The Doodle Pad

TED Talks - Recommended

Feeling a little bored and looking for something a bit more enlightened than your standard YouTube video? Head over to the TED website: www.ted.com.

TED is self described as:

TED LogoTED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from those three worlds. Since then its scope has become ever broader. The annual conference now brings together the world's most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes). This site makes the best talks and performances from TED available to the public, for free.

There are some phenomenal talks contained in the archives. Some are highly thought provoking, some are funny, some are fascinating, some are all of the above. Here's a few I've enjoyed so far:

Amy Thomson Interview

Storyteller by Amy Thomson

One of my favourite lesser-known authors is Amy Thomson. I know she's lesser known because she doesn't have a wikipedia entry yet, in spite of winning the 1994 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.

I happened to catch her first book, Virtual Girl, when it just come out. It was on the "New Release" shelf at White Dwarf Books and caught my eye because you don't see many robot books written by women. Curious about a female perspective, I included it in the day's purchases. I've bought every book she's written since then. Virtual Girl was her only robot book. Her subsequent books have explored aliens. Her last book, The Storyteller, is my favourite.

io9.com recently posted an interview with Amy Thomson: Amy Thomson Gives Good Alien. It's a great interview in spite of the lame-ass, tortured, almost condescending title. She has interesting insights into creating alien aliens. And this comment is bang on:

I don't mind the fact that all the Star Trek aliens look like humans with wierd foreheads. That just the limitations due to the special effects budget back in the 60's. What I mind is that the Star Trek aliens tend to ACT like humans with wierd foreheads. That's a failure of imagination, and imagination is what SF is all about.

It's great seeing Thomson get "air time" and really great hearing she has a new novel named Nomad on the way. Can't wait!

A Evening with William Gibson

William Gibson at UBC

Last Saturday a bunch of us heard William Gibson speak at the Vancouver Institute's Spring 2008 Series lecture: A Evening with William Gibson. Gibson is credited with coining the phrase "cyberspace" and bringing the cyberpunk genre to mainstream attention with his book Neuromancer.

Gibson read three different works he'd written for various reasons. Sadly, he doesn't have the reading voice of a Jack Whyte. Though there were some interesting anecdotes here and there, I found myself drifting off during the reading. Fortunately the question and answer session was considerably more interesting.

Gibson has a droll sense of humour and a depth of perspective. I enjoyed his answers and insights. Unfortunately, there was this weird dynamic where people seemed to expect him to be this profound futurist guru. Though he answered the questions of this bent graciously I got the impression this was a pedestal he didn't want to be on - like he's a story teller looking for an appreciative audience, not a sage looking for a following.

The funniest moment of the evening for me was Gibson commenting on what a contemporary teenager would think when reading Neuromancer: Why don't any of the characters have cell phones?

Continue reading A Evening with William Gibson

Frozen in Time at Grand Central Station

A friend of mine sent me a link to this video, it's pretty cool. Thanks, Gayle!

Background at Improv Everywhere.

Seven Samurai

Seven Samurai Poster

Last Monday I finally saw Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai.

I say finally, because in the perverse behaviour of humans I've had a loaned copy sitting in front of the DVD player for the last three or four months and haven't watched it. With no deadlines, I'd been putting it off. Then a local art house theatre was showing it and movie maven Marina, leader of the Vancouver movie Meetup group, said: Quit waiting, see it! Who was I to refuse? And is not seeing a movie in a shared context the quintessential movie experience?

For those who might not have heard of Seven Samurai, it's a Japanese movie released in 1954, subtitled, black and white, and 3 hours 20 minutes long. And time hadn't been kind to this threatre's copy (the Criterion DVD is much better). In spite of all this, it's well worth the viewing!!!

Seven Samurai is the story of a poor village plagued by bandits. Knowing the bandits will be back to rob their next crop, the village peasants hire samurai to defend them. The movie follows the peasants recruitment of the samurai, battle preparation, and ensuing battle. But this is far more than an action driven movie. The characters are varied and wonderful. More over, the story explores how people deal with the crap life throws at them, catching human nature and interaction at it's best and worst. There's some funny moments thrown in for good measure, that's part of the human experience, too. And don't worry, it has sword fighting.

I'm now firmly a member of the crowd that says this is a must see movie for anyone who's even mildly a film buff.

Tenacious Snow

When I blogged about snowy days back in December (Welcome to December, Snow, JavaScript, and BCIT) I thought this winter would be like any other winter. One, two, maybe three snow events, where an event might last up to a week, and we'd be done with it. Not this winter!

The snow doesn't want to go a way. For a bit, it looked like it had. Then it came back. We've been getting a lot of that low grade skiffy snow that melts when it hits the ground, or stays for a just bit. Today we got the stuff that sits on the ground like jellied water. I can't remember a past winter where the snow has been this tenacious for such an extended period.

A snowy day in Vancouver just isn't news, anymore. Who'd have thunk?! But at least it isn't 20 degrees on Ontario.

Another snowy day

Haiku Movie Reviews

A shout out to my friend Leeny and her new website, 353 Review:

353 Review

It's your source for the most concise movie reviews in the world. Period. They're all done in Haiku!

Leeny has an aptitude for summarization and a wicked cool sense of humour. I do feel obligated to warn you, though. She has a penchant for zombies.

Check out 353 Reviews, it'll put a smile on your face.

D-Day on a Shoe String

Caught this YouTube vid at Bad Language. It shows: How 3 graphic designers created D-Day on a shoe string budget for the TIMEWATCH program "Bloody Omaha".... The creativity not only comes out in the end result, but in the "making of" video, too.

I'm excited that we're realizing the prediction of technology unlocking opportunities for creative genius. There are so many great stories we'll be able to tell.

Bonus marks to anyone who can name the TV show homage involving the horse, the beach, and the french horn.

Announcing: After the Credits Podcast

In the better late than never department, an announcement:

Row ThreeThe Mad Film Gab podcast is now After the Credits and hosted at Row Three.

Those of you who followed the podcast already know this, right? Except for the name change and a different location, it's still the same podcast.

I've updated my sidebar box on the right to show the latest podcasts.

Why the change? Marina, the Mad About Movies primary mover and shaker, decided to throw her towel in with the folks at Row Three. Row Three is the coming together of a number of independent movie bloggers like Marina. Like Paul Schaeffer and the band when David Letterman moved, fellow Mad About Movies postcast host Colleen and I moved with Marina.

Although I'm still with the podcast, I'm not an story contributor at Row Three. I was a sporadic contributor at Mad About Movies so this isn't a biggie and it gives me a chance to contribute a little bit more content here.

Rob Paravonian's Pachelbel Rant

The patterns in music are, to quote Mr. Spock, fascinating. I love hearing how simple patterns like chord progressions and rhythms can be applied so diversely and with such different effect. My fascination was once again tweaked when I came across this YouTube video in a blog post (I wish I could find again to give credit to). Bonus, it's also funny as hell!

The accursed song mentioned in the video, Pachelbel's Canon, is one I had never know the name of. I've spend the better part of the last hour exploring the song variations on YouTube. Curse you Related Videos block! My favorite variation is this rock guitar version: http://youtube.com/watch?v=QjA5faZF1A8

The video page on Paravonian's website is worth a look, too.

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