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Kojima

Posted on Saturday, June 25th, 2016 under Entertainment | No comments

As I’ve been smack dab in the middle of curriculum updates and pending accreditation visits, I was only able to quickly skim the E3 highlights and not follow any of the live feeds of the keynotes.

Hurray for The Verge, Engadget and IGN for coming to the rescue (though IGN has some just awful video ad implementation)! Their concise rundowns and long form insights were so helpful in getting caught up. Of what I saw, these are the projects I am most looking forward to:

Kojima Productions' Death Stranding Reveal Trailer - E3 2016

E3 2016: More Cryptic Death Stranding Details From Kojima

Zombie thriller 'Days Gone' will need to find its humanity to survive

E3 2016: The 8 Things We Learned While Playing Horizon: Zero Dawn

Detroit Become Human - E3 2016 Trailer | PS4

Kojima Productions

Plus, the reception that Kojima received at the Sony event was awe-inspiring and an immediate tear jerker:

Sony's E3 2016 press conference in five minutes

It again immediately made me wonder how difficult it would be to learn Japanese to a level sufficient enough to work with the Kojima Productions team.

 

 

The City Beautiful

Posted on Saturday, June 18th, 2016 under Life | No comments

OrlandoStrong

There is joy in seeing all the ways our city is supporting those in need. This weekend we are visiting the locations that are donating 100% of their proceeds to ‪#‎OrlandoStrong‬ (Sus-Hi, 4Rivers, Jeremiah's).

I've been so busy with curriculum deadlines the last few weeks so I appreciate Jodie, Crystal and Melissa for reminding us of the continual need. And for those Denison Marrs lyrics that remind us that God is just and constant and He is also compassionate.

"I wish I could have talked with you If I had the chance I would have walked with you
I could have watched you live
and watched you changing lives
and how you always give
no matter what the price ...
How did you always turn it around
when they tried to play you for a fool?
How did you always know when to run,
when to love, when to rage and when to keep your cool?"
- Denison Marrs, Then is The New Now
 

The Chrome Extension Cleanup

Posted on Friday, March 18th, 2016 under News | No comments

When I opened up Chrome last week, the latest update seemed to have wreaked havoc on my toolbar extensions, with all of the hidden and disabled items showing up in one long list. Odd indeed, but a perfect opportunity to clean out the cobwebs and pick some new favorites. Here again for your amusement and critique is my yearly Browser Extension Roundup! And yes, you will notice this year that it is only Chrome, as that is 98% of what I use every day.

 

Essentials for Daily Usage

  • goo.gl URL Shortener - Short urls and QR codes immediately from any link in the address bar
  • 1Password - The go to password keeper, unless you are a mean person. If that is the case, then I don't even know how to computer and am actually Amish
  • Pocket - Where I put articles and videos until I can catch up
  • Google Inbox Checker - Mainly since it is an account I never check but still get a few emails at
  • Messenger + Facebook Notifications - Um. Same. See above
  • AdBlock - I'm new to the ad blocking game but minus YouTube and CBS, this guy works wonders!
  • Turn Off the Lights - An oldie but a goodie. Dim all video playback screens just like Hulu does
  • Photo Zoom for Facebook - Is there any other way to view photos on FB?
  • Save Image to Downloads - Fixing an oddly missing Chrome feature
  • BigConsole - If you spend most of your time in Chrome's console trying out code, then this is a pretty nifty find
  • Benchwarmer - See fresh Dribbbles on every new tab launch
  • Dribble Dimmer - An extension that I revived a few years back (and apparently need to update for the latest Dribbble updates)

Infrequents

  • Stylish - I don't need to customize much of the web, but when you do, User Styles FTW
  • Awesome Screenshot - Short and simple, I need this to take page length screenshots
  • JSON Formatter - Who doesn't want in-browser JSON previews to be pretty?
  • Feedly - I don't look through RSS feeds nearly as often as I did, but this is where I go when I do
  • Google Hangouts - Essential if you use Hangouts to chat things up

So Long (and thanks for all the fish)

 

Fixing Perspective Distortion on iOS

Posted on Thursday, March 17th, 2016 under Recommends | No comments

Image credit: Chris Connolly of Instagram

Since one of the recent updates to Instagram added their superbly simple image correction tools, namely the perspective distortion adjustments, I have been trying to find a good "out of app" alternative. This is one of those times where the developers have gotten the tool so right that I would use it many more times than just when I am posting to the service.

The best alternative I could find for iOS that has the magic sticker price of free is FrontView, which despite its slightly dated interface, still works wonderfully. Instagram's built-in tools win by a long shot, as they allow for easy (and separate) rotation, horizontal and vertical adjustments, whereas FrontView is built more like Photoshop's Perspective Warp or new Perspective Crop Tool (choosing XYZ planes or reference points).

If you are down with spending a few bucks on possibly worthwhile software (yes Apple, we all still want the ability try out applications first), then next on the list would be Perspective Correct and SKEW. The latter feels pretty robust, allowing you to independently distort any anchor of a photo and remove lens distortion. However, I also found those controls more difficult when all I needed was one simple correction. The plus for SKEW is that, depending one when you read this, it is on sale for zero dollars.

If you are unfamiliar with perspective distortion (or tilt shift as it is occasionally referred to on the Google), this article and the below image perfectly exemplify the idea. On the left, is the image as it was taken, where the right is how we would like to present the moment.

Perspective-Control

That's it. Carry forward and adjust on! If you know of a better iOS app that offers dead simple adjustments like the Instagram app or even a desktop version that removes the complexity of Photoshop from the equation, be sure to chime in.


** Update: Of course, the same day I sing the praises of Instagram's developers, news arrives that they are updating their API to exclude access of their content to third-party applications. This puts a halt on several mediocre web-apps and some pretty stellar iPad apps I currently use to view Instagram (namely Flow). Sigh.

 

American Hustle (2013)

Posted on Friday, February 19th, 2016 under Reviews | No comments

2 out of 10 obvious hairpieces

I had so much excitement for this movie and despite a slow build leading to an intriguing turn, it still felt sufficiently underwhelming. Maybe I was suckered in by the appealing 70's poster style and groovy teaser audio track. Maybe it is as simple as that enticing neckline on Amy Adams or the excellent diversity in ensemble character styles. Whatever the initial reason, it isn't a film I'd go back to at any point.

The soundtrack is fantastic and captured some amazing era nostalgia in the slow moments with Duke Ellington and the hyped ones with Electric Light Orchestra's "Long Black Road". Gregg at RPC had been telling me for a while to digg into ELO and that track is sure evidence of the need.

After recently watching a short documentary on building the final shootout scene in Enemy of the State, I have begun to realize how difficult it is to meld numerous camera angles and endless takes into one cohesive and believable final cut. Where I felt entirely engaged in the drama of another period film like Black Mass, several moments in AH felt more contrived and staged for story than authentic.

If you are looking for a fix for some much-missed 1970's hair pomp and fuss, check this one out. The suits, sequins and disco lights are great! Otherwise, there are probably plenty of other Bale and J-Law films you still need to watch. The same goes for Jeremy Renner and Michael Peña and the uncredited Robert De Niro cameo.

 

Focus Again

Posted on Friday, December 4th, 2015 under Life | No comments

I feel like this is a post I want to make (re: need to make) every couple of months. Last week there was a point at the end of the month where the prevailing phrases I started each day with were "on track" and "collected". Yet, only a few days away from that and I again feel lost beneath work from all sides and too many possibilities for creativity (sketching, illustrating, writing, playing music) and entertainment (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO Now, Crackle and Freegal, to name a few).

Too often I find myself feeling listless, with imagination and purpose being drowned out by deadlines, aspirations and the constant tapping/buzzing/sliding of yet another thing wanting my attention.

So yet again, this is me putting my perverbial foot down and trying to fight back against the flood of unending distractions. For a while now it seems that there has been a sensitivity and maybe even a desperation in my life to do or create something meaningful. Without trying to sound like I am making a big Marshall Eriksen style "sweeping declaration", this is it. Here's to cutting out the unnecessary and getting down to the essential in hopes of coming out of the other side with meaning.

With that said, don't take it personally if you are on the other end of my attempt at commitment and diligence ... Apple wouldn't have built in the Do Not Disturb button if it wasn't useful, right? Just know that I love people and things and hope I can make something good enough to fit among all that you already enjoy :)

And of course, it is only December 4th but really, who isn't searching for a way to jumpstart the magic that comes from New Year's resolutions?

I leave you with a few quotes that have been prominent in my head lately:

"I am my beloveds and she is mine" - Song of Solomon 6:3
"Our lives our not our own." - David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas
"Battle not with monsters lest ye become one." - Friedrich Nietzsche

*Note: I had to rename this post "Focus Again" almost immediately since WordPress was kind enough to remind me that I do indeed post about this occasionally ... as recently as 2009, if you are curious.

 

Daily Planet Press Badge

Posted on Friday, October 30th, 2015 under Downloads | No comments

My little sister asked me to add her photo into a press badge for the Daily Planet as part of a Lois Lane costume. I of course took that to mean "re-create a vector template of the press badge from Smallville, bro". And it was surprisingly easier than expected ... thanks in no small part the early 2000's style graphics involved.

The actually Daily Planet globe vector came from the great Brands of the World repository, while the logotype lettering is set in Old English Text. I got as close as I could for the rest, using Commador Normal, Times New Roman and Helvetica Neue to round out the other text elements. Photos of Tom Welling and Erica Durance are courtesy of Google and those wonderful years of Smallville.

So for you all to enjoy, here's the Adobe Illustrator template. Feel free to swap out the photos with your own and start the presses!

Daily Planet Press Badge - Template

 

App Recommends: TVShow Time

Posted on Tuesday, September 29th, 2015 under Recommends | No comments

If you are as particular as I am about watching a TV show from exactly the beginning and not missing anything in between, better go grab a copy of the stellar TVShow Time app. Not only does it provide accurate notifications for when new airings occur, it also lists titles, cast and descriptions for new and old episodes. Combine that with the iPad version they just released and the full featured web experience, it is the only app you'll need to making sure not a single moment is missed.

Once you set up your account, feel free to add me as a friend and we compare all of the sci-fi nerdy goodness we watch! For me, I just spent most of my last month re-watching the film Fargo and then enjoying the TV adaptation by the same name. Now I'm moving on to the shows Mr. Robot and Humans!

 

Apple Watch Noir

Posted on Wednesday, June 17th, 2015 under Writings | No comments

It's now been just over two weeks into wearing an Apple Watch every day and I've been thinking that it could be a great villain is anyone is up for writing a tech crime drama. Something dark and suspenseful, but full of all those accurate details that make it feel true to life. That's really why I immediately loved a show like Veronica Mars so quickly; every little technical detail was spot on (like how she actually used the Mail.app to send an email and Image Capture to import her camera photos).

My pitch for an Apple Watch thriller isn't so much turning Siri into HAL9000, e.g "I'm sorry, I can't text someone to rescue you right now, Dave", but more Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It's a device that a small but sizable portion of the population have willingly attached to our bodies for an extended period of time ... what happens if it decided to start sending data back through those sensors? Apple never said they weren't two-way. We have to ask ourselves, if I fall asleep wearing my Apple Watch, does it also dream? And if it does, does it dream of escaping it's Milanese Loop confines?

With how disruptive adding an iPhone to your life already is (corrupting our global attention span and social skills) it's not that far of a leap to wonder how much control over us these little black mirrors* would have if they could sent an electronic pulse back our way. Routed just right, the pretty little gadget that I use to keep track of Instagram mentions and daily calories could easily become a vile mechanized overlord that still has over 60% battery left.

Alright Internet. There's your starting point; it simple, I know. But if you write it, I'm down for designing the book jacket ;)

*By the way, if any of this sounds entertaining to you and you have still yet to watch the great UK series Black Mirrors, drop everything and go now. It is so very much a modern day Twilight Zone. As Todd VanDerWerff at Vox mentions, I recommend not starting with episode one as it is quite a doozie but definitely come back to it.

 

Saruman the White

Posted on Monday, June 15th, 2015 under Sketches | No comments

Saruman the White

I took a break between watching episodes of Community (which is one of the best pop culture goodies you still need to watch) and True Detective (which I only just now started, in hopes of catching up before the start of Season 2) and worked on this small piece for the @Sketch_Dailies theme of #Saruman in tribute to the recent passing of the great Christopher Lee.

It is actually the first time I have worked with white pens on texture like this before; Jodie found this extra paper somewhere for me and the pens only just recently arrived from a haul of new stuff I picked up on Amazon. I love the depth it adds to things, though I think in this final version his staff is a bit large and the shading isn't exactly kosher.

 

 

Attack on the Red Tower, Part 1

Posted on Thursday, April 23rd, 2015 under Writings | No comments

Ready Player OneIt has been weeks, nigh on a month, since my initial reconnaissance on the red tower. Last night, I was finally able to break through the first line of defense, a rock army triple deep with ghost sentinels, dismembered ghouls and gigantic beasts of unbelievable forms. After making it through, I established contact with my wayguide, Harve, through a blue cloud spell and let him know of my progress. He was hesitant to tell me, but there were definite concerns that my original contact may no longer be alive and that my quest could be over before it has even really begun. I reassured Harve of my haste and pressed on.

Quest: Attack on the Red Tower
Progress: 25%
XP: +5

*Note: If anyone's keeping track, I have been totes deep in re-reading Ernest Cline's Ready Player One and am all ready for some swords and dragon goodness. Hope you enjoy the fiction; it's based on the freelance design project progress I made last night :)

 

Process

Posted on Friday, January 30th, 2015 under Design Life Sketches | No comments

Personal Logo - Sketches Personal Logo - Color Research

Today Crystal and I got to listen in on a great Creative Mornings talk from Wes Featherston about beauty, ugly and process; we've been enjoying so many great presenters the past few months, each providing different insights into how they approach life and creativity. If you haven't been able to participate in a CM session yet, definitely take the next last Friday of the month and rejuvenate yourself before beginning a new month of productivity. You can kickstart it now by checking out some of the great video archives ... I know I'm looking forward to watching Jessica Hische's Vancouver talk that was posted recently.

I was going through some old Instagrams today to update my Envato Studio page and found these two process photos. This past year I got the chance to work up a new design for my personal brand as a part of completing my Bachelors' degree at Full Sail University. Using lots of different markers, pencils and pens, I was able to really dig into a variety of looks. It will be a little bit before I post a thorough description of the new look, but these can give you at least a little insight into the ideas.

 

Rifle Paper

Posted on Wednesday, January 28th, 2015 under Life | No comments

Rifle Paper Co - Studio Rifle Paper Co - Application

Yesterday I took another one of those pivotal leaps that have been so essential to the trajectory of my life; I applied for another job. Just like when I put in applications at Apple and Full Sail, this is a small step in a different direction. I'm still completely happy at FS; excited for the new concepts I am preparing for students and ready to meet new online/campus education challenges. But I am taking this opportunity to change up the workflow I've had for a bit (bills, work, some freelance, etc.) and find some hectic part-time work that will give me a reason to be on my feet more, organizing and building.

"Life demands motion." It is a mantra I have been crafting and putting into my head more and more ... the idea that we are at our best when we are active, decisive, flexible and productive. In a small way, this idea and my constant desire for manual labor are why I've spent several weeks recently volunteering with Rachel and Ey at Grace. Sure they buy me yummy things for lunch (oh that Hanger Time sandwich from RuSteak!), but mainly, I get away from a computer and allow my body to recuperate with movement, building, organizing and just something different.

I'll hear back later on today whether or not I got this particular job, but either way now that I've finished my degree, we've moved into a new place and we are planning to adopt, I'm looking to start a new weekly endeavor that will give me time to be productive in a new way.

 

IF – Passion

Posted on Friday, January 23rd, 2015 under Life Sketches | No comments

IF Passion IF Passion zoomed

Ugh. It has been a while ... between the new move and working to improve my effectiveness at answering student emails and submitting grades, I haven't put pen to paper for any purpose in a few weeks.

On top of that, I haven't worked on a Illustration Friday challenge in a good long while. This is pencil, calligraphy and Kuretake pens on a heavy lb paper and really the point of it wasn't so much message but just creating as an exercise. I'll keep working to put together better stuff and get back into the flow of creating constantly again.

On a side note, Jo and I are pretty much all moved into our new place, with just hanging pictures left. It is a bit pricer than before (especially with the 7 way Harding Manor rent split) so I'm also looking to pick up some additional consistent pay. I just applied to join the packaging team at the lovely Rifle Paper Co., which should be a fun endeavor, but if nothing else a perfect time to surround myself with busy people and carefully crafted paper goodness.

PS: Yeah I noticed I mispelled cherish ... perhaps when it means more you just leave out the "h" ... eh?

 

Gone Girl (2012)

Posted on Friday, December 12th, 2014 under Reviews | No comments

3 out 5 condescendingly accurate analogies
Gone Girl

I'm taking the next few days working at home, as I managed to catch the inevitable flu that has been circling our house, roommate to roommate. That, of course, means that while I am not fully up to being productive, I still can't shut off my brain and sleep during the middle of a workday.

Instead, Crystal (also home sick) and I laughed our way through a whole season and 1/2 of Bob's Burger's after which I forced myself to focus and finish at least one book I started this month (there are many). It is no joke that the immediate availability of pocketed iPhones and endless Netflix queues makes for seriously distracted living. Even with a book that has such well-done pacing and chapter breaks, I still feel like it took me a long while to finish Gone Girl.

The dialogue and character narration are probably what I enjoyed most from this Gillian Flynn thriller. Each voicing was distinct and exactly fitting to how I pictured the roles (which plays out unfortunately for me as the story progresses). Too often I felt a simpatico connection with Nick or a wounded understanding with Diary Amy, only to be jarred awake by the realities of fact and the acknowledgement of fiction.

One-fifth into the book I was hooked; meaning I was thoroughly frustrated by the circumstances and Nick's responses, so I had no choice but to give in to 500 more pages, hoping they would lead to something good. Two-thirds through I was annoyed with everyone in the story (in the best way possible). It's similar to how I felt when Matt Z had me watch Arrested Development for the first time; on several occasions I tried to enjoy the show, but I kept connecting too much with the characters and becoming impatient with their selfish motives and lackadaisical downward spiraling. Theirs and this story were well-written with abounding details and emotions pliable enough to make them our own. I was annoyed that I kept backing the wrong character and annoyed that the characters continued to run headlong into the worst possible choices. But that indignation is a sign of great writing, pulling the reader/viewer in at every turn.

By the last few chapters of the book, I could see the ending I wanted (or at least, had expected) wasn't in sight. I'd be interested to hear what you all thought of Flynn's ending, but for me, I didn't feel satisfied. I think she left off with a wonderful statement and even a bit of closure, but the justification I wanted at 50 pages in wasn't what I left with.

Naturally, the idea was to read the book first and then see the film version that was released a couple of months ago. After thoroughly enjoying Ben Affleck's Gone Baby Gone, The Town and Argo, I am excited to see what he brings to this role. Laura Walden did warn me that the music is a bit of an oddity, comparing it to the Heavy Rain PS3 game, but as I haven't played that, we'll just have to see how it goes.

*If you are curious, that sweet Hobbit bookmark is by Suenghee.

 

Denting the Universe

Posted on Tuesday, December 9th, 2014 under Life News | No comments

Dent in the Universe

It's almost the end of the year, so of course that means it's time for me to start self negotiations as to what is in store for next year and where/who I will end up being after another cycle of 365 days.

Did my morning treadmill run at PF today to silence (as opposed to the enormous amount of reading I have been accomplishing lately while running); I wanted to listen instead. Listen to life; listen to God; listen for reason and meaning.

After graduating with my Bachelor's in October, I have been spreeing after all of the music, movies, comic books, TV and games I have been missing ... and as delightful as it is to finally enjoy so much of these, it hurts too. I have gotten whole days full of entertainment goodness and ended them feeling painfully empty because I haven't felt accomplished. Like probably every other artist being honest with themselves, I am self-centered, needing validation from everyone around me. The endorphins that come along with pride/admiration/fondness fuel my desire to create and without that joyful prompting, the cyclical nature of crafting art/design/etc is broken. aka I haven't been creating, which means I have nothing to be proud of, which means I am not in the mood to create, which means I haven't been creating...

So this is me, forcing myself to make something. Anything. I want to squeeze the last few weeks of December and bleed out all that I can of not just productivity (there's been plenty of that, from a certain point of view... more on that later), but genuine creation. Beyond that, the 2015 plan is to make something big each week. Something good and fun. Most importantly, though, something different every week. I can't exactly place my finger on what I want to spend the rest of my life doing, but I am close and 52 weeks will get me the rest of the way there.

Now let's go break something.

Inspiration: Mou and REWORK

 

Flip Clock

Posted on Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014 under Downloads | No comments

Flip Clock

Anyone out there still using the Dashboard on Mac OS X? Anyone else worried that the rumored OS redesign that Jony Ive is working on will cut out this handy little environment?

I still use it on a daily basis for lots of helpful things, including the ever-so wonderful Delivery Status, HTML Entities, Minutes, iStat Pro and CharacterPal widgets, so I hope it isn't going any where.

I am thinking it might be fun to make something new for the Dashboard, but not sure what ... for the time being, I thought I would give the popular Flip Clock widget by Neometric Software (the developer site is now defunct) a tiny update to fix the CSS display issue on the back panels. Everything else is the same, but that was seriously bugging me. You can grab the updated copy below.

Flip Clock 1.3.4

 

2014 Browser Plugin Roundup

Posted on Friday, March 28th, 2014 under News | No comments

It is that time of year again! We've moved past the initial NYE resolutions and the fresh feeling the winter solstice brings and now it is up to us individually to clean things up and push forward with resolve. This of course includes the obligatory OS X re-install (coming soon) as well as removing outdated and unneeded plugins/applications (more on that soon, too).

Here for 2014 is my list of extensions/add-ons for all the popular browsers. Have fun and be sure to share your essential list as well!

Google Chrome

Essentials

For my everyday driver browser, these are über important:

Extras

Take 'em or leave 'em. These are ones I have on hand to help accomplish specific tasks:

Superfluous Finds

These are just a few random goodies I have used at one time or another but are just aren't necessarily worth keeping around all the time:

Apple Safari

Essentials
Superfluous Finds

Mozilla Firefox

Essentials
 

YourBibleReading.com

Posted on Monday, March 24th, 2014 under Life | No comments

YourBibleReading graphic

Alright, so it's possible I am only using that title so that I can steal the SEO for the search, as it was a site I used back in ~2007 but the domain has gone down and even the developer, Rosborough Tech has changed their name.

YourBibleReading.com was a great service that let you create a custom year plan for Bible reading, including reading from a different book each day. If you are interested, here's a PDF of one I made way back in the day. Because I liked the service so much, I actually created a banner image that I suggested they use in place of their plain color appearance. YBR was also the first iOS webclip icon I created, though in 2007-2008, the capabilities were a bit limited and I relied on the (now gone) iclypso.com to apply it to the site.

Read more »

 

Divergent, Book I

Posted on Sunday, March 23rd, 2014 under Reviews | No comments

** My thoughts below are about Veronica Roth's first book in this series; I have plenty to say about the film version, but that will have to wait for another time (and possibly another viewing) when I am less affected by one particularly awful theater experience and instead more by the presented content.

Like I'm sure most of you, I started reading Divergent after a friend's recommendation that I would enjoy it based on my interest in The Hunger Games series (in this instance, it was Michelle Bellville who suggested the read). Having just finished Mockingjay and not yet started on my re-reading of Tolkien's Hobbit or my first reading of the LOTR books, I decided to give it a go. It didn't really hurt its chances that Belle and I were discussing the book over pizza and beer at BJ's Brewhouse.

Read more »

 

American Psycho (2000)

Posted on Tuesday, January 7th, 2014 under Reviews | No comments

American Psycho

1 out of 5 sweater wearing yuppies

This movie distinctly falls into the category of films that I watched out of curiosity, caused by the pop culture status of its name, and was left wished I had skipped it. While it is likely in some way beneficial that I now know who Patrick Bateman is, there wasn't much, if anything gained, in this viewing.

The premise that is it necessary to tell (and show) us that money doesn't buy happiness, friends and control was a weak to cliched idea from the start; adding to it that even doing whatever you please, including murder, also doesn't gain contentment still doesn't establish greatness in this movie. Between Grimm's Fairy Tales and the classic story of King Midas' touch, shouldn't we all be well versed in the dangers of gaining the perceived unattainable?

It is really only Christian Bale's unique portrayal of this precise character with all of his meticulously detailed lifestyle choices that make for a somewhat interesting movie. Much like Bale's performance in The Machinist, it is a difficult thing to turn away from. His way of articulating the character's eccentricities and flaws in minute variations in speech and facial expressions does indeed have a bit of a compelling aspect.

However, if you want to spare yourself enduring the entire 102 minutes that ends without resolution or worthwhile purpose, you can simply peek into Bateman's serial killer nature with the ever so famous "business card" scene, below:

Note: This film viewing was thanks in part to the more and more movies being added the great Crackle web service. Not only are they adding content as often as the bigger paid-for services, but they have been working to improve their iOS application, which had a really rough start. Some of the content is questionable and there isn't a kid-friendly filter like our big red friend Netflix, but they are the only ones that have the Marvel anime series and Seinfeld available for free viewing, so plus!

 

The Too Large Glass

Posted on Friday, November 29th, 2013 under Life | No comments

I picked up a drinking glass at work today, looking for something more substantial to use for enjoying my 20 fl oz of Cherry Zero Coca-Cola than the typical paper coffee cups. It was oddly shaped; more squatty and fat than tall and thin. Walking away from the break room and down to the Zen Garden patio to work, I realized that this glass is how I think I might approach the new year of 2014.

One of my previous bosses named Rick said something at the start of this past year that genuinely stuck with me. In a video he sent out to inspire his employees and fellow instructors, he mentioned that each year he makes a point of deciding a theme for the year. Not one specific goal, per say; instead, more of a general idea that guides his actions and response throughout the year.

It was such an odd and intriguing notion, I haven't been able to get it out of my head. Being a sucker for task lists and having a penchant for "starting fresh", the idealistic new year always beckons with the promise of accomplishing great things.

"The too large glass" is how I want to approach 2014; in that at every decision, I want to find the solution that isn't conventional, doesn't fit my own predispositions from 30 years of living and yet, still accomplishes the goal at hand. It will be the thing that is harder to accomplish, that will require getting my hands dirty, but will result in that "better story" Donald Miller is always talking about in his book.

 

IF – Lush

Posted on Friday, August 30th, 2013 under Sketches | No comments

IF - Lush

My entry for this week's Illustration Friday theme of "lush" was really just a chance to for me to be lazy on a Morning where I was caught up on many things and wanting to draw for while. I haven't touched AutoDesk's Sketchbook Express Mac app in forever and I even had to go download a new copy before I started.

The face is just something that came out of the great soft lines you can make in Sketchbook, but I tried to pull the figure and some of the style from a lady in Harper Bazaar's feature on Swedish street styles. I'll definitely come back to more of Sketchbook, because there is just something great about the restriction of raster when I have been doing so much vector work as of late.

 

Under the Dome in Boredom

Posted on Saturday, August 17th, 2013 under Reviews | No comments

So far, I have been thoroughly unimpressed by CBS' rendition of Stephen King's "Under the Dome".

Logistically, it's been great seeing them take advantage of the Amazon Prime platform and offer new episodes every Friday at no additional cost (though can someone explain why that leaves them without a episodic presence in their own iOS app?). Amazon can't seem to make anything of their own with any real quality, so it's comforting seeing other content providers take advantage of the established pipeline.

But, if you are like me, after enjoying all the hilarious dome-related gags in the Simpsons movie (We're gonna miss you Doctor Nic!), you checked out Under the Dome to see why any network would pick it up as a serious drama/sci-fi vehicle. And like me, you are probably still waiting and wondering. Aside from the deft design work done on their title card and brand advertising, there is nothing innovative or at times even on par about the show.

Granted, a few plot points (e.g. Junior kidnapping his girlfriend in a deranged mental state or Barbie being trapped in close proximity to the wife of the man he murdered or Ollie becoming the sole source of water in the town) were intriguing enough to keep me checking in, but each has ended up falling pretty flat. The writers seem to have good intentions about where to move the show, but keep getting side tracked by actions that really only help to make more episodes; i.e. It would have been more interesting to see the depth of Junior's character and seen his broken psyche mount and boil, with no release but upon his fellow trapped domees. Instead, he falters on his compulsions in time for the next commercial break.

There is also present that frustrating mechanism I am going to call "idiot tension", for lack of a better term, wherein the only drama happening is caused by one character not giving over contextual details and instead just quipping out a "You don't want to know" or "It's complicated" or the (LOST-finessed) silent stare followed by a walk away. It is feels played out, like a hackie reality show stretching out results and resonates as disingenuous to real life (at least mine any way).

There have only been 8 episodes and I miss X-Files too much to jump ship before finding out that is causing the dome, the seizures and the glowing egg ... but that won't keep much longer. There are other shows going on right now where the actors remember its not supposed to look like their acting and waning curiosity means I'm gonna eventually gravitate back to better TV (know what I mean The Event, The Cape and Revolution?).

Update: Entertainment Weekly had an interesting quote from CBS CEO, Leslie Moonves, where he mentions the difficulty of broadcast TV to compete with cable ... "'Game of Thrones' probably costs three times as much [to make] and is given three times as long to shoot".

Put in that light, you could make a defense for Under the Dome's obvious flaws, but I believe it still pales when compared to other broadcast shows of the same ilk (something like 'Person of Interest' comes to mind).

 

Unfollowing the Following

Posted on Thursday, April 4th, 2013 under Reviews | No comments

If you didn't catch it earlier, I recently posted on Twitter that after 9 episodes, I was giving up on FOX's Poe-inspired thriller, The Following.

What initially felt eerie because of some interesting literary interpretation and unexpected turns, now just feels thick with bloodsport and weak at many of the pivotal points that move the narrative forward.

Of course I was in at the start, despite the warnings of vivid violence, because how unnerving would it be to see the dark and twisted written words of Edgar Allen Poe brought to life through the hands of misled followers? In an era where simple memes and new game releases garner god-like attention, imagine those indulgences being fueled and fanned by an "intelligent, charismatic and handsome" madman. Who wouldn't be fearing for their own personal safety?

Add to the mix the iconic acting of Kevin Bacon (some of my favorites being Quicksilver and X-Men: First Class), a woman that sounds like Tina Fey but isn't (Annie Parisse) and the non-Smallville Ashmore twin (Shawn, aka Bryan Singer's Iceman) and again, you have my attention.

Unfortunately, my interests started waning when I found myself not just cringing at the brutality of the followers' actions, but being sick to my stomach at the nonchalance of basically writing in steps for youths to experience and connect with depraved murder. Where there was some semblance at the start pointing to Poe's work, Joe Carroll's "I want to hear your stories" speech at the safe haven just opened the floodgates to make the show about whatever gruesome actions the writers wanted to think up. It's the exact reason why my wife and I stopped watching CSI after the first few years; the show rapidly became about the most lurid or obscure ways to show people having sex and then being killed.

Despite this shift (or failing, depending on your perspective), I went into each of the episodes "Let Me Go", "Welcome Home" and "Love Hurts" looking for the story to come back around and redeem itself; to provide meaning to the seemingly meaningless slaughter of human life.

Side note to the writers: Having a character say "I wanted my life to mean something" right before they are killed does not in itself add meaning to the action of their death or their life. It happened twice (Charlie then Paul) and only the first one could we kinda make sense with.

In each of those three episodes, essential plot actions occur or are only possible through convenience; e.g. While I'll give you that the blonde FBI agent that shot Agent Weston could easily have been a cult plant, it was highly suspect of being a lazy last minute write-in. The added fact that some of the SWAT team members were also in on it just made the whole farmhouse siege seem sloppy. Getting Emma to leave behind the boys was genius, but then I think you (the writers) found yourself with two knife-wielding proselytes (one wounded) stuck in a room surrounded by heavily armored tac teams and went for the easy out.

Similarly, Weston's suspicions not being aroused/blaring-ly confirmed about 5 muscular, non-discreet men standing around outside of his hotel during a high-profile case where the teams haven't been able to trust anyone is just poor planning. About as poor as having him be the only one with knowledge of Claire's location and thus needing a Fight Club-esque throw down. Again, a great scene, but the setup was so heavy-handed.

Lastly, making sure that Claire Matthews #4's school was having a topical Carnivale-style festival was convenient enough that I figured some intern remembered that the show was supposed to have a connection to Poe and they added it into the location scouting. Secondary to that, with so many murders and killing happening in the area, no students thought to question the only angry looking, non-mask wearing party goer?

Again, there is some great stuff built into the show, but I don't think the end result is going to outweigh the cost of looking past narrative flaws and the strong desire to shower after each episode, trying to wash some of the villainous and psychotic images way.

 
 

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