Translation of the Letter Rogers Sent Me

Received a letter from Rogers today, announcing yet another price increase for internet and cable TV. They started off with marketing garbage about how awesome they’ve made my service (but actually mean nothing) and threw this in there:

However, over the past year, there has been an increase in the cost of providing you with our services as we continue to expand and upgrade our network and launch enhancements to serve you better. We have taken steps to minimize the impact that these increased costs will have on you. Remember, if you choose to subscribe to more than one service, you may be eligible for a discount.

I’ve gone ahead and translated it into Real Talk™:

In the past year, the greed of our executives and shareholders has increased while our services have stagnated. We like to pretend that we’re doing you a favour by only increasing it by a little bit, but in reality, we don’t give a damn. However, if you decide to throw more money at us, we’d be happy to shave off another dollar! We’ll get it back at the next price increase anyway.

Thanks Rogers, for being the corporate parasite of Canada.

Don’t wait.

Amanda Pomeroy:

Apart from being a fine game, Tetris is also a perfect mirror of the human condition. For a while the game is entertaining, and we seem to have mastered it and are having fun. Then, something goes wrong. A rash mistake, or an unfulfilled wish, and we’re fighting to repair the damage, but we’ve been thrown off-balance, and the cancer is spreading. Blocks that were once orderly and harmonious are jumbled and filled with holes, and our cup is on the verge of running over. There’s always a point at which we stop planning for the future, and realise that we don’t have one – all we can do is cling to the present and concentrate, focus our minds on what it’s like to be alive, to play the game, before it’s all over.

You were waiting for a four-by-one block that never came.

Eventually we stare death in the face, and death will not spare us because we would warn the others to stay away and not play the game. Sometimes we resist to the bitter end, moving blocks left and right without thought or care, just to hang on, and sometimes we accept the inevitable and pull the blocks down to us, smiling inwardly at the great joke. The rest is silence. We admire the fox as it escapes from the hounds, but when the hunt is over we turn away, and go off and drink and be merry, and somewhere else someone or something is watching us as we watch the fox. But the fox knows it is being chased.

“Let’s just break in!” – An Interactive Story

Last night, I piloted the first iteration of an interactive story game I created for my friends. The idea that sparked it all was that I wanted to play a group game where we would have a common goal to work toward together, and have fun while we’re at it.

The first scenario was simple: three masked gunmen have invaded a home and taken a woman and her two children hostage. They are heavily armed and will be making their demands soon. You (as a group) are the police special forces unit, and it is up to you as a group to save the woman and two children.

I even made a floor plan of the house!

As a group, they were given the following rules:

  • The game progresses in turns. You can make as many movements in an area that you like, but the minute you go to another area, you are moving onto the next turn. Certain milestones happen on certain turns.
  • Actions with an ambiguous certainty in completion are determined with a dice roll (using two dice). For example, picking the lock on a door would have a dice roll for success or failure, the range of which is determined by the game master.
  • Combat requires two rolls: a roll to determine the winner of the first exchange, and the loser must roll to determine what part of the body takes damage. 1-2 is in the legs, 3-7 is the torso, 8-9 is the arms, 10-12 is the head.
  • The only limitation to actions is if it is completely infeasible or unrealistic. For example, you cannot curve a bullet around anything, or suddenly gain magic powers and blast the bad guys.

We got rolling and I think it turned out alright. Well, for me anyway.

As a group, they immediately decided to storm the house. Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed and they waited for the gunmen to make demands before doing anything, and THEN they decided to split up into two teams and break in through the back and lock pick the front.

Unfortunately, it all went awry when they were discovered inside the house (each action inside the house required a roll for discovery, as in, whether or not they made enough noise to be discovered) and a firefight broke out. During the firefight, two of the team were shot in the vest and taken out for the turn (wind knocked out of them) and a third managed to take down a gunman while getting shot in the limbs repeatedly. The other teams managed to storm into the living room, where the hostages were being held, and taking down the last remaining gunman. However, they were not quick enough and he managed to take out the mother and one of the children before he could be taken down.

I received plenty of feedback on how to improve the game and its mechanics, and the suggestions are definitely going into the next story that I craft for this. A really fun experience, and a wonderful excuse to flex my creative thinking while spending time with friends!

Belle + Kevin

On October 15, 2011, I helped film Belle and Kevin’s wedding. It was a big deal, not only because it was my first ever wedding shoot, but I also wanted to give them a damn good video to remember the most special of days.

Shot entirely on a Canon T2i, swapping between a Canon 28mm f/1.8 and a Canon 55-250mm f/4-5.6 and using a Rodes VideoMic and a Zoom H4N to record the audio.

Song selection was easy: Belle’s father played this during the reception, and it was a no-brainer to use it here.

Congratulations Belle and Kevin! Thanks for making me a part of your special day. :)

Don’t Mess with Gabe

Gabe from Penny Arcade about Ocean Marketing:

‎I have a real problem with bullies. I spent my childhood moving from school to school and I got made fun of everyplace I landed. I feel like Paul is a bully and maybe that’s why I have no sympathy here. […] I will personally burn everything I’ve made to the fucking ground if I think I can catch them in the flames.

Gabe just became one of my favourite people. More so. Seriously, don’t mess with Gabe, or any other Gabe for that matter.

The Comedians That Canada Deserves

This is “A Very Office Christmas”, made by Katie Uhlmann and Claire Stollery, also known as Real Professional. Take a look, let me know what you think.

Personally, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the video. It’s a great little story, and it’s clever, but I guess I expected to laugh a lot more than I actually did. That is fine, not everything tickles everyone the same way, and I hope Katie (who sent me this video!) wasn’t offended by the fact that I wasn’t the biggest fan of it.

However, I would like to point out one thing: they are a breath of fresh air for comedy in Canada.

Since the (good) days of Royal Canadian Air Farce or This Hour Has 22 Minutes, I have seen plenty of Canadian comedy shows show up on The Comedy Network, and they have all been disappointing. They would take the awesome sketch comedy formula that made the aforementioned shows so successful and tried to replicate it, except they wouldn’t be as smart, they wouldn’t be as intelligent, and they absolutely blew when it came to comedic timing.

It was like watching a really bad, half-hour commercial for a shoddy product. Without Billy Mays.

What I really like about Real Professional is that they’ve made a really great comedy short: it’s beautifully produced, it’s got just the right amount of cheesiness in it, and the actors and actresses don’t make me want to immediately claw my eyes and ears out. That said, the acting does fall short in a few places and the overall idea for this short just doesn’t do it for me, but there is definitely plenty of potential and I appreciate that.

I’m really looking forward to more videos from Katie and Claire over at Real Professional. I am hoping that this is a direction that many more comedians take when creating their content, it is an absolute breath of fresh air.

Cheers, ladies!

This was my first day!

A Year at The Working Group

Today is the big day: I celebrate one year of flying The Working Group banner!

(Pictured above: my first day. Seriously.)

It has been an incredible year for me at TWG. I’ve grown a lot as a person, learned a hell of a lot, and made many, many friends. I love The Working Group, I love the brilliant people I work with, and I love what I do.

Thanks for an awesome year guys (and gal!) Let’s keep kicking ass and taking names.

Goofy Pictures and Reddit

During lunch today, I stood up at my desk and looked across from me and I said “Hey Brian, you know what I want to do? Draw Ollie Williams on one of the windows and have him tell us the weather for the day.” Brian laughed.

Brian always laughs at me.

But he said I should do it, and I was on my way. About 10 minutes later, I had a decent drawing of Ollie Williams up on the window, telling us it was cloudy.

Not bad eh?

Well, I went on to post it on Reddit thinking a few people might chuckle and potentially giving me an upvote. Boy, was I ever wrong.

The image above starts with the final count of the Reddit post as of this writing, and it climbed as high as 20th on the front page of r/funny (that I observed). The imgur stats are staggering: 9 hours up, 141,110 views, and 57.6GB of bandwidth!

I’m glad to have you in our office, Ollie, you’ve certainly made my day a lot more interesting!

UPDATE (12/7/2011): Final stats are amazing. 729 upvotes on Reddit, 198,146 views and 81.12GB of bandwidth on imgur. Madness!

Definitely Worth Reading: Zero Sight + Zero Sum by B. Justin Shier

I discovered Zero Sight and Zero Sum by B. Justin Shier by accident: I needed a book to read on my commutes to and from work, and I looked on the Kindle recommended books. On the third page, I found Zero Sight and read the description and my interest was piqued:

Meet Dieter Resnick. Dieter is the sole child of an abusive single father, a perennial schoolyard brawler, and Ted Binion High’s number one academic prospect. Dieter is terrified of staying poor. He has few friends and is absolutely obsessed with earning a college scholarship. He’s also a latent mage–one of the few humans left that can bend the manaflows to their will.

Too bad no one told him. Now a boy is dead.

Meet Rei Acerba Bathory. Rei is a second year student at Elliot College, the premiere magical training academy in North America. She’s also on an all-liquid diet. Rei acquired her odd speech and mannerisms living among her centuries-old kin–strange vampiric creatures that have carved out the Midwest as their playground. She can kill a man without blinking, but has a serious weakness for puppies. Thanks to a childhood spent living cloistered from the public, Rei knows little of modern society. She’d do well to make some friends, but her fellow trainees despise her. Rei is the first of her kind to be admitted, and many hope to make her the last.

Dieter was raised in the grimy outskirts of Las Vegas. Rei was homeschooled in a Chicago mansion. Both are on their way to Elliot College. Both believe the other is a creature of idle fantasy. In ten hours, they’re going to be at the center of a war fought by shadow actors. In eleven hours, they’re going to become a weft-pair, bound together by the most sacred spell in the magic canon. And in twelve hours? Well, in twelve hours, they’ve got to get to class…

With a description like that, who wouldn’t buy this book, right?

Here is why I absolutely loved this book:

  • Strong cast of characters. They’re all young, they’ve got their own opinions (and powers!), and they’re distinctly different from one another.
  • It’s hilarious. I laughed out loud on the bus several times thanks to these books, and it was worth the funny looks from other passengers.
  • Fantasy mixed with realism. People are casting spells and slinging magic in the modern day. It’s as awesome as it sounds.
  • Couldn’t put it down. I missed my stop SEVERAL times while reading these two, and I blasted my way through the books in days. It made me really excited to read!

Both of these books were an amazing read, and I couldn’t help but throw some extra support behind an independent author who has done an excellent job with these books.

I can’t wait for the next one!