Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Santa Won't You Bring Me Some Rum

It's that time of year.  The ice and snow return, the shops are busy, and everywhere you go, repetitive holiday music fills the air.

Well, that ends right here!  My good pal and brother-in-creative-nonviolent-arms, Dave Schwartz, has recorded a holiday song worth taking your fingers out of your ears for.  He then entrusted me with turning it into a music video, which I hope is worth uncovering your eyes for.

Without further adieu:

We wish you a happy holiday season!  May all your milks be chunky.

Saturday, August 05, 2023

Junk Puppet Poetry #1

I'll introduce it here the way I introduced it on stage last night at Scream It Off Screen:

A few years ago, I made some puppets out of junk for a 48 Hour Film Project.  (Nowadays, we come here, where the real fun is!)  My buddy Dave had an idea: we should have our junk puppets present public domain poetry!  This first one is a proof-of-concept, it's two short poems, and we hope you enjoy it!

The sold-out theatre of people did indeed enjoy it!  Scream It Off Screen, for the uninitiated, is a monthly cinema gong show in Minneapolis.  We'd heard of it before, but only started attending (and submitting recycled 48HFP movies) in the last year or so.  This time, we showed up with something new, and to my astonished delight, people loved it!  The debut of Junk Puppet Poetry was a resounding success, and won the night by audience applause!

Dave has provided music and ideas (and occasional acting!) for all of Chunky Milk's movies.  He lives in Florida, so I barely ever see him in person.  As it happened, this week he was in the area and able to attend the screening of his latest brainchild.  For eight years I felt like he should win some kind of soundtrack award in the 48, but he never did.  Last night, though, he got to come up on stage with me and be celebrated as a winning filmmaker.

As happened the first time we won a local film festival with a movie starting junk puppets, I've been occasionally bursting into laughter ever since it happened.  The absurdity of it all is delectable.

I'm very thankful for all of our experiences with the 48 Hour Film Project, and it's with fondness that Chunky Milk Productions moves on to our new filmmaking home at Scream It Off Screen.  Both formats have a lot to offer, including cross-pollenation with each other.

And so begins a new series of no-budget shorts!  We will keep making movies of all kinds, but the crowd has spoken: Junk Puppet Poetry is to be continued!


Edit:  Just got some pictures from Scream It Off Screen's promotional message...

Behind us: sweet musicians including King on the keyboard!
Lined up with the check: Screamy, Dave, and myself.
In front: The true hero of the night, Zack (Zach?) the waffle man!

One sold-out theater's worth of SIOS audience

That was a wild night!  Progress is being made on #2 (possibly to screen at the October SIOS :^)

Saturday, April 01, 2023

April Fools!

This winter has been one of those battles at the end of a video game where the big bad, seemingly defeated, just keeps coming back bigger and uglier and wetter and heavier than before.

We woke up to a foot of snow and a giant downed branch in the driveway this morning.  Its tree should live, I hope, but there's a lot less of it now than there was.

I got everything cleared, so we could leave the house today if we really had to.  We were just about down to seeing ground again in most places, but now the driveway trench is right back to shoulder height.  For the moment, it's just a matter of waiting for the plow to come back and make me redo the last few meters.  I suppose we'll see whether there are any additional phases to this winter boss fight after that.

I've got to hand it to Earth's atmosphere: this was a pretty epic April Fool's prank!  It sure got me.

Friday, February 24, 2023

Airquote: "Artificial Intelligence"

ChatGPT and other "deep-learning" programs have made a lot of noise and headlines lately.  As I alluded to in my nopecoin post, I'm very much not on-board with some of the new tricks we're teaching the old dog that is personal computing.

I had the privilege of growing up alongside home computers themselves, as well as the internet.  I remember categorized newsgroups, public web forums, mailing lists, and all sorts of well-thought-out ways for people to connect and share ideas.  So, I've never understood the appeal of this current crop of "social media" giants.  I don't get it.  I so very much don't get it that I don't use any of them.  The closest I come is youtube, which I only touch with a ten-foot pole of browser plugins which disable  the comments, shorts, ads, and most of its other most egregious anti-features.

But, I'm not most people.  Most people go ahead and use facebook/twitter/instagram/whatever, at least to some degree.

Thus, we've let unsupervised and unconsidered algorithms decide which bits of information we see or don't see.  Your facebook/twitter/instagram/whatever feeds are not lists of things you've asked for, they're infinitely-scrolling sets of the items which have been calculated to be the most likely to generate the most profit for the middleman in question.  This has had society-poisoning and democracy-breaking effects, and it should not be surprising that when profits matter more than honesty, things go pear-shaped quickly.

After seeing the messes we get ourselves into when we defer our thinking and sorting to machines (profit machines, specifically), my personal reaction would be to take a step back and reflect, "hm, maybe we need to think this through more carefully".  Instead, we've gone ahead and given these same capitalism bots the ability not to just show and hide and reorder (dis)information, but to literally make things up on the spot.

What?  Why?!

(Well, I know why.  Middlemen need no longer rely solely on their own victicustomers to provide the "content" to shuffle into each others' feeds.)

I'm beginning to feel about AI software the way I feel about guns.  Mechanically, these are fascinating pieces of engineering and ingenuity.  There's both a complexity and a simplicity that is captivating and beautiful.  Also, no thank you!  Decline.  Unsubscribe.  Not in my house.  It claims to be a fun and neutral tool, but I have a very hard time seeing it as anything but a dangerous weapon.

I suspect we'll soon see artificially-generated novels, and movies, and augmented-reality serials.  They'll be amusing enough not to die in the crib.  At nearly no cost, there won't be much reason not to keep trying, even at low points in any fad/zeitgeist cycle.  Entire wikipedias' worth of "information" will come and go and morph and self-refer.  I think that's pretty fascinating, but it also sure looks like authorship, authenticity, and having any basis at all in truth are all up on the chopping block.  Once these things start consuming each others' and their own output as input, we're going to have more messes to clean up than we can deal with.  Based on the current trajectory of our approaches, my guess is we'll try to fight fire with more and more fire.

I worry whether we have much natural intelligence left, let alone what the artificial sort will get up to.