Archive for August, 2006

How the Internet is Ruining Movies

I came across a site today with concept art for the extremely hyped new movie, Transformers. As usual the nerds were all up in arms over the changes made to their beloved Autobots and Decepticons. But what none of these morons bothered to mention is that these were merely concept sketches and might not be anything like the finished product in the movie. By constantly having to take criticism about a movie before it is done directors are feeling pressure to alter their movies. Even a few years ago the amount of attention to people’s opinions on the internet was minimal from Hollywood. However, now movie studios and directors are paying more attention to these obsessive fan boy opinions. A negative response from them can generate enough bad publicity to kill a movie prior to it opening. For example the Hulk was ridiculed for its special effects (which were incomplete at the time) by internet bloggers which led to the movie having a poor opening. Now Hollywood is constantly concerned with appeasing all of these fanboys concerns before the movie opens lest they have a negative impact on the box office. This does not often lead to a better movie though. For example certain scenes of dialogue were changed in Snakes on a Plane, per internet requests by bloggers, but the movie still was barely tolerable. This leads to reason why so many movies are terrible, they are trying to please too many people. Directors can’t even have a completed movie before being criticized on it. Now if one piece of concept art gets criticized by a website the studio will be so panicked that they will rush to change it. Movies are no longer just the vision of a few people such as the director and writer, but become a huge compromise of thousands. In books and comic books, a writer is able to produce a finished product that is for the most part like his original vision. But with today’s big budget movies directors are forced to listen to every ones opinion about what should and shouldn’t go into the movie. People are more interested in movies than ever and want as much information about them as is available. But, people need to wait until a movie is complete before judging if it is good or not. Movies like any type of art are best when they are the product of one or a few artists. Trying to make a movie with a populist point of view where everyone is happy leads to the lame, uninteresting drivel that we see at the movies everyday.

Everybody’s working for the weekend

Do you work in an office? Do you work for a large company? Does your company have a mission statement, core values, or a bold declaration of what principles that it holds dear?


These two clips are brilliant – and the first, more than the second, is a really interesting artifact. First, it shows that Microsoft, hated by Linux geeks and Mac fans the world over as the evil empire, has a sense of humor. Or at least, the Values Team has a sense of humor, and the latitude to have something like this made.


The second reason this is interesting is that it makes a mockery of the notion that a company has values. Ricky Gervais' character, despite being genuinely hilarious, is a standard trope in corporate training films – the Goofus, brought in as an example of how not do do things. Even Conan O'Brien has played this part.

Usually, though, there is a corresponding Gallant character to show us the way. Not in this case - Stephen Merchant's character is distressed by what has been said, but we're not given very many examples of what these values should mean to each and every one of us.

I wonder. Are these videos just played as ice-breakers, followed by 40 minutes of more standard corporate training? Is Microsoft guerrilla marketing to their own employees, hoping that grabbing their attention will be enough to get some message across?

The first video seems to almost be an acknowledgment that, although we have yearly training and a whole team dedicated to managing them, corporate values are just expensive common sense. Every company is different, obviously, but if you read the news everyday, you're bound to get the impression that if many companies were actually (not just legally) people, they would be sociopaths with multiple personality disorder. They have Core Values too. I wonder if having values and communicating them to your employees has any correlation with ethical behavior, motivation, or success.

How does a values team measure their accomplishments? Do they get bonuses every year the CEO doesn't pull an Enron? Do they get bad reviews when the guy on the loading doc ships his personal items on the company account?

This is not to say that all this is worthless. It would be a really, really interesting research project to figure out how to even measure efficacy, and then see if they are effective. A brief look at the literature suggests it's still a big question...

Kirk and JarJar

This one ought to get all you nerdwads' Spider-Man undies in a bunch. Apparently, CBS Paramount plans to rejig the original Star Trek with new CGI graphics and a new main title sequence - a la George Lucas's re-release of Star Wars Episodes IV, V and VI. The revamped episodes will appear on HDTV this fall. A lot of good chatter on the subject, as usual, over at Slashdot. I tend to agree with whichever of those pasty-skinned monitor monkeys argued that the whole shame of this is that we're losing an artifact of cultural history. It's as if every Model T were modified into a street rod today, rather than keeping a few original or restored. Sure, we might view them as obsolete today, but to rewrite or cover up history in such a way does a disservice to us all. But I'm also (unsurprisingly) disappointed that fresh, intelligent, imaginative, original programming so seriously lacks from mainstream media that, rather than attempt something new, they simply rehash their successes of old. It's why we have "reality" TV, celebrity gossip columns and sequels sequels sequels. Perhaps it's just time to turn off the TV.

The Novel Idea: Memory, Sorrow and Thorn (Williams, Tad)

Dragonbone Chair, The Stone of Farewell, To Green Angel Tower Part 1 and 2. Ranked #54 on the Fantasy List
Dragonbone Chair I've noticed that a lot of the reviews that I have read on this series are very negative saying that this series is very boring and hard to "get in to". I have to strongly disagree. This series is an exciting story with memorable characters who are full of life, with an intricate storyline that keeps the reader engrossed in this exciting saga. If you don't like to read long epics, then this series is probably not for you. But if you love grand stories where the characters seem to come to life, this is a great series that you will not want to put down.


Click here, you know you want to see how it scored!

Overall Readability: 17 out of 20. I feel that this series (I read the whole series, aren't you proud of me!) is one of the best fantasy series that I have read in a long time. Seriously I love it when I can become completely engrossed in a book so that I don't even realize that I have been reading for hours. You know what I mean. When you are sitting up in bed reading and you look at the clock and now it’s 1 am and you have been reading for hours but it doesn't feel like it. Tad Williams just has a certain flow to his writing that makes it so easy to read and feel like you are right there with the characters in their journey. Story Quality: 18 out of 20. What can I say that I haven't said already? This story is complex. It's a great story that gets you tied into it so far that you need to keep reading to find out what happens next. I know that it's kind of vague, but it's just hard to put into words how much I enjoyed this story. It might bring a tear to my eye. Originality Quality: 13 out of 20. I think that this is going to be the toughest category. I mean, how much of fantasy can really be original? This series has all of the highlights of the fantasy genre: trolls, fairies, dragons, evil kings, evil wizards, learned scholars, elves. Oh, wait; there are no unicorns or griffins. So, I guess it gets a bonus point there. Or does it? Character Believability: 18 out of 20. I love these characters. I felt their pain and their joy. I completely enjoyed the ride with them and miss them now that the series is over. It makes me a little sad. Overall effect of novel: 17 out of 20. I really enjoyed this series. I don't think that it's the best fantasy novel ever but I feel that it was done an injustice by placing 54th on the fantasy list that I am using. It is definitely higher that that in my opinion. If you add all the scores up the final grade for the Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series is 83%. I feel that that's pretty good. Way to go, Tad Williams! Read it and tell me I am wrong. Or right. Because you know I'm one or the other.

Fahrenheit vs. Celsius

I am writing this article as a companion piece to Jason’s “Why we need the Metric System�, and because I am too lazy to think up an original topic. As hotly contested as the subject is of Standard vs. Metric, Fahrenheit vs. Celsius is even more so. Why, how many times a day do you ask, how many kilometers is that dog or how many yards is that telephone pole? Or I wonder how many micrograms is that fly is or I am curious as to the poundage of that phat ass. If your like me than hardly any at all. But people are constantly asking what the temperature is. It drives what they wear, where they go and what type of food they eat. That is why it is so imperative to have a reliable temperature system. Now there are pros and cons to both systems. Celsius is easy because it goes up by amounts of 10, 0 being freezing and 100 being boiling points of water. So for all the retards out there it is very handy. But do people really need to know those things, I mean you put water into the freezer and viola! It turns to ice, not like you have to sit there with a thermometer and check it every 10 minutes to make sure it stays at 0 degrees Celsius. Fahrenheit on the other hand is much easier to learn because it just makes sense. On a hot day it’s in the 90’s, boy that sure sounds hot. And on a cold day it is in the low 10 or maybe 5’s, brr I’m cold just typing it! Celsius on the other hand is retarded, oh man its 23 degrees outside lets go swimming! I don’t think so, not in my America pal. However, Fahrenheit does have its negative points. For one Fahrenheit sounds like a Nazi name. I’m sure Hitler wasn’t telling his generals to burn all those Jews at 100 degrees Celsius (the actual melting point of Jews is 164 degrees Celsius). On the other hand Fahrenheit does sound really cool as a title for books or movies. Could you imagine Michael Moore’s Movie Celsius 911, Boring! Fahrenheit 911 just sounds sexier and is the perfect way for a fat talentless hack to make lots of money over our worst national tragedy. In conclusion there are several reasons why both systems are equally good. But since we use Fahrenheit in America the rest of the world should just fall in line and do as we say. I mean when has Europe been right about anything, that’s right never. Oh and don’t even mention that Kelvin scale shit to me. What is a Kelvin anyways. The only Kelvin I know is 36, lives in his Mom’s basement and plays Star Wars Galaxies all day (He does have a lvl 50 tuscan raider bounty hunter that totally pwns!!!). You are free to disagree with my opinion, but that’s probably just because you are a godless Commie bastard.