Saturday, October 03, 2015

This is some good writing

Good grief but Jeff Somers is a good writer. I think I've read all of his novels, even his non-sci-fi ones. But his best for me are the Avery Cates books.

And Jeff has started writing even more Avery Cates stories which take place after the last book ended. It got me so hopped up that I went back and started re-reading The Electric Church.
Good grief he can write. The world he builds is so flipping grim yet compelling. And the 1st-person narrator is only slightly unreliable. At least he's self-consciously unreliable.
But to me the biggest deal is that the world in the Cates series is completely tangible while being wildly post-cyber-whatever. As a noir (of the tough guy genre) the technology and the politics in the universe feel very real and very matter-of-fact.
And not only do I have a soft spot in my heart for sci-fi noir, I also love how Somers doesn't mind going dark, dark, dark. Dark. Like, the world does not go to a good place.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Fifth Season

So I really liked NK Jemisin's The Fifth Season.
I'd read one and a half books of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. Maybe 2.5 books. But my feeling at the time was that not enough was happening and, although beautifully written, I wasn't having as much fun as I would with a nice noir or something so I dropped out.
But The Fifth Season kept me in the whole time.

You have to give the author some credit for coming up with some very interesting universes. The world in The Fifth Season is one of those sort of Medieval/Renaissance worlds which exists shortly after one of the many cataclysms that occur to the planet. But although there aren't internal-combustion engines, there is electricity (powered by geothermal and hydro). Which, you know, sorta makes sense. They even have telegraphs. So I guess it's like the 18th Century without steam engines?
Huh. Now that I write that I start thinking about Milton's take on... things... like canons... Huh. Anyway.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

My life is doing what drummers tell me to do

Lou Clark wants me to watch Äkta Människor, the original version of Real Humans.

Letter to Landlord

I got to send this letter today to my landlord.

In the mid-day of 8/19/15 my Internet went out suddenly. I have a DSL line.
As there was contruction going on in the apartment below me, I asked the guys working there if they would have cut anything.
One guy, who I do not remember, said "Internet? No. Or do you mean phone?"
Not thinking of DSL being a "phone" line I said "No, just the Internet."

Later on that day I returned home to find that my power had been cut off (note that there is no work being done on my apartment.)
It was impossible to get a hold of anyone to turn my power on that evening so I had to leave.

On 8/25/15 at approximately 11:00am, one of your electricians accosted me while I was looking at the phone service in the basement.
I asked him if he shut of my power and he said yes and that he didn't care.
He yelled at me about something to do with ladders and to not touch anything "back there".
I asked him "What stuff am I not supposed to touch?"
He called me an asshole and he then told me that he'd shut of my power again and asked for my apartment number (which I did not give him).
His response was "That's okay, I know, you're on the 2nd floor."
He was extremely belligerant and threatening.

He was middle-aged, heavy-set, with missing teeth and thick glasses, about 5'5".

I do not feel safe in my apartment with the workers threatening me and messing with my phone, internet, and power.
I can't help but assume that all this damage is being done deliberately.

Andrew Bellware

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


Tile sizes in Blender renders are a big deal.
For CPU rendering 16x16
For GPU rendering 256x256

I had to downgrade Windows back to 8.1. Samplitude hated looking for VST folders and Premiere hated the video drivers on my Mac-with-Windows on it.

I think Blender hates the AMD drivers on the powerful Mac and I can't really upgrade because it's a Bootcamp computer. Bleh. It's hard to be me. So at the studio I have to use CPU rendering. That said, it's now vastly faster because I've set the tile size to 16x16.

At home I have a PC with a Quadro 4000 card and we'll see what happens when I set that to 256x256. It'll generate a whole lot of heat, that's for sure.

Friday, August 14, 2015


I went to the Neue Gallerie last weekend. And I gotta say that it's a nice place to see some art. The most famous thing in their permanent collection is that Woman in Gold by Klimt. But they had this awesome Russian/German exhibit of Blaue Reiter and "Donkey's Tail" artists including this dude, Vladimir Georgievich Bekhteev.
The only painting of his at the exhibit (I think) was a painting of bathers, done in 1910. It blew my mind. After seeing it I didn't want to look at any more art. But this thing above, this Venus of Urbino through Olympia, is fantastic. I ain't seen it in real life though.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Image Dump

This is the one I keep coming back to. A balaclava with all the techno stuff on it is an idea. A thought. Somehow.

Hip, shoulder, and elbow joints are interesting, I don't know how practicable they are though. The face is pretty cool.

White armor. Hard to keep clean. Not a fan of the feet but I do like the "44". The elbows are interesting.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Gender in Theater Design

These numbers for the gender parity of designers in theater seem pretty accurate to me, meaning that in my experience this is about the disparity. 
Sound is, and has been for quite some time, the freakin' worst.

Thursday, June 18, 2015


Automata is beautiful.
Automata is problematic.
It's beautiful though. Beautiful. The robots are mostly puppet-ed. The plinths in the wasteland. The dirigibles above. The design of so much of it is just lovely. The old-style fax machines with preforated paper as "email" -- just lovely.
That doesn't mean the movie doesn't have a lot of problems.
Dialog. Nose-hitting plot points. Embarassing teaching-a-robot-to-dance scene. Oof.
 But it sure looks great. And it has great provenience. Some Blade Runner, a touch of I Robot, a smidge of Dark City. I don't quite understand the stakes or why it takes everyone so long to figure out what everyone else is doing. But it's beautiful.

Friday, May 22, 2015


Ex Machina
The sounds she made were gorgeous. Very subtle organic-motor drive. Refrigerator logic: why didn't the older, dumb, model make those sounds?
I was envious of her robot costume. A fairly simple rig actually as they did a replacement of large sections of her body with rotoscoping and 3D models. But the base piece was that nice grey square rubbery material and then what was the costume equivalent of a disco ball. But with an added bit of 3D model underneath to create depth it worked rather well.
This is why we can't have nice things.
Why did they go for visual effect blood from the knife stabs? I have no idea.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

I'm the guy who didn't like Fury Road

I wanted to. I wanted to like it. But the screenplay is not that awesome.
Max has very little impact on the entire story. He makes no decisions. The titular character is figuratively and literally muzzled for half the entire movie.
The opening image is stunning. Spectacular. So full of potential.
Yup. The bar here is pretty high. That's because the bar is Mad Max II, The Road Warrior. Every single scene in that movie tells you about the characters. The first four minutes of The Road Warrior are wordless and a brilliant establishment of characters. We learn the entire world in one very simple car chase. We learn that fuel is precious, we learn that Max is smart (a better driver than others -- he never fires a shot and lets the bad guys shoot one another). We learn that Wez is a bad-ass dude who can take it as well as give it.
We learn nothing about Max in Fury Road. Maybe 3/4 of the way through the movie he makes a good strategic suggestion. Suggestion!
In fact, if you eliminated Max himself from this movie it would have been a vastly better movie. Actually, I suspect that there was a time in the evolution of the screenplay when Max wasn't in the movie. Because there is an active lead character -- one who makes decisions -- and it ain't Max.

 Furiosa, in fact, does some very Max-like things. After getting through the wall she puts her arms up, effectively "surrendering" to the biker dudes inside the wall. This sort of echoes the way Max approached the refinery with the injured man at the beginning of the second act of Road Warrior. And, of course, she makes the fateful decision to return (even if Max suggested it).
And, of course, the events of the entire movie revolve around the fact that she's rescued the wives and escapes into the wasteland. Max is shackled and strapped to stuff for the first hour of the movie so nothing he does actually makes any difference up through then. Like literally nothing. If he had just stood there outside the car in the opening of the picture when the bad guys came after him the results of the rest of the movie would have been the same.
Okay, the scene with the two dudes spitting gasoline into their blowers is great. Is it as awesome as the shot coming out of Max's blower at the top of Road Warrior? No. But it's pretty cool. The thing is, it tells us more about the character of the war-boy dude than it does Max or anyone else.
Also, I found myself memorizing 1, 1, 2, Black, Red (it may have been "Black, Red"). But that whole thing? Totally irrelevant. The switch on Max's V8's guzzoline tank from The Road Warrior? Vastly critical to the rest of the events in the movie.
So yeah. I compare Fury Road to a movie which has a perfect screenplay (note that the version of the Road Warrior screenplay on the Interwebs has a different, and less good, 3rd act than the final edited version.)
So. I'm that guy.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Food and You

There's an article on the awesome Cindy Keiter in NY Woman, with her favorite restaurants. Cindy gives culinary tours in Chelsea.
A recipe for flame-grilled mango margaritas.
There's a place called 25 Burgers in New Brunswick which my office-mate Kevin says has excellent chicken wings and fries.
Bertucci's is a chain but is supposed to have excellent rosemary chicken wings.