Saturday, May 29, 2004

From the Bipartisan Appreciation Day Desk
Originally written 05/27/04

There's a great picture on Page 3 of the Sun-Times today (linked here for your enjoyment) of Al Gore railing against Condoleeza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld and George Tenet, calling for their resignations. The picture is great because it looks like, just as soon as he's finished that tirade, a squirrel scampers up his trousers and the speech suddenly turns into an homage to that "4 out of 5 dentists agree" Trident commercial.

It's a face so full of comically-overdone rage that it only looks at home when done by Vince McMahon at the point when a wrestler storms into the ring, hits someone with a chair and demands his shot at whatever title is up for grabs at the next Pay-Per-View, just before Vince gets choke-slammed, DDT'd, Rock Bottom'ed or whatever the wrestler's signature move is.

I'm fantastically happy that Michael Moore won the Palme d'Or at Cannes last weekend. Foremost, I'm happy because I'm a fan of his work and the man himself. Peripherally, I'm happy as an American film-buff who applauds any director bringing home the big-prize at Cannes, so long as it's not the ever-unintelligible David Lynch. Granted, the only two I can think of are Quentin Tarantino and the Coen Brothers (who we're going to count as one to prevent having to retype the statement), but that's beside the point. Upon finding out Michael Moore won, I IM'ed my friend Dave, and then ended up in a debate over the merits of Moore's films and whether or not they can genuinely be classifed as 'documentaries'.

To be a purist, one would only label more objective (and less entertaining to most) films like Winged Migration and When We Were Kings would qualify. They're objective films that are removed by species or chronology from their subjects and therefore don't serve to make any overt statement, preferring to simply convey information to the viewer, using film as a medium. However, it is folly (now I sound like I've got a PhD, right?) to try to make a contemporary film about contemporary politics and remain objective about the matter. It is tantamount to scaling a vertical wall of teflon without the benefit of suction-cups. Ultimately and invariably, objectivity gives way to commentary, and at that point calls into question a film's ability to be termed strictly as a documentary.

For me, its ability to be termed as a documentary ends with Michael Moore's onscreen role in the work, given that it's actually a role. He inserts himself into his work to the point where he becomes a character in the narrative; and while he is supposed to represent the Everyman, we all know that he's Michael Moore, that drives a parallel to Norman Mailer, who's been doing that shit for decades and has made such a career of doing so that no one actually takes him seriously.

Believe it or not, I actually talk like that in IM's.

Also in documentary news, Super Size Me has made somewhere around $2.3 million -which is a big hit for a documentary- and swung the #10 spot in last weekend's film grosses, all without the support of MTV/Viacom, which refuses to run ads for the film, likely out of fear of drawing the ire (and losing the associated ad-revenue) of McDonald's, the 800-pound gorilla of the fast-food market.

Strangely enough, McDonald's was only the 600-pound gorilla of fast-food until it spent a month on the Super Size Me diet. *zing!*

AIM: therbmcc71
Double-Post Saturday!

I wrote a post a couple of days ago, and so I'm going to post that one second, which will really mess with the bizarre top-to-bottom reverse-chronology blogs are known for. Besides, I'm still looking for a picture that really needs to get linked. You'll know it when you see it. Found it! The day may proceed. Furthermore, this is my first time fiddling with the new, official Blogger comments system, so if I don't like them, it's quickly back to Haloscan.

*update: I hate Blogger's comment system, Haloscan is back!*

The Saturday Paper = Family Circus

I once read somewhere -I think it was in a Tom Clancy book or something- that they don't schedule newsworthy political events on Fridays because nobody reads the Saturday papers. I usually don't read the Saturday paper, and given today's pile of editorial-page drek and Memorial Day Sale advertisements, I can see why. Even the sports reporters send in the second-stringers to cover the games, leaving this ugly stepchild of an otherwise good paper for one day a week. About the only highlight of today's paper was chuckling at how far off the 52-week highs Atari (not the same one as when we were kids) and Eidos have fallen.

Eidos actually warrants a brief note, because it makes me want to go referencing Edgar Allan Poe works, proclaiming the "Fall of the House of Lara Croft", given that Ion Storm Austin -Eidos' last bastion of quality developers- has all but been dissolved, and the rumors that Warren Spector has pulled a "Masque of the Red Death" and has run for the hills are probably true. After the massive backlash against the dumbing-down of Deus Ex 2: Invisible War (or, as the French port is called, Deus Ex Deux: Le Grande Merde), which would've actually been better if it had a killer-orangutan as the arch-villain, it's not surprising that this week Eidos pulled a page out of the Ritual handbook and canned the majority of its staff as a wonderful thank-you for the critical praise being lavished upon Thief III, just as Ritual had done after shipping the gold-master for Star Trek: Elite Force II.

*the following transition really does a feeble job of disguising the total non-sequitur*

Which brings me back to a bizarre futurist kind of idea I had a while back for designing a front-end for online stores that (get this shit) looks like a fucking store. Now, when trying to explain this bastard cross between Quake and, my friend decried the entire theory because he apparently loathes browsing and prefers search-functions, while I love walking into Best Buy with a wad of cash and wondering what I'll be walking out with. So I had this whole thing figured out, down to streaming in the graphics of, say, a CD case and manipulating it and everything. And he just said nobody who shops online wants to browse and look through things.

And maybe he's right, so why not take the front-end one step further and make shopping fun with the graphics engine by pulling out the BFG and fragging anyone you see taking a Yanni CD to the virtual cashier. "No one-click shopping here, motherfuckers! Pwnzored!"

Anyway, I was thinking about this following trying to access a site Slashdot had on its front-page regarding where the futurists 50 and 75 years ago thought we'd be at this dawn of the 21st century. My mother likes to tell me how her father said to her that by the time she was his age (which actually would've been around ten years ago) we'd all be flying to work in nuclear-powered helicopters. Hell, when I'm that age, in about twenty or so years, I wouldn't rule out the helicopters bit, but we'll surely still be guzzling Saudi oil.

So I think I'll watch Minority Report, read Snow Crash and spend a moment praying for a really good Special-Edition DVD-release of Blade Runner while I wait for that site's hard-drive to stop smoking so I can access it.

Anyway, I'm beginning to think that Ridley Scott's going to do Special Editions for 1492: Conquest of Paradise and White Squall before he gets around to doing one for Blade Runner, leaving me to re-read Future Noir, which is a rather worshipful look at the making of Blade Runner and its various versions, but it's still a good read, sort of like Masters of Doom was, but it'd be a lot better if I had a definitive DVD to watch it with.

Film-Composer Equation Time:
Hans Zimmer = (Vangelis + Philip Glass) - talent

I really was intending on seeing The Day After Tomorrow yesterday at the 11AM showing, but then decided to laugh at my friend's cousin, who defeated my computer prank in about twenty minutes. I then found that he got back at me by cutting down all of my trees in Animal Crossing, which I was planning on doing fairly soon enough, anyway. So, I'll have to catch it on Tuesday, which is the day after the day after tomorrow.

Computer prank of the day: If your intended-victim has a ball-mouse (not one of those optical-dealies), get a piece of clear tape and stick it over the hole the mouse-ball goes through. It's a ten-second prank, and that's about the lifespan of it, because it may be clear but it's not that clear, but the mook knows he's been hit, and is likely to yell, "What the Fuck!" at least upon finding his mouse is unresponsive or when he finds the tape on the bottom of it. And it's that scream that makes the whole prank worthwhile.

AIM: therbmcc71

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Windows Error Code -- ID:10-T

So I just got back from my friend's house, and I'm now over forty hours into Xenosaga, with still no end in sight. Hence, I'm postponing that post, as I postpone all of my future-posts, as I recount what I've just done in the past hour.

There is a prank that absolutely must be played on all young persons who own computers but have no concept of how to properly maintain or use them. My friend's cousin Matt is one of those types of people, and thus is deserving of this truly dastardly electronic shenanigan. Furthermore, since he is lacking a broadband internet connection at his girlfriend's house, where he is currently residing, he's decided to play Dark Age of Camelot, to which he is insufferably addicted, at my friend's house, leaving the computer in the room next to where I've been playing Xenosaga. And everyone on earth should know never to leave their computer unattended anywhere near me. But I can't resist an easy mark.

I thought everyone would know that, after that high school prank of dropping the Shut Down icon into the Startup folder in Mac OS 8. A rather harmless prank that's easily remedied. Which is what the following is:

When Matt shows up tomorrow to play his Dark Age, he'll boot up his computer to find that nothing has particularly changed, but the mouse-pointer has been changed to the hourglass symbol, so as to make him believe that his computer is still booting well after it's already finished getting itself into Windows. This should slow him down for a minute or two before he just decides to start double-clicking on the desktop.

Mind you, there are no icons on the desktop. Oh, it looks like there are icons on the desktop, but that's because I took a screenshot of the desktop, using the PrintScreen button on the upper-right corner of the keyboard, opened up Microsoft Paint, hit Ctrl-V to paste the screenshot, saved the screenshot, and then turned that screenshot into his new desktop wallpaper. The next task is to take the desktop icons and move them somewhere else, preferably into a sub-folder within the My Documents folder, for when you inevitably have to fix the chump's computer.

So you now have a desktop that, by all rights, looks exactly like it did before, but click away at all of those icons, and you get absolutely no response.

What next? Take the taskbar and drag it down, so it no longer shows on the screen, and is therefore unclickable. Mind you, it still looks like there's a taskbar there, which is the result of the screenshot and wallpaper job.

This is a classic prank, and I really wish I could be there to see it, preferably with a video camera, but that would be too obvious. Sadly, I'll have to report on the ensuing mayhem second-hand. But it should be entertaining, because I don't think the boy has any idea to use the Windows key to bring up the Start menu, taskbar or not.

And, when it comes down to explaining the computer's problem with the desktop, my friend is going to say, "Uh-oh, it looks like you've got the ID-10-T virus," which will make Matt flip out some more. And, of course, we all know that ID10T looks like... well, just look. It's a sub-set of the EBUAK errors we used to get in tech-support; EBUAK, of course, standing for Error Between User And Keyboard.

AIM: therbmcc71

Thursday, May 20, 2004

I Hate the Unplugged Version of ‘Layla’

So right now I’m listening to “The Cream of Clapton,” as I try to figure out what to do with my night; the choice in which matter will no doubt be going out to Denny’s to do a few logic puzzles, smoke a few cigarettes, drink some coffee and get absolutely no writing done. The place is simply not conducive to writing anymore. Thankfully, for the purposes of this website, I’ve got a couple of things socked away that I simply didn’t get around to posting as promptly as I would’ve hoped.

May 12, or maybe 13, or 11, somewhere around there, 2004

There’s a great story in today’s Sun-Times, totaling the twenty most painful memories of Chicago sports, in no particular order, from the Bartman Incident of Game 6 of last year’s NLCS to the 1919 Black Sox scandal. Some of these events I remember, such as seeing a handmade sign hanging off of a building near the Chicago Theatre in 1992 that said, “Mike McCaskey has no Ditka!” and then there were some that I’d never heard of, like the apparently infamous Steve Dahl Disco Explosion of 1979, whose ensuing riot caused the White Sox to forfeit the second game of a double-header.

And, while reading all of this, I found myself wondering just how much of this can be or has been elevated to that mythic level of status required for attaining massive pop-culture appeal. It’s highly unlikely that the Bartman Incident will ever make its way far outside of the borders of Cubdom, but sports events and personalities have certainly left indelible marks on American pop-culture, whether intentional or not. Mike Ditka was the basis for Saturday Night Live’s “Superfans” sketches, and the retelling of Carlton Fisk’s home run in Good Will Hunting, and the fact that Robin Williams’ character wasn’t at the game to see it, remains for me the high-point of the film. The Chicago Black Sox were the baseball players in Field of Dreams, and let’s not forget the movie Brian’s Song (only the James Caan and Billie Dee Williams version, the TV-movie blew ass). And, of course, all things Michael Jordan.

No doubt there’s a movie in the works that parodies that either parallels or parodies the Bartman Incident, and who knows when the Simpsons’ baseball team will come to Comiskey Park to have their first-base coach mauled by a drunken lunatic, as is becoming an annual event for the Kansas City Royals.

I don’t really see a problem with sports crossing into the realm of pop-culture. That’s just something that inevitably happens when something either horrifically bad or miraculously good occurs. It becomes a story that’s told from father to son, or maybe father to daughter, although probably not mother to son, because my mother never told me any sports stories except for the “whoosh” of the turbine-driven cars at Indy over forty years ago. But pop-culture isn’t supposed to cross over into sports (fuck the Mighty Ducks), which is why I’m glad that the Spider-Man 2 “let’s put Spidey on the bases!” ad-campaign crashed and burned after baseball fans rebelled. Major League Baseball claimed that they were going with the deal as a way of attracting kids to baseball. Let me tell you something: Kids don’t go to the ballpark to see Spider-Man. If they do, there’s something truly and seriously fucking wrong with your sport.

I mean, Spider-Man on the bases! What the fuck were they thinking? Of course, I haven’t been to a baseball game in over ten years, but that doesn’t make me any less of a purist. I’m disgusted by the digital superimposition of ads over the brick wall behind home-plate at Wrigley. More than that is my contempt for steroids in baseball, and even greater loathing for the Players’ Union for ignoring the issue. I’m telling you, things are going to change when I have my way and Bob Costas –the smartest man in sports- is named Commissioner of Major League Baseball.

*next time, Xenosaga and videogames that qualify as art*

AIM: therbmcc71

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Pisses Me Off To No End

Haven't yet been able to find a copy of Invader Zim after two days of searching. Nor did I find the second box of Robotech. Sadly, I must put both of them off until after I've gotten a job, because I took advantage of the 3 for $25 DVD-sale at Hollywood, which is mathematically even better than the 2 for $20 that I thought was the end-all/be-all of DVD sales.

So, I bought Lost in Translation, Matchstick Men and Underworld, which I'll no doubt be reviewing for this site fairly soon, since I just watched it for the first time and thought, "Golly... I haven't thought that poorly of a film since Dungeons & Dragons." That is, of course, after I got past my initial stage of, "This movie is very blue," which lasted about fifteen minutes. Even Kate Beckinsdale wearing tight leather couldn't save the movie. So, I'll talk about that one later, because the bad ones are always so much more fun.

And then I'll have to reprint the "lichens" conversation for that, too.

AIM: therbmcc71

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Post Update!

From the Amazon review of Volume 2 of the Robotech Remastered set:
The remastering for this edition was apparently limited to the soundtrack. The laser blasts, gun fire, and explosions have added presence, and viewers can follow the sounds of screeching air ships and stomping mechaacross the screen. Unfortunately, Minmei's singing is also louder and clearer.

Aha! Mine wasn't the only house! Also, the third volume of this set won't be out until next week, which pits it against Buffy Season 6. Given that I haven't even bought Angel Season 3 yet, let alone Firefly, I think that Buffy can wait. Besides, if someone says the words, "Once more with feeling," I think of Kentucky Fried Movie before Buffy. "Twy it again, but this time with feeee-wing...."

Time go out and get Invader Zim! Doom doom doom doom doom doom!!!! Which is good, because I'm having massive problems with getting Blogger to do anything. Stupid, stupid makeover. Ooh, ahh... It looks pretty.... but it's fucking BROKEN! Bastards.
It’s Nudie-Magazine Day!

*I have this great post in my car about sports and pop-culture, but you'll just have to sit through more anime today.*

So yesterday I sold back all of the college textbooks that I won’t be using in the future, and we all know what a giant rip-off college textbooks are. You get fifty cents on the dollar, if they buy the books back at all. I swung about a hundred or so dollars for mine, which is basically a tank of gas, a pack of smokes and a little something for myself. Pity I really don’t want to get the Evangelion box-set, because they keep remastering the episodes and putting them out in director’s cuts.

This being the case, I went to Target, got a six-pack of Dew, a bag of Tostitos and this really great Spicy Queso cheese in a microwavable bowl. And, of course, I had to go through the DVD section, and went looking for a copy of the Invader Zim two-disc set. Of course, Target doesn’t stock Invader Zim, or maybe it’s not out yet, but the show’s hysterical and I really want the DVD.

So what did I get? I got the first twelve episodes of the Remastered & Extended Edition of Robotech, because that’s all they had. I mean, we’re talking about Target, here, which isn’t exactly the great storehouse of anime DVD’s. They have a couple of standards, like Akira and Vampire Hunter D, and one disc from Neon Genesis Evangelion, the last disc of X… Basically, there’s no way you can go to Target and build any sort of comprehensive collection of any anime series. Coen Brothers films? Sure, they've got all of those, but I can’t believe how much the anime section sucks. It's nearly as useless to me as the Fitness DVD section.

Robotech… I love this show. I actually haven’t watched an episode of this series in probably fifteen years, and while the animation isn’t exactly the greatest anymore, by comparison to Cowboy Bebop and other shows created in the last twenty years, it’s still pretty respectable, and I can’t believe I liked this show when I was a kid, other than for the giant-transforming-robot portion.

After all, the Macross series of Robotech has always been considered by my family as being a sort of cartoon soap-opera with giant robots. The whole soap-opera aspect is best shown with the love-triangle involving Rick Hunter, Lynn Minnmei and Lisa Hayes, which ultimately led to Minnmei being one of the most reviled cultural icons in my house when I was a kid. It was like putting Ronald Reagan at the very top of the shitlist, and then just under that was Minnmei. The other thing that makes it such a great show is the fact that it’s a continuous series in which you simply can’t skip a couple of episodes and expect to be able to pick it back up.

By such rationale, it’s a series that’s completely un-tailored for American audiences, who seem to prefer their shows to be episodic and not follow continuous storylines. People die in episodes of Robotech; like major characters, and you’ll never see them in future episodes, because they’re dead. I’ve heard the argument that, “Well, Optimus Prime died on Transformers,” but that was between seasons and in a feature film, and Optimus Prime came back toward the end of the series, defeating the whole point of killing the character off. Barring two-part episodes, there’s really no reason to watch episodes of Transformers in any sort of order, which makes it easier for American kids to digest; which is why it has always boggled my mind that Robotech was marketed towards American children in the mid-Eighties. Sure, it was the same time as Voltron and Tranzor Z, but they’re not the same sort of continuous-story kind of shows, and the only similarity between them and Robotech is the whole giant robot angle.

Anyway, the Remastered & Extended discs may not include the extras from the previous collector’s editions of Robotech, it’s also going to cost less than half as much, and the transfer is absolutely gorgeous. And the sound has been remastered, too, and it’s fantastic. So, basically, I’m going out to Best Buy today (but not the one on Randall, because that one blows) to go get the other two collections so I can introduce one of my friends to what good anime is. His idea of good anime is the, “My kung-fu is better than your kung-fu,” of Dragonball Z, which is pretty much mind-numbingly dull when you get past the, “Punch, kick, punch, AAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!! (insert speed-lines)” of that show.

All of this because I went and bought the Animatrix DVD last year.

And I also got Xenosaga for the PS2, because it’s now down to twenty bucks. Can’t say I particularly care for the combat system, but at least the story’s at least as good two hours in as anything in the Final Fantasy series, and thus far lacks the bitching pansy-boy role that’s inherent in every pretty much every Final Fantasy game, so I’m really happy with that. I think I’ll be a lot happier with the game once it gets into the real meat of the story, although I can’t say I’m disappointed thus far.

AIM: therbmcc71

Monday, May 10, 2004

Family Circus Blows

The Chicago Sun-Times keeps fucking with my comics. Granted, I think most of the time their comics are fair to mind-numbingly dull, lacking the necessities of Peanuts, Fox Trot or Get Fuzzy (which had the greatest and most obscure Pink Floyd joke in history as the basis for one of its strips). In some papers, the comics section is one of the highlights, but the Sun-Times' only redeeming factor in this category is La Cucaracha. Other than that, the whole section sucks... Especially Family Circus.

I had this giant rant to go on about El Presidente, but I've since decided that I'm going to just have to start a separate blog for going on my political rampages, since they're not terribly funny.

I refuse to see Van Helsing for the reason that it rehashes some of the great Universal movie-monsters, such as Dracula, the Wolf Man, Frankenstein's Monster, Mr. Hyde (which may not be classic Universal, but is certainly classic after League of Extraordinary Gentlemen), but commits a cardinal sin by not including the Creature from the Black Lagoon. That's like making a Peanuts movie without Marcie. Oh, sure, most people wouldn't notice the absence of Peppermint Patty's Velma-esque lesbian sidekick, but is a necessity for a definitive production. Sure, the movie's probably a lot of silly fun, and Kate Beckinsdale's accent would probably keep me laughing for half of the movie, but I'm not going unless everyone's favorite fish-monster makes an appearance.

And, finally, one of these days, I'm going to figure out some substitute for footnotes, so I don't have to keep using parentheses, because parenthetical statements tend to break up the rhythm of a sentence, and are generally only there to serve as clarification for anyone who just doesn't understand whatever it is that I'm talking about, or as a jackass comment that could be done entirely without. That said, the only other thing going through my head right now as I listen to things like Aphex Twin, Paul Oakenfold, the Mortal Kombat soundtrack and The Gray Album, I find myself wondering, "What would a techno remix of a movie look like, and how would one go about it?" Yet another reason I need to get a Mac.

And now I'm checking to see whether this is a bullshit error, or Blogger has actually broken compatibility with my comment-thingy.

AIM: therbmcc71

Friday, May 07, 2004

Written While Listening to Nada Surf, The Cult and the Pretty In Pink Soundtrack

Preamble: I refer to women as "chicks" a lot in this post. Don't be offended, it's just very late.

Maybe if I keep mentioning City/Shitty of Heroes near the top of my posts, I eventually will cover it in some sort of depth. Unfortunately, I was so ... is there an antonym for 'dazzled'? Anyway, I tried playing City of Heroes at my friend's house for about two hours, and came to the conclusion that it was mindless superhero crap, not seen in such degrees since Rob Liefeld's Image books, notably Youngblood, Brigade, Bloodstrike and even Supreme (until Alan Moore started writing it). Ooh, that reminds me of how much I need a job, because I really want to pick up Midnight Nation by J. Michael Straczynski. And a couple of the Daredevil books. And then there's Alias, which is certainly not to be confused with the television series of the same name. Then there are the Terry Moore Strangers In Paradise books, because it's really one of the better independent books out there.

*the geekiness continues, but moves into a more acceptable medium*

So, I've been missing all kinds of television this week. Tonight it was the Friends finale, even though I haven't watched the show since about 1998. Last night it was the third to the last episode of Angel, which makes it the ... penultimate-squared episode? Which is a shame, anyway, because can I just say that Fred (she's a chick, in the very likely case you don't watch the show) looks wicked sexy as Illyria. But, then again, what woman doesn't look hot with blue hair? ... Yeah, that's an overgeneralization, because it just sounded weird, since a lot of old people have blue hair. *shudder* All we can basically get out of this is the fact that I watched too much anime as a kid. Green hair (actual green, not the swimming pool variety, mind you) is even better, because Miriya Sterling and Nova Satori were probably the two hottest chicks on Robotech. ... and now I've gone to labelling cartoons as being hot. Great. I have now officially lost it and have become some kind of cartoon-watching sexual deviant.

Funny thing I just found, while looking for a example of Illyria to show everyone, so as to back up my point about hot chicks with blue hair: The WB has downloadable life-size posters of various members of the Angel cast (linked to the Amy Acker poster).

*begins taking bets as to whether his ex-girlfriend has the James Marsters life-size poster, either on her wall or ceiling*

This reminds me of an offer that Microsoft is trying in Japan, by selling the Xbox with a Dead Or Alive dakimakura. What is a dakimakura, you might ask, if you failed to check out that hyperlink. It's a life-size Japanese "hugging pillow," which essentially makes it the next best thing to a Dead Or Alive inflatable doll. And, if you don't know anything about the Dead Or Alive series, at least read up on the DoA Xtreme Beach Volleyball game, with a complex physics engine that was built just to govern boobie-physics. You'd have to see it to believe it.

*feels that this post has been eclectic enough and plugs today's music selection by Nada Surf, The Cult and ... nah, I'm not going to plug that soundtrack, because if you really liked it, you'd own it by now* And, if you want to buy either of these albums, be sure to shop around, because Amazon's not exactly the best with music prices.

AIM: therbmcc71

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Momentary Break

I'm taking a moment to log in, partly to taunt my friend Scott, who is currently playing City of Heroes, or as I like to call it, "Shitty of Heroes," since it manages to so terribly malign everything that is good and original about comic books. But that's a rant for another time.
*** If you've noticed, whenever I say I'll talk about something later, I never get back to it. This might be one of those cases. ***

Still no luck finding the Apotheosis remix of "O Fortuna," which isn't terribly surprising since I hear that it was taken off the market fairly early on because of a dispute over royalties. Golly, and I thought they passed laws against writing operas after the year 1738, when a team of colonial-era musicologists decided that opera -as a form of respectable music- had been sliding downhill for about a hundred years, and therefore decreed it as dead, and anyone who wished to compose operas would have to forfeit all profits, as it's fucking opera (emphasis theirs). And then they looked over the papers of Nostradamus and gave special consideration to Pete Townshend and a few other people, by way of coining the phrase 'concept album.'

Anyway. I'm trying to figure out what to cut my FFX movie to. I converted the hour or so of cinematics into a pair of AVI files, which total just shy of 300 megs. I went with a pair, because encoding each FMV file individually would require attention and couldn't be done while I sleep. Tack the soundtracks onto those, and it's probably fairly close to 700 megs, since the sound files are just .wav files encoded at a rather extreme 1536 kbits per second, or about a megabyte every five seconds. Sad thing is, I'm basically going to throw those away, because they'll just muddle up my sound.

But I digress. I was playing last night with cutting to Jet's "Are You Gonna Be My Girl," and then decided that it was going to be a real bitch to cut it to time, so I think I'm going to need something that's either heavier or slower, but not both. Jet's just too damn poppy. It'd be like cutting a video to an Avril Lavigne song. Still haven't found my copy of "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness," so Smashing Pumpkins is temporarily out, although "Zero," "Bullet With Butterfly Wings" and a couple of other songs would probably work pretty well.

Maybe I should become a cam-girl and get one of those Amazon wishlist thingies, so that people could buy me things like Final Fantasy 8 or the massive Evangelion box set. Downside to that is, guys can't be cam-girls, and there's probably some kind of social stigma against being a cam-guy. And, the women on the other end would probably want me to shave my chest. And my back.


And I think I have to run more tests on Premiere, because I'm not sure if it's cutting the videos properly, since I'm always concerned about frame-accuracy. It wasn't really a problem on my history project, but that didn't have cuts that had to happen right on a time-change and to a very particular frame of film. I feel like I'm back in high school cutting on VCR's, except the ones I used in high school were frame-accurate.

I need to go out and score some caffeine, before I get back to toying with this.

AIM: therbmcc71

Monday, May 03, 2004

Good At Other People's Work, Lousy At My Own

School is nothing less than overwhelming. It truly, truly sucks, and I don't want to go back. Ever. Not to the junior college I'm at now, not to film school, not to a P.T.A. meeting if I ever have kids. None of it. I'm through.

On a lighter note, I'm getting really good with some of the utilities I downloaded from Doom9, and have been putting together little snippets of this and that in an attempt to find humor, though the snippets of First Blood are still easily my favorite.

*begin hardcore tech-jargon*

I'm using SmartRipper 2.41 for DVD extraction and on-the-fly DeCSS work, followed up by the version of DVD2AVI that's included in the AutoGK (Gordian Knot) software pack, because it's not as temperamental as the other version of DVD2AVI I tried, in that it actually extracts audio properly, and the stereo separations are absolutely fantastic. So I'm using that for conversion, using the current Xvid MPEG-4 codec, and it's basically doing the conversion on my machine at about a real-time ratio of 24 to 30 frames per second at 720 by 480 (that 1.5 to 1 anamorphic bitch ratio for which I cannot find the 16:9 cure) for most features.

I'm not entirely sure why, but Final Fantasy X rips at 704 by 480 (using ffx2mov version 2.11). I haven't gotten Final Fantasy X-2 to rip yet, but that's because the program for doing it is undocumented and I'm just a retarded monkey when it comes to undocumented software. Actually, I shouldn't be that disappointed, since the vast majority of the FFX-2 cutscenes were done in-engine, and so I wouldn't be able to use them anyway.

Regardless, what I really want is to score a copy of Final Fantasy VIII, because it had the best cinematics of the series. That's a qualitative opinion, by the way, because in terms of polygons and video quality, FFX has it beat by a landslide, but just put Squall up against Crybaby ... er, Tidus, and see which one you'd rather work with in a video.

I think this all started with a game called Driver for the PC, and I think it got ported to the Playstation. Anyway, Driver was about being a getaway driver (but you were actually a cop, so it's all okay for sale to kids). The game wasn't that great. But, after you were done driving around, you could save the replay and then cut it together using the in-game camera and editing tools. It usually took me about two hours to cut together a three-or-so minute chase scene to whatever music happened to have the same duration. That game was a fucking blast for that one and only reason. Driver 2 and its upcoming installment Driv3r (which wins the L33T Title of the Year award) have no such editing tools, and therefore they suck ass.

So tomorrow I'll finish cutting my first video to a bootleg of an Evanescence cover of the Smashing Pumpkins song 'Zero.' Actually, I think I'll dig out my copy of 'Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness' and use the Smashing Pumpkins version, if only because it's a crisper sound. I thought about going with something off of Rob Dougan's 'Furious Angels' CD, and then realized that would've been terribly boring. Great music, but doesn't make good video, unless you start running everything backwards, which I'm not about to spend the CPU cycles to do.

Anyway. It's time for me to go to bed and sit through a day at school tomorrow and wish that someone would just beat me into a coma with a large non-lethal blunt object. And then it's off to the diner to work on my Poli-Sci paper for about ten minutes, upon conclusion of which will occur writer's block, followed by writing more of my script, as I tend to do during these times when I hate being me. Lizzi would be so proud and yet, at the same time, so angry.

AIM: therbmcc71