Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Tumblr and Target Audiences

Tumblr is tough.  Scratch that.  Tumblr is easy, like Pinterest is easy -- as long as you like forwarding things.  Forwarding/re-posting/liking things is easy.  Being a part of the tens hundreds of thousands of "notes" for a particularly popular post is easy.  Making new things to post on Tumblr is easy, if Photoshop is your friend.

Acquiring "notes" for the new things on Tumblr is tough.  Similarly, acquiring views on YouTube is tough.  Acquiring re-tweets on Twitter is tough.  If you create art, media, or even ephemera for their own sake, and are ambivalent about having other people consume your work, that's perfectly fine.  It's just a shame that nothing is communicated when no one experiences or interacts with your work.  To be a part of the communication between producer and consumer, or among producer-consumers in social media, you have to identify your target audience or audiences, and pander to them.  (It helps if you also like what they like, but that is not necessary.)

If you're already famous, then your fans are your target audience, of course.  Until they turn against you or forget about you, you can make whatever you want, and the communication continues.  If you have a large amount of resources (i.e., money or sponsors with money), you can hire advertising and public relations firms to market whatever you make, to varying degrees of success.  If you are somehow charismatic like a cult leader, then whoever flocks to you is your target audience -- but try to be responsible about whatever you create.

For the rest of us, we have to identify a target audience or several target audiences, and find a way to appeal to their preferences.  Since we're specifically talking about Tumblr for this blog entry, the target audience of any given Tumblr post is probably a fan of a TV show, film, recording artist, etc.  These groups are known as fandoms.

Here is an example of a Doctor Who Tumblr post, commemorating the exit of the Eleventh Doctor, played by Matt Smith:

As of this writing, it's barely received 10 "notes," so maybe this particular picture doesn't appeal to the "Whovian" fandom as much as I would like.  Perhaps I have to interact with fellow fans more than I do currently.  My "headcannon" image, which tries to explain how the Doctor obtained his various British accents, is slightly more popular, but not by that much:

On Tumblr, and elsewhere, there are fans who like stuff they like, and there are fans who are obsessed with the stuff they like.  They write fan fiction, in varying degrees of seriousness and/or ridiculousness and/or explicitness.  I'm too silly to be more than halfway serious, and I'm probably too old to be explicit on Tumblr, so my attempts at fan fiction will usually be as ridiculous as possible, to the point of parody.  Here is my first attempt at mashing up Doctor Who with Supernatural, also known as SuperWho, as a wordless sequence of screenshots:


This one mashes compares a character from Game of Thrones with the video game character Link (The Legend of Zelda), commenting on their similarity:

This one is the popular "Hey, Assbutt!" scene in Supernatural, rendered in LEGO (yes, there is even a LEGO fandom in Tumblr):

This one mashes up the band Queen, Doctor Who, and LEGO, which might take it a bit too far, as far as targeting a specific target audience goes:

I consider myself extremely fortunate to get 20 Tumblr notes on some of these images.  I consider myself lucky to get at least one note!  It means that whatever I made has been communicated to at least one other person, and for that, I am grateful.  Maybe in the new year, I'll be able to pander more successfully to the people of Tumblr, without, you know, losing my soul.  As long as I like making these things, even though they are targeted to a specific segment of the population, and as long as no one gets hurt in the process, then it's all fun and games, right?

In 2014, may you all appeal to your target audiences as well.  Happy New Year!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Music News

One week ago, I went to a Pearl Jam concert at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena.  Throughout the years -- decades, really -- they've developed a reputation for being a workhorse of a band.  Virtually every show hovers around the three-hour mark, and every night has a varied set list.  Dedicated fans with loads of disposable income follow Pearl Jam from city to city because every night has a different song selection.  In contrast, the final Stone Temple Pilots tours with now-former frontman Scott Weiland essentially had the same set list every night.

I've been to three Pearl Jam shows:  At The Forum in 2006, at the Gibson Amphitheater in 2009, and the recent one at the Sports Arena in 2013.  The Forum had awful acoustics.  The Gibson show sounded wonderful; too bad the venue recently closed.  The Sports Arena would have sounded as bad as The Forum, but I think wearing a pair of Hearos (noise-filtering ear plugs) made the venue sound surprisingly great.

Kate's avatar K8 was at the concert, too.
Despite the quality of venue, the band themselves performed well every time.  For every show I've attended, I can only think of a few "subpar" parts of the concert.  Mind you, subpar for Pearl Jam is probably better than many other performers on a good night.  In 2006, the band invited actor Tim Robbins to sing X's "I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts," which was the low point of the show for me.  Pearl Jam hadn't made that particular cover song their own, and the choice of guest musician -- an actor who's friends with the lead singer -- wasn't ideal.  In 2009, Pearl Jam covered The Police's "Driven to Tears," which was a decent performance, but it wasn't a cover that I associated with Pearl Jam.

I can't think of a low point from last week's show.  The band gave the audiences all sorts of highlights.  We got glimpses of a young, pissed-off Eddie Vedder in the body of older Ed, ejecting an unruly audience member from the front of the crowd, and swinging on some swinging lights -- coming in like a wrecking ball.  (You'd have had to been there to completely understand these references.)  The setlist was a mix of hits, deep cuts, and covers that Pearl Jam have usurped over the years -- the Ramones' "I Believe in Miracles" and the Who's "Baba O'Riley."  Guitarist Mike McCready briefly left his usual pentatonic box (music pun intended), and shredded a flawless cover of Van Halen's "Eruption."  Ed gave props to longtime drummer Matt Cameron, who literally chose Pearl Jam over Soundgarden (he's not going to tour with Soundgarden next year).  For "Jeremy," bassist Jeff Ament busted out his 12-string bass, which is essentially a portable piano.  Guitarist/Ten-and-Vs.-era bandleader Stone Gossard rocked the right side of the stage.  Touring keyboardist "Boom" Gaspar received the obligatory BOOOOOOOOM chant from the audience, which sounded like a jeer to the uninitiated.  It was a fantastic show, and I can't wait for the band to release the official "bootleg" recording of the concert, so I can relive the sounds of the night.

How much difference does it make?
In other music news, I recently recorded my annual Christmas carol for LibriVox.  I usually have fun covering a classic carol in an unconventional manner -- butchering might be a word that some might use.  This year I chose to produce a bass guitar-driven "Joy to the World."  I might edit this post when I upload the stereo version (the LibriVox version is in mono) of the song; otherwise, it'll likely be on DeRamos Music's website.

After months of three posts per weekday at Chord du Jour, I'm slowing the pace over there.  We took the past week off from posting, and I think we'll just post one entry per weekday during the holiday season.

Speaking of which, Happy Holidays!  We're in the middle of Hanukkah right now, so Happy Hanukkah for those who celebrate it, and for those who like holidays in general.  I feel that mid-December should be the ideal starting point for wishing a Merry Christmas.  In any case,
I'll write here again around New Year's Eve.  Cheers!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

'Game of Thrones' Is Awesome, But What Should I Be for Halloween?

Happy Halloween!

My birthday was a few weeks ago.  One of the many cool presents my brother gave me was the first season of HBO's Game of Thrones, which is an adaptation of the A Song of Ice and Fire novels by George R. R. Martin.  I have since watched -- binge-watched -- all three seasons of the TV show.  Since I can't wait until Spring 2014 for the show's fourth season, I've started to read the books.  I am almost finished with the first book, A Game of Thrones.  Hopefully I can get to the middle of the third book very soon, so the (TV) spoiler parade can begin!

This week's episode of Supernatural made some references to Game of Thrones, as funny, non-essential dialogue.  The older brother Dean bought the first season of Game of Thrones, with younger brother Sam in mind.  Later in the episode, Sam expresses his desire to read the books, to the amusement of Dean, who would rather just watch the show and not read the books.  I had the same conversation with my older brother a few days ago, so this was a welcome, if not freaky, coincidence (or not?).

In any case, I'm still deciding what I want to be for Halloween.  Perhaps I should take the black and dress up as a brother of the Night's Watch, like Eddard Stark's bastard Jon Snow, who according to one source, knows nothing.

Or perhaps I should dress in a black suit, black shirt, and bright tie, like Supernatural's King of Hell Crowley -- or Regis Philbin from the 1999 run of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

Maybe I should be the Doctor (from Doctor Who).  I could easily wear a leather jacket and a v-neck jumper like Nine, a suit-and-tie like Ten, or a cool bowtie ensemble like Eleven.  I think Eleven might be the way to go, but should I be Pond-era Eleven (suspenders) or Oswald-era Eleven (waistcoat)?  My dog Kate, who is a big fan of Doctor Who, would like this costume choice.

Kate, by the way, will be a direwolf/warg with a knight on her back for Halloween.  You can read more about Kate's Halloween costume on her blog.

Well, that's all I can think of for the month of October.  If all goes well, November's monthly blog entry should be fun to write.  Until next month, cheers!

Monday, September 30, 2013

No 'Breaking Bad' Finale Spoilers Here, Except Todd Is a Young Jim Gaffigan

I don't have cable, but I have a subscription to Breaking Bad's final season on Amazon Video.  This specific blog post will have been published at noon 10 AM on September 30th.  By then, I will have access to the series finale of Breaking Bad.  As I write this on the night of September 29th, people have already watched the finale on TV.  Twitter and other forms of social media are currently full of vague emotional outbursts concerning the finale, "Felina," as well as outright spoilers.  Until I watch the finale of Breaking Bad, hopefully sometime tomorrow, I will avoid sites like Google News, as well as any and all social media, including Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest.  (I've been on a Facebook hiatus since mid-July.)

During the week between the penultimate episode and the finale of Breaking Bad, I binge-watched the first season of Orange Is the New Black on Netflix.  I like the overall tone of the show, morally ambiguous yet often humorous.  It's a mix between, I don't know, LOST (due to the use of flashbacks) and women in prison films (but not really, sort of).  The side characters are more interesting than the main character.

Are you Hal, or are you Heisenberg?
Speaking of Netflix, my fan-relationship with Breaking Bad started as a binge-watch back in March 2012, after my brother suggested watching the series.  At the time, Netflix only had the first three seasons of the show.  After finishing the first three seasons, I couldn't wait for Netflix to acquire the rights of the fourth season, which was sometime that summer, so I purchased the fourth season on Amazon Video, to stream on my Roku box.  Later that summer, I purchased the season pass for the first half of the fifth season of Breaking Bad.

Yes, that's a George Foreman grill.
Early in the series, Walter White shared a bottle of Pinch Scotch whisky with his brother-in-law Hank.  Later in the series, and I write this without revealing much, Walter drinks that brand of Scotch again.  It was cool that Vince Gilligan put that particular brand of Scotch in the show.

A few years ago, perhaps 2010 or 2009 or earlier, my dad told me about a bottle of whisky he bought around 1965.  It had an unusual, three-sided bottle, with gold netting around it.  He couldn't remember the name of the Scotch, other than it sounded like finch.  My dad never got to drink that bottle from 1965.  After a ridiculous amount of Googling of a period of time, around April 2010, we figured it to be "The Dimple" Pinch.  The local BevMo! had it in stock.  I'm a fan of drinking Scotch, but I am no connoisseur, but I think it's tasty whisky.

I digress.

With the Amazon Video season pass of the first part of the fifth season, in 2012, I was able to watch each new episode the day after broadcast.  If I recall correctly -- and I don't want to Google or Wikipedia this, for fear of finale spoilers -- they introduced a new character named Todd during the fifth season.  Todd, without spoiling much, is an unsettling character.  People on the InterWebs often refer to him as "Meth Damon," but I like to refer to him as a young Jim Gaffigan.

Comparing Todd to Jim Gaffigan actually makes Todd's actions seem absurd and endearing, like Hot Pockets and Gaffigan's whispering commentary voice of the "audience."  In September 2012, I tweeted to Jim Gaffigan about Todd, and I think he appreciated the comparison.

Jim Gaffigan 'favorited' this tweet.
I immediately purchased the season pass for the second half of the fifth season on Amazon Video.  Now I am a few hours away from watching the final episode of Breaking Bad.  Tomorrow morning, I hope to wake up early, get in a half-hour of exercise, eat breakfast, and find some time to watch "Felina."  If Jesse Pinkman somehow survives the series finale, perhaps that will make Team S.C.I.E.N.C.E. a canonical part of the story, which I wrote about last year.

I can't think of a good ending for this blog entry about Breaking Bad, but I can only hope that the ending of the show is much better.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

"Hey, Assbutt!" Rendered in LEGO #castiel #supernatural #lego

It's the end of August, and I really have nothing much to write about August, as far as this blog is concerned.  Instead, I am posting one of my most popular posts on Tumblr (a whopping 22 notes so far).  It is actually more popular on Pinterest (49 combined repins and likes so far).  So without further ado, here is a re-creation of the "Hey, Assbutt!" scene from the fifth season finale of the show Supernatural, rendered in LEGO:

Bobby's clothes are the wrong color, but I couldn't resist using the beaver baseball cap for the LEGO minifigure that represents actor Jim Beaver.

For reference, here is the scene from the episode "Swan Song."  Spoilers a-plenty:

"Hey, Assbutt!" is not a multi-hundred or multi-thousand shared photo (yet?), but I'm happy some fans of the show enjoyed my little macro photography snapshot.  Until next month!  Maybe I'll have a topic for this blog to write in-depth, and if not, I might write about Breaking Bad or more Doctor Who.  Cheers!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Update on This Blog about Updates on Blogs That Are Not This Blog

Chord du Jour has existed about as long as DeRamos.org.  Due to the overall usefulness of that blog -- mostly guitar chord charts -- Chord du Jour has had more readers than DeRamos.org.  Even in DeRamos.org's heyday, around 2007, when everything politically-related inspired me to blog often, Chord du Jour had more readers.  Right now, we're posting about three entries per day to fill up the Chord du Jour Dictionary.  I'm very excited about how this particular project is growing.

Chord du Jour has a Facebook fan page and a Twitter profile.  Neither page has many followers, but the important part is that Google index these (hopefully) useful scale and chord diagrams.  DeRamos Music's Facebook page also automatically posts links to each new Dictionary entry.

Kate has a logo.  Logos are cool.
My favorite canine Kate has recently taken over the old toy-related blog, renaming it Kate's Toys.  In the past, Guess Who's Toys? (as in the toys of  character with the pseudonym Guess Who, not guess who is, or even guess whose) only tried to sell random toys with affiliate links and little information beside that.  That sort of strategy only worked around Christmastime.  Kate's Toys will sometimes post affiliate links, but in the context of Kate's real and imagined adventures, since the entries are now written from Kate's canine point of view.  In addition to the blog being about toys for kids (of all ages), Kate's Toys also focuses on the pup-prietor's expertise:  Dog stuff.

Right now, Kate's Toys doesn't really warrant having it's own Facebook page, but various entries do end up as links on DeRamos Media's (not to be confused with DeRamos Music's) Facebook page.  Kate does, however, have a Twitter account.  Kate also owns a really good domain name -- katedog.com -- that currently forwards to her Pinterest board.

"I like it!"
I am slowly gearing up to transform a Tumblr blog called A Terrible Realm into an ambitious, yet silly, webcomic adventure, similar to the DeRamos.org Webcomic that I posted here about three to four years ago.  This time around, I hope to try to make sense.

In the meanwhile, I am simply fascinated by the social network and subculture of Tumblr itself.  I've been following various Tumblr blogs of fandoms such as the band Queen, the show Doctor Who, the show Supernatural, creations from LEGO bricks and minifigures -- basically all the stuff that Kate likes (and I like, too).  These fangirl and fanboy Tumblr users tend to blog and re-blog images that induce what is known as "the feels."

Tumblr is full of re-blogging, just as Pinterest is full of re-pinning.  I rarely re-blog because most of my blogs automatically forward to the DeRamos Media super-blog, as well as DeRamos Media's Facebook page.  I don't want it to look like we're taking credit for other people's work.  I usually post "original" content, if original means mash-up parodies and homages of Queen, Doctor Who, Supernatural, and LEGO, usually done in LEGO.  Even though I rarely re-blog, I really want other Tumblr users to re-blog, and I am thankful for those who have.  It's a bit hypocritical, I know, but in lieu of re-blogging, I click the 'like' option instead for Tumblr entries that I like, naturally.

A Terrible Realm doesn't have a Facebook page (yet?), but it currently has a Twitter feed.

I love complicated pizza.
After more than two years of hiatus, I would like to eventually revive the FoodBoozeTunes blog, if only to post the myriad photos of food I've taken, most of which haven't been posted on Instagram (though a few have).  One of these days, probably when I'm not focusing on Chord du Jour or a random profitable project, I'll write about food, booze, and tunes.  Maybe if I get the political writing bug, or at least inspiration for frequent random ranting, I might use the "tunes" tag loosely for that subject matter.

Any new FoodBoozeTunes articles will probably be linked at DeRamos Media's Facebook fan page (linked above, somewhere).  In the meanwhile, my Pinterest activity actually tells FoodBoozeTunes' Twitter account to tweet random things.

What will I do about this blog?  I'll try to check in every month.  I rarely tweet with my personal Twitter account, but publishing this article will automatically send a tweet.  I've been on an Instagram hiatus since the first week of July, so there won't be any Instagram-related tweets or Tumblr entries for a long while.  I've also been on a Facebook hiatus since the middle of the month, which has naturally increased productivity by an exponential factor, and that's not hyperbole!  I hope you all had a brilliant July, and may you have a fantastic August!  Until next month...

Sunday, June 30, 2013

They Grow Up So Fast...Then Remain About the Same for Hopefully a Long Time

In the month of April, we celebrate Kate's birthday.  In the month of June, we celebrate Kate's adoption.  I try to take several pictures of Kate every day, so it was quite a large task to select photos of Kate that represent every calendar month since June 2011.  For the most part, I selected photos at random, usually a picture from the middle or the end of the month.  I don't think I even chose the best photos from my collection, but as long as Kate was well-lit and relatively in focus, I'm pretty happy with this 25-shot compilation.  I think most, if not all, of these shots have been previously unreleased to the public, i.e., I haven't posted them on Facebook, Instagram, or here before.  I'll probably post the collage on Instagram later today, though, with or without a fancy filter.

I'm not going to go through all 25 photos, but I'd like to take this opportunity to reminisce about my large puppy's growth during the past two years I've known her.

I don't know much about canine biology, but Kate apparently hit her growth spurt between the months of August and October of 2011.  In addition to transitioning from puppy to dog in size and appearance (but not behavior), Kate's eye color shifted from brown to golden.  Kate received a rabies vaccination in the month of September, but I don't know if that was a factor in her accelerated growth or eye color change.

Kate was born with relatively floppy ears, which remained roughly the same size while the rest of her body grew.  You can tell how much Kate had grown between months by the proportion of her ears to the rest of her.

Around November of 2011 (possibly earlier), Kate's ears couldn't decide if they wanted to be worn up or worn down.  This aural ambivalence remained for the next several months.  More often than not, one would stick up, while the other would stay down.  I think Kate was just at the cutting edge of dog ear-styles -- modern sort of ears, all sticky-uppy.

The red Kong bone-shaped chew toy in the background was one of Kate's first toys.  It has outlasted all her other toys, to this very day.  Kate doesn't play with it as much anymore, since she's more interested in catching (and eventually deflating) bouncy balls and chewing on bone-shaped rawhide, but she occasionally picks it up like a trusty baseball bat, swinging like a champ!

When Kate was a smaller puppy, she would wink more often than blink, or at least when looking at me.  She still winks, but not as much.  I think her wink just means that she knows that I know that she knows that I know...or don't know.  I could always Google this sort of phenomenon, but perhaps some things are better left a mystery.

Around this time, Kate's ears stopped sticking up.  I guess Kate settled on an ear-do and is mostly sticking to it.  Random ear configurations are for less-than-one year olds, apparently.  (Kate turned one in April of 2012.)

In July of 2011, on the Fourth to be exact, Kate starred in a Happy Birthday video for my friends on Facebook.  One of these days, I'll have to share all five variations of the video to everyone outside of my Facebook network.

Anyhow, I included this gravity-defying photo from August 2011 because it is hilarious.  I'm sure I have other photos of Kate twisting herself in ridiculous configurations, but I'd rather not embarrass my dog (more than I do currently).  Kate would explain these positions as dog yoga.  Kate is a dog yoga instructor, after all.
Kate's now-relatively smaller ears indicate how big she is!  No matter her size and age, Kate remains a lap dog.  She will literally leap into my lap, as if she were a small dog, seemingly -- or purposely! -- not accounting for the frailty of my human body.  I currently have some bruises to prove it!  (I'd like to extend a quasi-sincere apology for including the crotch part of my jeans in this photo.)

In February of 2013, Kate developed a nasty ear infection (as opposed to the non-nasty variety).  Other than the first time she got massive diarrhea during her small puppy days, this was Kate's most worrisome health problem so far.  After several trips to the vet and various pet meds, the infection thankfully went away.

Kate turned two this past April.  I didn't know Kate for the first two months of her life, so I can only imagine the sort of adventures she had with her litter, and why she ended up in a reputedly high-kill animal shelter, while her siblings did not.  Back in June of 2011, there were two or three other interested parties for Kate, so in an alternate universe, I'm sure that Kate, or whatever name she'd have, would have a similarly good life.  This alternate-universe Kate probably wouldn't have as many pictures of her or blogs about her or LEGO creations that loosely resemble her, but it would still be a good life, hopefully.

Well, that's two years' worth of Kate for everyone, free of charge.  Here's to many more years of photos and stories of Kate, even if I'm the only one to enjoy them.  If you enjoy the random adventures of Kate, too -- we salute you!  As with every blog about Kate, I'll repeat the sentiments contained in this posting in the future, likely next April and June, if not beforehand!

Friday, May 31, 2013

The "Reel" Deal / Reusable Art (Spoiler Alert: Lights, Lenses, and LEGO)

Behold! The plastic selfie.
Recently, I realized that I had enough accumulated completed projects for a video demo reel.  Soon after, I realized that much of the aforementioned footage had been either lost or archived away on several CD-Rs and DVD-Rs, in one of many CD wallets, on a bookshelf or in a box.

In lieu of being my own archaeologist, I took whatever footage I could easily find from nearby external hard drives, streaming websites, and some neat test footage from Disney California Adventure -- and I created my very own video production reel:

After editing that reel, I noticed that I hadn't been very focused in what I've produced.  In the above-embedded reel, there are clips from cartoons I attempted to animate nearly three years ago.  There are music videos and promo clips from the previous decade (which, surprisingly, isn't the 1990s).  There are also more recent multi-camera event videos.

I could have then re-edited my reel into maybe an animation-only one or a promo clip-only one.  Instead, I compiled a reel for my music work, which includes collaborations with my brother Jon:

The music demo reel is longer than the video reel.  I actually like my music reel better than my video reel.  As much as I enjoy creating with digital video as the medium, I love making music even more.  I have been fortunate enough to be hired as the composer for some great films, which is probably why writing and producing music for film/video is such a wonderful experience for me.

Back to reality:  Who knows if the above-embedded reel will snag me any more dream gigs.  As evidence that I might suffer from career attention-deficit disorder, I edited together a demo reel for my work in audio production and postproduction:

I anticipate that my various skills in audio might be useful to other production houses and upcoming projects (probably not the voice-over part, though).  I must confess that rescuing audio is tedious work, but if that sort of skill set can get some nice-paying gigs, I will gladly scrub away at waveforms and whatnot.

Thanks for reading my rant-like reminiscence of a weblog.  Now I'd like to show you my "portfolio" of macro mode, point-and-shoot "photography" of LEGO minifigures.  I am not good at building detailed LEGO models, so I make things simple and usually blurry in the background.  Here are a few "pieces" from 2011:

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Guess Who Turned Two (Spoiler Alert: My Dog Kate)

As mentioned previously, the month of April marks the birth of a certain canine named Kate.  Sometime in late April, Kate turned two years old, which, according to popular reckoning, makes her a teenager in dog years.  Talk about terrible twos!  (I hope not.)

Unlike her first year of life, Kate did not grow exponentially.  She remained proportionally in the 60-70 pound range, although her vet advised that Kate stay in the lower 60s.

In the past year, Kate starred in a Happy Birthday video for my -- our -- friends on Facebook.  One of these days, we might share the video, well videos, since there are syllabic variations.

Sometime in late 2012, Kate learned to whine-weep whenever she wants attention.  Against the advice of almost every dog trainer (I'm assuming), I eventually give her that attention.  Every time.  Spoiled?  You bet.

As the year progressed, Kate became a Whovian.  Since she presumably has access to Snoopy technology -- in which dog houses are bigger on the inside, like the TARDIS -- I'm sure Kate fancies herself as The Doctor.  I'm just her lowly human companion, who carries Milk-Bone biscuits in his pocket.  (Since Netflix is slow to add new seasons, Kate convinced me to purchase Series 7.1 and 7.2 on Amazon video, so now we're caught up as far as new-era Doctor Who is concerned.)

Over the last couple of months, Kate suffered, then recovered, from a nasty ear infection.  She received some world-class health care from her vet and vet techs.  Following the advice of her medical team, Kate eats better quality food -- healthier than the (stereo-)typical American human diet, I might say.

I have posted various pictures of Kate on Instagram.  Her birth-month was no different.  In addition to the photo at the beginning of this dog blog, here are more photos of Kate that I Instagrammed in April:

Happy 2nd Birthday, my sweet and silly puppy Kate!  I hope to take, post, and re-post your pictures indefinitely, if that were possible.  I hope to return to this blog this time next year, and for years to come, to celebrate your birthday as sentimentally as possible.  Here's to Kate Dog!  Here's to K8 the K9!  Here's to Arf-Arf-Arf Dog-Dog-Dog and all the names that she recognizes as her own!


Sunday, March 31, 2013

Pure Storytelling Is Making It Up as You Go Along, or Why My Dog (and I) Like 'Doctor Who' (and Why I Should Get an Editor When I Blog)

Lucky Rabbits are cool.
Back in the 1980s, my family owned a television set with the VHF channels programmed and listed on the TV itself -- channels 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, and 13 -- and four blank channels for UHF stations -- U1, U2, U3, and U4.  In the Greater Los Angeles Area, we had (and still have) a Channel 4, KNBC.  To plug in our early-adopter VHS VCR, however, my dad programmed KNBC onto Channel 3, leaving Channel 4 for the VCR.

I do not know who programmed the extra channels, either the TV factory or my dad or someone else.  U1 was assigned to Channel 52, the Spanish-language channel Telemundo, even though my family didn't speak Spanish.  It is noteworthy, however, that Telemundo was our only access to MTV.  In the early 1990s, and perhaps on a newer TV set, we discovered an MTV show on Channel 52, with Daisy Fuentes as the vee-jay.  That show would have English-language music videos, which was cool, since we didn't have cable.

U2 was set to Channel 28, when KCET was a PBS channel.  I'll get back to U2 later in this long-winded, memoir-ish rant.

U3 was Channel 56, the local station KDOC.  It had Wally George and his stoner audience.  It was a strange political/demographic combo for sure.  It also had World Class Championship Wrestling.  If I had an editor, or if I had the will to self-edit, I'd most certainly remove a lot of these tangential details.

U4 was Channel 18, which was (and still is) the pan-Asian language station KSCI.  I suppose by accident or by design, I had a fair amount of multicultural education whenever I (or we as a family) strayed into the UHF channels, or as my dad would call any given UHF station, "Channel Forgotten."

Non-sonic, sonic screwdrivers that are flashlights, err, torches.
Channel U2, as mentioned earlier, was my only access to PBS at the time.  Between watching The Frugal Gourmet and Zoobilee Zoo (among other PBS shows at the time), I have an inkling that I might have caught an rerun or two of classic-era Doctor Who.  Then again, it might have been I, Claudius.  I don't remember.

Fast-forward to 2007, PBS Channel 50 or 58 broadcast reruns of the new-era Doctor Who.  I wrote about my Who PBS experiences here, here, and here.  I'm pretty sure after that last entry in 2009, I watched all the Ninth Doctor's episodes, as well as a few of the Tenth Doctor's adventures.  Around 2010, I subscribed to Netflix.

By 2011, I had a crazy growing puppy named Kate in my life, and we had (and still have) all sorts of "adventures."  Tossing the ball for a game of fetch/catch was (and still is) fun.  It's always awesome to chill out (or prance about) to the music of Queen.  We'd also watch streaming movies on Netflix.  We'd watch some good movies, and we'd watch some awful movies.  After watching a really long bad movie, I wanted something shorter to watch with Kate on a regular basis.

Kate and I caught some classic 'Who' as well.
Then I remembered The Doctor and his 42-minute, plus or minus, episodes.  Back in 2007, when I watched the 2005 episode "Father's Day," I was struck by two realizations:  (1) When the production connects with the audience, it works, and (2) the writers are just making stuff as they go along.  Yes, I know, the producers of the show try to keep some sort of continuity, and the hardcore fans know the stories back and forth.  However, if the overall concept of the show involves time travel and a variety of extraterrestrial races, then you're making stuff up as you go along.  (I'm also a fan of the TV series Supernatural, and they're obviously making stuff up as they go along, especially after the -- spoiler alert -- Apocalypse.)  Additionally, some of the hardcore fans get upset when their sense of continuity has been abused by the current showrunner, so when you throw continuity itself out the window, then there is little to be offended.

When I started to watch Doctor Who with my dog, I decided that we watch the episodes out of order, like true time travelers.  I knew that a lot of the details would go over our heads (maybe my dog understands these concepts better than I), and various realizations about the story arcs might be spoiled, delayed, or missed.  I didn't care, Kate didn't care, and watching Doctor Who as pure storytelling was brilliant!  It was like telling a bedtime story to a child, or a campfire story to friends -- if it works, it works, and if it doesn't, you can make fun of it (spoiler alert:  "Love and Monsters").  (The performances by the actors, the effects by various technicians, and the artistry of the production crew also helped.)

Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow.
By now, Kate and I watched virtually all episodes of new-era Doctor Who before Series 7, via Netflix and Amazon Prime Video (for the two specials currently not on Netflix).  We even watched a few classic stories in our random watchlist.  It took me several paragraphs to try to get to this, but Kate and I are fans of the show.  Since I only blog once a month, I might as well type out a bunch of sentences to see if I can still write a decent sentence (I cannot, obviously).  Anyhow, if and when the latest episodes arrive on Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, we'll be sure to watch them, perhaps in chronological broadcast order.  I'm sure it will be fantasticAllons-y!  Geronimo! ...


Happy Easter, by the way!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Daily Instagramming + Chord du Jour Update!

According to the archive of articles listed to the right-hand side of this webpage, I haven't blogged here regularly since early 2010.  At that time, I tried my hand at a repetitive, fill-in-the-blank-speech-bubbles webcomic series.  By mid-2011, I've written a new blog post about once a month.  This monthly blog schedule continues to this day.

Since the start of the new year, I have increased my Instagram snapshot posts to at least once a day!  According to the old adage, these Instagrams are essentially thousand-word essays, with the subject matter ranging from my dog Kate to the adventures of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit to non-fortunes from fortune cookies to the status of the Moon (see above photo).  Those are important topics, of course.

If my Instagram habit continues for the next few months, perhaps I should forward the URL "DeRamos.org" to my Instagram profile.  Then again, maybe not.

In other news, I am about nine weeks away from completing (a first-draft version) of the Chord du Jour "coffee table book."  This "book" contains 90 pages of keyboard (piano) and fretboard (guitar) infographics.  I've limited myself to four colors for each image -- usually black, white, and two other colors.  Each two-page "spread" has a matching color scheme.

Recently, I have been posting new images on Chord du Jour's Facebook page for two workweeks (10 images for 10 days), followed by a review on the Chord du Jour blog for one workweek (the same 10 images over 5 days).  I believe I'll continue this pattern until the book is finished.  Then I'll start on another Chord du Jour quasi-educational project.

I'll probably preview the new project on a work-daily basis as well, on the blog and on Facebook.  Hopefully the "coffee table book" images will be polished enough to actually be a physical coffee table book, or even a tablet-worthy publication, but I am getting ahead of myself.

I just have to create a new infographic page, one day at a time.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit Makes Instagram Photos Better

In "Tall Timber," Oswald temporarily gets smashed into six Oswalds.
Here's a quick history lesson, courtesy of Wikipedia:  Walt Disney and his chief animator Ub Iwerks created Oswald the Lucky Rabbit in 1927.  Oswald starred in several short animated films before Disney lost the rights to the Lucky Rabbit.  Disney and Iwerks soon created Mickey Mouse, and the rest is history.

In 2006, the Walt Disney Company traded sports broadcaster Al Michaels to Universal for Oswald, among many other contractual details.  A few years later, Disney properly reintroduced Oswald to the public via the video game Epic Mickey, which was a success.  Then Oswald was a playable character in Epic Mickey 2, which by many accounts was a commercial and critical failure.  We'll get back to that later.

If you need a quick crash course in the Lucky Rabbit, check out two Disney-era films, "Trolley Troubles":
(There is a restored version of "Trolley Troubles," but the one posted above contains a hilarious quasi-voice for Oswald, as well as a well-placed sound-effect when he squirts one of his children.)

...and "Oh What a Knight":

(Oswald's post-Disney cameo in King of Jazz is also hilarious.)

Danger is his middle name...
...but Safety is his mother's maiden name.
Last Christmas, I bought a handful of small plush Oswalds to give to various children as presents.  I kept a frayed-eared one for myself.  As 2013 began, I thought to take my Lucky Rabbit along on various errands.

Oswald quickly became an irresistible subject for various Instagram snapshots.  Being well-aware of the ubiquitous trend of photos of food on Instagram, I had Oswald pose with the food: