Eet ees Scieyencia!

I’ve got yet another post up at SFist, so check it out if you’re so inclined.

A lot more interesting is the story about the ski jump on Fillmore Street yesterday. I drove by it on the way to lunch yesterday, and although traffic was backed up on Broadway, it was pretty well-handled. I didn’t see much of it, but after looking at the photos of the event on flickr, I wish I’d stopped to check it out. I have to admit I thought it was a stupid idea when I first heard about it. After seeing it, well I still think it’s a stupid idea, but I also think it’s a stupid idea that’s totally wicked awesome. Locals never seem to appreciate when I say that San Francisco is like a theme park with panhandlers, but this is exactly the kind of thing I’m talking about.

And it sounds like there’s a ton of other cool stuff going on this weekend, like Serenity which I already knew about, but also Mirrormask if you’re into Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean, and a Free Bluegrass Festival in Golden Gate Park. Makes me wish I didn’t have actual work I had to get done this weekend.

Do you like magic? No. I LOVE it.

Haw haw haw! Fooled you! The Terry Pratchett book signing was last week! So here I sit with a still-unsigned copy of Good Omens and apparently the onset of some degenerative brain disease. Hopefully nobody tried to go on the basis of that blog entry. And if you did, hopefully you didn’t drag somebody out of work and halfway across the city for a no-show. I’m feeling like such a moron I’m going to do the rest of this one like Jackie Harvey from The Outside Scoop.

Item! People have been saying that “Arrested Development” is great for a long time now but I never believed it. Even after watching their little mini-marathon a while back with Martin Short on it (which was damn funny, I don’t care what anybody says). But after watching last night’s episode (“For British Eyes Only”), I’ve finally come around to realizing this is the best comedy on TV.

I mean, I could watch 30 minutes just of Portia di Rossi doing the chicken dance and still be plenty entertained, but they actually add jokes and stuff. “Has anyone in this family even seen a chicken?” The Rumsfeld/Hussein photo. Dave Thomas giving an international phone number via flash cards. Wee Britian and the Itsy Bitsy IRA. “At that moment he was struck by something from his childhood.” “I think they came for the free chicken,” and then the people all bend over for the chicken feed! And all that was before “We’re not here to talk nonsense to Bob Loblaw.” I don’t care if I am coming late to the party asking if I can play too; this is awesome.

Item! I was watching “The Daily Show” tonight and was reminded of why I don’t shave. I end up looking like a cross between John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants, and Ed Helms. Eh, whatever. Considering the alternative, I guess I’ll put up with the Daily Show comments for a while. Better than being called “distinguished,” which I actually was called and which everybody know just means “old.”

Item! Serenity opens this weekend! I’m totally going to see it! If it’s not sold out and there’s not a long line! I just don’t know what to dress up as, since there’s no equivalent of Boba Fett, and Blue Sun T-shirts are just played out.

Item! Mike Doughty formerly of Soul Coughing is still playing at The Independent this weekend, this time I swear to God I got the date right. I’m going to see that too!

Item! My second post for SFist is up today. The usual day for these things is Friday, but it turned out there were enough news links from the past couple of days to fill up a column. Plus, they’re kind of fun to write.

You want more of me

Admit it. So to give the people what they want — rambling, seems-insightful-at-first-glance-until-you-think-about-it blog posts — and as part of my ongoing quest to be more like Rain, I’ve started writing a weekly column for SFist, a blog about San Francisco.

My first post is up today, and they should follow every Friday. The general idea is that I’ll be writing about technology and internet news as it relates to the SF Bay Area. And I’ll get to cover a robot convention! So y’all can help out by forwarding any links to relevant news items you happen to come across. You’ll be glad you did.

Flickr and Raccoon Dogs

Now there’s the title for a 70’s action movie if I ever heard one.

I got my copy of Pom Poko yesterday and watched it on the commute back to San Francisco. I’m impressed; Disney released it unedited. And with a pretty tasteful translation — they always refer to them as “raccoons” and never describe them as different animals, which is kind of a shame but perfectly understandable; and they describe at the beginning that the males can inflate and transform their “raccoon pouch” and leave it at that. There’s no cautionary or explanatory material anywhere else on the DVD, and it’s really not needed. (There are also no bonus features other than the original trailers, and a second disc containing the entire movie in storyboard format, but that’s no big surprise as this was never a huge blockbuster release even in Japan).

And I ususally hate English dubs of Japanese movies, but they did a pretty good job with this one. Some relatively big names for voice actors, including John DiMaggio (Bender from “Futurama” and Doctor Drakken from “Kim Possible”), Brian Posehn (again), and J.K. Simmons (from “Oz,” Spider-man, and the yellow M&M). I guess Disney can afford to hire anyone they want. I’m thinking it’s pretty damn cool that the movie was released in the US at all, and the fact that it’s a well-done release is just an added bonus. I’m also very happy I don’t work for Disney’s complaint department.

I’ve also been looking more at Flickr.com and am starting to catch on more to the appeal of it. I’m always late to the party with these internet phenomena, but it’s still worth pointing out. What’s neatest to me is the support for public forums and groups, and the ways that people are using them. Those networking sites like Friendster and Orkut are neat for the first couple of days, but after you settle all your “hey, that friend knows that friend! Small world!” incidents, it’s pretty useless. They try to create “communities,” but it just ends up being “so you like ‘Mr. Show’ too? Cool.” followed by awkward silence. And silences between internet geeks are the most awkward silences of them all.

The flickr people have realized that you can’t just facilitate people’s getting together, you’ve got to give them something to do. And, what’s most surprising to me, people have actually picked it up and run with it. What with this being the internets, there are of course the predictable “look at me naked” and “hey u live in sf too thats cool!!!1!” groups, but most of the ones I’ve found have been surprisingly clever and creative. Usually when you give a ton of people on the internets the chance to be creative, they don’t do much other than reaffirm the idea that 99% of everything is crap. But at least on the groups I’ve seen, people stay on topic or with the theme — “Tiki culture,” “Route 66,” “Most photographed landmarks,” “What your world looks like at 5:00” — and it ends up being pretty cool.

I’m actually encouraged to take pictures again. And just for their own sake, not to be “artistic” or as part of some larger project or some special event, but just because it’s pretty fun. An internet creativity experiment that actually encourages people to be creative; I never would’ve thought it possible.

I realize that I could use my RAZR to post on Flickr, but at that point I’d be turning into one of those guys who always talks about moblogging and geocaching and uses the term “blogosphere” non-ironically and refers to himself by his online handle. And SolGrundy don’t play that, yo.

Internet Movie Fun Special Friendship Society

I signed up for Netflix again, because I needed another monthly expense and a source of meaningless consumerist stress and deadlines. They were very happy to see me back, and they had my queue and my friends list waiting for me and everything.

And that’s the thing. I’ve got one Netflix friend and that’s fine, but it’s just… I want more. Partly because my friends list looks skimpy and sad, and partly because all his movies are, how do I say it?, kinda Frenchy. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I just gotta wonder why you hate America so much.) And mostly because I’m just curious to see what other people have in their queues.

So if you know my e-mail address, and you’ve got a Netflix account, see if you can add me to your friends list. If you’re on Netflix but don’t know my e-mail or don’t know what I’m talking about, then send me your address and I’ll get you on my list. And if you’re on Netflix and know my e-mail but don’t want to be on my list, then fine. Screw you.

I wonder if it remembers me

The neat thing about amazon.com’s comments sections, apart from the obvious entertainment value, is that people on the internet are so eager to jump on top of each other to show how hip they are that you can often learn something useful.

Case in point: the soundtrack for The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou does not have the music that plays when Zissou & the rest of the Belafonte crew finally make contact with the jaguar shark. Thanks to a bajillion amazon readers, though, you can discover that it’s called Staralfur by Sigur Rós and it’s available for free from this site.

Of course, I can’t listen to it, because ten seconds into it I remember the scene from the movie and start blubbering, but maybe one of my many weblog fans will be able to take advantage of free post-rock Icelandic music!

Obsession

Somehow this turned out to be one of those “theme” days, where everything all ended up tying loosely together. Today’s theme was passion and obsession. Not the creepy stalker variety, but The Orchid Thief-style passion over seemingly mundane things, and how we define ourselves.

I had breakfast this morning with Rachael, where we talked a little bit about job satisfaction and how to make a job a creative outlet instead of just a job. Later I had three separate AIM conversations with people talking about what they want to do as a career, hobbies or projects they’re passionate about, and trying to find a way to make it work. And over the course of the whole day I’ve been following web links digging deeper and deeper into the scary world of the “blogosphere” and web designers.

Now these are people who know a thing or two about obsessive-compulsive behavior. Lengthy criticisms and analyses of webpage layouts. Opinion pieces about the proper use of XHTML tags. Favorite fonts and ones to avoid. Intellectual theft squabbles over page layout techniques. Dismissive comments about Javascript and browser-specific markup and, of all things, gradients. And the same link passed from blog to blog to blog, all of them connected and cross-linked and referencing each other as the Elite of this community.

Several hours of digging through all this stuff left me with a very odd feeling. Not so much that I’d wasted the entire day, but that I was seeing a flavor of passion and obsession I hadn’t seen before — I’m used to this kind of thing with the geek fandom crowds and the “hardcore” videogame types, and always assumed it was limited to them. It’s the kind of lengthy talk about a subject that only comes from a combination of ego (essential to any blog) and pedantry. It was odd at first seeing people go on about typography, the BODY element vs. the HTML element, the same way I’ve seen people argue about a Star Destroyer vs. a Federation starship or Python vs C# — art geeks instead of computer geeks. (Of course, there’s a lot of overlap what with this being the internet and all, but these are mainly graphic design types.)

But then I realized that it’s all the same thing, and I’ve heard the same types of obsessive commentary on bands, clothes, sports teams, and movies as much as I have about operating systems and television series. And I realized that I’m not quite on the outside looking in, since I do have to admit to having a favorite font (Futura) and browser (currently Safari). So maybe all that’s required is the ego and the pedantry, in which case I’m all set.

Highlight of the whole trip was finding Airbag, which is easily the best-designed weblog I’ve ever seen.

I Am Roast Beef

Best thing ever on teh intarweb: Achewood. It’s a comic strip by Chris Onstad, and it’s just about genius. He’s got a perfect sense of timing, and he knows how to go from dark humor to potty humor to just nonsensical stuff.

You’ve got to check out the archives and follow it for a while to really appreciate it. To start with, my favorites:

Phillippe’s Mouth
Neatest Person in Heaven
Phillippe’s New Shoes
How Else Can Jared Die?
Cathy
Japanese Interests
Baba O’Riley

Be sure to check out the tool-tip text too.