kisrael.com | archive | last weeks
2015.07.30

  ...of the moment  
On those creepy remixes used in movie trailers
tl;dr: how much of expertise is legit, and how much is "just" a collection of good tricks?

Last night at practice for Honk @ The Hatch Shell I played with John, a tuba-player just out of college who was trying to make a go of full time freelance career of it.

It reminded me how recently I realized that Second Line Social Aid & Pleasure Society Brass Band, despite the touring they do and the amazing way they launched "Honk!" as a cultural thing, isn't an exclusive bunch of semi-pros but is open to aspiring beginners. Admittedly it looks like they look for more woodshed practice than I've historically put in, but still, it's interesting to know that if my current beloved band ever blew up it might be an option. (And in general I've been learning that tuba players seem to be in short supply.)

So, I feel like I punch above my weight a bit, tuba-wise; I certainly don't practice enough, but I have an ok ear and over the year I've gathered a lot of bass lines and what not that I get a lot of mileage out of.

Similarly, I met with my buddy Jeff​ today, and he is using me as an amateur game design consultant; another field where I'm proud of some of the stuff I've done but also feel like a duffer. (I'm kind of chuffed that he said talking to me is kind of refreshing, in terms of my kind of Jack of All Trades approach to things like music and game making, or that there's a general vibrance I pull off, relative to a lot of the people he runs into on a daily basis.) I quoted the old TMBG lyric "There's only two songs in me and I just wrote the third" which is how I feel about my approach to game design, so often going back to the well of handrolled x/y inertia.

Finally, Melissa​ (who does UX) mentioned wanting to increase her design chops, and that (along with the work I did for JP Porchfest and some personal website refurb I've been mulling over) made me think about my own design skills. And again, I feel like I have a small bag of tricks I come back to, supplemented by some decent intuition and thoughtfulness. (I like what I came up with to fill out the back side of the JP Porchfest poster, http://jpporchfest.org/2015/downloads/JP_Porchfest_v5.pdf ) It reminded me of the infographic I'm putting here for future reference; I love seeing shortcuts like that.

So I dunno. I understand full time experts can sometimes develop ungodly skills, but it feels like a number of disciplines play by 80/20 rules, where 80% can come pretty quickly with concentrated study, and sometimes that's absolutely plenty to get the job. Maybe this is all just kind of a balm for Impostor Syndrome (Like Ian Bogost says "The solution to impostor syndrome is to accept that you are in fact a fraud and just get on with it.")

2015.07.29

  ...of the moment  
I'm going to operate on the assumption that there's a decent chance your day will be improved by an image of Katharine Hepburn on a skateboard.

via

2015.07.28

  ...of the moment  
TIL a New Vocabulary Word: Gamine!

"a girl with mischievous or boyish charm."

Not unrelated to Manic Pixie Dream Girl, I'd say.

Source: http://joshreads.com/?p=25478

via
I'll bet you somewhere near, some illustrator is sighing and putting a little tricorn-hat wearing mascot proposal away in a dank filing cabinet.

2015.07.27

  ...of the moment  
A Poem by Brenda Shaughnessy:

A Mix Tape: "Don't You (Forget About Me)"

"Think of the tender things that we were working on." – Simple Minds

Such a delicious pain in the ass to make,
on a double deck if you were lucky,

otherwise you had to drop the needle
onto the precise groove as your left

index hit PLAY/RECORD, taking all
afternoon or many. Mistakes, thinking

too hard about what you wanted
to tell the person but couldn't say

any other way. It was always
"I love you," didn't you know?

Mix tape: private language, lost art,
first book, cri de coeur, x-ray, diary.

An exquisitely direct and sweet
misunderstanding. We weren't

fluent yet but we lived in its nation,
tense and sweaty for an anthem.

Receiving a mixtape could be major,
depending on from who; giving one

to someone in public was a dilemma.
You had to practice. Would you say,

nonchalantly, "Oh, here, I made you
a mixtape?" By the lockers? In class?

Ugh! But giving it over in private
could be worse, especially arranging it.

You never picked the best song off
the album, definitely not the hit single.

The deeper the cut the deeper buried
your feelings for that person. You didn't

know? Not all lovesongs, though--
that would make you seem obsessed,

boring. They should know you're fun
and also funny and dark-hearted

and, importantly, unpredictable.
A "Blasphemous Rumours" for every

"Only You." And sexy! Though not
Prince's moaners--not "Erotic City,"

not "Darling Nikki"! But what?
Not top 40, stylish, with a sly angle,

70s funk, some Stevie Wonder, like you've
got background you don't really have.

As it records, you have to listen to each
song in its entirety, and in this way

you hear your favorite song with the ears
of your intended, as they hear it, new.

This was the best feeling of your young
life. Then the cold chill of suddenly hearing

in your 3rd favorite INXS song a lyric
you'd break out in hives over if you thought

they thought you thought that about them
when they heard it: (there's something

about you, girl, that makes me sweat).
The only thing worse was the tape

running out a full minute before the end
of "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out."

You never got it right, not even once.
That was part of the mixtape's charm,

to your dismay. Did it ever win you
love? You never fell for anyone

else's mix either. Sometimes cool,
mostly was just someone else's

music in a case dense with tiny
handwriting to get all those titles in.

So much desire in those squeezed-in
letters. Not "love me!" so much as

"listen to me! Listen to me always!"
So that's really it, right? Maybe

you thought someday you'd make
a mixtape that your splendid friend,

your lucky star, your seventh stranger,
would take a pen to, punching in

the little plastic tabs which meant,
as you well know, it could never be

taped over again. They'd never use
your mixtape to make another mixtape,

to give away or to copy a friend's album
they didn't like enough to buy, joining all

the ok tapes in caddies stacked up a wall
or thrown in the backseat of the Datsun,

then in moving boxes, stored in parents'
garages, 5 for a buck at a yard sale,

buried in landfill, or, saddest of all,
discarded on the street, purple script

still aswirl on the white label FOR YOU--
JUST BECUZ. Shiny brown ribbon

tangled, strangled, never again to play
out what had to be said just that way.
Boston's tech problem is the same as its Olympics problem I'm bummed the Olympic Bid is dead, mostly because of the way this article has stuck in my head. We're too smart and neurotic to achieve greatness.

2015.07.26

  ...of the moment  
My comic now in print!

...now what? ;-)

2015.07.25

  ...of the moment  
I had to bring those cool sunglasses back to get the lenses replaced; the person helping me at the eyeglass place didn't bother to ask if I wanted polarized or no.

Like this site says:
Polarized lenses can be troubling for people who need to see LCD (liquid crystal displays) screens clearly. In fact, wearing polarized lenses can make an LCD screen difficult to read and can even make it seem to disappear completely at certain angles. Therefore, operators of heavy equipment or pilots should not wear polarized lenses
Umm, given the number of screen based gadgets we have in our lives, that kind of means NO ONE should wear polarized lenses. Duhhr.

And it wasn't just my local gadgets (it was kind of funny, actually: my iPad 2 was fine in portrait mode and a totally black screen in landscape) but I'd see weird patterns on electronic billboards and gas pump LCD screens etc.

Also, without asking they included a brown tint; for a while I thought the kind of weirdly omnious, pre-storm-looking shade was a side effect of the funky blue mirroring I requested, but no: they just slapped it on. The remade lenses will have a more neutral gray tint.

Man, I hate bad "default settings" for stuff like this... ah well, their (company's) lost, it just cost me some time.

2015.07.24

  ...of the moment  
http://nextdraft.com/ - this daily email newsletter is worth signing up for, about the only thing besides Quora and "Javascript News" that I appreciate having sent to my inbox. It would do a decent of keeping you up with the biggest news stories, a few more relevant bits, and then an almost always funny "Bottom of the News" couple of items. The curation is first rate. They also have an app if you prefer that to email.

seaport has the best clouds sometimes

2015.07.23

  ...of the moment  
"The two things you need to know about exponential growth: it lets you get to large numbers very quickly. And it always runs into physical barriers."
--Maciej Cegłowski in Web Design: The First 100 Years which points out we've reached some stability in what our devices can do, and that echoes how the airline industry plateaued. We COULD build supersonic passenger jets and moonbases, but we don't. Similarly, in college in the 90s if I didn't get a new computer every year or two I was qualitatively behind in what my machine could do. Nowadays, I would barely notice issues with a laptop that was 5 years old. (And my hopes for a "techno rapture of the nerds" Singularity is diminished every time I have an interaction that reminds me of how there's just no there there with Siri...)

Not that there's not still a lot of room for change: self-driving vehicles are going to be super-disruptive.

Also: I really like seeing transcriptions of this kind of presentation, where I can skim/read at my own pace but still enjoy photos that half the time just provide general feel and a sense of being rooted. Electronic text often lacks that; I think that's one of the reasons comprehension and retention lags with electronic readers. But to me it feels like "arbitrary" images returns some sense of the physicality that would be otherwise lost.

2015.07.22

  ...of the moment  
"The eyes might be the window to the soul but the nose is the front door to the brain."
--Elio
Kind of old news now, but I love this "Everything's a Product" parody in the Honest Trailer for The Lego Movie:


New glasses!

2015.07.21

  ...of the moment  
"Celebrities should adopt pets from shelters and then offload them onto normal people who would take them because they were previously owned by a celebrity."
--tones2013, https://www.reddit.com/r/Showerthoughts/
"Gambling is essentially believing in the heart of the cards."
--fortunesflavour
NYC Woman Throws Herself Off Rooftop Bar, Party People Keep Drinking This is sad - I think I met the woman in question at a "BeaconWeek" presentation. Faigy Mayer was an aspiring app developer, with a special focus on apps to help other people who were also breakaways from the hasidim community. (Other reports say most people at the bar had no idea about what had happened)
I don't know the story of her current struggle, but she's in a documentary about ex-Hasidic folk... -- what a tough transition to make.

2015.07.20

  ...of the moment  
Aww, nuts. Davis Square's Johnny D's set to close. I was chuffed that I got to play there last year, at Chandler Travis' Christmas Cavalcades. Such a landmark...
"The most significant difference I notice switching from a flip phone to a smart phone is that the number of times one can break-up and reunite in one week is greatly enhanced."
--J.M.
"I'd like to say there's a correlation between the quality of the girl and the song, but there's not. Some perfectly good girls got no songs at all - I have no explanation for that. It's a matter of poetics. There's no justice in poetics."
--Steve Earle (Saw him live at the Wilbur last week thanks to my cousin Billy)
"A nor'easter is just a frozen hurricane - and those things are THAWING OUT..."
--Steve Earle

2015.07.19

  ...of the moment  
A blast from the past... Strindberg and Helium... it's enormously fun to imitate both characters.

2015.07.18

  ...of the moment  
new prescription sunglasses! a little too polarized though, but I dig the pseudo-mirrorshade effect.

2015.07.17

  ...of the moment  
Last night was "Paint and Wine Night" at work...

...lesson learned, nowadays you can't paint dragons without someone assuming it's a Game of Thrones reference!