Sunday, May 29, 2016

Working With Other People

When hiring someone for a project it is so important to be sure that the candidate can work with other people. But in this, as with so many things, the biped mammals can be tricky.

What do people mean by “working with other people”? Does it mean blind compliance? Does it mean good communicator? Does it mean a desire to find a workable compromise? Does it mean maintaining one's equilibrium when someone lies to your face? Does it mean doing it their way to the detriment of the project? Does it mean being able to share credit? Does it mean leaving the psychodrama at home?  All of the above? None of the above?

Now I feel as though I have to confess something to you. You see, crazy people can make me act a little, well, upset.  Nutty behavior can wear on my nerves a bit.  The logical reaction when faced with aberrant behavior on the part of a fellow worker, of course, is to attempt to choke the life out of the miscreant causing all the psychodrama.  But it is possible that this logical and helpful response to our co-worker's overt betrayal, or bid for power, or demand for attention and special privilege *could* be misunderstood. Maybe the miscreant will become a better person because you tried to choke him or her to death. We can only hope so.  But not everyone understands that my motives are pure.

So what to do?  Well under extreme provocation, what we might call 'creative differences' occur and it might be best for someone like myself to extract themselves from the project with as much grace as possible. No need to make the project suffer because I think someone is a loony. Under these extreme circumstances, the project does not need my input. Its a tough decision to make.

So maybe instead of asking whether so-and-so can work with other people, it might be more effective to be sure that everyone on the project, even those in charge, can work with other people. You know, treat people with respect, that sort of thing?  Remember that none of us are perfect and that all of us can make a mistake. Remember that we all have a role to play, and that role may not be the one we would ideally prefer (e.g. I really want to direct, etc). Let us all remember that this is not a zero sum game and that we were all beginners once. Speaking in basketball terms, the center or forward may make most of the scores but the team wins in large part because of assists.

I would hope that everyone on a project would make an effort to get along and  give everyone a certain amount of slack as we move the project forward.

Friday, May 27, 2016

A Dialog About Firearms and Superheroes in Cinema with a British Intellectual

I sent a friend in London a link to the opening of Deadpool (2015) to show off some excellent use of 3D animation in the service of art, or at least superhero movies.

His response was less than ecstatic:

(edited slightly for formatting purposes)
Yeah pretty good i guess...
I'm just so bored with all american productions and their fixation with guns... I mean what is the attraction in watching people firing guns? And in most of the shows it is all unimportant characters that are being shot. The main cast rarely get hit. Its really boring...
I much prefer Scandinavian tv dramas which like British shows rarely have guns because basically we don't really have them... But i currently prefer the Nordic noirs because UK drama is being influenced by US ideas and although they don't have many guns (although they are succumbing to that too) they have picked up the American sentimentality with people hugging at the slightest opportunity - Where is our stiff upper lip anymore? But the Scandi's they have almost no sentimentality so i really like them...
Have you seen the original danish 20 part version of The Killing, or Borgen or The Bridge or Wallander... I really love those shows - in the whole of Borgen there wasn't one gun or one hug - sheer delight! Its like they took away the guns and hugging from madame secretary ;-)

I do not completely understand all his references here (e.g. “madame secretary”) but I do see what his point is. Here is my response:

We must make allowances for cultural diversity. When Paul Verhoeven in the 4th Man (1983) revealed that the nurse at the end was none other than the Blessed Virgin Mary, mother of God, he was taking a bold step for a Dutch protestant to acknowledge, in a practically Papist way, the Virgin Mary.

You see where this is going?

So it is with Americans and firearms.

The American cinema and its intellectual elite has moved beyond the giant robot and turned to the comic book superhero as a medium with which to express the totality of our civilization. And yes, there is a certain number of firearms in these movies, but there is also quite a few samurai swords, as well as more European broadsword types.

In the first Thor (2011) you will find very few firearms, but rather a lot of swords, some hand to hand, and most of all Mjolnir, the mighty hammer, "for if he is worthy, let him who wields this hammer have the power of Thor". (see attached picture)

To understand America is to understand the frontier of the old west. In the classic Western, good and evil must contend and settle once and for all which will triumph, and meet at noon for the shootout. What would you have them use instead of firearms?



The 4th Man (1983) on IMDB

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Lane Halley and Joseph Goldstone Married


I am happy to report that my friend Joseph Goldstone has, in great secrecy, married his long time companion Lane Halley. Andy Kopra of Berlin officiated as Best Person.

Joseph and I have worked together many times and have been friends since about 1985 or so.

Announcement of marriage in NY Times Society Section

Joseph and Best Person Andy Kopra in NYC rest after shopping

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Black Aerospace Project that Was About To Be Disclosed That Wasn't

This is an update on various posts about the possible public release of information about a black aerospace project from over a year ago.

It is a personal pet peeve of mine that we have on the Internet and other venues (e.g. Aviation Leak and Space Mythology) breathless sightings of what may be a black (e.g. very secret) aerospace project, and then dead silence. Nothing.

Well, nothing is a little hard to interpret. So I am going to attempt to interpret “nothing” for my readers, and for what it is worth.

To recap, there were some very interesting sightings reported on These sightings were of what appeared to be a manned flying wing aircraft which was not the B2. More than one, in fact. The B2 is a very distinctive plane and the observers, who seem to be respectable, knowledgeable and who took reasonable pictures of what they had seen, were of the opinion that it was not a B2. Well, nothing else of that type of airframe that is manned is flying, so that it seemed to be a reasonable conclusion that they had in fact sighted something not only secret, but also in (at least) limited production, as there was more than one of them.

The speculation was that whatever they had seen (and I liked the theory that it was a stealthy tactical reconnaissance aircraft that came from work in the mid-1980s and went into very limited production in the 1990s) was that this aircraft was about to be made public. Hence, they were less careful about bringing the plane back from somewhere (Iraq? Africa?) in broad daylight and so forth.

Ok that was the speculation.

Well, a fair amount of time has passed since those sightings and whatever they may or may not have seen has not been publicly announced which means one of several things. If it was an aircraft in limited production use, then whatever it is still has its uses or in some way has technology that still needs protecting and is not just ready for public release. Or maybe they saw nothing at all so there was nothing to announce. Or maybe they were B2 bombers after all.

Actually, I think they probably did see something but whatever.  In a sense this is good news, because if it is in limited production this means it is still of value, which means that the money was well spent, at least to some extent. Alright, thats a bit of a stretch.

One more thing, there are a variety of aerospace forums that discuss these things. I am not a regular reader of them but this is often where more information is found, if you have the patience to read through them and all the tendentious bullshit that accompanies the occasional nugget of interest. You can find them by searching for "black aerospace discussion forum" or words to that effect.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Proof of An Unspeakable and Conscious Evil

I believe that there is an implacable evil in the universe, a conscious evil that exists between life and death and which constructs for each of us a personalized living hell with which it torments each and every one of us.

For some people, this living hell may be an eternity on Facebook. For others it may be an ex-girlfriend or boyfriend or both who has reappeared and wants to renew the relationship. For some it will be that email out of the blue from an old colleague explaining how much he has always hated you and all the things that he or she has done behind your back to damage your career. Each one of us is different, each one of us will be made to suffer.  We will all have to face his or her own Room 101 and rot in our own individualized hell. (1) 

This conscious evil will wait, it will bide its time, it will prepare, and then when you let your guard down it will strike. I know this because I have gone before, I have faced this evil. It happened like this.

Apparently, and without meaning to, by going into "computer animation" I had become a "starving artist" and so decided to see if I qualified for state assistance.  This was with great reluctance because I still had a residual self image of being self-supporting in spite of our modern globalized economy.  I have not been very good at bureaucracies in the past, nevertheless I persevered and became qualified for what we used to call “food stamps” but now goes by other names.

It is a good program, by the way, and we should support it. In fact, were I actually an artist who cared about the poor in our society, it would certainly be a good thing to discover just how these sorts of programs work and who is eligible. In this case it is only for those who are truly poor, without income and without savings. But if you are in that category, it will allow you to eat. It wont pay your rent, or keep the power on, but you will eat.

I had not been careful with my paperwork, and I had to go get my Social Security papers and return to the social welfare office and present it. It took a day to get the paperwork, and then I knew it would be most of the day to present the Social Security card and deal with that requirement.

And as I sat, alone, in that dreary office, and waited, penniless, for four hours, this pitiless evil of which I have spoken struck without warning. For there, on the LCD monitors was a “cartoon” to engage the children who waited with me, and there over and over again was a Pixar movie about some cars in the desert.

The Devil's tool ?

Oh cruel fate! Oh despicable evil. To wait until I was down and then force me to watch this movie over and over again while I, a pioneer of computer animation, had been unable to make a living at his craft. To gloat at my (economic) failure, to laugh at my defeat.

Recall that in America, success and failure is judged exclusively by the size of one's bank account.

See, it seemed to be saying, see how worthless you are.

Immediately after this incident, a project started and I no longer qualified for this program.  But even so, I know now that this evil is out there, waiting. I believe it waits for you as well. It waits for all of us. 



1. "Room 101" is a reference to George Orwell's 1984.