Random thoughts on most things from A. M. Craig.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Cutsie to Death

I know so much more about the girl behind me at work from overheard

She sits in the cubicle just behind me, chatting either with or about
her fiance at any given moment. That alone wouldn't bother me, but the
juvenile flirty talk; "Do you love me more than (name anything lovable
here)? Cause I love you more. No, I Love YOU more. (Kissing noise

Really, affection is fine, even public displays of affection are
acceptable when it's Spring and kept to a moderate level. But THIS
nonsense...I hope I don't turn into a cutsie-wootsie dripping with
sentiment idiot when I'm in love. Tell me if I do.

-Sent from Austin's phone.

Saturday, April 26, 2008


A couple months ago I left a review for the movie Happy Valley. Maybe you've seen it, maybe you've never heard of it. It's about illicit drug use in Utah Valley. My opinion was that it was an awful film. Really, really pitiful in a lot of ways. It didn't leave me with any affection for the film-maker, either.

I wrote the review and quickly forgot about it. Then, a couple days ago, a thread of comments began to form that turned into one of the most interesting conversations I've had on this blog. Mind you, not because of the content, but because of the participants.

You just have to read this to believe it. Look at the review of Happy Valley (the last third of my post), then look at the subsequent comments. Unbelievable.

Just to wet your interest, I think Jessica Biel may be reading my blog. Probably not, but the possibility is endlessly funny.

Johnny Virgil from the 15 Minute Lunch
Wayan from OLPC NEWS
Rod Santiano from New York Doll


Jason and Marco on the strip.

This was a few weeks ago, but Finals prevented me from chronicling anything interesting in my life, so I've go some catching up to do.

I went with a few of the other broadcasting students at BYU to the RTNDA@NAB show in Vegas (as you may have noticed). I was going primarily to learn more about the industry I'm about to be a part of, but there were also abundant networking opportunities, including a career fair for students. I didn't take many pictures, because I felt like Vegas was just so gaudy, there wasn't any space for creative outlet. I was wrong. This guy managed to take some good shots. There were more interesting people, companies, and equipment than I could have possibly seen during the week.

Caitlin and Marco posing. Caitlin was volunteer secretary for the day.

We showed up Saturday night. Nothing started till Sunday. I made the mistake of not really reviewing the program thoroughly, and went to the convention center on Sunday, thinking there would be something going on. There wasn't. But it got better, I promise.

There is a Star Trek themed restaurant in the Hilton where the convention was at. Whatever gimmick works.

I went to a number of addresses while there. I tended toward the more technologically progressive topics. I attended the "20 Tricks, Tips, and Widgets for your Website". It was geared towards newsrooms that want to capitalize on free, easy media add-ons to their website. I'm amazed how often this doesn't happen. People were asking questions of the panel, and I wanted to raise my hand and answer, but refrained, seeing as I'm a visiting student, not one of the industry pros on the panel. I talked to Steve Safran afterwards and mentioned that. He said in no unclear terms I should have answered their questions, that's how people notice you, that's how you get job offers. Duly noted, Steve.

From the booth of Honest Tea. Don't worry, we just got non-tea drinks. Honest.

I went to another panel discussion on making user generated content part of your overall news strategy. It was fascinating. I just can't shake the feeling that this will be a huge part of how news works in the coming years. Dan Beckmann was there from Current TV, the cable network cofounded by Al Gore. Fully 1/3 of Current's programming comes from user generated content, i.e. I make a piece, send it to them, and if they like it, they pay me and run it. I already have footage of something I want to send to them, I just have to edit the piece. He was a fine speaker, but I was riveted by the subject matter. Talked to him afterward, got his card. He said they have curriculum material for groups focusing on new media. I said I'd contact him about the possibility of setting that up at BYU. Still need to do that.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the greatest student anchor in the country. Honest, he won that award. There was a booth selling makeup supplies, Marco was lucky enough to have a sampling.

Kellie, Annie, and Josh taking a break between sessions.

It must have been Monday night, we were bored, not really doing anything, so went Siovhan, Brett, Marco and I went outside for a walk. Around the block, behind where we were staying, there was a stake park, with a group of kids who were awesome to watch. They were a diverse bunch, not typical "skater" that you would have thought of from the 90's. They were black, white, hispanic, wearing all different styles of clothes. There weren't any sociological barriers that I could see. Just a bunch of guys who all wanted to skate. It was really cool.
Instead of walking around the block again, we decided to jump the fence to the place we were staying. Seemed like a good idea at the time. Brett stood on a trash barrel next to the fence to climb over, when the barrel came out from under him. His fingers caught on something sharp, barrel or fence, I'm not sure. What I am sure of is how mangled his first two fingers were on one hand. Marco drove him to the hospital, Josh and his iPhone offered directions, and Siovhan offered as tender of care as any mother I've seen. Good job, team. I was worthless in the face of blood. Couldn't even look at it, much less take a picture.

Marco giving Blue some love at the M&M shop.

The NAB Show was huge. Alvin and Heidi Toffler were fascinating. I loved it, they confirmed so many personal convictions about society, technology, politics, culture, the list goes on. I tried to record the discussion, and it actually turned out okay. If you're interested, you can listen here.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Thanks, JJ. You're as Helpful as Finals were.

Finals are over. I survived (barely). Wednesday afternoon I came home,
layed down for a nap, and didn't wake up for 15 hours. Literally. I have
moral objections to finals in part because of this.

Cloverfield came out on DVD Tuesday. I wanted to go out and rent it
right away, but finals prevented my focus from being anywhere else.

I have time now, but am prevented by another problem. JJ and his buddies
with their clever marketing have gone and broken the mold again. After
releasing the trailer without a name on it, after their smash hit viral
campaign, after the alltogether unique perspective of the movie itself,
they've done it again. This time with the DVD.

Cloverfield has been released differently at different places. The
Cloverfield I would Buy at Best Buy is different than the one I'd buy at
Circuit City, is different than the one I'd buy at Costco, is different
than fye, Walmart, the list goes on. They have unique special features
and packaging.

The packaging doesn't bother me as much (though I am bothered). The fact
that there is different content on each DVD is just a slap in the face
to fans.

(Voices of JJ and Crew) "Well, guys, you've been great. You followed the
progress on our movie for months, you flooded our websites, you lined up
to see it opening night, you saw it again and again. Thanks so much! And
as a token of our appreciation, here is a mountain of extra DVD content
for you to enjoy. However, we'll be releasing it all on six seperate
DVDs, and if you want to see all the content, you'll have to rent, or
better, BUY all of them! HaHahaha...MwAHAHAHA!"

Thanks, Guys. You're the best. I'll just go out and buy everything,
that's how much I loved it.

OR, I'll save my money, buy the most inclusive DVD, and resent you for
not including everything in one place.

Notice on this Walmart poster for the movie, a very glaring omission
from the original famous poster. Can anybody tell what's NOT there?

-Sent from Austin's phone.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Fun Game

Let's play a game. It's called "Arbitrary Policy". We'll each think of
an actual rule, regulation, or procedure that is based on as little
reason as possible. I'll start.
The testing center only administers religion finals in the WILK, and
they stop handing them out at 4:00 the last day of finals.
Your turn.
Oh, you can't think of anything more ridiculous than that? Then I guess
I win!
Actually, I lose, because I missed that memo, and walked in about 15
minutes too late to take the final. I'm now entirely at the clemency of
my teacher. Have Mercy.
Talking to a friend afterward, she decided there is a spectrum of where
a person's focus is. You can understand more of the framework, or the
content. She decided I must be heavily content focused. I'll take that
as a good explanation, because it makes me sound uniquely gifted, rather
than an idiot for missing the final.
-Sent from Austin's phone.

Friday, April 18, 2008


There are a great number of subjects I'd like to write about on here, but I can't. Not right now. Right now I'm too busy loathing finals. Worthless, if you ask me. Absolutely worthless.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

AMEN. Amen.

The Alvon Toffler addres this morning was everything I hoped it would be
and more. It was he and his wife Heidi. I wanted to stand up and Scream
"Amen" at everything they were saying, about society, globalization,
education, technology, everything. More to come, I tried to record the
audio, but I think it may only be good enough to make a transcript from.
Stay tuned for more.

-Sent from Austin's phone.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Fitting for Vegas

Bring your piggy banks, kids. This one isn't free. Nothing here really
-Sent from Austin's phone.


I really hope I can go the Alvin Tofler addres tomorrow. It would be
fascinating, and not an opportunity I'm likely to have again.

I heard Tim Robbins speech was...interesting. It's online somewhere.
I'll have to link to it when I have an actual computer to work from.

In other news, I just found out I'll be moving. This summer I'm headed
to Redmond Washington to work with MSNBC.com. Should be interesting.
Lots of valuable experience. Blogging fodder. Stay tuned. Wish me luck.

-Sent from Austin's phone.

The View from Vegas

Kim Dalton, Jessica Foust, and Kellie Goff telling a funny story from
the day.

A huge TV.

Kellie and Jessica by a news chopper.

Playing with the camera equipment the exhibitioners had. There was some
awesome stuff. Awesome.

Marco Villareal getting some sun.

Manilow. At the Hilton.

More to come, more to tell, all in due time.
-Sent from Austin's phone.

Sunday, April 13, 2008


I'm not off to a great start here. I didn't sign up to volunteer, so I
didn't get the registration discount. RTNDA has a student session on how
to "Jump-Start Your Career", I didn't register for that either. To be
honest, I wasn't even sure I'd be coming to this until pretty recently,
and I was worrying much more about finals than the convention.

I'm in the lobby of the convention center at the Hilton. I should have
stayed at the Condo we rented. Since I'm not registered for anything,
all I have to do is read the "RTNDA Communicator: The Magazine for
Electronic Journalists" or the "Columbia Journalism Review". Not bad
options, really, but I'd rather be in the Jump-Start session or
volunteering in some capacity.

Maybe I'll go exploring. Don't worry, I won't get in too much trouble.

-Sent from Austin's phone.

All that Glitters

If you've ever seen a picture of the Strip in Vegas, then you've seen as
much of the Strip as you should care to see. If you, like me, don't
drink, gamble, or care for unsavory company, the food is about the only

Hope the RTNDA Convention has a little more substance.

-Sent from Austin's phone.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

What Happens in Vegas...

I'm in Vegas for a Broadcasters Convention. RTNDA. Google it. Should be
interesting. I've never been here really, only ever stopped at the In
'n' Out. I'll see more than that on this trip, though. More to come.
Stay tuned.

-Sent from Austin's phone.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Once in a Lifetime

My friend Lindsay just texted and said she was listening to The Talking Heads, and that they reminded her of me. I don't know why it did, I don't recall any conversations we've ever had about the Talking Heads, though I could just be forgetting. A asked what song. Once in a Lifetime and Burning Down the House. I was hoping it was Once in a Lifetime. Thanks Lindsay.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Timing and Control

Lately I've been wanting...obsessing about...getting a digital SLR. There are just a lot of tricks I want to try. TtV, HDR, depth of field, long exposure, time lapse, light writing, wide angle and fisheye, telephoto, tilt/shift, and macro are all styles or elements I'd love to try out. I want to understand lighting, too. But in the midst of all this obsessing, I thought I'd take a closer look at my camera. I bought this from Rob in December, and have used it as a (very capable) point-and-shoot since. I've been really happy with the results, and I love the swivel design and rugged body.

Looking over the camera yesterday, I realized there were a couple buttons I'd never even used. I looked online, and found loads of information about it, and what's better, tons of accessories. I can get lenses to do most of the things I want, and after downloading the manual, I figured out how to handle all those buttons and features I'd never even thought about. You know what I found? I own a pretty great camera!

You wouldn't believe how excited I was when I took this picture and it worked. I was giddy. I've wanted to do one like this for a long time.

I've figured out how to control shutter speed (I can take exposures up to 5 minutes long), control the aperture (for action shots, I think), and select various modes for different settings. I don't think I can control the focus manually, but maybe. I want to get a intervalometer to take time lapse. And about a hundred other lenses, filters, and accessories.

I might get this guide to really teach me the ropes. I'll feel a little more justified down the line when I get a DLSR if I first take the time to understand the equipment I already have. Seems more responsible.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008


I can't wait for the Android mobile OS to be released. I will be one of the first adopters. And if any of the rumors are true (I think they are), then I will be a happy camper.

After watching the video, you might be thinking, "Why don't you just get an iPhone?" Because Android will be better. Don't get me wrong, I like Apple and their products, but you never forget that it's a business with them. If business means minor annoyances for the end consumer, so be it. Android won't be closed, intentionally crippled, or monetized to death. It's an open platform, with thousands of people developing on it because they want to. Want a program that monitors your caloric intake? Sure, there is probably a developer out there who will have already written it. An innovative game? There will be lots. High speed access to the full web? Done. It will run across a variety of hardware platforms, and from the looks of it, HTC will be providing some impressive starting material. I'm stoked. It may be one of the only things to get me to abandon my faithful Sidekick.

Late Birthday Wishes

At birthdays, it's good to go out to eat.

Happy Birthday, David.

Happy Birthday, Justin.

Happy Birthday, Mylee.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Collective Soul

A couple weeks ago my friend Bryce called and asked what I was doing right then.

"Well, I should be doing homework, but what did you have in mind?"

A concert he said. Did I want to go to the Collective Soul show at the Energy Sollutions Arena in about 30 minutes? How could I refuse?

It was a corporate event for Novell. I guess they do this every year, with a band and their customers from all over. It was great. I would have been the coolest guy at school if this show were in 1994. He said a comedian was opening, he didn't remember who. Turns out it was Frank Caliendo, the recently famed impersonator of Frank TV. He was hysterical. Through his set, he impersonated President Bush, Dick Cheney, Bill Clinton, Charles Barkley, Bill Walton, Al Pacino, Robin Williams, Kermit, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo, and others (I can't remember them all. My favorite part was when he layed down on the stage and did his stand up...laying down. He held up his hand and did his comedy with his hand like a puppet, for much longer than anyone expected him to.

Then the main show. Collective Soul still rocks like their first hit album debuted yesterday. I felt old, because at least one of the girls there had hardly heard of them, much less was she familiar with their music. I, on the other hand, was singing along to every song. They probably thought I was a die-hard fan, because I looked up some the Wikipedia entry on Collective Soul from my phone, and spouted off a few facts. It's cheating, I know, but I wasn't doing to to try to look like a know-it-all fan. I just genuinely wanted to know more about the guys we were watching.

As you may have noticed, I compulsively try to record everything in my life. I hadn't brought a camera of my own, so I borrowed Bryce's. Hope you like what we got.

Death by Blogging

I could easily, under the wrong circumstances, be guilty of compulsive unhealthy blogging tendencies. The guys at TechCrunch and Gizmodo say they are, and I read their stuff all the time (though I like Engadget much better). If, in the future, you become concerned for my wellbeing on this topic, remind me about this post. Tell me to go camping and leave the Sidekick at home.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

I See Games

If there was any ambiguity about my geek status, lets put that to rest here and now. I don't really want to dwell on the subject, so I'm going to try to get this all out of my system in one post.

There was a time in my life when I was sadly addicted to the video game Half-Life. Don't get me wrong on the sadly designation, it was (is) a great game, but I don't want to be addicted to anything. I had to play it, though, had to continue till I got all the way through it. Dang those skilled game designers, pulling you in and not letting go till the credits roll.

Then, several years later, I got hooked on the sequel. I held off on buying it till I it wouldn't ruin my life (i.e. I had enough time to satiate the compulsion to play it through). I played HL2, HL2E1, and HL2E2 from beginning to end in about a week. And Portal (awesome game). Haven't touched them since. I never even tried Team Fortress. The multiplayer aspect doesn't interest me. I'm more drawn to the cinematic, storytelling aspect of gaming that Valve excels at, as well as the problem solving scenarios the player is put through.

If you want to get an idea of what the games are about, here is a 60 second synopsis video (in German).

Since I played HL2 through, there have been a couple times when I've seen the game in places it doesn't really belong. Examples follow.

Exhibit 1A: Loader at Black Mesa
The Loader is a prominent vehicle in the Black Mesa Research Facility in the first Half-Life game. The initial scripted sequence shows the loaders performing a number of tasks for the lab. I really loved them when I first played the game, no doubt part of my love for robotics.

Exhibit 1B: Loader in the HBLL
Saw this at the Harold B. Lee Library at BYU. There are clear differences and clear similarities. The Loader in the game walked and had a grasping arm. The HBLL loader had legs for static stability only, and an extending arm for...well...window washing, I think. Not as glamorous, but you get the idea.

Exhibit 2A: Hunters
The Hunter is a three legged bio-mechanical enemy in the game. You're never quite sure if it is more machine or living creature. They prove surprisingly agile and genuinely frightening when you get caught up in it all.

Exhibit 2B: Twin-Reflex Camera
I just bought an old Kodak Duaflex II, and I'll be darned if I didn't first see a Hunter without legs.

Exhibit 3A: GLaDOS Eye
GLaDOS is the artificially intelligent enemy in Portal. It's not Half-Life, but they both take place in the same diegetic world. At the end of the game, we see a storage room with spare "eyes" for the machine (along with the fabled cake).

Exhibit 3B: Pollen Detecting "Robots" (sensors)
Though I doubt the designation "Robot" (from what I can tell, they don't move), these pollen detectors in Japan look eerily like they are plotting against me. Maybe they plan on killing us all with allergies. Throw a cake in there and it could be the same room.

There are other examples, but these are the best.


Something else I've thought about is a not so popular idea: A Half-Life Movie. I know, I know, video-game-to-movie conversions are invariably bad. Think Mario Brothers, Tomb Raider, or Doom for some of the better known examples. Or anything Uwe Boll has done. I think he is a despicable person, and an insult to the title film-maker. All of his movies suck, and are sadly representative of the game-gone-movie genre.

But I also assert that there is no reason a video-game to movie conversion has to be bad. Why should they be? Games are fun, movies are fun, they're both a moving visual medium, they're both prone to action. Why can't the two seem to get along?

Because film-makers haven't taken advantage of the video game's great strengths. They already have a fan-base, so appeal to that. There are very few video-game movies that the fans of the game are pleased with. They need to show and use the favorites from the game, the favorite weapons, the favorite enemies, the favorite, places. NOT completely new weapons, enemies, and places that vaguely resemble the game.

The Half-Life Movie could be viable with the right people behind it. Try somebody like Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg. The men behind Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz would be perfect. They've proved very talented with dark comedy (involving zombies), and that's what this would have to be. The game is dark and violent, but it is a game, and shouldn't take itself too seriously, thus a comedy film.

Wright comes by the name rightly, as his gift for writing is clear to anybody who watches his movies more than once. They're airtight, not a wasted line in them. So who better to tackle the responsibility of writing a film where the protagonist incidentally never speaks, somebody whose facial expression or lack thereof tell all that needs to be said? It opens the door right up to supporting characters comically interrupting him when he might speak or interpreting his silence. Pegg as Gordon Freeman wouldn't be any problem, his British accent isn't even an issue. Nick Frost could be...I don't know...a zombie. He could be every zombie.

They would, of course, have to also work in a sequence with first person perspective, maybe a shot from the internal camera of the HEV suit.

Where it starts and stops chronologically in the Half-Life story almost doesn't matter, though given a choice I'd say start at the beginning. With the success of a first, they could turn it into a successful franchise film. Everybody wins.

This post is too long. I'm tired. Let me know what you think.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention, what first got me thinking about his was my first viewing of Shaun of the Dead. I was surprised I hadn't seen an accompanying video game to go along with it. Then I thought, "Well, if no studios want to make it, the fans should. They could build a mod on the HL2 engine, like the Black Mesa project (that is taking forever)". Then the idea struck me that the Shaun of the Dead people should do a Half-Life movie. There you have it.

UPDATE 2: I just saw this.
Dust Mite Totally Looks Like Headcrab
see more Celeb Look-A-Likes