Monday, September 26, 2016

Dust is a short film that is one awesome example of how crowd-sourcing and Kickstarter can make amazing things happen.

This is the matte painting of the mine that's featured in the film. I wish I could draw with this kind of detail. What amazing talent some artists possess. I wonder how they do this? Photoshop? Click to Embiggen and really get an eyeful.
I watched this short film called "Dust" over the weekend (it's about 23 minutes long), and I thought it was really good. The story is pretty straight forward. Most of humanity lives in walled cities, and there are people called "Trackers" who are basically a kind of medieval "witch doctor"? At least that's what I got from it. The only one of note is of course the main character who has been studying a lifeform called a hydra which has the ability to basically evolve to cure anything. It cleaned up the streams of the world (making them non-toxic), and it appears to be able to neutralize diseases too. It's definitely an interesting concept.

Here's the official description of the movie from the Vimeo site:
A Sci-Fi/Fantasy inspired by anime and classic horror, Dust is set in a harsh and unpredictable natural environment where people have isolated themselves in an ancient city behind a massive wall. A socially marginalized tracker teams up with a black-market merchant to save the society that has rejected his way of life.
I kind of wonder if the dystopian world of "Dust" is some alternate Earth of the future or if this is a story of humans who have come to live on an alien world and essentially lost any technical advantage over the environment that they used to have. The alien life evolves rapidly, which is interesting to think about.

If you have the time, I highly suggest that you watch the embedded video. It's good to see a sci-fi story with a Japanese influence in it (was it filmed in Japan?), and it's really well done (I heard it was crowd-sourced). That and the dialogue is quite good (as is the acting).
Dust from Ember Lab on Vimeo.

Friday, September 23, 2016

The drug company Allergan challenged other biotechs to self-police themselves for reasonable price hikes and no other company in the world joined them.

Great beauty is a fairy tale blessing bestowed upon princesses at birth. There's a reason for that: everyone wants to be beautiful. And whether you like to admit this or not, money is the same thing as beauty in the United States (and in many cultures around the world). People who are beautiful have many social advantages in life. Well, the same thing can be said for people with money, i.e., they have many social advantages in life.

It's honestly time that more people accepted this for truth.

Yes, I'm actually going there. I'm saying that people who have money are "in a sense" beautiful. They have as much power over society (sometimes more so because beauty fades with time). If you think rich people don't have as much power over society as beautiful people (or you don't value money) then congratulations, but you're wrong (and in the minority). If it horrifies you that I could sit here and write that, "a beautiful person could have their pick of sexual partners" and insist that the word "beautiful" in that sentence could be swapped out for "rich," then I think you're naive. I think that there are a lot of angry, delusional young people out there who have been struck by this reality, are having difficulty wrapping their heads around it, and very much want society to change. Well I've got news for those people: that kind of thinking has been happening for thousands of years. It's also not going to change.

It's not a new idea to actually be young and think it's reasonable to be 1) young, 2) beautiful, and 3) wealthy enough to never be dependent on anyone else for anything. After all, chances are a young and reasonably fit person already has the first two qualities in the bag. That third quality seems perfectly attainable, right? If it weren't for society and capitalism standing in the way. But more and more, that third quality is (in all reality) the size of a mountain equivalent to Everest. The fact is, most people will not have what it takes to reach the top of that mountain (or to even make it to base camp). Most of us (no matter how you feel) will be mediocre.
It's a nice thought. But I think a lot of people are born to
just do this very thing. Again, not my rule. Just a fact.

Sorry to pop your narcissistic balloon.

But that's what narcissism is, right? It grows from that sense deep inside you that you deserve better and people just don't recognize the greatness you are due. I think it's healthy when you examine those inner feelings of bitterness at not being appreciated and the light comes on and you realize, "Hey, the reason I'm being treated like this is perfectly valid. I'm a mediocre person, have accomplished nothing that society deems as great, and as far as I can tell...never will."

Like being born with natural beauty, it is possible to be born "rich." But for most of us, this just isn't a feasible reality. For most of us, you will be born into a system in which you (and your children) will live in socio-economic bondage for your entire lives. In other words, you will always be "beholding" to someone for survival. And if they ask you to jump, you better learn to jump just right.

So where do the young get their idea of it being reasonable to ask, and be given, just three "small" things in life? Perhaps they were coddled too much by parents who told their children, "You are a special snowflake."

But here's the thing. Saying,
"All I want in life is to be young, beautiful, and to have enough money to not be beholding to anyone. I don't think that's asking for much..."
is what I would call a complete "break" from actual reality. It's insane. That anyone wouldn't look at that and see that it's actually asking for everything just blows my mind. And if I learned one thing in life, very few people ever get everything that they want. Not my rule. I'm just stating how it is.

Sure, there are people who insist that money isn't important in a partnership. They turn their noses up and live in denial. It's a demonstrable fact that arguments over financial matters and stress is the greatest cause for divorce and the destruction of relationships. Having six-pack abs only goes so far.

Is this how it should be? I have no answer with regard to this question. I can only say that this is how it is. This is how life works for many people in the world. And here is my point: greed is part of the culture of America, and no where is this more apparent than with drug pricing.

Drug price hikes for a life-saving epipen from drug company Mylan recently created a "media hurricane." I watched the CEO of Mylan addressing congress on Thursday on CNBC. She flew to her meeting in a privately-owned jet. And she showed nothing but contempt for anyone that doesn't see that these drug prices are necessary to ensure the proper delivery of the life-saving drug. If people can't afford it, well those people just die I guess. Why does she think this way? Because she wants to be beautiful, and having lots of money is the same thing as beauty.

This isn't the only example. Another CEO of a drug company a few months ago got called on the carpet before congress over a tear-inducing 5000% price hike to a drug (Daraprim) that saves lives for people afflicted with a rare "life threatening" disease having to do with exposure to dirty cat litter.

Again, why is this happening? Simple answer: people desire to be rich. We call it greed. Greed happens because money is so incredibly powerful. It makes wishes come true. It gives you power over society. People respect, worship, and envy those who have it in vast quantities. It has the same importance and desire associated with it as a straight man's fascination with a super-model. Cry in horror all you want, but unless the power that money has over people is lessened, things will only get worse.

It's not reasonable to expect people to not crave beauty. Therefore, it's not reasonable to expect people to not crave money. And I think I'm being perfectly honest when I say that very few ugly people would ever want this to change, because money gives them the social advantages that youth and beauty would naturally bring.

On September 6th, the Allergan CEO promised in a blog post that their company would limit future price hikes (in response to widespread criticism of the drug industry's practices). If you don't know, Allergan is an enormous biotech company. The CEO, Brent Saunders, also challenged other companies to join a pledge, fearing that someone like Hillary Clinton would start a push for federal regulation of drug pricing. This (of course) would make it harder for pursuers of money to become happy because there'd be fewer dollars to spread around for things like private jets, wining and dining, and being "pillars of the community"--another way of saying, "person with too much money gives it away for social status."

That seems promising, right? Someone in a big drug company finally got a clue and challenged others!

But here's the thing: No other company since then has accepted the challenge. Nada.

Allergan is the only one.

They've talked about this on CNBC. Some of the hosts of Squawk on the Street were kind of shocked. No one accepted the challenge? Is there no goodwill?

Yes, you are correct.

There is no goodwill.

No one in their right mind would say, "I choose to be ugly." No one in their right mind would say, "I choose to be poor."

That's our society. It's time everyone accepted it as fact. Look...I wish it wasn't so. I wish that money wasn't so powerful, but the rules to the game were set long before I ever arrived. I just happen to be useful in explaining them to people who may not understand how life works.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Can I hope that the Netflix Lost in Space series is a hybrid of the movie and the original series from 1966?

Netflix is remaking the 1960's television series, Lost in Space. I liked the original series, and although I did not hate the movie (made almost two decades ago), there were some things that I'd like Netflix to take from that too.

Yes, the movie had flaws. There was terrible computer graphics, and the monkey was an awful choice. The inclusion of the monkey is how you know everyone involved in the movie is probably doing cocaine.

But the father/son relationship was really interesting. Will was brilliant but the father was distant. I also liked the way Dr. Smith manipulated Will, because it brought out the real strength in the father/son relationship. Also, the same guy who did the voice for the Robot in the 1966 show did it for the movie. That's kind of cool. Also, will the Robot shout out "Danger, Will Robinson!?" You know that has got to happen, or it isn't Lost in Space.

As for the original series, I enjoyed it. Of course, I only saw it on reruns but there wasn't really any complicated back story that you had to swallow. These people were all on a colony ship that got lost in space. How easy of an explanation is that? It's pretty much an invitation to make every episode crazier than the last, because anything can happen in an infinite universe.

My hope is that the new one borrows gritty elements from the movie and somehow fuses them together with the silly, comedic vibe that made the series worth watching (especially if you are a kid). Netflix has a good track record for making quality programming, so here's to hoping that it's good.




Monday, September 19, 2016

Ironhead Studios just revealed the maquettes for the Flash and Cyborg for the new Justice League movie.

Maquettes are sculptures that are made before production so that a film studio can see what the final appearance of a certain something might look. Just a day or so ago, Ironhead Studios (they worked on Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice) instagrammed (is that a word?) their maquettes for Flash and Cyborg. Although not quite complete, I think they look pretty awesome.

In the photograph below, Cyborg is on the right and the Flash is on the left. The Flash's suit looks really interesting, and kind of reminds me of the body armor that you see in first-person shooters like Crysis and Halo. Body armor is all the rage now peeps (at least among young men). It's kind of interesting how you now see skin-hugging sci-fi suits popping up everywhere from video games to comic book movies.

It's almost as if the whole nerd world kind of went and got itself an armor and weapons fetish.
A photo posted by Ironhead Studio (@ironhead_studio) on

Friday, September 16, 2016

Apple has done it again because I love iOS 10 and I'm totally buying the iPhone 7.

Apple has done it again because it knows its fanbase really really well--a group of infantilized, computer-illiterate, selfie-snapping, emojingoist, heart-fingered, consumer zombies. It turned its messages app into something that's really fun to use with iOS 10. I wasn't expecting any of the features that I found, and when I discovered what they could do, I started sending invisible selfies, confetti, hand written notes, and gifs to friends and family. Figuring them out is messy, chaotic, and challenging. But I still love it.

I think I need to thank the sticker-loving millennials out there who obviously drove this product update like the crack of an overseers whip from their offices in the Cupertino-based tech giant. Sure, a lot of these features are absurdly frivolous. However, they (strangely) seem to add a lot to the very banal experience of texting. However, just be careful because I could see it being super easy to accidentally send your in-laws kissing lips. And my criticisms don't necessarily stop there.

First, the multi-functionality of the new send button also has the potential to throw off a lot of people. Now, it's just a small circle with an arrow in it (easy to miss) and you have to hold it down for at least a second before it gives you other options.

Second, the message app features a little circle with everyone's photo in it. I don't think there are any actual people in my phone who have photos on their contact cards (I'm not a millennial so I don't snap selfies all the time, and I don't have many friends who are millennials...but there is this one guy...later on that). So, long story short, I get to look at a stupid circle with the person's initials in it for no reason. It makes me think that the expectation might be to walk up to them and say, "Hey, let me take your photo so I can add it to your contact card on my phone."

Overall though, all of these new features have way more entertainment potential, and they easily outweigh the bad stuff.

So have you tried out iOS 10 on the iPhone yet?




Wednesday, September 14, 2016

This footage from Mad Max: Fury Road just proves that it was robbed by Spotlight at the Academy Awards

Mad Max: Fury Road was a miracle of a film from beginning to end. I'm still a little shocked that it failed to win Best Picture earlier this year at the Academy Awards. But if you still aren't sold on how much effort went into making this film, please PLEASE watch this video. It shows just how much of the movie was real, how much was stunt work, and that the actors were totally committing themselves to a very controlled (dangerous) chaos.

Twenty years from now, no one will even remember Spotlight (the film that actually won Best Picture). But people will still be talking about Mad Max: Fury Road. And to anyone that says the plot was too basic, I think it was actually brilliant. After everything the characters had gone through to get where they were, they realized they had nowhere to go but back the way they had come. And after a solid thirty minutes of heart-stopping action sequences, the entire audience groaned “Oh shit!” exactly at that second because we ALL knew what would come next. And we were not disappointed.

Thank you, George Miller.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Here are ten solid reasons why Game of Thrones keeps garnering new viewers and is the fantasy phenomenon of our age.

Game of Thrones has won a lot of Emmy's. In fact, it's won so many that it's the most awarded drama in history. Cue Walter White's dissappointment. You may already be aware of this fact. You all know that I'm a huge Game of Thrones fan, and in the lingo of the Californian millennial I declare, "It's super cool." However, I also want to answer the question (for those who have yet to take "the plunge" into this series) of "Why should I watch it?" There are (in fact) ten solid reasons that don't have anything to do with Emmys (who cares about awards, amirite?).

1) You need to fill the void the Hobbit movies left in your soul. This was a huge "Battle of the Five Armies" void. No amount of Legolas spins and flips felt like a bandage to this particular horror. And let's face it, the Shannara Chronicles falls waaayyyy short.
2) Glance at it for the renaissance fair costumes. Cersei was rockin' an impressive dress in the finale episode "The Winds of Winter."
3) Stay for the guilty pleasure of all the boobies.
4) Feel terrible seeing what the creators are doing to all of the boobies.
5) The Red Wedding.
6) WTF just happened?
7) Accept that everything you love is going to die horribly in this show, and then realize that this is actually pretty close to how it is in real life. Nihilism memes I luv u. :)
8) Watch a few more episodes out of self-hatred.
9) At some point (if you have a brain) you'll realize that this is a masterpiece of a series...well acted...and an impressive show.
10) You become a dedicated fan and infect others with your enthusiasm. You invest in Game of Thrones merchandise that may (or may not) include a dragon egg that you proudly display in your house.