Monday, May 25, 2009

Here's what I've been up to for the past few days

Spoiler alert: this is rough footage from the pilot episode of NNN. If you'd rather wait until the whole thing's finished to see it, you shouldn't watch this.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Meals w/ Girls of College Past

1) Ben, who is by far the best videographer at our office, complemented some of the things I've filmed for this video about students with scholarships. My camera skills are definitely the thing I feel least secure about at my job so it was nice to hear this. Also, I was shooting like crazy for this project this week and thus had weird hours and was feeling cranky about it, so if it weren't for this compliment I wouldn't be mentioning it at all.

2) Started watching Avatar: The Last Airbender through Netflix instant queue. Tiffany, Seth and Krista always rave about the show so I decided it was about time. It's a cartoon show made for Nickelodeon, and there are certain times when that is obvious and annoying, but generally it's awesome. The animation of the various "bending" techniques (essentially magic) is all very cool and the over arching plot is epic and awesome, but the one-off episodes and some of the humor I could do without. It's the perfect sort of thing to watch with breakfast on the weekend mornings, or while I'm chopping vegetables, folding laundry etc.

3) Rode my bike to work on Tuesday. The weather was gorgeous. It's about 13 miles and it took about an hours and 15 minutes, which compared to a ~50 minute train ride is not bad at all, especially when you add on the 40 minutes I would spend if I went to gym, and the fact that I can probably improve on that time as riding to work becomes a regular thing. I was thinking about leaving my bike there and riding back another day, but Tiffany and Seth had also rode down to Hyde Park and were going to ride back so I went along with them which made riding at night a much more pleasant experience that it would otherwise have been. And while I was pretty beat on returning home and my leg muscles were sore the next day it was not as bad as I was expecting considering 25 miles in a day.

3) On wednesday I had breakfast at Salonica with Maria Cecire, who I knew from Fire Escape and who was on campus for a few days to talk to current students about her experience as a Rhodes Scholar. She is at Oxford studying children's literature and medivalism and gets to do awesome stuff like invite Philip Pullman to speak at conferences she's putting on. So we caught up and talked about video on the internet, communication in the age of the internet, twitter (which I joined, though I still don't quite get), the U of C culture, feminism, otherization and villification in children's lit and legos and many other interesting topics. It was very cool.

She urged me to write an academic paper about the shift in lego representations of villians and get it published in a journal, if only so she could cite it in her article about similar issues in children's literature. And while it's a cool idea, I have no idea how to even begin going about this. The social sciences are a complete mystery to me. She said she was going to look into some journals that might be looking for something like that, so I guess I 'll see if she comes up with anything, but I've got plenty of side-projects going on already so I'm not going to actively pursue this until I've at least completed one full episode of NNN.

4) Ari also happened to be in Chicago this week. She has been in Japan teaching English for the past year and will continue there next year. She came over to my place for dinner on Wednesday with Seth, Tiffany and Krista. Potato flag was had (one of them was made to look like Japan's flag in her honor) and we talked about Ari's expereinces in Japan, Avatar the last airbender, Harry Potter, Gandalf vs. Merlin vs. Dumbledore (not the potential fight, but their relative merits) and various other things. We also had pear cider and nut brown ale and peanut butter cup cookies/sour patch kids (for Tiffany, who is foolish and doesn't like peanut butter). It was a fun night.

5) Also had lunch with Charlotte Soesanto, who I met through Fire Escape and was one of the creators/animators of Food Fight and did a voice or two in Lego Movie 2.33. She also was in Japan the previous year (learning) and will be there next year (teaching). We ate outside on the upstairs deck at the Med and I got chicken quesadillas with guacamole. We talked about the NNN mythos, magic, shamanism and shiatsu, avant garde dancing, yoga, mediataion, wikinarratives etc.

6) I've been working on a new mix CD (my first since college ended I think) which I have entitled Trip Hop Exploration 1. I've come to realize that Trip Hop is one of my favorite music genres, and should be better represented in my music library. This first CD was my attempt to map where it already existed within my collection so that I had fodder to create a Pandora station that will allow me to find new music in the same vein. I was able to find most of the CD/playlist as youtube videos (that link above), but if you want a copy of the CD just let me know. I just burned one for Tiffany.

7) I did a little animating on Friday night.

8) Saw Star Trek with Stephanie, Paul and JJ on saturday. It was totally awesome. Go see it. <3 Zachary Quinto. Also, everybody else. It was hilarious and fun.

9) Talked to Adam. He's going to grad school in Sweden (all education is free for everyone there apparently) starting this fall. We talked tentatively about plans for me to drive out to the farm where he works and then to drive together to the beach house my parents are renting at the Jersey shore for a week in June.

10) Other stuff I watched this week: Babe Pig in the City which JP had recommened to me long ago but I had forgotten about until I saw it on the AV Club. I can see why he says it's one of his top five movies of all time. The action sequences are miraculously absurd rube goldbergian nightmares. The characters are weird yet endearing, and it's always satisfying to see the little pig with the big heart win. More Buffy the vampire Slayer: Buffy gets a job, the party that never ends, a rape metaphor that isn't so much a metaphor, and the brief return of Riley (ho hum). The 30 Rock season finale was also wonderful. A musical extravaganza!

I watch a lot of TV shows

1) I read The Big Over Easy this week. Basically it = Detective story + Nursery Rhymes + Metacommentary on Detective stories. The sort of mash-up that's right up my alley. Unfortunately it wasn't pulled off too well. There were some funny parts and a few really cool images - the pyschopathic straightjacketed gingerbreadman being escorted through the locked down insane asylum and then turning to wink at the protagonist was incredibly creepy for instance. But a lot of the times there were gaps and leaps and while the ending was pretty strong, it dragged it's way there. I think it was trying to hard to be clever sometimes. Still it was enjoyable and kept me entertained to and from work this week.

2) Watched The Triplets of Belleville through the power of Netflix and at teh bidding of the Av Club. It was quite good. There's basically no diologue, so the animation really takes the forefront. It's really high quality stuff. I think my favorite scene might be when the Triplets are reintroduced in the present. The grandmother seems to summon them from the depths of the night. (Starting at 6:40 here.)

3) I really enjoyed the Dollhouse finale. I thought it did a good job of giving some resolution to some of the arcs from this season and opening up new ones. I just really hope it gets a second season so they can explore the ideas and characters more fully. The show's got a lot of potential, but we've only got like 6 good episodes so far. It's not like Firefly where you can almost be okay with the fact that there's so few episodes, becuase they're all really solid.

4) Got to film a little bit of Scav Hunt. check out the list. It has things like Bonsai Yggdrasil, a bowling ball that plays mp3s, a beard of bees, a smellophone etc.

5) Custom lego stovepipe hats

6) The Bricks in Motion directory finally launched. The brickfilming community has been lacking something like this for almost a year now.

7) We made significant headway into season three of the Wire this Saturday. Omar is still my favorite (as if anyone else stood a chance).

8) Watched another disc of Buffy the Vampire slayer, I finally caught up to hte point where I left off, so now I am seeing new (to me) episodes again. James Marsters has been shirtless in a lot of them. That is alright by me. Also I appreciated the whole drugs/magic metaphor for Willow, but then they had her do magic that was just a drug. While I do appreciate a good trippy sequence, I feel like they could have accomplished the same thing with a bit more subtlety than that.

9) Not having to stay egregiously late last monday thanks to Mead and Joe.

10) Went on a tour of Pixel Brothers with Fire Escape and went back later in the week for a (mostly worthless) seminar about viral video. They have some cool technology though. Hopefully we'll be able to work something out with them and make use of their Media Baker (client feedback and project management tool) or Media on Demand (you can set up a website so anyone can order a copy of your DVD and then it gets printed and shipped to them within 48 hours... by robots!) etc.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Win this awesome quilt by my mom!

As you may know, my mom is a quilting fiend. I mean you think I'm crazy into legos, but my lego addiction is merely a poor shadow of her quilting addiction, she's got fabric spilling out of every room in the house and always has about 6 quilts in various stages of completion. Well she recently completed one (~20 years after she started it) and is now raffling it off to raise money for Relay for Life.

I think the pictures of the quilt tell you everything you need to know, but here's what my mom had to say about it. "It is 73" x 88" - perfect for a twin bed but works on larger beds as well." Tickets are $2 each or 3 for $5. The easiest way to buy them is to go to her personal page and click donate. Remember to put in your name and a note saying that the donation is for raffle tickets. If you're feeling old fashioned, you can also send her a check. They should be made out to the American Cancer Society and mailed to
Linda Pickett
224 Windsor Way
Doylestown PA, 18901
The drawing will take place on May 30th, so all donations need to be in by May 29th.

I know many of you have commented on the coolness of my mom's quilts, well this is your chance to have one of your own!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

April Recap

So here are the blog-worthy things that I remember from April in no particular order and without numbers (gasp!). I'm also going to post this before it's complete and update it over the next few days.

So I should talk about Script Frenzy since that was my excuse for not blogging during April. I did not get into it as gung-ho as I did for NaNoWrimo, because I was travelling a lot and while that gave me a lot of time on trains and planes to work on it, my weekends were more or less shot because I was either in antoher state having a great time or recovering/playing catch up the following weekend. Still I got ~37 pages written. I finished the first draft of NNN episode 3. It is long. I think some scenes will get cut, but it will still probably be longer than episode 1 or 2. That's one of the great thing abouts self-producing for internet distribution, I can make things whatever length I want. I also got a few scenes of episode 4 written. I also started writing parts of an episode that I have planned for season 3 (at the rate I'm currently going, this won't be out for well over a decade) because I got really excited about it when I was talking to Lila.

On April 24th, I got to do something awesome for work. Back in January I was interviewed by a senior at the U of C about my lego collection (she heard about me through our mutual friend karan). She was interviewing me for her anthropology BA which was on Collectors. Turns out she's a double major and for her theater major she made a play about collectors/collecting. Well I thought that was really cool, so I suggested to the News Office that they should write a feature about her for the homepage. And that's how I got paid to videotape someone pretending to be me. Here's the full 40 minute play. The whole thing is worth watching, but the part where she's being me is about 3 minutes in.

I don't remember how now, but I stumbled upon the awesome work of MS Corey earlier this month. Now I'm subscribed to his blog and flickr. Check out his alternate covers for the Harry Potter series and his rendition of Calvin and Hobbes grown up which is my current desktop background.

Finally caved and got a Netflix account. Have been using it mostly to finish watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I stopped in the middle of season 6 almost 2 years ago and it's about time I got through the rest. I have also watched Alice and Velvet Goldmine. And I'm working my way through a lot of the A.V. Club's New Cult Canon.

It's nice outside!

On my birthday Stephanie took me out to dinner at Machu Picchu, a Peruvian restaurant by her house and then to a local production of Hedwig. They were both great. We had calamari and I had this delicious dish with sauteed french fries (among other things). I really can't get over the novelty of french fries in a saute dish. It's a problem. A delicious problem. Hedwig was really good. I recommend it to all the other Chicagoans out there. The musical made more sense than the movie (ending-wise) and was well performed. I mean it's all pretty much Hedwig (no offense Yitzhak), so what I'm saying is that the actor playing Hedwig did a damn fine job. It was a lovely evening.

Kathleen's Wedding was a blast. It was cool to see the Schwartz family, even though I hadn't seen them in ~6 years it didn't take long to slip back into old patterns. Kathleen was obviously a bit busy, so there wasn't a lot of time to catch up, but we had some good laughs. Jonathan and I were able to bond over video production. It was also great to see my family. J-P and I spent a good amount of time watching funny videos in our room. And of course Isaiah is always lots of fun. I introduced "doom" into his vocabulary. It was a great little escape.

I made some good progress on episode 1 of NNN. A lot of hte voices are in place and I've got some rough storyboards/animatics, so I'm pretty much ready to animate. Now it's just a matter to actually forcing myself to sit down and do it.

Lego Owls and Robots