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Brain Drain

I used to keep a bullet list of topics for this blog. But some don’t age well on the vine. So I stopped keeping a list. But I always had a few in-mind to bang out.

And now in-general it’s feeling dry.

I wonder why that is. If I’m getting tired of doing this. Or if I’m running out of ideas. But if that’s so then what changed?

Is my well dry or the well bucket have a hole in it?


Armchair Politics

I have to admit I’m grounded down. Five years ago I went to my first protest. Today, I can barely muster the energy to read past the headlines.

I dunno what to do about it.

And the “ra-ra you gotta dig deep” doesn’t do it for me.

The existing infrastructure feels too inert, too subverted.

I grew up having a lot of fun in the meta. Not just watching the tv show, but thinking about the production of the tv show itself. And the place the tv show has in the landscape of tv and media and our times.

Same with sports. Sports narrative. And maneuvering. And anticipating that Player X said this, so they were hinting at Y instead of Z.

But I think we collectively got too deep in the meta.

All the sub-tweeting and polls about polls. Getting obsessed with the derivative instead of what the derivative was trying to measure.

I dunno how to get back to the fundamentals.

Block Print

I’m getting back into block printing with linoleum. You carve an image into this soft material. Roll ink onto it, press a sheet of paper, and you get an inked illustration.

Old school and visceral. There’s a one-to-one relationship of your hand to paper.

Single color prints is one thing.

But I’m gearing up for multi color. And that’s a magnitude of complexity.

As each color is its own block. And you have to repeat the process for each layer.

And as you can imagine each print is fraught. So to come back to a print to add another layer of color doubles the chance of error.

It’s exponential in a way in how you can fuck up a print.

But that’s the craft to the art. Practice.

Bright Lights

I did my first performance on stage recently. I told a short story. It was a surreal experience.

I was terrified the whole time leading up to it.

But it didn’t prepare me for being on stage. It’s a strange environment from anything.

The room is dark, the lights are bright. You don’t really see faces. You just feel and hear emotions from strangers as they react to your story.

It feels like witchcraft in many ways.

It’s leagues apart from giving a presentation or speech. No notes, there’s a narrative. You’re thinking of a million things, but mostly trying to calm yourself to do one thing: tell the story.

But there’s always something. Like pausing for the audience to laugh. That’s so weird. I was so afraid it wreck my train of thought.

It worked out, but man it was exhausting.

Utility Attachment

What’s the line between being too attached to work, and being passionate?

In my current line of work, there’s times you’re on a project, and times you’re on the “bench.”

I really enjoy the bench, which seems like the obvious thing a lazy person would say. But I like the self-directed time. I like learning things that interest me. I like thinking about new angles and new potential experiments.

I don’t feel useless during those times.

So I’m still surprised when colleagues feel list distraught being on the bench for extended amounts of time. I don’t quite get it.

I can speak for myself, but my sense of worth isn’t tied in service of doing something for someone else.

I always think about race cars. That they brake when turning into a corner. They brake to get ready to go faster as they exit. You slow down sometimes so you can go faster in the long run.

Begrudging Structure

Last year my focus was building grit. A little abstract, but I wanted to stick out things a bit more. And I dunno if I succeeded. Felt like I had the same wandering attention span.

The only thing that was really concrete was daily reading. Every morning was 20-30 pages. And by the new year, I read 40 books. Which surprised me.

Which hinted at that I needed some more structure. Something I never resonated with because it felt so constraining.

But I’m attempting that as a focus for this year.

Not structure of my own doing. Last year proved that was a folly. Daily reading worked because I delegated the reminders to my to-do app.

I think I’m more comfortable with structure when the maintenance is left to other things/people.

So in the span of this month, I’m effectively setting up guardrails to guide my activities. I found a therapist currently set at every two weeks for mental health check. I signed up for a fitness studio which is a step up from last year’s gym, and a budgetary notch below a personal trainer. That’s a sweet spot. Setting up more explicit art goals, close to committing to a single medium even. Even on a random way, I committed to getting allergy shots which if it works should have great long-term benefits for general well-being.

Leaving it nimble for now, but if the job environment clarifies in a certain way — there might be some finer goals to set around that.

It’s feeling okay for now. I think there’s something to realizing not only your needs, but how those needs are fulfilled. And there’s a certain privilege to be able to effectively throw money at the problem.

For example, I was going to a cheap gym last year. But now I’m paying double. But having someone think of exercise sets, having a positive atmosphere, and seeing other people work hard has made exercise a lot stickier. It’s delegating the secret costs: deciding what to do at the gym, committing time to it, and preventing the little cheats I do when I’m on my own.

So that’s my intents for this year: structured commitment.

Max Talk Show

Banal starter: the medium defines the constraints.

I think about late night talk shows, and how far they’ve fallen since my childhood. They used to be the cornerstone of tv culture, bisecting news, celebrity, music, and skits.

But in this maturation of the internet, more specialized formats have eaten away at the talk show’s vaudeville medley of things.

Looking at Tiktok’s 15 second videos, the skits on late shows seem belabored or overwrought.

Twitter does snippy takes on news better, faster, and wider.

Celebrity manages itself now on Instagram.

And YouTube ate up the music space.

Ultimately on a macro scale, the internet which connects all these different platforms effectively re-created a 24/7 late night show that’s far more nimble and targeted to its audience (since the audience effectively became the producer of the show, curating the timing and the sequencing)

A look backwards has TV feeling more like glorified radio than the medium of choice just a few decades ago.

So what can TV do? Theoretically, it can offer a tighter package than what the internet can. Its built-in infrastructure of connections to celebrity and guests is more robust. It’s organizing time unit is 30 and 60 minutes blocks, so its depth can be deeper than the 15 second video.

But often it’s beholden to its tradition of segments and worst trying to imitate the internet by further atomize its skits into viral clips.

My hypothesis would be to embrace its length and depth. We see it in the experiments of the Daily Show spin-offs. The Samantha Bee’s and John Oliver’s doing long format monologues.

But I would also play with the other segments. Do 60 minute hip hop cypher with a medley of artists, intermixing off-the-cuff interviews as they rotate off. Long interviews but place them in the middle of a live sketching session with the production artists of the movie being promoted. (Extra credit: live stream each artist on a simultaneous Twitch stream.) Do weird how-to skits that are innuendos. (Like do sailboat knot-tying tutorials, but practice on a person suspended in the air. So it’s actually a kink tutorial.) Be more than just radio. Make use of the visual space. Dance with the guests while talking. Build a skating ramp while interviewing guests.

Do things only people with a budget can. Do a song medley while cooking quick meals for each guest. Toggle between interviewing them before the next artist does their song. Interview stunt doubles while doing stunts. Pretend you’re hungover and do an entire show with an overhead camera, and you’re lying down in a hammock.

Flow the show so the 60 minutes are actually not divisible. That the last five don’t really make sense unless you know the first five.

Banal ending: what are the true constraints of the medium, and that’s where the opportunities are.

Like Likeness

So it started during my time growing up when they re-used Fred Astaire’s likeness to sell vacuums.

Then later hologram concerts of dead musicians.

And now in 2020-ish there’s a de-aging and aging tech in movies.

What does that tell me for the next generation of actors and creators? Scan your body every few years from the beginning of your career to the twilight years.

And own your data points.

There’s a gonna be complex questions now as content pieces get more ambitious, and IP universes get deeper.

We already see it in Star Wars wanting to keep the continuity and do modified flashbacks. Re-creating scenes from previous movies to contextualize the plot of the newer movies.

Who owns that young image of you? Is that slice of you in that one role in that movie forever owned by the film studio? Or is that really yours, and the relationship is more of a moment in time licensing of your image and portrayal of a character?

We keep photos of loved ones, friends, and ourselves. One thin shot of you at a point in time.

A body scan at a point in time is an extension of something we started doing centuries ago. (e.g. rich people getting painted portraits of themselves)

Mini Comment Rooms

Off the cuff: a variation on comment threads.

Anyone can add a comment. Anyone can reply.

When someone replies it automatically turns it into a room-like space.

With a max number of people. Let’s say 5-10.

(While under the max, we track who “enters” this room. If they leave, we track that. It’s my other pet favorite concept “tracking apathy and indifference on the internet”)

However once the room hits the max, the room gets locked off. No one else can enter or even view it. Only the people who are already in.

The original author of the content and admins can enter any room of course.

But as a commenter you’re now in this room with the people who decided to stay.

It’s small gathering dynamics as opposed this mass party broadcast vibes of forums.

Maybe you can boot people from the room. We’ll take note of that too.

Maybe it stays locked even if you do that.

Maybe if the thread hits 20-30 messages, the room becomes publicly view-only. Maybe it’s a consensus vote after a notification.

Maybe we allow for inception-style nests. That the room becomes its own block of content that gets its own comments.

Video Game Budget

Back in third grade, we were given fake check books. We had to make fake purchases, and then make fake records in the ledger, and then fake balance the amounts.

Seeing that we were in the throes of the digital age, it was fairly useless. Except my rent is still with checks for some goddamn reason.

Anyways, I was a RPG type of video game player. I liked the part where I got to create a whole character and then wander off to make my own progress and narrative.

What’s interesting though that underneath the story is an entire layer of numbers. Stats that dictate how strong or fast or clever your hero is.

Not to mention an entire economy system to get better gear and swords and armor.

And I think that taught me more about money than school ever did.

Because here I am with two credit cards, a bank account, a 401k, and I’m tracking all these flows. This goes up, this goes down. This goes this way, this goes that way.

And it all is pretty straightforward compared to whether to put skill points into sword play or fireball casting. Still haven’t decided that one.