I don’t know if this is going to be an ongoing series, but I’m definitely prepared if it gets to that point.
As a geek of the new age, most people know that the first law of writer/actor Wil Wheaton is “Don’t be a dick.” However, if you’ve ever wondered what Wheaton does when someone he personally knows and likes violates that law, you need to start reading his Tumblr ask responses.
[You] know what’s … rare? A guy who can write excellent code in several disparate languages, manage multiple different server installs, administrate databases, and configure office firewalls. All while being motivated to do “tedious” work and manage his own projects while not caring about his work/life balance and being solely focused on the job.
That’s not a unicorn, it’s something more like a deity, and it doesn’t actually exist. There is no one out there who can realistically meet that job description. What they will get instead is a jack of all trades who has mastered very few or none of them, and who will have to scramble like crazy just to meet the base requirements of the job, let alone excel at them. You know why? Because as they readily admit, it’s a job that should require four people. You get what you pay for, guys.
You don’t want that job. There is no upside to taking it. You’ll be worked like a dog and paid like shit while you’re doing it, while Khoo, Krahulik, and Holkins continue cashing their trade show checks.
Robert Khoo is a brilliant businessman, and such businessmen excel by finding the sucker and exploiting him or her.
Don’t be that sucker.
—Web designer and writer Christopher Buecheler lays it out to the potential applicants for a job working at Penny Arcade.
When my husband first expressed his outrage over the job posting, I didn’t think too much of it; however, reading this, I understand his anger a little better. At the same time, however, I doubt that any of the people who currently have full-time jobs (like their first employee Mike Fehlauer or most recent new hire Jamie Dillon) there are being terribly exploited.
So, my advice to any and all of the applicants out there when if they’re called in to a final interview where they start talking salary is to ask what the top person is taking home, and then maybe increase that by 50% or so. Because for a web-based company, if your electronic infrastructure breaks down, you definitely don’t want to be underpaying the guy or gal you’ve hired to maintain it.
As a side note, wouldn’t it be ironic if stories from their current web and Internet infrastructure team started appearing in The Trenches?
In the olden days, producers knew what visual effects were. Now they’ve gotten into this methodology where they’ll hire a middleman – a visual effects supervisor, and this person works for the producing studio. They’re middle managers. And when you go into a review with one of them, there’s this weird sort of competition that happens. It’s a game called ‘Find What’s Wrong With This Shot’. And there’s always going to be something wrong, because everything’s subjective. And you can micromanage it down to a pixel, and that happens all the time. We’re doing it digitally, so there’s no pressure to save on film costs or whatever, so it’s not unusual to go through 500 revisions of the same shot, moving pixels around and scrutinizing this or that. That’s not how you manage artists. You encourage artists, and then you’ll get – you know – art. If your idea of managing artists is just pointing out what’s wrong and making them fix it over and over again, you end up with artists who just stand around asking “OK lady, where do you want this sofa? You want it over there? No? Fine. You want it over there? I don’t give a fuck. I’ll put it wherever you want it.” It’s creative mismanagement, it’s part of the whole corporate modality. The fish stinks from the head on down. Back on Star Wars, Robocop, we never thought about what was wrong with a shot. We just thought about how to make it better.
—Legendary visual effects artist Phil Tippett wants many visual effects supervisors to get out of his office and go back where they came from.
Be sure to check out the rest of his AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit right now!
I don’t recognize the Orson Scott Card I see today, but I refuse to believe that the author whose stories helped me navigate my teenage years has disappeared entirely. Others may hate him, but I’m still struggling to understand him. That’s the least I owe him for gifting me with an ethical compass when I needed one. How strange and how sad, then, that Card’s compass pointed me in one direction while he strode off in another. But maybe that’s what he had given me: a gift so sacred that even Card himself could not be allowed to understand what it meant.
—Rany Jazayerli, a sportswriter who is also Muslim, explains why he’s going to see the Ender’s Game movie despite original book author Orson Scott Card’s various problematic personal opinions.
You say you want to go “viral.” I’m gonna tell you that you actually might NOT want to go legitimately “viral” and here’s why: About 90% of videos that go viral are a trap for their creators. Tay Zonday made Chocolate Rain, and regardless of the fact that he’s a talented singer and songwriter, he will forever be known as the Chocolate Rain guy. Chris Crocker isn’t known as a smart social commentator and sketch comedian, he’s known as “Leave Britney Alone.” The list goes on. The trap of going viral is that you will forever be compared to your original viral work, and viewers will be largely uninterested in anything else you have to offer. It’s like how Matthew Perry will play Chandler the rest of his life, you don’t necessarily want to blow up super-quickly… better to build an audience with a few really solid, moderately popular videos, and then continue releasing consistently good content within a specific concept or brand.
—Musical comedian Brent “brentalfloss” Black tells a fellow YouTube artist some harsh truths about how to play the “famous on the Internet” game.
I have to say that this is the most nicely critical piece of writing I’ve seen in a while. It’s easy to “go mean” when someone comes to you for advice like this; I appreciate that Black went into teacher mode instead.
You can learn more about Brent Black by visiting his website or checking out some of his YouTube videos. (Also, the video on his subscriber page that auto-plays where he explains what his channel is about for new viewers? Why don’t more YouTube artists do that?)
“Epic game development” – A development process where a lot of important information (location of critical resources, build-in cheat codes, status of some sub-systems) never gets written down, but instead is passed by the word of mouth from developer to developer, like a folk tale. Most game development in Russia is Epic.
But why is it—and this only seems to apply to comedy—that some people so deeply resent those that can write jokes, can invent new perceptions of the world that actually make people laugh? Resent them so much that they have to denigrate the entire profession, just so they can feel better about themselves? Do they really think they’re less of a person if they can’t make up a joke, or be funny in the moment? Why is it so crucial to them? Is it because all of us, at some point of darkness or confusion or existential despair, were amazed at how absurd a thing as a simple joke suddenly lit the way, or warmed the cold, or made the sheer, horrific insanity that sometimes comes with being alive suddenly, completely, miraculously manageable?
Those people—the public and, sadly, a lot of journalists—those people were my target, in all of my seemingly “unmeasured responses” to thievery. Because I can’t stop joke thieves. They’re always going to be there.
But what I can hopefully stop—or, at least, change for the better—is the public (and media’s) response to joke thieves, by hammering away at this same, exhausting refrain every time I see some thumb-sucking “think piece” by a writer who should fucking know better, cyber-quacking away about “cover songs” and “vaudeville” and a million other euphemisms and deflections away from the simple fact that an uncreative person took a creative person’s work, signed their name to it, and passed it off as their own for their personal glorification, monetary benefit and career advancement. There’s no wiggle room there. Even the thieves know that, better than the dullards who are rationalizing and defending them.
—Comedian/actor Patton Oswalt, educating the media on why he’ll never be sympathetic to joke-thieves. The other two parts on heckling and the ongoing discussion about rape jokes are worth reading as well.
By our organization’s current bylaws, the president of SFWA has unilateral control of, and therefore is ultimately responsible for, the organization’s publications. This includes the Bulletin. This means that when all is said and done, I personally am responsible for the Bulletin and what is published between its covers.
I have said this before but it bears repeating: This is on me, and I accept both the responsibility and criticism for it. I have some read criticism of the Bulletin’s editor Jean Rabe, so I want to be clear that Ms. Rabe, in her role as editor of Bulletin, had my full support. She took over the Bulletin at a problematic time in the publication’s history, got it back onto a regular schedule and otherwise righted what was a foundering ship. When previous concerns about sexism regarding the Bulletin were aired, specifically the cover of issue #200, Ms. Rabe listened, understood and was responsive to them and solicited work relevant to the concern, in the hope of furthering discussion. She has always acted in good faith for the organization, and I have valued and continue to value her dedication.
As publisher, I was aware that there would be two articles in Bulletin #202 about the cover of issue #200, one by Jim C. Hines and one by Mike Resnick and Barry Malzberg. I did not read Mr. Hines’ piece and glanced cursorily at the Resnick/Malzberg piece but did not give it a significant read; I do not as a matter of course closely read the Bulletin before it is published. It’s possible if I had more closely read the article I might have alerted Ms. Rabe to portions that might be an issue. She might then have had the opportunity to take those concerns back to Mr. Resnick and Mr. Malzberg, who I have no reason to believe would not have taken editorial direction.
This did not happen. I as publisher gave the go-ahead—and once again, the responsibility for the event, and the offense it caused, falls on me.
So once again I apologize to the members who we have offended through the last few issues of the Bulletin. It is my place to accept the responsibility, and so my place to offer the apology.
—Outgoing SFWA President John Scalzi shows loads of class, why he was elected back in 2010, and actually apologizes in his statement on the recent debacle.
And I hope that this is the last I’ll have to report about this kind of situation regarding the SFWA from now on.
Among the good things that have come out so far regarding the problem with the most recent SFWA Bulletin is this encounter between Ursula Vernon, creator of the Digger webcomic and the Dragonbreath series of books, and John Scalzi. I’ll let Vernon speak for herself here:
SFWA announced that they’re putting a task force on fixing the Bulletin RIGHT NOW and that’s a good thing. We are hopeful!
John Scalzi said, somewhat ruefully, on Twitter that this is what he gets for thinking that the last month of his tenure as SFWA president would be quiet.
I told him that he had tempted the Fannish Misogyny Fairy with such thoughts.
He said he wanted to see an illustration.
There are very few people for whom I will whip off a spontaneous illustration, and I have to be in the right mood (my buddy Mur is still waiting for her sugar cube golem!) but all the stars aligned, I found photo ref of Hoary Marmots (because A) these are very hoary attitudes and B) if you google them, there are some marvelous shots of hoary marmots sitting around in groups, looking like grumpy old men) and…well…