Monday, October 28, 2013

Personalization

I just got this email...

Dear Spencer Roberts,
I hope this Monday finds you well, and recovering from the weekend! We had a crazy weekend here, watching our USC Gamecocks pull off a stunner in Missouri Saturday night! I think that game left EVERYBODY in shock - the Gamecocks waited to start a comeback from 17-0 with only a few minutes left on the clock, then went all the way thru the last seconds of overtime to win it - what a game! That said, my house is a divided camp - some of us grew up in Clemson Tiger territory, so fall weekends can be brutal on the home-life!
Ah well.....back to work.....Just a few weeks ago, you made a purchase from us online (via our Amazon Prime store), and I want to check up on it.
According to our records your purchase was for the following: Apple Remote Remote Control


(The rest of the email is what you would expect from a purchase followup. It asks me to rate my satisfaction and such)

I really don't care about basketball. That's about basketball right? I don't know who the "Gamecocks" are. The only sport I want to understand is Calvinball. Anyway, I just thought this was the strangest attempt to "personalize" a business email I've ever seen. It did grab my attention I suppose.


Countdown to NaNo: 3 Days!

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Grim November

Wait for it.....



Wait for it...........




I'M DOING NANOWRIMO!

You might be asking "If he's so excited about this why is this post titled 'A Grim November'?" It's an allusion to the topic of my novel. However, I will throw away any pretense of suspense now and tell you that my novel is based on the dungeon-crawler The Legend of Grimrock. I promise the actual novel will have suspense. 

I suppose you also might be asking "What the heck is NaNoWriMo?" If you are, look at that image again silly. Here's the gist of it. From November 1st to November 30th I will attempt to write 50,000 words that in some way resemble a novel.

I've already got a bit of a head start on it because I'm also using the novel as a piece to turn in for my creative writing class. Which is a bit cheaty but NaNoWriMo is really more about getting your butt in gear to write something than it is following the rules. That said I am going to try and write 50,000 more words than I already have in my novel.

I'm only loosely basing my novel on the game. Both the game and my story start with four prisoners being taken to the top of Mount Grimrock. They are being given a final chance to live. If they can survive the descent into the mountain from the pit at the top they will be granted pardon. They are pushed in. After the first chamber the game and my story split (although after that the game doesn't really have much of a story, it's just hack and slash and puzzle.) I might use pieces of the endgame but to be honest it was kind of a crappy ending. I'm also doing a bit of world building using the map provided by the game's creators as a guide.

My sister (who is apparently way cooler than I am) has managed to get TEN of her coworkers to try NaNoWriMo this year. You can check in on my progress on my NaNoWriMo page or in a widget on the side of my blog.

Wish me luck!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Three Brothers

This semester I have the unimaginable privilege of contributing to the lore of one of the most popular fantasy worlds of all time. The world of Harry Potter.

After two years of negotiations one of my video teachers here at NESCom announced to a collection of the students here that he had obtained the rights from Warner Bros. to film a short based on J.K. Rowling's short story "The Tale of the Three Brothers."

By the time the semester started and I arrived at school there was already a script in place and auditions were scheduled for the end of the first week of school. We had 43 people show up to audition and even more contacted us, usually from across the country or the Atlantic.

Since then it's been a whirlwind of planning, meeting with the cast, and long days of shooting. Well, two long days of shooting. We are only shooting on Saturdays. My friend Brandon Doyen is directing the short, Jim (my old roommate) is DP. My job is key grip. Which means I'm handling a lot of lighting and other gear like dollies and jibs. 

Just yesterday I woke up at 4:45 AM to make it to crew call at 5:30. We loaded up the equipment by the light of the full moon and set out in a caravan of five to the town of New Portland. Our destination was a beautiful suspension bridge built in 1866. 

When we arrived we discovered that our equipment truck exceeded the maximum weight limit for the bridge so we had to carry our equipment across by hand. We filmed the entire day. The poor camera crew didn't even get a chance to eat because we were so strapped for time. We could only close the bridge down from noon to five PM. Even after five we still filmed several more wide shots of the bridge, asking our actors to step aside whenever a car happened by.

By 3:30 we were fighting the fading light and had to invent some creative solutions, including working the light level difference directly into the script.

We finally wrapped around quarter to six with all our shots and some b-roll.

If you're interested in following the film as it progresses I've been using the hashtag #3Brothers and #NESCOM on Twitter. You can also check back on the official NESCom page, as it updates frequently.

If you ever visit the bridge for yourself you might find a small piece of graffiti hidden amidst the thousands of tourist notes scrawled into the bridge with a line from the script about the bridge.
Below is the animated clip from the seventh Harry Potter film depicting the Tale of the Three Brothers. We are giving the story our own twist but I don't think we'll upset any Harry Potter fans with our version except those who insist on perfect canon.



Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Old Cell Phones are the BEST

Normally I don't blog more than once per day (or lets be honest, once every few months) but I've got deadlines to make folks! A side effect of being gone all weekend is I didn't get the chance to update my blog the requisite number of times for my social media class.

Everybody - "But Spencer, why don't you just update your blog from your smartphone?"

Me - "..."

Everybody - "You do have a smartphone, right?"

Me - "It used to look pretty smart..."

Motorola W385:
Before and After

That's right folks, I've been using the same phone for nearly six years. No it can't access the internet but it does respond to voice commands. And yes, I have carved designs into the paint.

In all seriousness though, having an old phone is great. I know people who burn through a smartphone every few months, or as soon as the old one inevitably develops spiderweb cracks all over the touchscreen. My phone has key components made out of metal, not plastic, so it is extremely durable, as evidenced by its age.

I had to replace the charger and battery recently. The battery had swelled to the point where I could not close the battery compartment. Replacement cost? Nine dollars.

The DynaTAC (better known as the brick) is the first commercially available cell phone and it became available in 1984. That's only twenty-nine years ago. I've had my phone for somewhere between five or six of those years. I've had my phone for nearly twenty percent of the entire time cell phones have existed.

Time to go link it to my Twitter account. 

Fling into Fall

I visited my mother in Searsport over Columbus Day break. It's a nice town on the coast with lots of great businesses and events happening all the time. While I was there Searsport was celebrating their  annual "Fling into Fall" with hayrides, craft fairs, graveyard tours, scarecrow contests, and more. It was great fun. Whilst wandering around Kelly and I ran into WABI TV5 and were interviewed for a hard-hitting story about the festival. You can watch the news story here. For some reason the audio doesn't work but the transcript is right beneath it.

My mother was one of the entrants into the scarecrow competition with her "Preacher Polly" who I assume would preach to the crows until they fell asleep in the pews. (Kidding, Mom.) Preacher Polly was so popular she was presented a purple ribbon! Er...blue ribbon. Got carried away with the consonance there. 1st prize in the individual category.

I also helped my grandmother clean out some of her storage unit on Monday. Found my grandfathers old HP computer. That brings my computer count up to eleven I think. When I finished digging through the box of computer stuff I found a gold coin stuck in the cardboard at the bottom.

Can you see the currency denomination on the bottom there? Apparently the US used to make TONS of two and a half dollar coins. Go figure. This one could be worth up to $200. Though I don't expect I'd get more than $100 if I tried to sell it. Anybody interested?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Brace Yourselves.....

Social Media Marketing is coming.

My class requires me to start using this blog again. That's probably a good thing. I do not know what the posts will consist of but I will start putting some more stuff up here soon.

In related news I've had to acquire or update loads of online profiles. So, if you're interested in being the biggest stalker of Spencer Roberts in the history of ever, click the links below.

Facebook
Google+
Youtube
Tumblr
Twitter
IMDB
LinkedIn


There are data packets running through my bloodstream.