Posted: December 10th, 2013 | Author: aarondietz | Filed under: Events, Long, Other People, Serious, With Pictures | No Comments »
While I was working on splitting Tolstoy’s War and Peace into the two separate books, Just the War, and Just the Peace, I would occasionally tell people what I was up to, and most people would laugh and think it was a joke. And it was a joke! A very funny one, too! But I didn’t let that stop me from actually doing it. Just the War, Just the Peace is now available from Emergency Press. Both volumes are sold in one simple ebook, in most of the major ebook formats (Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble–I believe Google is coming soon). At $0.99, it’s a bargain!
And it’s an amazingly fun way to experience Tolstoy’s most famous work. Take it from Sean Beaudoin, who was kind enough to write me a blurb:
“Possibly one of the greatest ideas in the history of never-realized ideas, Aaron Dietz’s dual-volume Just the War and Just the Peace has the clear advantage of actually existing. The notion of dividing Tolstoy’s epic novel into the twin sisters of Skirmish and Tranquility (which it’s now clear they have always secretly wanted to be) is so inspired that it’s difficult to believe Donald Barthelme or Robert Coover didn’t think of it first. Let alone Lester Bangs. I laughed at the ingenuity and sheer stones on display all the way through, beyond pleased that I didn’t read the divided set of Cliff’s Notes instead. But don’t be fooled, the literary value of this project is unmeasured, and will no doubt be recognized as soon as it hits shelves. Will Dietz separate The Naked from The Dead for an encore? Or partition Punishment from Crime? No matter: here is the nexus where princes and cannons and ardently whispered patronymics meet brute technology. They are conjoined no longer. And it is to the benefit of us all.”
— Sean Beaudoin, author of The Infects and Wise Young Fool
Thanks to 12 in 12 Art Director Charlie Potter for the usual fantastic cover!
Posted: October 12th, 2013 | Author: aarondietz | Filed under: Long, Other People, Serious, Super Blog Posts, With Pictures | 1 Comment »
My novel, Super, is now available on the iPad, which fills me with tremendous joy–not only is it wonderful to see my book in one of the most prominent “bookstores” on the planet, it’s also wonderful to finally be able to present the book in a format that can handle the interactive needs of much of Super‘s content.
But of course it’s not all about fancy features and interactivity. Sometimes it’s just nice to see elements from the book with a little color.
Does the RBZ sign really need to be in red? Yes. It really does need to be in red. The black-and-white printed interior of the paperback version is fine–but it doesn’t have a red RBZ sign.
The artwork of Super was lovingly created by graphic designer Charlie Potter, by the way. He’s brilliant and gave both the print and iPad versions of the book a special touch of verisimilitude.
Of course, Super wasn’t built to just be a book–we created so many supplemental videos and other content to go with it, but if you were reading the print version, you would have had to go to my website to find them. Now they’re linked directly from the iPad version of the book.
The novel is structured like a series of exams for superheroes trying to achieve the next level of superhero-dom. So naturally there’s a quiz at the end of each chapter. In the print version, there is no way to tell whether you got the correct answer, but in this version, you can get instantaneous feedback on how good of a superhero you are.
We created an online version of the test alongside the print release of Super, wherein people can take the exam and/or view other people’s (sometimes hilarious) answers. But once again, people had to put the book down and go to the website to try that out. Now the online exams are linked directly from the iPad version of the book.
There is also a lot of free content available to increase enjoyment of Super–an in-depth book club discussion guide, a PDF for printing out and folding a chapter of the book into your own cute little mini-booklet, as well as other resources. We created most of these resources alongside the print version, but now they’re accessible directly from this new version of the book.
Sure, these resources were available before, but they were heavily under-used. Now, readers will have access to these resources through a Super Action Link located in the book, right where someone would want to possibly explore the additional resource.
Naturally, the iPad version of Super takes advantage of the many features of the format, such as a lovely table of contents.
We also transformed some pieces of the novel from static images to interactive infographics. In the following example, the reader can tap the various steps in this stick figure comic book panel to follow the action.
Using this format also gave us the ability to simply make things look better. Alabaster Wight’s journal entries never looked better (handwriting designed by Kristen Mullin Bakken).
The features help with the presentation of the art, too. As an example, we turned this static image from the print version into a part of a slideshow. The slideshow is a sequence of images demonstrating how to perform a very specific superhero procedure from a fictitious manual. Tip: Don’t forget your titanium cable!
We took advantage of the glossary feature of iBooks Author to add a character glossary. In Super there are about a dozen characters, mostly superheroes, that you need to keep track of (if you want to score well on the exams).
The character glossary gives you a little background about the character, tells you which chapters that character appears in, and if they’re a superhero it’ll tell you their superhero name AND real name (in case you have trouble remembering both).
And I wanted to show you this comment card, just because it’s one of my favorite parts of the book, and it looks lovely in the iPad version.
Will there be more iPad books coming out of me in the future? Undoubtedly. The authoring tool is easy to learn and it begs for the type of interactivity I like to design content for. I may even have to design the first iteration of the sequel to Super in it….
Posted: February 11th, 2013 | Author: aarondietz | Filed under: Long, Other People, Serious, With Pictures | 5 Comments »
I’m super happy to announce that Charlie Potter has officially joined the 12 in 12 project as Art Director. This means that he’ll be responsible for producing the covers for 11 of the 12 titles (one of the titles will be put out by Uno Kudo, the non-profit organization headed by designer Erin McParland), as well as oversee the development of any guest art included in the project. For one or two of the titles, he’ll do some interior illustrations also.
Charlie Potter is the brilliant book designer for Super, a book that required an intense amount of design in simulating physical documents as well as emulating the look of a corporate superhero environment (letterheads, etc.). As part of promoting Super, Charlie also developed posters, desktop backgrounds, stickers, props for the trailers, and more!
He produces great work on deadline and is an all-around wonderful team member to work with. The 12 in 12 project is lucky to have him aboard!
Charlie has already designed the cover of the first title we will release, Adventures of Dogboy (coming soon–like in a week!).
Beyond Charlie Potter signing on as Art Director, I have some other good news for the 12 in 12 project as well: an excellent publisher will be picking up a pair of the 12 in 12 titles, and I’m talking to yet another publisher about possibly picking up one of the other titles.
It’s comforting to know there are publishers out there who are embracing the immediacy of publishing and adapting to this fast paced world. They are adopting Crash thinking and rolling with it!
All in all, it looks like so far 4 of the 12 titles could have publishers backing them (the three I mentioned before and the iPad version of Super, to be published by Emergency Press). It’s only February. And we’re about to release the first of the 12. We’re a little behind pace right now, but we’re just getting started.
Posted: January 29th, 2013 | Author: aarondietz | Filed under: Long, Serious | 13 Comments »
Crash thinking is a huge influence in my life right now, and partly the reason why I’m attempting the 12 in 12 project (producing 12 books in 12 months).
Crash thinking means using the knowledge that sometimes you can do something better by using an approach that defies all logic as well as your best instincts.
Example: Pretend you’re in charge of safety at the Space Needle. You know that it’s technically possible for people on the observation deck to climb over the railing, through the ropes and stand out on the spokes that circle the top of the tower (view an image of the Space Needle and its spokes here). How do you make it safer?
Answer: By making it more dangerous.
Explanation: Folks at the Space Needle made it more dangerous to stand out on the spokes by installing rollers on the spokes, thus ensuring that anyone attempting to stand on them will roll right off the Space Needle. Therefore, no one will try to stand on them because it’s clearly too difficult to stand on them–it’s too dangerous! (You can kind of see one of these rollers here.)
I’ve been paying attention to non-instinctive problem solving for a while now, ever since I started working on short films organized by Crash Film Productions and Crash Cinema (a SIFF program), and what I’ve picked up from these experiences has become a whole new way of thinking. I call it Crash thinking, named after the film production company that thrives on this type of thinking.
I first got involved with Crash films by helping out with a 24-hour film production. The results were a 3 minute film that was not super successful. It was okay, but not great, and not nearly the product we had imagined at the beginning of the 24-hour time period.
I had a similar experience helping out on a 48-hour film project. The film was again not exemplary.
After having participated in those two projects, if someone were to have asked me, “What would you do to make these projects better?” I probably would have said, “Take more time.”
But instead, the counter-intuitive answer has appeared to be correct. I’ve since participated in two 8-hour film projects through Crash Cinema, and I was blown away by the results. The final products felt complete, had solid production value, and were ultimately way more satisfying than the 24- and 48-hour projects. Yet, they were made in less than 8 hours. There was something about the immediacy that steered our creative processes toward a better product. Amazing.
Amazing–just like my wife. When we were headed home from Taiwan, one of our suitcases was a good 8 or 10 pounds over the weight limit, but the task of redistributing the weight was clearly going to be akin to the most challenging Tetris puzzle ever. Instead of attempting to shift items between bags, my wife grabbed two books from my carry-on, and added them to the suitcase that was overweight.
(You see what she did there? She added weight to solve the problem of there being too much weight. Completely non-instinctive!)
I was quite confident that wouldn’t work. It made absolutely no sense! How was adding more weight going to help us?! (Plus, I wanted those books in my carry-on–I wanted to read them on the plane!)
We got to the airport. They weighed our heavy suitcase and told us it was overweight. My wife quickly set it on the ground, opened it up, took the two books out for me to put in my carry-on, and then proceeded to act as if she were contemplating what else to remove.
A fraction of a second into her contemplation, they told us, “That’s okay. That’s enough. You’re fine.” They accepted the bag, overweight and all.
I was baffled, but very impressed with the results. Clearly, I’ve been placing far too many limits on my life by listening and trusting logic and my instincts. Then again, all of the solutions above make sense, once you give them a chance. They are just not what your logic and intuition will tell you without some mental conditioning that allows you to be open to the possibilities.
The 8-hour film projects were successful because we had no time to strive for the ideal, no time to discuss subtleties that ultimately didn’t matter too much for the film. We had to focus our energy on what explicitly mattered, and that would NOT have been our focus if we’d have had more time to make the film.
I’ve reflected more than I’d like to admit on the results of my first novel, Super. It was a very nice work of innovative fiction, in my opinion, but it took about 10 years to complete, from the beginning draft to final production. In the age of electronic publishing, this is far too long.
Thus, in 2013, I’m taking the same approach toward my writing and book production this year that Crash Cinema takes toward making a nice short film. People routinely write the first draft of a novel in one month for NaNoWriMo. I’m going to push myself to do even better. I’m making 12 books in 12 months, all the way through final drafts and getting them published. It can be done. And the return on the investment in time is going to be monstrously larger than any other long term literary project I’ve been a part of.
Posted: October 27th, 2012 | Author: aarondietz | Filed under: Long, Serious | 12 Comments »
I work in online high school course development. The field is at an historic moment in history: the moment just before an innovative online education company takes over the field and sets the standard for online high school education.
I’ve taken to calling this theoretical education company “the future Amazon of online education,” a phrase that often raises scoffs among people who will listen to me. Many don’t think a single company can dominate online education in the same way that Amazon dominated the book market. And when they say so, usually I just think silently to myself, That’s probably what people thought about the book market before Amazon.
But dominating the online high school education market wouldn’t be that difficult. It would just depend on an intelligently designed content management system. I’m going to describe that content management system to you now.
Note: Nothing in the following features and capabilities is technologically difficult to execute. Do you want a multi-million dollar idea? Here it is. And if you’re seriously putting this plan into action, sign me up.
The beginning of the content management system (CMS) that you need is simple, and nothing beyond what Udemy or other similar sites are doing. The CMS will need to allow people to build their own chunks of content using various online media. And by “people” I mean the public. You don’t need to create your own content. There are millions of die hard teachers out there that already have. They just want somewhere to put it where it will get used.
The CMS will allow people to chunk content into larger and larger pieces until they have entire courses ready to share with the masses. Some basic tagging should be employed, such as the language and the level of accessibility of the content.
If you’re going to dominate the high school education market, you need to incorporate standards into your content. This means the chunks of content must be able to be tagged with objectives that correspond to state and national objectives.
For example, a content creator using your site would tag a chunk of their content as covering Massachusetts state standard 3.2 “Describe the carbon cycle” from the Earth and Space Science learning standards.
Ideally, someone will eventually create a public database with these standards in it (I’m looking at you, Google), but for now, you could start with the most commonly used standards or develop your standards database through your users.
The important thing is that people using your site will know what state standard or standards each chunk of content covers.
The CMS should allow people to create built-in assessment items. These can be pretty simple at first; start with multiple choice, and add more assessment choices as you go.
These assessment items need to store student results, and the assessment items need to be tagged to objectives, so that content creators (and others evaluating that content) will know how successful the content is at covering that objective.
Ultimately this allows you to start evaluating content somewhat scientifically. I use the term “somewhat” because not all assessment items are created equally.
The CMS should allow people to use other creators’ content in their own instructional content. For example, if I’ve written a science course but my students are not successfully interpreting my presentation of the carbon cycle, I can try using someone else’s carbon cycle content by plugging it into my course.
Ultimately this means that people can come along and create entire courses using the best material out there and without creating anything themselves. High schools across the nation could end up generally agreeing that some teacher’s two page HTML presentation of the carbon cycle is the best one in the nation, and all high school students could learn from that.
This requires, of course, the ability for users to control the visibility of their content (some may want to keep it private) and to label their content with the license of their choosing. Some content you may need to pay for. Other content might be free to use.
Imagine being a science teacher in a small town in Alaska who now has a vastly powerful array of resources to use to teach students, as well as data that backs up the effectiveness of the instruction.
The licenses that allow reuse of content could get tricky, because when you’re putting together a lesson, you don’t want to use content that is going to change unexpectedly before you start class. To defend against this, licenses would be similar to the license for shared Google SketchUp models. For example, you are free to use someone’s shared model in your own SketchUp project, and if the original creator withdraws their model from the shared environment, you can keep using that model in that project for as long as you wish. People who share their models agree to this when they post them in the shared environment.
Essentially, the content would be duplicated when you decide to add it to your content. Your content wouldn’t change when the original content changed. Though you might want to subscribe to alerts on those changes and then decide whether you want to update the content when it does change.
Prerequisite Content Tags
The CMS will need to allow tagging for prerequisite knowledge, such as vocabulary terms or concepts students need to know in order to understand the chunk of content being tagged. This way, you can have small chunks of content that explain advanced concepts, and anyone contemplating using that content will know whether their students will be able to handle it.
Then again, content developers may just go get additional content from someone that covers your prerequisite knowledge. This makes course creation across multiple authors easier because the interdependencies are tagged.
Users will need to select content by evaluating more than the effectiveness of the assessments. And the assessments themselves can be significantly skewed by the author (such as when the instructional content adequately covers the objective but the assessment item is written so poorly that it is not a meaningful assessment).
This means the CMS should have ratings. Users will be able to rate chunks of content for a variety of characteristics, including grammar, how well the content covers the objective, and the quality of the assessment item or items.
This gets tricky when content is modified, because the ratings may only apply to the previous incarnation of the content, but there are a variety of ways to solve that problem, including storing the “archived” data for past content and allowing users to view that or ignore it. A recently edited chunk of content that has no current ratings but many strong positive ratings in past versions is still likely to be good instructional content.
The CMS will need strong search abilities, and not just so that people can find the content they’re looking for (searching by keyword, objective, or state standard are all obvious implementations of the search feature).
The CMS would use its search indexing to suggest content similar to the pages you’re viewing. If you’re looking at one page on the carbon cycle, you’ll see its nearest competitors in links to the right. This makes it easier to choose the best content available for your lesson.
The CMS would also use its search ability to suggest content as you’re writing it. While you’re writing an HTML page on the carbon cycle, links would appear on the right to visible pages of content you may wish to use instead of your own. Those links can be controlled by settings that limit results to your requirements–free to use, non-Flash, a specific level of effectiveness, and written in Mandarin, for example. Think of the time you might save. Whenever someone else has already written something you’re about to write, you’ll know.
Along with simply sharing your content, you may also grant permission for others to modify it, with or without credit, based on the sharing license you choose. Others will be free to improve on the work or update it as knowledge of the subject develops.
Users who view your content may also make suggestions for updates or corrections. Content will improve and develop in step with subject matter and technological changes. This is not a textbook frozen in time. It’s a living body of knowledge. Wikipedia meets standards-based learning meets Google Course Builder.
These features would help you capture the online high school market, but that’s obviously not the limitation of the project. Middle schools and post-secondary education would benefit from a CMS like this. Corporate training is not out of the question either. All told, this is billions of dollars waiting to be funneled to the team who does it right. Now go. You don’t have much time.
Posted: February 9th, 2012 | Author: aarondietz | Filed under: Funny, Long | 4 Comments »
Rarely does a director ask, “What if I took all kinds of characters from other movies and threw them into a historical movie to see what history would be like?!!?! LOL?!”
War Horse tackles this startlingly experimental narrative landscape with aplomb!
First off: the goofy kid who was the main character. It’s Goofy from all those Disney cartoons! He rarely speaks, has a positive attitude, and he likes wearing vests. No other character in the universe could have believably given such a goofy grin while gazing at a newborn foal. Only Goofy could have pulled that off!
Possibly the most dramatically noticeable character is the Obi-Wan Kenobi character (from Star Wars) who leases War Horse from the goofy kid. He uses Jedi mind tricks to get the kid to let the horse go, and then later, when he is shot down in battle, he simply vanishes, just like Obi-Wan would have done if this alternate history were real!
Around the time when War Horse goes to war, the Black Stallion enters the film. This scene-stealing character catches the eye of all horsers throughout the film (move over War Horse–there’s a classic horse character on screen!). You may ask yourself, what is the Black Stallion doing in the middle of World War I? Alternative history kapow!
Oh, and then there’s Defense of the Dark Arts instructor Remus Lupin, from the world of Harry Potter. In this alternative history, he is a very lenient landlord. He could have expelled Goofy’s family for not having the rent, but instead he gave them many months to plant and harvest a crop in order to come up with the late rent–with no interest! That’s pretty cool, especially since he could have easily hexed them (he didn’t even stupefy them for fun–wait a minute, maybe he did, because they sure acted stupid sometimes!).
I’m still trying to figure out what movie the alcoholic apologist character is from. She is played by Emily Watson, whose performance makes a compelling argument for it being okay to drink away your farm, so long as you have seen some stuff that you can’t talk about.
It’s fun to see all these characters interacting with each other on screen, but it’s even more compelling to see how these characters changed history itself! The most striking impact is that the Germans and the French both speak English! Throughout the film, your mind is pleasantly baffled by the sheer awkward potential of so many Europeans sharing a unified language! Why, it boggles the tongue! You might ask, “How can one even tell the difference between the English and German soldiers in this film?” Well you can’t! It’s alternative history!
Another striking impact on history is that the world’s economy becomes even more unstable than in our reality. At the beginning of the film, 30 guinea is a huge price to pay for a thoroughbred, whether or not the horse can plow a field. But it’s just an hour into the film and already 30 guinea isn’t nearly enough to pay for the horse (which is why Obi-Wan just leases War Horse, instead of making a purchase)! Yet, we can assume that since Goofy’s parents didn’t lose the farm after their turnip failure that the 30 guinea windfall from leasing War Horse was suddenly enough to pay the rent. Oh, please, let us continue to live in a reality where Goofy is just a cartoon because I don’t think I could handle such extreme fluctuations!
I think the War Horse character should have gotten more lines, but despite this weakness, I still give this movie 30 stars for its innovative approach to story telling and the beautiful use of the Black Stallion character!
Posted: August 29th, 2011 | Author: aarondietz | Filed under: Long, Other People, Random | No Comments »
I’ve known Eleanor Evans of Bellesouth since 2005 through the social networking site known as MySpace and other social networking sites. Over just a few short years, she’s actually figured out how to make money at blogging, a fact I am in awe of. She was also a strong member of the Super Action Team, a group of amazing marketers and social networking gurus who volunteered to help me promote my novel, Super.
It is with great pleasure that I present an interview with Bellesouth’s industrious and brilliant creator, Eleanor Evans, in which she answers critical questions about unemployment, godliness, and how to become a paid blogger.
Aaron Dietz: When we first communicated about doing an interview you said something about pretending it’s a Barbara Walters Special, so I watched some of those to prepare. And if I may, I’d like to steal some questions from her, starting with the following:
At one point I heard that you thought you might do a show like The View. Is that true?*
Eleanor Evans: Ha! No. You might be confusing this with the time I was interviewed by Star Jones on her short-lived Court TV show for breaking a high-profile story during my newspaper days. She said, “You go, girl!” to me. That’s as far as it went.
AD: That is hugely impressive! Once again I am in awe of you.
How did you feel when you read about the three heads of the auto companies taking private planes to Washington?*
EE: Absolutely annoyed. I hate flying just as much as the next guy, but if I need tons and tons of money I’m taking whatever cheap, multi-layover trip I can get. Or I’ll just drive my ’04 Focus so they’ll see that I’m so broke I can’t afford to use a car wash.
AD: If you were President, what would you do about unemployment?*
EE: First of all, I’d try to recover revenues by pushing for legislation that would place a tax penalty on any U.S. corporations that create more jobs through outsourcing than through domestic hiring.
Secondly, I would push for tax incentives for U.S. corporations who can report at least 25 percent new, domestic hires during the tax year.
I would also end the Bush tax cuts, as they have done absolutely nothing to create jobs. The revenue created would significantly offset our debt.
I would also push for vocational training for jobs we desperately need. The industries that are seeking workers are in health care, homeland security and public health, education, oil-mining and extraction, and engineering services.
I also would push for more development in the creative economy, as more and more Americans are going into business for themselves through writing, art, design and handmade goods.
Sadly, I don’t think those outsourced jobs are coming back, and if they left those countries, how would they be able to live? I don’t want to see the same China that existed 40 years ago.
We need to pay attention to the “Buy Handmade” movement and how it’s enabled lots of Americans to earn substantial incomes. Bloggers are also doing the same thing.
AD: Amen. This stranglehold of bad politics going on could be completely alleviated by a strong shift in purchasing habits. Your words here are quite poignant.
We refer to you with deep respect as Your Holiness – are you a god?*
EE: No, but if I was a God, I would be Poseidon. He carried around that HUGE trident. I bet I could catch some really tasty fish with that thing.
AD: Ha! Now anyone reading this post knows what to get you for a gag gift. And now just to shift the tone a little bit, I’d like to ask you some questions that were NOT originally generated by Barbara Walters.
On one of your many online profiles, you claim that you “get excited about the little joys in life.” Can you name some of these little joys you get excited about?
EE: When I’ve had a really bad day, I open the front door to my condo and my dog immediately runs up to me to show me how much I was missed. Getting hugs from my mom, my friends and their kids. Sharing inside jokes with my mom while we’re out in public.
AD: How did you end up becoming a paid blogger?
EE: It all started in about 2008, when I was looking through my Google Reader recommendations and I happened across a blog written by Julie Vazquez. It told stories about her life and her kids but also included product reviews, giveaways and other interesting posts that would attract readers. I found out Julie wrote for a company called IZEA (www.izea.com), which marketed itself as a leader in “sponsored conversations.” Basically, you are paid to write honest reviews about products, services and promotions. So I joined IZEA, started writing a little bit here and there, and eventually my blog took on a new life and I was joining other groups and getting more offers. It’s still paying just a little more than milk money, but it is growing and I am continuing to learn from people.
AD: How did you get into the whole “mom” blogger market?
EE: From the days of MySpace blogging, the greatest portion of my readers were stay-at-home moms. For some reason I have always connected with them, even though I’ve never been married, I don’t have children and at the time I worked a 40-hour-a-week job. I think right now “mom blogging” is getting to be VERY big, especially since we’re in a recession, people are always looking to save money. At the same time, businesses can get a lot more exposure by allowing trusted writers with word-of-mouth marketing standards to give honest opinions on their products. It attracts me because I have the power not to promote or write about something that goes against my principles.
That’s the best part about working for myself; I call the shots, I agree to the terms, and I don’t have 15 different bosses coming up to me to remind me to put the cover page on my TPS reports.
AD: I’m always so proud of myself when I get a pop culture reference. Office Space. See that, everyone? My memory works sometimes!
So, where do you see the blogging thing going in the next five years?
EE: I have no idea where it’s going. I think the mom-market novelty will wear off soon and that it will take a few good writers and promoters to keep up. It’s like Mary Kay. There’s always gonna be someone with the pink cadillac and some others with a closet full of product they can’t give away.
AD: What’s in store for you and your site, Bellesouth?
EE: As far as Bellesouth is concerned, I’m still going to be adding stories and anecdotes from my life, but there will also be a lot more reviews, giveaways and post exchanges such as the one we’re doing here. But I’m also working very hard on my Facebook fan page (http://www.facebook.com/bellesouthblogs), where I’m posting deals and giveaways from other sites, as well as engaging in regular dialogue with them.
I take a lot of things from my reporter days, including my philosophy that you have to genuinely earn people’s trust, and once you do, you must spend every day earning their trust again and again. Engage your readers; respond to their comments even with a simple “Thank you,” and be sincere in everything you do.
AD: Since we met through MySpace and we both took part in the explosion of user-generated content that occurred there not that long ago, I thought I’d close with a few MySpace survey questions, just for old times’ sake. Here goes:
What did your last text message say?**
EE: We have received a request to add your mobile phone number to REDBOXALERTS. Please reply Y to confirm your subscription. Msg&data rates may apply.
(I’m not gonna reply to that one.)
AD: Have u every liked someone who had a girlfriend/boyfriend?**
EE: Every liked? Now I KNOW you copied this from MySpace.
AD: Busted. I wanted to be authentic. Copy editing the questions wouldn’t have felt genuine.
Why did u get a myspace?**
EE: One of my college friends said I needed to get on MySpace and start a blog, because I would be very good at it, people would read it and laugh.
AD: And the rest, as they say, is history. I think it’s fitting that I close this out with an old school emoticon, for old times sake.
* An actual question taken from a Barbara Walters Special. Can you guess which celebrity Barbara Walters was talking to?
** An actual question taken from a MySpace quiz.
Posted: August 9th, 2011 | Author: aarondietz | Filed under: Funny, Long | 7 Comments »
I’ve finally seen the latest Lord of the Rings movie and I’d like to review it. It’s called Lord of the Rings: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 7, Part 2.
Well, first of all I just want to say: boy am I confused!
I mean, I know there’s a lot of backstory, but sheesh! In case you didn’t see the first 10 films, there were a bunch of rings and Sauron gave them out to all these people and elves and gnomes and jeez, I guess Harry Potter had to destroy them and it takes him like 11 hours of film just to destroy the first one!
However, skip centuries into the future and the predictable hobbit is still traveling around, hunting down rings and killing them. That’s when this movie takes place. And by this time, the rings are getting much craftier! Sure, there’s one he finds and puts around his neck as per the standard operating procedure, but the other rings disguise themselves as a cup and a tiara!
But this doesn’t stop Harry Potter because after centuries of Gandalf’s training in hunting down rings, he is so badass that he can just sense them (but don’t confuse this with having had Jedi training–that’s a completely different film series).
In the films just before Part 7, Part 2, we saw what terrible things happened to the elves–they’re all slaves of humans and have grown all shriveled and short! Of course, they do revolt and some become cool again (like Dobby, who is pretty much the Golem of elves), but they can never grow tall again, or speak in dark ominous tones. So sad!
Because of what happened to the elves, you may have been worried that an equally horrendous fate had happened to the gnomes, but no! They are still hanging out collecting gold in caves. No worries!
But I know what you’re thinking because it’s pretty much in the title of the film: what are the Deathly Hallows??!! Well, think no more. They are basically a bunch of evil things that make someone better than everyone else if they have them, so obviously they need to be destroyed! Even though the job of hunting rings is pretty taxing, Harry Potter takes on the extra job of hunting down the Deathly Hallows. And I know these jobs don’t pay well because Harry Potter lives in a tent!
If Harry Potter didn’t already have to worry about all those rings, he probably could have handled the three Deathly Hallows easily. However, by the end of this film Harry Potter and his two friends, Samwise Gamgee and the vampire slayer character, are all corrupted and aren’t able to do their jobs well, because they just have too much work to do and get really crabby all the time.
When it comes time to destroy the Resurrection Stone, Harry Potter just leaves it in the forest.
When it comes time to destroy the Elder Wand, Samwise is all, “Think what we could do with it!” It is only with the strongest fortitude Harry Potter can muster on the spot that he can bring himself to break the twig-like Elder Wand.
Of course, the third Deathly Hallow is kept close to Harry Potter–the Cloak of Invisibility. He is either completely corrupted by the evil rings and/or hallows and can’t bring himself to destroy it, or he just figures since he carted around a ring of invisibility for so long, a cloak of invisibility is no big deal.
I found this latest film to be an action-packed romp. I would have liked to have seen more of Gandalf, but I understand if he can only be brought back from the dead so many times. Shelob’s part, too, was kind of diminished, I thought. All in all, though, I’m looking forward to the prequel that comes out soon, called Lord of the Rings: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Part 1 the First, which tells the story of how Headmaster Gandalf came across Harry Potter’s uncle’s place.
Posted: October 20th, 2009 | Author: aarondietz | Filed under: Long, Serious | No Comments »
Background: Referendum 71 is being voted on in Washington State. If passed, it will allow state-registered domestic partners to receive the same legal rights as those who are married, under Senate Bill 5688.
Statement of Partiality: I’m voting for approval of Referendum 71.
The Fun: Let’s look at Referendum 71′s statements for and against, straight out of the handy voter’s booklet from my mail!
Who Had the Best Headings? Statement For used three straightforward headings, all clear and concise: The Domestic Partnership Law Protects All Washington Families, What is Included in the Domestic Partnership Law?, and Who Supports the Law? Statement Against used four headings that relied on an anxious attack of exclamation-slanted prose (!) such as: Reject Senate Bill 5688 to Protect Children! and Reject Senate Bill 5688 to Preserve Marriage!
The Winner: I have nothing against exclamation points, but I prefer my voter “information” without blatant exciticism, so Statement For wins round one.
Who Used the Fewest Quotes? Statement For used one quoted segment for a summation statement in what appears to be an effort to let the reader know where an opinion has been expressed, as opposed to the otherwise factual information they were sharing. Statement Against quoted one state senator twice, and a representative once, and then put quotes around words like, “family unit,” “husband,” “wife,” and “gender neutral.”
The Winner: Statement Against could have shared any factual information it wanted to about the bill, but instead chose to give me three statements of opinion from state legislators. Then, they started talking about “husband” and “wife” and how the bill is going to redefine those words. Fact check: the bill doesn’t redefine them. It essentially says, “Hey, let’s treat some of these terms as though they are equal to any member in a domestic partnership or marriage instead of rewriting every single law using those words.” That quote was mine, and the winner of this round is Statement For.
Which Side Presents the Most / Best Facts? Statement For says this bill will allow domestic partners death benefits for partners of police and firefighters killed in the line of duty, the right to use to use sick leave to care for a seriously ill partner, pension benefits for partners of teachers and other public employees, victims’ rights, and more. Statement Against says “Marriage [...exists...] for the greater good of the social order,” and “Marriage is about providing the most stable and healthy environment in which to raise children,” and that this bill will “confuse children and likely result in public schools influencing children to accept a new definition of the ‘family unit’ so that same-sex partners will be a recognized norm.” Of course, I don’t understand how children would be confused if the definition of “family unit” was a recognized norm. It sounds like Statement Against is the one that’s a little confused. They’re obviously pro-marriage. And they also claim that this bill is “primarily about homosexual marriage.” According to Statement Against, this bill gets more people that much closer to marriage, so you’d think they’d be for it, since they’re all gung-ho about marriage being vital to the social order and all that.
The Winner: Anyway, come on, now. You know who the winner is. Statement Against wrote a very entertaining statement riddled with unsupported opinion and contradictory lines of thought. Statement For wrote a measured, level statement in support of a bill that should never have been challenged in the first place. Go Referendum 71!
Posted: January 30th, 2009 | Author: aarondietz | Filed under: Long, Serious | No Comments »
An appeals court in California recently upheld a decision that supported a religious school’s right to expel two students based on sexual orientation.
If you’re a religious person who actually believes that being gay is a spiritual offense, this might seem like a victory.
In reality, it’s not. In fact, if the decision is upheld (they’re trying for an appeal to the State Supreme Court), it could be the end of religious institutions that attempt the same form of discrimination.
Any religious institution that follows suit risks losing more than the many fantastic, religious, beautiful people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transexual church-goers. They risk losing all people who understand what’s coming: a witch hunt.
The ruling doesn’t just support a religious institution’s right to discriminate based on sexual orientation. It gives religious institutions the right to discriminate against anyone, as long as they use religious beliefs to justify it.
Scenario: Orianne doesn’t like Andrew because Andrew sometimes hums to himself. Whoops–Andrew ate meat on the wrong day and now Orianne can get him fired! Hooray for Orianne!
But boo for humanity.