Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Hey Loser!

I'm a loser.

The winners of the Stock Stock Film Festival were announced, and, sadly, my name was not on the list.

Which is ok, because:

1) This was my first year entering solo (last year, I partnered with my brother).

2) This was my first time editing solo (on all my prior video projects, I have partnered with qualified editors).

3) This was my first time using what is probably the worst video editing program on the planet, Windows Movie Maker.

Now I am - how you say? - experienced at this. Next year, my friends, next year.

Until then, you can watch my short film - "Hey Loser!"

(1:03 min 16 MB WMF file format - no, I cannot export to QuickTime. Thank you, Windows Movie Maker, thank you.)

The StockStock Film Festival is an annual event that consists of short films made entirely out of stock footage. You send them money, and they send you a tape of footage. Everyone gets the same footage. It is really a load of fun. Maybe next year, I'll have a new film to post.

Monday, September 26, 2005

How to Avoid the Gay Marriage Debate Completely

For whatever reason, the Gay Marriage Debate just won’t go away. As soon as it seems like the last vestiges of media attention fade away, some politician introduces or vetoes legislation and then it all gets rehashed for another news cycle.

Some of us are tired of having the same conversation with the same people about the same thing over and over again. This is due to the fact that the gay marriage debate is described as “polarizing”. “Polarizing” means one group of idiots gets on one side and another group of idiots gets on the other side and the only thing they seem to agree on is that everyone should be on one side or the other.

So next time someone tries to get you to talk about “the debate” remember that this is not going to be a debate, but rather a way for you to be classified as “completely on my side” or “completely on the other side.” Either way, it is a trap designed by idiots for idiots. Here is how to get out of it.

Begin ranting in your loudest, most passionate voice, and say something like this:

“You’re totally off because the real problem is that the government should never have been put in charge of Marriage in the first place. Marriage should have never left the control of the church.

“Because the real problem is that we’re using the same word to describe two different things: Big-M Marriage and little-m marriage.

“Big-M Marriage is the ultimate cosmic ideal of two permanently joining in an unbreakable union that is supposed to be the end-all-be-all of everything. Big-M Marriage is the ultimate financial union, the ultimate familial union, and the symbolic representation of the connection of the cosmic to the temporal. The Big-M Marriage is more important than anything, even life itself. Given the option of Big D-Death or the desecration of Big-M Marriage, everyone would naturally go the Big D way. Something this big, this eternal, and this… everything can only belong in a church, because anywhere else it would scare the living bejebees out of everyone.

“Only the bravest, foolhardy, and truly committed should even attempt this. And it should only take place under strict supervision of people preoccupied with the Eternal Hereafter. Which means, of course, the church.

“And, of course, since the church is in charge of Big-M Marriage, they can put as many rules as they want to around it (i.e. 'Don't cheat.' 'Have lots of kids.' 'Comply or we will burn you at the stake.'). And if you don't like Big-M Marriage, there is little-m marriage for you.

“Little-m marriage is two people who are in love and want everyone to know it.

“This little-m marriage is an agreement between two people who set their own standards and then have it notarized. And, like any contract, it should be flexible enough to make all parties entering the contract satisfied. This little-m marriage can be regulated by the state, sure, but only in the way business contracts are regulated – i.e. the state can arbitrate if the contract is broken and things go horribly, horribly wrong.

“You can call it a marriage contract, or a domestic partnership or a business arrangement. It doesn’t matter. The state should not have any say in the content of the contract. End of discussion.

“And if you want to try your hand at the Big-M Marriage-which-is-more-valuable-than-life-itself, talk to your local place of worship. I’m sure they have a pamphlet on the subject.”

Hopefully, after saying all this, the person trying to drag you into the discussion won’t have anything else to say and will never bother you with topic again.

Which is what you wanted in the first place.

You're welcome.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Brilliant Idea!

So... I was looking at mugshots on The Smoking Gun website, when I had a brilliant idea.

Why not outsource police mugshots to an entrepaneurial private enterprise, like Olan Mills? Obviously, this could save the government some time and money, PLUS, it would take the harsh edge off of particularly odd mugshots.

Case in point:

Friday, September 23, 2005

Hurricane Rita PhotoBlog

My buddy Kraettli Epperson has started a Hurricane Rita Blog from his place in Houston.

If you can't get enough of Hurricane Rita, I strongly recommend checking it out.


Thursday, September 08, 2005

Speaking Weasel

My company sent me back to college to take a statistics course. This is my first step into a larger world – a world of exploration through analysis, a world of insight through mathematics, a world of weaseling out of things through fudging numbers.

Because statistics, much like golf, is nothing more than a secret handshake used between movers and shakers in the business world. In and of themselves, statistics and golf are completely meaningless and without any intrinsic value whatsoever, but using meaningless jargon as a way of communicating with someone else (i.e. “I concur that we must strive to maintain the integrity of the data sample.” Or, better yet, “On the third hole, I think it would be better to use a five-iron.”), you instantly identify yourself as a fellow weasel.

By saying one of the meaningless phrases, you are telling the other weasel, “I, too, perform this completely ridiculous and pointless activity, but I will sacrifice my personal sense of decency and good taste by not bringing attention to this non-speech coming out of me. I willingly do this so I can be a part of your tribe of weasels.”

I’ve tried this tactic to great success. Now I spend hours a day describing my backswing to others or pontificating on the struggles of obtaining a stratified sample. The weasels who run the world respect and admire me for this, and have responded in weasel-speak, that I am indeed one of them.

Which is pretty exciting. In one way, I feel like one of those Indian or Aboriginal youths, being taken to a rite of passage or a vision quest. After this sacred ceremony, I will be given a new name – Speaking Weasel – and I will be able to move deftly through the Circles of the All Powerful Overlord Weasels (CAPOW). Soon I will be hobnobbing with lawyers and politicians and people who commonly use the words “commodity market” to describe the non-weasel’s wardrobe.

My first step towards weaselhood happened the first night of statistics class. The topic – outliers. Outliers are “values that are extremely higher or lower than all other values” and outliers in your data set tend to corrupt your data. Say, for example, you are looking at new car prices. The prices of the cars are $18,000, $16,000, $20,000, $23,000, and a luxury car priced at $250,000. This luxury car is an outlier. The average price of the group of cars ($65,400) doesn’t realistically reflect the data set. So the $250,000 value corrupts the integrity of the sample set. And do you know what we, as neophyte statisticians, are supposed to do with this outlier?


I am a big fan of applying knowledge to the real world, and so I couldn’t wait to use this new tactic in my life. On the drive home from class, I called my wife and picked a fight with her.

“Where do you want to eat Friday night?”

“I thought we already decided on Café Frou Frou.”

“But we always eat at Café Frou Frou, and I don’t like eating there. The portions are too small. Its overpriced, and the whole place looks like someone exploded a box of doilies in it.”

“We do not always eat at Café Frou Frou. Remember two weeks ago when I let you take us to Big Bubba Beltbuster’s BBQ?”

“HA! That trip to Triple B’s BBQ is an outlier! It doesn’t count!”

I won the argument, not because of my brilliant and weasel-like use of statistical principles, but instead because my wife thought my argument was “cute.” Which is fine. One of the first principles of weaselness is “It doesn’t matter how you get your way, as long as you get your way.”

I hope my company appreciates this education I’m getting.

Friday, September 02, 2005


I hate blogs.

There is just something about these bits of pointless text flung out onto the web that rub me the wrong way. Our computers condition us to be selfish, terrible people with their “My Computer, My Documents, My Favorite Websites” approach to interface design, so it is no surprise than whenever we sit down to write something for public consumption, all we feel inclined to do is drone on and on about ourselves. We scream out, “This is my blog and I can do whatever the hell I want to do with it.” And then we throw a few exclamation points in there for emphasis. (!!!)

Which is fine, I suppose. Your web page is your space and you have the right to freedom of expression and that’s great… as long as I don’t have to read it.

So the obvious question is this: WHY OH WHY AM I WRITING A BLOG? Why do I want to join the ranks of those I hold in disdain? Why do I want to be lumped in the same category as those whiny, self-indulgent people who insist on writing in the first person while yammering on about… nothing?

Because I am no better. I want a place that has the intimate feel of a journal but at the same time has the potential of getting world-wide attention. I want a place to go to and gripe about my job, school, or what I saw some other yokel write on some other blog. I want a place to gush about that concert I went to last Thursday or to announce my latest Amazon.com preorders. Or if, heaven forbid, I decide to spout off about politics or some other topic of which I know next-to-nothing, I now have a place to spout.

But that is a negative way of looking at this. A more positive approach is this:

I have something important to say. I am opinionated and cranky, sure, but there is a method to the madness. And I want a place to explain not only the opinions, but the reasons behind them, as well. That is the whole appeal of having a blog, isn’t it?

Also, I have a podcast called Dayjobs and Nightmares. In that podcast – fifteen to twenty minutes, delivered monthly – I present stories about the relationship between what we do and what we fear. That podcast focuses on audio storytelling – using the podcasting medium to entertain, examine cultural issues, and reflect on that wacky thing we call the human condition.

It is a fairly ambitious project and is in the “growing pains” stage right now. It takes a long time for me to put together the audio (write the script, conduct the interviews, get the appropriate music, etc.), so there isn’t really any room in it for me to talk about movies or music or to give instructions on how to completely avoid the gay marriage debate forever. But, while working on Dayjobs and Nightmares, I get ideas that won’t necessarily fit into the format of that podcast. So where do those ideas go?

This blog.

There will be two types of material in this blog. There will be the blog entries, which will consist of mini-essays about whatever it is I want to gripe about. The second will be the Media Feed podcast. In Media Feed, I will review films, books, comics, video games, music, and even other podcasts. The format of Media Feed will be very much like the Reel Reviews podcast – five to fifteen minutes of me just gushing about something that is definitely worth your while.

So that is the yin and yang of this area –whiny and complaining text entries coupled with gooshy-gushy lovey-dovey audio files.

As much as I hate blogs, I will say this about blog readers – they are gracious and they are accepting. Someone starts with a provocative and inflammatory statement like “I hate blogs,” and the reader keeps on going until the end. I hope you don’t feel your time was wasted coming here, and I hope you come back.