Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Furry Feet

1) Went to the gym twice this week. The showers at Ratner are much better than the one in my apartment. It's annoying to carry all the stuff back and forth, but hopefully one of the long term lockers will open up for me soon. Probably not until the Summer though.

2) It was a slow week at work and so I had time to do some catch-up work and cross projects off my page-long list of projects that are over a month old.

3) I came across another lego job I'm not applying for this week. It was sorting and managing legos which would be fun, but probably not very rewarding.

4) Stephanie got me some awesome bear slippers for Christmas.

5) I tried using the milk crate that is bungeed to my bike rack to carry groceries home for the first time this week. Everything seemed to be going fine for the first twenty seconds I was pedaling and then I heard something snap. The head of one of the bungee cords flew off and then my crate of groceries tipped off to one side. Luckily I had bungees on the top of the crate as well, so they didn't fall out all over Southport. Still it was a very close call. I will have to investigate the bungee/crate interface before I try to use it again.

6) What I read this week:
Nameless by Sam. It's a novel in progress. It flowed better than The Dead Isle overall, but was not as much fun. It's got some great moments, but there's a lot of awkward parts.

7) Television:
Dr. Who - The Poison Sky and The Doctor's Daughter. Too much Martha and not enough Donna. They did not do the Doctor's daughter well.

Dollhouse - It's definitely getting into it's stride. There were several interesting moments this episode, even if the show does get really Joss-y until episode 6. I just hope it gets enough viewers to get picked up for a second season so he can really do something with it. Although I guess it could still get cut off just when everything's getting complicated and super awesome like Pushing Daisies.

8) Video Games:
Wii Fit - I'm still doing this, it's works really well as a complement to my visits to the gym. And as I predicted, the completionist in me has kept me coming back to exercises I would have otherwise given up on trying to get a perfect score.

Samba de Amigo Wii - I got this because Amazon was selling it for $10 and I had alwats been some what intrigued by this series. The controls are not as good as they should be, but it's fun and colorful. Definitely worth $10.

9) Movies:
Great Mouse Detective - I finally saw Tiffany's favorite movie. Ironically we watched right after watching an episode of House. Vincent Price voiced the villain = lovely. The showdown in Big Ben was really intense.

Coraline - Absolutely incredible from a technical / visual standpoint. I don't think it's as infinitely rewatchable as the Nightmare Before Christmas, but I definitely want to get it as soon as it comes out on DVD.

10) Lego Stuff:
I now have every color of Rock Monster. Now I just need to build them a paradise...

I built Steve Deepsea's flowery wall for his intro song.

Then when I was watching SNL I decided I should build something else that needed to be built for NNN episode 1 while i was watching it. I realized that I needed to make buildings/skyscrapers to populate New Block City. Of course I wasn't going to build them to minifig scale. Instead I was going to build them "microscale." The first building turned out alright, I guess, it took about 15 minutees of fiddling.

Then I had an idea for another building and started building it and then it sort of got out of hand and SNL ended and then a couple hours later this is what my living room looked like.

I finished up a rough draft of it this afternoon. I didn't have enough yellow for the whole thing, so I had to substiture in some white bricks. I think it looks pretty cool. I present TilesVision Stuios Tower, the building where NNN is filmed/produced.

However, it is clearly at a different sacle than the blue building. So I quickly built a smaller scale version.

Green Commercial Poll 2

I got some comments about the last poll that the Classic cast wasn't realyl as Classic as it could be and the Green Cast wasn't as green as it could be. So I made some modifications. The contemporary cast has already been relocated to the stadium.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

In no particular order

1) Lego Beauty and the Beast music box. Now at first glance this may seem cool, but not mind-blowing. Let's look at the detailed supporting characters. I can't even tell you how Belle is put together. And let's overlook the fact that beast has a wookie head and never forget this is a working music box.

On a similar note, check out the Queen of Hearts Castle.

2) The only lego thing I made this week is this crater for the green commercial.

3) However it was a very productive week in terms of writing for my animations. While walking along the streets I came up with a song for the opening of a sequel to The Franky Job and the beginning of a book written by a character in the spin-off from NNN.

"I've seen such things
I've seen the end
I've seen the world
Painted red

I saw them come
And paint it white
They didn't stay
To paint it right

I've seen such things
Such things I've seen
I've seen such things
I can't believe

I've seen my hope
Slip away
I see the blood
Every day

I've seen such things
Such things I've seen
I've seen it all
It seems to me"

"Even as I write this, I know I've written it before; countless different "I"s have written this exact sentence and meant everything that it is possible for it to mean and then some. There is nothing that hasn't been written to exhaustion, but still I write, if only to discover what I mean by this."

I also finished the rough draft of script of episode 2. Devoted readers will see that this episode contains the police commercial they voted on oh so long ago. I also wrote a scene in episode 3, it's the first scene with the Eye of Eyes.

4) More important even than all that writing was the fact that I finally cut together a rough edit of the voicetrack for episode 1. A few of the voices are actaully finall, but for the rest I just did a quick read through so I could get a sense of time. It looks the episode is going to run about 15 minutes. Which is 13,500 pictures I have to take before June. Better get started.

It was fun listening to the voices Stephanie and Lila recorded. Hearing the outtakes and them talking and laughing with me in between.

5) Speaking of how awesome Stephanie is, here's some stuff we did. We watched more DW and are loving Donna more and more with each episode. We also got to the end of AD, a bittersweet moment. "It's like we finish each others-" "Sandwiches?" Stephanie also compared my apartment to a gingerbread house (as in a place full of childish delights), thus my apartment has been nicknamed. When she came over she brough heart-shaped vanilla creme peeps. Delicious!

6) Finished re-reading the Amber Spyglass. I had forgotten how much I love Mary and the mulefa. Also Balthamos. And other stuff I won't spoil for Tiffany.

7) Some side effects of my trip to Ithaca were that I got to eat some Philly Pretzels and relive some Governor school memories as I sorted through a shoebox full of stuff from it.

8) And then of course there was the main effect of the trip, hanging out with my family and eating so much delicious food (eggs and sausage and potatoes, salmon and rice salad and potatoes, cookies and cake, tomato basil pizza, fruit plate, sushi, etc.) and sleeping in and generally having a ball.

9) And most of that revolved around Isaiah and his 2nd birthday party. I enjoyed playing with all his cars and trucks (which he can name very accurately), making tunnels, helping him pass out stickers etc. He really like the train I got him, so that makes me happy. Here are all the videos I took. For comparison, check out the videos from last year's party here.

10) Watching late night TV with JP. On Friday night we watched the last episode of Conan. And on Saturday night we watched 2 SNLs and The Soup.

Green Commercial Poll

So the clear winner of the last poll was the Thunder Driller. Fear not, those of you who voted for the others. I will buy them eventually. It's just a matter of time.

Anyway, on to the current poll. This one is a little more involved. The post below this one is the script for a commercial that will be appearing in the first episode of NNN, in summary it's a commercial talking about how great the color green is. I was trying to make the cast for this commercial, but I couldn't decide which way it should go, so I made three possible casts and now I need you to help me choose.

I started by making a cast that was very monochrome and didn't use any bold colors except for the obligatory yellow. But I was torn whether the figures should have the "classic" look (as if they were from lego sets in 80s) or a more contemporary design. So I made one of each. Then I also thought, well maybe since this is a commercial promoting Green, they should all be wearing as much green as possible. But maybe that's overkill? I don't know. This is why I'm leaving it up to you. The figures on the left are the "Classic" the middle is "Contemporary" and the right is "Green!" Whatever figures don't get chosen will just end up in the staduim since I still need to fill that up.




Town Girl:

Town Guy:

Also: I could not decide on the horse or saddle color.

Green Commercial

A noble knight riding his noble steed in a noble (and very green) forest

In every forest...

A shot of a space man investigating a weird green bush growing inside a crater

In every crater...

A shot of a woman planting green things in a garden

In every garden...

Three quick close ups on the green thing from each of the last three shots


A shot of a jovial green troll helping a princess set the banquet tabl

In every castle...

A shot of a green robot helping a spaceman fix a bulkhead

In every ship...

A shot of a man using with a green piece of machinery

In every home...

Again three quick close ups of those green things


The green troll disassembles and reassembles as a bridge that unites the noble knight and the princess.

For every need...

Green bricks build themselves into a sofa for the couple

For every day...

Green bricks build an entire base for the spacemen (or something simpler to animate)

For everything...

A scene full of green things.

Green. A better color for better building.

Paid for by the council determined to prove that green is awesome.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

10 creations

So there were a lot of cool things that happened this week. It was really warm one day (in the 60s!), Stephanie and I start watching the 4th Season proper of Dr.Who and Donna is awesome, NSIT gave us permission to centralize all the media on campus, Heroes is enjoyable again and Dollhouse has some promise, Sam has started posting another original novel, I read the Subtle Knife (for the second time), and this narwhal video is amazing. However, my 10 things are all going to be things I made or helped make this week, because there are a lot of them and creating might be my favorite activity.

1) Let's start with the lego stuff. I made this forest set for the NNN pilot. It will be used for three parts: the intro sequence, the pre-green commercial and the anti-green commercial.

2) Going along with the forest in the anti-green commercial will be this Goblichaun and trick treasure chest.

3) The Goblichaun also accidentally led to the creation of this villain who will be in a line-up of 4 villains with green costumes in the anti-green commercial. I call him the Pine Baron.

4) This guy was mostly finished, but I added some finishing touches this week. I don't know what he's supposed to be, but he sort of reminded me of the rabbit from Donnie Darko, so I call him Frank.

5) Some of you will remember a previous poll where you had to vote on the eyes of a robot. This is the Pinchbot Landingbot:

The front panel folds down to unleash the Pinchbot army.

Here's a picture to give you a sense of the relative sives of all the Pinchbot troops

6) I then built an Octopus Machine. Malifios uses this in one of his failed attempts to destroy the city.

It has a big important lever for him to throw.

I would suggest seeing this in action to get the full effect. Warning: it's kind of mesmerizing. Now no matter what else happens in my life, at least I can say I've made an octopus machine.

7) When I saw this contest, I knew I had to enter something. I got out all my handtrucks (8) and started playing around with them. However, it was Stephanie who looked at one and said "It looks like a deck chair." This was a much better idea than mine (stripes in a giant's shirt, a red Eiffel Tower) so I stole it and made this.

Here are the variations I went through to arrive at it:

8) Per your votes I purchased the Thunder Driller this week and Stephanie and I put it together. Here are some pictures:

We really like the rock monsters. :)

9) For work this week I got to film a "parade." It was not as grandiose as I was hoping, but still, how often do you see a 15 foot papier-mache iguana?

10) I helped Fire Escape make this webpage. They supplied the the image and the text, so all I really did was create the .html, but still I realize that is a skill that not everybody has and it's cool that it's so easy for me to make something like this.

11) I tried a couple new recipes this week: Rosemary Chicken and Vegtables al Forno (from the Occasional Vegetarian). They both turned out well. I altered the chicken recipe as some of the comments suggested, cut the rosemary in half, increase the lemon juice a little and put a half a cup of chicken broth in the pan. It made it very moist. I think it could have used a little more garlic and I might try marinating the chicken before hand to see if that makes the flavor more pervasive. The vegtables were good, as Stephanie pointed out "they tasted like vegetables", which is good when you have good vegetables, I guess I was expecting something a little more from them. The thyme didn't seem to do anything. I mean the vegetables were tasty, it just didn't seem like much of a recipe, chop up a bunch of vegetables add some minimal spice/oil and cook them in a casserole dish in the oven for an hour and half.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

20 is the new 10

1) Almost exactly a year ago I came across a job description that sounded like it was made just for me. It involved designing lego models for an upcoming lego video game. I worked myself like crazy for a month training myself in Lego Digital Designer to develop my portfolio as well as working on a cover letter and lego resume. Anyway, I obviously never got the job, although I talked to a NetDevil employee and found out there were complications with that position and they were holding off on hiring, but that was back in June. Anyway, the point is that this week the brothers brick posted about an opening for an almost identical job. It's in England, and I have no desire to move there, so I didn't bother applying, even though I basically already have an application ready. It's nice to know that there is demand (however miniscule) for this type of thing and maybe some day I'll find a way to get paid to play with legos.

2) Pasta thing with spices > pasta thing without spices. I realize that "pasta thing" is not a very descriptive name for a recipe. It has pasta and pito and kidney beans and carrots and tomatoes and onion and spices (which Stephanie neglected to mention when she gave me the recipe, so for qute a while I was making it wrong). It's very tasty. Krista, Tiffany and Seth agreed. Then there was some Warioware and World of Goo.

3) After googling the phrase "fancy schmancy" I accidentally came across the World's Smallest Postal Service & a hilarious misunderstanding.

4) I Lego NY - Guess how many people sent this link to me. (Answer below) My favorite was Talya's comment "this is lame, but it made me think of you beacuse you could do so much better than this, it's not funny At All. "

5) We had a really productive production meeting after the AnswerMedia tour/salespitch. It meant that I was at work for over 10 hours, but I made up for that by leaving early the next day.

6) About the only thing I had energy for that night was to watch Heroes and The Office on hulu. I'm cautiously optimistic about the remainder of this season. They seem to have removed a lot of the extraneous characters and plotlines that made me stop watching earlier this season. There was also an appropriate amount of kick-assery and absolutely no voice-over by Moyawnder.

7) On wednesday night I went to my very first rock concert. Stephanie and Ashleyt and I went to see Ludo. If you have never heard any of their songs I suggest you start with Broken Bride (beat). It's a rock opera about time travel, there are pteradactyls and zombies, nuff said. I do not suggest you watch the video that accompanies the music on any of the links I just gave you. Anyway, the concert was pretty cool. Some silly teenagers gave up the best spot in the whole place so we were able to stand at the very center of the balcony and look down upon the whole theater.

I'd say their set was 1/3 awesome (stuff from Broken Bride, Lake Pontcharchain, Love me dead), 1/3 meh and 1/3 really emo.

8) I started and finished "A Lion Among Men" this week. It was good, but not quite as good as Wicked or Son of a Witch. It did some tie up some loose ends, and I did enjoy the Lion's story, but it felt very lazily cobbled together, there were some wonderful bits, but they were sporadic at best. Wicked and Son of a Witch had numerous strong characters, but this was a book about a coward. And while it makes sense for him to shy away from all conflict, it doesn't make for the most compelling narrative.

9) Went to Lambda Legal's "Freedom to Marry" reception on Thursday with JJ. We got a nice walk in on the way there. The gay comedy troupe was funny and it reminded me just how outrageous it is that gay couples don't have access to the same rights as straight couples in this country. I don't care what it gets called. They can have the word marriage for all I care, but right now a domestic partnership/civil union simply doesn't convey the same rights as a marriage does.

10) My paper mind & the Bonaroo line-up animation are made with a process even more time consuming that stop-motion animation. It involves making frame by frame paper cut outs and then lining them up nad photographing them. Tedious! But very cool.

11) Had a meeting with the new manager of digital communications about how our office works. Once he understood how fragile our current situation is (in terms of what we'd lose if there was a fire or server crash) he got this look in his eyes that I'm sure I have had in mine many times. He also seemed intent on getting hte centralized media server, so that's awesome. It's nice to have someone to act on these issues for us. We certainly don't have the time.

12) My last Christmas present arrived this week! I borught Wii Fit on friday night and promptly set it up and started "playing" it. I mean it's techinally a video game, but when I am doing push-ups, even if it's on a big ole peripheral and I am getting points, I am still doing push-ups. There are four distinct parts: Yoga, which does not really synergize with video game mechanics well, becuase it's nearly impossible to relax and focus on the pose when the game keeps beeping at you. Stregth Training, which includes push-ups and lunges and other similar exercises. Balance Games, which are the least work-outy, but the most fun. Aerobics are the most heartrate increasing, and somewhere in between strength trainging and blance games on the fun-serious spectrum.
Here is JP playing one of hte balance games, and Leo doing one of the aerobic exercises. I must say that I was even worse than Leo at the hula hoops, and while I'm better now, I still usually fail.

13) Story of stuff

14) Spent a couple hours composing the "Fourth Anniversary" poem, that's directly below this post. It mostly just tumbled out of me that way. There was very little editing, it was almost pure catharsis. Dom once told me, "I write because writing poetry is like drugs for me. It makes me forget things that I don't want to think about. I transform my emotion into a neat little package, and then it can't bother me." I don't think it quite works like that for me, but I definitely felt a relief after I finished.

15) Then I quickly flipped to the other end of hte creativity spectrum and made this little vignette I call ROCK-et Science

16) You've got to see this lego kimono

17) Used a itunes gift card to buy another Bad Plus Album and some Brad Mehldau songs.

18) The weather was wonderfully warm this weekend!

19) I tried a recipe Jenny gave me for thefirst time. It's called Ithaca Artichoke Medley, basically you take chopped artichoke hearts and red pepper, some minced garlic and toss them with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and salet and pepper. Then you melt some brie and on french bread and put the mix on top. It's delicious. And even though it's obivously an appetizer type thing, it was my dinner yesterday and my lunch today.

20) 30 rock was increidble this week. "Sometimes she comes at me with a knife because of the silver frenzy." made me laugh so hard and so long that I had to pause the episode lest I miss everything that followed after.

21) I spent a good portion of today uploading videos from Christmas vacation to my personal youtube. Most of them feature Isaiah.

Fourth Anniversary

The first year with my head above water
I see the world clearly now
I still don't think it's better off without you
How are you doing without the world?
Is it everything you hoped?

We were so young and so alive
No, we were just young and alive
But still, we were young and alive
And that's more than some can say
Some people can't even speak

She still shudders to think of you
Maybe she's jump-starting her memory
She laughs now, in scorn and sorrow
"What a fool! How could he? I loved him."
She means half and twice of what she says
Her smiles betray her careful teeth
They shine as much as ever

You run wild in her dreams
So young and so dead
She is making amends
Yet you always evade her

He is making a name for himself
The old one didn't suit him anymore
He clawed free and left it limp on the curb
He's looking for the words you gave him
They could be anywhere by now
His voice has retreated into his head
Even whispering gives him a headache

You burn in his scars
He thinks of you less than he'd like
And more than he'll admit
You are still his best friend

They are up and down as always
No wonder we called them see&saw
One admits the other's refuse
They bitch and gush, hug and rend
One moves out, one moves on
They spin around a whirlpool truth
You might have been the bridge across it

You are their fulcrum
The connection where they diverge
Without you to separate them
They find nothing in common

I'm part of the city skyline now
You'll find my gangly silhouette against the dawn
Steadfast alongside my fellow rectangles
At night I wink my tiny eyes at strangers
Inviting them to discover me piecemeal
The sky and lake seem one endless expanse
I'm just another point of light in it

You shatter in my mind
I sweep the shards together
Try to see you again
All I see is myself

We hide in the familiar
Our eyes scour strangers
They are never you
The days cry out
This this this this
This is the world
In which we live

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Which lego set should I buy next?

Now that I have gone to see the optometrist, I am allowed to buy lego sets again. (Let's ignore the fact that I did buy a few small sets before I saw the optometrist, anything under $10 hardly qualifies as a purchase, I might as well be buying lunch! And if I buy several of these things at once, it's only because the stamp on the lego reward program card requires a purchase of $25. And of course Bricklink purchases for specific pieces I need for my next animation are another matter entirely and thus outside of this rule.) I am torn between 3 sets, so I thought I'd submit it to a vote. I have included links to the lego store and the reasons I am considering each one, in case you want to take that into account.

Thunder Driller

This drill is by far the coolest Power Miners set. It just looks awesome. You should know that when you roll it the drill spins, and even cooler, there are two pieces of the drill that spin in opposite directions. I also just love those adorable little rock monsters. And getting orange pieces is always a good thing.

Shipwreck Hideout

This set is the modern day counterpart of one of my very first lego sets, Forbidden Island. It also comes with a kick-ass female pirate.

Female lego figures are increasing in number these days, but they are still relatively rare, and most of them are damsels in distress and have the screaming/scared face to prove it. Not this pirate gal though, she has that smug/sly smile and on the pictures on the back of the box is unloosing all the cool traps of the hideout like the collapsing bridge and skull chute.

Shanghai Chase

This set which is based on the opening of Temple of Doom has a lot of great minifig pieces. The gangsters have great suits and and hats and have asian faces which are rarer than female figures (you want to talk about rare though, the only female asian fig is the out of production Ninja Princess - sells for about $20-$40). Indy also has a great suit on and Short Round has those great tiny legs and another asian face. Willie, of course, has a damsel in distress type face:

But what else would you expect from her? Her hairpiece, little tiara, tiara are all great. And of course, the cars themselves are pretty cool.

So there you have it, now go and vote in the poll! In case of a tie I will just have to buy all the winners :)

One set that I really want, but which I did not put up for consideration is Medival Market.

It costs as much as the other three sets combined. I am going to hold off on any purchases of this scale until Brickworld, because then there's the chance I can get them at 50% off and if not that, at least 20%. Still it's very tempting.