Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I'm Not All Doom And Gloom...

I know my posts can sometimes focus on the downside of existence and how to avoid some of the traps I see in the world. Also a lot of the art I post about as well as create tends to be somewhat melancholy to put it lightly.

So just to remind everyone that I am not a completely dark person, here is something to cleanse the palette...

More Amazing Short Film

This one comes from a  man named Shane Acker. He and his cohorts have created a very dark and twisted dystopia... in miniature! 

Many of you who know me understand I have a fascination with the minuscule. Mr. Acker builds a strange place from the broken, rusted, discarded gimcrack of the world we know, and somehow in that landscape of heaped refuse, something resembling life has taken hold using that same junk as raw material for itself. Of course, wherever there is life, there is struggle...

Behold "9"

*Warning* turn down your volume if you are at work.... its out of context, but the creator started the film with some "distant badly recorded sex cries" I think its supposed to  set a mood of discomfort... It's only faint at the beginning but I didn't want anyone to get in trouble.

Beautiful enough in its own right... A feature length film based on this short is in the works. I hope they don't loose what is good about it in extending it, but I am sure they will get my money regardless.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Why Maurice Sendak Puts Kid Characters in Danger

I am so glad I was not off base with the thinking of this wonderful creative man. He pretty much is every bit as cool as I have always imagined him to be.
Get to know him through his own words.

I few things I found interesting...
He says that he doesn't write for children. 
He called the "current" Mickey Mouse a fat whore.
He works at night... like me. : )
Child psychologist Bruno Bettelheim warned that parents should not allow children to read Where the Wild Things Are because it would frighten them too much.

"Childhood is a tricky business," Sendak says. "Usually, something goes wrong."That theme got him into trouble with adult critics in the past, but he’s not worried about how his younger readers will react."Kids," he explains, "are so shrewd."

My already massive respect for this him just grew even more.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Where the Wild Things Is As Dark As You Are... or were.

On message boards around the globe the battle rages on about a mature minded movie involving what its like to be a child, made from a children's book containing adult concepts like the balance of love against anger and being in control of ones own destiny.

Many people seem to want this to be an all around "happy" film with no challenging content or themes. The way I read their comments, I think they would be happy if it was along the lines of Garfield or Spongebob Squaqrepants. They clearly don't see the book the same way I always have. I have even read many people complain that the Wild Things in the leaked test (now gone from the internet) were not smiling like they are in the book!

Holy crap! They think the beasts in the book are smiling! Grinning would be more like it large toothy grins, but mostly they are barring their teeth. Sometimes cracking what might be called a smirk. I mean, they threaten to eat him because they love him so much. : P

Some others in these threads try to point out that the actual words found in the book are not exactly "nice". But people seem to insist that the Wild Things are the 1960's equivalent of Mike and Skully from Monsters Inc. (I love Monsters Inc. btw but Its a different "beast") They call them "cute" and "cuddly". Good God are they missing the mark. I hope they didn't ruin those great characters for their kids by reading the book to them in a "baby talk voice"

I Imagine the parental censorship going something like this...
"They woared their terrwible woars, wolled their terrwible eyes, mooshed their terrwible teeffhies, and showed their terrwible softy-wofty paws."

"They cried, Oh please don't go, we love you so! We'll kiss you on your belly welly!"


Anyone really looking at the art and reading the content should see that it is not a "cute" story. Its supposed to be a bit on the edge, without crossing the line. Max is an angry boy. He is frustrated, a bit out of control, and he is trying to deal with his anger at being punished. When he "runs away" what he is doing is working through his problems with his imagination. The wild things ARE his dark side! At least that is my take on it... It seems so clear to me and It's quite brilliant really.

In addition to its simple and elegant story, Maurice Sendak's art in the book is stunning and I can say with no hesitation that it was one of the things that influenced me to pursue my creative abilities. I am a bit subversive, dark, and spooky myself... coincidence? Only somewhat, I am sure I was drawn to the book because of those budding aesthetics in me, but all kids NEED influences that cover a full spectrum of tone. Spooky, joyful, wondrous, dire, playful. Just giving them one "flavor" of life is cheating them and not giving them the tools to deal with the dark uncomfortable feelings they may already have. Children can understand a lot, we just don't give them credit for it. Maybe the fact that I got my hands on a dark and creepy little book about a bad little boy that imagined being the king of the Wild Things helped me work through some of my problems.

Maybe some kids out there need a equally powerful film about that same boy to help them with their problems.

So I guess what I am saying is if you had a happy go lucky childhood, or choose to deny yourself access to those dark feelings you had as a child, then the monsters were smiling... for the rest of us, they were "gnashing their terrible teeth" in an attempt to keep the rage under control. If you grew up like I did, constantly feeling under attack and in danger, you may be more interested in the Spike Jones version... in the same way that the original work by Maurice Sendak was more than just a cute little book to me when I was a kid.

Mr. Sendak gave me a tremendous gift back then... he showed me how to escape.

Monday, April 21, 2008

I like Katie

This is my second favorite clip of her antics but I cant find a good example of the other one were she is even more "eccentric". I relate to her in some strange way.


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Adobe Survey Responce

Once again, a company has asked me to take a survey... and provided a comments section! When will they learn.

Dear Adobe people,
Perhaps you could make this part of a collection of benefits for people that actually PAY for your software. As someone who has owned Photoshop for a very long time I have to tell you I am a bit sick of competing against people that simply download it and make the claim that piracy is part of your business model. It is even suggested at times that the cost that I pay is adjusted to account for the lost revenue from piracy. I feel like after all this time Adobe treats me no better than someone who has never purchased it. The company seems indifferent to both extremes of user. The hoops I have had to jump through to install an upgrade on occasion have often make me feel no more trusted than a criminal.

Offering services like I imagine you may be planning here at reduced rates or perhaps even freely to long time owners of your products might go a long way to making people like me feel like we have not been made fools of for all these years for trying to be honest.   I often wonder if Adobe even knows who I am... or even cares. Considering how many people rip you guys off and how much simpler that is getting to do every day, maybe you should be doing everything in your power to build relationships with the people that have shown themselves to be loyal. Tying your products to online components that are NOT accessible to pirates or giving long time users access to online services seems to be one GREAT solution.   


Murdock Scott.

Monday, April 7, 2008

My Advice To Consumer Reports.

Not to long ago I got fed up with looking for product information on the web. It's a quagmire out there. I am convinced that user to user sites are populated with people of questionable interest. like people trying to sell training on a software product, or just plain old sales and marketing people hired to sit in front of computers and relate their "personal" experiences about the product. Sure, many honest "real" people take the time to rate stuff they buy, but for each one of those, it would be a really simple matter to offset any timid "it didn't work that great" 3 star ratting with a glowing "OMG, this thing is awesome!" 5 star fix.

So, it dawned on me that I DID know of at least ONE impartial source of consumer information... The now classic Consumer Reports. So I signed up for their website to see what they had been up to. Now for those of you that don't know how CR works, here is the scoop.
1. They sell no ads.
2. They test all products impartially. I believe they actually buy them when possible.
3. They are a non-profit
4. All the testing is supported through the sale of the publications and now subscription to the website.

Problem is I think only people my age or older even, know anything about them... and I had forgotten. Worse yet, when I signed up the 2 things I looked for, had no reviews... sorta common stuff too if you ask me. I looked for electric toothbrushes and colorimeters for calibrating monitors... what? you don't think everyone needs clean teeth and a color correct LCD?

Today I got an email from them asking me to take a survey. I have a feeling that they are feeling a bit like a fish out of watter in a time when people throw up oppinions on the web constantly and they are scrambling to understand their place in it.

It's simple really, there is NO shortage of product information on the web... what there IS a desperate shortage of is QUALITY ORGANIZED IMPARTIAL product information. At the end of the survey they gave a place for notes... allways a bad idea when it comes to me, heh. Here is what I wrote to them.

Consumer Reports people,
I really hope you can become a force to be reckoned with in the digital age. User to user message boards and user "review sites are RIFE with companies "virally" hawking their goods disguised as real people. My own blog about headaches has people constantly posting about remedies that I highly suspect are paid to act as if they too are sufferers... It's getting really sick out there.

But in order to remain relevant I am afraid you may need to get aggressive. I was a very young kid in the 70's when consumer rights was the rage. People need to get mad again about being sold things that don't work, don't last, or are dangerous. I might suggest fighting fire with fire and get some people that really understand the bleeding edge of tech and have them creating "short attention span versions" of the hottest reviews and comparisons you do. (you may have to do a faster less in-depth "quickie" to be sure its still a product people are currently exited about) then they should "seed" these stories on sites like digg and reddit.

I may be telling you a bunch of stuff you already know, but I never see a CR story listed on Digg for example. Now your in a tough spot due to the whole "information wants to be free" dogma that is sweeping our culture and how that is in serious conflict with how you do your work... so I guess you may have to let "some" of it go... like I mentioned.. the "short attention span version" of the reviews. Get them reading, then REALLY play up the direct support with no advertising angle and maybe even EXPOSE the hidden advertising and "gaming" (fixing ratings) on other sources that they seem oblivious too.

The new systems of "monetizing" information are becoming too indirect and convoluted. Advertising is embedded in everything, as a response to our abandonment of our end of the contract to "Pay" for the content we watch and listen to. So now, the consumer has no tools to know wether he is looking at an ad, customer opinion, expert review, entertainment, piece of art or some combination of all of the above.

I am afraid I see it as a bit of a war, and you may be some of the last remaining "good guys". You offer a simple and honest relationship. "Buy our publication and we will gather a well rounded opinion of products for you so you can make better purchases."

I would hate to loose that.