Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween Tales

Tomorrow the dead shall rise from their graves and walk the streets asking for sugary sweets. I will not be among them, however, I would like to relate to you some of the events that have occurred on Halloween along with my plan to scare the bejesus out of any and all passerby.

I have always enjoyed Halloween, but only in small quantities (not referring to candy, large quantities of that are fine).
My house lends itself well to being haunted. Large, imposing, and quite old, we have bats that sometimes fly in through the cupola. When my sister is around and there is some initiative we decorate the front of the house with a plethora of decorations including spiderwebs, skeletons, hundreds of miniature plastic spiders, bats, and ghosties. As my sister is currently away in college, there are no decorations this year. Which is okay, cause it means my dad and I don't have to man the door tomorrow night.

People always think that kids will get sick from all the candy they aquire but here's my tip for keeping the kids from going to too many houses. Make thier costumes large, bulky, and warm. They'll give up after three blocks. Cruel yes, but effective. I made the foolish choice one year of bringing a large wooden staff with me. Far too heavy, I didn't go nearly as far as I could have without it.

Speaking of which, I recall one year I was out trick-or-treating with my friends and they were all much faster than I in their lighter costumes. They sprinted on ahead and I ended up being a house behind. I came up to one door huffing and puffing and the woman there asked if I was with the group that'd just left, I said yes and she took pity on me and gave me the largest candy bar I've ever seen. A Crunch bar no less, my favorite. The last shall be first!

Now, what I really want to talk about in this post is my genius plan. I came up with it on my own, but I know of only two other people who have had the idea other than me. Anyway, here's my plan. When I die, I don't much care whether I'm buried whole or I'm cremated, what I care about is my grave marker. I don't want some giant obelisk or anything, I want a hologram. I want my image projected either into the air or onto my grave marker with a nice greenish tint. With solar power and a motion sensor, I plan to greet every passerby with my glowing visage. Maybe even add a few sound clips. "BOO!" or "Lovely weather isn't it? Actually I can't tell, six feet under and all. Hope you're doing well!" or maybe "FINALLY! Some company! I tell ya, all the folks round here are deadbeats." The possibilities are endless. A man has already filed for the patent unfortunately, but I think I had the idea around the same time. I have to give ultimate credit to Joss Whedon though, as he used holographic graves in his movie "Serenity" which is coincidentally the greatest movie ever made (I'll try and find a photo of the graves later). Go watch Firefly, the series, then watch Serenity. I'll talk more about them another day.

If going holographic isn't your thing maybe you'd like to try out a different method of disposing of your body after death. How about turning it into a diamond? That's right, a diamond. The folks over at LifeGem do it for a living. They'll take your cremated ashes and compress them into man-made diamonds of the same quality as naturally occuring ones. I can picture in the future a conversation like the following being commonplace.

"So, what's your family history?"
"Oh, here, let me show you. This one here on my index finger is my great-grandfather Steve. He was a plumber. And this is Aunt Gertrude, she always loved purple. I think I lost Uncle Dan down the sink last week though."

I will both enjoy and fear those conversations. Something about "wearing" your ancestors is just bizzare.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A number of pages bound together...

That's what a book is. But a book is a lot more than that too. All the squiggly lines and such can really have a deep impact on you provided those squiggly lines are in good order. I thought I'd share with you some of the books I've read and try to convince you to read them.

Yes I realize that the last two posts have been pretty much a list of my favorite things in various catagories and I promise that eventually my posts will consist of more than that, but there's no harm in a little background is there? Getting to know me so you know why I'm the way I am? Delving into the deepest mysteries of the self? Ok, maybe a list of favorite books isn't my deepest self, but still...Yes I know you have the attention span of a flea, but...HEY! Fine I'll stop rambling. Books. GO!

SWORD OF TRUTH series by Terry Goodkind.
Absolutely without a doubt my favorite book series ever. I own every volume (of which there are 11) Each book is about a thousand pages long and each is fantastic. Well, except The Pillars of Creation, that one was kind of blah.
I picked up the first one on a shelf at my house because the cover was interesting and the book was very thick. (I enjoy a long read) "Wizards First Rule" it read. I assumed the cover meant wizards would be ruling over the populace, I was wrong. Anyway, I read it, enjoyed it, and went on to read other books by other authors. Then, nearly a half a year later I found the sequel to the book on another shelf at my house (we have a veritable library). The first book had been so well written I had not even realized it was part of a series. The end had wrapped things up nicely and I assumed that was it. I've never been happier about being wrong. The second book is the thickest in the series and just as good as the first. From then on I rabidly read through the whole series, borrowing them from the local library.
The books center around a man named Richard Cypher and a woman named Kahlan Amnell caught up in a fantasy whirlwind. The books get my seal of approval because each book reveals a new "Wizard's Rule" which are the rules (more like lessons) that wizards live by. These rules are applicable in normal life and are both obvious and profound at the same time. Goodkind doesn't just throw them at you as if they came out of a fortune cookie, instead he has you watch as his characters live out experiences which are ultimately governed by these lessons. In this way the reader comes to have an intimate understanding of the lessons such that they are more than just words.
Another element of this series that blows me away is the character development. If I met the main characters in real life I would not find them lacking in any human quality. They are so well rounded and without any cliches except those that I would expect to find even in reality.

I really could go on and on and on about this series, but I'll cap things off with this. I HIGHLY recommend this series to ANYONE who wants a good read. I've read the whole series at least three times and some individual books up to five times. In a series that totals over 11,000 pages, that tells you it must be good. If you're unsure about it, read the first book at least and if you like it, continue. If you don't like it, just please don't do this. I hold that book number six "Faith of the Fallen" is the best in the series. Only book to ever make me cry. In fact, now that I remember it, I will relate to you a brief story. I was reading one of the Sword of Truth books and I got up to do something else. I was extremely angry. Like, steam-out-the-ears angry. I was walking around for a few minutes when I thought to myself "why am I angry?" I then realized that the emotions of the characters in the book had been so realistic and I had gotten so involved with the characters that I was sharing their emotions. My point is that this series is amazing. Ok, I swear I'll stop ranting now.

Next book? I really shouldn't... How's this. I'll post the rest of my books in a few days with shorter summaries. This post is long enough.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Webcomics. They consume my soul. I don't mind.

Gone are the days where I could name every comic strip I knew of. Calvin and Hobbes, Peanuts, The Far Side, etc. Nowadays I keep up with six and a half webcomics. If you search "webcomics" on google, the first site you get returned has an index of more than 14,600 webcomics. FOURTEEN THOUSAND! Most are just badly scribbled jokes with limp punchlines. But with such a plethora to choose from, it isn't terribly hard to find a few gems in a short time. Here are my favorite comics starting with the best.

XKCD -"a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language" Definitely my favorite webcomic ever. Nationally acclaimed and self-supporting, Randall Munroe seldom fails to deliver an intelligent and witty comic.

Looking For Group - This comic is the most graphic novel-esque that I read. You can't really jump into the middle, but have to go back and start from the beginning. The comic blantantly makes fun of fantasy novels, movies, and MMORPG's while at the same time using such obscure references you have to be a fantasy geek to get them all. Very well executed with an interesting plot and a comic relief character who isn't annoying in the least. Also, I have Richard socks. My sister got them for me.


Dresden Codak - Very hard to follow sometimes with its high-intelligence standard but when I manage to understand everything it can be very funny. I only came upon this comic a few days ago and it doesn't seem to update with any regularity, otherwise it would be higher on my list. I recommend "Fabulous Prizes" or "Girl vs. Bear" for first time readers.

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Usually a single panel comic good for a quick laugh. Sometime the author is too exhausted to make a decently funny panel, and his updates are often late, but most of the time you get what you came for, a funny comic.

Cyanide and Happiness - This one is hit or miss. Some days I read it I laugh so hard my beard jiggles. Other days I just kinda sit there with a mildly disinterested face, and still others I am mildly offended. Still, with four different authors and animated shorts, its worth checking out.

Least I Could Do - Warning, this comic contains content that may not be suitable for children. This comic is both often politically incorrect and tasteful. I recommend reading it from the beginning to the end, it's interesting to watch both the characters and the author mature as time goes on. It portrays a realistic view of life without losing any comedic value. You really have to read them ALL to get the whole picture though. As I said though, it can be rather non-school-friendly at times

Ctrl+Alt+Del - I wasn't entirely sure about this comic at first, and many people view it as being only mildly funny and rather cliche. But I'm a notorious webcomic addict, and once I started reading I couldn't stop. Though I will admit that the current story arc is rather dull.

There are dozens of other webcomics I could list here, but that would officially eat up the remainder of my life......So I'll only mention two more...All Knowledge is Strange and the always consistent Dinosaur Comics. You'll notice I stopped adding pictures after the first two comics. This is due to a condition I like to call laziness.

Comics are how I unwind at home and they also provoke thought and provide insight into the world. So....check some out and come back in the next few days for an update including some must-read books.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Stix

Considering that my blog is entitled "SIR Isaac Stix" I figured I ought to inform you just why that is. When I was in seventh grade a friend of mine (Mike) brought a pair of homemade gravity sticks (or devil sticks) to school and showed them off. Naturally, everyone thought they were the coolest thing ever. Nobody was any good at them at that point, even Mike was only able to do a few simple tricks. Still, just seeing the concept performed was impressive.

For my next birthday Mike gave me my very own pair. Mike and his father would make pairs of gravity sticks and sell them. I figure I got the pair I did because nobody wanted to buy them. Not that they were defective, they were just pink and purple. Nevertheless I was extremely enthused with my gift and immediately set to practicing with them.

I was then immediately discouraged by my complete lack of ability. But as someone somewhere probably said at one point...
"Patience is talent and talent is patience."
 I much prefer that saying to "Practice makes perfect." Cause it doesn't always. You can practice all you want, but unless you are patient, you won't get anywhere. So I was patient, I worked on keeping that center stick in the air. Five years later and I can make jaws drop. I don't claim to be anywhere near the best but I consider myself to be a low-level pro.

My pink and purple pair are long gone, stolen a year after I recieved them. (I know, right? Who wants to steal pink and purple sticks?) I got another pair from Mike the following year, this time they were black and red with a skull pattern. Eventually they wore out from heavy use and I gave them away to a friend of mine (who hasn't really used them at all). After that I decided I needed something with a bit more durability and quality. So I fired up the interweb and bought myself a professionally made pair of the brand Lunastix.

For fourty bucks I got my very own Master set of Lunastix. I couldn't have been happier. Despite being very different in feel from the homemade pair they were easy to use and much more durable. That being said two years later they were pretty beat up. I had abused them more than I should have. Anyway, after one of the handsticks broke in half I upped the ante and bought one of each style of sticks from Lunastix. I now own a Wizard set, a new Master set, and a top-of-the line Equinox set. That's how I blew one half of my first ever paycheck.

Which brings me to today. I don't practice nearly as much as I used to, but that's mostly because all my hobby time is spent on video-related projects. Maybe in the future I'll combine the two and make some neat stuff.

And that is why It's SIR Isaac Stix. My initials are SIR, my middle name is Isaac, and gravity stix are a major part of my life.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Video Update

Just thought I'd update the blog with my current projects. I'm working on several right now, including...

The Hazards of Love music video

The Putt Putt Syndrome documentary

Mechuwana promotional video

Get Crackin' video contest

RamblerProduction demo reel

...and various other side-projects. As you can see, I've got a ton on my plate right now. The Hazards of Love is coming along nicely, I've wrapped fall filming and I'm going to start my winter shooting in a week or two. The editing of what footage I do have is a slow process. Today I worked on incorporating elements from videocopilot's "evolution" package into the prelude and interlude of the video. Rendering takes FOREVER, but the results are fantastic.

The Putt Putt documentary hit a major snag last week when the computer that had ALL the files crashed. Now, in our video production studio, we have four Mac Pro's dominating the room. Each is named after a famous director. Guess who died? Spielberg. I'm just glad that James Cameron is still solid, he's where I have all MY files.

We also have Quentin Tarintino and....well....another director.... anyway. I thought Macs were crash-proof or somesuch? Guess not. I really wish "kernel panic" meant a sudden fear of corn. All project files were lost except what we had already compressed which was almost nothing. Pat Flynn and I managed to swap out the terabyte drive from poor dead Speilburg and stick it in "another director." Problem solved right? Wrong! We failed to take into account that video projects are saved in bits and pieces all over a computer. Just swapping the one drive had left important files behind. We were unable to open the project ever again, despite many valiant attempts.

I finally managed to find all the raw files so we at least were able to avoid re-logging the ENTIRE mass of footage. (nearly 24 hours of video). (That's just a rough guess) (I don't actually know).

So Anna and I scrambled to re-edit the end credit sequence together again because Allen, the director, wanted them in Australia by, well, today. After a hectic day of font licensing and video wrangling I rendered, compressed, and uploaded the end credit sequence and shipped it to Allen. A process which took nearly four hours. I was at school till quarter to six. Darn good thing I enjoy this stuff, the janitors gave me funny looks when I left the building.

The Mechuwana promotional video has been sadly neglected as I've been working on all my other projects. But now that I've gotten the crashed computer crisis out of the way and The Hazards of Love is on a temporary hiatus due to Jack Frost I should have some time. I'll freely admit that most of what work I have finished on the PromotionAL video wiLl nOt be gOing in Ze finAl project, but in the secret side-project I created. I expect to have the actual video completed by Christmas. Just a matter of getting down to it.

Shaw and I came upon a SWEET video contest hosted by Wonderful Pistachios which asks for a fifteen or thirty second commercial on how to crack a pistachio. If we win we will recieve $25,000, an HD camera, and a years supply of pistachios.

I know, right? SWIMMING POOLS OF PISTACHIOS!

Hopefully that'll be filmed this week or next week.

Finally, Patrick Flynn and I have been talking about creating a demo reel to show off what Winthrop High video students can do. Now that we have the entire VideoCopilot collection along with the soon-to-be-delivered Adobe Production Premium we can really pull out all the stops.

Oh, one last thing! I've created a poster for The Perfect Crime. Here it is. If you want a full-size copy of the poster let me know! Just five bucks!


That's all for tonight!
-SIR

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Hazards of Love

As many of you may know, I am in the process of creating an hour long tribute to the Decemberists by turning their album "The Hazards of Love" into a live-action film. I'm a little less than halfway done filming it at the moment. Here is the trailer I created for the video.



Here we GO!

Well, I got my very own blog up and running. I'm actually not writing this to anyone but myself, as the blog is currently private. Once I get some decent amount of content up I'll open it up to the internet hordes. Just to give it a test, here's a link and a photo! Enjoy! Scratch that, photo isn't uploading. This is why the blog is still private, to work out the kinks. Well, maybe the link will work?

www.pandora.com

That worked. Pandora is a fantastic internet radio source, which only recently was forced to add audio ads and a listening cap. Still, an amazing site.

P.S. Click on the blog title for an amusing tidbit.