Saturday, August 08, 2009

TV Tropes: Waste An Afternoon

It's far too easy to get lost in the infinite links of, which breaks down the myriad familiar tropes of popular storytelling. So naturally, I highly recommend it.

The hat trick of "Ten Minute Retirement" followed by "Foe Tossing Charge", leading to a "Slow Motion Fall" makes me laugh out loud.

See also "Big No", "Compressed Vice", "Alien Sky", "Zepplins From Another World", and the very true "Rule of Cool".

Monday, March 16, 2009

GarBadge: Smell Greatly

Think fast: can you spot what's wrong in the following sentences?

“With ‘Battlestar Galactica,’ we had such resistance from the fan base to changing it,” Ms. Hammer said of a series Sci Fi introduced in 2003, based on an ABC show from 1978-9.

“The upshot was, we ultimately won them over,” she added, and the series, scheduled to end on Friday, became one of the most successful on Sci Fi. It has inspired a spin-off, “Capricia,” to begin on Syfy in 2010.

If you think the second spelling of the network is a typo, consider the source: The New York fricken Times. Yessir, the SCI FI Channel is rebranding come July 7, ditching the iconic saturn logo and classic spelling in favor of a new name and wordmark.

I can't even count the ways this is stupid. The old logo, visible in the Times article, made for a perfect bug (the network logo on the bottom-right corner of the screen), felt both classic and modern, and made at least an ounce of goddamn sense. "SyFy" looks and feels like the kind of Web 2.0 encounter that makes me want to take a long hot shower to wash away the stink of inappropriate, cutesy, substance-less style.

I'm glad Battlestar Galactica will be over before this identity launches; better dead that branded with SyFy.

Think about it like this: "SCI FI" was recognizable and a good fit. Sure, it wasn't perfect, and probably scared a few people away. But the loaded term helped the network make an identity that fit itself and its viewers. Meanwhile, "SyFy" reads like a syphillus medication and reeks of current branding trends so as to make it indistinguishable from any of these companies. Seriously, can you imagine anyone thinking "Sci Fi is boring and geeky, but hey – I find this 'SyFy' strangely intriguing!"? I thought not.

But hey, if a new brand uses vowels sparingly and strangely, looks like it might sound like a word we recognize, and has a generic slogan set in a modern sans serif font, by golly it's got to be great.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Daft Tron

Somehow I missed the news that Daft Punk is going to score the new Tron sequel. Hot damn, that is awesome. The only downside is I have to wait until 2011 to see it.


Monday, February 23, 2009

Resumé Item

For anyone who's interested, there's a little taste of what I do over at (apologies for the ridiculous fact that you have to sit through an ad for one movie before you watch an ad for another). That behind-the-scenes piece was cut by one of our editors, and I did the online - adding final graphics and doing the color correction, cutting in the audio mix, and delivering the final tape.

More of our work will start hitting the web as the summer gets going, so there may be ore as the weather gets warmer...

[link courtesy of io9]

Friday, February 13, 2009


Holy Jesus.

This woman's octuplet-containg belly looks like a Stan Winston special effect or something. And yet, it is real.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

On Ideas & Writing

Some solid advice from John August:

You’re not going to become best friends with every nice person you meet. You’re not going to write every good idea you have.

I've made this very decision myself in the past week or two, after I consciously "allowed" a few gems escape without writing them down.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

A-Rod Juiced

Surprise! Yankee "star" player Alex Rodriguez just got outed for using steroids! He tested positive in 2003, the year he won the M.V.P. award which gave him the leverage to, as Will put it, "get the big contract with the Yanks AND TAKE THEM NOWHERE." That contract runs until 2019 (!), giving A-Fraud a possible net of $300 million.

Universe 16, Yankees 0. Karma's a bitch.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

New Year: Status in Brief

It's rather obvious that TWGB has been on a bit of an, ah, hiatus, of late.

That will likely continue for a little longer yet. I've got some serious Life Projects that need attention, in addition to work and social time. So updates are going to be especially spotty for a while.

I am NOT stopping, I am NOT going away, but officially marking this as a slow period. Regular, worthwhile postings will resume on some sort of schedule once I get some of my personal backlog sorted out. In the meantime, I appreciate your patience, and please bear with me.

For those of you so inclined, I've started experimenting with Twitter, and may have some brief tidbits up there to supplement this site; you can find and follow me here.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

On Making Art

Willard Wigan, who creates microsculptures:

I enjoy it when I finish it. Not working on it, no. It's misery, it's painstaking.

I can think of several artists who would agree...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

The turkey is out of the brine and into the oven; my parents are in Mexico with my Uncle John and Aunt Susie; Ian is hosting a dinner with Liz's family and Caitlin and Ash; Adam's sister Maya has flown down from San Fran, Mike is driving in, and the LA orphan crew will be assembling shortly. We're healthy and happy and in good company.

Plus, our president-elect has given us a message of hope and thankfulness.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Breaks And Paragraphs

[WARNING: Here be web nerdery]


Turns out, I've been writing some crappy code these past years. I haven't been using paragraph tags; instead, I've just been inserting line breaks between paragraphs as I type. Now, initially, this looks the same when converted to HTML for display, as the default paragraph tag setting is almost the same as a line break.

No, the problem appears when you start trying to customize your code.

So, for example, the post prior to this looks funky, with way too much space between paragraphs. This one looks just as lame. It happens because I've recently started using the <p> tag, because it'll let my (eventual) full-site redesign be more powerful. But, because everything old was done with line breaks, I need the blog to perform an action where it displays "returns" as line breaks. So, as I do have returns between <p> tags, suddenly the space is getting doubled between paragraphs anywhere the <p> tag is used.

I am lame. I know. I admit it.

My plan is this: I'm going to let the <p> tag posts look ugly for another week or two. Then, I'll disable the line break setting, making everything old look bad. At that point, I'll begin going back through my old posts and formatting them correctly; it will take a long time, so please be patient.

I'm sorry it has to be like this. I guess it's just my growing pains as a web designer. And, since I am not a web designer, I guess it could have been worse...

Friday, November 21, 2008

Michael Crichton R.I.P.

Michael Crichton died at the beginning of the month, and I feel bad that I haven't gotten to it until now. Other than Tolkien and (recently) Orson Scott Card, he's the modern writer I've read the most of. Jurassic Park, Congo, Sphere, and Eaters of the Dead are books I re-read regularly. I can't claim I do this for sparkling prose or thought-provoking narratives – my motive to return to these wells is pure entertainment.

That I am a science fiction geek is no surprise; the fact that I've read most of Crichton's work follows logically. For all of his weaknesses as a writer (and he had his share), he excelled at blending intriguing narratives with technological questions and dilemmas – those most basic "What if?" questions at the heart of good science fiction. Sometimes the premise was simple and primal – what if scientists cloned dinosaurs – while other times he went for a more specific story – what if a society of anciently trained gorillas came head-to-head with a late-twentieth century tech-heavy search party. But at his best, it was always intriguing, and kept me turning the pages.

One of my first memories of a "new" book is from the early nineties, probably March of 1992. My mom had orchestrated me giving my dad the Jurassic Park paperback as a Christmas or birthday gift, though I had barely glanced at the cover before it got wrapped. So a few weeks later, when my dad handed me some book open to a particular page.

"Read this, from here to here," he said.

So I did.

A narrow path wound down the hill. The air was chilly and damp. As they moved lower, the mist around them thinned, and Grant could see the landscape better. It looked, he thought, rather like the Pacific Northwest, the Olympic Peninsula.

"That's right," Regis said. "Primary ecology is deciduous rain forest. Rather different from the vegetation on the mainland, which is more classical rain forest. But this is a microclimate that only occurs at elevation, on the slopes of the northern hills. The majority of the island is tropical."

Down below, they could see the white roofs of large buildings, nestled among the planting. Grant was surprised: the construction was elaborate. They moved lower, out of the mist, and now he could see the full extent of the island, stretching away to the south. As Regis had said, it was mostly covered in tropical forest.

To the south, rising above the palm trees, Grant saw a single trunk with no leaves at all, just a big curving stump. Then the stump moved, and twisted around to face the new arrivals. Grant realized that he was not seeing a tree at all.

He was looking at the graceful, curving neck of an enormous creature, rising fifty feet into the air.

He was looking at a dinosaur.

And then I was hooked.

I read Jurassic Park over three days, reading almost every moment I could, staying up until 3 or 4 in the morning to keep on going. Sure, the story was a survival adventure about dinosaurs, but it also tied into technology and science,; it was hard to imagine a single story tying into more of my interests.

When watching the news with my parents, we heard a report on Hurricane Iniki, which had just hit the Hawaiian island Kaua'i "disrupting the filming of Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park." My dad and I looked at each other – our favorite director, making the movie of a book about cloning dinosaurs? It's hard to imagine a time before the internet, when we would have had no way of knowing about it, aside from a lucky newscast, but there we were, and we were excited.

We saw the movie as a family – I'll never forget my mom jumping and screaming when a velociraptor stuck its head through the piping in the maintenance shed. Just two weeks after it's June 3, 1993 opening, I took my dad back as a father's gift, just the two of us.1 Clearly, an impression was made.

And so my love affair with Crichton was born; soon, I was reading Disclosure, Rising Sun, Sphere, and Congo. Our copy of Jurassic Park starting falling apart, so I got another one. The Lost World is the first book I remember looking forward to; everything else I was excited about, literarily, was either long since published, or a new find. In this case, I got to anticipate, which was a fun all its own.2

I've read most of his books, some bad, most good. I've studied him in class, watched his movies, and enjoyed his TV shows. He may have been a right-wing nutjob (with his "global warming is a myth" book State of Fear which I have not finished), and he may not have written the greatest prose, but the man had a knack for storytelling, and more than the normal share of imagination. Plus, he was a big time Mac user.

And now I'm speaking of him in the past tense.

Thanks for everything, Mr. Crichton.

  1. Embarassingly, I remember taking him to McDonald's (!) for dinner, and I think he paid for the movie, but hey, it's the thought that counts! []

  2. That this book, as well as the two film sequels, were somewhat disappointing didn't matter; my dad and I saw both of the films together, and found plenty to like in the book (as well as the first sequel). []