Year's best

My 2012 favorites

A bit late posting this, but I was too busy celebrating and spreading Christmas cheer earlier.  As I say each year: I hate to compare things I love.  But for the sake of a more interesting blog post, I’m going to anyway.  In real life, I don’t really like playing favorites, because different books and movies and stuff all have their own spirit, and are ultimately incomparable.  But let’s disregard that for a few moments.

For books, the nominees are books I finished reading for the first time this year, regardless of their release date.  Movies, TV shows, and film scores must have been first released in the USA in 2012.

Year’s best live action film:

lesmis

Year’s best animated film:

arrietty

Year’s best TV show:

house2

Year’s best film score:

hobbit

Year’s best nonfiction book:

infinity

Year’s best fiction book:

reamde4

Best whatever else:

Year’s best book on writing:

storybeat

By S P Hannifin, ago
Music composition

Stuff I’m doing…

Been a busy week here. Animation Mentor semester 5 started this week. My mentor this semester is animator Jay Jackson, who has a very impressive 2D background. I’m very excited! Our assignment for the next few weeks will be to add facial animation to our last assignment from last semester, which I am both excited and nervous about… I’m afraid my work is going to stink. But I’m new to this, so I forgive myself in advance. Just as long as I don’t fail out! Anyway, our assignment for this week, which I haven’t done yet, is to shoot video reference and draw sketches planning out our work.

Novel-writing-wise, my novel is at around 29,000 words. The three main characters are currently traveling through the sky in an airship headed towards the kingdom’s castle. I am a few chapters away from the mid-point of the story, so my current guess is that the novel will end up being around 70,000 to 90,000 words total. We’ll see.

I also started writing some more music earlier this week. Not sure what I’ll call the piece, but it’s almost finished. Watch for it on YouTube this week or next week or the week after that… not sure when I’ll finish. It’s pretty standard Hannifin work, but I’m quite pleased with it. In fact, I’m tempted to offer myself much praise, but, being me, I’m quite biased towards myself, so I consider myself at an unfair advantage to receive such praise.

TV-wise, if you care, I started watching Person of Interest (mostly because it was created by Jonathan Nolan). I’m not exactly impressed, but it’s not horrible, so I’ll give it a chance; but if I get pressed for time as the Animation Mentor semester continues, it’ll probably be the first to go. I also started watching Terra Nova as I enjoyed the sci-fi-ish previews for it, but the pilot for that show I also found to be rather unimpressive, and, at times, downright awful. But it’s interesting enough that I’d like to see what the story will turn into. Fringe returned on Friday, which was OK, but not nearly as good as last season’s start. But the “Where is Peter Bishop?” story line should provide me with enough interest to continue watching. The first half of last season was excellent, but I thought the last few shows that ended the season were quite weak, and the cartoony-CGI episode was one of the worst TV-watching experiences I’ve ever had. I’d rather watch HR Pufnstuf several hundred times than suffer through that episode again. (OK, maybe I wouldn’t go that far…) I’m looking forward to House starting on Monday. So… four shows for me this season, plus I’m still slowly working through Burn Notice season 2 on DVD, which is a great show. And Shark Tank will return for a season 3, but I’m not sure when. And we might get a DVR sometime next week, so that will be nice, but I can’t complain too much if I miss something, since Animation Mentor must be the priority… not TV.

Reading-wise, I’ve been enjoying Neal Stephenson’s Reamde: A Novel. Definitely more mainstream (so far) than Anathem (the only other novel of his I’ve read so far), but still quite captivating.

Oh, and in other news, I can now touch my nose with my tongue. I couldn’t do that before. Two decades of practice have finally paid off.

By S P Hannifin, ago
My life

September 2011

A few things to look forward to in September 2011:

September 16th – Disney’s The Lion King returns to theaters in 3D for a limited time. I definitely hope I get the chance to see it. I think I blogged about seeing the 3D trailer before Cars 2. Some shots looked nice, but the character close-ups looked funky, as if they just “bubbled” the 2D images. But I still want to see it in its entirety.

September 16th – Class 4 (Intro to Acting) of Animation Mentor ends! If animation is this hard, do I really want to do it for a living? Yes, definitely. Will I be good enough to get a job after Animation Mentor? I guess we’ll see. After this class ends, we’ll have a 1-week break from classes, then Class 5.

September 20th – Neal Stephenson’s new novel Reamde comes out. So far, the only other book by Stephenson I’ve read has been Anathem, but it was fantastic; easily one of the best sci-fi books I’ve ever read (not that I’m all that well-read). The world was rich, and the characters’ philosophical discussions were so much more captivating than most authors tend to manage. So I’m really looking forward to reading his new book. I’ll try to finish reading The Wise Man’s Fear by then, but if I don’t I will have to temporarily abandon it for Reamde.

September 26th – Class 5 of Animation Mentor starts – Advanced Acting. Will go on for 12 weeks until December 16th, filling out most of the rest of 2011. (The last class will start in 2012.)

By S P Hannifin, ago
Year's best

My 2010 favorites

I hate to compare things I love.  But for the sake of a more interesting blog post, I’m going to anyway.  In real life, I don’t really like playing favorites, because different books and movies and stuff all have their own spirit, and are ultimately incomparable.  But let’s disregard that for a few moments.

For books, the nominees are books I finished reading for the first time this year, regardless of their release date.  Movies, TV shows, and film scores must be from 2010.  (Books I only read a few chapters from (which actually make up a majority of my reading) are not qualified.)

And here we go… and Happy New Year!

Year’s best live-action film…

inception (Obviously.)

Year’s best animated film…

dragon1

Year’s best TV show…

fringe

Year’s best film score…

dragon2

Year’s best non-fiction book…

genius

Year’s best fiction book…

anathem

Best whatever else…

Best documentary…

wsb

Best school…

am

By S P Hannifin, ago
Fiction books

Short Anathem review

I finished reading Neal Stephenson’s lengthy novel Anathem a short while ago.  I’ve never read anything by Stephenson before, but I’ve seen his books at the library and bookstores, and they’ve always looked interesting.  This is the first one I actually decided to go ahead and read.

For someone who’s never read a Stephenson novel before and didn’t know what to expect, it’s pretty brilliant.  My mind is still a bit tired from trying to understand it all.  I doubt I’ll ever be able to, since I sort of disagree with the directions in which he takes quantum physics (another one of those “it implies the existence of parallel universes!” things, which I guess works in this science fiction setting, but from a real science point of view, I’m not convinced; not that I’m a quantum physics expert of course).  But the book is filled with very engaging topics on physics and philosophy, and Stephenson’s prose on the topics is very readable.  So even if you’re new to the topics he discusses, it’s not like reading a scholarly journal on the topic with weirdo lingo.  It might be hard to grasp some of the concepts, but that will be because of the concepts themselves (like parallel universes) and not because of the writing.  I honestly think Stephenson could write some pretty awesome nonfiction books if he so desired, and easily replace this little Godel, Escher, Bach part of my bookshelf.

I do have one minor complaint, which includes a bit of a spoiler.  So if you’re planning on reading the book, read no further so that I do not taint your opinions.

I thought the ending was weak.  Actually, I Googled around, and it seems this is not an uncommon thought for Stephenson’s work in general.  What was the climax?  It builds up to it and then we’re in the epilogue.  I could write a much more lengthy post about why I think it was weak and what I’d do to improve it, but my mind is too tired for that.  And, being a wannabe writer myself, I’ll admit that endings are probably the hardest part to please others with.  And, from a reader’s perspective, I’m generally displeased with endings anyway.  I think the best ending I know of is the ending to Ender’s Game, which I read back in 2007 (and was written back in 1985 I think?).  The only other books I thought had acceptable endings were The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick and Anvil of the World by Kage Baker (who, sadly, just passed away last month).  All the other fiction books I’ve read had either weak endings, or “to be continued” endings, which I guess don’t really count, do they?

Overall, though, Anathem is still a brilliant piece, and I will definitely be reading some more Neal Stephenson some time.

By S P Hannifin, ago