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lent day something: Deadpool (2016)

i liked it but i didn't love it.  i think part of the reason why is that the movie wasn't what i expected based on a) the trailers, b) what people were saying about it, and c) the initial tone.  It's possible i might like it better after a second viewing now that i know that the movie is as much of a serious movie as it is whacky.

It's funny, because while i can understand the reason for the R-rating, the movie didn't seem to be actually geared for an adult audience because it felt mostly like a kids cartoon.  the violence in particular felt like Fast Action Slick Cool Video Game, and the amount of crude jokes and deliberate overabundance of profanity felt like trying to create shock value like a rebellious yet awkward teen would, and the romance/love side, while better, ended up feeling more fairy tale than anything of real substance.  the one exception to this to me was the development of the relationship between Deadpool and Ajax.  There was actual development and nuance in that relationship in a way that none of the other relationships had.  That's what saved the movie from being pure fluff for me, what actually drew me in more than anything else.

Criticisms aside, the script writing was actually mostly great - flowed, had character, and never felt jarring or inconsistent even with its constantly shifting tone.  Dazzling visuals fizzle for me amidst shitty dialogue, and that wasn't the case here, so overall i'd still have to rate it a success, although i don't feel the need to ever watch it again.

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lent day 10: origins

all of the drumlines i judged today were competing for the first time this season.  two groups were competing for the first time ever in an indoor arena.

relative to veteran groups, clearly most of them were not very good, but as origin stories for the ensembles, what they're trying to accomplish, and how much they have come with the limited time or resources that they have, they're pretty amazing.  And the nice thing about doing critique with those groups is that they don't care about the numbers, they know they're low-to-high box 2, maybe low box 3 for their first show, they're more interested in just the experience of going to a show and honest feedback that they can give to their kids.  that resonates me a great deal more than the groups that have god-like staffs with god-like students that feel like they got the shaft for getting a 97.8 instead of a 97.9.  points and ranking never meant anything to me even when i was marching competitively in high school and college, it's certainly not going to start mattering now.

lent day 9: busy weekend

It's been a full week already, and it's not going to really end.  Today i have Green Wave Winds rehearsal from 17:00-19:00, then there's a Green Wave Brass Band gig that plays at DMacs from 23:00-00:00. Then i have to wake up at about 05:30 so i can drive to Pineville to judge a drumline competition, then i'm staying the night there to recoup.

It'll be good to do the gig, it's always good to keep my hand in on the judging circuit here.  But man, i'm already pretty exhausted because of my whacked out weekly schedule.

April.  Once april hits, then i'm smooth sailing.
So Kyle and I have both discovered that trying to answer deep and meaningful questions while playing either a tabeltop or video game can be somewhat challenging because you can't really focus on either the way you need to to be succesful.  It's dificult for me to gauge how much the babble translates into something entertaining to other people, to real spectators, but it's partially a non-issue.  As in, it might be more audience-friendly to just talk about the game like every single Let's Play video does, but that's not the primary purpose of the project for me - the roundtable discussion atmosphere is what i feel is the most important and the game stuff is fun but secondary.

It's been an interesting experiment to find the right kind of game that works best for this format.  I feel like The Swapper episode was the best one in some ways because i never had to really concentrate on gameplay since it's a solo game, and i feel like the least successful one was Coup because we had to interact with each other verbally through the game pretty constantly and that would cut into the verbal of the Q&A.

We'll see what happens as time progresses. The episode we recorded yesterday for Gauntlet II will go up on Sunday, Kyle is picking the next game, we'll see what he chooses.

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lent day 7: a quick vignette

when i was in middle school/high school and rode on school buses and was near the front, i was always fascinated by the fact that the left windshield wiper and the right windshield wiper of almost all of the school buses didn't go at the same speed.  I never asked anyone why, but i always wondered.  I also used to try to figure out the sync cycle, as in how long would it take for them to start at the same time?  Some of the time it would be a quick cycle and then i could just watch it and verify it.  Other times i couldn't track it because it was too gradual and close sync wouldn't be good enough for me.

now that i think about it, that may be one of the earliest forms of 'patterned chaos' that i can identify with, and it makes sense to me that that still sticks in my brain.  Leonard Meyer's book on Emotional Meaning in Music and his other writings talk a lot about musical expectation and how breaking expectation is essential to generate meaning, and that's true in this case too.  If the windshield wipers were always perfectly in sync, it wouldn't have created a memory, an imprint in my brain that will be with me for the rest of my life.  In some ways it represents exactly why i became a composer and why a little bit of deliberate chaos in my life is so essential to me.  

lent day 6: office versus home

My life changed pretty drastically when i took over as Assistant Director here at Tulane in terms of workload.

Year one (2014-15) was a push up in responsibility, but it was also eased by the fact that there was a transition period when Mark left, meaning that he was the one that was still responsible for arranging the music and writing the drill for the fall season.

Year two (this academic year) has been the first year where I've tackled the true full responsibilities of my job, and it feels like it's been a constant uphill battle of deadline after deadline and project after project.  a lot of that i put on myself - I dip myself into a lot of projects despite being a generally lazy individual - a month ago amidst having about seven things on my plate, i added Babbling Rooks because i needed a new personally expressive outlet for my thoughts in a context where blogging was falling to the wayside.

All of the new stuff has had this interesting effect on my life in the office versus my life at home.  Before, i could go home, chill into some more relaxing clothes, cook, do a few other things, but then i could also still find the time and the motivation to push forward creative projects.  Now, my work day is generally occupied enough that by the end of most days i'm truly exhausted and what i need more than anything else is a zone-out - cook when i get the chance, throw on an episode of some telly show i have on my Plex server, maybe play a video game, and then collapse.  This ignores times when i'm social, which is another factor in this whole thing - my move from Uptwon to Mid-City has given me a more substantial local social life than i've had before, and that, in addition to downtime, is something that's important to me to maintain life balance with the craziness that happens at work.

What this has ultimately resulted in is that i'm not terribly productive when i go home at all any more because i associate home with relaxation and zone out time.  And recently what that has meant has been pseudo-negative side effect of me staying in the office much longer than i have in the past so i can stay productive and hit my deadlines.

That's not the only motivating factor, I also stay Uptown more often because my Pump It Up machine is located here, and it's still important for me to try to get a workout on that thing once or twice a week.  Babbling Rooks is also something that Kyle and I have scheduled on Wednesday evenings at 11:00pm to record and since some of the equipment we use to record are things i borrow from the department of music and since i'm usually here until 7:30pm anyway due to rehearsal, i usually just stick around the office and use that time to catch up on more office stuff or take a nap on the office floor.

The primary point is that it's interesting this psychological effect I have concerning the office versus home.  Sure, sometimes i slack off in the office during slow periods or sometimes i'll work on a personal project along with my work stuff which cuts into some of the productivity, but in general the office is what i perceive to be the Productive Place where i get shit done, work related or no, and home is now where i do nothing productive with even personal projects aside from cooking.

I'm thinking of changing my home setup some to maybe help this out - there's a space where i have an old desktop computer that i hardly use anymore and i feel like if i can reconfigure that space for both the desktop when necessary and maybe a laptop docking station i could maybe change some of the aesthetic to include productivity at home, if for no other reason than being able to put on shorts and a t-shirt.

My whole project and personal life needs a reevaluation anyway once the school year ends - next year i think i need to pull back on a couple of my projects in a way that can help me stress out less and re-kick my professional composition life into gear which is the thing that's taken the biggest hit, and that's the part of my life that i don't really want to give up - i need to start writing music regularly again.  We'll see how that all shapes up.

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lent day 5: telly in 50 words or less

Legends of Tomorrow:  a huge mess.  maybe when things get calm i'll give it another try, but right now it's not worth the time to dredge through the awful episodes.

Elementary: remains my favorite show these days.  There is no better Watson and there is no better Watson/Holmes dynamic.  Also apprecaite that it's the only show that can place non-monogamy in a neutral/positive light.

The Flash: season 2 is pretty strong, particularly the Dr. Wells character.  I wish Patty was a permanent character.

Limitless: Suffers the most from shaky plots and inconsistency of tone, but it's still fun to watch in a Leverage kind of way.  Headquarters! is one of the goofiest things i've ever seen on television.

Supergirl: The first 10 episodes could be hit or miss but were a lot more hits than misses.  Since then it's started to deteriorate in annoying ways, so i may drop it after season 1.

Agent Carter: Vastly different from season 1, I could do without the multiple love triangle aspects, but it's still solid.  Main antag is very well-played and characterized.  I put it on par with SHIELD season 3, although i like SHIELD better.

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lent day 4: jazz funeral

i forgot to post an entry yesterday because it ended up being a much crazier day than i anticipated, but that's okay because sundays don't count for lent, so here's the make up.

The first time that I ever knew anything about the jazz funeral philosophy was while i was in Oregon.  A friend of a bunch of my high school marching band students died in a car accident and i went to pay my respects.  I don't know who made the request, but at the memorial, a new orleans style jazz group played "Saints" in the middle of it, and maybe one other song that was upbeat, and i remember being incredibly confused because the whole thing seemed at odds with the somber mood of the memorial.

It wasn't until years later when i moved to New Orleans that i understood what it was all about, and two days ago was the first time i was ever involved in one - the Green Wave Brass Band was asked to play a second line for a Tulane student that recently committed suicide.  It cemented in my mind that when I die I definitely want there to be a live band playing music for the actual funeral, although because it's me, i'd probably want it to be a mixture of all of the sort of music that I hold dear, which would include some IDM and probably 4'33" along with the more traditional jazz funeral ideas.  I wonder if my memorial audience would be confused by it.

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So i have a game in Endless Mode and a game in Endless Plus mode that i can now run infinitely unless i make a really stupid mistake.  Here's what i feel are the most key components to beating the game after *murmur murmur* hours of gameplay.

Initial configuration:

Doctor Xu is an absolute must.  The ability to crack open safes and to permanently kill certain drones without the use of any PWR or other resources is the most powerful thing in the game, esepcially as firewalls increase in later stages of the game.  Sure, that gets nullified somewhat when objects become EMP resistant, but it's still useful enough.

As far as the second player goes, there are a few good choices, but my favorite choice is Derek for his teleport ability - the biggest benefit to teleporting is that if one of your team is KO'ed, then if Derek picks your fallen comrade up and teleports, then said fallen comrade also gets teleported.  Because of this, i almost always drop Derek's teleport beacon close to the exit transporter.

As far as programs, Lockpick 1.0 is my choice for hacking and Seed is my choice for PWR.  Someone somewhere once posted some equation about the difference between Seed versus the "gain one PWR every turn" model or something, and it sold me, and yeah, i've never looked back.

Priority Incognita Items:

The most valuable Incognita program hands down is Wisp.  It becomes pretty quick work to tag all of the guards on a level, and knowing their every move without having to waste AP to observe their movements every single turn is more than worth it.  At one point in one of my games, three of my agents were down due to extremely unlucky circumstances, and with my one remaining player, i was able to drag everyone to the exit and escape the level in no small part due to Wisp showing me the pathways as they opened up.

The second most valuable Incognita program is Oracle, particularly in combination with Seed.  Especially in later levels when cameras can have 6+ firewalls that would consume more than half of your PWR and/or over a long period of time, Oracle with Seed allows you to deactivate every single camera for practically no PWR at all and in no time at all.

After those two, my next choices tend to be Lockpick 2.0 and Hunter.

Priority Augments:

The two most valuable Augments are 1) Distributed Processing because even a 50% of generating PWR every turn is a no brainer even with Seed, and 2) Reactive Moyomer because even when the security level hits the "max" of 6, every cycle of security level beyond that will add another AP to the teammate that has the augment.  At one point, two of my agents had over 25 AP to start each turn, particularly because i kept on moving back and forth against "advance tracker" beams.

Priority Items:

Buster chip IV, Cloaking Rig III, and the Mono Molecular Rail Gun.  The first two are simple enough to understand, but i'm a big fan of the Mono Molecular Rail Gun despite the weight because it's a pretty big deal to have a weapon with 2 bullets that can knock out a guard for 5 turns, particularly in Day 5+ when the alarm tracker will raise guard's armor.  Charge packs are a dime a dozen and are worth the inventory slot used, particularly if you have Reactive Moyomer installed.

Priority Missions:

Server Farms to try to get Wisp and Oracle
Hostage Rescues to incrase your party size
Vault Access Card retrieval for money missions or Augment missions locked rooms.
The aforementioned money mision and augment mission.

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lent day 2: meta test

for a while now i've had this idea that if i ever gave a multiple choice test that i would make it comprised of, say, 100 questions of slowly increasing dificulty, and all of the answers except for one would be the same choice (say, A), and i would tell the class ahead of time that that one question was worth half of the grade.

I think the psychological effect would be fascinating.  Because the class would know that each question would take longer and longer to figure out, and to know that 99 out of the 100 would have the same answer would play with the Expected Value equation.  How much time is it worth it if it's so likely to be A, except that the weight of that single answer mucks it all up. Who would crack under that sort of meta?

Today i thought of a slightly more complex and stronger variation to that.  Suppose instead the answers come in a pattern that's constantly breaking at a point when that pattern seems to assert itself.  So the first four answers are A B C D and then the next four answers are also A B C D.  Then the next three questions are A B C before it resets back to A, skipping D the third time around.  Then it goes A B C D A B C D A B C again.  And then it goes A B C D A B C D A B.  And then it goes A B C D A B C A B or something like that.

So the test taker is playing two games - one of actually answering the test questions, and one of trying to find the answer pattern, possibly having to double-check their work when the pattern doesn't seem to work the right way.  And even if they get to a point where they want to abandon the idea of looking for a pattern, their subconscious can't ignore that entirely and it messes with them for the entire rest of the test.

And actually, that's really what music creation is all about for me.   Which probably means that everyone is glad that i write music more often than i write tests.

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March 2017