Saturday, May 28, 2011

From Idea To Reality: The Art of Design

On Friday, I was invited to a local middle school to judge a game design contest.

A friend of mine teaches art at the school. Another teacher he knows remembered I have experience in game design & development.

I enjoy getting out of the studio to help kids understand the possibilities in commercial art and other creative fields. This was especially fun to see the ideas the kids came up with.

The theme was "Solving America's Energy Problems".
There were several takeoffs of 'Monopoly' & 'Chutes & Ladders', but there were also some good original ideas. Since the games were energy-related, many focused on Green Energy, or the Middle East. Several games used the faces of leaders like Obama, King Saud, and Hillary Clinton on play money. One team made clay sculptures- of a pyramid, the Sphinx & Hosni Mubarak on a mummy sarcophaghus! All the kids, though, put at least some kind of effort into the project.

There were over a dozen teams & the games were set up in the cafeteria. The students were told to get up & move over to a different game at certain points. This way people could try other teams' games.

Meanwhile, the teachers & I walked around observing the teams and their projects. I quickly came up w/ a 3 point system to quickly rate the teams as I stopped by each table.

1) Originality 2) Functionality 3) Visual Appearance

I'd place a dot next to their name for each of the above qualities I thought they met. I made official-looking Winner Certificates on parchment paper for the top 3 teams & the whole event went very well.

Before I went in there to judge, the teacher asked me to make a brief video (posted above) for the students to watch- recounting my experiences in creating games and other products. I used my efforts in producing Da Vinci's Challenge to help describe the process.

My brother works in A/V & film editing so I asked him to help me put together the video. He has awesome editing skills & was indespensible in getting it done.

Since we both also saw it as a cool project to use on his Youtube video page, we put waaaay more voluntary work into it then we needed to.

The result is a basic intro to graphic design & the process of product development that we think turned out well, considering the filming and time constraints.

You can watch it on the MicPros Youtube page for the HD options:

Design Quote by Saul Bass


-Saul Bass

I saw the quote above, and thought it was a really good description of Design.

The quoted artist, Saul Bass was one of the most prolific creative minds of the 20th century.

Here are some of the well-known brand logos he developed:

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

God Postpones The Rapture (Again)

Well, my sister & brother-in-law foresaw the aftermath of this past weekend's "May 21st Judgement Day" fiasco more accurately than Harold Camping could ever hope to predict...

They've done research on this clown, Harold Camping, who is now The King of Failed Doomsday Predictions.

Before last Saturday, they had 100% correctly guessed what the outcome would be.

They said when Judgement Day came & went, Camping would claim that instead of a Pre-Apocalyptic Rapture, the rapture was actually going to be a Post-Apocalyptic Rapture- on October 21, 2011!

So, this con-man already had a backup plan when his absurd prediction didn't materialize.

If anyone believes anything Harold Camping says after this weekend, they should be put in a straightjacket. It's as blindly idiotic as thinking Donald Trump should be President.

Of course, we now know the true reason that The Rapture didn't happen... unholy flying elbow:

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Apocalypse Fever: May 21,2011

The Doors- The End (Live in Toronto)

Apocalyptic visions and predictions have existed since man first developed a sense of time.

This cultural anxiety is probably a natural extension of our own fear of individual mortality.

Just within the last century, there have been plenty of Doomsday Prophecies that have come & gone.

44 End of the World Prophecies-That Failed

Recently, charlatan pastor Harold Camping has gained notoriety for his "numerical-based" prediction that Judgement Day is coming May 21st, a couple days from now.

I first became aware of a billboard near my house, many months ago, proclaiming Judgement Day May 21st 2011.

I remember seeing it while driving home... rolling my eyes & thinking, "I can't wait until May 22, I might call into the Family Radio & give 'em hell", no pun intended.

More recently, more people have heard about it & it's sort of gone "viral".

Most people seemed to be amused by it, but some poor souls are actually caught up in this madness & preparing for The End of the World™. It's sad that people with families are unwisely liquidating their assets & emptying their savings in anticipation of leaving this world.

My sister is having an End of the World Party this weekend, but it's more of a goof. We're lighting a bonfire, eating our Last Meal of choice, drinking beer, and hoping Jesus stops in for the celebration if he's returning. At least I'll be enjoying time with my family if we start ascending into our Light Bodies.

Regarding The Rapture, I saw this flowchart, but I hope it isn't accurate!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Zen of Alan Watts

Alan Watts was a philosophical giant, and one of the many great thinkers who was a significant influence in my attempt to understand life & the reality we experience.

His book, titled The Book (on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are), was really one of my earliest glimpses into the realm of Eastern thought.

I found the book at home, around the time I was in college. Along with Eastern Religions class, reading it blew open my mind to the myriad perspectives and philosophies outside my familiar American Judeo-Christian mindset. All of the worlds major & esoteric religions have teachings and ideas that can help us become wiser and more insightful. However, discovering the inner focus and meditative aspects of the Zen tradition was like kicking down a gate in my brain that opened up a completely new outlook.

I wouldn't say I'm a Buddhist (...maybe a Monkey Buddhist!), but it is a system of thought that syncs with my personal sense of the world:

The reality we experience is apparently a lightshow inside (what we perceive to be) our head.

Of course, that doesn't mean that nothing is real!
It means we can only experience & understand things from our particular, limited interpretation of our world. All our knowledge is like a single star in the infinite cosmos of universal possibilities.

The general Buddhist acceptance of scientific theory and rigorous intellectual inquiry also make it flexible enough to effectively address the complexities of the modern world.

I see the different religions and philosophies as simply guides that can help us navigate through life's journey. How we use the teachings is our choice.

Recently on Deroidify I saw the 2 videos in this post. The one at the top is only a couple minutes, & the video below is an hour plus, but they are both excellent.

Funny Monkeys on The Chive

As much as I love writing about heady subjects like philosophy, science, and politics,... I also truly love to look at funny monkeys.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Stephen Colbert's SuperPAC & the FEC

Stephen Colbert is simply the greatest American political satirist. His merciless exploitation of political theatre is sublime, but also hysterical.

I've been following his recent efforts to form a PAC (Political Action Committee), although I'm not going to bother joining on the website:

Colbert PAC
"Making a Better Tomorrow...

Last nite I was laughing my ass off, watching the footage he showed of his trip to the FEC. He is making a brilliant mockery of the whole corrupt political process, that overwhelmingly favors money & power over sensible ideas.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Stephen Files Super PAC Request
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive

Highlighting the arbitrary & sometimes ridiculous nature of Law, he is trying to bypass certain restrictions (due to being employed by Viacom) on his ability to form a PAC- by forming a nominally different fundraising entity, called a "SuperPAC".

Besides showing the absurdity in our election & political processes, Colbert really just wants that sweet, sweet cash being made by all the other professional politician/entertainers!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Longwood Gardens 5-6-11

This weekend, I also went to Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania.

I was there once before with both my parents. My Mom wanted to go again, with the rest of my siblings for Mother's Day weekend. That place is awesome and I always enjoy observing the wonders of the natural world.

On my last trip I took a ton of photos. There is so much to look at and amazing things in the details of the plants & the man-made structures, as well. My little nephews came too this time, so I was running around & having some fun with them. I still got to take alot of nice pics, though. They are in an album on my Picasa page & can be downloaded to use for desktop images:

Picasa Web Album:
Longwood Gardens 5-7-11

My brother saw this photo of me & said "Nice picture, Jungle Boy!":

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

"Thor" Movie Review

I had a fairly eventful weekend. Sunday, I went with my brothers & one of their girlfriends to see the new movie about the Marvel character based on the Norse god of thunder- Thor.

Although I was interested in the mythologies of different cultures when I was a kid, the Thor comic book character was not really one of my favorites.
I collected titles like the X-men, Spider-Man, Silver Surfer, Batman, & Superman.

Playing Marvel Ultimate Alliance gave me a newfound respect for the Son of Odin. In the game Thor's given a deservedly superior amount of power to smash the crap out of enemies.

The movie was a solid "7" in my opinion & I enjoyed it.
It would get a better rating if there was less emphasis on the silly love story revolving around a temporarily mortal Thor & Natalie Portman's character. It was just overly corny & took away from Thor kicking ass.

We were joking about how Portman ruins the heroes of all the movies she's in, like Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars.

The adaptation of Thor to a movie was otherwise pretty good. The special effects & sound were awesome. The visuals & costumes were all cool, too. I also liked the explanation of the viking realm of the gods, Asgard. as an advanced race with power over space-time warps & other crazy technology.

I'd recommend it, unless you're a weirdo who hates superhero movies.

Personally, I'm more interested in the Green Lantern movie coming out- though I'm not a fan of the choice for Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan, nor the overly-detailed suit & bright green mask...

Monday, May 09, 2011

You're Not Bored- You're Boring

It's nearly impossible for me to feel "bored".

Actually, being alone with my own thoughts and having nothing immediate to do is something I welcome.
It's funny that nowadays when people have a gap in activity or conversation, the answer is to instantly start fiddling with our phones.

This sign sums up my feelings on the idea of boredom pretty well:

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Star Wars Day Extravaganza

May 4th is unofficially "Star Wars Day" (for reasons too corny to repeat). In honor of my favorite movies, I'm unloading a bunch of Star Wars links I haven't gotten around to posting.

• The inspirations behind the Star Wars story:
In The Beginning: Star Wars

• These are more awesome than bizarre:
26 Bizarre Star Wars Costumes

• Amazingly detailed technical drawing of R2-D2- the true robotic hero of the saga.
“A Linch Pin Droid” R2D2 Star Wars Print by Kevin Tong

• The answer is YES, of course...
Did George Lucas change cinema with ‘Star Wars’ prequels?

• Only watch this ridiculously long & funny Red Letter review if you love Star Wars, have a sense of humor, & got some time to laugh. Bookmark it:
Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith

• Map of the Star Wars Galaxy
'Star Wars' Map: A close-up look at a galaxy far, far away...

Interesting behind the scenes & commentary:

Ok... that should hold off any Star Wars geekiness on here for awhile...

Monday, May 02, 2011

Obama vs. Osama: The Aftermath

Well, the biggest news of Obama's presidency is alot of food for thought...

I think it would have been interesting if Osama bin Laden was captured alive, but I can see how that option would be ruled out by those in command of the operation. Normally I'd be against illegal extra-judicial assassination within a foreign country, but- if it comes to the point where the President of the United States is watching a live video feed of your ass getting taken out by America's elite warriors, SEAL Team Six.... then obviously you're just screwed.

The reported details of the operation are pretty amazing. The level of patience & strategy involved, as well as the balls Obama had in authorizing this mission, are all the more mind-boggling when you consider all the other crap happening on his watch. As all this about to happen, he also manages to use comic relief at the WH Correspondents Dinner to publicly ridicule & politically neuter his loudest detractor, the carnival barker himself, Donald Trump.

Obama is far from perfect, but damn he's The Man & I'm not yet seeing how the Republicans are going to put anyone credible up against him in 2012.

I'm also not sure how long it will take them to release photos of bin Laden's dead body, but people's morbid curiosity will need to be satiated at some point. I doubt the either video feed or still images of the actual operation will be released in the foreseeable future. However, all kinds of crazy details will indefinitely continue to emerge from this event.

In the meantime, I'm sure this Tiawanese news animation is an extremely accurate portrayal of the dramatic events:

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Osama is Dead?!?!

Wow, that was fast!
It's only been a decade...

Osama bin Laden found in Pakistan,
Obama to announce

I imagine this is how it went down:

Since I'm watching this breaking news right now, I don't know what the heck is really going on... but it's hard for me not to think back to the photos supposedly showing the unrecognizable bodies of Uday & Qusay Hussein, displayed after their assassination.

Basically my thinking was, "Ok, but those mangled bodies could be anyone."

Even if this really is Osama bin Laden's body- at this point, who knows how much it even matters in the dynamics of global terrorism?

I guess we'll learn more about the circumstances, but it would obviously have been much more interesting & useful if Osama was captured alive.

A blast from the past...