Book-nerd freak out: Madrid 2016

Somebody posted a variety of pictures from Madrid’s bid book for the 2016 Olympic games. It’s beautiful; I want one, just to look at.

I miss designing publications. 🙁

ADDITION: killer – the Madrid bid committee has the three volumes of the bid book available in their entirety in PDF format on its web site, here. Furiously downloading as I type this…

ADDITION 2: OK, now I have go to get the bid books for the other host finalists Chicago; Rio de Janiero; and Tokyo.

“Watchmen” prep work completed

Who watches the Watchmen?

Who watches the Watchmen?

We’re a little over a week out from the opening of “Watchmen,” a movie I’m more excited to see than any other in a long, long time. I didn’t even have this level of anticipation for “The Dark Knight.” I finished my pre-screening homework tonight, completing my first read of my 20-year-old trade paperback collection of the 12-issue limited series that spawned the film.

I hadn’t read “Watchmen” in I’m  honestly not sure how long; it’s been 15 years at the absolute least, and likely closer to 20 at this point. There were things I recalled – vague recollections and bits-and-pieces flashes triggered by the various trailers for the film playing everywhere you look – but I had forgotten even more, to the point that this latest read was all but new material.

Moreso than the details of the story, I had forgotten just how absolutely brilliant “Watchmen” is. After I finished it tonight, I wondered if I had even realized what a masterpiece it was when I first read it. I know I enjoyed it; I’m just not sure I was at a place in my life to actually get it. I think I get it now. And it’ll certainly be less than 15 years before I read it again to test whether I am correct.

Setting aside the source material — material which, as time goes on, seems increasingly regarded as one of the 20th centuriy’s finest literary works — the advance material for the film makes it seem as if its creators have crafted a movie that should be tremendously entertaining to watch. Reading the source material again, and you realize quickly the enormity of the task they’ve taken upon themselves in rendering this story to film.

I find that it’s necessary to always keep expectations in check for movies, because at some step in the evolutionary food chain of films, there always seems to be someone intent on screwing things up to please a focus group or appease an investor. Some broken cog in the machine not allowing movies to be what they could be, out of fear or ignorance or a simple grab for a bigger piece of the box office pie. Whatever the cause, disappointment and letdown seem far more frequent reactions than having that thought enter your mind that this time, by jove, they’ve done it.

If they should fail, or succeed even on some marginal level, “Watchmen” will still probably turn out to be a, pardon the pun, watchable and perhaps even enjoyable movie.

But what if Zach Snyder, the director of “Watchmen,” pulls this off? What if he has legitimately succeeded in translating this work to the big screen in such a way that the film reflects the greatness of the comic book series?What if it really is the film adaptation of this comic book that we’ve all played through in our minds while reading the story?

What if he’s done it?

My homework is done… Now I just need a ticket so I can see for myself.

Tapping the Vein, two weeks early

Earlier this afternoon, I received an e-mail from an indy record store in Philadelphia called IsoTank (visit them here) letting me know that the new CD “Another Day Down” by Tapping the Vein was in stock and ready to ship.

The cool thing about this? The release date for “Another Day Down” was supposed to be March 10 – hopefully IsoTank, from which I’ve purchased each of the other three TTV CDs I own, really did get it early, because the last CD from this band came out in the distant past of 2002. I’ve been waiting for new stuff from them for a long time.

While I patiently camp my mailbox waiting for this CD to arrive; it would be a pleasant surprise to have it show up earlier than I had been planning.

In the meantime, if you haven’t heard of Tapping the Vein, you can check out some of their music – including a couple of tracks from “Another Day Down” – on their MySpace page.

Good times – the sordid history of andybartlett.com

I had forgotten all about the Internet Archive Wayback Machine until I was working on updating the “About” page for this web site (changing my theme today, and thusly having the “About” page info show up in the site’s footer, made me realize I had forgotten about it when I relaunched ab.com); it’s an Internet archive of the lameness that has traditionally been my personal web space.

Check out out here: http://web.archive.org/web/*/andybartlett.com

You can see I basically did nothing for a long time; made a relatively decent effort to get something going in 2004; continued that into 2005, and then followed my usual pattern and saw things kaplode. 😛 The archive doesn’t track when this site switched from dot com to dot net due to my horrid experience with the thieves at register.com, so there are some things in the 2006-07 range that are likely just gone. Which is probably fine – I’m sure those things sucked anyway.

I found my experimentation with content managers interesting; Blogger in 2002, pMachine in 2004, etc. I’m enjoying WordPress right now, but there will probably be something new at some point in the future. Stuff changes all the time; but somehow, there’s a site like the Wayback Machine recording your experiments for all eternity. Good times.

I just wish it had my old-school sites archived from when I was a student at Kansas State; those would be fun to look at again.

Alex Rodriguez’s story starts to unravel

So, it turns out that the admissions of guilt given by Alex Rodriguez during his interview with Peter Gammons are mostly turning out to be egregious and verifiable lies. This gets better all the time. Rodriguez has hired a half-dozen PR firms to help him with this; I’m not sure why they haven’t been able to hammer into his head the one truth about things like this. “The act gets you in far less trouble than do your efforts to cover up that act.” He’s digging his own grave here.

Primobolan, drug Alex Rodriguez used, not available for legal purchase in the Dominican Republic – ESPN.

Construction planning for the “Coraline” house

Coraline house - startI began the process of designing and planning the construction of the house for the “Coraline” popup diorama I’m working on; it’s proving to be more straight-forward than I had originally thought it might be. I’ve spent about an hour and a half getting it to this point; it shouldn’t take more than a few hours more to complete it. Then I’ll plot out the other three layers and begin construction. Should be fun.

The roof overlay will need to be reworked a little; I didn’t catch the little area of roof that’s visible between the turret and the front eave, and I’ve lost a little detail there. Will be easy to fix. Then I’ll need to work out which details I’ll build up with paper and which will be added in with score lines or colored pencils or watercolors later; at this point, the majority of the major features look like they’ll work well as paper. Will adjust as necessary during construction.

I’m liking how this is going so far. It should be a fun project to complete.

Coraline house planning - layer plans

A new “worst movie of all time” champion

There is a new king! “Love Actually” has held the crown of “Worst Movie Andy Has Ever Seen” for quite some time; that film supplanted the absolutely ghastly “House of the Dead,” which also held the crown for a significant period of time before being toppled by “Love Actually.”

Well, there is a new champion. The 2008 remake of the mid-80s camp horror classic, April Fool’s Day, has stormed to the top of my personal Worst Film of All Time charts with a bullet.

I’m not even sure where to begin with this movie. The acting is absolutely horrendous – I literally almost quit on this movie during the first 10-15 minutes of exposition and character introductions, and I only stayed with the movie knowing there was a good chance every one of them would eventually be killed.

The characters are not remotely believable; they’re so over the top and in-your-face that they’re more caricatures than characters. The completely fake-gay gossip blogger is the worst of the bunch; every second he talked on screen made me want to kick a puppy. In fact, he’s so bad I can’t even readily find him in the cast listing at IMDB.com; there’s no way I’d want to be associated with this movie, so maybe he found a way to purge his involvement. The rest of the cast should be so lucky.

The “plot” is laughable; impossibly rich and impossibly self-absorbed rich kids throw a debutante ball in the Carolinas, and a practical joke against a long-time rival goes horribly awry, leading to a death. A year later, all involved receive “go to the cemetary at noon, I know your secret” cards, and the movie just devolves into nonsense from there. Everybody “dies,” only it turns out at the end of the movie to just be a prank to get the bitch to admit to everyone she’s a bitch. And through one of the most ridiculous setups ever, the bitch is “accidentally” killed so her brother could get his mitts on the inheritance.

It’s horrendous. I really wish I could kill the part of my brain that remembers I’ve seen it. And it’s now officially the worst film I’ve ever seen.

Building a “Coraline” pop-up diorama

I posted last week about my newfound love for the movie “Coraline;” I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I just might try to go see it in the theaters again (especially when I’m in Minneapolis in a couple of weeks and hopefully might have a chance to see it in 3D). The visual style of the movie inspired me, like nothing else really has in a long, long time. Even while I was watching the movie the first time, a set would flash by or there’d be a closeup of one of the characters, and I just kept having these thoughts go through my head of “I could build that, and it would be awesome.”

Then by chance at work last week, I ran across this fantastic sample booklet for Corbis stock photos. It’s an extremely thick book with popups constructed of a variety of images from their stock photo library, as a leadin for the sample DVD included with this dem. Here are some other images of the book; it has a plastic dust jacket that you have to remove or open to get to the popups; here are straight-on and oblique views of the first of the book’s four popups; and finally a side view of the fourth popup and the DVD pocket in the back flap.

I immediately stole it from our designer (after asking nicely first if I could) and took it home, and I spent many minutes just looking at it – flipping the pages, opening and closing the popups, looking at them from a variety of angles.

The splash page for Coraline.com is tailor-made for this sort of treatment. So, I decided to build it.

After breaking down the frontpage, the project will be a four-layer popup diorama, and I’m going to do a couple of layers of sky and have a button on a rotating wheel that I can turn to cause the lunar eclipse. My plan is to build the layers as paper collages rather than just have a flat image on each; we’ll see how that turns out. You can see some rough sketching I’ve done to start breaking down the house and see how I might attack its construction.

I’m going to document my progress on this project here; for now, take a look at the initial engineering prototype as I start playing with layer positioning and relative sizing. I threw this one together in about an hour and didn’t really do a whole lot of measuring; I just eyeballed the scale for the most part, and I actually think it turned out really well.

This prototype is built with 8 1/2 x 11 65-pound cardstock. I’m probably going to build the final product out on a 12×12. The proportions will be very similar; it’ll just end up being quite a bit wider, which will fit well with the feel of the Coraline.com menu. I’m still considering whether to do a second engineering prototype at the larger size; it’d probably be a good idea.

Stay tuned…

Take a 30-minute ride in a B-17

I cannot possibly imagine a better way to spend $430…

http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/02/12/flying.fortress/index.html?iref=mpstoryview

World War II-era planes are one of the things that caught my imagination early on in my life. I watched “Black Sheep Squadron” religiously with my dad, falling in love with the F-4U Corsair in the process. I helped my dad build model planes almost as far back as I can remember (and have a nasty scar on my left index finger from my second-grade attempt to cut an engine cowling for an F-4 Phantom off the sprue while dad was still at work, thinking it’d give us a head start on the few steps a night we managed to take through the construction instructions), and we built many, many B-17s.

I’ve only actually seen one – at an airshow somewhere, probably when the Texas-based Confederate Air Force was in El Paso. I would jump at a chance to see another one, and $430 for a chance to actually fly in one just seems like one of things that’d be impossible to pass up.