Austin (Capitol, not Bionic Man)

I found Austin to be a cool city. It has an exciting population, chock full of artists, filmmakers, musicians, and hipsters (and probably hippies, too). As many residents are struggling artists with liberal world views, it seems much more suited to be the capital of California than of Texas. While it’s not the film town that NY or LA is, it seems to be much more excited about being a film town than either of those cities. This is the 11th year for SXSW, which started out as a music festival, then added film, and finally interactive topics. This makes sense from the city that bills itself as “the live music capital of the world” (it’s now working on becoming the clean energy capital of the world). For many residents, SXSW has become an important ritual, and locals seemed to make up the majority of attendees.
     While it certainly has its charms, there were a few things I found off-putting. Perhaps in an effort to appear more “green”, trees lined most city streets, and had an inordinate number off birds flocking to each one. Looking at the white-spotted ground, you know there is certainly no “five second rule” in Austin. It also seems to have a high homeless population, especially in the downtown area, and while I can’t be certain, I believed I was approached by scammers twice. As the Silicon Valley of Texas, Austin’s housing market has risen considerably, which compounds the problem, albeit their housings costs are ~40% of SoCal’s. If you’re alone at night, it can be slightly discomforting. Granted, that’s probably true of most cities, and I didn’t expect any violence.
     That said, I can see why I’ve often heard friends say that Austin is the only viable city in Texas. It’s just cooler.

SXSW Overview

I returned Wednesday from South by Southwest (SXSW), where I had access to the Film and Interactive tracks. In short, it was really cool, and I?d recommend it strongly to any member of the Crack Team. There was far too much to do, and I ended up missing all parties, the trade show, and the web awards. However, I did attend some very thought provoking panels and saw a few films. So, ok, that doesn?t sound as cool, but as an info junkie and armchair philosopher/sociologist/film critic, I had my priorities in order. And just doing that felt like a marathon.

As I have time, I?ll post about various panels attended, films viewed, and observations gleaned while at the conference.

A Passion for Christ

The film “The Passion of the Christ” has become an event-movie, much
like a hot Hollywood franchise (eg: Star Wars, The Matrix, Lord of the
Rings). As such, I can’t wait for the sequel (I’ll explain in a second).

Many viewers at the showing I attended last week were the devout, like the
elderly ladies in wheelchairs with oxygen tanks and masks. They probably
don’t go to the movies as much as I do, and this movie was an event that they could not resist. Other viewers were the curious, people that are trying to
measure their strong stomachs against 2 hours of purported blood-letting and
torture. Finally, there were the skeptics. It’s all over the news that this movie
is a piece of anti-semitic propaganda, made injudiciously at best, or maliciously
at worst. That final group of viewers were here to verify for themselves
the truth of these charges.

Continue reading A Passion for Christ

No Surprises

That was probably the biggest story of Oscar night – no upsets. Lord of the Rings swept like a broom, and in some categories I felt it was carried by its own momentum rather than its merit. I loved the books and thoroughly enjoyed the films, which I admit was an insane undertaking, and should have been recognized earlier. Perhaps if it had, maybe some more deserving nominees (IMHO) might have won. As Agent Renegade has said, the Academy loves films that put a lot of people to work, and the trilogy spread the wealth to over 25,000 people. Well, I guess I’m a lot happier for it than I was for Titanic. Here’s my take on a few categories:
Continue reading No Surprises

Peak Oil, or We’re All Gonna Die

I’ve recently been made aware of the concept of “peak oil”, which says that since there is a finite amount of oil on earth, we’re eventually going to reach the top of the bell-shaped production curve. After that, prices increase dramatically, and since so much of what we need to exist is tied to oil, we return to pre-oil population levels. In other words, about 4 billion of us die off.
Continue reading Peak Oil, or We’re All Gonna Die

Every Geek Has His Day

The technical Oscars took place on Valentine’s Day, and Jennifer Garner made a lot of new friends. She now has the undying love of Hollywood’s best and brightest, in addition to the CIA []. My favorite quote from the CNN story:

“The audience cheered loudly whenever she pronounced a particularly daunting technical term properly.”

Are we party animals or what?

The most famous covert organization in the world.