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I am a little sorry to have missed the Academy Awards this year. Ben Affleck got an Oscar for reminding people why the current government of Iran and its supporters suck. Daniel Day-Lewis reminded us that it is possible to get a Blackjack in the Oscars. Leonardo DiCaprio still stands amongst the greats of Hollywood who went through their entire careers without getting one single golden statue except maybe for a lifetime achievement award. No specific designation, just something to say how much the academy appreciates their work.
And then we get a subtle reminder of the darkness that still pervades through the USA's movie industry that hides under the shield we see at the end of every US-made movie. The Motion Picture Association of America. Though for once they are not entirely sitting in the crosshairs. The visual effects workers that dedicate a portion of their lives to a movie, with zero screentime of their own, and barely much recognition because if it wasn't for the current fad of putting easter eggs at the end of the credits roll, people would be out of the theater by the time the named extras appeared on the screen.
Ben Westenhofer and his team won the Oscar for visual effects for Life of Pi, a movie I myself barely know anything about but I have to guess it doesn't draw many math majors for its content. His speech was cut short when he tried to interject his two bits about how the VFX industry has been getting the short end of the stick by the rest of the movie industry and the companies that employ technical visual artists. It should be stated here that the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences is run by the Motion Picture Association of America, which pretty much boils down to a committee of people run by the major studios. These would be the same people that have a hotline to their lawyers whenever their spider sense is tingling that someone is downloading the Twilight Saga or sharing their recording they made at the theater of The Dictator, in splendid potato-wrapped-in-three-layers-of-saran-wrap vision.
It should be said here that the MPAA does get one thing right: they do manage to get some damn good movies out in our screens, fighting with stubborn theater owners in the process to make sure they get to the right people in the process with their ratings system which seems to make sense to people whereas videogame ratings still manage to float over people's heads and in the process let kids see and experience violence and such. Here's a hint to that quiz question, the ratings are fairly enough alike that kids understand quite well what they mean, whether for a movie or videogame. But I digress.
If there is one thing that the MPAA also never fails at is old-man syndrome. They inevitably come to a sign of the times where change has come a-knockin, and they stubbornly sit in their easy chair and refuse to answer the door until the porch, front walk, and the street is full of people saying enough is enough, it is time to move on and do more. It happened with racial situations, gender situations, political situations, and the inevitable genre situation. I still remember the stories of when young producers and directors came in and wanted to make current-day cop movies instead of the westerns, or how Louis B Mayer refused to believe that the age of the musical was over and done with, nearly killing MGM in the process.
Hollywood loves visual effects. Why? Because people love them. There are those who say CGI is overrated and just does things that physical models and prosthesis can easily accomplish. I am of the camp that there is room for both to bring so much more to the screen, and many productions achieve that. And yet with one interrupted Visual Effects artist in a major TV event, people are speaking up in favor of those artists who give Gollum his eyes, who give spacecraft so much more action than what has been done before, and who brought a tiger of the imagination to life on the big screen.
It does stink that such artists are underappreciated, and I am glad awareness is building. But, in the end, it will be up to them and the motion picture industry to find a solution before it comes to the point where the real talent decides it isn't worth it, and movies suffer for it, and in the process causing a cascade where down the line many other people whose jobs aren't even involved with VFX end up losing their jobs because people decide it isn't worth going to the theater because we suddenly went back to the 60's for special effects. *pause for intake of breath*
Let's keep up the support, friends, and wish those people who do want to share their work with us the good fight. It should be stated that the winner for animated short, Paperman, sits in the same boat even if they are secure under Disney's wings. Their work and innovation may very well end up going nowhere if the visual effects industry comes to a stand-still because a group of people decide it is worth being short-changed for their work, or the studios decide we don't need to bother with innovators, anymore. If the VFX camp wants their proper due, they have to work together and be willing to risk it all. Because if there are hold-outs who are willing to work for chumpchange and little respect, then that is who the studios will turn to and those who don't aspire for respect in their field or a chance to make a difference will only become the worst cancer in the movie industry that we know today.
Nobody should feel ashamed to have flipped burgers sometime in their life. A certain guy who founded the most influential software company of today said that. If you want respect for your work and your field, you should not be afraid to work a minimum wage job while waiting for that one person who will give you guarantees that your work means something to them and they want you to stay on until your work is done. While there is some VFX work outsourced, in the end producers will want those who excel in their talents to put high-quality work on the big screen. After all, that is how they get paid when people today want eye candy. When push comes to shove and visual artists get stubborn, then it will come to a time when a compromise can be made. I hope recognition comes soon.


Oct. 3rd, 2011

[Expanded response to Russ Pitt's editorial on the suit between Bethesda and Mojang, originally begun in a chat thread in The Escapist]
So much for me enjoying today. I know a number of you don't play and probably could care less about Minecraft, but I do know a number of you do play and could care more about Elder Scrolls, and I do know all of you do go to and care about all things Escapist related. So here goes:

Now, I am actually finding myself suppressing the urge to get all Minecraft fanboy, and trying to look at this objectively. Most of what I know about the issue between Mojang and Bethesda mostly comes from what Notch shares on his blog and tweets. Bethesda has chosen to keep mum on their position short of what they share directly with Mojang, some of which Notch has shared with us but probably would have been better to keep discreet.
I read Russ's article, and although some of what he puts in has credence, I come away from it feeling that his feelings on the matter are way too colored to present an entire valid point. I even came away with feelings like I just watched a Fox report.
To my eyes, Mojang was covering their bases to protect their property that they earnestly hope will be a long-standing part of their development, beyond Minecraft. I feel that any property that someone develops deserves the opportunities for branching out into other media if the initial product is successful. Mojang therefore is being legitimate using the phrasing they are in the trademark application. Acting like it is Tim Langdell syndrome is a kneejerk and ignorant reaction that is undeserved. If Mojang suffered from such a syndrome, they would be entirely within their rights to attempt to seize all materials related to Terraria and anything else involved with creating stuff with blocks. Considering the praise Notch piles on Terraria and zero talk of the game being any sort of a threat to Minecraft's sales, I don't see any legitimacy to talk of Mojang using a Scrolls trademark to attempt to curtail Bethesda in using the word in their future titles. That is just plain ridiculous.
Frankly this "editorial" by Russ Pitts disgusts me as it is entirely outside of the character he presented to us when he was with the Escapist as an Editor. Both Editor in Chief and before. I enjoyed his game reviews, his stint on The Escapist Show, and his editorials he shared with us. But this attack on Mojang both confuses and confounds me where all this comes from. I wouldn't mind the least if he does follow up that article with concise words on his feelings and further clarification of his points. Otherwise as it stands, that editorial is nothing but inflammatory and biased with not enough context to stand on. It is not good journalism.

Dec. 5th, 2008

Im not sure I could have said it better myself....happy holidays!


I no longer think I have it so rough:

We are gathered here today, to BZZZZT

Okay, seriously, is it that imperative to take someone into custody, especially one that had announced he was going to surrender?

Please, Sir, may I have some moar?

Welcome to the 21st Century, the time where college educated business minded people hold their hands out for more money, citing tough times. The bailout's proponents claim it will restart the economy and save the US's stance in the world. Too late. $700 billion is proposed to bailout the US banking institutions, and is immediately met with opposition. But congress caves and one of the first to receive funds, AIG. Who immediately go on a resort escape, paid for by those funds. Tell me, who was surprised? And one of the points of the bailout was to stimulate loans for people hitting tough times. Immediately after the bailout funds become available, interest rates leap up, and so far we have yet to see a significant amount of refinancing and loans happening.
Now comes the auto industry, the big 3: Chrysler, GMC, and Ford, begging for money because they have hit hard times. I have to stand on my original answer to this, NO. These are people who took it upon themselves to create their own business, build it to international standing, and then sell vehicles that burn more gas than people drink water. When the price of gas was skyrocketing, they still spent millions on commercials advertising trucks and SUV's. Instead of more emphasis on their vehicles with ideal mileage. How many people actually know that Chrysler, GMC and Ford actually sell cars with good fuel economy? Last time I saw the Ford Focus (which I'm not sure is even being built anymore) advertised I think I was just out of high school. It is no wonder that more people went to Toyota, Honda, Subaru, looking to save some money on gas. Maybe I am seeing more truck commercials since I live in a western state, but I do know Cadillac is all over, and it has yet to realize that gas is not cheap anymore.
We depend on much more than just our government to keep our country healthy, and now two of our commercial institutions have failed us, going to the Headmaster begging for more. Never mind the Headmaster is dipping into the bucket we are contributing into.
Currently it isn't looking likely that the big 3 are going to get a share of the $700B, but what is to stop congress from setting up a separate "stimulus" package? True we got our own, and look where most of that money went? Most of them went to bills that were mostly overdue, for cars and homes. I think the idea of stimulus missed the mark, except it seems to have stimulated the big cheeses of the corporations. Guess this is what we get for taking away the playground monitors, leaving the kids to play on their own. Maybe its time we remind the corporations that they are just as responsible for the wellbeing of the USA as we individuals are. Denying corporations any payouts may clearly mean hard times for the people who will get laid off, but there will be layoffs anyway if the auto companies get what they are begging for. People best be getting prepared for harder times ahead, flex those shoulders, tighten them belts, and start using some good old American knowhow, which we seemed to have forgot, and rebuild ourselves back to the top.
And that's my soapbox for today. Cheers!

Emotionally distressed oil producers

Well there goes the neighborhood, again. Mayor of the small city of Batman, Turkey, is wanting to sue the movie producers of the latest Batman movies for shared profits, claiming emotional distress. The only emotional distress from an oil producing town such as that I see is they feel more is better. As is said in the article, where has this guy been the last 70 years?

Writer's Block: If Wishes Were Horses

From shooting stars to stray eyelashes, there are a lot of ways to make a wish. What's your preferred method for asking favors from the universe?

Wishbones tend to be my wishing object. I got a big wish stored up come Thanksgiving Day with the wishbone from the turkey!


Dug up my Garry's Mod tonight, discovered demolitions might just be my forte. Has anyone else been playing with their Garry's Mod?

Stacking ethereal boxes is hard work

The chocolate on the cake

What was once there, is now vapor...

People and Person

                When governments fail the people, something happens to people, but does something happen to a person? Some might say that the two go together, are the same. I disagree. People is more than a plural, it is something else. It is an entity. An entity is something more than individual; it is an organism. But so is a person. A person, a human, is composed of organs, these being composed of organized molecules, formed from atoms, and so forth. People, being an organism, is composed of persons, humans, but operate on such a different level. Organs in a person operate by their separate coded function, directed by the brain, itself an organ. A person, as part of people, are not necessarily directed by one person, a brain if you will, but by a direction all the same. That person may share a singular idea with a group of people, and with that idea, operate to a singular goal. Some may call this a herd mentality, that it is merely an animal instinct we follow. But it is more than instinct. Instinct is bred by matters beyond choice except to survive. People choose to go beyond just survival, they choose to thrive. That is more than instinct, it is thought and imagination. Whether it be for selfish reasons or for unselfish is a separate matter.

                But to return to the beginning point, on whether something may happen to a person when a government fails them. Of course it entirely depends on the way the government failed. A government can fail a teacher when it decides not to adequately budget a school. But does that affect a conductor or architect, when they have already received their education? Perhaps it can also be illustrated with an organ of a person. Is a colon affected when a drug important for heart function is no longer introduced into the body? Perhaps not right away, but if the heart were to fail because of this stoppage, then the colon would in turn fail due to the lack of oxygenated blood run through it. Without proper education, the architect or conductor would in time retire, without anyone to take over their position. The position they held would fail and cease to exist. Many corollaries could be drawn, many so distant that it would be difficult to immediately draw the line of effect between the two, but it would be there, not directly, but through a chain of events, of persons, it would happen with differing results.

                We have lived in a country for so long, it is difficult to realize the relation we share with the government. People may speak against it, may express confusion as to certain choices made. But as a society we are today, two truths are existent, if not evident: We as a people depend on the government to continue, to maintain our existence. A government depends on a person to continue. A person once said that people shouldn’t ask what their government could do for them, but what a person could do for their government. Our individuality is as important today, as it was when we first realized our sapience, our capacity for choice. Our symbiosis is becoming even more important as we as a civilization, a society, a species grows. What becomes more evident and important to realize, is our symbiosis as a people is more than just humans. Our planet, our home, is an organism as well. And like a person, we have to take care of our organs to survive.

                When governments fail the people, they also affect a person, but they also affect so much more, as has become so evident in this year alone. We stand at the brink of killing our larger organism, our planet, our home, by not acting to keep every organ and part of our larger body healthy and alive. When we first learned to use tools, we assumed the role of caretaker of this world. It is time we, as a people, and every person, begin to assume that responsibility and keep ourselves alive. Same as our government must also assume the responsibility as its caretaker of its country. When one country fails its function, it is as much the same as if an organ in a person failed. We are a people, and have been for many centuries. It is now time we begin to fathom that we are now a world.