Hybrids aren't the solution. At least not yet.

This article from Newsweek (also reprinted by MSNBC) - Imagine: 500 Miles Per Gallon - unfortunately misses a number of key important points.

Firstly, hybrid cars are currently worse performing than diesel cars. They burn more fuel. They cost more. Their batteries are expensive and wear out after 4 years - at a large cost to the environment. They pollute more even if you don't take into account the batteries - modern diesels from Europe put out less waste products than modern gasoline engines seen in the US.

Secondly, battery technology isn't accelerating that fast. It hasn't accelerated anywhere near where we'd like it to. Look at laptops for proof of this - they're having trouble keeping up. Because of this, fuel technologies will need to get better - and they're not keeping up all that fast. The biggest advance in the last 50 years was the new design, impressively efficient - yes, you guessed it -
diesel engine.

Will a hybrid diesel work? Maybe. Will we get around the battery issues? No time soon. Besides, Buzz Aldrin already tried to point out that improving battery life would be an important step forward as a political campaign platform in the 70s. No-one bought it. Sure, the climate might have changed, but has it changed that much?

All in all... don't go for a hybrid yet. Even with the latest models, diesels are better for the environment. If you really care about that kind of thing, buy a diesel. You'll spend less on gas than for a hybrid too...


Guess I didn't botch it so bad after all...

On the 10th of January, I started working at Surreal Software as a tools engineer. Pretty cool place, great people, high stressload, not much free time at the moment - thus the lack of blog postings.

I guess I didn't botch it so bad after all :)

Surreal is probably best known for the recent game The Suffering, which is a survival/action/horror game in the same vein as the Silent Hill games.

It's good to be here. All I need to do now is figure out how to fit going to the gym for 2 hours a day in with actually sleeping, eating, and going to work and still having time to wind down afterwards. Guess it doesn't help that I started right around a major crunch.

#Surreal Software
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Not Quite Teen Movies

Recent movies which don't exactly fit into the Hughes oeuvre, but which do, oddly, fit into the category of Teen Movies include the wonderful Donnie Darko, Garden State, and the hit/miss Butterfly Effect.

They're kind of like nostalgia teen movies - but instead of a "coming of age", the lesson is that you can't go back to your past - and the memories are never as good as you thought they were.

Often, redemption or reconcilliation are major plot themes.

Donnie Darko, of course, is a complete cipher in that the main loop of the film never actually happens in a real universe. It's all just a move to push Donnie into the position where he can die to close the loop that should never have been started in the first place. The universe goes back on course, and only the resonance of his actions remain.

It's also unlike Garden State and Butterfly Effect in that instead of the character returning to their past, Donnie is unaware that he's returning to anything. Instead, the whole movie is tainted as if looked at through a dark bitter glass. There is mold and mildew on the wallpaper, and the smell is dank, torrid, warm, spongy and wrong. Childhood looked at through a jaded adult's eyes - seeing all the things that you missed back then because you weren't as cynical. That's Donnie Darko. It's foetid. And I love it.


Rules for Writing Classic Teen Movies

This is my own notes from my notebook on the subject. I'd love to know if anyone disagrees with my take on it...

It's not high drama. It's comedy or melodrama. The problems are not life threatening - nor should they be. Suicide is not to be included. Death can be. But on the whole, the movie should be light in tone.

The teens must create the scenario they're in themselves - they drive it all.

Weird Science - the teens create Lisa,
Ferris Bueler's Day Off - he decides to take a day off school and play hookey
Explorers - they build a ship based on their dreams

If it's a fantasy piece, their home life must be equally evil/morbid/bleak/unenjoyable to balance it out.

The factors which make it unenjoyable must be overcome by the end of the movie in a "coming of age" plot.

Their arrogance once they discover they have power must be enough to nearly trip them completely. However, it is kept in check and they learn the error of their ways.

They must be the underdogs. They are not the cool people in school. They are not the desirable ones. They may be bullied. Or they may just be outcasts. Either way, they're not part of the "in-crowd". (In other words, the majority of teens will feel this way and will identify with it).

Similarly, the "in-crowd" must get their comeuppance. People who ostracize them get an equivalent penance. People who bully them get shown to be cowards. The high road or the slapstick one is always taken, as an eye-for-an-eye drags you from comedy to drama.

Conflicts include:

  • The desire to find a girlfriend
  • The desire to have sex / kiss / make out
  • The desire to look cool
  • The desire to be popular / have friends
  • The desire to be talented, or considered to be skilled in some way - special.
  • The desire to have one's dreams come true as a career (science, music, whatever… but the dreams are caricature broad strokes - astronaut / magician / rock star / secret agent - not accountant, scientist, engineer or line cook)
  • The need to have a part time job to get money
  • Access to independence - car, private space/territory, no curfews
  • Restrictions because they're not yet adults or old enough - age limits in bars, voting (becomes more important later, but is still an issue), pornography, sex, drinking, dancing, driving, smoking
  • Ultimately, the importance is that of being able to control one's own destiny, instead of being at the whim of adults.

      The scenario must provide them with things that they dream about. This can include the resolution of any of the above conflicts. However, it doesn't have to come easy. Or it can come easy, but arrives with strings attached. The resolution of these strings or the price that has to be paid drives the majority of the plot.

      Any rules or restrictions which are broken (smoking, drinking, etc) must come with consequences to show why they are rules in the first place. The teens must then deal with the consequences. Eg. drinking = hangover. Smoking = coughing. Partying = the place gets trashed. Driving = the car crashes, or the police chase them for speeding. The resolution can be unlikely or impossible - but they must deal with the consequences of their adult acts and find a way to get rid of the negative effect. The only case where this doesn't happen is sex, which is never committed - it's just not tasteful to admit that teens have sex. Softcore porn and lust? Fine (as long as it's not a teen character getting naked). Kissing? Sure! Go for it. Sleeping in one another's arms, tastefully fully clothed? Absolutely! But no real sex. However, the set up for it can be there...

      The scenario should follow the traditional hero plot curve, except that unlike the major hero arc (eg. Indiana Jones, where the hero does not get what he wants at the end and is thwarted once more), they kids do get what they want - and learn their lesson to boot.

      As part of this, at the end of the film, the teens must be recognized to have gained at least some part of their adulthood. (Ferris Bueller is different in that in this movie, Ferris essentially takes the part of Lisa from Weird Science, or Loki from Greek Mythology - he is the trickster, and he sets up everything for Cameron's journey - not his own. This is also borne out in the fact that Ferris is universally liked by the other students - he is the joker in the class, and not an outcast or outsider).

    #fiction, #script writing, #story
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    Movie Subtext Analysis Quiz

    Essay Question 1.

    In Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Matthew Broderick's character Ferris is the Norse God Loki the trickster. Discuss.

    Yes, I know... some people might consider this to be stretching things a bit, but I'm pretty certain that this is the case. Certainly, Ferris Bueller's Day Off doesn't follow your typical teen "coming of age" style plot - unlike, say, Weird Science or Stand By Me. Although one character does come of age - specifically, Cameron. Ferris, however, is the joker, trickster and liar who puts Cameron into situations he wouldn't ordinarily be in. He's also seemingly immune to twists of fate and doesn't learn anything during the course of the movie. Thus, I posit that he's actually not a real person in the drama at all, but is in fact the embodiment of the archetype of Loki.

    At least, that's my take on it. Not sure who that makes Rooney though.


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