This is Zach's personal blog. If you're looking for his movies, please click here. Otherwise, have fun!

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Molly Ivins has died.

She was the author of Bushwhacked, Shrub, and countless columns critical of the President.

And it's probably callous to joke about it, but I have to ask... have they checked her for polonium-210?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Dahlia Lithwick:
In order to win extradition for [Dutch citizen and alleged terrorist Wesam al-]Delaema to face trial in the United States, prosecutors had to make a raft of promises to the Dutch authorities that would be insulting to American perceptions of the rule of law, were they not so completely well-earned over the past few years. The defendant will be tried in criminal court, not by a military tribunal. He will not face the death penalty, even though under our law his crimes could warrant it. He will serve his sentence—possibly a life one—in a jail in the Netherlands, not here. And, perhaps most astonishing of all, the United States had to agree that Dutch courts will be able to review and possibly modify the terms of the American court's sentence once Delaema is returned to the Netherlands. The American judgment, then, is not necessarily final. And all this because, according to Delaema's attorney, the U.S. government no longer can be trusted to treat its prisoners humanely. Clearly, the Dutch authorities agree.

Giving Notice!

Hot on the heels of my HD revelations comes this letter from D.C. Shorts:
Discovery HD and DC Shorts are proud to introduce a very special HD (high definition) FILM COMPETITION. A special showcase of short films created, edited, and produced in HD will be screened using the latest HD projection equipment. We select films from every genre -- with a special focus on films suitable for broadcast on the Discovery HD network. After the screening, filmmakers have the opportunity to speak to the audience in a moderated discussion. A single winner chosen by audience voting and a special panel of judges, which include HD filmmakers and acquisitions staff from the Discovery HD network. The winning film will be optioned by the network for possible broadcast to millions of households across the country.

This is what I'll be submitting under this year... NOW I JUST NEED TO MAKE A MOVIE.

Monday, January 29, 2007

And now...

... to put my money where my mouth is, here's an example of a movie file that might work with Apple TV, according to Apple's tech specs. (5 and a half seconds, 750K.) For now, you won't be able to watch it unless you have QuickTime 7, though. But when your Apple TV arrives, why not drag the file into iTunes and see if it syncs?

On Macworld 2007.

For me, far cooler than the iPhone were the details about the Apple TV box, specifically the revelation that it will support 720p HD content. Now, this isn't a big deal from the iTunes Store perspective, which only sells standard definition content--so far. But for an independent filmmaker, suddenly, bam! there's a new distribution channel that can go directly to a viewer's TV with all the ease of use of iTunes.

You see, there's nothing stopping me from releasing a high-definition movie on the Internet right now. But most people would watch it on their computers, and that's only if their computers were powerful enough (most aren't as of this writing). But if Apple TV takes off, there will be a significant number of people who can download hi-def content off the 'Net and watch it on their television--directly, no computer middleman, just drag the movie to iTunes and let the Apple TV sync itself.

(Is it possible to do that now with a Windows Media Center-type PC? I don't know. I haven't done the research.)

In any case, I'm super-excited at the possibilities. Could it be that by the time the HD-DVD and Blu-ray wars have played out, HD on DVD will be irrelevant? As a consumer, I still prefer solid discs, since they're less likely to be lost in a hard drive crash (and the DRM is easier to defeat). But as an artist, I say: bring it on.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Moore's Law marches on...

Conservatism and Me.

According to Andrew Sullivan, I'm a conservative!

That is, I don't hold anything to be absolutely true regardless of evidence, and I go through the world with an empirical outlook. Funny, that doesn't describe "conservatism" to me at all. Could it be that "conservatism" is merely "whatever Andrew Sullivan agrees with at any given moment"?

No, that's probably unfair. It's more likely that, as a self-described liberal, I have a different outlook on conservatism. After all, for most of my political life, the primary conservative focus has been what Sullivan describes as "fundamentalism," which he defines as pretty much what you would expect, a belief that one has cornered the market on Truth, damn all evidence to the contrary. How else to explain the insane anti-Clinton juggernaut of the 90s, the desire to suppress the teaching of evolution, the rationalization of torture? (The last two, at least, I should note that Sullivan has strongly condemned; I don't know his thoughts on the first.)

Still, even if I feel that Sullivan's conservatism isn't really conservative, as I know it, that doesn't matter; the ideas should be judged as ideas rather than examining how well they fit into a certain box. Although I haven't quite finished the book, I think the ideas thus far are well worth debate.

That's not true with regards to a conservative thriller novel I just finished, Empire by Orson Scott Card, about a modern United States civil war. And here, I am going to show my angry liberal tendencies in full-blast.

Never mind that it's the right wing that has legalized torture and tried to claim that habeus corpus doesn't exist in the Constitution. Never mind that it's President Bush's political rhetoric which has claimed that a vote for Democrats is a vote for terrorists. Never mind the ridiculous number of laws that have been broken by this administration in the pursuit of "terrorists." No, in Card's world, it's the Left that disregards the Constitution and launches a civil war. Thanks, Orson.

He's a good writer and the yarn pulls you along. And it's not as though there aren't sympathetic liberal characters in his narrative. But there are no, repeat no, unsympathetic conservatives; the right-wingers are all sweetness and light, even as his characters compare Al Gore to the Unabomber (yes, really!). But there are plenty of insane lefties to be found in Empire's pages.

And the revulsion at the "liberal media"! Give me a frapping break, Mr. Card! Have you read the Washington Post op-ed page lately? Have you noticed that all the major news outlets are corporate? Yet, again and again, we're told that everyone but Fox is slanted to the progressive. (And lest you feel that I'm inferring Card's views from those of his characters, much of this comes from his Afterword, non-narrative and in his own voice.)

To Card's credit, his ending is much more subtle than this review might lead you to believe; I found it satisfying and plausible. But the notion that there is a Leftist Establishment, just waiting in the wings to overturn the United States' constitutional democracy, is utterly ridiculous--even more so now after the 2006 election (which, to be fair, did happen after Empire's publication).

After all, to paraphrase Digby, it's true that there are wackos on both the left and right. But it's only the right-wing wackos that actually make money at it. When's the last time you saw a best-selling book by Ward Churchill? And say what you will about Michael Moore, he's not encouraging people to take "head shots" at federal agents.

Friday, January 26, 2007

More Frilled Shark Madness!

A couple more interesting things about frilled sharks:

"In My Language."

If a woman who is severely autistic, so much so that she cannot even communicate in a traditional sense, can create a work of such beauty, power, and clarity nevertheless, what right do I have to worry when my son zones out for a few minutes at a time? He's gonna be okay...

Watch the whole thing.

(Via Andrew Sullivan.)


When you have nothing to post, post about schwa.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Frilled Shark.

This is the stuff of nightmares--an ancient shark, barely evolved from the prehistoric era. Almost never seen alive, but these videographers managed to snare some footage.

Monday, January 22, 2007


At last, snow in D.C.! Looks like global warming is a hoax after all.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

lonely T.

K is in Florida today. I blame society.

Saturday, January 13, 2007


Scott McCloud has finally released Chapter Five and a Half of Making Comics.

Books 2006.

I'll be changing the Rooster Spice template in a couple of days, and though I doubt it'll be anything Sooper Exciting, it will mean that my Books Read in 2006 list will change to Books Read in 2007. So, look at the list now if it interests you.

What are my impressions of said list?

Well, first of all, I read 45 books this year, assuming I accounted it correctly. This leads me to believe that when President Bush said he had read 60 books by August, he was lying. What a surprise! Look, let's put this another way. I'm known as a fast reader. Most people would call me unemployed (they would be wrong, but that's what they'd call me). And I managed to read 45 books in the entire year. Meanwhile, the President says he read sixty books in eight months? When does he find time to do his job?

The surprise of the year was probably World War Z by Max Brooks, an entertaining yet surprisingly serious examination of what would happen if, well, zombies happened, told as an oral history. Several major characters are, shall we say, loosely based on major political figures of our time, including a certain medical doctor from New England, who comes off as one of the most sympathetic people in the book.

Nonfiction-wise, two must-reads were Fiasco by Thomas Ricks and The Great Deluge by Douglas Brinkley. You owe it to yourself to pick them up.

My wife would want me to also mention The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon, a novel set in a near-future where autism can be cured before birth; the protagonist is a member of the last generation of autists. It's beautifully written and hits very close to home for our family.

Terry Pratchett is an old favorite, of course, and I continue to hotly anticipate Kage Baker's Company novels.

I should also mention the countless children's books I read at bedtime. Maybe that's how the President got to sixty.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Post deleted...

... because it was mean.

To Anyone Who Owns a Roomba And Has Noticed that it Backs Up Erratically for No Discernable Reason (Especially on Carpets), regarding Cliff Sensors and the Cleaning Thereof:

Compressed air is your friend.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Pat, you're a prince among men.

Achenblog on the Surge:

As you know, I soar like a mighty raptor above the partisan fray, so please judge my modest thoughts here as nothing more or less than objective fact and incontrovertible truth. It's clear that the president is going to do what he wants to do even if that means, in essence, an executive annulment of the recent election, and a back of the hand to Baker-Hamilton, the Dems, the moderate GOPers, the Joint Chiefs, and the many brigades of retired generals who think this thing has been an epic fiasco. There was a retired general last night on the radio program "The World" who spoke for many, I'm guessing, when he said that when you're in a hole the best thing to do is stop digging.
I pretty much agree with him. And with Digby.

Mom will kill me for this.

I turn 35 today.

In honor of this, here is a true story I blogged about 3 years ago and which I still find amusing.

Sorry, Mom, but maybe if you had never Googled me...

Tuesday, January 09, 2007



(Okay, it's no surprise that I'm drooling over a widescreen iPod. What does surprise me is that K is salivating too... but I should have known, given that she's a certified PDA nut. And the iPhone is, basically, a phone, Palm, BlackBerry, and iPod rolled into one. Oh, and it runs OS X, too. I wonder how long it'll take the iPodLinux folks to crack it?)

Monday, January 08, 2007

Department of Duh.

I bought a compilation of songs by the Who yesterday.

It took me a full day to realize that "Mama's Got A Squeezebox" is not, in fact, about an accordian.

No Bet in the Field!

Thanks to a generous grant from my wife, I'll be traveling to Boulder City, Nevada--a dangerous 25 miles from Las Vegas--to participate in the Dam Short Film Festival. I'm flying in the night of Friday, February 9 and back on Sunday the 11th. And I AM NOT TOUCHING A SLOT MACHINE OR CRAPS TABLE.

Fun fact: the director of Dam Short is Lee Lanier, who co-created Day Off The Dead, an award-winning short film made in Animation:Master, my software of choice.

Not so fun fact: last time I was in Vegas (1999), I lost nearly three paychecks at the casinos. (Note to self: never take a trip to Vegas when your wife is pregnant, even if it's for a job.)

At the very least, I know I won't lose any paychecks this time. (Don't tell anyone it's because I don't get any paychecks anymore.)

I'm hoping another member of the Soap Opera team will be there, so he can do all the gambling for me.

Monday, January 01, 2007


Welcome to 2007. Do you live near Boulder City, NV? Come to the Dam Short Film Festival and see Soap Opera! It appears to be closing out the Animation screening on Saturday February 10. More details to follow, maybe.