Archive for June, 2010
OK, so this image wasn’t really taken in a post-apocalyptic wasteland… it was actually taken on my walk home from Alewife. But with the overgrowth of the bushes, the lack of traffic and the glare of the evening sun sure makes it look like zombies are gonna come down that on-ramp any minute. (Or maybe that’s just wishful thinking.)
This picture of Laurel, now closing in on six-and-a-half, was taken at a friend’s birthday party last weekend. I heart her so much.
(Yes, I’ve been light on content the last week. Very sorry, but we’ve been moving into the new place and I have had neither time nor brain. Both lacks will soon be fixed, and actual content-like substance will return!)
Yesterday afternoon, Arlington (the town in which I live) was hit with a weather phenomenon apparently known as a “microburst.” This particular term was new to me, though apparently it’s a very small, incredibly intense storm system which is very very tornado-like in its effects. The Wikipedia tells me that “A microburst often has high winds that can knock over fully grown trees.”
Well, yes. Yes it can.
I took this picture this morning on the Minuteman Bike Trail on my way to Alewife from our new place. Just between my apartment and Alewife, there were two fully-grown trees horizontal across the path. People had to climb over them and pull their bikes over tree trunks and under branches. Another tree fell over on a car two blocks from our place, and a neighborhood near mine was apparently thrashed pretty heavily. Even in our current apartment, we were pummeled with so much rain in such a small period of time that we experienced the first significant flooding we’ve had in the two years we’ve lived there — water poured through our basement access door like we were a submarine that had recently been torpedoed.
(A couple more photos of the damage are available on my Flickr stream.)
I think I might’ve just seen my favorite thing in the history of all things ever: French photographer Stefán Le Dú took pictures of Stormtrooper action figures every day for a year. That description alone might not make you say “Yes, Allen, that does sound like grandest of all possible things!”, but trust me on this.
Le Dú didn’t just meticulously pose action figures — he imbued them with personality, an especially impressive feat when you realize that you can’t see the Stormtroopers’ faces. (His figures had removable helmets, but he keeps their faces hidden even in shots with their helmets off.) Through their poses, stances, placements and relation to each other and their environments, Le Dú paints a plastic picture of two Stormtroopers, one not-so-bright and the other dealing with his partner’s not-so-brightness1, who taunt Ewoks and Jedi alike, who cower in fear from Sith lords (yet who still worship them), who gleefully promote the benefits of working for the Empire, and who know how to enjoy a good time.
His three-hundred-sixty-five photos don’t exactly tell one story, though he certainly uses recurring themes and imagery, such as the troopers’ fondness for the phrase “rebel scum.” But the beauty of this set is that each and every photo tells a story. There’s a deep fondness for the Star Wars universe present in this set, and several of the photos provide subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) meta-commentary on Star Wars and the place and reputation of Stormtroopers therein. For instance, I think this photo might be my favorite for exactly that reason:
Take the time to go through the pictures. Le Dú shows not only some tremendous creativity and humor but also some serious technical chops — he’s a hell of a photographer, with a fantastic sense of compositon, staging and lighting. It takes a while to take in all 365 photos, but if you’re a fan of photography, storytelling or Stormtroopers, it’s well worth the time.
A couple more of my favorites:
To be perfectly fair, there’s more than one picture that insinuate that neither of them is chock full o’ brains. ↩
Those of you who follow me on Twitter probably I noticed I changed my name there yesterday from @HMXMrTerrific to the simpler and easier-to-type @AllenHolt. I don’t want to alarm anyone with the change — sorry if I made you nervous, @MrPope — so I figured you deserved an explanation. (Yes, I’m going to manage to be wordy about something as relatively inconsequential as a Twitter handle.)
First off, no, I am most definitely not leaving Harmonix. I love it here way way too much. I’m giving up the “HMX” tag in front of my name mainly because I don’t really do anything to represent Harmonix on my feed, so it doesn’t feel quite right to use it. I’m not exactly the face of the company, y’know? While I do indeed quite happily promote Harmonix whenever I can via Twitter (or anywhere else), it’s not explicitly part of my job. The people on our fantastic Community team, the ones who actually deal with the public as part of their day-to-day jobs and represent Harmonix at massive public events… they’re completely justified in prefixing their handles with “HMX.” And we have several other people who have become something like “faces of HMX” who also benefit the company by using the tag.
Honestly, though? I only had the “HMX” tag in there because I was showing off the fact that I work at Harmonix and wanted people to think I’m cool. I still want people to think I’m cool, of course, even if I’m really not — but now I want them to have that mistaken notion based on my own merits and not those of the awesome awesome company for which I work.
So why did I change it? Well, as mentioned above, “AllenHolt” is a helluva lot easier to type and spell (and even read) than “HMXMrTerrific.” More importantly, though: I want to build the “brand” of my name. And oh em gee, bee tee dubs, do I hate thinking of what I’ve done as “brand building” because that thought has the stink of synergistic revenue-enhacing marketing douchebaggery all over it… but, really, that’s exactly what I’m doing, so if the stinky shoe fits, I’ve gotta wear it.
Someday, probably in the not-that-far-off future, I’m going to want to do something where having my name established is going to be important. I’m not completely sure what just yet, but I wanted to put another stake in the virtual ground to say “Hey, this is me.” My full, real name was available on Twitter, so I wanted to take it now before some other Allen Holt decides to try to build his online brand with it.
I’ve always been loathe to self-promote because it’s always felt like Not Me. In fact, people who constantly pimp themselves have historically tended to rub me the wrong way (not in a personal way, just in an “ew” way). But I get it now. See, this is the thing: if I don’t promote myself, no one else is gonna. I can’t wait to be “discovered” like aspiring Hollywood starlets in the ’40s. It’s not anyone else’s job to tell people to read my stuff or to look at what I’m doing. If I want to build a name for myself, I have do A) do Cool Things and Good Work and B) tell people about it. A) must come before B) in this scenario, but there’s no reason I can’t get B) set up while I’m still developing A).
So that’s what I’m now working on. I’m still not doing enough Cool Things just yet, but I’m thinking and trying and planning, and Ideas are hovering about the hazy horizon in my brain. Basically, changing my Twitter handle was just an early step in a long and still vague plan for eventual World Domination. Or at least World, um, Networking and/or Self-Promotion. Nothing to be worried about!
(And hey! You should be following me on Twitter if you’re not already!)