Thursday, December 31, 2009

Immune system, why have you failed me?

Apparently I just can't keep a schedule with this blog. Sorry folks, I'm going to delay my review of Sherlock Holmes because I got sick really fast. My throat is killing me and I just lost my voice. I'm debating whether or not to attend the New Years Rally at camp. Hopefully I'll be feeling better by tommorow, or maybe even tonight.

Have a happy New Year everyone!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Hello and good Tuesday December twenty-ninth.

So I lied, this post was supposed to be yesterday, but I felt the need to post about the Teach@15 contest because we could win. Unfortunately it is extremely difficult to galvanize the teen populace into doing anything, especially during vacation, so I don't think Winthrop has a chance, despite being so close.

I have always assumed that the purpose of a rocket is to fly and then explode. Yesterday I was proved wrong. Apparently the purpose of a rocket is to bring you the internet in an explosively humorous manner. A couple of days ago I came across a web site called Rocketboom when I was surfing Youtube. At first I thought it was just good for a quick laugh, but I was intrigued by the fast paced, quick, snide viewpoint on current news and events. Primarily, Rocketboom is a news parody site, with humorous outlooks on what's up in the world and the internet. Despite being a parody, Rocketboom has a surprising amount of useful information. After watching the nightly news on TV it isn't a bad idea to watch Rocketboom to pick your spirits up. It doesn't take much time either. No video is more than ten minutes long and most average between two and four.

The best thing about Rocketboom, aside from the humor and information, is the format in which it is presented. Everything is video, with just some video tags and no story write-ups. This is a nice change of pace from the thousands upon thousands of text-based newspapers and blogs.

Rocketboom has several different departments, including Technology, the Daily News, Casual Fridays, the Rocketboom Institute for Internet Studies, and Humanwire. All the departments are worth a look, however be warned, if you aren't very in tune with internet culture you may not have a full understanding of everything that is discussed in all the departments.

A good representation of the daily news can be found here from July 23. The daily news isn't always daily, but Rocketboom has experienced several upheavals as their primary news anchor moves on. It's happened three or four times throughout their history and is often the cause of breaks between updates. Look around the site for yourself and see if it is something you might use.

Rocketboom isn't a "professional" news source, so it won't replace the evening news, but for independent, funny, informative briefs there is nowhere else I'd rather go.

I'm going to postpone those links I said I'd give you and save them for a rainy day. Instead tomorrow look forward to my review of Sherlock Holmes. 

Monday, December 28, 2009

Teach@15 contest

I don't know if you are aware, but Winthrop has been participating in the Teach@15 contest by Best Buy in an attempt to win $1,500 for the video production program. We haven't been doing very well, coming in tenth and eleventh usually with around 140 votes. The winners have anywhere between 1500 votes and 3000 votes. Since it's vacation everyone, including Winthrop, has pretty much stopped voting. I just checked the voting poll and we are in fifth place with only 30 votes. There are four days left in the voting period and the first place school has only 139 votes. So we have a REALLY good chance to place if people will go vote. We are the underdog and we shall prevail. GO FORTH AND VOTE!

Link to the contest (remember to log in)
Link to Rambler Productions post for more info

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Avatar Review

I went down to Bangor yesterday with my mother and sister to see Avatar in 3D at Bangor Mall Cinemas. The line for the ticket booth was all the way out the front door when we arrived. Hoping that the 11:50 showing of Avatar was not already full we waited in the cold till the line shortened enough to get inside. Once at the booth and after paying the premium price for 3D tickets we received our 3D glasses and proceeded to theater eight. Modern 3D is still pretty new on the block, especially up here in Maine so there are very few theaters with 3D equipped projectors.

We found a decent seat near the front and popped on the bulky plastic glasses (which by the way are much more comfortable than the pathetic red/blue paper ones). From the previews before the film to the credit roll afterward, everything was in 3D. It took some getting used to but after a few minutes it lost the disorienting effect for the most part. In the trailer for the new Alice in Wonderland film the Cheshire cat face came out of the screen and floated towards me (50 seconds in). To paraphrase my sister (who apparently doesn't like being quoted) the old Disney pink and purple cat was creepy enough. The new cat is downright scary.

Anyway, enough about the previews, the actual film was very impressive though it was obvious that James Cameron (director) doesn't like cutting scenes from his films. I suppose he can do whatever he wants though, he helped design the camera used to film Avatar. The technique he used to capture the footage is fascinating. Read more on that here or watch a short clip. The nearly three hour long sortie in a theater chair, which normally would get uncomfortable, was nearly unnoticeable. Cameron successfully pulled me into his world. I give the film a 9 out of 10.

The plot line was as I expected from the previews; Paraplegic progresses to planet Pandora and proceeds to preserve the primary populace's place of prayer. Okay, I was going to do that for the whole plot overview but just that sentence almost killed me. Anyway, the plot was very believable in terms of characters. Jake Sulley, the star, had a personality that was easily related to. He reacted in realistic ways rather than being entirely the typical bravado-filled Hollywood hero. His personality developed realistically. I immediately became attached to his character emotionally because he was unable to walk on his own but when he is in his Avatar he was able to run through the canopy. There is a very uplifting scene when he is able to walk for the first time.

The dialogue was very witty at crucial points when I didn't even realize I was tense. For example there is a scene where Jake has to approach a flying beast and try to tame it. One of the Na'vi (the native blue people) tells him that the beast must choose him. "How will I know if he chooses me?" Jake asks. "He will try to kill you." the Na'vi responds. "Outstanding." The simple fact that Cameron chose the word "outstanding" rather than the typical "great" or "wonderful" lent a realistic dimension to Jake's character that wouldn't have otherwise been there. This is just an example of course. I know it may seem small, but it's the little things that get me.

The science was beyond ridiculous, but hey, that's where the fiction in science fiction comes in. Mainly the floating mountains (never explained) and the long distance consciousness-transfer. Everything else had at least a pseudo-scientific explanation. Oh, and the mineral the humans are trying to mine is dubbed "unobtainium." Really? I suppose it gets the point across, but I would've called it Pandorium, considering the pandemonium it causes and that it presumably can only be found on Pandora.

The story paralleled some of the challenges faced by the Native American culture as European countries invaded the New World. I don't want to give anything away to you poor souls who haven't had the opportunity to see this masterpiece yet but I will say that the ending, while fulfilling and most uplifting, did not have the impact it could have. If I were Cameron, I would've gone for the shock value of an opposite outcome. The resulting discussion from such an outcome would've been much more poignant and, again paraphrasing my sister, maybe made people go out and do something about the state of the world.

One final note about the film. If you are going to see it, either see it in regular 2D in theaters or see it in full IMAX 3D (the only IMAX in Maine is in Saco). While the 3D I saw in Bangor Cinemas was good whenever an object moved offscreen that had been "close" to your face it seemed to disappear from view. This was mildly disorienting  In IMAX, since your field of vision is almost entirely covered by the screen this problem would be negligible. No matter how you see it, you NEED to see this movie. With a great story, great character, phenomenal special effects, and an important message, this movie is near perfection.

For more on Avatar and James Cameron, watch this interview (part 1) and (part 2) from 60 minutes. At one point Cameron says something that is very important to me.
"I think the moment you're making a film, no matter how crude, no matter how small or cheap the film is, you're a filmmaker."
This may seem rather redundant, but the message behind it is clear. If you are making movies, you've got a shot at the big time. 

I could go on and on about this film and how it was made and all that jazz but you are going to see the film anyway and be infected with the same fervor to know more about it so I don't have to tell you do I?

I have been entertained and it is good.

I actually have a schedule as to what I'm going to be blogging about the next couple of days in addition to my daily activites. Amazing I know! Tomorrow I will introduce you to rockets that go BOOM.....and bring me the latest internet news.

The day after that I will be serving up a nice big platter of interesting links for you to explore.

And the day after that (I know, crazy prepared) I'll be listing a whole ton of movies that I've seen and want to see and that you should see and how trailers are amazing and and and and.


Friday, December 25, 2009

It's the 25th of December

The date for Christmas is actually kind of arbitrary because if I recall the best estimates put Jesus' birth in September. The pagan holiday of Festivus and the solstice was simply replaced by Christians with the birth of Jesus. But you probably didn't pull up my blog on Christmas to read a history lesson.


One thing that's always bugged me is the fact that people always say "Merry Christmas" and "Happy Easter." Rarely do you see a "Happy Christmas" or a "Merry Easter." I want to know why these specific variations of well-wishing stuck to their respective holidays. I think they should be changed to "Awesome Christmas" and "Super Easter." Just saying.
Have a wonderful day everyone!

Thursday, December 24, 2009


I owe my fancy new blog header (EDIT: to see the blog header that was up, click on the link) to my sister. I commissioned her to do some swirly calligraphy using her new Wacom Bamboo tablet my dad and I got her. Pretty cool eh? It is CHRISTMAS EVE! I have a correction to make with the last blog post, my sister has informed me that the stellated dodecahedron on top of the tree is actually a great stellated dodecahedron. Apparently that makes a difference. I call it a pointy star.

Before Bailey and I came up to Greenville we each opened one gift. Bailey opened her Bamboo tablet and I opened my new mini HD camcorder. It's really cool but I definitely need to get a nice big SD card to go with it because all I have is an ancient 64 MB card which stores about one minute of video. The joystick to control the menus is a little clunky, but so far I have few complaints. I think I might spring for a Gorrilapod to go with it cause it is so light it's hard to hold completely steady.

I hope everyone is enjoying their day and staying warm! I'll blog again tomorrow!

Winter Rainbow

Have you ever seen a rainbow in the winter? Didn't think so. As I was driving up to Greenville on Tuesday my sister pointed out something that appeared to be a faint, blurry rainbow. She promptly dubbed it a snowbow. It really did appear to be a rainbow, just kind of...diluted. There wasn't nearly as much snow as I anticipated on the drive and there is still relatively little up here by Moosehead Lake. The fluffy stuff that is on the ground is blowing about like crazy though.

I just watched Terminator Salvation and enjoyed it though I don't think it had the same kind of impact the earlier films did. I didn't come to empathize with the characters as much as in the first and second films. But still, it was a very good film. I especially liked the lighting they did, what with there being a lot of fire and explosions the light played a key role in the mood. Overall I'd give the film seven out of ten. I would recommend seeing it, even if you aren't a big Terminator fan.

My sister created a stellated dodecahedron for the tree-topper here at my mother's house, it looks pretty darned awesome.

Anyway, its midnight so I should post while it's still today.

Monday, December 21, 2009

All the little things...

They add up, whether they be good or bad. Today had a lot of little good things and a lot of little bad things happen. Whether or not they balance I am unsure, I don't think they make a scientific scale for that yet. I did manage to "fix" the problem with Compressor, by simply bypassing it entirely. I transferred the files to trusty 'ole James Cameron and compressed them there. Tomorrow I'll transfer the compressed files back and put them in the DVD file. The DVD menu is going to be awesome. Between screen-captures of Belle and the Beast a rose will grow, then drop a few petals. The petals will become the buttons you then press to play the full movie, Act I, or Act II. All on a shimmery purple/gold background. Gonna be pretty cool.

Allen called and informed us that the back end credits for the Putt Putt Syndrome still need some work, so he'll be coming in tomorrow to talk with us about that. I haven't finished my poster for him yet so I hope he is not expecting it.

In other news someone took my laptop case containing my charger. I still have my laptop, but without my charger it will soon simply be a hunk of plastic and circuits. Hopefully they will realize they have the wrong case and return it tomorrow. Otherwise I am laptopless for the duration of vacation.

Calculus was spawned by the agents of evil. Just saying.

I bid you all good night!

It isn't a project till something goes wrong.

So says Shaw. And gone wrong it has. More troubles with the school's Mac, Speilburg again. No kernel panic this time but something has gone awry with the Compressor program. Without it, I'm stuck with a roughly 32 gig file that needs to fit on a 4 gig DVD. Whenever I try to compress I get the message "unable to connect to background process" and the compress fails. Reinstallation did nothing. I'm currently poring through forums and help sites trying to find a fix. Beauty and the Beast needs to be on DVD tomorrow and I have very few free periods tomorrow. I was hoping to polish everything up today and just churn out DVD's tomorrow. At this rate I'll be lucky to even create the DVD Studio Pro file before vacation, let alone start burning.

Alright, just started a new attempt at compression using a different format (PNG), hopefully this will clear up my problems. I will report back later with an update.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Inglourious Movie Review

I just watched Inglorious Basterds with my father and decided I would review the movie on my blog. I give it a two star rating....out of ten. This movie is awful. The trailers made it out to be a bang-bang shoot-em-up with a fast-paced story and gritty characters. The reality is much different. It was a slow film with short bursts of excessively violent action. The director seemed as if he couldn't just pick a style and go with it (the director, by the way, is Quentin Tarantino). Also, as a spelling fanatic, the title just ticks me off.

I had no feelings either way for any of the characters whatsoever. I didn't hate the bad guys and I didn't like the good guys, even the honorable good guys. The only character I had any feeling for was some random farmer in the beginning who had to choose between keeping the Jews he was hiding secret or keeping his family alive.

There was no purpose to the film. I didn't come away with any sort of message. If the film was intended to be pure entertainment then it failed miserably.

The entire film was segmented into "chapters" and each chapter was filmed almost entirely in one setting. Which wouldn't be so bad I suppose except there are only five chapters in a two and a half hour film. Which is half an hour per chapter. Essentially five scenes in one movie. Did I mention it was slow? Chapter one was at the aforementioned farmer's house. This was my favorite chapter because it had a lot of potential. The setting was established and there was a lot of tension. It was slow, like the rest of the movie, and involved a lot of dialouge but that was to be expected in an intro. Chapter one also ended with a good kick-off point for the rest of the movie.

Then the movie dropped like a bunch of pebbles to the bottom of a well (2 points if you get that reference). The others scenes played out as follows.

Chapter Two: Inglourious Basterds
This chapter introduces the Inglourious Basterds themselves. A mostly nameless bunch of Jews who have escaped the Germans and decided to fight back. Oh, and Brad Pitt, who plays his role with an unconvincing accent and only average acting. The only thing that happens in this chapter is the aftermath of an ambush on a German patrol. Lots of talking, "suspense" that grows boring because it drags on too long, and strangest of all, a cutaway scene to the explanation of one of the Basterds who never really becomes important but is the only one to recieve this attention. This cutaway starts with random electric guitar music and a giant overlay title with a 60's style font. It made little sense. I don't mind the dialouge but I assumed the movie was building to some sort of climax that never occurred.

I would continue but I've decided that this rant would get too long if I explained all the flaws in this film. So instead I'll end on a positive note. The artistic shots were very well done. There were some angles and moving shots that were extremely impressive and accented the mood well. But the camerawork is the ONLY thing in this movie that was any good. Basically, don't bother watching this unless you like movies with absolutely no purpose.

I really hope Avatar will be good and will wash the bad movie taste out of my eyes. I have extreme envy of my sister who will likely get to see it before me.

Goodnight all!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

New Codak Comic!

So I was going through my daily list of comics just now and I accidentally clicked on my link to the Dresden Codak comic. I usually skip over it because it only updates every few months. Lo and behold, a new comic! Not my favorite by him, but still pretty good. I like the premise, "The dead only see what the living forget." I also really like his drawing style, it is very emotional and active. Tomorrow I will have a movie review for you! Really! I already wrote it believe it or not. Talk about being prepared, right?

Anyway, have a good night everyone!

Shameless plug!

Guess what?

You should buy a copy of Beauty and the Beast, performed by Winthrop High School and Monmouth Academy students and filmed by Rambler Productions. Read a review (by me) here. I'll even give you these exclusive still frames to get you interested. The DVD is going to be pretty sweet. Spread the word around, the more sales made the more money comes in to support Winthrop theatre, film, and music programs. Oh, and Monmouth, they get money too.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Cause everyone's your friend...

...In New York City
and everything looks beautiful
when you're young and pretty
the streets are paved with diamonds
and theres just so much to see
-New York City
by They Might Be Giants
Okay, so I can tell you my big news now. I've been invited to attend the red-carpet premiere of The Putt Putt Syndrome in New York City this coming February. Myself, Anna, and Ms. Shaw were contacted by Allen and asked to film the premiere for the documentary. We haven't worked out all the logistics yet and I don't even know the exact date but it will hopefully fall during February vacation. I have never been to New York before. In fact, the farthest I've ever been in my entire life is the far side of Boston. I don't travel very much.

There is now extreme competition for Steven Spielberg (the computer) at school. Pat wants to use it to mess around with AfterEffects and hone his FX skills. He is currently working on a no texting while driving PSA where Mr. Morin gets hit by a car. Grace wants the computer because it is the only one with Photoshop and she is designing the cover for Beauty and the Beast. (She refuses to use GIMP, calling it "unprofessional"). Bah. To top it off I am using it to edit together Beauty and the Beast.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Council of Birds

Remember how I talked about some birds that were spying on me and making a racket in the trees by my house? And how they were working for the aliens/mad scientists that live down the street? Well, they are still there. At least a hundred dark little birds. Normally I phase out noise like birdsong as background and I don't even notice it. But when I'm shoveling heavy wet snow halfway through December excessive birdsong kind of stands out as odd. After watching this large flock converse loudly in the treetops I have decided they are not spies, but some sort of council of birds meeting in order to discuss.....well....things that concern birds.... like Windex and the scientific advancements of crows. I have never seen such a large flock of anything except ducks this late into winter. I have a picture of those ducks somewhere. There were a lot.

I have super-amazing-awesome news. But I can't tell you what it is yet. Sorry. Now you are curious aren't you? I'll post once I can tell you all.

My Christmas tree is approximately nine feet wide and eleven feet tall. This year our tree is looking nice and healthy cause my father went out and cut it ourselves. Last year we picked a pre-cut one but it dried up fairly quickly. The year before that we were possessed by evil spirits and picked out a Blue Spruce. Tip: Don't ever bring a piece of a Blue Spruce into your home, let alone the whole tree. They smell like stale urine. The year before THAT we had a very nice tree that actually grew while it was in our living room. It also started budding on the side that faced the window. Christmas trees are awesome.

I went to the Mechuwana rally this past weekend and had a great time with friends. Despite what many of my friends think. A rally at camp does not involve standing in the middle of a field around a flag yelling "GO JESUS!" Although that would be amusing. Instead, rallies at Mechuwana are a time for people to get together and have a great time while forgetting all their troubles. Its a place where you can be yourself without worrying about what other people think about you.

I left the rally during the dance to go and film Beauty and the Beast at the school. I was using my homebuilt steadycam while Shaw and Grace manned the two stationary cameras. We recorded straight to the school laptops for the two static cameras while I went with tape. This production has been all about saving time while getting better quality. By bypassing tapes on two cameras we saved not only money but also all the logging time. In another effort to increase quality while still whipping a DVD out by Christmas vacation Pat Flynn has introduced me to the Multiclip function of Final Cut Pro. Basically what it allows me to do is sync up multiple angles and then click on my desired angle while the timeline is playing, automatically creating the nescessary cuts. This way it only takes as long to edit it as it does to watch. Which is awesome.

Finally, I am extremely excited to see Avatar and jealous that my sister will get to see it first. I plan to see it in IMAX if I get to see it in theatres. This is the kind of movie you want to see in its full glory.

Hope everyone is staying warm.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Graphic Design in ten steps

Look to your left.

No, your other left.


There is a high probability that you can see something right now that was conceived by a graphic design artist. Maybe it is a neato poster you have on your wall like this one I have. Maybe it is a coaster for a drink with a family crest on it, maybe it is your mousepad. Even if you are a nihilist and everything around you is gray and boring I guarantee that you can see at least one piece of graphic design right now. The logo for your computer. Even just the word "MacBook" counts as graphic design. Some Apple employee put a lot of thought into deciding the font for that logo. My point is, pretty much everything you see has a graphic design artist's mark on it.

The term "graphic design artist" is basically a cool way of designating somebody who creates images to communicate visually, which is pretty generalized. Straight from the source of all human knowledge (AKA Wikipedia) "From road signs to technical schematics, from interoffice memorandums to reference manuals, graphic design enhances transfer of knowledge."

In anticipation of this post I did a small redesign of my blog banner at the top. Expect it to change periodically as my whim shifts.

I consider myself to be an amateur graphic artist and I've been working with graphic design in one form or another since middle school. If you've been keeping up with my blog you've already seen  One of my favorite things to do is to create patterns of of small geometric shapes like this one using a nice deep black pen. Then I scan them into my computer and digitally enhance them. This is the more basic type of graphic design I do. In this particular case I altered the original design to look like Serenity from Firefly. When I first start my doodles I never really have anything in mind, but most people tell me that they either end up looking like a castle, bug, or spaceship. I just put down the shapes that make sense to me.

My first real foray into the world of digital graphic design was a few years ago when I decided to make backgrounds for some poems I had written for my creative writing class. While I make no claims to my prose-prowess I am quite happy with the way the backgrounds came out. I'll walk you through the process I followed in order to create the background for my poem "The Imperial Order." Bonus points if you get that reference without using Google. My method for creating the backgrounds was as follows. (click on images for larger versions)

1. Come up with an idea for the design. 
This involves planning around the content of the poem itself. The design can't be too busy or the poem will become lost in the background. Typography is a big part of the design. I decided upon a dim, misty army approaching a castle wall with big, looming mountains in the background.

2. Get component images.
Due to my inability at the time to produce the images I wanted myself, I then proceeded to search the internet for photos and pictures that I could use to create the different elements of my image. I knew I wanted the viewpoint to be from atop a crenelated wall so I spent about an hour searching for the perfect image. If I were a professional I would probably call up my photography buddies and have whichever one was nearest a castle get exactly the shot I wanted. Lacking that, I found this shot of some battlements at Culzean Castle in Scotland, which fit the bill of what I wanted. The next step was removing the ocean view and replacing it with my other images. Those other images included the army, the mountains and the sky.

For the army I spent a long time searching for something that might work. In the end I decided that this scene from The Lord of the Rings was my best bet. The army was indistinguishable as individual troops but you could still tell it was an army. The army was also far away enough to sell the illusion of being high atop a castle wall.

The mountains were even trickier. I had to find something that would work in the background, fit in the confines of the image, and portray the looming eerieness that I was looking for. If it had been possible I would have definitely made the elements myself as it would save time in the end. Finally I came across an image I thought I could alter sufficently well enough to work. The mountains didn't really look evil in the original picture, and I nicknamed them the "Happy Gnome Mountains" cause I thought the village in the valley looked like a place you'd find gnomes. Don't ask, I really don't know. Once I'd found these three major elements I set about to creating the composition. What about the sky, you ask? Well, the sky didn't actually occur to me until later. Graphic Design (at least in my experience) involves just as much (if not more) on-the-fly alterations as planning.

3. Choose your editing program.
You are probably familiar with at least the name of the program Photoshop, or Adobe Photoshop. As the industry standard it is used by professionals across the world and by many amateurs looking to give their products the extra edge in quality. Unfortunately Photoshop can cost up to $800. There are many student discounts and such but even with these it can be expensive for those just starting out. Alternatively, you can look for a free product. There are many options out there including Picasa, Photoscape, Picnik, and These all allow the user to perform basic to moderate alterations to their images. I haven't used them all but I do use Picasa for organizing photos. None of these programs give the editing capability of Photoshop, but they are very nice for being free.

The best free image-editing software you can get, in my opinion, is GIMP, formerly known as The GIMP. GIMP allows you to manipulate images in much the same way as Photoshop minus a few of the high-end features. Which, unless you are an uber-pro, you don't need anyways. I discovered GIMP in my Freshman year and I've been using it exclusively ever since. I've tried out Photoshop but GIMP is easier to use and completes all of the functions I want it to. I highly recommend it to anybody interested in spicing up thier images. I'd put a picture of the GIMP workspace up but these school laptops are incapable of having GIMP (or anything else) installed.

4. Start composing your image.
Start resizing, rotating, and cropping your component images until you have the basics meshed together. Here is an image of the Imperial Order background in the early stages. I've actually done quite a bit of editing at this point. You can see that I've cropped out the ocean from the wall and messed around a bit with the walkway, blurred the village into fog, and expanded the army to fill the space. I've also added a fire element to make the scene feel more night-like. It was at this point I realized I needed a sky.

5. Remember to save a separate copy before making major changes.
A lot of the time you'll find that some alteration you've made is horribly wrong for the overall composition. If you're lucky you can just hit ctrl-z a couple times and fix it. But sometimes you have to backtrack beyond the last time you opened your file. It is always a good idea to save the image every couple of steps under a new filename. Not only does this allow you to go back if you find something wrong, it lets you put together a blog post like this where you can see progress over time. :-)

6. Blend your images into one. 
This image was a bit easier to mesh together than some others I've done because it was set at night so I could just blur and darken everything then add a similar hue to the whole image. The clone, blur, smudge, and cut tools are your best friends during this step. Make sure if you are planning to have text that you try some different fonts and colors here to see what works best. If you want to see the composition a little further along than the last picture, click here.

7. Add any minor tweaks you want and start focusing on the little details.
This is the home stretch. It can be the easiest part or the hardest part depending on how OCD you've been earlier on. If you have any typography, now is the time to finalize it as part of the image instead of just another layer.

8. Save your image in a high-quality format.
Nobody likes a blocky image. Unless you are afraid your work is shoddy and you don't want anyone looking closely at it save the image at the highest quality settings you can.

9. Sit back and enjoy your work.
Look at it closely, make sure nothing is amiss, and you're done.

Here is the final result for my project both with and without the poem itself. (click for larger image)

You'll notice I had to lighten the image for the text version. Although I'm not entirely happy with the result (if you look you'll see I never removed a tree from the left side of the image sticking out over the mountain) the image blends well enough that it could be assumed it was designed as one piece.

As this is the longest blog post I've ever written I think it deserves something special. A contest!

Now you can go make your own! If you submit your own graphically designed image to me at I'll pick out the best one and you could win FABULOUS PRIZES! Well, maybe not fabulous, but I'll come up with something. Since graphic design can mean almost anything I'll accept almost anything as an entry. If you use images from the web, please include their sources. I don't expect to have more than maybe 3 entries, so you have a good chance to win if you enter.

I hope you all have enjoyed this post as much as I have. Please feel free to comment!

DISCLAIMER: All images on my blog, especially in this post, are the sole properties of their respective owners. I sincerely apologize for not giving proper credit in all cases but copyright infringement wasn't on my mind when I designed the poems years ago so I didn't write down the sources. I never thought I'd put these out in public. If you are the owner of one of these images and would like your image removed, please let me know.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Button

I told myself I wouldn't post this until I got lazy, hadn't posted in a while, and didn't feel like posting. I told myself this last night.

And now I'm lazy. Enjoy. 

So my friend Chris, whose blog you can read here, sent me a message in Facebook chat about a week back. We bantered back and forth for a while and then continued the discussion via email. I think you'll enjoy this despite its length. Yes, I know I already used that image but I'm too lazy to find a new one.

A button appears next to you. Attached is a note that says, "This button does anything. From the worst thing you can think of to the best thing you can think of, this button will do SOMETHING to you. It will not disappear, and will not run out of pushes. Anybody may use it." What do you do?

Stop taking any medications I'm on

You still have several hours before the effects of the current pills wear off. What do you do in that time period?

I would assume the note is false and begin to methodically disassemble said button.

There are no screw-holes of any kind, and the box seems to be indestructable. The button seems to be gleaming.

Do I have access to any sort of x-ray/laser imaging device?
or Geiger counter?

There's no radiation, and you have both at your feet.

wait, both what?

Both an x-ray and laser imaging device.

ah, thank you. I would attempt to x-ray the button to discern its contents. What do I see?

A spring beneath the button, which assumably keeps the button upright. Nothing more.

Having spent much time examining said button have the narcotics worn off?


(End of Facebook chat, his computer died)
(beginning of emailed convo)

In that case I would advance to animal testing. I will entice a small koala to press the button.

The koala quickly morphs into a panda bear. Thoroughly confused, it simply sits there, torn between searching for eucalyptus leaves and bamboo shoots.

Now that I have ascertained that the button only affects the person/animal who pushes it I would proceed to test the probability of positive vs. negative effects upon the button-pusher. If this next question is permissible, out of ten pushes by ten (lets say dogs) how many dogs had positive effects vs. negative effects?

First a few general questions, so as to ascertain what you perceive as "negative". Simply return a series of numbers with either + or - next to them, indicating the obvious.

1. Switching gender
2. Changing species
3. Targeted memory loss (choosing a memory to forget)
4. A console (activated by the "~" key) for R.L.
5. Knowledge of any one truth
6. Super sex appeal (girls beg for you in public)
7. President of The United States of America
8. One wish granted (ANYTHING EXCEPT MORE GODDAMNED WISHES and if you try to weasel your way around that one, your head asplode).
9. Performing an heroic act and being recognized by the world as such.
10. (Insert something that you would mark as "extremely positive".)
11. (Insert something that you would mark as "extremely negative".)
12. (Insert something that you would mark as "neutral".) 

Damn you good sir. I have an essay to write, I will complete your questionnaire tomorrow.

Cody said he was going to "beat the shit out of it". I bid you good luck.

1. -
2. -, loss of ability to think abstractly
3. +
4. I do not understand. A "real life" console? Like the dude in Fallout? Or what?
5. +
6. Could get irritating (after 60 years). Likely get killed by angry gents. Therefore -
7. Super -
8. +
9. +
10. Instant "pocket dimension" ++
11. Slow and painful death - -
12. absolutely nothing (this would be both heartening and extremely depressing. Therefore, neutral)

Also, what color is the button?

Explanation for console, you push the tilde key on any keyboard, and type in something such as "god" or "give all" and it happens to you in RL. Anyway, as to the dogs...

1. Seems to have been cloned.
2. Is running off after a French poodle. (insert dog sex joke here)
3. Gone, no trace of him.
4. Two-headed.
5. Asleep.
6. Seems to be reciting Shakespeare, although paraphrased.
7. Nothing.
8. Another panda. The hell?
9. Dead where it stands.
10. Seems to be changed into a steampunk version of a dog. Currently running on coal power. 

2 out of 11 chance to become panda (interesting)
30% chance of deadly/extremely bad outcome
50% chance of neutral outcome
10% chance of mildly positive outcome.

Conclusion- not a smart bet for personal use. Possibly useful for restoring the panda population.

Solution- create game show hosted in own version of Sealand (named Beardland) where contestants pay a fee to try their hand at pressing the button. I collect cash while various people die/transmorgrify/orate or turn into Pandas. (Created in own country in order to avoid legal issues. All Pandas released into wild.)

And THAT, good sir, is what I would do with the button.

(Again, what color is it?)

I am somewhat bemused by your attempts to quantify the unknown. Probably what will kill you one day.

CONCLUSION- You live to the prosperous age of sixty-five, having accumulated millions in button-pressing-fees and failed lawsuits against you in which you enacted inordinate counter-sues. Sadly, one day a tourist-recently-turned panda loses its temper, and mauls you. In your old age, your beardjitsu has atrophied somewhat, and you are unable to prevent it from tearing out most of your internal organs, and severely damaging your external organs. However, you see that it soon regains its senses, and returns to the wild. Which does not do you much good.

It's red. The button, I mean. And your organs.

I have enjoyed this exercise. Perhaps we shall do it again sometime. Also, I'm blogging this.
And indeed I have.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Northerly I be.

Just below the Great North Woods of Maine I sit.

So I'm up at my mother's house in Greenville and I'd like to share with you a few things I learned today.

First, when someone hits a medium-sized mammal while going 70 mph on the highway it paints nearly 200 feet of pavement bright red with gore. I did not witness this event, but there was some guy on the side of the road who was taking off his shirt in preparation to do something to the animal. What, I cannot say.

Second, many pre-adolescent girls are voracious, bloodthirsty carnivores. Both of my stepsisters prefer to eat rare steak. When I say rare, I mean raw. "Let it look at the oven in terror, then bring it out to me!" kind of raw. I wouldn't be surprised if the man on the side of the highway was preparing to slice up the roadkill and serve it to his children. At first I thought this phenomenon was confined to my two stepsisters but today I met one of their friends, who immediately suggested ribs when asked what she would like for dinner. Ribs, with BBQ sauce, closely simulate the gory reality of uncooked ribs. The steak (which was prepared for one of my stepsisters) was bright pink, nevertheless, she complained of it being overcooked. Therefore, little girls are bloodthirsty carnivores. I can't decide if that is a good thing or not.

Third, and perhaps most important, you can buy this on the internet. And I thought coffee couldn't get any worse. Although I will admit that the counterpart product, Monkey Picked Tea, is pretty darned awesome.

I'm going to go watch the last episode of Flash Forward for this season. I'll update tomorrow with info on what's going on with my projects.

Have a good weekend everyone!


Monday, November 30, 2009

Short Post

Indeed this is. I don't have time to write much as I have to finish an English essay but I wanted to congratulate pdyerf and papagenothehedgehog on thier successful completion of NaNoWriMo along with all the other winners out there. While I did not update daily as I had hoped to my final word count still came out to be 8,634 words. Not bad for a beginner blogger.

Also, Stu Smith, manager of The Decemberists finally watched my video and sent this response.

I did, I like it!  Nice work and congrats.  Keep in touch.

Super happy about that, especially "keep in touch". Anyway, I’ll try and fit in a longer post tomorrow but I’m pretty busy.
Night all!

Sunday, November 29, 2009


You are difficult to contact. Perhaps you are reading my blog. CALL ME.

EDIT: Never mind. You called, good job.


You know how just yesterday I said that this past week gets a 9 out of 10? Since I (along with Europe) consider Monday to be the start of the week I say I still have time to change that rating. I'm going to have to raise it to a 9.8. Why, you ask?

I just got a call from Allen Cognata, director of The Putt Putt Syndrome. When I realized it was him I figured it was going to be about more credit reel alterations and such. No big deal, but more editing/rendering for me. Instead, after exchanging pleasantries about the holiday vacation, he mentioned how he liked the posters I had made for The Perfect Crime and The Hazards of Love (co-created with Graham). He then asked me if I thought I could make one for The Putt Putt Syndrome. I am now in the process of planning out a design for the poster. Allen had Rene (producer) send me a link to the press kit so I have some pictures to use in the design.

This may not have anything to do directly with filming but for some reason this really feels like the start of my career. With the credits and the documentary it was Allen asking the video production program as a whole. For this, he came to me directly and said "I really think you are the most qualified among us to do this." That right there is exactly what I wanted. To become qualified enough that people come to me when they need something done. I'm not saying I'm experienced yet, but it's definitely a start. Below are photos of each of my movie posters, along with a filler for the Putt Putt poster. I think for my next post I'll focus on the topic of graphic design.

For now, I'm signing off. Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving vacation.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

I give this week a 9 out of 10

It was that good. Spent three days at Smuggs with the extended family. Food, fun, etc. I'll give you some of the highlights

I ATE PROSCIUTTO! As you may have read in my earlier post I am a huge fan of this stuff. Here is a link to the wikipedia article on it. I didn't have the chance to go to the restaurant and have prosciutto-wrapped chicken but I did have it wrapped around mozzarella in a spiral. SO TASTY. And there was shrimp with cocktail sauce and smoked salmon with cream cheese. Add to that the usual tasty Thanksgiving treats and you what is likely the most appetizing week of my life.

One of the traditions my family has when we are in Vermont is going to the Snowflake chocolates shop. It's just a little one-room store but it is filled to the eaves with homemade chocolates and candies. In fact, sometimes you can see the employees making the candies in the back of the shop. I bought much candy. On a similar note, we also often stop at Maple Grove Farms in Jerhico, VT. They make the best candy on the planet there. Pure maple candy. It is absolutely amazing. I bought a ton this year.

Another tradition is heading into Burlington on Black Friday and shopping down Church St. I managed to find gifts for three or four of the people on my list and I hope to finish the rest of my shopping before long. We saw the famous purple-with-pink-polka-dots house. Here is a pic (not by me)

On another note, NaNoWriMo is in its final days. I think I know about five people who made the 50,000 word goal. Which is pretty good. I'll let you know my final word count when the month is officially over. I'm kinda bumming that I didn't even stick with my one-post-a-day goal but even trying that for just a week got me involved enough with the blog that I don't think I'll stop posting.

As a final blurb here I'd like to say that the XKCD comics for yesterday and Wednesday are officially awesome. I may have to start wearing the key "f." And the one about Pandora is so very, very true. Also, this made my day today. Listen to it, some of it at least.

Yeah, that's it for today. Not one of my better posts, it wasn't very coherent. But you didn't come here for coherency did you? I thought not.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My friends have teleporters.

The past few days have felt a lot more like the time around Halloween than around Thanksgiving. What do I mean? Well, for one thing, Alfred Hitchcock seems to be planning a sequel to "The Birds" in my front yard. For at least three days a large flock of birds has been hanging out in the trees next to my house. I'd venture to say that there are at least seventy of them out there now, whereas there were about fifty yesterday. They may be massing for an attack. It's possible that they are being controlled by the alien/mad scientists down the street that I talked about a few days ago but I'm not sure.

The other reason that it feels like Halloween is because I have very strange friends. I was hanging out with my father and Frank playing Wii bowling when Graham called and informed me that it looked like a nice game of bowling. I dropped my controller and ran outside to find him hiding at the front door. I looked around, finding no vehicle which he would've arrived in. After shaking off several questions are to why he was here and being a creeper he looked up expectantly and said "Wait, where'd they go?" and then proceded to run around to the side of the house, presumably looking for Josh. I followed him, at which point Josh and (insert forgotten name here) strolled unconceredly out of my house.

"And I.....but you......was just....WHAT THE HECK!?"

I hadn't gone more than thirty feet from the door when I went out to find Graham and yet somehow Josh and friend were somehow in my house when I went back. The door isn't terribly quiet and I should've heard it. After exchanging a few pleasantries inside (and dodging all questions about their unexplained arrival and transportation) they said they had to leave. They lined up in the driveway and Graham spoke authoritatively into his sleeve.
"Three to beam up."
I shook my head and closed the door. Two seconds later I looked out the window. Empty driveway.
So yeah.

Strange things do seem to happen around me and my abode. Grace refers to it as my "circle of pessimism" because I'm "always pessimistic." I say if you want pessimism, go here. Anyway, apparently my pessimism attracts unfortunate events. Here are some examples from just the past year.

Car drives into maranacook lake just down the street from me.
Man gets sideswiped by car at the end of my driveway
House explodes into flame next street over
Library across the street attacked by arsonist
"Hazardous materials" across the street caused neighborhood to be evacuated (false alarm, it was a can of paint)
I'm certain that the list goes on, but I can't think of anything else right now.

Watching "V" right now. Decent kinda show. Just saw a trailer for "Sherlock Holmes" which brings my list of must-watch movies up to three including "Avatar" and "2012"

Tomorrow I drive off to Vermont with my grandmother. Should be fun.

Goodnight all, and happy Thanksgiving week.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Turkeys everywhere cower in fear...

Not really, they are far too stupid to fear anything. I'm fairly certain I could hunt them with just a large stick and successfully nab a few. Not that I would, I've had an affinity for turkeys since middle school. I believe it was in sixth or seventh grade when I came up with my longtime username "kingturkey." I have little recollection of why I chose that as my username, but I think it had something to do with a website we were making. I do remember creating an entire backstory on the world of turkeys and how they were the mortal enemies of the chickens and such. It was quite detailed. I suppose it's possible that I came up with the name after finding this page. But that's just speculation.

Anyway, off on a tangent there...speaking of which, tangents are not fun to calculate. Anyway, this Wednesday I drive over to Smuggler's Notch in Vermont. Smuggs, as it is sometimes called, is situated in Jeffersonville, Vermont and is a really cool place to go. Rated as the number one family ski resort, hundreds of families flock there each year. I don't ski, but the other accomadations are awesome as well. Indoor pools, huge rooms, and (as stated in my last post) THE BEST FOOD EVER.

I helped my grandmother buy a new camera the other day because her last one worked poorly indoors. Her new one is awesome. A 12 megapixel powerhouse with face recognition, motion sensors, automatic setting adjustment (if you put the camera close to an object it switches to macro mode), and the ability to hook it up to a television as a giant viewfinder or a place to show off photos (grandmother BONUS). All for around a hundred dollars. My camera is anywhere near as fancy as that but I suppose it was lost in a couch for three years and then dropped on concrete...

Just in case I don't post till Thanksgiving, HAVE A GOOD ONE! (and don't eat the turkey if it has a crown)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Not that I'm excited but...

Will update later when I don't have so much energy.


It would have been difficult to make yesterday go any better than it did. Actually the last week or two have been pretty darned fantastic. Firstly, I was accepted to my first (and only) choice college. You should know from my previous posts that I only passed in my application on Saturday. That means that NESCom reviewed, accepted, and mailed the letter to me by Wednesday in order for it to arrive yesterday. That's four days to acceptance. I wasn't expecting the letter for another week or so. As such, when I brought in the mail I didn't even glance at it. My father told me about the letter at about 6:00 pm. I assumed it was leftover from before my visit. I didn't think the acceptance letter could've gotten to me that fast. There was "Congratulations!" staring me in the face to prove me wrong. Within thirty seconds I had the news up on Facebook.

Getting accepted to college was not the only thing that has been going well for me lately. My design for the yearbook cover was accepted, with a few modifications. Here is what the final design will be. For submitting the winning design I get $20 off the cost of my yearbook. I also get to brag. Woot.

Shaw and I recently put up a blog dedicated solely to the video production program here at WHS. RamblerProductions is a blog where video students can post updates on their video projects and utilize collective knowledge to get things done. Shaw and I are attempting to code the blog ourselves rather than relying solely on pre-made templates. It has been a struggle but we are making progress. We've even ordered some instructional books to help us out.

On top of all THAT the Adobe Production Premium suite came in the mail the yesterday. Pat was absolutely enthralled. Read more about that on the Rambler Productions blog here.

Just about the only thing good that DIDN'T happen to me yesterday was locating a soulmate. All in all, I'd say that's pretty darned good.

One other thing, a Native American tribe from northern Maine came into the school yesterday during the rotating block. They explained some of their beliefs and then showed off some dancing. To wrap it all up, they did a dance where they had the entire school participating called "snake." Yes, it is just what it sounds like. A long, undulating line of dancers moving around the room. I'm pretty sure that this is where the digital "snake" game came from cause that's just what it was like. At one point the line coiled up in the middle and I got extremely confused.

Oh, also, I'm REALLY looking forward to Thanksgiving. I'll be at Smuggler's Notch resort in Vermont with my mom's side of the family. Hoping to have a meal at the Smugg's restaurant where they serve proscuitto wrapped marinated chicken. BEST FOOD ON THE ENTIRE PLANET. That is an understatement. It's like the joy of bacon, tacos, steak, soy sauce, and every tasty thing imaginable in on one plate. IT IS SO GOOD. More on Thanksgiving later.

GOOD day to you all.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Teach an alien to say strange things like "fabaceous"

The title of this post is simply a mash-up of what I'm going to be writing about today, I am not actually going to show you how to teach linguistics to aliens. (Though that isn't a bad idea)

First off! I did not post last night! Considering the fact that my record hasn't been spotless this month that probably wasn't surprising. I was writing an essay for my English class that was due this morning. Despite being dead tired and writing right up to midnight I passed it in for a solid A-- . Which is rather depressing in that the last essay I did I worked hard on and revised and scrutinized for the same grade. But, I'm not really complaining. ;)

For the past several years I have been compiling a list of quotes said by me, my friends, my acquaintances, and various internet-acquired sources. As I have started doing a word-of-the-day I will also now attempt a quote of the day. It's more interesting than it sounds because my quotes often have great backstories. Here is the quote for today.

146.    “Thinking requires energy, right? That means it burns calories and gives you a higher metabolism. That would mean that [insert stupid person here] has a really low metabolism.” –Josh James

Josh and I engage in very intriguing conversations as we walk home after school together which can result in some hilarious/thought provoking quotes.

'Fabaceous" adj. - Like a bean
If Graham and I weren't already set on Perfect Roar Films I would totally create Fabaceous Films. Simply because I can.

Today ends the third voting period that Winthrop has participated in for the Teach@15 contest, put on by BestBuy in 19th for this voting period with a grand total of 85 votes. To put that in perspective, the top three positions were;

1,615 for first
1577 for second
877 for third

I'm rather frustrated because we don't need all that many people to participate in order to win. With the ability to vote once a day during a 15 day voting period each person can contribute 15 votes. With one hundred people voting it's nearly a guaranteed a winning slot. But with 85 votes, that works out to about 5 people. I think about 10 people voted, but not every day. Pathetic, we can do better.

Ah well, I probably should have done a bit more. Hopefully during this next voting period I can speak with advisers and get them to require each student to vote every morning.

There is a house just across from Norcross Point. It is a hideout for either aliens or mad scientists, I haven't been able to discern which just yet. Two nights now I've walked by it and the house has hissed and spit at me. Not to mention the windows emit neon blue light. My guess is they power their machinery with hidden turbines run by the nearby dam. As I have not discovered their goal, I do not know if their intentions are benign. Once winter comes I will attempt to communicate with them using glowing blue bulbs. I will keep you updated. On the same walk I discovered that I can sing "The Mariners Revenge Song" in it's entirety without missing a line. Who knew. (It's a nine minute song).

On the subject of Decemberist songs I can't get "Red Right Ankle" (3:29) out of my head.
This is the story of your red right ankle
and how it came to meet your leg
and how the muscle, bone, and sinews tangle
and how the skin was softly shed
I love the third line there. Anywho, that is all for tonight. I promise someday I'll start carrying my camera around with me so I can upload stuff like the glowing house.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Not a bad day, but a day of firsts

In two weeks I will discover whether or not I am accepted to NESCom. I am currently experiencing a mix of "Man, I'm super-excited to see if I'm accepted" and "Holy crap I just applied to college." When I was being interviewed I impressed myself with my calm, collected, and detailed responses to all the questions that were thrown at me. I even got a spiffy new leather jacket for the occasion, so I looked good too. I really really hope I get in.

The equipment that they have is phenomenal. I was kind of intimidated when I first saw their line-up of cameras. They have about seven different kinds, from super-cameras of the same type used to film things like Survivor down to.....the GL2! Which is what I'm familiar with. The GL2 looked really pathetic next to the other cameras. It was smaller than everything else, including the still camera. I asked one of the program directors about it and he told me about NESCom's leasing system. In order to keep up with the latest technology, most equipment is on three year lease so that every three years the equipment gets updated to the industry standard. The GL2 is next in line to be phased out. :(

They gave me a disposable camera to take photos of stuff, I took one of the camera line-up, I'll upload it once I get it developed.
I took a strange placement test which included questions like "Which of the two following proverbs are similar?" There were at least eight proverb related questions. Why? I couldn't tell ya. The english related questions I flew through but I got snagged even on simple math problems. I don't know why, but English just requires absolutely no thought from me to get it right. Math on the other hand is like sticking a stop sign in the middle of the I-95 in my brain. It isn't fun.

The rest of the visit passed fairly uneventfully. I did inform one of the program directors that his nametag had been upside down for his entire presentation. I think I may have embarrassed him slightly. Our tour guide, Godfrey, wasn't very good at enunciating and people kept having to ask him to speak up but other than those two things everything seemed very well choreographed.

As usual there are probably other things I should add but I must be getting off to bed. Goodnight all.

EDIT: Right, the other reasons why it was a day of firsts. First time getting a flat tire. A seriously flat tire. We were nearly running on the wheel rim, my mom and I that is. Anyway, we found a gas station and filled up the tire, which promptly deflated again. I found the hole, which was substantial, and went and bought some Fix-A-Flat which is some kinda foamy stuff you inflate the tire with. At any rate, I followed the instructions and then had my mum move the car. With every turn of the wheel the foam stuff came shooting out the hole. FLIIFFFT FLIFFFT FLIFFFT. Time to change the tire. I pulled out the donut from the back but my mom decided that since it was a long drive home, she'd just call Triple A and have them do it. So I didn't actually change the tire, but I would've. Probably didn't need to update with that, as the only people who read this blog have already been informed or were directly involved. Ah well.

Later all.

Friday, November 13, 2009

That week never happened.

So, you may have noticed that I have neglected my blogging duty since Monday. I sincerely apologize to my one and a half readers. ;) Ah well, I'm going to use Swine Flu as my excuse. No I didn't come down with the virus, but school was shut down Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. There were mixed reactions throughout the student body but the general consensus was "SWEET!" There was a brief moment of panic when Anna and I realized we wouldn't be able to work on the Putt Putt Syndrome credits, which are need to be completed soon. Thankfully we got permission to take the computer home. So now I have this beaut sitting in the back kitchen of the house (only place with grounded wiring).
Two terabyte hard drives and impressive processor speed, this computer is like a dream. I really wish I could've taken home the computer with my files on it too, but the Putt Putt Syndrome is a more pressing project. At any rate, I cleaned up the credit sequence to the directors specifications and once Allen comes by on Monday to confirm the final credit sequence Anna and I can focus more specifically on the documentary.

Tomorrow is the BIG day. I head off to NESCom to tour the campus, take a placement test, interview with an admissions officer, and pass in my application. I'm fixing up my essay from two posts back tonight to be sure that everything is in order.

While this post is short, it DOES qualify as a post, so ha.

Oh, and if I happen to have one on hand I'm going to start doing a "word of the day" thing on here. The first word of the day ever is.....
drumroll please......

Strikingly unconventional and far-fetched in style or appearance; odd.
 [probably from Basque bizar, beard.]

bizarro means "handsome" or "brave" in Spanish and Portuguese

That's right, my beard means bizzare and bizzare used to mean brave. Go me.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The man named Stu

Stu Smith. Just about the most unassuming name you could have short of being John Smith. Yet with this man rests the possibility, however small, of my career in filmmaking taking a nice leap forward. You see, Stu is the manager of The Decemberists to whom I sent my Perfect Crime DVD. On August 27 I first emailed him about it. I shipped it on Sept 4 after he responded with an address. The package arrived around Sept 8th or 9th. It is now November ninth, one month after he recieved the DVD and this is what I got in my inbox today, "Haven't had a chance [to watch it] yet I'm afraid..."

Now, you may think this is a rant and I'm angry with Stu or something. Not so, I'm more amused than anything else. This is a manager of one of the most popular indie bands in existence and he's giving me the courtesy of checking out my video, even if it is taking quite a while. Stu has probably written about a total of 50 words to me throughout the course of our email corrospondence (in fact the above is one of his longest emails). Stu is a man of few words, I like that. Somehow I sense that he is a pretty funny guy.

I know I promised you the five senses this week but I haven't had the chance to do the research I wanted to, so you're gonna have to wait. One day I'll actually figure out where I'm going with this thing and give it a nice big overhaul.

In other news, I today realized why a four-poster bed is so named. Go me.

Also! I created a cover for the 2010 Winthrop High School yearbook. I will be submitting it for review tomorrow. Here is what it looks like.

A ba de a aba dee aabaa That's all folks!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Killing two birds with one essay.

Not very likely I know. I imagine bird feathers protect them from papercuts fairly well.

As you may know, I am in the process of applying to college. Next weekend I am going up to NESCom to tour the school, be interviewed, and pass in my application. The application asks for the following in place of a college essay.

"On a separate sheet, please describe your interests and goals, beginning with relevant background info."

A rather broad statement if you ask me but I shall do my best! So, in the interest of sleeping tonight I will be using my essay as both my ticket to college and my excuse for a post tonight! Here it is!

If it’s visual, I’m into it. Directing and editing videos, drawing logos and yearbook covers, photographing from unique perspectives, and designing posters and banners, I have tried and enjoy working with a wide variety of visual arts. I have been in the Winthrop High School video production program since sophomore year. Since then I have been learning how to plan, produce, and edit commercials, shorts, music videos, documentaries and more. I have basic to average experience with Final Cut Studio and am just learning Adobe AfterEffects but I want to expand my knowledge.
I produced a music video last year to the song “The Perfect Crime #2” by The Decemberists. It was one of my most involved individual projects and has been the springboard for some of my other projects. I sent the video to the manager of The Decemberists and (PENDING EMAIL VERIFICATION this will be filled with “who watched it and sent [review] back”)
From working on my video projects I learned that sometimes I have to be able to pull in other visual arts in order to create a finished product. I design front and back jewel case covers for all the DVD’s I make. I design full-size movie posters to promote my videos. I design logos and banners for my school’s productions and my own. I design to fully reach the potential of each and every project.
This past summer my video production class was asked to film the behind the scenes documentary for The Putt Putt Syndrome, an independent Hollywood movie that was filmed in my hometown of Winthrop. It was an amazing experience and I learned a lot about the process and the problems of moviemaking. For two weeks I glued my eyes to the viewfinder of one of my school's trusty Canon GL2 cameras and captured the pranks pulled by the make-up artist and the crazy antics of the lead actors over the course of the twelve-hour days. When I finished my time on set I looked back and saw that while in some ways it was one of the hardest and most tiring experiences of my life, I had a lot of fun and learned much. I realized that to do work with video as a career would be my dream job. Which is where NESCom comes in. In all my college searching, NESCom stands alone as the most ideal venue for me to continue on my path to a visual career. So here I am, and here I go.
I don't particularly like the ending, but I never do. Any comments/suggestions are appreciated!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Friday, November 6, 2009

Forget memory, try this!

I have a notoriously horrible memory. I once forgot who one of my friends was during the summer between 5th and 6th grade. I thought I'd never met them before. I'm always forgetting something no matter what I'm doing. This post is all about memory, including some ways to help you remember things if you are anything like me. Somehow I've managed to not forget about this blog yet. It never fails to amaze me that I can bring forth the phone numbers of people I haven't called in months or the full lyrics to songs I haven't heard in years. The human mind, even one that's slightly insane, is an amazing thing.

This post is a prelude to a week-long series which I will start on Monday. Each day of the week I will cover one of the five senses. Since I consider memory to be a sense, but not in the traditional, ah, "sense" and since memory draws heavily upon all other senses, I decided to do this post in advance.

Memory is a fascinating thing involving many parts of the brain and a complex filing process which allows efficient access to memories. When we as humans encounter something we store it by breaking it down into sensory components. When we need to bring up the memory again, we simply access the impression made on our senses at that time. Sometimes memories are thrust upon us, beamed up to the forefront of our minds due to external stimuli.

For example, a year or so ago I was at a relative's house when they served sharp cheddar cheese. I had not eaten sharp cheddar in a few years nor had I been in the vicinity of any. When I smelled the cheese I was bombarded with an onrush of sensations from many years before, when I had been shopping with my mother at Ballards deli. The store smelled strongly of sharp cheddar and whenever we stopped there I would recieve a small sample from the employees. I remembered the layout of the store, the hall with tanks of lobsters, the rough wooden flooring. Before I took a whiff of that cheese, I had forgotten that Ballards even existed. Smell is said to be the most powerful memory sense and one of the oldest senses we have. Here is a link to learn more.

This is an excerpt from this site about how we remember general concepts as opposed to objects or events. It's a very similar process.
Recalling memories re-fires many of the same neural paths we originally used to sense the experience and, therefore, almost re-creates the event. Memories of concepts and ideas are related to sensed experiences because we extract the essence from sensed experiences to form generalized concepts.
Consider Sir Isaac Newton, for example. Newton "hammered wooden pegs" into the ground, and "cut sundials into stone" to measure the Sun's movement through the sky, writes James Gleick in Isaac Newton. "This meant seeing time as akin to space, duration as length ...." Newton generalized what he observed into a concept of time.

The sense that we most commonly use in memory is the sense we use the most throughout our daily lives, sight. It's quite simple really, you see the laundry basket on the floor and are reminded that if you don't do your laundry you won't have any clothes for tomorrow (on a related note, brb). You see a trinket given to you by a long-forgotten friend and suddenly recall their address. You find a toy from your childhood and remember sitting on the floor having adventures. Etc, etc.

I know I'm forgetting a bunch of stuff that I meant to add to this post, but as my mind just went blank I'll have to update later. Maybe. Anywho, have a good night all.

EDIT : The human brain can store anywhere between 500 and 1000 terabytes of information! WOW! I must be an older model, cause I estimate my capacity at maybe eight gigs. (sweet, I fit on my thumb drive!)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

(Read this post like an auctioneer)

Annnnnnnd, they'reoff! Papagenothehedgehog takes an early leadclockinginat six thousandfivehundredwordsinthefirstfivedays...shesbeenpracticingformonths...following behindis Baileyanne withthreethousandthreehundredwords...abitofarockystartduetolostpaperwork. Therrrrrres Jehhhhhhosopat cominginbehindwithjustunderfivehundredwords ...shemissedthestartinggun... WHO willcomeoutontop?

Okay, that was probably obnoxious to read. That was my update on the progress of my NaNoWriMo buddies. I'm going to make it a habit I think to update (not quite so annoyingly) with the latest word count. As a comparison, I will also post my total word count for the month of November. Including this post, my word count is currently at 2628 words. I probably won't make the 50,000 word mark myself, but I could see 20,000 words being tapped out. We'll see.

I found out today that the copy of "The Perfect Crime" that I sent to the Decemberists has a major continuity error in the alternate ending. The agent (Darren) leans down to see the burglars breaking into the bank safe, then there is a cutaway shot to the Mogul's daughter looking in through the window. Unfortunately I learned this when my video was being shown to the entire school. Thankfully not too many people noticed. I am currently fixing it and recompressing. I need to make sure my final DVD is perfect as I will be presenting it as part of my application to NESCOM. I also presented my trailer for the Hazards of Love to the school. I heard a couple "wow"s thrown in amonst the applause, so I'm pretty happy. I got the student of the month award soon after I finished presenting my video. So overall today is going quite well.

Planning on getting crackin' tomorrow or Monday. 

The school officially blocked Facebook today, with Mrs. Criss comparing student Facebook users to "crack addicts." There was much hushed whispering as students turned to one one another "Oh no! I just planted my crops this morning! What am I gonna do?" Since the beginning of the year, Farmville has accounted for 72% of server usage at WHS. If that isn't crack addiction, I don't know what is. I find the new restriction irritating, but not too big of a problem. I use Facebook to communicate with my actors and to promote the Teach@15 contest for Winthrop. All acceptable uses of the media I believe. Ah well, I'll just have to use this blog and Ning to get my social media in at school.

That's all for today folks.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Alright, so not the most original post title, but swine flu is the most talked about thing these days. Time for me to lay out my thoughts on the subject.

The first thing I heard about swine flu was this. At first I thought it was another of Randall Munroe's creations but the very next day there were people discussing the "plague." I nearly cried when I learned that Egypt had slaughtered nearly all the pigs in the country. WASTE OF BACON. Seriously.

Oh, and just in case you haven't heard it before, "Many people said that the US would have a black president when pigs fly. Sure enough, 100 days into Obama's presidency, SWINE FLU!" That just cracks me up.

Slowly, as the initial doomsday panic faded, facts were brought to the surface and swine flu was brought into light as a flu that is deadly in some cases and more contagious than most strains. So, in my opinion it doesn't deserve the "plague" label that it has gotten in some cases. I applaud the rapid response to the outbreak by medical officials, it proves that if we do encounter an ebola type virus that is rapidly transmittable, we might have a chance. I just don't think that swine flu is as dangerous as it is made out to be. And as horrible as it may be, we can't stop every death from disease, it wouldn't be a terribly good idea anyways. I look at it this way, swine flu has killed about six thousand people worldwide so far according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). 220,000 Americans die every six months from smoking. Swine flu isn't the biggest pandemic out there by a long shot. Also, more than four million Americans are born each year. That number is terrifying to me. I estimate that the worldwide deaths related to swine flu will not exceed 50,000 people. Which is unfortunate, but 259,000 births per day worldwide rather offsets those losses. Call me heartless, but that's my stance.

As for the vaccine? I see it this way. If I take it, I'll likely become immune to swine flu. Good, yes? Well I suppose, but my immune system is very robust and the likelihood of infection is slim for me anyways. However, If I don't take the vaccine, there is a small possibility I'll die of swine flu. Bummer, right? Finally, there is the chance, however slim, that the vaccine will turn everyone into mindless attack zombies and I will become one of the few remaining normal humans. I will fight off the encroaching hordes of "swinies" with my fellow non-vaccinated bretheren and rebuild society!

Weighing my options carefully, I have opted to not take the vaccine.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Video Update 2

I'm going to update my last post when I get home and can look over my library of literature. In the meantime I thought I'd post an update with what is happening with my video projects.

Hazards on Hiatus
Not much is happening with The Hazards of Love right now, although the Decemberists themselves have commissioned some animators to create a "visualizer" for the album. At first I was worried but after watching the trailer I'm confident that my project is in an entirely different vein and need not be compared. I'm going to start talking with my actors tomorrow about costumes and such for the winter film dates.

Putt Putt Doc (site appears to be down)
Our computer troubles are behind us hopefully. We've gotten rid of the corrupted hard drive and had it replaced with a new terabyte drive. (That makes 2 terabytes of storage! Yay!) We are going to have to really crank it to get the documentary done on time. Allen (the director) got the credits I'd sent to him then realized they were missing the entire audio crew he was working with at the time. So when he gets back from Australia he is going to give us the complete list. I forsee much rendering in my future.

Mechuwana Promo
I've finally found the time to make some headway on the promo. Unfortunately I'm having the same issue I have when writing an essay. I spend oodles and oodles of time on my intro and just get stuck on it. If all goes well I should have it done by the deadline in December. I was trying to get some action shots in when I realized that while Mechuwana does have action, it is more of a place to find some peace, so I'm going to change my angle of attack in putting the whole thing together.

Get Crackin' Contest
We truly do need to get crackin'. All entries are due the 29th. The best videos that I've found from other contestants are here and here. I won't reveal our plan for the video but I will tell you that it will involve mad scientists and maybe even a mythological creature.

Rambler Productions Demo Reel
Pat and I may have hit on a theme for our demo reel. WHS in the future. Desks that are computers, buses that float, and learning machines with fatal consequences. Maybe even a field trip to the moon. This demo reel will be designed to show off just what we can accomplish in Video Production. I'm also thinking of ideas for a Rambler Productions banner that can be used when we sell DVD's and such.

Also, this is really really cool. Watch at least until the tutorial on lightning.

SO much that I want to blog about, stay tuned for rants about Firefly, Project Offset, artwork, and much much more!