Tuesday, September 30, 2014

inspiration by kiwis

I am reaching the end of watching 54 hours of Lord of the Rings behind-the-scenes commentary, and am freaking out that it's almost over.  The commentary teaches cinematography, and is filled with bromance and love of filmmaking.  Now what will I watch in the background when I work in the evening?

The final bonus disc is filled with tearful goodbyes as the actors and postproduction crew wrap up 5 years of work, and then the wonderful clean sweep of 11 Oscars.  There is a photo of Peter Jackson next to a table laden with golden Oscar statues, and I think of the quote, "For every 2 minutes of glory, there was 8 hours of hard work."

There was a time at the end of making LotR 3 when Peter Jackson kept adding new shots, which meant the composer had to change the music and the visual effects team had to re-do the effects.  They were all panicking.  Peter Jackson was quoted in a newspaper saying "Everything is under control."  So the visual effects people xerox'ed 30 copies of that quote and put it all around the office.  Ha!

The chaos and "chipping at a mountain with toothpicks" reminds me of every great software project I've ever worked on. 

Then because I didn't want the DVD to end, I watched a final extra feature, and it's about a 17-year-old brilliant young filmmaker who was winning awards at age 12.  But he developed cancer and only had two months to live.  So he made two short films in that time.  And they're really, really good.

I am in awe.  He spent his last time on earth using his gift, for the pure joy of creation.  Every minute mattered, and he used his final ones to do night shooting and explosions and running through mud, so he could tell his story. 

"No regrets," he said in his short film.  

Monday, September 29, 2014

you can stand under my parasol

At a party with brother Tom! Check out the shark in the background.

Drove over this bridge on the way to Napa for a friend's birthday.


In Napa, we were sitting outside eating brunch.

Bond: "It's too hot.  We should go inside."

Topi: "No, it's only because you're sitting in the sun.  Move over here to the shade.   All you need is shade.  Not love, shade."

Me: [lol]

Topi:  "And what is love but shade, from the harshness of the world?"

Friday, September 19, 2014


Talking to an innocent friend.

Me: "Robin Thicke has been apologizing a lot to his wife.  There was a situation where Miley Cyrus was twerking with him."

Friend: [nodding]

Me: "Are you familiar with what twerking is?"

Friend: "Is it like when she sticks out her tongue?  Something with sticking out the tongue?"

Me: "Oh gosh, okay, I see how this happened.  That's not what twerking is.  But I see how this happened."

Friday, September 12, 2014

i'm sure i will be so popular this time around

I'm going to my high school reunion next weekend.  Recently I got in touch with a classmate I hadn't spoken to since high school, Jake.

Jake: "In high school, you were a bit ... insufferable.  A know-it-all."

Me: "What?  Insufferable?  Like Hermione Granger?  But I never raised my hand in class!"

Jake: "No, you didn't.  But if someone was talking to you and said something wrong, you'd always correct them."

Me: "Oh, that's what you mean.  But if they're not accurate, then I need to let them know!  Otherwise they're spreading incorrect information!"

This abruptly reminded me of two weekends ago, when I was riding in a car with my dear friends.

Blaine: "It's like when the hobbits left Hobbit-town."

Me: [stifling my reaction]

Blaine: "And they went to the elf palace."

Me: "Rivendell!  It's Rivendell!  I could still handle it when you said Hobbit-town instead of Hobbiton, but elf palace is too much!"

So it turns out I'm still insufferable.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Art Basel in December!

I am super incredibly excited to go to Art Basel in 3 months.  Yay!

I went once before, in 2009.  We met Val Kilmer the afternoon we arrived, and James Franco later that night!

Here's the photo from 2009.  I don't think I could be smiling any bigger.

We only stayed last time at Art Basel for 48 hours but we crammed everything in!  This time we are going for a whole week! We will work remotely from there.

The best part is that it's organized by my dear friend SM, and I get to stay in the same house as her for a week!

I'll also finally meet my online personal-trainer.  He's been training me via webcam for nearly a year.  He is also going to Art Basel.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Random moments August 2014

Memories from the past two months.
About to board the ferry for camping on Angel Island!

This camping spot is only a 30-minute ferry ride away from San Francisco!  

Partying with Orkut.  It was a happy and well-mannered evening.

Ate this cool Greek yogurt!  It comes with pomegranate and dates.

The making of kale pies.

The finished result.  When I texted the photo of the kale pies to Azer, he said "Who is eating the extra one?  I land at SFO in 20 minutes."

Visiting my dear friend Sveo, who has this indoor basketball court in his house. Originally when our mutual friend Jack and I saw the blueprints 3 years ago, we were both skeptical.  But after we played badminton, basketball, and did somersaults, we bowed to Sveo's foresight in installing this.

If you are envious, restrain yourself.  Don't hate!  Hateful comments will be deleted.

Once you've been a witch, it is easy to become a witch again.  I dressed up for a Castro Theatre show.  

Friday, September 05, 2014

software and the mark of love

Once upon a time, my friend Gor said, "When you're using a software product, you can tell if the creator loves it.  If they love it, all the little details will be right."

He said this in the context of reassuring me, "You love your product, and the users will be able to tell."

I've noticed this difference, when watching Lord of the Rings movie adaptation versus Harry Potter.

There's a behind-the-scenes story about making LotR.  During the filming of Balin's tomb, an employee commented, "One of the dwarf-language writings on the wall says, 'John was here'."  The set-design people freaked out and spent hours going through the scene freeze-frame, translating every sentence from dwarf-speak to English.

Finally they went to that guy and insisted, "Show us where it says, 'John was here' in dwarf-ish!"  He then looked stricken and said, "Um, I was just joking."

Contrast this passion to Harry Potter.  The entire theme of the book is acceptance of people different from yourself.  The book keeps reiterating: don't discriminate against the giants, or the house-elves, or Muggles.  Don't hate Snape just because he's so kooky.  Don't judge a book by its cover.

Then what happens in the final movie?  There's an added scene where someone asks McGonagall, "Where should Slytherin House go?" and she says, "Put them all in the dungeon."

Just imprison an entire group of people in the dungeon for no reason?  Go against one of the core principles of the book?

Peter Jackson would never have let that happen.

Another example is that Harry and Voldemort grapple in the movie for minutes, whereas the book makes it clear that Voldemort is far more powerful but Harry wins through love and self-sacrifice.

I've remembered this through the years, and it gives me assurance when I'm working on a product.  I know that if I love it, that will shine through.  Users will be able to tell, and be more likely to love it too.