Happy Father’s Day!

And now for today’s post…

Hope everyone had a happy Father’s Day! We went out to eat at a place called Logan’s, where they stuff you with peanuts, bread, and soda and then give you chicken you don’t have any room for. At least I know what I’m having for lunch tomorrow.

Not much else going on besides my summer work… I guess I should upload another YouTube video sometime. Perhaps I’ll turn “The Banquet” into an animated video next. And then perhaps “Twilight Fantasia”.

Ok, bye.

Missed a day

Ah, I missed a day. Well, this counts for yesterday, so there.

We continued having a garage sale today. My parents made hundreds of dollars.

Geez, I have run out of stuff to blog about… 🙁

Oh, I saw the remake of Charlotte’s Web the other day at a free film festival with a sibling. It had great animation and great music. I was surprised to see that Danny Elfman did the music… it doesn’t really sound like his style. But it sure was good. Maybe I’ll have to buy the soundtrack. Is the Shrek 3 score out yet? I’m too tired to go look. I’m going to get a drink and go to bed. I’m tired. Bye.

Selling the garage

Woke up [way too] early today to set up a garage sale. It is quite fulfilling to see people walk away with your junk after giving you money. Actually, the only fulfilling part is the money. I just love money.

I started reading another fiction book called The Name of the Wind. I had heard good things about it somewhere, so I got it from the library. It’s got a good prologue, which is all I’ve read so far.

Summer days are passing far too quickly…

The Black Swan’s End

I finished Taleb’s The Black Swan yesterday. Certainly one of the best nonfiction books I have read in a long time, I highly recommend it to everyone (though I can think of some people who would probably want to burn it). I must admit I became a bit lost in some of the more technical parts, but this is one of those rare books which I’d love to read again sometime. (The only book I’ve actually ever reread is Ayn Rand’s The Art of Fiction. I’ve been meaning to reread Godel, Escher, Bach again for some time, but never made myself find time for it.)

I was introduced to Taleb’s work through Michael Allen’s blog. He wrote a book (which is available as a free PDF download) called On the Survival of Rats in the Slush Pile, which I also highly recommend (at least for writers). I was quite happy to see Allen’s book referenced in The Black Swan. (I also recommend Allen’s The Truth About Writing, also available as a free PDF download.)

Many thanks to Taleb (and Allen) for the great books!

And, of course, I do have some quotes from The Black Swan that I’d like to add to the book quotes blog eventually. (I’m really lazy about all my other blogs.)

Experience schmexperience!

Here’s something I wrote on a forum today not long after an ad hominem attack based on my “experience”:

Experience probably fools a lot of people. It won’t give anyone that much more insight as to “how and why” certain artists become successful. (Often successful artists don’t believe this and write books on how they do what they do so well. (Though I’m of course not arguing that experience means nothing when it comes to actual craft, just when it comes to trying to spout off reasons for something’s success or failure when such things are more dependent on the decisions of others. Such artists will often actually be just as clueless as everyone else. (Does that make sense? Actually I am just writing this sentence so I can have another set of parentheses. (And here’s some more.)))) Age doesn’t automatically increase knowledge; it more often fools people into thinking they know more than they do. “How and why things are in the state that they are in” is not such a simple subject that can just be learned with experience. There are too many emergent properties, too many “black swans”, too many unknown variables.

Do you agree?

And, as Nassim Nicholas Taleb writes in The Black Swan on pages 279-280:

An ad hominem attack against an intellectual, not against an idea, is highly flattering. It indicates that the person does not have anything intelligent to say about your message.

Hmmm… is that itself an ad hominem attack?

Print on demand

Wouldn’t it be awesome if bookstores in the not so distant future had POD technology right in the back room? Then when you’re looking for some obscure title, or just some title the bookstore doesn’t have in stock, they can simply print one off for you in just a few hours or so. Heck, they could even customize it by putting “Property of Sean the Best” on the cover or something. Wouldn’t that just be great?

Although… wouldn’t be awesome if bookstores had Amazon.com prices?

Also, if you are a publisher and are looking for someone to read through the slush pile (for a good salary), I’d be happy to do it. I know about Black Swans.

You know, you only have to change one letter in ‘swan’ to get ‘Sean’. Meaningful?

No time for games

Yesterday I started playing Shadow of the Colossus again… I haven’t played it in over a year. Unfortunately I couldn’t find my saved game, in which I had defeated 10 or 11 of the giants, and so now I’m back down to 6. Fortunately the game does at least of some replay value. Even when trying to defeat giants I had already defeated, the music and the visuals make redoing such things remain fun. Visually, it is probably the best console game of all time. Its controls and interface are also minimal and intuitive, and the orchestral soundtrack is brilliant… it’s too bad video game albums don’t seem to have a market here in the USA like they seem to in Japan. I’m sure there’d be a market for them if Americans weren’t forced to buy expensive imports. Not having a decently priced album available for such music just encourages piracy. Oh well, maybe that will change when and if American orchestras shift their target audience away from old people.

Pan’s Labyrinth

I’d give Pan’s Labyrinth 7 out of 10 stars, the same as Children of Men. The film had some awesome special effects; visually it was wonderful, especially with its use of colors and just the atmosphere of the different locations. Even the bathroom was very stylistic and fantastical. The movie is by no means an epic, but I still thought the story needed something a bit more… and I wasn’t too happy with the ending. There were a lot of parallels between the real world and the fantasy world in Pan’s Labyrinth, but I felt there should have been more parallels that actually have to do with characters and their motivations. In fact, the director didn’t seem too worried at all about character motivations, and if I don’t understand why a character wants to do what he or she is doing, then why would I care about their decisions? Instead, much of the drive behind the story comes from the fear of the bad guys and the need to get away from them. The gruesome violence that makes the film rated R shows you just how horrible the bad guys are, but that almost seems like the most important thing in the film, which it shouldn’t be. But, oh well, the director and I probably have artistic differences story-wise, and he’s the director, not me. Overall, good film, check it out. If I was a director, I’d definitely want those visual effects artists working for me, and I wouldn’t mind the director’s eye when it comes to the visual experience of the film.

Things go slowly

I’m on page 126 of The Black Swan. Ah, great book, wonderfully thought provoking. I highly recommend it to everyone.

I worked on The Game of Gynwig just a bit more, and I think in just a few days I can post up another chapter on the Gynwig part of this website. I’m working on Chapter 12, and my guess is that there will be at least 30 chapters in all, perhaps more. There is so much more of the story to go; after 100 pages of writing, I’m still near the beginning! Argh! I hate writing, I just love the idea of it.

Sibelius 5

I don’t have much else to blog about so…

Sibelius 5 was announced not too long ago. (If you care, check it out here.) It looks like it has many new great features, its biggest being that it is a full VST host, like Overture 4, which I’ve been using for the past two years. Feature-wise, it looks like Sibelius 5 should be more impressive than Overture 4, but I’m so used to using Overture that I doubt Sibelius 5 will be on my shelf any time soon, even with its great looking features. This is all entirely due to usability. While I’d love to have the new features, I know Overture 4 too well. I downloaded the demo for Sibelius 5 and I’m having trouble figuring out how to do some basic things. Granted, if I bought and fooled around with it for months, I could work much quicker, but are the new features worth it? I don’t think so, not yet. And the demo doesn’t seem to allow me to test its VST capabilities (unless I’m missing something) which is a bummer.

Another big reason I probably won’t buy Sibelius 5 is cost. At over $300, a college student such as myself just has bigger priorities, like vacation expenses. (That’s a joke, by the way, about the vacation expenses.)