Inspiration Post 1

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As part of my Interactivity class this year, I’m being asked to keep a journal of inspiration. I thought today I would cover someone’s work who both inspires me, and reinforces my sources of inspiration. He’s also a frightening monster of a man who deserves to burn in hell, but who am I to judge when it comes to love?

Eric Gill at Goldmarkart.com

Eric Gill is a type designer, but more a sculptor, engraver, catholic and incestuous pedophile. His typefaces are all very elegant and clean, speaking with and too the spirit of his inspirations; the church and temple art. You can see in his work a supervillain-esque obsession.

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His engravings vary from having slight detail to immense detail, presenting scenes of his imagination and those chronicled in his holy book, many with an erotic twist. This mentality seems to be present in all his work, and although his over sexxed nature seems absent in his namesake typeface, Gill Sans, the fact that it is so contradictory to his once secret nature, is almost as telling. They say art is the lie that reveals the truth.

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Keep Calm

keepbrokenrecordI was getting really tired of the “Keep Calm and Carry On” you see a lot these days. It’s actually cooled down since I first thought this up, but as per my usual, I never got around to it, and the minute there was homework to do, I decided to work on totally not time-pertinent, completely unnecessary pet-projects.

So I did this just now. Instead of 2 assignments due tomorrow morning. There goes my sleep. But, seeing as I haven’t posted here in forever, this should cover the… month.

I’ll probably repurpose the record player I made for the assignments I’m working on. May as well.

Let me know what you think/if it at least made you “heh”.

Walking off a Cliff: University

Maybe I’m smart enough. Maybe I can cut. Maybe I’m the one who deserves it, and everyone else are the idiots being fooled. Maybe. Maybe not.

Maybe I’m being scammed and I signed my name right under the “consent to an ass-fucking” clause. Maybe.

I’m going to school in September. It’s going to be 4 years. It’s going to cost me probably upwards of $40,000, and I have NO IDEA what it will look like on the other side of that. There is no guarantee for a career, because I’m simply 1 of thousands not only in the same general industry, but same program, in my region.

I am a .00001 out 100%. That is, worthless. And I’m going to pay, to render myself crippled in debt, because I want to get drunk at frat parties while drawing on my computer for a living? Maybe I can still do that without paying a school to show me how. I have a feeling I don’t need an education system to have an education. I have a feeling that the capitalists, and capitalism that I scoff and mock and blame for all my problems, lives and thrives at it’s most cruel and infinitely greedy in the education sector.

Colleges are robbery. They spend 18 years telling you you won’t get a job without a college degree, but that you can do anything you want to do (because they have a degree for that), then they charge you an absurd amount for it, then you don’t get a job anyway, because you can’t do whatever you want. Everyone forgets, when it comes to themselves, that a capitalist, free society like ours requires the uneducated grunt on the assembly line as well as the creative starbuckaneer with chinos strutting down Front St.

http://freenortherner.wordpress.com/2012/05/14/tuition-bubble/

I read this. Terrible timing, because I’ve whined to all of my friends about this for the last 4 months while I’ve been indecisive about going to school in September. It’s reinforcing all of my opinions and detest for University. Maybe I’m smart enough to see the scam, but not smart enough to avoid it. Who knows.

Writing For the Nets: A Blog is Fine Too

Writing is a funny thing. It takes some talent and skill and a lot of understanding. For me it’s like a puzzle. Certain words need to go in certain places to illustrate certain ideas and have a functional and effective paragraph. And then all the paragraphs have to lead in and out of each other. It’s a design, and it’s nature for the best writers. But even the best novelist may have trouble holding an audience like Fark or Reddit readers. Although writing is taught, it takes many forms, and the best novelist, journalist or essayist will have some trouble competing with the best blogger.

Blog writing is a new breed of writing. It takes a new mindset – you’re writing for an audience that is much more casual, it’s a medium that readers can interact with and it’s for an extremely broad sampling of people and on top of all that – it’s near instant. No matter where in the world, they will have access, so you have to keep in mind who’s listening. At the same time, blog writing can be more specific, with all the people on the internet, you find plenty of niches that need catering too, and so my writing on this blog may not hit the ‘big time’ like many of the blogs we’ve all heard about (i.e. trash celebrity gossip blogs).

Writing for the internet, in blog format or any other affords different advantages (and disadvantages) for it’s writers and readers that can’t be found anywhere else. For example, humor is much more common. Generally satire is very popular. hyperlinking and networking with multiple other sources becomes integral, and of course, the ease and accessibility of images on the internet means the entry can be more engaging. And the nature of the internet means it’s always instant.

Polaroids are a lot like the Internet...

Polaroids are a lot like the Internet...

Essentially, a blog post is as much about the text as it is it’s context. With a google search on click away, accuracy and speed is paramount to a blog post.

Maybe that’s why nobody reads my blog.

Jesse & Bob

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is a masterpiece. Film buffs would call it a ‘slow burn’. That is to say you will need to sit right through to the end for the intensity of every shot, every line of dialogue, every matter of subtext and symbolism to be done with and to imprint itself on your consciousness. That is not to say you will be bored. Repeated viewings, if you paid any attention the first go around, may not yield too much more insight in the plot or motivations but will afford you time to better study the players on screen, and to marvel in the spectacle of this achievement.


Many shots feature an out of focus effect with a small portion in the center much sharper. It emulates an old time photo. Many silhouettes come into play, shadows and moody lighting create what is best described as a symphony of sights, from Jesse James’ face lit only on one side, to the glow that surrounds him and Ed Morris in the night, as they pass under the stars for one last stroll together. The lanterns only light a small proximity, and the outlines of the men who carry them with bandanas over their faces are carved into the night and against the woods or the iron of the train. Every shot, if paused, is worthy of painting, capturing every facet of life in 1881 in perfect detail, no thread out of place or brow furled wrongly.

That brings us to the acting, which is superb. Casey Affleck puts on one the most disturbing, powerful and provoking roles in cinema. I do not know who he was channeling, be it an earlier rendition of Robert Ford or maybe his very own interpretation but it is hypnotizing and appalling all the same. Such a strange, small man carries so much weight in the rugged tundra and between the tall trees of Missouri, laid up against his contemporaries he is a breed all his own. From the words he speaks to his expressions and mannerism, they exist only here, a microcosm of genius glowing in a thoughtful recreation of America’s freedom age.

But that’s not to say his foil and all his stage-mates were not performing in their own right. Brad Pitt puts on his own Tour-De-Force as the mysterious, dangerous and frightening Jesse James. Spontaneous, unpredictable, equally as peculiar as Robert Ford and awfully alluring, the well-built man dresses sharp and carries words just as sharp. His mind always on the viewer’s mind, no thought goes unpondered in this troubled man’s head as any audience of this movie can attest. His face speaks volumes of what is never said, from his life-weariness and depression to madness and paranoia, Jesse James is a mess and a dangerous one.

Sam Rockwell’s charm and amicable attitude are put to good work here, playing the ignorant friend to Casey Affleck’s misguided hero and Jesse James’ world weary outlaw. So much characterization comes from even the most mundane tasks and conversations, and of course in the grotesque ones, like Jesse killing the snakes, or Robert saying hello to Jesse’s family.

The movie takes us through the life and times of one of the most well remembered outlaws in America and in the world, slandering the thoughts his name might evoke and bringing him to an all too cruel and uniquely human level. Robert Ford experiences the disappointment of a lifetime in meeting his hero, betraying him, and being made to think by the world, fooled themselves, that he was the bad guy by the very end. The narration punctuates emotions that are already tense and close to tearing with it’s all too convenient timing and frank description.

The editing has a very nice rhythm with long sustained shots keeping us mesmerized and looking for every speck of detail. Most notable is the end when the editing speeds up and features freeze frames as if to capture as a record the events that unfold in Robert’s twilight days.

In the end we never really knew Jesse James; even the Jesse seen here may very well not be real. In the beginning he is described as blinking more often than the common man due to a health condition, and yet his gazes lost in thought harbor very few blinks. What we do know is that we live in a misguided world, where villains rise to the top as heroes, and heroes sink to the bottom as villains. Robert Fords tale is the most important one here, seeing a young man with aspirations torn down and squirming under the weight of a million voices, it is a sight to behold.

Interactive Storytelling

So this is a toughy. How do you make a completely interactive story? To make a story completely dynamic, that by playing it, you control every outcome? How is that possible? It’s not (right now) technically or otherwise. I just couldn’t imagine it, designing a system that could take into account every action and have an according reaction… it’s wild.

To begin, where do we begin? A story needs 3 things to be a compelling story, a beginning, middle and end. How do we get all those in a game where at any point you could change the direction of everything? Say you get 10 minutes to get to a location or your girlfriend is killed. And you don’t make it. She gets killed, she had knowledge to secret of destroying the villain, no one ever finds out. Is that really telling a story? Maybe a really disappointing, sad story. But not very compelling.

Now, if you can qualify a story as just a player romanticizing his own exploits within it, then that is something different, but again lacking a structure that would make it interesting to experience. I’ve logged 20 hours in Skyrim, and although I’m enjoying it (and there were quests here or there with strict outcomes and requirements to complete them), I doubt anyone would want to read about me ducking in corners for hours slowly killing bad guys that are too hard for me take head on. It’s just not an interesting plot. But, a video game is a personal experience, so should it matter? If we excised the main quest from Skyrim, and even all the others, and simply left the NPCs to interact with (buy, sell, make friends, whatever else), We could technically have the interactive story the most ambitious developers strive for… but we won’t have an ending. So where do we draw the line?

Dark Souls might be a better example. The world doesn’t have the random assassins like Skyrim that come for you when you have a big enough name, but the world is just sitting there, and it’s completely up to you how you want to approach it. Even the main quest is sitting way in the back, hard to notice, just hanging out. You do what you want, at your pace, and although it doesn’t have the girth of Skyrim (can’t really make any wives in this one), it does have a vast universe to explore.

But, for right now, I’m sticking to the Uncharted’s for my story. It’s structured, linear, well put together and excellently presented. No, it’s not the transcendent game that will change the way we tell stories in video games, but the level of interaction on a purely physical level is unmatched. It is imitating film, yes, but I happen to like a good movie.