Commencement time at WWU

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My wife is about to give the commencement speech at Western.

Why? BECAUSE SHE’S AWESOME.

Will post video and text of speech later.

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Why this video is intentionally bad and tremendously good

Those two things seem contradictory, don’t they?

No.

A book, movie or TV show can be technically good and awesomely boring at the same time. Example: every CGI-crazed “blockbuster” in the last 10 years that cost $250 million to produce and generated $50 in ticket sales at theaters. Stuff like JOHN CARTER OF MARS and AVATAR (the cartoon, not the blue monkey saga) and five zillion other movies you don’t remember and didn’t see because they stank up the place.

So take a look at this, the Best Ad for a Restaurant in History:

The ad does a number of things badly on purpose.

  • The special effects look like they were put together by a 7th grader who started teaching himself Adobe After Effects yesterday.
  • The script itself put 1,792 grammar teachers in treatment.
  • This actor’s body language could not be more awkward.
  • Casting aside his accent, which I loved, the actor’s inflections keep going astray.
  • The editing and production values, let’s be honest, stink.

If the individual parts of this ad are so horrible, why is the whole thing so great? Continue reading

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Age and size matter not — attitude is everything

The great thing about the Series of Tubes is that so many people are sifting through so much stuff, you’re bound to find random bits of awesomesauce. Things you would never intentionally seek out.

John Lindo is wonderfully random bit of awesomesauce, and I am happy to do a little Friendly Friday shout-out to him.

Watch this, then let’s talk about why it works, and why it went viral.

This works because there’s a massive gap between expectation and result.

As an audience, we’ve been trained to think of professional dancers as size zero models that come in male and female. They’re young, tanned and costumed. They dance with the stars, and sometimes date the stars.

John is proudly the opposite of all that. He looks like an average middle-aged dad from the suburbs and shatters your every expectation. He’s full of joy, competence and confidence. I’m not a dance expert or fan, and I’d happily watch more videos of him, and try to learn a bit from him. My wife would go nuts. If we men were crazy smart, we’d do Fight Club on Tuesdays and Thursdays, then get John to teach us to dance like this on Mondays and Wednesday while our bruises fade, then we’d surprise our wives or girlfriends on Friday nights. Continue reading

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Photo of the Day: A castle passageway in Luxembourg

Tunnel below a castle in Luxembourg. Photo by Guy Bergstrom.

Tunnel below a castle in Luxembourg. Photo by Guy Bergstrom.

Castles are the best — but hard to shoot. The light in tunnels and dungeons is usually terrible. This passageway was a happy exception and I love how the shadows intersected.

This is part of a huge network of passageways beneath fortifications beneath a castle guarding the river in the capital. A great position. There was no cover, no way to get up the cliff, and there were cruder tunnels carved into the rock with firing positions. An interesting place. I’ve seen a lot of castles and this one was both ancient and well-preserved.  Continue reading

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Photo of the Day: How many students can fit in this autorickshaw?

I counted about 15 students inside, on top or hanging from the back of this auto-rickshaw. It's the Indian version of a cab, with three wheels and a lot more excitement than boring Yellow Cabs back home. With the right driver, an autorickshaw ride can be like a Formula One race through side streets and packed traffic. Photo by Guy Bergstrom.

I counted around 15 students inside, on top or hanging from the back of this autorickshaw. It’s the Indian version of a cab, with three wheels and a lot more excitement than boring Yellow Cabs back home. With the right driver, an autorickshaw ride can be like a Formula One race through side streets and packed traffic. Photo by Guy Bergstrom.

If you travel to India, autorickshaws are everywhere, working as cabs and hauling cargo. They have three tiny wheels, itty bitty engines and are more like motorcycles than cars, but they’re cheap and useful, especially in big cities.

These students commuting home after school broke what has to be a record for how many people can fit inside an autorickshaw. Well played, students.  Continue reading

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Big, Beautiful Movies with Sad, Stupid Endings

The First Law of Bad Literary Novels is simple: there are no happy endings.

It’s the same story with Big, Beautiful Movies with Sad, Stupid Endings.

Now, that’s not to say every book and movie needs a prototypical Hollywood happy ending. Tragedies should have sad endings, and there are plenty of classic movies where the ending is ambiguous.

Rocky actually loses his first fight. The victory comes from not getting knocked out – and from the journey from loser to contender. Rocky suffers, sacrifices and grows. That’s why the movie is good: there’s a big contrast between where Rocky is in Act 1 and where he ends up in Act 3.

The trouble with these movies is the audience doesn’t want to see them again, if they ever saw them in the first place, because the ending sours everybody, despite the beautiful imagery and amazing acting.

I’m not saying you can’t make a great movie without being low-brow and throwing in more explosions than Michael Bay ever dreamed possible.

Continue reading

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Photo of the Day: Hand this tiger a script and he’ll read the nightly news

This tiger is cooler than the other side of the pillow. He's got authority, doesn't he? Like you could hand him a script and he'd read the nightly news. Photo by Guy Bergstrom.

This tiger is cooler than the other side of the pillow. He’s got authority, doesn’t he? If feels like whatever he said, if he could talk, would automatically have weight, as if he had a British accent and the rumble of James Earl Jones combined. Photo by Guy Bergstrom.

Sometimes, body language is everything.

When I shot this tiger with the Nikon of Infinite Beauty, the tiger didn’t even look in my direction. He didn’t care. I don’t think anything would phase him.  Continue reading

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