Archive for February, 2008

Education

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

Josh Sager posted this on his blog first, but I must also share. I think most people would be able to identify with at least one aspect of this video, and probably more if you’ve been in school in the last ten years.

Alas, I’ve never had the pleasure of the classic, college lecture where you and 200 of your classmates fill an auditorium to learn for grades; but I know without a doubt that it wouldn’t have been conducive to my education. It certainly wouldn’t have done anything for me socially. I was never a class star, but having some level of human interaction with teachers fought my natural instincts to wallflower. I have seen speakers in the lecture setting, but that was for undocumented personal benefit, without any sort of papers or class submissions for grading. Seeing what I do of Josh’s workload as a teacher, I can’t imagine having to grade for that many — his time is consumed so much as it is trying to grade for classes of 20 to 35.

He’s been preaching about education’s outdated model for a while now, and his position lends itself to some flexibility in how the information he needs to share is broadcast. He’s always stretching the model a little. I imagine a 4+ year institution would be much, much harder to stray from the system that’s been making it money for decades and possibly longer.

I feel that all levels of education — K-12, technical or traditional college, etc — should above all instill the desire and ability to continue learning after you leave the institution, despite the major or whether you actually acquire the piece of paper that said you were there the amount of time you intended to be. I suppose some of the kids in the above video must have that drive out of necessity, but does surfing the web and facebook for hours a day allow for that urge to foster?

I’m not looking for answers, exactly. It’s merely food for thought. In my humble opinion, it is an individual’s responsibility to continue their own education after leaving whatever formal schooling they are able to secure for ourselves; especially when some fields — like graphic design — that degree means significantly less than your talent, potential and portfolio. There’s independent legwork needed in growing/maintaining knowledge, whether personally or professionally.

On a related note: After being involved with two Podcamp Pittsburghs (+ one bootcamp), I have finally begun to embrace one of the featured medias discussed there. Again. Podcasts pretty much rock my world, and once upon a time, I had subscribed to several. But they began to steal room on my hard drive, I wasn’t listening to them as much as I should have and, lamest of all excuses: my iPod didn’t have a screen. I never knew what I was listening to.

Between you and me, I still don’t know the names of half the songs in my library.

I was planning on taking a brush up course in French in the next six months. Instead, armed with a shiny new screen and some inspiration, I checked to see if there were any “Learn French” podcasts out there. iTunes lists nine beautiful options, and all are free downloads. There’s german, spanish, japanese, and more. I’m test driving two of them right now, and I may just start at the beginning to get my brain back into the swing of things. There’s a broad range of levels, too, depending on where you’d like to start.

J’adore l’internet.

Dance of Destruction

Monday, February 18th, 2008

Mr. Baconpants moves faster than maximum warp. Here’s a little vision of the Apacolypse I’ve deemed “Dance of Destruction.”

cthulu-robot-finished.JPG

What better way for Cthulu and our future artificial masters to decide humanity’s fate than by dance? I submit that this will be how all conflicts are solved in the future. Be able to say “I told you so” during our unfortunate end. Available at Chestlaser.com.

Tiny Updates

Monday, February 18th, 2008

dreamsproph.JPGBesides the disturbing Valentine in the last post, I’ve been keeping myself busy-busy with life in general. Here’s the current skinny.

Writing: I’m nearly halfway finished with The Sum of David’s sequel.

I’m beginning to think I started the story too early, which means I’ll end up cutting/condensing the first few pages. The story will take as long as it takes to tell, however, so page count is really secondary to my concerns, even though I do want to keep it about the same size as TSoD. We’ll see what happens. In my experience, this stuff usually works itself out. And trimming is always easier than having to add and recalibrate a portion of the plot. For a while, I was actually more worried about…

Well, it isn’t writer’s block, exactly. It is more like the Midas touch, except everything produced via my fingertips is stinky poo instead of wonderful shiny gold. I had a very successful write-o-thon last weekend, but haven’t been able to do anything worthwhile since then. The dialogue is wooden and fake, the action forced, and any dramatic revelations seem out of character, over-acted or blah.

This was in a blog draft I wrote last week in an effort to confess some sins and refocus. To my surprise, it actually worked. I got some solid writing in Saturday and Sunday. There are some points that I know will shift in the revision — and that’s a bummer of a feeling, when you’re putting down words and you know for a fact they aren’t going to stay — but it’s not the verbal vomit like it was last week. Whew!

Illustration: I’ve got lots on my plate, but in the most wonderful way. I’ll post current projects upon their release. For the moment, you should check out Chest Laser, an online independent clothing store. Matt Gondek has created two nifty designs so far (including the logo), and more products will follow as the store expands.

I’ve got a couple ideas slated as personal development on my agenda, too. My character designs need a little more variation, for example, so I’ve got an idea for a series that should stretch my abilities on that front. It will still be that ‘cute evil’ style I happily fall into, but hopefully in differing shades. I’m also looking forward to working with some fresh people, and that will be exciting. Who knew people would actually want the stuff I love to do anyway?

Dance: My plan to take one class a month is still on track. I’ve taken four classes at PBT since the new year and I’m loving it.

*Illustration at top is a chapter icon from The Cauldronborn. The story should probably never see the light of day, but the icon is nice — it heads a chapter where the protagonists visit a fortune teller that sees into the future by throwing a tantrum over her freshly baked cookies. Then she eats the cookies and goes into a trance. …it doesn’t have to make sense; it’s the future, maaaan.

V-Day

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

I’m not a big Valentine’s Day person. I do like the idea of appreciating your loved one. I understand that sometimes life gets in the way, and taking a day to remind someone how much you care is not only vital, but necessary to maintaining a healthy relationship. I like chocolate. I don’t mind the color pink. It’s all the other stuff that bothers me.

However. Instead of droning on about the nauseous feeling I get every time I walk into a drugstore in the two weeks before this silly, disgustingly consumer-driven holiday, I have a present for all of you:

happyvday_tapeworm.gif

I’m afraid I can’t offer much explanation. He loves you… and so does his tapeworm. Or his tapeworm loves you and is speaking through his host body. There’s really a number of ways to translate this, and they are all disturbing. Feel free to pass it along to all those people in your life that you care about. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Superbowl Commercials

Monday, February 4th, 2008

super_bowl_adssffhighlightprod_affiliate38.jpgThe intro to the Superbowl has reminded me that I need to purchase the soundtrack of at least one of the National Treasure movies. I highly suspect that was the background music for Troy Aikman’s introduction.

Budlight: Breathing fire, flying and talking to animals. Very nice. Cheese run, excellent — I liked the trick baguette. And it’s true, accents are sexy. Also: Will Farrell!

Audi putting Luxury on notice via an auto “head” in bed. Funny, even if I had to explain it to other parties. Also a tad disturbing, but not to the point where it totally put me off… plus, that new Audi car looks SWEET.

PepsiMax: Drowsing public, cute. Wake up to Roxy music with said drink, cute. Mango pissed? Awesome.

Hm, a new episode of House is on after the game.

UnderArmor: is always very epic. It kind of made me feel wimpy, though, since my muscles don’t have muscles on top of their muscles.

Bridgestone: screaming tortoise/grasshopper tie for the best of the screaming animals. They really ramped up their advertising throughout the entire Superbowl, including sponsoring segments of the actual event. A good move, since of all the brands advertised their’s was one I had totally forgot existed.

GoDaddy is smart, if tasteless. And it totally worked — Josh went to the website before the commercial was even off the air.

FedEx: Giant pigeons? Somewhere PittGirl is screaming. Still.

Cars.com: Plan B theme was memorable and well done. Head shrinking witch doctor and “You should probably step out of the stone circle of death to, you know, avoid any confusion.” Priceless.

Tide: Talking stain was good, even if it was a little annoying.

Budweiser: Rocky horse, tee hee. The end was disappointing, though.

Life water: Dancing lizards = dumb. Sometimes having no point is cool. This was not one of those times. They probably paid a fortune to use MJ’s Thriller, too. A shame.

Is House playing after the game? I feel like I heard that somewhere.

Planters: Ugly girl attracting serious love attention. Loved it. Cyclist into the taxi = hi-LAR-ious (no hard feelings to bikers, of course). Also, pick the wedge!

Pepsi: However you feel about Justin Timberlake, he’s certainly a good sport. You can’t have a diva complex while ramming your doodles repeatedly into a mailbox post. Delightful.

Vitamin Water: Shaq as a jockey is a RIOT. If he and a horse raced, he would win on stride alone.

Bridgestone: Alice Cooper + snake and Richard Simmons, tee hee.

eTrade: Videocasting toddlers that barf about stocks are disturbing, but also cute… ish. I think. Maybe? Clowns are just creepy, though. They did follow up with a grown-up version later in the game, which was smart.

Coke: Aw, go giant Charlie Brown balloon!

Oh? is House on later?

Taco Bell: Wikshh! In my opinion, the insistent mariachi band was a grand success! Sombreros always win.

Gatorade: Noisy dog gulping water loudly? Gross and… just gross.

Victoria Secret: They know their demographic oh-so-well. But what I want to know is if I can buy the chair? Because, seriously, that’s a great chair.

Amp: Man jumping a car with his nipples after drinking an energy drink. I miss Salt’n Pepa. Josh said “That was ______!” during this one, but I didn’t know who he was talking about since I grew up sans cable (hard knock life and all that, you know).

American Idol: Oh, Ben. That was a whole lot of unnecessary. The only time he belongs on television is if there is a game on and he’s in it.

t1_0203_secret.jpgAnd this is where updates end because I became too engrossed in the game. Budlight was the obvious winner this year, in my opinion. They had three different kinds of commercials, including a set in the “now comes with __(supernatural power)__” theme. Pepsi and Cars.com did a nice job, also. Outside of that, there were a few decent ones and several that totally missed the mark. I guess if I can recall what company did what commercial, someone earned their $1.9 bazillion dollars.

It’s funny how much media pressure is put on the commercials, and so many of them obviously try so hard and still stink. I suppose it does give more people a reason to watch the game. Also, Tom Petty was a surprisingly entertaining halftime show. Even if most of those songs came out a decade or more ago, he’s still one of the most rock’n roll’n zombies I know. It is interesting to point out that all the halftime shows since the Big Bad Wardrobe Malfunction of ‘04 have been dudes — Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, and Prince. Of those, my favorite by far was been Prince: I seemed to recall it rained heavily on him, and when the heavens are participating during Purple Rain you just know it’s rock’n roll.

Getting back on track — if you missed any of the commercials or would like to re-watch them, you can do so here.