Websites

Accomplishing much?

Here’s a fun website: Things Other People Accomplished When They Were Your Age

It’s a great way to depress yourself by comparing yourself to other people! Perhaps not good for your mental health, but maybe you can stop being so self-conscious and find it funny… and be sure to also look back at what other people accomplished before they were your age, just to rub it in.

It looks like the site’s author is also accepting achievement submissions from the common man, so sprinkled in with the famous accomplishments of famous people are some accomplishments you probably don’t care about. I’m not sure what the point of that is; perhaps it’s an effort to pull you out of depression?

And you’ll see on that page there’s a link to Help for the Attitudinally Challenged, which might help if you now feel miserable.

By S P Hannifin, ago
Animation

A few animation blogs…

There are, of course, a ton of animation blogs out there, but here are a few random ones I’ve been visiting recently:

Pencil Test Depot – This has a lot of great pencil tests, as the name might suggest. 2D animation, yes, but the principles of animation don’t change. Lots of great stuff there. I came across this blog some months ago before getting into Animation Mentor, but it came up again last night during my Animation Mentor Q&A and I was reminded of its goodness.

Blue Sky Disney – More of an entertainment business blog, but still lots of interesting animation news there.

The Pixar Blog – What Pixar fan hasn’t come across this blog? Dedicated to Pixar news, with a dash of its parent, Disney.

Good stuff.

By S P Hannifin, ago
Websites

Theme tweaking…

As you can see (if you’ve been to this blog before), I’ve tweaked the theme a bit, moving some things around, changing the font from Tahoma to Verdana, and widening the width. Hope you like it! If you don’t, well, too bad! Please let me know if something looks wrong in your browser. Seems to look fine in the latest versions of Firefox and Chrome.

That’s all. Bye.

By S P Hannifin, ago
Websites

Daily Science Fiction

Here’s an endorsement for a new science fiction site called Daily Science Fiction. I will admit I am a bit biased as my first short story sale was to them. If you go to the site, you can see that my story isn’t scheduled for this month. Next month maybe? Who knows… Anyway, they officially launched yesterday on September 1st, emailing subscribers the first story.

I don’t usually like reading on a computer screen, but these stories are quite short, so they only take 5 or so minutes to read, so the experience is quite fine. Also, the first two stories have been, I believe, quite good. If they keep up the quality (and the to-the-point shortness) I think this will be a really awesome source for a quick fiction fix.

To anybody out there who reads science fiction and fantasy, I highly recommend checking out the site and subscribing. (Should be great for ereaders.) This is also partly blatant self-promotion, so you’ll be ready to read my shorty short story when they publish it… but I really enjoyed the stories they sent out today and yesterday, so I’m looking forward to more!

By S P Hannifin, ago
Animation

Animating and reading and music and stuff…

Animation studies continue

It’s now week 7 (of 72) of Animation Mentor! The first semester (of 12 weeks) is half way over!

Last week’s assignment involved animating a pendulum. Unfortunately, towards the end of the week (mostly Saturday and Sunday) I caught some sort of virus, so I lost a nice chunk of animation time, and my assignment turned out pretty “blagh.” I mean, it wasn’t completely terrible, but it needs lots of polishing, so I’ll post that up on YouTube after I do a revision. Feeling better now, so I hope this week will be better.

Reading…

I finished reading The Talent Code the other day. Overall, ’twas a pretty good read, though I still think that in some of the chapters the author kind of goes off on these less interesting tangents. There was this whole chapter about how good some “KIPP program” schools were, though to me they seemed kind of brain-washy. One of the main points of the program, besides instilling militaristic discipline, was to not only get the students to go to college, but get them to want to go to college. Apparently the founders of the KIPP program believe that going to college is pretty much the most important thing in the world. It’s kind of … disturbing. Maybe there’s a grain of truth to it, in terms of there being a correlation between income levels and college attendance, but I don’t think brain-washing children to believe that college is the most important goal in life is necessarily helpful, even if the students in this KIPP program preform very well on tests.

Which kind of leads me to another problem… so often it seems that how “good” a school is is determined by comparing it to other schools. People say things like “this school scored in the 90th percentile!” That sounds pretty good, but it actually really doesn’t say that much. What exactly is the “score” of the 90th percentile? Shouldn’t the actual score matter? With this sort of comparison-rating system, a school (or a student) doesn’t even have to improve for their score to improve… everyone else just has to do worse.

Along the same lines (though this is a complete tangent from the subject of the book), I hate when teachers, both high school and college, grade to a curve. As if a bell curve should naturally arise in the grades, and if it’s not there, you just shape the test scores to it. It makes no sense; you can get a better grade simply because everyone else did lousy on the test? But really this is part of the bigger “grading problem” in general that schools have; they simply use grades in a completely wrong way, as a form to easily compare students and to act as an easy gatekeeper for decision making. Unfortunately how well someone knows facts or a skill is not so easily numbered. (And this is really related to the “school problem” in general; how so many people think it’s a good use of time and money to teach and learn things students are not interested in or are not going to use. I’ll spare myself from going off on that tangent today…)

One last thing I’m starting to understand, from this book and others with similar themes, is that our personalities, as defined by our decisions and interests, are, or at least can be, as malleable as our intellect. They are a product of our environment. Maybe not completely, of course, but the true (often subconscious) sources of interests and personalities are quite complex; they do not simply emerge from DNA. In other words, if you observe that someone is bossy when they are a baby, that’s not necessarily just because they have “bossy” genes. Although, maybe they do… my point is that it’s complex. And people can change, at least to a greater degree than they may realize. Not easily, perhaps. It might take a complete overturning of your environment, and the change might be from “stable” to “completely depressed and crazy”, but it’s possible. I do wish it were easy to understand how interests come about and how they could be changed, but they seem to get so set-in-stone that we think of them as being as unchangeable as stone…

The other book I finished reading was Federations, a collection of sci-fi short stories. It was kind of a mixed bag… I thought some stories were very good, especially Prisons by Kevin J. Anderson and Doug Beason and Symbiont by Robert Silverberg. Some were OK. Some were uhhhh-what-the-heck? (I have more traditional tastes. When authors try to get all experimental and stylized, I don’t always get it. One of my big pet peeves is unisex/nonsex pronouns, like “hirs” and “shim”… blagh! You’re not clever! Stop it!)

Will books die soon?

In other news, I read this article in which some guy says that physical books will be dead in 5 years. *gasp* Firstly, the article states that we must consider what has happened to music and films, which makes no sense to me. Those are digital art mediums in the first place. You watch a movie with a digital TV, and you listen to music on speakers (or headphones). Those have required electricity to perceive the art for a long time. Not so with books. So I don’t think the comparison is entirely valid. Also, movies are still quite non-digital, in that they still are sold on physical discs. This not only helps prevent copying (to a degree), but it also allows customers to trade, rent, borrow, return, and resell their movies. In a purely digital world, we can’t do that. Money would only ever flow one way. Great for movie distributors (if they can prevent illegal copying enough), somewhat lame for everyone else (unless you can get free movies by watching ads at certain intervals… but still no returning or trading).

He also says that the sales of Kindle books has outnumbered the sales of hardbacks. OK… that in and of itself is not really evidence of anything, as far as I can tell. We’d also have to see a decline in hardback sales, and look at paperback sales. And publishers would have to at some point conclude that publishing a hardback would not be worth it. And then conclude that paperbacks aren’t worth it either. These business decisions would, I think, be way too drastic for publishers to figure out in just 5 years. Unless, of course, Kindle and other ebooks take off so well and make publishers so rich that they have nothing to worry about by going all digital. So I guess I’d really have to look at the publishers’ records to know…

Eventually, books may very well die, or at least become mostly dead… but in just 5 years? I highly doubt it.

Some beautiful music!

Lastly, as a reward for reading all that blather (or for scrolling down), here’s some beautiful music for you!

Want more? Of course you do!

These pieces were brought to you by the Portsmouth Sinfonia which I came across last week (or yesterday or something)… what beautiful sounds!

By S P Hannifin, ago
Websites

Started an Android game review blog

In my continuous efforts to get my mind off of the manufacturing of my album, which makes me restless, I have started yet another blog (that I probably won’t keep updated for very long, because I have a habit of letting things die). The blog is creatively called “Android Games” and features reviews of games for the Google Android OS. And here is the blog.

OK, nothing too special, but should be fun to maintain for a few days at least.

I seem to find installing and setting up WordPress blogs to be a bit addicting… but maintaining them is another matter…

By S P Hannifin, ago
Movies

Album’s site is up and Burton’s Alice review

I spent my day off work working.  Enterprising, no?  I created a small site for my vanity label Hannifin Records.  Of course, there’s not much there yet.  But you can see a bit more of my first album’s cover art revealed in the title banner.  And, if you navigate your way through it a bit, there’s a page for the album with previews of all the tracks.  Next I need to experiment with PayPal buttons, since I’m guessing that’s what I’ll use to take orders.

Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland review

Also, I just got home from watching Tim Burton’s version of Alice in Wonderland.  Read no further if you plan on seeing the movie yourself and fear having your opinions tainted by my own.

Still reading?  OK, well, that’s your own fault.

I liked some things, didn’t like others.  Like most movies.

The artistry was great.  Especially the architecture of the castles, in my opinion.  Just awesome stuff, awesome to look at.  I do wish I could live in castles so well designed.  Though how do you get a laptop to go with the surroundings?  The special effects were great; I look forward to seeing them on blu-ray eventually.  (Our movie theaters here still don’t seem to like using digital projection or actually putting the picture in perfect focus.)  The music was also very good.  Danny Elfman’s music does tend to please me.  I’ll probably buy the soundtrack.  Good film music, especially compared to the more-atmospheric-less-melodic music films tend to be using nowadays.  Why don’t they throw us a crumb?  What’s wrong with letting us tap our toes a bit?  I’ll let you know when Stravinski has a hit… oops, sorry.  Helena B. Carter was also very funny.

The bad… just about everything else.  Which I actually won’t blather about because, you know, I like to focus on the good.  OK, actually I’m just lazy.  But I do think I could’ve written a better script.  If I didn’t have to base it on a book.  I mean, with such awesome visual artistry, I think there are more interesting stories to be told.  Why keep telling the same stories?

I did get a few ideas for novels and short stories while watching.  And the ending kind of made me want to invent a bunch of chess variants.

That’s all I have to say.  Guess what I get to do all weekend?  Go to work!  Yeah!!

Bye.

By S P Hannifin, ago
My life

I have lived another day…

I still haven’t gotten past page 8 of my screenplay [The Shadow Prince]. I seem to be having trouble getting the tone I want from the scene I’m working on, because I’m not really sure what I want, and it’s a pretty dark scene. It might not seem that dark to a reader (or movie viewer) who reads (or watches) it in a minute or two. But trying to understand the world from that character’s point of view, it’s pretty terrible, nothing I’d want to experience. So it’s one of the basic challenges of writing: how do you get a character to react believably to an experience real people could never have? One could write a book chapter on that. Or maybe an entire book. (And probably someone has.)

I finished reading William Goldman’s book Which Lie Did I Tell?: More Adventures in the Screen Trade the other day. Very good book. But, gah, kind of frustrating because you know you can’t just all the sudden be a part of the [film] industry, and it’s all written from the perspective of someone who’s in the industry. Don’t you hate when famous rich people do that? They’ll be in an interview and nonchalantly say “so I had lunch *famous name here* and discussed my project” … blagh.

Also, I created a formspring.me page, after seeing a bunch of other people do and jumping on the bandwagon. Basically anybody can ask you anonymous questions through it. Might be fun, might be stupid and annoying, but it’s all the rage. I put widget for it on the side of this blog, as you should be able to see. As if the columns weren’t cluttered enough.

Hey, guess what? They’re calling for snow Friday night and Saturday! I am scheduled to work on Saturday! If the fates are kind, maybe, just maybe, I won’t have to go? We’ll see. Come on, sky. Give me a storm. Paint the outdoors an ocean of white. Let it tear the people from their schedules, let it frighten and anger the innocent drivers on their weary ill-fated journeys through the restless roads. And let me sleep! O, dear fates, let me sleep and rest and dream of the goodness I shan’t wake up to see!

Bravo! Bravo!

Thank you, thank you.

By S P Hannifin, ago
Websites

Snow… and the Amadeus wigmaker

20 days until Christmas…

Didn’t do much today… I hardly ever do much on Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays because of work (imagine how worse it would be with a full time job).  It snowed quite a bit today, but it was too warm for it to stick much to the road; it only got it slushy and annoying.  Now if it freezes in the night, the morning roads will be terrible.  Which stinks, because I need to go somewhere in the morning.

I uploaded a bunch of comics, so I’ll have enough content for Hannifin World to update everyday at 8 AM until at least December 22nd.  Isn’t that exciting?  Yes, it is.

Oh, I found something interesting on YouTube.  If you do not yet know, one of my favorite films of all time is Amadeus, the true story of Mozart’s murder.  In fact, I memorized Amadeus really well; I can recite it right now, and have you rotflol.  Anyway, it looks like the guy who played the wigmaker (in a short 30 second scene) has his own YouTube channel.  And he also uploaded some unused takes of them filming the scene.  He says somewhere that they shot the scene for around 7 hours, with him ad libbing his lines.  That’s a lot of work for about 30 seconds of film!  Anyway, it’s some really fun stuff to watch (if you’re an Amadeus fan, at least).

Oh, by the way, Amadeus looks fantastic on blu-ray.

Well, there it is.

By S P Hannifin, ago
Drawing

My new webcomic

Is it “webcomic” or “web comic”?

Anyway, I spent the day creating the Hannifin World site, my new web comic.  Not sure how long I’ll be able to keep it up.  Not sure I’ll keep the name either, but I couldn’t think of anything better.  I definitely won’t keep the web design, but it’s something to start with at least.  I spent a while scanning in at least a week’s worth of comics, so it’ll at least keep going for a week!

Other than that, I enjoyed the Monk series finale.  I would’ve written it differently, but it definitely gave a sense of closure.  And the montage at the very end was nice.  Gah, I’m really gonna miss not being able to look forward to new episodes of Monk! *sigh*

By S P Hannifin, ago