was up for an award for one of my Game Developer articles as well and lost, but "Kunkle" won and I'm really proud of the work that David Collins and I put into the track. Plus, it's nice to now be able to say that we're an Award-Winning Song Writing Team, an Award-Winning Audio Department, and that "Thrillville" has an Award-Winning Soundtrack.

: )

Is that too much? The award is only an hour old and I'm already putting it to work pretty hard with all of those descriptors.

M'oh well. I think I'm allowed to revel in it a bit tonight. I can be humble tomorrow after I get some sleep.

Monday, March 05, 2007

forgotten anniversary

No, not my wedding anniversary already.

I totally forgot until just now that Saturday marked exactly 4 years that I've been with LucasArts. I suppose I inadvertantly rang it in with Amanda by going and seeing "Zodiac" Saturday night. As a big fan of David Fincher's work, I gotta say I was disappointed in Zodiac. It's so interested in trying to present all of the facts and all of the elements of the Zodiac case that there seems to be little room for the typical magic that makes Fincher's movies so special. It's a bummer, too, because there are a couple of scenes where I really felt like "Ooo ... here he goes ... this is Fincher, alright" and then it just dribbled back into spurting out facts. Bumma.

Anyway, 4 years at LucasArts and 4 years living in the Bay Area. I love it up here. Yay, Bay. Yay, LA. Yay, Oda Mae?

Friday, March 02, 2007

artistic license?

I'm a big fan of concept art. Be it game, film, or other, I think concept artists are fascinatingly talented and I love to see their visions brought to life in the final product.

And so it was that I was looking online today at some concept art for Pirates of the Caribbean 3 that's been released. Looks cool. Looks very cool. And I got down to admiring the minutia of the art.

There was one picture in particular that I thought "Wow .. that's just plain awesome. It's totally moody. Those paintings look just like the actors from the film. There's Johnny Depp, there's Keith Richards, and there's Keira Kni-"

And that's when I noticed that the artist had taken a heavy amount of artistic liberty with only one element of the entire picture.


Hmmm ...