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10/21/11

Jason’s “Brainwash” era is no more

Today marks the joyful end of my run of seven years of involvement in the Brainwash Movie Festival.

I’m proud of the work I’ve done to improve, enhance, and run the festival for all of these years.

I started helping Dave out in 2004 with one very simple goal: to add a couple of pieces to my print design portfolio (a flier and a program). Somehow that grew into maintaining and redesigning the website, as another portfolio piece, and a way to help out a friend. Then, a couple judges moved on, so I started helping judge the movies. And every year I did more to promote and run the thing. At that point, a couple years ago, I reasoned that I was so involved that I might as well get some kind of minimal material benefit (a tax break, and it didn’t amount to much, monetarily) from participating in the festival, which led to my having become a partner in the business.

I have to admit that during that act I was ambivalent and had a fair amount of trepidation. I knew that Dave wanted to ultimately develop a fictitious, episodic tv series (now webisode series) about the film festival, and make money by doing so. I wasn’t convinced that I could really help pull it off, nor did I particularly want to. I did help, though, and spent many grueling, frequently middle-of-the-night hours in 2010 working on the series.

It certainly wasn’t all bad. We had meetings, wrote story ideas, figured out which shots we wanted, and spent hours putting some stuff on video. (We also had nights that lasted until dawn, and grueling physical labor, and arguments, and tedium.) What ultimately came out of 2010’s effort was a mostly incomprehensible 23-minute curiosity (of which only 4 or 5 minutes ended up being our own footage — the rest consisted of a couple of the best movies from 2010’s festival). The few that watched it reportedly said that it accurately captured the feel of the drive-in festival. However, apparently none of them understood the underlying plotline, which (of course) was that aliens on a distant planet who survived by consuming stimulating intellectual content intercepted from other planets were literally being bored to death due to a lack of such content — and that Hollywood was aware of this and was keeping the quality of their movies deliberately low in order to (I guess) commit genocide. Therefore, one intrepid alien sent his hench… alien… to earth to harvest independent film content so that their race could survive.

Silly? Yes. Clever? I’d say so. Doable? Absolutely not, 100% no way. Not with the team we have (or, rather, had). But we actually created something, which was something. And now, I move on. No hard feelings — it’s just time for a new chapter in my life. In the meantime, check out Brainwash when it comes around again!

(Published more than three years after writing it — I guess it’s no longer “too soon.”)

Filed under Culture, Life, News (and tagged with , ) on October 21, 2011 at 6:59 pm
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10/5/11

RIP Steve Jobs

Not much to say but that a visionary man is gone, and that I wrote and published this blog entry on my iPhone.

Filed under General, News, Tech, Unfinished Thoughts (and tagged with , , ) on October 5, 2011 at 6:45 pm
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8/24/11

iPads, cash, and the U.S. government

I have absolutely no need for an iPad. Where it would fit between my iPhone and my MacBook Pro is a very small space indeed. However, being an Apple fanboy in general, I just read this article about the iPad’s total domination of the tablet market. One paragraph really stood out.

With its cash reserves — I’m sure you’d seen the reports than indicate Apple has more cash than our own government and now we learn Apple is more valuable than the 32 biggest euro banks combined — Apple could outlast all of them without breaking a ledger page sweat.

Oh. No, I hadn’t seen those reports. Indeed, CNN says:

According to the latest statement from the U.S. Treasury, the government had an operating cash balance Wednesday of $73.8 billion. That’s still a lot of money, but it’s less than what Steve Jobs has lying around.

Tech juggernaut Apple had a whopping $76.2 billion in cash and marketable securities at the end of June, according to its last earnings report. Unlike the U.S. government, which is scrambling to avoid defaulting on its debt, Apple takes in more money than it spends.

“We don’t let the cash burn a hole in the pocket or make stupid acquisitions,” CEO Jobs said last fall. “We’d like to continue to keep our powder dry because we think there are one or more strategic opportunities in the future.”

Offering Uncle Sam a short-term loan is probably not one of them.

Probably not, indeed. But the imaginative CNN writer offered another possibility in the lede: “Maybe the cash-strapped U.S. government should start selling iPads.”

Sorry, that’s all wrong. That would be silly! The reverse is a much better idea: Maybe Apple should take over all the operations of the U.S. government. Apple couldn’t do much worse, could they? I have more faith in Steve Jobs than I do in Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court combined, and my wild guess is that a majority of Americans do, too.

Should I start a petition drive? (No. No, I shouldn’t.)

Filed under Amusing (if only to me), I Hate Politics, News, Tech (and tagged with , , , , ) on August 24, 2011 at 10:49 am
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8/12/11

Hello WordCamp visitors

You may notice that I seldom post on this blog. Recently acquired fans have raved about the content, however, so perhaps I will be inspired to post more. Usually what happens at WordCamp is that I post a couple of live blogs and then let the site slowly wither throughout the year, until I start writing a really long comment on SFGate or something, after which I realize “this belongs on the blog!” and post it here.

Strangely or not, I do similar things to plants; plus points for consistency, I suppose.

Apparently more than 20,000 people make a living with WordPress, according to the (very general) presentation I’m in right now. Including this site, I have four WordPress sites in production that I built (and sometimes designed): the CLCV Education Fund, the Brainwash Drive-in Bike-in Walk-in Movie Festival (in Oakland September 3, 9, and 10!), the San Francisco Improv Festival (didn’t design but coded the theme — their opening night is next Thursday!), and the one you’re on right now.

Got any questions about design, or creating custom themes, or installing WordPress? Let me know.

Filed under Life, Tech (and tagged with , ) on August 12, 2011 at 9:49 am
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7/20/11

Just now

Ten minutes ago, I woke up from a doze slipped into while reading and taking off my shoes. Both legs stretched out in front of me, I awoke with my right foot entirely asleep, as both feet rested on the seat of a folding chair. When I gingerly started lowering my feet to finish removing my shoes — I had gotten as far as untying the right one — I imagined with a mixture of horror and detached fascination (as I have numerous times in the past) that if I had put all my weight on my foot while it was in that state, I could have easily (if unintentionally) snapped my ankle in half.

I’m fine — actually, pretty great at the moment. Not much to share here, but thought I’d stop by after not having done so in more than three months. With only four blog entries in more than seven months this calendar year, it seems this site is headed for a slow extinction (the whimper kind, not the bang kind, apparently). But, we’ll see.

Filed under Amusing (if only to me), Fluff, Life, Unfinished Thoughts on July 20, 2011 at 12:52 am
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4/6/11

The art of getting bumped

Neat (via the New York Times):

[A]irlines continue to cut capacity in an effort to keep up with rising fuel prices, leaving fewer seats for passengers…. [T]here are some travelers who see the flight crunch as a lucrative opportunity. Among them is Ben Schlappig. The 20-year-old senior at the University of Florida said he earned “well over $10,000” in flight vouchers in the last three years by strategically booking flights that were likely to be oversold in the hopes of being bumped.

If you subscribe to the credo that there’s “nothing new under the sun,” then this is exactly the kind of pursuit you’d expect from young Americans who possess entrepreneurial spirit. There are many worse ways one could devise to maximize one’s benefit by exploiting some aspect of a system.

It’s refreshing to me to see a reversal in the trend of corporations destroying our society, even such an insignificant one. So, thank you, Mr. Schlappig, for doing the legwork. Perhaps others will gain from your pioneering ways.

Filed under Amusing (if only to me), Culture, Fluff, News, Travel on April 6, 2011 at 1:21 pm
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3/9/11

You’ve gone and done it this time, Wisconsin Republicans.

Wisconsin Solidarity
Wow, Wisconsin Republicans, very slick. Your crap plan to kill collective bargaining (and a whole lot of other things about Wisconsin government) basically had the votes. But instead of waiting out the Dems who fled the state, you had to go and create a committee that met in violation of state open meeting laws.

Wisconsin state politics has long featured some degree of blatant corruption and/or powermongering (Tommy Thompson, Chuck Chvala, Gary George, etc.), but Governor Scott Walker isn’t anywhere near as savvy as any of those guys were.

Convening the hastily formed committee was clearly an illegal act. What fools they are to choose not to play by the rules and completely give up the moral high ground, especially when everybody knows they had the votes to eventually win anyway. It was an overreach from the start.

From http://www.doj.state.wi.us/dls/OMPR/2010OMCG-PRO/2010_OML_Compliance_Guide.pdf (a guide to open meeting compliance from the WI attorney general in 2010) —

page 10:

The two most basic requirements of the open meetings law are that a governmental body:
(1) give advance public notice of each of its meetings, and
(2) conduct all of its business in open session, unless an exemption to the open session requirement applies.

and page 13:

The provision in Wis. Stat. § 19.84(3) requires that every public notice of a meeting be given at least twenty-four hours in advance of the meeting, unless “for good cause” such notice is “impossible or impractical.” If “good cause” exists, the notice should be given as soon as possible and must be given at least two hours in advance of the meeting. Wis. Stat. § 19.84(3).

No Wisconsin court decisions or Attorney General opinions discuss what constitutes “good cause” to provide less than twenty-four-hour notice of a meeting. This provision, like all other provisions of the open meetings law, must be construed in favor of providing the public with the fullest and most complete information about governmental affairs as is compatible with the conduct of governmental business.

Seriously, think about this for a second. What good cause could there possibly have been to create a committee and have it meet almost immediately? There is none. The Dems have been out of town for days, so the fact was that they just wanted to ram it through — that definitely doesn’t pass the “good cause” smell test (and if you argue that there was a good cause, think carefully about what your biases might be).

Maybe Michael Moore’s speech the other day spooked them.

Frankly, I’m amazed that this is happening in my home state. You know things are bad when even Wisconsinites finally decide enough is enough. To be honest, my (wacky and perhaps unrealistic) dream is that the next big progressive movement arises (again) in Wisconsin.

Filed under I Hate Politics, News, Wisconsin (and tagged with , , , , , , ) on March 9, 2011 at 7:22 pm
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