Best of 2016

Every year, I'm exchanging "best of the year" emails with my brothers where we discuss our favorite discoveries. I decided to make mine public from now on, maybe it will help somebody will discover something they like that they didn't even hear about before.

For those who just tuned in - this isn't always stuff that was released in 2016. I'm not cool anymore, so it can take a while for a product to get to me.

It didn't occur to me until I started this list, but this year, all my top picks in each category somehow pertain to boys growing up or to the reality of adulthood, very likely subconsciously chosen on account of me sliding straight into my midlife crisis after hitting 40.


Wild Beasts - Nature Boy

Let's start with the artist name and title. That alone sets the stage for a raw, untamed experience, which is further fed by the simple arrangement and use of bongo drums. But the haunting lyrics about the false dreams of manhood and suppressed ult…

Rule #1 about mud runs: You do not shut up about mud runs

If you're following me online at all, you may have noticed that I'm into these obstacle races like the Spartan Race and Tough Mudder (and I'd like to say that "I did them before they were cool").

I have to admit that the mud runs are brilliant. They cater to two large groups of the population: The first one being people who feel tough and want to validate themselves - military, Crossfitters, etc. The others are desk jockeys who try to let out the primal side in them that they think they have - very much like Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club, except with the thick hint of irony that they spend a lot of money in order to escape consumerism. In the end, these mud runs are essentially money printing machines.

I'm making fun of them, but I'm not denying that I love them. I fall smack into the second category - despite spending most of my time sitting at a desk, I get a big kick out of climbing over a big wooden structure using a rope and saying to myself "…

Detective Smartass hard at work

Remember my previous post about doing research? Here's a prime example to show you to what lengths I go for... well... for... no real purpose at all.

Consider this picture here:

I'm sure you've seen it in your favorite social media feed. You saw it, ha-ha, funny, and moved on.

For some reason however, I had to find out where this scene took place in. After all, this could have afforded me a chance to make fun of the South again.

When you find these viral images, they usually have been stripped of any usable information whatsoever by the time they reach you, or worse still, they may have some useless commentary tacked on with incorrect information to promote some agenda. Also, most social media sites strip off EXIF data, so even if it was taken with a cell phone that had GPS tagging enabled, you won't find it when analyzing the image.

So you need to do it the old-fashioned way - by looking for clues in the picture. For that, a higher resolution is helpful, so your first…

Everything sucks because of your impatient ass

I'm currently waiting in line to get a Tesla Model X. Like many others, I made a reservation back in 2014 and am now sitting through delay after delay and one blown deadline after another.

I feverishly frequent the forums to scavenge all those itty bitty updates and rumors, and boy is that a painful experience. People are foaming at their mouths because they still don't have the car that they're clearly entitled to! Somebody called Elon Musk a monkey. Calls for boycott, wah wah wah.

I can sympathize with Tesla since I used to be on the other side of this. The games I used to work on were notorious for being delayed, and every time a press release went out to announce a new release date, it sucked for everybody. The team knew their long hours would go on for longer. The company knew the budget would skyrocket even more (more salaries to pay, more overtime pay for non-exempt people, morale would go even lower, more dinners to pay, more advertisement to keep the hype going, p…

I'm sorry something racist happened to you. You should have dressed better.

I recently found this in my social media feed:

Originally posted by Right Wing News, it was shared by a) a brother who b) isn't Republican, so I didn't dismiss it outright and instead gave it some thought. And wondered... "something bad happened to you because of how you were dressed".... where did I hear that before? Oh, right, from rape apologists! It's this whole "she asked for it" shit again that justifies rape by blaming the victim. A woman wearing seductive clothing is luring those poor helpless guys that have no choice but to force themselves on her.

To whoever created this image: Fuck you. No seriously, FUCK YOU.

Going to the liquor store in a black hoodie to pick up some iced tea? Better wear that three-piece suit so you're not mistaken for a "thug". Don't even think about showing the officer your license and registration when you left your Armani threads at home. Leaving the strip club? Not without that dinner jacket you don&…

Why are we even talking about the fatal Tesla Autopilot crash?

There are going to be a lot of interesting cases regarding incidents with self-driving cars and whether or not the car's autopilot features helped or hurt the outcome of the situation, regarding liability and whether or not autonomous cars are a good idea. This recent case about a fatality in Florida isn't one of them.

Before I recap, let me explain what Tesla's Autopilot does: It looks for the lane markers on the road so it can steer the car to follow your current lane. And it looks for cars in front of you so it slows down if they slow down. That's it. (There's a lane change system that needs to be manually invoked, but that's not relevant to this case.)

I can't stress enough how simplistic this system is. It doesn't use mapping data, it doesn't predict or analyze. It doesn't know traffic laws or can read signage or see traffic lights. It doesn't consider other vehicles' brake lights or signals. It simply stays in the lane and slows do…

Dreams My Master: Preproduction ends

This is part 4 of the journey. Start at page 1. And please check out the Kickstarter and consider backing it!

Production design

Production design is essential to telling a story, even more so in Dreams My Master, where we have two storylines that take place in different environments. The groundwork of course came from Daniel and Maris, who found two locations that looked very different. But then we had Michelle for production design who took care of all the details.

I had all these images in my head about what things were supposed to look like, and Michelle did a remarkable job making things work with a minimum budget - the entire project was already much more expensive than I originally imagined.

Michelle got very creative with adding the bare minimum of props to a set to give it a distinct look. Jeff finished it off by lighting the scenes very differently.

It was exacerbated by the fact that we didn't really have locations until days for the shoot, which made planning next to impo…