Saturday, May 31, 2008

Dark Desires at the Edge of Night

That was seriously the title of some dumbass romance novel in Barnes and Noble upstairs. I really don't see why people read stuff like this. I guess it isn't much different than guys and porno mags.

Two things on this humid Chicago morning. One, I hate all these dumbass Cottonelle or whoever it is toilet paper ads around the CTA. You wiping your ass is something to be kept between you and your deity of choice. And really, I don't give a shit what kind of paper I use, as long as it, you know, does it's job. Cute puppies don't attract me to unnecessarily soft toilet paper.

Two, I don't know why the DC program would stock their $6million lab with chairs that are essentially permanently reclined. If I'm sitting down to do work, I don't want to be reclined. It's so reclined that my ass starts to slide off the front of the seat so my body is adjusting by pushing back up, which starts to get damn uncomfortable after a few minutes because I have to actually work to stay sitting, which seems to defeat the purpose of sitting.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I hate the ending myself, but it started with an alright scene...

Back at it again, it would seem. Somebody at the Fullerton station earlier recognized me and said "Hey, you're the computer guy, right?" I figured my first glimpse at celebrity status among the DePaulians would be worth a return to the dark world of the Bloggosphere. It actually isn't the first time somebody has recognized me, I've received countless nods and "hey I know you" looks from people over the last few months, but this was the first person to actually acknowledge it.

Things have been kind of rough lately. I'm actually doing alright with keeping up with planning and gradually working through the sound for Alex's animation, but my own capstone is so hilariously behind schedule it's amazing. There is no reason for this, neither Alex's project nor my other class are too overloaded to allow time for my own project, I just never seem to get around to it. This is mostly due to my own apathy and the fact that my lazy tendencies get reinforced further and further every quarter due to a number of school and non-school factors, but I've genuinely had too much to deal with on my mind lately, too. School in general is getting impossible to deal with, since I have come to view my program as entirely worthless, outside of a few classes with Dave and Lou, maybe one with Gary and two good gen-ed classes. The remaining classes I have to take are all going-through-the-motions bullshit kind of classes and I simply don't have the humor for them anymore.

My general number of friends has been gradually going down since sophomore year, and it's gotten to the point where I have maybe... seven or eight people I can call friends. I don't mean good, close friends, I mean friends in total (obviously not counting acquaintances and people I casually say "hello" to). Many of this small number I've been either losing touch with or just growing apart. A combination of occasional (by occasional I mean frequent) twangs of loneliness and my apparent inability to let go of some things has been bringing me down constantly as of late. There's a new dog at home, which I am not cool with for a number of reasons, and while you would think it is a small detail in life, it really makes me not want to be around there anymore. It doesn't help that my mom's cancer has seemingly returned in full-force and out of left field, and while we won't know the results of the biopsy until tomorrow, the general early idea is that it's stage 4 out of 5, 1 being "lol," 5 being "you're kind of fucked."

All of this has been weighing me down when I am on the verge of a huge shift in my life. I always approached the end of college as the end to a chapter of my life, and that I would then move on to the real world. It isn't going to be working out like that, exactly, since I have one or two more quarters left to complete, possibly another full year if I choose to try to throw in a minor in journalism or something. This means that the "chapter" of being in school will continue for a little while longer, but in a completely different way, since the aspect of school where I lived on campus with friends is ending, and the last year will be spent commuting and living at home with my parents in the suburbs, since the majority of my friends are moving on in just a few weeks.

This is tough for a few reasons. First off there is the nagging knowledge that my friends are leaving and I may well never see some of them again, which is a fear I would have dealt with had things gone the way I had wanted them to. However I also now have to deal with the fact that when they are gone and in the real world, I will linger here, at this school and in this program I hate, without most of my friends to fall back on anymore when things get too hard to deal with (and lately, while I do not make a point of it, it has been something I have needed quite often).

Finally, I just don't think I can deal with living at home anymore. I have become attached to this city and the state of living here, and every time I go back to the suburbs, I feel something that can only be described as hatred for it. It's spread out, artificially laid-back, the buildings don't get higher than two stories, there is nothing around and nothing to do within walking distance of my house, there is no sound outside other than the wind. Maybe I'd dig this if I was three times my current age, but I'm 21 and this shit is not cool. The lack of my current friends only amplifies this feeling. I have a few old friends in the area, and while I truly and honestly consider these people to be my brothers, having my entire world be them, no longer having different groups and places to go to, is something that I am not going to mesh with very well. There are still going to be a few people I know at school, but I just won't get to see them much, since I'll be a commuter and I'll be constrained by train times and traffic and et cetera.

To be honest, I also just don't want to live with my family. Things have been rough for all of them lately, especially my mom and sister, and while it will probably do them good to have me around all the time again... I just don't want to be around it all the time. I'm the kind of person who needs to be around positive stuff, and while they're not going crazy and fighting all the time or anything, there is definitely an undertone of depression, cancer and general uneasiness I feel every time I am there. Even the one thing that has gone unchanged through the years, our dog Chance, has changed, now that there's a new young (and related, believe it or not) beagle in the house, and my old friend just doesn't act the same anymore now that his territory has been intruded upon by a new younger dog. I love my family, I just hate being at that house, being surrounded by all these things that make me feel all manner of... things I would rather not feel where I live.

There isn't much else going on, really. My entire world as of now is projects and class, this looming shift in life, and that's it, really. I hope the couple weeks of summer where people are still around will be enjoyable, but I'm already going to be missing half of that time since I'm going to Disney World with my family this summer... I almost want to call it off and just be around here for a few more days. I won't even be on summer vacation, come to think of it, since I'm going to be in a summer class and I'll be working, so the 9-5 grind will continue every day except my two-week break at the end of summer. I'm not entirely sure how I am going to survive without my friends around to be honest.

I filled out an Obama for America survey recently that they sent out to those who have donated. I am not 100% sure if I will go through with it, but I actually volunteered to travel to another state for a few days to help with campaigning. I thought it might be a nice temporary break from life and a slight change of pace. I'm gradually becoming aware of this bigger world around me and I have a growing urge to be a part of it.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

kizudarake no sukoshi yuganda SANGARASU wo kakete

It still amazes me just how stupid people are. In the last few weeks, the springs in our staplers have been broken, so you have to hold them open yourselves. This takes people long enough to figure out. However, as we draw nearer and nearer to the end of the quarter, people start to print out big long papers. The staplers can still handle them most of the time, but occasionally they'll get a little stuck. They still staple through just fine, but they kind of hang on to the paper until you tug a little bit.

Do people try to simply remove their paper? No - they slam down on the stapler, again and again, thinking "well if I jam the hell out of the staple on my paper and get another one or five jammed in the stapler itself it must start working," or more likely it just makes them feel better about themselves.

It's real hard to get anything creative done at work. I've found that in order to be in a good "mood" for creative stuff on any given day, I have to start out with a good deal of sun or air or something. Being in the middle of the city this isn't the easiest thing. Sometimes I go downtown and walk through Millenium park and chill at the lake for a little bit, which always seems to get me going pretty good, but it's not something that time allows very often. It's damn near impossible to get anything done sitting in this lab with no windows, burning under the florescent lighting, and a few hours in here will put you in a funky mood for the rest of the day.

This job kind of sucks.

Monday, May 5, 2008

The life and times of a Digital Cinema student

I've been thinking to myself a lot lately, "Man, Pete, you're in the wrong program." Looking at monitor-tanned nerds toiling away in the animation lab, and then looking at the suit-jacket wearing film guys talking about their next production in the DC cage, I really feel like I belong more in the former than the latter. I love animation and I kind of want to wind up in it someday.

But on the other hand, I had to quickly edit together my horrible DC 105 project this morning (thanks to the DC program I couldn't do it yesterday, I'll bitch about that in a sec), and doing so really made me remember how much I enjoy editing - sitting down with a lot of footage, pushing through the boring-ass process of labeling each scene... and then getting down into it, looking at your script, deciding what goes where and what shots to use and string together, tweaking your cuts so they're perfect. It's fun stuff. I just don't know if I will enjoy it if I have to start out in something I don't care about like commercials. I hope over the next year I can get at least some editing under my belt, because if Pixar has another film editing internship next summer, I fully intend to kill as many people as I need to get it.

So maybe I really do belong in film after all... but I'm definitely in the wrong program for it. I went to the LPC student center to edit this project at... 6:30 last night. I get there, and of the maybe 16 or so Macs, about half are crappy last-gen iMacs that don't even have AGP video cards, meaning Final Cut Pro will simply not work on it. Of the newer (and by "newer" I mean 2004) Macs, half give you fatal runtime errors when you try to open Final Cut. The three or four that worked, naturally, were taken. I even tried iMovie, but it didn't work with my camera anywhere. CTI and DePaul Center downtown both closed at 6.

This morning I get to the Loop at 9 to edit the stuff. I first go to the $6,000,000 DC center in the DePaul Center to use the only state-of-the-art badass Macs on campus. I get there, sit down, get set up... and Final Cut gives me errors. I move over to the next computer, sit down, get set up... and Final Cut opens! Huzzah! But it won't recognize my camera. Okay, I say, I'll suffer through i Movie. Which also still won't recognize my camera. I check the camera again, and there is clearly a USB symbol, which I shouldn't even have had to check since I was using a USB cable but I was starting to think that I was crazy. I went into the iMovie help, and it's a bit vague, but it seems to tell you that even if you have a camera with USB out, you have to use Firewire in order to have the computer talk to the camera.

At 9 in the morning there isn't anybody moderating the lab, so I go outside and into Radioshack, saying "screw it, I'll need this cable again anyway so I'll just buy one." It's $36 for a six-foot Firewire-to-mini Firewire cable. $36. I can get one online for probably $5, but that doesn't help me now. So I go to the 9th floor of CTI, sit down in the lab, and check through four computers until I find one that A) has FCP on it, B) has a DV deck, and C) has that DV deck plugged in. I finally get to sit down and edit.

It's a little bit annoying to know that I'm going to wind up dangerously close to 100k in debt to be in a program that has taught me... four courses worth of material, and can't even keep their own damn computers working after tossing 6 million into a shiny new lab. People wonder why I'm upset with the program.

To end on a completely different note, one of the regular lab people just walked by and said hi. She doesn't have midterms this quarter, and I told her that my last quarter was like that but that this quarter I'm getting my ass kicked with all the tests and projects I'm working on at once. "That's good, it's good for you!" she says with a smile.

I had kind of forgotten that myself. It's nice to get a reminder now and then.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

What's a suicide attempt without a wedding?

ALEX, TIM, ZACH AND I were at best buy late Monday night for the midnight release of Grand Theft Auto 4. It was a bit of a strange feeling. I've been to countless midnight movie releases, and waiting around in line until midnight is not an uncommon feeling. For many movies I would even wind up in a line so long it stretched outside, so waiting in the cold is nothing new to me, either (the line for Star Wars: Episode 3 holds the record for longest midnight-release line I've been in).

However, it's been a long time since I've gone to the midnight release of a video game. I still play a good deal of games, I suppose, but they're almost entirely PC games that I play online or portable games for PSP or DS. In other words, sort-burst games, things meant for maybe ten or twenty minutes of quick fun, but not much more than that. I am at my computer a lot, but almost all the time I'm sitting at my desk I'm either talking to people online or reading through my ever-growing list of blogs, news sites, and the occasional comic. It's been a while since I've played a console game for an extended period of time.

Recently I had a little quest to find Final Fantasy VI for the Game Boy Advance. Originally released as Final Fantasy III for SNES, it is widely considered to be the strongest in the Final Fantasy series, and one of the greatest video game stories that has been produced. I had a Sega Genesis as a kid and did not pick up a SNES until high school when I found one on eBay for cheap, so I missed out on this game when it came out. My first RPG was Chrono Cross, a 3D game on the Playstation, and I never had even spent time with a 2D RPG at all. I found a used, beat-up copy of III on eBay for cheap to go along with my beat-up SNES (the thing has character though). Even though I didn't play it as a child, when I think about it, it has that same nostalgic effect, because those 2D sprites had more life and character to them than any 3D game I've played, even by today's standards. It's position as my favorite video game has yet to be rivaled. Anyway I had an urge to play this again lately, for no real reason, and I hunted down an unopened copy of the GBA port for $40 on eBay.

I was thinking of this in line at Best Buy. It really had been a long time since I was outside a store at midnight for a video game, and it is a feeling I kind of missed. I consider myself a "gamer," and I've always kept up with the technology and the news, but it's been a while since I've actively been excited about new games like I have been in this past year. It's gotten me a handful of annoying comments, though, since people seem to insist that I should not play video games, that they're for kids, adults should not be wasting time with them. My usual comeback regards how much TV my critic watches every day and how much time they spend on the internet (one of the two usually shuts them up), but it does bother me sometimes that some people just don't understand.

It's not horribly different than that attachment to a sports team. Some people get it, some people just don't.

To be honest, I was more excited for Mario Kart Wii than I was for GTA4. Part of a new MK game always reaches back into those games I did play as a kid, sitting at my friend's SNES for hours and hours into the night. Picking up the latest incarnation brings that feeling back out, the childlike joy over something has no real substance and doesn't try to, something that is pure fun
and not meant for anything else. It's the kind of thing a lot of music and movies miss out on, there is always this drive to be big and mature and serious. Nobody seems to want to just have stupid fun anymore. I think the people walking out of Best Buy and opening Mario Kart before GTA4 understand this.