Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Less Briefly, in 3D

I'm astounded that entertainment media has found a valid, artistic reason for presenting movies in 3D. Apparently the movie industry is going to cut costs by attempting to produce movies that don't require barf bags.
Hollywood in general should take note. At one point this industry shifted gears and became hyper-capitalized, like the publicly-owned companies, and producers couldn't judge a film beyond the merits of its opening weekend take. The Watchmen is being painted as a box office bust, but I'd wait for the DVD sales before drawing any conclusions. Though the reviews have been mixed, I'm starting to feel that the movies that receive love-it-or-hate-it reviews are the only ones really worth seeing. If too many people have the same opinion, then it's probably worth a skip.
Blade Runner was a bust in the theatres as well, but it has since been hailed as one of the best movies of all time, and one of the most visionary. Not bad for a film that cost $30 million to make; they'll be re-issuing that one for years to come.


Monday, April 20, 2009

Follow the Moose!

So for all you peeps who have Google accounts - GMail included - you should check out Google Reader. Why? Well for one, it's a pretty neat universal feed aggregator that lets you follow a variety of frequently updated sites. And two, it's an easy way to follow this blog!

For those of you who are a little sick of the suck on the Internet - otherwise known as Facebook ennuie - and are looking to follow publications that provide a little insight, then this can be a very useful tool. And hey, if you think this blog doesn't suck, then feel free to try it out by Following my blog. Just click on the button in the Follow the Moose panel to your left, and this fine publication will be added to your Reader reading list. Go ahead and try it. Do it. DO IT. Or you know, subscribe to the RSS feed. I guess you could do that too.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Jing Screen Captures

Just wanted to give a shout-out to a really nifty WPF program called Jing, from the folks at TechSmith. This screencapture tool is extremely streamlined, allows you capture images and videos seamlessly, and you can post them online at the click of a button. The free version uploads them to the TechSmith hosting site,, while the very cheap Pro version lets you upload straight to YouTube. It also supplies an MPEG 4 codec that produces better, smaller video files. And there's a Mac version too!

Other than being a great program, Jing is also a great example of what can be done with WPF. I found out about the program while browsing this very useful WPF resource, Jerry Lin's WPF WTFs, a blog that accumulates WPF knowledge gathered while creating Jing. Check it out!


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

iNIN: You Were Poked with a Nine Inch Nail

More Trent Reznor opinions on the music industry and how it should promote itself, as well as a description of the new Nine Inch Nails iPhone app, another experiment in social networking.
The article also describes the dynamics of the App Store, and how, with its low initial entry cost, it is spurring on development of small-scale applications similar to the ones developed in the late eighties and early nineties. John Carmack has even gotten into the act, porting Wolfenstein 3D, the game that put Id Software on the map, to the iPhone.
In fact, he is using an open-source version of his own source code that was originally modified to use OpenGL, and has re-ported that back on to the iPhone. Apparently the project took him 5 days and will make him a bazillion dollars. Check out his blog item on the subject - Carmack is a good writer and his perspective on the gaming industry, not to mention the software industry in general, is fascinating. Wolfenstein, other than being a brilliant money-maker, is also an experiment in usability design - Carmack wants to figure out how to put the FPS on a multi-touch device, and this is his first crack at it. I wouldn't be surprised if he figures it out by the time he releases DOOM.


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Trent Reznor Interview is hosting this excellent interview with Trent Reznor, headman of Nine Inch Nails. It's really interesting to see him discuss the business side of music and how he perceives the reality of the music industry these days. He has been ahead of the curve in terms of mainstream bands and how they distribute their music. He no longer has a label, but rather self releases now, and he discusses the success of their latest album The Slip, which emulated the release strategy of In Rainbows (which, for some reason, is no longer available for download) except they were more honest about the release and took a price-point strategy. Basically, the music is free, but if you want the album, DVD, limited edition stuff that fans might be interested in, then they are available at a modest price. This lowers manufacturing costs, since they know exactly how many units to produce.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Movies: I Love You, Nick Cage!

I saw a couple of movies that I thought were surprisingly good. Yesterday my girlfriend and I caught Knowing on $5 night at the Paramount. This was actually exactly the kind of movie I like seeing for $5... somewhat plausible and a few holy shit movies that were genuinely surprising. And there's the magic of Nick Cage - you could tell he was on the verge of mailing this one in, and then he got a little hunch that maybe this movie wouldn't suck if he just put in enough effort to make it to the end. There are some pretty awful scenes at the beginning of the movie, but things really pick up at about the 30 minute mark. Again, for $5, it was a great popcorn flick. Plus, this movie will probably make enough movie that it will continue the Nick Cage leading man phenomenon for another five years. (As an extra, I just read that Knowing was directed by Alex Proyas, who did Dark City. And that explains why this movie didn't suck at all.)

And then there's I Love You, Man! This is old-school comedy done right, by a couple of genius actors. The movie is understated, but consistently funny and believable. It's also got the right mix of comic red herrings mixed in with feel-good conventions... it plays with the romantic comedy structure a bit and adapts it for the platonic relationship, but it doesn't stray so far away that the movie isn't entertaining. Honestly, it just feels like they nailed it with this one. Rudd plays a straight-man perfectly, and he does it by not being boring. Apparently Apatow wasn't involved, but he might as well have been, so I'll chalk it up there with 40 Year-Old, Superbad, Forgetting Sarah, and Knocked Up as a another success for the crew.
And finally, I caught The Incredible Hulk on "DVD", as we like to call our internet connection, and I gotta say - WTF? Why was this film necessary? I'm not a comic-book movie hater by any means, but this film was particularly vapid and meaningless, especially since it was effectively a repeat of the surprisingly superior Hulk from five years ago. I mean, Hulk wasn't a great movie, but at least you had a director in Lee who was willing to take some chances and add a little direction to the film. This movie was by the numbers shitty - Liv Tyler reprising her husky Arwen-esque voice is not an upgrade over Jennifer Connelly, nor is Ed Norton an obvious improvement over Eric Bana. People may have had issues with the first movie, but I kind of liked the fact that when Bana as Banner got mad, he looked like he was losing his shit. Norton looked like he was experiencing Nerd Rage, to borrow the term from Fallout 3.
And wasn't this supposed to be the Hulk movie where they fixed the Hulk? If anything, Hulk looked worse in this film - like a Playdough version of Peter Jackson's King Kong. Guys, turn down the reflectivity on the CGI models, please. Crank that spinner down, boy. Environment maps are no longer impressive, and they don't look real. Skin does not reflect, it diffuses. Jesus, I'm getting angry.
And why the heck does every superhero have to fight his evil twin? Iron Man fights Evil Iron Man, Spiderman fights Venom, Hulk fights an abomination, Wolverine is going to fight Sabertooth, Superman fights evil Superman over and over again, and on, and on, ad nauseum, et cetera. At least the first film had Hulk fighting his father who ended up being nothing like him - the fight was incomprehensible (Hulk beat the shit out of a cloud, if you'll remember) but at least Ang Lee was willing to give us something with artistry (even if it failed) instead of the steaming green turd we were handed at the end of the most recent film. I respect the former film, even if I didn't like it much, but the latest movie was just a waste of everyone's time.


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