Blog Archive for May 2006

Break The Spell Of The Typical

Since posting YouTube short videos is so fun, here's yet another that I found really hilarious:

I find Wes Anderson to be on of the most brilliant filmmakers, although many of you don't get him because his brand of humor is very satirical. This short film/commercial totally encapsulates Wes Anderson.

A great thing is how Amercian Express has embraced the popular but often misunderstood filmmaker to support their product. Every Wes Anderson fan thinks this thing is awesome, so they'll be imimediately predisposed to American Express.

Although, I know movie makers use American Express, but how many of my friends use American Express credit cards? Absolutely none. "None more black."


I Walk The Line

An article I found in today's local news site was about a student who spoke out for his faith. I definitely urge you to read this badly-written, biased story.

What's wrong with it? Well, it seems to propose what Ben Kessler said was wrong. It only mentions people who were disgruntled with his statement. Was Ben Kessler the only one who has these opinions? Hardly.

If it were my graduation, I'd risk the boos and heckling to cheer Ben on. He was voted Tommie of the Year, so why not let him say his peice? Nobody would have given him trouble if he did the usual "y'all did good" speech. If you're not challenged at a graduation, then what good did the graduation speech do? The graduates certainly won't remember it in a couple years. It won't change their life.

Besides, this could be the start of the University of St. Thomas becoming a Roman Catholic university. For years, St. Thomas has been trying to be the most secular university possible without losing their Roman Catholic roots. If the administration was smart, they'd stop being the mediocre institution they have been for years and start being a real Catholic university. Support the students who represent the Roman Catholic church teaching well.

And if the Star Tribune wants to do a good job with their writing, why not talk to the head of the Vianney Seminary? Or, better yet, ask the Archbishop who was there was they thought? What did graduates who have Catholic Studies degrees think?

At least the President of the university, who has rarely had a thought of his own and usually just spends his 20 minutes reading from a book of quotes, said it was important "to treat one another with respect as we speak and as we listen, regardless of how controversial an issue may be."

Sheesh. I knew I should have gone to the U of M.


Promise To Keep It Innovative

One of my favorite muses, John Reuben, has released another amazing video work. No, it's not an addictive music video, but this time it's an amazing short documentary. Check out out right here:

He's serious. He's professional. He's inspiring. He's my hero.


We Are All A Little Crazy

Last week found Google's release of Google Trends. It shows the popularity of a search term over time, plus allows you to plot more than one next to each other. If you're trying to set up a Google AdWords campaign, it might come in handy.

But what about us casual searchers? Don't worry, there's lots of fun to be found. My friend Bjorn found some really interesting comparisons. Of course, none of these are to be taken at face value. There's no game called "Virtue City" or a TV show called "God and the City". ;-)


I Feel On Top of the World

Myst Screen ShotAnd the other thing that I'm excited about from E3? Well, this one may involve some backstory. Actually, this backstory goes way back.

In 1993, Myst was released. It was an adventure game that was much different than hardly any had seen before, as the world was fairly free to explore and there were puzzles integrated to the game. It was much less of a game as it was an exploration of a whole new world. Of course, though, many of those who liked Doom did not have enough patience. Some did not like the fact that the game only offered periodic snapshots of the world, even though each one was breathtaking, but the technology was not yet available on PCs. Those who were interested in learning about whole, fictional cultures found it fascinating. Hidden throughout the world were hours and hours of written backstory, too. It went on to become possibly the best-selling game of all time.

Of course, repeating such success is almost impossible. Many other companies tried to do it for years after. Probably the best was Cyan's sequel to Myst, entitled Riven. After that, Cyan Worlds licensed their Myst series to other developement teams.

Uru PhotoBut after Riven, there were often rumors of the people at Cyan working on something big. We got a hint of the technology they were developing when we encountered RealMyst, which allowed the user the freedom to move wherever now that 3-D rendering technology had gotten good enough. Finally, we found it was to be entitled Uru, and a large part of the game was going to be an online experience.

When Uru was prepping for release, I was anxiously watching the beta testing phase and the community that was forming online. The world of Uru was expansive and very interactive, and people in the beta test seemed to be having a great time exploring and interacting with each other. And, like all the earlier games, every view looked stunning. There were even online websites devouted to what was happening in the game.

Even before the game was released, Cyan announced the closure of Uru Live because of a "lack of demand" or something else. Most are still unsure how they game to that conclusion, as many of us were waiting for the beta to be over or, in my case, the hardware to play the game. Thus, Uru lived on as a one-player, static game, and the fans discounted the loss of Uru Live as a game that was ahead of its time, a great idea that won't have enough users.

Uru Live Screen ShotBut a couple days ago at E3 that has officially changed. Cyan Worlds has announced that Uru Live will once again be live as a service from GameTap. The company's broadband-only service offers a user all of 500 games to download and play instantly, and this fall the Uru Live experience will be another facet of GameTap. I still haven't played Uru yet and only recently acquired the graphics card needed to run it, but I plan on playing the single-player version in the near future. Since GameTap has a free trial and is only $10/month, I may also try that this fall too. It will be fun to join a real-time world that grows and changes as time passes, I think. And we'll see if anything else comes from it.


Y'all Treat Art Like It Was Some Sort of Religion

Alright, so the title is possibly the antithesis of this post. The beginning of May found the return of the Derek Webb podcast. If you listened to the old podcast episodes, though, you knew it was nothing to get excited about. A couple of them were just audio versions of interviews off the How To Kill and Be Killed DVD. But it seems that Derek finally sees what podcasting is all about.

The new podcasts are not part of the label's promotional machine. They're Derek just talking into his audio recorder. And he's not talking about how great his latest CD is, either. He's taking real questions from real listeners. If the subsequent episdoes are half as good as this first one of May, then it's going to be amazing. In "Derek Webb episode 4", Derek talks about what "Christian music" is (and isn't) and why it can be acceptable to listen to non-Christian music. He goes over why it's not about the money or the fame but about bringing the truth. It's great. I can't wait to listen to the next one. Subscribe to it via iTunes to check it out.


Fell In Love With The Game

Since this week is E3, I thought I'd have to shoot a bit of gaming info into this blog.

Nintendo DS Lite PhotoSo what am I, a mostly non-gamer, looking forward to? Well, for a while I've had my eye on the Nintendo DS. Why? Because it's an advanced Game Boy. It has two screens, one of which is a touchscreen. It has a stylus, and people connected via the Wi-Fi connection can chat together as well as play DS games together. Plus, with the dual-screen and stylus, there's many more fun ways to create new gaming environments.

Coming out in a month, the DS Lite is cheaper and much smaller than the original DS. Plus, it comes in iPod White. It will be cool. Some people are excited about the Zelda game coming out for it.

New Super Mario DS ScreenshotThe game that looks like a blast from the past but will still be tons of fun is the new Super Mario Bros. DS. It has all the gameplay of the classic Mario episodes, plus lots of new playability, small bonus round games, and much more. It looks like a blast and I can't wait. Hopefully I'll find some money to buy it.


I'm Just A Bus Driver, What Do I Know?

So tonight I went to a meeting of Transit for Livable Communities at the nice Goowill building just off University and Fairview. The meeting was mostly about the Central Corridor project, and since it's hard to get information on the web, I decided the best way to find out about developments is by going to the meeting.

As usual, there were a decent share of those passionate, "I hate government" and "Our bus system sucks" people. I always sympathize with those people (because they're right), but they seem to be incapable of figuring out that following the political process is the only way to get this to change. And yelling at the choir rarely does any of that.

It was definitely better than the last community-related Metro Transit meeting. Of course, that's because the meeting last year was to complain about proposed budget cuts. Unlike last year's meeting, though, it was nice to see the concerned citizens for public transportation working on it instead of just the disabled and poor who cannot afford a car.

So what happened at the meeting? Well, they went over the fact that they have an Environmental Impact Study results or something and are looking for the public's reaction to that. Oh wait, the study was about the Central Corridor project, which is a stretch between downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul. The results seem to be that a Light Rail system down the streets of University Ave. (and hopefully a tunnel under the U of M) is the best option to improve transportation in the area.

After a couple of short presentations, we broke into small groups of 10 or so and talked through the issues we found. Of course, a main issue was the money. Where the money is not the problem, it was more the idea of what else we could do with that money. I brought up the idea that I find it hard to believe that they'd find room for light rail and keep the 4 lanes of traffic on the road, but it seemed pretty well known among the rest of the group that it's one of the widest roads in the area. That's probably true, but still, the current Light Rail line on Hiawatha is in much more spacious areas, for the most part.

Apprently the big news of the area is that public transportation is attached to a current tax bill in the state legislature. The Star Tribune has coverage of it, but apparently the word from the meeting is that this half-cent regional sales tax would bring in about $110 million per year for the next couple years, and after the stadiums get paid off, all $220 million would go to public transit. This is the money that mass transit in Minnesota needs, but everyone at TLC was realistically not expecting the legislation to go through. (Plus, our insane governor will most certainly veto it.)

All in all, it was a great meeting to attend. Although I'm still a bit scared of all these political people who just sit around thinking about how to improve the city. They're just too social and weird.


Take A Look Again, I'm Running

Yesterday I was very glad to hear that a good friend of mine, Michael Z., is planning on going to the U of M (not Michigan, you sillies!). Oh wait, that is, if he doesn't join a Socialist friend in Uganda, apparently.

The reason I'm excited about it is because he will be living closer to my place of residence. Therefore, hopefully we can hang out and watch movies more often. He can come over for dinner more often too. That'll be awesome because I miss him. And he's had a hard year, so I'm glad he's feeling ready to go to college.

September is shaping up to be more and more exciting. Although I'm not looking forward to packing all my stuff up this summer in order to move 8 blocks....


When I'm Open Wide With Nothing Left To Cling To

This is killing me.

My iPod hasn't worked for the last two or three weeks and now my computer seems to be having problems now too.

What's going on? Please pray that things start working here soon or God tells me what he's trying to say. My time to work on projects such as is limited enough without spending all that time on fixing my iPod.

Well, hopefully if I take it back to the Apple Store they'll replace it or let me buy a new one or something. That would be cool. Especially since Dad says I need to have the iPod working in a couple weeks for our trip to Indiana for Laura's graduation. So I better get it working.