The Hess Report


Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Lucy Hess, Casting Director

I'm tucking Lucy into bed, and she's discussing what stage shows she will be in when she's older. The Trojan Horse is the front runner. According to her, she will play Odysseus, Maddie will be Agamemnon because he always falls in the mud, and I'll be playing a female archer named Zelda who refuses to wear her glasses. Of course, Joy will be Achilles.

Lucy also wants to be a waitress at Denny's when she grows up. I had hoped for bigger and better things, but if it's between that and becoming a casting director, I guess we're stuck with the Denny's thing.

Friday, February 20, 2004

But Why?

I answered this in brief a while ago, but I feel that it deserves a full explanation now. What's the point? There are multiple points and here they are in no particular order...

The diary function. Of course, it's not really a diary, because that would be gay, and I'm not. But there have been a couple of times when I've started writing a report, then due to the process of writing it, changed my mind by the end. If I changed it in a clever way, the Report stands. But if it's just your everyday change of mind and there was nothing particularly revelatory about it, then that Report goes into the bin and a new one takes it's place. I've found that forcing myself to structurally organize enough to write something down helps me order and clarify my thoughts. So, the diary thing.

Distant communication. If you lived next door to me I'd bug you with all of this stuff in person. I'd whine about the belligerent idiot at Einsteins' Bagels, or force you to watch my kids put on a play every night. But you don't, and this is where the carry-over from the old Hess Report days comes in. Ten years ago, the Hess Report went out as a monthly email. Then it withered to a yearly thing. Then it died. Believe it or not, people still asked me about the emailed Hess Reports years after they stopped. I hope they're happy now.

An insurance policy against my contract killing. Someday, my daughters will both be teenagers, and they will no doubt hate my guts for a period of several years. When things get bad, I'm going to have a friend of the family or an uncompromised “cool” relative show the girls what they “found”. Hey look! Your dad wrote all this stuff before he was forty! He was funny. He really loved you guys! And maybe they'll read it, and realize that I'm a human being, and not a boyfriend-frightening, fun-destroying taskmaster from hoary bowels of Hell. And call off the hit.

I'm vain, or something. What makes a person think that anyone else would enjoy reading something that they wrote? And use their minuscule spare time reading it? For fun? I don't know. It certainly means that something is not quite right. Or maybe that's a bit harsh. Maybe it just means that something is a little different, although if it were put to a vote, I'm not sure which position would win. Would all of this be interesting or funny to someone who didn't know me? Once again, I don't know.

Oh man. This is just too much navel-gazing, even for me. Now I'm embarrassed. But I'm going to post this anyway, just for the record. It's like my grandmother said to me: “Just write what you want and don't listen to anyone else.” Can do, Nan, although my version of that phrase has bad words in it, and seeing as this is for my kids someday, I'm not going to repeat it.

Monday, February 16, 2004

Sorry. Come Back Next Year. Now What?

So, in the great single-elimination playoff game that is the application process for a certain job I've been pursuing for nigh upon two years, I have been eliminated. Due to the nature of the process, there is no explanation, just a simple “Sorry.” People close to the process are rather astounded, but stranger things have happened. I'm eligible to try again in a year, and, due to the knowledge gleaned this first time through, feel fairly confident that I could wax the ass of the respective procedures should I choose to undergo it a second time. Will I? Before I heard “no”, I was certain that if I heard “no” there was no way I would try again. Not feeling that so much, now. I guess I really really hate terrorists. Whatever the case, I'm not going to live the next year of my life thinking about it like we just did this past year. That sucked.

There have been several things which I had put on the back burner, not wanting to invest the time in them if I was going to be greatly increasing my working hours in the near future. So, those projects can now commence. They're all computer-based, so, yeah, I'm a geek. Sue me. Here they are:

1.Completion of my animated short Audition. The modelling is finished, and some preliminary animation is done. I just need to record the voice work and music (provided, of course, by music!Joy) and lipsync the thing.
Click to see a clip

2.Coding work on the Blender Open Source project. I'll be donating some of my time to improve and expand the Python API of the world's best Open Source 3D graphics and animation suite.

3.Creation of an Open Source Python-based AI system for crowd motion, including heirarchical command and control, goals, personal interaction, object awareness, pathfinding and terrain following. Woo hoo!
Click here to see a sample.
(both this video and the Audtion one are in Divx 5 format)

4.Move the Hess Report to my own servers so I can easily back the thing up, as well as spy on people who visit and read. It's on blogspot right now, and I'd hate to see it all go away if they do something silly.

5.Brew more beer and wine.

6.I have this idea for a screenplay involving people taking advantage of William Shatner groupies...

Random computer security stuff that I think everyone should know:
It only took a day and a half for some mallicious, intelligent person to develop an exploit from the leaked Windows source code. If you're running Internet Explorer 5, all someone has to do is put a special image on their web page and Bang! You're rooted, and your computer becomes one of hundreds or thousands in their zombie army.

So, if you're on a broadband connection, buy a cheap router, even if you only have a single computer. It'll keep nasty folks from being able to randomly attack your computer. And for the sweet love of Pete, run screaming from Internet Explorer and Outlook Express. Use the Firefox web browser and the Thunderbird email client. I'll admit that I still prefer the absolute simplicity of Outlook Express, but I just hate those freaking viruses/scripting exploits/etc. Not a problem with Thunderbird. Likewise Firefox. You don't have to fear for your computer's life when you use these, and they are now and always 100% free.

And of course, a number 7 to the above list is to clear out some blogstipation. There are at least three big Hess Reports that have been stewing, and it's about time I actually wrote them down, including... what I thought of that new Peter Pan movie, a comparison of the Holiday Inn Express with the Ritz-Carlton, and the full explanation of the reason for being of the Hess Report. Pullitzer Prize winners every single one! I can feel your excitement from here. So I'll make an attempt to clear out the back-logged Hess Reports this week and get things moving on a more regular basis. Oh why must everything so easily fit into a pooping conceit? Whatever, just be sure to wipe your screen when you're done.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

The Tale of Smallpetal

The girls were doing shows tonight, as is their custom. Lucy did a flower show, in which she claimed to be Legolas, who turned into a flower, but didn't like it. Then he turned back into an elf, fought some bad guys, turned into Golum, fell into a volcano and died. The end.

Maddie came up with a great costume: flower-petal like pink headband, pink knit mittens and a play sleeping bag belted around her waist so she didn't have legs. Then, in her typically dramatic fashion, she told and acted her show. These are her words, as closely as I can remember them from five minutes ago:

"The Tale of Smallpetal

"Once, there was a flower named Smallpetal. She had one petal smaller than the rest, on the right side. All the flowers got picked, but not her. One day, she miraculously pulled herself out of the ground and learned to walk.

"She went to flower school, but all the other flowers picked on her and made fun of her. They laughed at her small petal. At recess, the other flowers wouldn't let her play with them. She had to sit there all by herself.

"When she grew up, she became a famous dancer. Then, she became the queen of the flowers.

"When she got old, all of her petals fell off, but the small one didn't, and as long as it stayed on her, she stayed alive. She would think about how the other flowers treated her long ago. One day when she was old, a man found her and took her home. He didn't water her, and so she died, but we can always remember her and tell the tale of Smallpetal."

Starts out kind of Disney, but ends up, er, I'm not sure what you'd call that. But I liked it.

Of course, afterward, she revised the ending so that Smallpetal didn't die, but turned into a human child, and set up the sequel by saying "To be continued." Now that would make Mike Eisner proud!