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.