Riker's Mailbox

Monday, November 20, 2006


I've been brushing up against the century mark a lot lately...

My post count at a favorite automobile enthusiast bulletin board just rolled into the triple digits a couple days ago, and I've been doing a lot aggressive driving in said favorite automobile at over 100mph*.

And now, I'm penning my 100th post to Prose Justice. While I'd typically devote this entry to that alone, I'd rather get into detail on a new fixation.

Ever hear of Woot!?

Interesting online marketplace. Run by cool people with funny personalities. There is a bulletin board on the woot website, and each week they hold a photoshop contest, somewhat related to a product they sell, with an arbitrary goal.

This particular week was a double-pronged challenge. We, the contestants, had to select a product they offered, create an anagram of that product, and use the anagram as the title of a novel. Then we were told to design a cover for the novel and incorporate the product somehow. It's a bit much to bite off, especially being my first attempt at this (the contest has already been judged and I didn't win jack squat, but that's beside the point).

Regardless, here was the product I selected:

The Jepson Winery Mendocino Mix.

I took 'jepson winery mendocino' and found that it anagrammed to 'speedy minnow conjoiner'.

What in the world to do with this? Obviously I needed to turn to the most famous minnow in history, the S.S. Minnow of Gilligan's Island fame. From there, I found a suitable picture of a man, who, in my opinon, could potentially have fixed the Minnow and rescued those poor castaways, if only he had some inspiration to guide him**:

I gave it a little more thought, discovered some other anagrams for bonus points ('Jepson Winery Mendocino Mix' = 'Epoxy Rejoins Minced Minnow'; useful indeed... and 'Kevin James Savino-Riker' = 'An Invasive, Irksome Jerk'***), and came up with the following:

Click for a slightly larger version.

So, I said this was going to be a repository of sorts for creative media... I guess I'm living the dream. Hopefully there will be more to come. Hopefully all other anagrams of my name are less unflattering. Here's a start: 'Kevin Savino-Riker' = 'Ninja-Reviver Kiosk'. Even uses the hyphen. I'll have to draw a picture of that someday...

* - I know it's illegal, but I wouldn't do it if I wasn't doing it safely.
** - NOT Gilligan.
** - It breaks my heart, but I should've seen it coming.

Friday, November 17, 2006


As promised here and here, I'm delivering the goods:

This is our finished submission to the Insomniac Film Festival: "Give us a fighting chance..."

Unfortunately, I'm not just asking you to watch this film for your own entertainment... what I'd really appreciate is your vote.

If you already have an apple account, you can rate our video and help us move up the ranks. If you don't have one, it's free and quick to sign up, and having one will not affect you or your e-mail inbox in any way that you don't want it to.

While I personally appreciate honest feedback (which you can feel free to leave me directly in the comments section of this post), if you have anything less than stellar to say when rating the video, I strongly encourage you to lie. We're in the running for some great software and a handful of ipods, and most importantly I'd do it for you if you asked me to help you win a contest.

While I don't yet have access to our original garbage submission mentioned in one of the earlier posts linked above, I will have it soon, and will display it in all it's embarrassingly funny splendor.

Meanwhile, you've got some voting to do.

NOTE: Some people are reporting to me that their browsers aren't able to play the embedded quicktime clip on the voting page. In that case, you should just go ahead and give us an 'excellent' rating while you're there. If you still want to see the video, you can try your luck watching it off our local server. You still need quicktime. But hey, it's not like I'm asking you to download RealPlayer...

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Testing Testing...


Yep. Works like a charm.

Like there was ever a doubt.

So Google, as you know, is expected to take over the world sometime between 2009 and late 2009. And despite their constant march toward global domination, which would fully exhaust the resources of just about any motivated corporate body, they still make time to interconnect all their little utilities and services, expanding their feature sets and generally improving the interface between the end user (that's you) and increasingly numerous elements of the internet.

Take this blog entry, for example. Google recently acquired and further developed a program called Writely, a web-based word processor with collaborative functionality and tons of other goodies, including a spreadsheet companion. They're aiming to make Microsoft Office obsolete. They're on their way to achieving it. Regardless, I'm bringing this up because I'm writing this blog entry in the new Google Docs & Spreadsheets interface. And I can publish it directly to the blog, right from within the document editor.

So, that raises the total number of unique means by which one can submit content to a blogger account to a healthy 37.

Go, Google, go. Wait.... lemme buy some stock first. Then go.

Monday, November 13, 2006



As mentioned in post-previous, I took part in a filmmaking contest this past weekend, and promised to blog again upon completion of the project.

It didn't go so well.

A quick recap - Apple Computer revealed a set of criteria that each participating five-member team must incorporate into a three-minute short film that was to be submitted within 24 hours of said criteria being revealed. The obvious goal (and just in case it wasn't obvious enough, they named it the 'Insomnia Film Festival') was to get teams to stay up all night producing the film.

It didn't go so well.

The problem is that we got too ambitious with the direction of the project. We had narrowed our path down to two potential concepts: one which was pretty basic with potential for humor (if done correctly), and one that was unique and novel, and had the potential for a hysterically funny climax, but was also complicated and would be very demanding to film. We chose to attempt the latter. I'm proud of this because the latter idea was of my own devising, but I am disappointed, because choosing to film it ultimately led to the team's demise.

The synopsis of the storyline is as follows:

A girl receives three different singing telegrams from three different people for three different reasons, all of whom arrive at her house at the same time.

The contest criteria we'd chosen to include were numerous... all you need to know is that one of them included a sidekick monkey.

To pull this off, we needed to film four sets of backstory footage for the characters, each in different settings. Plot elements critical to the story involved indoor and outdoor scenes in daylight and at night - which meant we had to plan our shooting schedule very carefully to work with the timeframe we were given. On top of all this, our film was going to be narrated and needed to feature a soundtrack. I'll remind you that it's illegal to include copyrighted material in our production; we had to compose and record the music ourselves. We needed to put together a wardrobe that included several garage mechanics, a tuxedo, and a gorilla suit.

Things kept stacking up.

The critical shot of the film is when the three singing telegrams arrive at the girls house, and, seeing the competition, engage in a full-on brawl in her front yard as each tries to be the first one to get to the door. By the time we finished shooting, we only had two hours left to edit the footage and to record the narrations/overdubs.

Where we really shot ourselves in the foot was forgetting that the raw footage had to upload into the editor in realtime, which meant we had to wait an hour before we could even start working on putting the film together.

Loren, the director/editor, started out methodically, selecting the best takes for each scene and started building the story as it was originally written... but as the deadline drew closer, we realized that we were not going to finish in time. Rather than finish the film as planned and be unable to submit it for judging, Loren instead chose to lose his goddamn mind and just started grabbing footage at random and throwing it in in awkward chunks. He threw in narration, again at random, and never over the appropriate scene. Almost half the scenes we shot were left completely out of the film. Still others appeared three or more times each.

What came out of the frenzy was three minutes of garbage. There was no story to follow, the narration appeared out of order and would only serve to further confuse the viewer, and we'd omitted the requisite title page entirely. But we got that fucker in on time.

At this point, our only hope is that some Hollywood hipster on the judging panel sees our work as an avant-garde visionary masterpiece and grants us the grand prize on the spot. It could happen...

Meanwhile, the five of us who got together for the project still want to see what we would have come up with. We know that if we'd managed to submit the film we wanted to, we'd have had gold on our hands. So, we're going to finish post-production, even though we cannot enter it into the contest. Once that is up, I will post a link here. And afterward, I'll post a link to the film we ended up submitting to Apple.

What's ironic, is that when we watched the garbage submission, we all thought it was funnier than the actual story we'd written - it came together in that haphazard way that was too absurd to be intentional, and therefore was hilarious. Of course, the problem is, it can only be that funny when you knew what it was supposed to be in the first place. Soon enough I'll have links to both versions up here, and I'll let you decide for yourselves.

Meanwhile, I'll be spending my time online, looking for contests with later deadlines.

Friday, November 10, 2006


Let the record show that I promised to post pictures of our recent Halloween party. Even though I want to talk about something else in this entry, I must yield those pictures for fear of losing my capacity for follow-through. I will not, however expend any more effort in hosting and presenting the pictures myself; others have already done so, and I'm more than ready to change topics. In light of that, I present:

Halloween pics, via Tony Lau

Halloween pics, via Darren Miles

Okay. Had enough? Me too*.

Some of you know that I was one of a group of six friends/roommates/co-workers who entered a Microsoft-sponsored contest last fall and won a massive-prize package consisting of pre-public-release Xbox 360's and VIP tickets to the Xbox 360 'Zero Hour' release party. We won with this video submission**.

Since that time, we've all had an itch to enter another video project (working on the last one was sooo fun), and the added allure of another prize package augmented our desires. Loren Prendergast, the filmmaker extraordinaire*** who discovered the xbox contest last year, has finally found another contest worthy of entering: The Insomnia Film Festival, by Apple Computer.

The rough idea is as follows: They announce the required submission elements, and the participant filmmaking teams have one day to submit a three-minute video conforming to the guidelines.

This means we have to pick our artistic direction (we are allowed to choose any three of the twelve or so required elements to incorporate into our entry), write a compatible script, cast and film the entire sequence, then complete all editing and post-production in less than 24 hours.

That may sound less-than-challenging, but only if you have no idea what goes into making a professional-quality video. To provide a frame of reference, the xbox video linked above is 30 seconds long. To make that film, we shot ten minutes of raw footage, which took fourteen hours alone. Creating a soundtrack took another day, and Loren spent at least a day in post-production, combining all the elements we created and editing the entire piece to run in the time allotted.

Now we have to create something six times as long, in one third of the time. Oh, and did I mention the clock is already ticking? They released the details at 2pm today. As I write this sentence it is 3:05. Five percent of our time has already elapsed.


It's now 3:17. The team has gathered, so we're gonna ditch on the rest of the work day and get cracking. Here's the list of criteria for the video.... we have selections to make. Wish us luck!

  • Required character name: Alex Kona
  • Required dialog line: "No, you don't understand what it's like growing up here."
  • Required costume: leather jacket and dark sunglasses
  • Required prop: ice
  • Required side kick: pet monkey
  • Required setting: abandoned building
  • Required shot: clock with 4:11 on face
  • Required makeup: fake eyelashes and blue eye shadow
  • Required genre: sci-fi/fantasy
  • Required camera effect: crane or boom shot
  • Required editing device: musical montage

Once we have our submission created, I'll post a link for your critiquing pleasure :)

* - Implicitly introduces new topic. I'm not in an explicit kind of mood.
** - which makes absolutely no sense to you unless you know the back story of the contest and its associated submission criteria. Rest assured that our video was an awesome representation of what they asked for.
*** - guy who owns the camera