Friday, October 31, 2008

Movie Review: Synecdoche, New York

I just saw Charlie Kaufman's new film, "Synecdoche, New York". It is a masterpiece of art and intellectualism, a painful and thought-provoking movie with the signature Kaufman style.

It is a marvelous and incredibly strange and disturbing portrait of a man who lives his life with a depressed sense of unworthiness, who is confused and distraught much more than he is ever clear, decisive, or happy. It's INSANE, and Charlie Kaufman has made a film a whole lot more depressing, sad, pensive, thoughtful and existential than even his recent masterpiece, Eternal Sunshine. Choosing to direct the film (for the first time) that he wrote was an excellent and bold move. His direction adds a lot more to this film that would not be able to exist had it been directed by someone else. I mean, who other than Spike Jonze or Michel Gondry could you even begin to attempt an explanation of a Charlie Kaufman film?! Though those directors did a great job on Kaufman's previous works, this one is special in that it really explores things on an ever grander stage (literally) and becomes more and more weird and thought-provoking as the movie progresses.

Kaufman grabs the audience and twists the story as he always does, making you completely confused on purpose... only to throw 1000 more questions at you with no answers. This is a brilliant masterpiece, a painful and depressing outlook on life, art, and existentialism... and even more so, a bold warning to live your life as differently from the protagonist's life as you possibly can. This is a warning to those negative GenX'ers out there, and to people who just can't bother taking their life by the horns and making the most of a situation. This is not just a warning on complacency, it's an example of what can go wrong when you stop caring and don't drive your life in any direction at all.

There are thousands of ideas that this kind of movie sparks in your mind.

For me, it's a reminder to look at the big picture as often as I can, and to make sure I steer my life in the direction in which I believe it should go.

Confusing at times, which was surely intentional on the director's part. The acting is perfect. Philip Seymour Hoffman will at least get an Oscar nomination for this.

Magnificent, go and see it if you want something to think about and aren't aiming for a feel-good comedy. :)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Tokyo Disneyland's Monsters Inc ride?!?!?!? Daaaaaaamn!!!!!!

This just might be the most awesome thing I have EVER seen.

If you know me AT ALL, you know that I love the movie "Monsters Inc" more than any film ever made, currently being made, or that will ever be made. It is cinematic perfection in every sense of the word, and I truly love it. If that movie was a girl, it would be Kate Hudson, and if it was a band, it would be the Dave Matthews Band. I think you see what I am getting at.

Anyhow, I just saw on /Film that the Disney and More blog just posted photos from a Brand New Monsters Inc ride at Disneyland in Tokyo... it opens apparently in April next year.

Conveniently, I am planning my trip to Japan in December next year. So it would appear that I WILL GO TO THIS RIDE AT DISNEYLAND IN TOKYO in T-minus 14 months from now. Holy sweet crap that will be AWESOME.

This is so amazing I might have to punch myself in the face.

Barack Obama's "closing argument" campaign ad

Tonight, Barack Obama put a 30 minute campaign ad on the air highlighting his plans for America, and also focusing on the specific stories of families all over the country.

It's a great video, lots of personal stories, and worth a watch. Obama in inspiring as always, and only 6 more days until election day - November 4th.

I am Canadian, and so I cannot vote in the USA. But thank goodness for the right to free speech and freedom of the press - such freedoms that allow me to post my opinion for the world to see, to read, to argue with, to agree with...

My hope is that I can reach a few people, and help spread the excitement and idea of Barack Obama as President... a solid leader, and a force of inspiration and change. This election may be the most important of our entire lives. Please, PLEASE VOTE on NOVEMBER 4th.

Make sure you understand the policies of both Candidates, and make an informed decision.

Go here: to get your local voting information.

Since you're on my blog, hopefully you're interested in my opinion. ;) Which is... I believe that Barack Obama is the best choice for this country.

Barack Obama's campaign ad from tonight

5 friends

Celebrity PSAs made by Leonardo DiCaprio, these are pretty funny and a good message.

5 more friends

The original video

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Dave Matthews for Obama at the "Concert For Change"

A short clip of Dave Matthews a few days ago at the "Concert for Change", a show by Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds in support of Barack Obama.

Dave Matthews for Obama

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Interesting Variety article on the Pixar process

Interesting Variety article on the Pixar process from "Presto" producer.

Bridge School Benefit 2008

This weekend was so painfully awesome, it almost hurts to describe it. After possibly the best Halloween ever (well, other than this one in 2006) on Saturday... I went down to Mountain View to see my Waterloo homeboys, eat too much free food at Google, and listen to some SICK bands rock it out Acoustic-style for 8 hours with the proceeds going to The Bridge School.

It was, how do you say, AWESOME. Some of the bands were kinda "weak sauce" like Cat Power and Wilco, meh, not my style. But Smashing Pumpkins were INSANE, Death Cab For Cutie played some great songs, Josh Groban was so good I wanted to punch myself in the face, Norah Jones rocked and Jack Johnson was great as usual... overall a great lineup and then a finale by Neil Young.

The best part was the Smashing Pumpkins playing Disarm... featuring Josh Groban. Didn't see that team-up comin' in a million years, and man was it ever good. (See videos below)

"The Google"


I did some artwork

...then I went to town on this PB&J

Shoreline Amphitheatre

This drink was tall and cold

Billy Corgan from the Smashing Pumpkins

Norah Jones being awesome


Jack Johnson

Death Cab For Cutie - Into the dark

Smashing Pumpkins - Mix of songs

Smashing Pumpkins featuring Josh Groban - Disarm

ILM Halloween 2008

This weekend was the ILM/Lucasfilm Halloween 2008 party and it was amazing!! Great food, glorious costumes like last year, and just generally awesome times.

Becca, Andy, Dan, Vicky and I rocked some sweet Big Lebowski style and it was classic. Sarah came as a raccoon and Frank came dressed... as ME. (This is the 2nd time a Texan has dressed up as Mike Jutan for Halloween, if you rewind back to Pixar Halloween 2006 and Brooks's now-famous "#1 Intern" costume) :) The funniest part was Frank's Jutan-style super curly hair wig and that he had an Obama shirt on... and that he didn't know that Jake also dressed up as me 2 years ago. :) Haha, anyhoo I am flattered beyond belief. Also, apparently people from Texas are the coolest.

So that was hilarious, and it was just an absolutely amazing time. After the party we trekked randomly through the somewhat dodgy-looking-yet-safe streets of Soma to a party with a bunch of the Animation peeps. It was great, amazing view on their roof patio and everyone was legendary. Ran into Gabe-rielle there, who went dressed as Starbuck from Battlestar Gallactica (based on a "you look exactly like her" recommendation from Frank and I), haha loved it.

The fun continued: more random BART run-ins with people who loved the Big Lebowski, weird looks on the subway, and some overtly cheesy quesidillas washed down with some Jarritos "Mandarine" (gotta love that Yellow #5 food colouring)... and it was time to call it a night. A night... of AWESOME. I don't think it would have been humanly possible to have more fun. Great people, great times, and... just couldn't have been better. :)

Anyway enough yappin'. Here are some photos.

Me as "The Dude", Joe as Forrest Gump

"The Nihilist", "The Dude", "The Jesus"

"Hey... Lebowski... we vant ze money, Lebowski!"

Chris as Linguini

The Lebowski group photo!!! Amazing. Bowler Girl, Walter, The Dude, Jesus, Nihilist

Me as The Dude, and Frank as Me :)

AMAZING!!!!!!!! The Rocketeer!!

Julien as a painter!

John and Helen - aka Ozzy and his nurse

Jutan and "Jutan"

Hahahahaha - Frank trying to talk to Jess under her really large hat

Frank as Me, complete with the shorts and man-purse

Me with Sarah and Erika

Cool decorations


Hahaha Ozzy goin' nuts

This Wall-E costume ROCKED

These guys were called the "Liquidators of Cuteness" or something, I think a Care Bear came face to face with the business end of that random crossbow...

Talking about dangerous costumes, it's JVDZ!

On the way to the party, we found a McLaren Mercedes that was hotttttt.

Erika's wand looked like the spinny part of a kitchen mixer, I was hoping it was going to be used for making cookie dough or something...

Hahahahaha. Beautiful.

Glorious view from the rooftop

Little bit 'o chillin', little bit 'o illin'

Haha this is hilarious, Becca looks like Ali G

The "Emo Jutan" face of the night

Haha, this was supposed to be our concept movie poster for some nerdy spy film we made up on the spot

Haha Gabe as Starbuck - amazing

J.Rowe, and Becca trying to fly

Viva Pinata

Time for some darn quesidillas

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Soon, you will be mine, ATI Radeon HD3870 512MB GDDR4...

Ok, so maybe it's ridiculous to actually get excited about a video card, but... daaaaaaaammmmmmmmmn giiiiiiiiiiirllllllllllllllllll!!

Check this BEAST out!!!!!!!!!

I like how they HAVE to build in a fan over the GPU now on Video Cards otherwise the entire thing will just meltdown from too much awesome.

Yes, it's 512 Mb. Yes, it's got 2 DVI ports at the back. Yes, you can come to my house and use my computer to run stuff at a fast frame rate.


New computer specs

Alrighty I am getting really close now to ordering my new computer, maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan this is gonna be sweet!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I've changed a few things and upped the awesome since my last spec post here. The biggest changes?
  • Dell XPS 420 instead of Dell Inspiron 518 (much more awesome)
  • Less L2 Cache, More FSB
  • Dell UltraSharp monitor instead of E-Series... oh yeah, and 2 of them :)
  • 512Mb ATI card instead, and with 2 DVI ports for the 2 Digital Flat Panels
  • 2 year Warranty instead of 3 - it's a Desktop so this is less important
  • 3 years of McAfee Virus protection
So sweeeeeeeeeeeet. So the new machine looks like this:
  • Dell XPS 420
  • Intel® Core™2 Q8200 Quad-Core (4MB L2 cache,2.33GHz,1333FSB)
  • Operating System: Windows Vista Home Premium
  • Memory: 4GB Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 800MHz - 4 DIMMs
  • Monitors 2 x Dell SP2009W 20" Widescreen Flat Panel Monitor with Webcam
  • Video Card: ATI Radeon HD3870 512MB GDDR4
  • Hard Drive: 750GB - 7200RPM, SATA 3.0Gb/s, 16MB Cache
  • 16X CD/DVD burner (DVD+/-RW) w/double layer write capability
  • Sound Card: Integrated 7.1 Channel Audio
  • Dell 19 in 1 Media Card Reader
With tax and shipping it comes out to about $1500... that's including 2 Dell UltraSharp 20" Monitors?!?!??!? Totally nuts. This is amazing. Great deals too. I am pretty sure this is the one I am going to go for, and the Video Card is a great upgrade too.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Great interview with Charlie Kaufman

Charlie Kaufman, the legendary screenwriter of Being John Malkovich, Adaptation and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind has his directorial debut in the upcoming "Synecdoche, New York."

Phillip Seymour Hoffman is the lead actor and I couldn't be more excited for this movie. It is going to be AWESOME.

I think Charlie Kaufman is one of the most intense, unique and powerful screenwriters of our time and this is going to hit it out of the park. I can't wait!

Humble beginnings

Matt and I got together and tried to get setup for iPhone Development last night!!!!!! :)

Matt and I biked back to my house after work and started our first evening of hacking together a sick iPhone App that we are really excited about. Who knows where this will lead, but the sure thing is that we are going to enjoy it, we are going to learn a lot, and we are going to see how well we work together when we are doing something for fun and in our own spare time. Pretty cool stuff.

We first made some sweeeeet pasta and had some coffee and white russians and got OSX Leopard installed on Matt's laptop. That took a while, so I brought my laptop over to the coffee table and we watched and hour or so of Apple iPhone Development tutorial videos. These are the Apple-supplied ones on iTunes University. They are reasonably good, and give a good general overview. The couple of more code-specific ones on iCodeBlog are a little more focused, but therefore are a little more direct and helpful for learning the syntax and code style, which is cool. After that we got the iPhone SDK installed, updated OSX again, and we were all set. It took a while to download all this stuff and so on, and install everything, but it was pretty straightforward otherwise. After all the installs, we were ready to try out some Sample Code!!

We downloaded the classic "Hello World" from the iPhone Developers page, and loaded it up in XCode, the dev environment on the Mac. Build... and Run... and BOOM!! It was running on the iPhone Simulator, a very well-integrated sort of Virtual Machine, which looks like an iPhone and allows you to test your program on the computer before sending it to an iPhone device to test it there. Good stuff!!!!!

We played around with the sample code, and then spent a good hour or two reading through a bunch of code, and discussing what each thing meant, it's counterpart in C++, and jumped back and forth to the Documentation and the Interface Builder to try to get a better handle on how everything fits together. Then we downloaded the multiple widget code from the Apple site too, and this is great because it gives an example of a ton of available widgets that you can use on the iPhone. Sweet.

Anyhoo, after about 7 hours, we decided to stop working at about 3am. A good first "day" of getting on the road towards our first Application. This is really, reaaaaaaaally exciting. I think however this goes, it's going to be fun and we're going to love doing this kinda stuff. Our main "goal" is to enjoy this, and make something we think is cool and that we are proud of. If we enjoy it, then we can continue development by setting up a Perforce or CVS account so we can both work on code separately and not have to work over each other's shoulder all the time. But that's for the 2nd App or 3rd App, or somewhere down the line. For now, we'll just figure all the details out together and hopefully we can get something cool done in a reasonable timeframe.

Matt getting OSX Leopard installed

Delving into the iPhone SDK!

Hard at work, late at night, and with the Pixar "A Bug's Life" Poster overlooking us with an Apple logo, and the slogan "Think Different." Exciting and awesome times.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

...and it begins (iPhone Dev, that is)

Matt Parrott and I are going to write an iPhone App. Or possibly many.

So there have been many, many things I've talked about doing in my spare time over the last year and a half since I moved back to San Francisco. Getting more into photography, working on my website, doing a whole bunch of stuff on my Raytracer, writing a MEL to Maya Python converter... so, so many things. I feel like actually there have been a lot of ideas flowing now that I finally have a chance to live on my own and have my own space, and - to a greater extent - the fact that my evenings are no longer taken over by schoolwork.

I have taken the great Professor Larry Smith's advice, and taken time for solitude. I've spent several hours on the weekend just sitting on the docks near the Ferry Building in San Francisco, looking at the waves, catching up with my week and myself, and letting my mind wander.

So I don't think there have been any major shortages of interesting ideas, or things I've come up with that would be a fun way to spend some of my spare time in the evenings or on the weekends... but so far they haven't become a reality. Why? Well these things involve such a large time commitment, and I guess a lot of them just seemed more like large-scale ideas without any over-arching GOAL to them. They are all interesting, for sure... but... why do them? Other than the pursuit of knowledge, and for the joy of learning, of course. But what if I could do something that could... change the world, teach and inspire young children, even maybe be able to donate to charities... AND I'd also be learning some new programming languages, new development environments, and chasing that relentless pursuit of knowledge at the same time.

Dare I say, "Eureka".

Matt Parrott and I have been talking over the last month or so, since I got my new iPod Touch. Within about 2 days, I was completely convinced of the effectiveness and the pure genius of the App Store on the iPhone. Almost instantly the ideas started flowing. Matt and I work so well together and our skills really bounce off one another, and we found that we were suggesting things to each other that were really, really, really interesting... and we both loved the ideas we were coming up with. It was a natural and obvious conclusion that we would band our forces together to create some exciting, interesting iPod Touch and iPhone Apps - things that WE want to write, and software that WE think people would like and that WE think people should have. This is AWESOME.

The KEY DIFFERENCE here between my random ideas and this iPhone Development, is that Apple has gotten rid of so many of the start-up costs and problems with distribution and marketing etc related to software. This makes such a clean and feasible platform for coming up with interesting ideas. This rocks. This meets so many of the over-arching goals of a personal extracurricular project, and the ceiling is infinite. Amazing. So... we're gonna see how it goes. We're going to try our first idea and see if we can somehow (it's gonna be hard, but we're gonna try to) release it in the next couple of months. Stay tuned here for updates throughout our development process.

Matt aka Cabernet is back from NYC where his girlfriend was being awesome and touring in the Ballet there. Amazing. We wasted absolutely no time, and jumped right back on the ball.

We chatted about our App ideas some more and Matt told me about some great contacts he made in NYC that will be related to our App. Sweet.

Tonight I've been reading through some interesting stuff here on these tutorial pages.
Much, much, much more to come... I hope. Here we go, wish us luck.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Red Bull Soap Box Derby, Modern Dance, Mission and More

Yesterday was nuts!!!!!!!! I did about a hundred-thousand-bazillion things, it was absolutely freakin' glorious. Suuuuuuch a busy day, but man it was fun.

I headed right to the Mission district in the late morning and it took for-ev-errr to get there. A few busses came by the stop and they were packed... to the MAX! Clearly everyone else in San Francisco was also taking the #22 Filmore to Delores Park. :) Anyhoo, I eventually crammed onto the 3rd bus to come by our stop, and got to know a whole bunch of strangers a lot more than expected thanks to our forced awkward proximity. Thankfully everyone was nice and no one smelled like feet (or computer scientists).

At the park I was trying to meet Paul, Shelley, Josh and others but got stuck on the wrong side of the race... which turned out to be glorious 'cause I ran into Becca and her homeys. Good times, and the race was cool, lots of crazy contraptions that people had put together, and pretty much all of San Francisco was there. :) See pictures below.

After that I ticked a few things off the "things I want to do in the Mission 'cause I never go there" list, including hittin' up Tartine - a bad-ass French pastry place. I got this flat apple thing which tasted something like the fruits of human kindness mixed with the promise of world peace. (i.e., it was freakin' good). The rest of the food that everyone else got was also painfully marvelous.

Then went off to meet Josh and Shelley via "Bi-Rite Creamery" (another tick off the list), where I got a "trifecta" of awesome ice cream flavours, check this out:
  1. Honey Lavender
  2. Roasted Banana
  3. Cookies and Creme
I think the phone number for the place was 1-800-glorious, if you know what I'm sayiiin'.

Then wandered around for a while, ran into Sheyla and Meryl from SF State Hillel and they helped me with my Halloween costume purchasing. Got some sick sunglasses and a robe to complete my Big Lebowski costume, should be all good.

After that off to Shelley and Josh's place, and they were awesome as always and it was great to catch up. They gave me a bottle of their new "home-brewed" beer, and showed me how they made it (pretty awesome!!)

Whew, yes the day still had more activities. Then off for food, then Josh and Shelley came with me to Dance Mission, where Becca was in a Modern Dance show with some of her friends. It was SO awesome. Lots of different kinds of dance styles there, from modern, to ballet-y, and some (sweet) sick hip-hip flava too. Good times!! Becca's part of the show was fiendishly good and they had some cool one-handed handstand hip/hoppy things, which I loved cause it was kinda breakdancey and supremely awesome.

After the show I took off to Ryan Darcey's birthday party at his apt on Haight St, great to see lots of peeps from work there, and a good rounding out to the most insane and busily fun weekend day for a while (well, at least since last weekend) ;) It makes me feel good that I am making the most of living in this city. Rock ooooonnnn.

Anyhow after getting home at like 3am and scarfing a whole bunch of Pad Thai before going to bed, I slept in like crazy today and did pretty much absolutely nothing. Met up with Jacob and Kat and went to the North Bay for some random shopping and to play with the new MacBooks, otherwise not much. I checked out the Lonely Planet Japan and Lonely Planet Korea books at Barnes & Noble, they look pretty amazing and I gotta get those as I get closer to planning my trip.

Awesome weekend!! And now for some pics/videos.

Red Bull Soap Box Race

At the races

Crazy people on the rooftops

Haha, Rubix's Cube

These guys crashed and had to carry their cart

Tons of people, and a Star Wars Deathstar ship-shapped Soap Box (on the video screen)

Glorious food from Tartine

Andy, Becca and I about to own some of the Tartine pastries

Ha ha. I am amused by simple things.

Rockin' it at Ryan's party

"And again, but this time with more gangsta"


Me and Ryan, being fierce