Old school →

Middlemojo interview Frank Black

Q: Wait a minute. Didn’t you just buy a house in Northampton?

A: Yeah. We’re already moving. It’s a little more in the country. They want to have chickens and grow flowers and stuff. We got rid of TV, there’s no computers, no electronics. It’s old school. And the kids haven’t said peep about it.

Q: How old are the kids?

A: Three, five, six, eleven, and thirteen. It’s so loud. It’s crazy.

Q: You do loud and crazy.

A: Yeah, yeah. Everybody’s loud. Let me show you some pictures [on his iPhone].

Do you see what happened there? "No computers, no electronics. It's old school". But he still has an iPhone. Everyone has a smartphone now, but they're so ubiquitous that no-one even thinks of them as being a "computer". Warren Ellis was totally right. People don't even think about or recognise the magic around them.

(Incidentally, Middlemojo.com is just wonderful. A blog about creative people approaching middle age. Why hasn't this been done before?)

Paperman

Storyboard - Read the TV and Movies you don't want to watch →

Storyboard was born of my insane desire to consume videos without actually having to watch them. Normally that would involve putting the TV on in the background and ignoring the video while listening to the audio, but what about the reverse? All visual without the audio. On my kindle.

This reminds me of the line in Douglas Coupland's Microserfs about people turning on subtitles and watching films in fast-forward because it's more time-efficient.

Going digital-only

Over Christmas, we moved again. This time, into the house we bought1. One of the more useful things that falls out of the process of moving is that it gives you an opportunity to take account of your possessions. There's nothing like packing everything you own into boxes and carting them off to another place to make you realise how much shit you own.

Well, somewhere around the 30th box or so, I had an epiphany. I have too much stuff.

"Duh, asshole. This isn't news."

No, you're not listening to what I'm saying. I'm saying that my internal understanding -- my mental self-image -- suddenly went from "I have a lot of stuff" to "I have too much stuff". As in, I could easily offload three-quarters of my DVD collection and not really feel the loss. Which is why I'm sort of glad that HMV is gone. As a nerd who loves movies and games, its disappearance leaves me with fewer places to buy these things in Dublin, fewer avenues of temptation. This is a perfect opening for me to re-evaluate my relationship with these things and how they come into my life. A lot has already changed.

Books: Kindle My kindle has completely transformed my relationship with books. I also count this as the thing that completely turned me onto the idea of digital, rather than physical ownership of media. I realised that I had been fetishizing the form, not the content.

Comics: ComiXology I haven't bought a physical comic in at least a year now. Sorry, Forbidden Planet! Maybe if you weren't missing volume 1 of every series I'd like to check out, y'know?

Games: Steam, Xbox Live, PSN, Wii U e-shop I feel like, of everything listed here, games are the best represented in the digital market. Each platform has its own storefront (Steam isn't official, but it is the de-facto standard on PC) and it's only getting easier and cheaper to buy digital versions of things.

Movies: ?

And this takes me to the point of this post. Yesterday, Philips announced that they were exiting the consumer electronics market. This line jumped out for me:

“Since we have online entertainment, people do not buy Blu-ray and DVD players anymore,” Mr. Van Houten said.

I think this ties in with what I'm saying - there's very little need to own physical copies of digital media. Consumers are realising this and HMV, having built the core of its market around selling DVDs and Blu-Rays, couldn't adapt.

But I have a question about all this. People aren't buying Blu-rays or DVDs any more. So what are they actually buying? Is the lack of a standard for downloaded video harming adoption/uptake, just like we saw when HD-DVD and Blu-ray were competing to see which would be the dominant format? Also, until there is a standard, should we expect the price of digital-only movie purchases to remain high?2

1

This is a whole other blog post, but holy fuck, we bought a house.

2

Take Dredd for example (one of my favourite films of last year). On the US iTunes store, it's $19.99 (€15) for the HD version of the movie plus the 'iTunes Extras', the iTunes versions of DVD extras. On the Irish store, it's €17 for the movie by itself. I'm sure they're waiting for more Irish people to be interested in buying movies from iTunes before adding features and dropping the price, but without dropping the price or adding these features, how do they expect to encourage this interest?

In Conversation: Steven Soderbergh -- Vulture

I was watching one of those iconoclast shows on the Sundance Channel. Jamie Oliver said Paul Smith had told him something he hadn’t understood until very recently: “I’d rather be No. 2 forever than No. 1 for a while.” Just make stuff and don’t agonize over it. Stop worrying about being No. 1. I see a lot of people getting paralyzed by the response to their work, the imagined result. It’s like playing a Jedi mind trick on yourself, and Smith is right. That’s the way I’ve always approached films, the way I approach everything. Just make ’em.

A while ago, over the course of a couple of days, I came across two slogans that have stuck with me and have had a profound impact on my approach to my creative projects. First is from Facebook's Analog Research Lab's who have a poster saying "Done is Better Than Perfect". The other is Brendan Dawes' "Talk - Action = Shit". Now, rather than being paralysed by the fear of the blank page and the fear of releasing anything that is less than perfect, I'm churning stuff out. There's a lot of misses in there, but there are a few hits too.

How To See The Future

Ballardian banality comes from not getting the future that we were promised, or getting it too late to make the promised difference.

This is because we look at the present day through a rear-view mirror. This is something Marshall McLuhan said back in the Sixties, when the world was in the grip of authentic-seeming future narratives. He said, “We look at the present through a rear-view mirror. We march backwards into the future.”

-- Warren Ellis, How to See the Future

Fear of failure

This weekend, I'm doing something foolish. I'm taking part in the Hell and Back. It's a 10k race up and down the Little Sugarloaf, with a few obstacles thrown in for good measure. There's a lot to be scared of. Never mind the cold, I've also got to haul my fat ass over a 7 foot wall, and deliberately subject myself to an electric shock. And then there's the very real possibility that I will injure myself, badly.

But the thing that's really got me scared -- the thing that's actually keeping me up at night -- is the fear of failure. Of not finishing the course at all. Or worse, coming dead last. This is scaring me more than serious bodily harm. I can handle physical pain. Anyone who knows me knows I can't handle emotional pain.

Ze Frank has some comforting things to say about this. Especially this line:

Let me think about the people who I care about the most, and how when they fail or disappoint me… I still love them, I still give them chances, and I still see the best in them. Let me extend that generosity to myself.

If my wife did anything like this, if she even signed up for something like this, I would be so proud of her. If she came dead last -- if it took her eight hours to finish the course and everyone else had gone home -- I'd still be at the finish line, cheering for her like she'd just out-run Usain Bolt. Can I do the same for myself?

On second thought, maybe I should be watching clips from Rocky instead. Much less likely to make me cry.

The Shining board game →

SHNGMAP1

"The Shining" is a game based on the Stephen King novel of the same name. One player controls the evil and sentient Overlook hotel, the other the Torrence family, winter caretakers of the haunted estate. Using ambiant hedge animals, terrifying phantoms and possibly human possession, the hotel tried to claim young, psychically gifted Danny as it's own - by killing him!

This sounds amazing.

Herp Derp YouTube Comments →

Speaking of stupid comments, I recently installed the Herp Derp extension for Chrome. It turns every YouTube comment into "herp derp derp", and it has dramatically improved my experience with that site.