Creativity is just connecting things.
— Steve Jobs

Tag Archives: live

I <3 Glitch Paintings

One of the fun nerd things about live QuickTime streams has to be the pixellated renderings of frames when the video is buffering. This recent post from Kottke about glitch paintings reminded me of the post I wrote a while back about the Sal Saghoian images I captured during one of his AppleScript webcasts:

I love how this one had the words “control freak” ghost in over his face:

Andy Denzler’s glitch paintings are really really cool:

I’d totally have one in my house. Maybe I’ll take one of my screenshots during a webcast and blow it up to a big frameable size!

Movie Review: Anvil: The Story of Anvil

AnvilThose who know me know that I grew up on 80’s metal. Mostly because that’s how I learned how to play the guitar…and partially because it was the coolest thing going (sorry, INXS / Depeche Mode / Whatever Other Pouty Band You Can Name Next). I thought I had heard of every 80’s metal band, but I had not heard of Anvil. Now that I’ve watched Anvil: The Story of Anvil, I understand why.

Anvil, founded in Canada in 1973 by Steve (Lips) Kudlow and Robb Reiner (no, not that* Rob Reiner), shot to fame in 1982 with their first, and most influential metal record, Metal On Metal. Cited by Metallica, Megadeth, Guns ‘n Roses and many other 80’s era metal gods as one of the original groups to forge the “Heavy Metal” template, Anvil rapidly faded into obscurity, thanks to the now-typical laundry list of music industry landmines: shitty management, horrid tour booking and awful follow-up record production. Take those three ingredients and repeat them for the next 20 years and you have Anvil.

The story doesn’t dwell on their fireball start in the industry but quickly humanizes every member by documenting their present-day worlds. Unfortunately for them, they are unable to make ends meet purely by their music, and we’re taken along for an intimate, sobering and sometimes lighthearted tour of their shitty jobs and broken dreams. Miraculously, the core of the band (Kudlow and Reiner) remained best friends and refused to stop rocking.

Luckily, after a terrible European “tour” that was booked by a rabid, incoherent female Czech fan, inspiration strikes Kudlow on the lips. He decides to send a demo CD of their latest tunes to the original producer of Metal On Metal. To their surprise, the producer gives it a go (with the appropriate amount of funding from the band, of course) and pulls the band together to complete their 13th studio record, aptly titled “This Is Thirteen.”

Anvil then tries to go the old-school route by sending out CDs to record labels for distribution deals. It takes a few rejections before they turn to the power of the Internet and social media to get the word out. Luckily things take off and they triumphantly return to Tokyo, Japan to play a festival, and they kill. And that, my friends, is just the beginning of Anvil’s new lease on life.

With a strangely compelling and charismatic band and blindly supportive yet weary and sympathetic family members, it’s hard to imagine how Director Sacha Gervasi couldn’t make you hope for Anvil to pull it out of the fire. With great editing, great pacing, and just enough drama without seeming like it’s from a reality tv show, it’s no wonder this film won so many awards.

Anvil: The Story of Anvil, is one hell of a story. Forget that it deals with an 80’s metal band. Or they’re from Canada (not that there’s anything wrong with that ;-)). Any sympathetic human being would find this film to be moving, uplifting and inspiring. Said person might even venture to iTunes and buy their music after hearing their latest stuff. Go see it and turn it up!

Final verdict: 4 out of 5 beers. I dare to say this is the all-around best rock music film ever made. Better than It Might Get Loud, better than Spinal Tap, and better than the U2: Rattle & Hum. I would have given it 5 out of 5 if it had an amazing live guitar solo moment, but it didn’t.

Greener Pastures

As it turns out, I did find a new job. I’m at Hallmark Cards in Kansas City, Missouri. Technically, the company is located in Missouri but we now live in Kansas. On this side of the road, it’s Kansas. The other? You get the idea.

Anyway, we’re slowly adjusting to this new environment. We chose to lease a place for 2 years instead of buy. Hmm, Matt’s not motivated to buy* a house lately? Go figure!

Realistically we only had 4 days to find a place, and this was the best of the lot. It’s certainly a nice house and neighborhood, but we’re just not able to determine if this is the final destination.

The job is good and nuts at the same time. Tons of massive corporate change plus a bad economy makes for alot of freaked out people making interesting decisions.

Melissa and the kids are trying their best to assimilate and meet as many neighbors as possible. It’s not easy but luckily they are all quite cute, which I’m certain helps in their efforts. 😉

When I explain what I’m doing in Kansas, I say imagine if a big tsunami rose up out of the Great Lakes and just washed us to Kansas. That’s what it feels like. We had to sell our house in a short sale. We said goodbye to the investment we put into it, all of our friends and family, and fled the flood.

We feel eternally grateful for Hallmark lining up at the right time like it did. It really was an amazing feat and we will never forget it.

Luckily I’m in a great position to bring my expertise to bear in ways that I didn’t imagine prior to accepting the offer. Many things are in the works and I can honestly say that I can see some really impressive developments coming from Hallmark.

I’m excited, inspired, and most of all, tired.

I wish my Detroit comrades only the best and consistently say great things about the auto industry when asked. We truly didn’t bring this cataclysmic change upon ourselves and the outside world needs to understand that. They like to think the domestics just weren’t selling well, therefore they are having hard financial times. The national media has done an amazing job casting this as a sales issue rather than a complicated financial industry chain effect.

Other than work, I’m listening to the audiobook of Craig Ferguson’s “American On Purpose” and it’s great stuff. I’m hoping to set up a band here, but I know that’s really just crazy talk. I can’t even imagine the logistics of such an effort with everything else I have going on.

Imagine If No Heaven

I had a random thought this morning while in the shower…what if there was a worldwide, simultaneous awakening for all people in which they truly believed that after they died, they’d come right back to Earth. I’m reminded of the John Lennon song Imagine as I type this but let’s imagine this premise as a movie. How would the world react? Would people stop fighting wars or escalate them if they knew there was no end to their existence? Would people choose to live with no regard for their or other’s personal safety by intentionally causing accidents by turning the world into GTA5?

Or would people calm down knowing that if this is all we have, we should seriously rethink how we engage with each other on every level. Would we be more inclined to work together to solve world problems? To do what’s right so we have a better place to exist in?

In a weird way I think this is somewhat connected, thematically, to Barack Obama, for me. I have so much hope that things will be better than the last years eight years have been.

50 Things About Me

This blog, founded on June 1, 2004, is written and produced by Matt Binkowski.

Matt and baby Elise

1. I have been happily married for 14 years to my best friend, partner in crime, and all around love of my life.

2. My daughter Elise is perfectly cute, funny and smart as a whip. My baby boy Miles crashed the party on November 29, 2008.

3. I collect old Apple hardware:
– 1 Apple Pippin (Developer’s Edition)
– 1 Emate
– 2 Newtons (130 and 2100)
– 1 Interactive TV Prototype.

4. I started playing guitar when I was age 15.

5. My hollow-body aluminum strat was hand-built by a gifter luthier, Tom Murray.

6. I’ve driven a Wrangler over log piles, shale beaches, large boulders, through flooded trails, on the Rubicon Trail and the Chrysler Proving Grounds.

7. I like to think I’m a good painter and draftsman.

8. My dog lives on a 20 acre ranch in California and I miss him every day.

9. I lost my home, job, friends and savings thanks to the financial collapse in 2009 but somehow we were rescued and my family is okay.

10. I need to be challenged wherever I work.

11. If I’m watching a band is playing at a bar, I get nervous because I’ll feel like I’m up next.

12. My favorite color was blue and now it’s red.

13. I am an Eagle Scout and once won the Summer Camp-wide Archery competition.

14. I think Flash is the least usable application a designer has to deal with.

15. I used to live in California during the big internet boom and I miss that optimistic culture.

16. I rarely use my iPod Newton.

17. I love my iPod iPhone.

18. I find my Newton iPhone more useful than my iPod Newton.

19. I once fell from the roof of my Mom and Dad’s house and I didn’t get hurt.

20. I’ve never broken or sprained anything.

21. I once camped outside for 24 hours while it was 10 degrees below 0.

22. I once played in a band described by the Metro Times as “Detroit’s most offensive hardcore band.”

23. I took that as a compliment.

24. I loved playing in that band because our live shows were so crazy.

25. I painted three life-size oil portraits of my friends for my senior thesis in art school.

26. My college band performed a show in front of AC/DC’s lead singer and 800 high school kids. (it was so odd to see Brian Johnson just 30 feet away from me watching us play.)

27. There’s something comforting to me about a buddy list that makes me think I’m able to keep up with friends.

28. I take other people’s old Macintosh computers when they mention throwing them out because in some weird way it feels wrong.

29. I am determined to create my own OS X iPhone app.

30. I bought a Jeep so I could learn how to take it apart.

31. I hate being bored.

32. I have a good way of being calm in hairy situations.

33. I can’t cook anything except Crazy Pancakes.

34. Even those don’t turn out very well every time.

35. I wish Google Maps was able to send info to my Newton.

36. I’m somewhat addicted to the news, especially during election years.

37. I can’t watch CNN for very long before it stresses me out.

38. I once hiked over 100 miles in 1 week in New Mexico while carrying a backpack that weighed over 40 pounds.

39. I only drive the speed limit when I drive with my family.

40. I can draw Dora the Explorer.

41. I really can’t stand Dora the Explorer. I’m really learning to like Dora now that my daughter is so caught up in the Disney princesses who need to be married in order to “be complete.”

42. I can do all of the Winnie the Pooh voices.

43. I drink too much coffee and not enough water. Too personal? Maybe…

44. My first guitar teacher taught me Puff the Magic Dragon. Then I quit and learned how to play by listening to the radio.

45. The first record I ever bought was Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger.

46. The last record I ever bought was Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger.

47. My favorite movie is Better Off Dead.

48. I have a bad habit of rejecting bands the first time I hear them…and then reject them again a few months later…eventually listening to them religiously about a year down the road.

49. I’ve taken over 8,000 photos and 300 movie clips of my family.

50. I am amazed you made it all the way to the end of this list.


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Keynote Tips and Tricks

Here’s a short list I recently made for some folks who were new to Keynote. Maybe this is useful to other people who live in Keynote as much as I do every day.

1. Use multiple Inspectors. Option-Click any of the tiles at the top of the Inspector palette to create a new Inspector window. You can do this as many times as you like and set each window to a different tile.

2. If you have an animation heavy first slide, create a simple “appear” build for a Keynote-drawn square “off slide” and make it the first build after the slide transition so your real animation plays smoothly when you trigger it next.

3. When you’re presenting on two monitors and you forget the keyboard commands press the “/” key to bring up a Presenter View only list of the commands:

4. Play audio files when you want to by giving them a “Start Audio” build in the Build Inspector:

5. Watching the iWork ’08 Tour movie is nice, but looking at how they built it is more helpful. Navigate to /Library/Application Support/iWork ’08/iWork and then right click on that .app file and choose Show Package Contents. Then navigate further to: /Contents/Resources/English.lproj/iWork Tour.key. This can be opened in Keynote just like your own files. Take a look at the builds on each slide and learn. If you come across some artwork that you’d like to get for yourself, right click on that keynote file in the Finder and Show Package Contents again. Now you can dig through the file for the source art they used.

Mac Help Needs Help

So I was recently in Boston for business and decided to look up something in my mac’s built-in help system. Unfortunately, it seems that the Help Viewer application requires internet connectivity because this is what I saw:

Hey Apple, don’t require me to be online to get help with my Mac. That’s just stupid. So in my case, I would have had to pay my hotel money for help with my computer. Sorry. I chose to live without the additional expense because my question wasn’t worth it and could wait until I went in to the office.

Stefan Sagmeister’s Diary

Just found a great TED conference talk by Stefan Sagmeister in which he showed a slide of some of the things he’s learned over the years by keeping diaries. I’ll share them with you here:

  • Complaining is silly. Either act or forget.
  • Thinking life in the future will be better is stupid, I have to live now.
  • Being not truthful works against me.
  • Helping other people helps me.
  • Organizing a charity group is surprisingly easy.
  • Everything I do always comes back to me.
  • Drugs feel great in the beginning and become a drag later on.
  • Over time I get used to everything and start taking it for granted.
  • Money does not make me happy.
  • Traveling alone is helpful for a new perspective on life.
  • Assuming is stifling.
  • Keeping a diary supports my personal development.
  • Trying to look good limits my life.
  • Worrying solves nothing.
  • Material luxuries are best enjoyed in small doses.
  • Having guts always works out for me.

Holly Lives There

Melissa visited her Grandmother yesterday. For some reason, her uncle moved her car out of the driveway and parked it in the street facing north (away from 24 Mile Road). When Melissa and Elise left Grandma’s house, Melissa drove forward and did a quick turnaround in a neighbor’s driveway to head back south toward 24. As soon as she pulled the car into that neighbor’s driveway, Elise said, “This is where your friend Holly Something lives.” (I say “Something” because I can’t remember her last name).

Elise was right. But Holly used to live there when Melissa was 5 years old and she no longer lives there today. Melissa has also never mentioned that name since she was 5 and definitely not in front of Elise. In fact, Melissa had a hard time even remembering a Holly was because it was so long ago.

Freaky? YES!

Get ‘Em While They’re Hot!

The new directory is live and I just noticed two interesting web apps on this page:

Free SMS app? Um I wonder how long AT&T will let that remain available for downloading? If I can get unlimited free SMSs, I should be able to remove that portion of my contract with AT&T.

By the way, you can’t be just any AJAX hacker out there. You have to (step 1) become a member of Apple’s ADC, (step 2) agree to their weird terms and conditions that claim that if you profit from this service and they break the app and in turn your business, you are only allowed up to a maximum of $50 in damages from Apple TOTAL, and (step 3) put your junk (web app) in that box (iPhone). — Get it?