Friday, March 30, 2007

To All 3dsMax users

A cry for help: Does anyone out there know how to animate the Waveform Float controller? 3dsMax doesn't allow me to make keyframes with it. (I want to change the paramaters of the wave over the length of the animation.)

I'm working on an effect where a roiling curtain of fog pulls back to reveal something. I think I got it as best I can. Unfortunately, when you layer fog types, the (fast) image motion blur becomes all FUBAR and you have to go the long way with scene motion blur (which multiplies your rendering time by at least five times if you want to get any decent sort of effect.) I think I was able to get what I wanted without having to resort to a particle (dust) cloud, but I'm going to have to use them sooner or later...

For those not into 3d animation, here is The Joke of the day: Jesus walks into a bar, and the bartender says, "Close the door- were you born in a barn?"

Bonus joke: Two guys walk into a bar; you'd think the second guy would have ducked.

(drum fill)


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

To the Inbred Makers of Hyundai Commercials

Please explain to me exactly how a car can be considered "athletic."

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Sometimes I Think too Much

It’s 8:35 & I’m going into Manhattan for a friend's (Troy's) birthday party at a place called "Jim's 43rd." The bus's shocks must be made out of Slinkies (or is it "Slinkys" because it's a proper noun?) and it's bouncing all over the place. I shaved my cheeks, trimmed the beard, showered at 6pm for a night out with friends, and I'm having flashbacks to 15 years & 60 pounds ago when almost every Friday & Saturday night were spent clubbing around Monterey, San Antonio, & D.C. (Ok, more at the NCO clubs than around town, but you get the picture.) The main difference? I'm a married daddy now: No more contact lenses, no more pack of Marlboro lights in my pocket next to my monogrammed Zippo (It was engraved with the word ROC, one of my Army nicknames. Another one was Penfold, because some witty Drill Sgt decided that with a shaved head & glasses I looked like the hamster from Danger Mouse. I could go on about how he would order me to say, "Crumbs!" when he was bored, but I'm getting off topic.) I'm wearing a frumpy sweater & loose fit jeans instead of Polo clothes, no longer acting like a Czech Brother out for a night with "the Foxes," because the Queen Fox is waiting for me when I get home. Yes, it's high time for a mid-life crisis.

(Here's an odd thing: the F-train stopped at Roosevelt Ave, & an E- train was stopped across the station. When the doors opened, the lady on the station's loudspeaker could be heard saying, "For the 3rd time tonight, this is an E-train to 53rd St." The trains don't stay in the station longer than 30 seconds, so she couldn't have been asked about it that many times. Was she just bored & counting them as they went through?)

Back to thoughts about being older & mature. I learned years ago to be the funny guy, to not let anything get by me without a joke, to have a snappy comeback ready in case some misanthrope put me down. I realize that this is the result of a childhood wish to be like my cousin Dean, who is one of the funniest people I know. My desire to play the guitar, master chess, & my interest in philosophy also came from my desire to be like him. Then I realized that I didn't so much want to be like him as I wanted to be loved & respected like him. This is understandable, since as a kid I was picked on all the time & felt like no one wanted me around, while he was someone everyone looked forward to seeing & begged to come visit. I then realized that the other half of my makeup comes from my father- bowling, the desire to be a pilot, (some of) my politics, Star Trek, the Yankees, writing, Catholicism (I’ve since converted to Pastafarianism, but at one point in my youth I even considered the priesthood) hell- I probably joined the Army fueled by a desire to be more like & respected by him. I get my artistic talents from my mother, but it's fathers that boys emulate.

So one day I woke up, looked in the mirror, and asked myself- if almost everything I am comes from other people, just what the hell is left that's actually me?


Saturday, March 24, 2007

Every smile you fake/ Every claim you stake...

Illustration Friday: I Spy

I love drawing pictures like this, when the background story is so ambiguous yet so interesting. (And I was so close to drawing a picture of Bill Cosby)

There's a disturbing trend in the internet market: no one wants you to own anything anymore. If you actually DO pay for a downloaded song or an e-book, you can only use them on one or two allowed devices. More and more software (virus software, for example) requires a yearly fee to use. Online games have monthly fees. Google has plans for an online office suite for rent- you pay a yearly fee to use it, and you can only use it online. Magazines like Wired talk about the glorious future, when all software will be on internet servers and people won't have to have bulky computers anymore. Does this frighten anyone else but me?

There's been all kinds of buzz about the Hillary Clinton 1984 ad. I can't help but remember when she carpetbagged her way into the New York senate in 2000. "The Friends of Hillary" put out many false & misleading television ads about her opponent, Rick Lazio. While he was spending most of his money denying these ads, they a) didn't cost Hillary a dime, & b) while she admitted they were mostly untrue, she refused to denounce them. In fact, when, at a debate, Lazio demanded she sign a contract to end her soft-money contributions, her supporters were able to spin away from the issue entirely, shifting the focus onto him & his (in my opinion, justified) anger. So in short, I have no sympathy, baby.

Going to take Joe to see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles today. I hope that Krang is in it (the little brain thing that was in the other guy's stomach.) He was my favorite.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

To All Penny Stock Spammers

In the past 3 days, I have gotten at least 20 (that's right- I'm not exaggerating- 20) spams a day for CYTV (China YouTV) stock. From everything I've seen on line, this is a new epidemic in spam & there's nothing I can do about it. But seriously- does anyone- I mean ANYONE buy stock based on spam? Is there really anyone out there stupid enough to fall for these pump & dump scams? Even if you don't know a thing about stocks, you have to know enough that if it were a legitimate enterprise, it wouldn't need a plethora of spam to get it going.


Saturday, March 17, 2007

I don't know what to do/ I'm always in the dark/ We're living in a powder keg/ & givin' off sparks...

Illustration Friday: Total

"Total." What to do, what to do, what to do. Draw a math problem? Cereal? A car getting smashed? I decided to do this... whatever the hell it is (60's album cover?) while watching Vertigo. I zoomed the PPC in at 4x, started with the profile eye (facing right) in the center, and just drew image after image, not looking at the whole thing until it was done. Can you find...
1) The Dalek?
2) The Satanic Sun?
3) The meaning of life (according to Douglas Adams)
4) Half of Bilbo Baggins' door?
5) General Zod trapped in the Phantom Zone?

Vertigo is a great movie. Not to question the master, but wouldn't it have been even better if the audience found out "what was going on" the same time Scotty did at the end, & not halfway through the picture? Also, as much of a honey as Kim Novak was back in the day, what in tarnation is up with the eyebrows? Is that what chicks did in the 50's? Shave off their eyebrows & re-draw them over half their skulls with a wide magic marker?

My old friend Carol is getting married in NJ tomorrow. I hope it stops sleeting & that they actually plow my street so we can go. She actually went so far as to say the kids could come, so we wouldn't have to go nuts trying to find a sitter. For that alone, she deserves a lifetime of happiness. (Sorry, I'm a guy- I never saw what the big deal was with not allowing kids. It's supposed to be a joyous ceremony- not a show that you videotape to bore the hell out of your family later.)

I've been playing the new Sam & Max games. The price is right & they're a lot of fun, however the Lucas Arts original was much better. ("That's no head, Max- it's one damned ugly time bomb!") I guess real time rendered 3d is a lot cheaper to do, so the cell-animated adventure games of yore are legends of the past. Sigh. I've also been working on False Idols for the first time since my hard drive crashed last year... I may actually finish it sometime! I also hope Mandy stops bouncing around and stays in bed- paranoid daddies can't sleep when their 3-year-olds wander around the apartment at 2am...


PS 10 points to whoever can point out the relevance in this week's lyrical title...

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Shake shake shake/ Shake shake shake...

I went to see 300 at the IMAX theater in Manhattan yesterday, (lots of head-chopping disemboweling good Grecian fun, but that's besides the point.) Riding home on the B train, (actually, I took the B train to Rock Center & then the F train home, like you care, but I'm a bit of an obsessive compulsive...) I saw a poster with a crying baby, accompanied by this message:
Now, I realize that child abuse is a horrible, horrible thing, and I don't mean to mock it. But being the father of two children and knowing fury at 2am when it was my turn to feed the youngling & he or she just wanted to scream & scream & I had to get up at 4:45 to go to work & I was on my second-to-last goddamn nerve, I would put Joe or Mandy down in the pig-pen & just WALK AWAY before I got down to my last nerve. So wouldn't a better slogan be:
because my first thought on reading "Don't shake your baby" was that there was some sort of urban myth going around that it was somehow good for the baby. You know, like one of those battery-less flashlights with generators inside that are primed by shaking the magnet up and down. Do parents leave in the morning, and say, "Crap- I forgot to shake the baby!" "Relax, honey, I got it!"

Seriously, though, I would make a terrible cop, because if was called in & saw that parents had hurt a child, I would probably shoot them on the spot. I have this impulse control problem when it comes to things like that.


Sunday, March 11, 2007

"'Distrusted not rusted!'/ That's why I feel so disgusted/ But I know he's wrong /'Cause I haven't felt this way for very long..."

Illustration Friday: Wired

Wouldn't that itch like hell every time you'd blink? Ten points to whoever can identify the song quoted in my title (no fair Googling. Ok, go ahead.)

I'm too tired to rant about anything tonight, so I'm just going to freestyle:

I'm sitting here typing on the computer. Jen is sleeping on the couch. Fox preempted American Dad & King of the Hill for two showings of whatever the hell the name of that stupid show they're pushing is... again. I hope it crashes & burns on principle.

We watched Looney Tunes Back in Action with the kids last night- it gets a B+, but why didn't anyone tell me it had Daleks in it? They're actually 1960's Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. Daleks, with a bit of laser beam added to the dry-ice guns. For a geek, these things are important.

I'm so glad the government has nothing better to do with its money than to constantly change the designs of coins. I've reached the point that I have to double check every single one in my pocket lest I throw one away as foreign currency.

Has anyone ever read Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said by Philip K. Dick? Is it just me, or does it seem the entire happy-ending epilogue was added on afterwards at the insistence of publishers? "Don't let Americans feel they can't win against the police state!"

My best friends are spread out all over the country. I've been put on six weeks of furlough (to give other electricians a chance to work- something all A-rated members have to do) so maybe I'll go visiting. The only problem is I always wind up feeling lonelier when I get home. Wah. Actually, I have books to write & animations to finish. Maybe I can work on my parenting skills. I can't seem to get my point across by any other way than shouting. The neighbors must love me about as much as my wife & kids.

Take care, my friends. Tell me something interesting about your lives, something you care about. It doesn't have to do with anything I've written.


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Plame Blame Game

I was going to do a post about how Scooter Libby is obviously a patsy and we're just supposed to forget the actual crime that was committed (the ousting of CIA Agent Plame) but then I realized that anyone with two brain cells to rub together had figured that out already. Never mind, sorry to bother you.

The lovely & talented Isay has asked me to do a post about who I want to be president. I promised her I'd do it two weeks ago, but I kept putting it off because I simply don't want any of the blithering nincompoops that we're being offered, and I can't even think of anyone who is not being offered. I was impressed with Senator Jim Webb's rebuttal to President Bush's State of the Union address, but that's really all I know about him. I've admired Colin Powell since my army days, but he has the common sense not to run. We all accept it as a fact of life that we choose "the person who's going to do the least damage." So be it. I'd be apathetic if I could find the energy. Sorry, hon. Maybe we're better off with the old man in the shack with his cat at the end of Douglass Adams' The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.

Nothing much is going on over here. Mandy's latest bit of adorableness is dancing with her stuffed animals to the ballroom scene in The Great Muppet Caper. Joe, now actually paying attention (I'm sure we fathers all have the same criticisms of our kids) is really starting to pick up with his chess playing. Jen is still a beautiful angel, and after at least a decade I'm starting to play classical guitar again. (I have a work-related problem with my left fingers, but I've just decided to sally forth.)

Hope all is well out there.


Monday, March 05, 2007

And the dreams get weirder...

Last night I dreamt that I was at my parent's house in NJ. I was woken by the noise of a mob, and the explosion of cannons. I looked out the window and saw thousands upon thousands of men with torches and cannons surrounding our house. I woke up my father. "Oh," he said nonchalantly, "that's just my army." He walked out onto the deck like a king on the parapet, and proclaimed, "It's too early, go back to bed!" The men slunk off into the trees, grumbling that their fun was called off.

Now the weird bit.

I called my parents tonight to tell them about this. While my dad got a big kick out of it, my mom told me that they're doing a Revolutionary War reenactment in Liberty Corner tomorrow, (complete with cannons, bayonets, and other 1700's paraphernalia) about a mile from my parents' house! Maybe the ghosts got stirred a day early. (Although he's a Korean War vet, I'm not sure how my father fits into this. Reincarnation?)


Saturday, March 03, 2007

I Seeee Yoouuuuuuuu.....

Illustration Friday: Hide

You can't hide from the guy in the glass.

Catching up to last week: I realize my illustration for communication might need a little explanation, but I enjoy seeing what other people come up with. Our minds make a model of the world from what little information of it our limited senses can detect. Everyone's filters are a little different. The guy on the left picks out certain items and perceives eternity (the eight on its side, for those who didn't get it.) He tries to explain this to the person on the right, whose perception's filters are a little more down to earth. He gets the message, but it becomes slightly garbled, and he sees the world as a concrete thing rather than an abstract- hence the translation of the infinity symbol into the number eight.

I've gotten a MySpace page, so I can keep up with my friends that already have them. If you have one, feel free to add me as a friend. (Just message me if I don't recognize you.)