Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Selling A Video On My Blog About How To Sell Videos On Your Blog

This is silly, I know. However, it's probably also quite useful. Lots of people have asked me about this, and I ended up putting material about this in my last video on internet marketing, as well as creating a nice, 20-minute freebie video. This new product has three parts, all extracted from earlier videos:

An excerpt from my Handcuffs video on how to make a great presentation, which many people told me was their favorite part of that video;

the freebie video, included as a download for convenience, which explains how to set these things up to sell well;

plus the segment of my internet marketing video which deals with screencasting (including a simple introduction to ScreenFlow and e-mail marketing).

Buy Now

I've done the math, and my screencasts have made me around $20,000 this year so far. It's not much of a yearly income, to say the least, but it's part of several streams of income, and it doesn't actually require quitting your job, not by any stretch of the imagination. I recommend that part for extra fun, but only if you're prepared to also face extra stress and shoulder extra responsibility. My initial plan for 2010 was to work full-time and explore information marketing.

Anyway, it's a nice little package, and although I might raise the price later, for now it's way lower than my usual price ($97). This set of three videos costs only $63. Also, one of those videos is only included as a convenience, because it's free; you're really paying for the two paid-only videos, on how to make a terrific, compelling presentation, and how to record it, host it, and sell it.

Buy Now

Zed Shaw As Performance Art

Somebody recently shared with me an interesting point of view about Zed Shaw. Zed has in the past claimed to have studied ninjitsu. Since he also has written very successful software in Ruby, namely Mongrel, there are really only two possibilities: either Zed has not actually studied ninjitsu, or Zed is a literal Ruby ninja.

If Zed has been trained to attack silently and disappear into the shadows without anyone noticing, he is most well-known for disregarding his own training and not using those particular skills.

I think many Rubyists might remember a Zed-like rant of my own, directed against a certain prominent person in our community with a taste for the game Werewolf. To avoid spreading the drama any further, and because it amuses me, we'll call this person Biff.

Zed posted a rant about more or less everybody in Rails being allegedly horrible, singling Biff out for particular criticism and indeed abuse. What bothers me most about all this is that I launched my rant only after looking at Biff's behavior in the light of Zed's rant, then cautiously re-examining it, over the course of months if not years, and coming to the conclusion that Zed had been onto something.

Every other accusation Zed made, I never saw evidence of, but with Biff, I still believe Zed was onto something; in fact, I stand by every word of my criticisms against Biff. But I've taken them offline, because the way they're interpreted frequently surprises me and/or angers people. Defending and/or clarifying those words wastes valuable time and energy, with absolutely no payoff at all. Likewise, I'm reserving the right to take this blog post offline at any time. I have no interest in feuding with Zed.

But I am interested in reviewing him as a piece of performance art. I bring him up for a simple reason. Zed's infamy illustrates exactly what is so damn weird about social media: social media is both social, and media. Zed is a human being, or course, but to some extent, Zed the icon is just a media construct. When Zed rants about me, or I rant about Biff, are we putting on a show for the public, or interacting with our own social group? The answer is "yes; both." The two are blurring together.

In a Campfire chat room, where you can interact by pasting images just as easily as by typing text, people will alternate images and text to suit their mood. For instance, here's a conversation which contains no words:

Despite the absence of words, you know the conversation is about burritos. Communication via Campfire can take on the feel of a comic book assembled in real time. Interacting with your social group blurs into putting on a show for them.

Social media turns spectacle into communication and communication into spectacle; and in a few short years, the world will not only be filled with young people who have never known otherwise, those young people will start shaping the world we share with them, and they will do it based on a youthful, innocent assumption that spectacle and communication have always been one and the same. That's going to be some weird shit.

Zed's spectacle/communication blend is so one-sided in its emphasis on spectacle (and further complicated by metagaming) that it's impossible for me to guess what he's actually like as a person, beyond the few times I've met him in person, offline, unencumbered by media, during which times he seemed perfectly rational and totally nice (and in fact, at which times, I strongly believed that we had made friends). As a participant in social media - that is to say, as a Friend in Facebook terms, or a Followee and/or Follower in Twitter terms - I'm sorry to say that I don't dig Zed. But as a subject of social media, he's fascinating.

In 2008, discussing internet fame, I said:

A lot of people like to hammer the idea that celebrities are gods, and certainly, when Britney Spears backs up traffic, paralyzes my daily commute, and magically summons helicopters just by visiting a courtroom, it's possible to see her as some strange, demented goddess, just because of the tremendous power her whims and moods can exert over strangers. She gets sad and the traffic changes. But I think it's much more realistic to see celebrities as words. Their fame gives us common reference points all over the world. I might not see my cousins in Canada very often, but if I tell them the woman I'm dating is basically Elaine from Seinfeld and my boss is basically Beck, the signal/noise ratio is incredible. That's a very detailed picture of my life from a relatively small number of words.

Just for the mental exercise, flip it around. Imagine telling somebody you're dating Beck and your boss is Elaine from Seinfeld. Same characters, but you've just described an infinitely different life in a very small number of terms which anyone in the English-speaking world can understand...

If celebrities enable high-resolution conversation, micro-celebrities constitute words in domain-specific languages... DHH and Paul Graham [have become human shorthand for two contrasting models of high-tech entrepreneurship].

In our domain-specific language, Zed has become a potent word, an icon of programmer rage; to some extent, his sanity or insanity is a moot question. Sane or insane, he'll own Reddit's programming page for years to come. He plays the angry, brilliant cowboy programmer so well that if he didn't exist, we'd have to invent him. But in his reckless antagonism, he reminds me of Lindsay Lohan. I once read an article where Lohan was quoted as saying something like, "as bad as it looks, you want your face in the tabloids every day," on the assumption that this operated as a measure of star power and therefore as a guarantee of future acting work. Unfortunately, the effect her arrests have had on her career does not lend credibility to that theory.

Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys. I'm no authority on Zed's career, don't claim to be, and don't want to be. But I can tell you the conclusion I've reached from my own career: no amount of brilliance will ever change the fact that you need to be able to get along with people.

I think part of Zed's iconic status on Reddit and Hacker News, in fact, comes from the fact that most programmers realize this on some level, yet harbor secret wishes to go all cowboy loco, eliminating everything from their lives but code, caffeine, and an indestructible, almost delusional sense of righteousness. In that sense, the man's a terrific entertainer; I hope he starts doing YouTube video blogging, as you can get a revenue share from that if you run up sufficient traffic, and I have a feeling it'd be a terrific show to watch. I wouldn't watch it myself, but I'd expect it to do well.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Chance Favors The Connected Mind

Thursday, September 23, 2010

What Do I Have In Common With Bill Clinton, Xeni Jardin, Joi Ito And Cory Doctorow? Eating Only Plants

Bill Clinton, Plant Eater

And Obie Fernandez, James Golick, Matt Lyon, Eric Davis, and many others. (Joe O'Brien, for one, although I think he still eats fish.)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Monday, September 20, 2010

This Book Is Freaking Awesome

Dense and wordy; written by an academic for academics, but absolutely essential if you want to understand from a cultural perspective phenomena like toy merchandising, entertainment marketing, the success of LOST, fan fiction, cosplay, alternate reality games, videogame tie-ins, and the franchise approach to film-making. This is the most interesting book I've read since Here Comes Everybody and pairs beautifully with the analysis of evolving narrative complexity on television in Everything Bad Is Good For You. Its model of texts and paratexts also mirrors perfectly the smaller and much faster "geek media" world of blog posts, presentations, tweets, and GitHub repos.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


The Hybrid Group, spearheaded by LA Ruby's own Ron Evans, just launched KanbanPad, a Kanban web app. Kanban is a popular alternative to Scrum. I've never used Kanban, but Winnie Wong gave a presentation on it at LA Ruby, so I have some idea how it works. I've also used Scrum and been trained in it, and at one point kicked around the idea of creating a similar app for Scrum, so, if you're using Kanban, give KanbanPad a look. (Also, I first saw this app in a preview demo at LA Ruby some months back, so congrats to the Hybrid Group on the launch.)

Experiment: Mouse Movements In ScreenFlow

I ran an experiment to see if I could get expressive, artistic video out of ScreenFlow.

Marketing God?

Amazingly, this appears to have been written by a devout Christian:

Organized religions are the best marketers in the world. They have complete control over the product they market, can make any claims they want and never have to prove results (since results can’t be proven until death). Dead people don’t usually complain so it’s a win/win for everyone..

Working On A Secret Project

More news on this later.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

How I Lost 75+ Pounds In 6 Months With Not Much Exercise: My Unofficial Eat To Live Study Guide

I've created a new video about how I lost over 75 pounds in six months, and kept it off another six, without exercising much or counting calories at all.

Buy Now

It includes, for convenience, download versions of Eating Intelligently: Evolution and Eating Intelligently: Nutrition, my recent free videos on healthy weight loss, as well as a few relevant blog posts in PDF format (again for convenience).

The video describes how I lost all that weight. The short answer is easy. I implemented the plan in this terrific book:

This video is an unauthorized accompaniment to the book. In the video I explain how I handled all the fuss and muss of transforming your diet completely and changing the way you live.

I've shown a lot of people this book, and many of them have gone on to lose weight damn near immediately. (You can read more about that, including a description of typical results, at this longer blog post I wrote about it previously.) But others have seen terrific results but been unable to stay on course, and gone back to eating Doritos and getting fat, while others have struggled with the details of it - how do I start eating well, where do I start, how do I set up myself for success rather than failure as I make a major change in how I live my life?

This video explains the answers I found, and some answers you might be able to use as well. It's not a self-contained product; you should also buy Dr. Fuhrman's book Eat To Live, pictured above. I am not a doctor or a nutritionist and cannot give you medical advice, but Dr. Fuhrman is, and does. What I explain in the video is how I put that to use, what I learned, how I understand it, pitfalls to watch out for, and hacks I discovered to make it easier.

Buy Now

Just to be clear! This is not an official or authorized product. Dr. Fuhrman has not endorsed this product, or in fact even been told it exists, come to think of it, and I have no affiliation with Dr. Fuhrman on a business level, except for being a member of his affiliate program. This is my own commentary on Dr. Fuhrman's work, representing my own opinion, and should not be considered medical advice or a claim to any ownership of the Eat To Live concept or brand. Also, if you're a born-again Christian, there's a section where I look at one of your culture's quirks from the outside, and tell people they should emulate this aspect of your culture; depending on your level of sensitivity, you may find it offensive, or complimentary, and you may even find it both offensive and complimentary. Just want to say, I mean no harm.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Weight Loss: Dangerous Cybernetics Hack

The other day I posted a video which explains (among other things) that weight loss is about cybernetics, not simple addition and subtraction. If you didn't see the video, here's the Wikipedia definition of cybernetics:

Cybernetics is the interdisciplinary study of the structure of regulatory systems. Cybernetics is closely related to control theory and systems theory.

Here's a powerful weight loss hack which illustrates how you can manipulate your body by faking out its regulatory systems. You eat terrible food and lose weight by choosing specific forms of terrible food that completely flummox your body's control systems. Specifically, you drink either olive oil or sugar water, and this confuses your appestat; the next day, you have virtually no appetite at all, and you begin losing weight.

I found it on Kathy Sierra's blog:

It is almost impossible to describe what this "diet" (it's not really a diet) does. (All links are at the end of this post.) A UC Berkeley professor named Seth Roberts claims to have found a way to trick the legacy brain into thinking it needs to weigh less. (Which means "lower your set point", for those who are familiar with that term.)

For me, in two weeks, it's been working too well. I don't have a weight problem, so I wasn't interested in losing weight. I wanted to try it because it's fascinating, seems impossible to believe, and MAINLY for the claim that by reducing cravings, it helps you make better eating choices. My goal on this "diet" was that when it was time to eat, I wanted to find carrots and broccoli as viable an option as Ben and Jerry's. That hasn't completely happened (although cravings have virtually disappeared), but within three days, I was actually forgetting to eat. For the last ten days I've had to remind myself--as a purely cognitive activity--that "this is probably a good time to eat something."

The researcher who devised this hack later published it as a book:

I want to emphasize that THIS DIET IS A TERRIBLE IDEA. Plain and simple, it will fuck you up. I mention it only to illustrate the powerful role cybernetics plays in weight loss. Don't be an idiot and measure food in pounds and calories; assess it for its cybernetic impact, that is to say, for the way your internal regulatory systems interpret it as a control signal.

I lost about 17 pounds on this diet, and of course immediately gained it back, plus a few extra pounds (whereas with Dr. Fuhrman's Eat To Live I lost 82 pounds, and I've kept my weight off for over six months). I also had heart surgery a few years after I tried this diet. It's not a direct cause, but it almost certainly didn't help anything, either - filling up on sugar water and oils is not exactly a recommended way to prevent heart disease. It increases your risk, to say the least.

But with those caveats, it's an impressive experience. I bought this book and implemented its crazy suggestions by swallowing a bunch of olive oil before I went to bed; the next morning, I couldn't finish even a fraction of my usual breakfast. My appetite simply disappeared, and I felt full after eating almost nothing. The olive oil and sugar water elements are gross, the long-term health effects are awful, but this diet, more than anything else, profoundly illustrates the importance of understanding food not just as raw materials but as control signals for the complex biochemical feedback systems that control your body and determine its weight.

(Stay tuned for the video.)

Update: got a good question from Amber Shah:


Update: I got an angry comment or two about the "this diet will fuck you up" assertion, so let me justify it a little, since I'm not taking it down. One person e-mailed me to ask, isn't it better to eat a little bit of oils that are bad for you, vs. the tons of hamburgers and ice cream you'd eat instead if you were more hungry? It's a question of a lesser of two evils there, and only if you're limiting yourself to the options of eating bad food, or eating bad food in order to prevent youself from eating even more bad food. If you just take on the option of eating good food, the whole argument collapses.

More importantly, if your method of weight regulation involves this kind of trickery, it means you're expecting your body to get things wrong. If you eat healthy food, your body gets things right. The only reason this kind of hack becomes necessary in the first place is your diet's flawed. When I say "this diet will fuck you up," I don't just mean "diet" in the sense of "dieting." I also mean "diet" in the sense of the word's real meaning: what you eat. Eating that way will fuck you up. If you eat that way only a little, then it'll fuck you up only a little. If you eat that way a lot, it will fuck you up a lot. If you're pairing bad food like hamburgers with really bad food like sugar water because the sugar water tricks your body into minimizing the harm of the hamburgers, when you could just eat healthy food and watch the weight disappear, I call that fucked up.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Fast Food Marketing Drives Impatient Behavior

From a fascinating article in the current issue of Psychology Today:

A team of Toronto researchers has found that even incidental and unconscious exposure to the fast-food symbols that are all around us makes people feel time-stressed and impatient in settings far outside the eating domain. They prefer time-saving products. Such exposure speeds up the rate at which they read, even when under no time pressure, as one marker of a sense of added time urgency.

Most striking of all, just a glimpse of the golden arches changes our psychology so that people become impatient about financial decisions - they wind up unwilling to postpone immediate gain for future rewards, so they sacrifice savings, against their own economic interest...

[Researcher Sanford DeVoe] surveyed 400 US adults to see how often they are exposed to fast-food symbols in the [...] real world and whether it affects their savings rates. He was "stunned to see a robust correlation."

If you're feeling impatient to click and learn more, you'll have to learn the joys of deferred gratification. It looks as if Psychology Today hasn't made the article available anywhere online, although a blog post discussing some of the research is.

Eating Intelligently: Nutrition

Twenty-minute video:

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Eating Intelligently: Evolution

Ten-minute video:

Friday, September 10, 2010

Vimeo Awards Festival in NYC

This looks absolutely awesome. I'm hoping to go next year. Includes screenings, talks on the business of film online, Lawrence Lessig and DJ Spooky on copyright, Bruce Sterling on the future of video online, and documentarians on the political potential of online documentaries.

Are Restaurants A Difficult Business?

Serial entrepreneur, Internet millionaire, and restauranteur Bo Peabody's 2004 book Lucky Or Smart? says no. The reason restaurants seem like a difficult business is because many people jump into it without comparing their food to anybody else's food, their financials to anybody else's financials, or their marketing to anybody else's marketing. In short, they go into business simply on the assumption that they know how to make food and eat it, and that's enough for a business - discounting the issues of cash flow, supply chain management, salesmanship, ambience, and hygiene, among many others, that a restaurant's success requires. They fail not because the restaurant business is difficult, but because it tempts so many people who approach it in unbusinesslike ways.

I know people in Los Angeles who say the same thing about acting.

Meanwhile, there's a conference wrapping up in Utah, and it's clearly been a very interesting one:

(the PDF)


Recent research calls into question the generally accepted conclusion that people believe themselves to be better than average. This paper reviews the new theories that have been proposed to explain the fact that better-than-average effects are isolated to common behaviors and abilities, and that people believe themselves to be below average with respect to rare behaviors and uncommon abilities...


Will there be more firms founded in “easy” industries, resulting in heavier competition and higher rates of failure? Evidence does suggest that industries with which most people are familiar, such as restaurants, bars, and clothing retail, see persistent high rates of founding and failure (U.S. Small Business Administration, 2003). It is also the case that the presence of numerous examples of successful incumbents tends to increase the rate at which new firms are founded, despite the fact that these inspiring examples of success also represent potent competitors (Carroll & Hannan, 1989; Sorensen & Sorenson, 2003). When explaining their entry decisions, entrepreneurs tend to talk more about their own strengths and weaknesses than those of the competition (Moore, Oesch, & Zietsma, in press).

The sociological research supports Peabody's point of view (as does the success of his restaurants).

Vim in IRB with Utility Belt

One of the most useful things I ever did was giving my IRB gem Utility Belt the ability to edit Ruby in vi and run it in the IRB REPL. Essentially, you can go into vi from IRB, and exit back out to IRB when done. Likewise with TextMate and emacs, and conceivably any other editor that runs in a Unix-y way.

Here's a four-minute video. Fair warning, it has some flaws; it's quite a bit vague, it begins with some kind of unfortunate audio mishap, and it includes a bit of Fizzbuzz fail. But it showcases a technique which made me more productive and made programming a lot more fun for me.

I made this because I got an e-mail about it that made me wonder why I never made a video about it before. Then I remembered that Vimcasts also did a video about this.

By the way, the history on this is kind of fun. I did a presentation in 2007 where I just live-coded and demo-ed all the great gems and hacks out there for IRB and Rails console at the time. Somebody asked me if it would be possible to do this vi thing, in the Q&A bit at the end of my presentation, and I coded it up on the spot. Afterwards, Greg Brown helped me figure out a much better implementation.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Hypnosis/Visualization MP3

I've created a new product. It's a 40-minute hypnosis mp3. The induction portion is similar to my last hypnosis product, but better - less distracting effects, and a cleaner delivery. The induction in a hypnosis mp3, however, is just the part that puts you in a hypnotic state. The real benefit with this mp3 is the process you experience after entering the hypnotic state.

This is a streamlined and enhanced version of a visualization technique I've been using since 2006. I've been doing it every single day since late May, and I've had several previous stretches where I was using it every single day as well. Because of my calendar system, I could actually count them up and tell you exactly how many days I've used it since October 2009, but let's just say it's quite a few.

Before my string of successful conference presentations, I used this technique to picture delivering wildly successful conference presentations. Before developing Archaeopteryx, I used this technique to picture developing Archaeopteryx. Before losing 80+ pounds in six months, I used this technique to picture losing 80 pounds. You may spot a theme.

I start everything with visualization; I learned that from Linus Torvalds and BB King, among many others. When I first did Rails consulting in 2006, I started with some visualizations, using this technique; when I first decided I would sell videos on the Web, I started with this technique; before all my best performances in acting classes, I used the technique to visualize a successful performance; etc., etc., etc.

Long story short, I'm pretty happy with this technique, I recommend it whole-heartedly, and I think this is probably the best bang for the buck out of anything I've ever sold.

Buy Now

The way you use it is you download it, you put on headphones, and you listen to it. It's pretty straightforward. However, because it's a visualization mp3, you'll also want to collect some reference material. For instance, although I've just given you examples of visualizations I did with this technique which then came true, one visualization I do with this technique which has not yet come true is flying my own helicopter. I just really want to own and fly a helicopter. I don't even know (or care) why.

Anyway, to visualize this, I start with a picture of a helicopter's cockpit.

The goal is to be able to see, in my mind's eye, exactly what I will see when I get my helicopter and fly it. This picture is imperfect, because it was probably taken by a woman and certainly taken by a person wearing nail polish, whereas I, on the day I fly my helicopter, am more likely to be wearing shoes of some kind. But it's still pretty good. It shows me what the inside of the helicopter looks like, and this allows me to make my visualizations specific and accurate. I can imagine myself in the pilot seat and not only can I see in my mind's eye exactly what I would see if I were flying this helicopter, I can compare what's in my mind's eye with the picture, and work to improve my visualization in every detail.

To explain, briefly, this visualization technique exploits a very powerful and handy loophole in the way the mind works. The subconscious mind is much more powerful than the conscious mind. If you summon all your conscious willpower with the aim of following the instruction, "Don't think of a pink polar bear," your subconscious will instantly respond with the thought of a pink polar bear, and your conscious willpower will have no effect on that at all. Every person who's ever tried to break a bad habit knows how powerful the subconscious can be, and how much more powerful than the conscious mind.

However, here's the loophole: the subconscious mind does not possess any mechanism to distinguish between fantasy and reality. That distinction belongs to the conscious mind. Massive, hand-waving oversimplification time: hypnosis bypasses the elements of your mind which make those distinctions and allows you to present anything to the subconscious as reality. Because your subconscious is essentially an always-on pattern-matching machine, whatever it perceives as reality, it will draw into your life like a magnet.

The typical hypnotist exploits this by giving you words after bypassing the conscious mind. This visualization technique trains you instead to put "realities" in your subconscious mind which are much, much more specific. For instance, instead of "you are going to lose weight," you experience having lost the weight, and you also experience the exercise necessary, and/or the new way of eating, and/or the research you'll do to determine the best way for you to lose weight (anyone who reads this blog knows I have firm opinions about that, but that's another topic). Instead of "you will attract wealth," you actually experience flying your own helicopter as if it were real.

The subconscious mind responds extremely well to repetition. If you go into hypnosis every day and visualize the futures you want to create as if they were real, you will very probably begin to experience them. I do this every day, and I have changed my life a great deal as a result. It used to amaze me every time and now I'm starting to get used to it.

When you first start using this mp3, choose one very important goal to focus on. Start with just one thing, and something relatively easy. It's important to establish a firm foundation before building wild and ambitious towers. Listen to the mp3 every day, and once you begin to see good results with your main goal, you might then consider branching out into other goals as well.

Buy Now

Price is $29 for now, but may go up later on.

I Loves Me Some Vehiculos

Awesome motorbike (via BoingBoing)

BoingBoing also led me to discover Baron Margo, a Los Angeles artist whose incredible creations include custom cars and motorbikes with a shiny, steampunk-ish 1950s aesthetic. His web site, www.baronmargo.com, appears to be down or defunct, but you can find a ton of great pics just by searching Flickr for his name (and Google too). Unfortunately, some of the best work is only on his site, including distressed Art Deco vehicles that kind of defy description.

some of baron margo's work, shot by annembray on flickr

Baron Margo's Car
a baron margo jet car shot by kid deuce on flickr

Related: Blastolene

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Am I Wrong?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Superior Code Is Intrinsic To Small Business

Really like a comment I made on the HeadSpin blog, and really curious what other people think of it; add your own comments or tweet your thoughts @gilesgoatboy, ¡por favor!

Discussion begins here and the comment I like is here.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Protip: Buy Art

Since I transformed this blog from a caffeine-fueled rant generator so prolific that people analyzed my output and concluded I was a bot into a bizarre cross between BUY NOW BUY NOW infomercials and donation-driven public television, I've made a decent amount of money - but the not-that-shocking secret is, I could have made a lot more.

I haven't actually been giving money my full attention. Instead I've been going to acting classes, watching a ton of movies, reading a ton of books on film, and going to classes on the business of entertainment. However, I have made a few nice little profits here and there, from time to time, and although I've mostly spent it on silly things like iPads and whatnot, I'm happy to say I've made a few wiser purchasing decisions as well.

This is a hand-made statue of Boba Fett, welded together in Thailand from scrap metal and engine parts (including several spark plugs, for instance, in his backpack). The pictures don't really do it justice; it looks freaking awesome. One thing I love about it is that whenever an artist re-interprets a classic character, they implicitly assert an opinion about what elements of the character are intrinisc and necessary, versus what elements you can throw away and still have the same character.

Most reimaginings of Boba Fett change his helmet.

This one, however, is intended as a fairly literal interpretation, and does not.

But what it does change is the color - everything is burnished steel - and with the new, metallic coloration, it's kind of impossible to miss the fact that Boba Fett's helmet is almost medieval in its design.

Combine that with Fett's jetpack, and the tube connecting it to his gun in this version, and he looks like a classic European Crusader, or armored knight, encased in plate mail and packing a WW2-era flamethrower. With many advances in military technology focusing on robotic exoskeletons, this statute's a much more thought-provoking piece of art than I expected it to be. It's a little scarier than I expected, too, and it's about to become both scarier and more thought-provoking, because of another piece I ordered, which I will probably put right next to it.

This is a print of a movie poster created for a theater in Austin, Texas by the artist Tyler Stout. I fully expect it to rise in value; in fact, I'm more confident of its rise than of the Boba Fett statue's, since it's signed and numbered, part of a limited edition (most prints of this poster lack the metallic silver background and vivid color), and Stout's similar poster for an Austin showing of The Big Lebowski is already just under $700 on eBay.

The patriotism of this image is all well and good, along with the entrepreneurial individualism and all that - and anything gets better when you add Scarlett Johansson - but it gets scary when you consider the increased militarization of the police in recent years, the absurd overuse of police force in inappropriate situations which is becoming common in this country, and the terrible misuse of the military and of mercenaries by the last administration. Scarier still when you put it next to a knight in shining armor, packing a WW2 flamethrower, who looks like he comes from the days when the only people who had rights of any kind were the ones who commanded knights in shining armor of their own. To say the least, I'm going to need some other art to balance out this theme. Fortunately, I've got it. Here's a piece on its way to my home featuring two things I love: adorable bunny rabbits and psychedelic mushrooms.

It's signed and numbered, and the artist (Joe Ledbetter) appears in magazines like Juxtapoz, so it's a pretty safe bet it'll increase in value. My small collection also includes a modest Murakami print (genuine, but not signed or numbered), two penguin prints from Lumadessa, a few random bits and pieces, original work by my father and myself (and also, actually, Allie Bradley, the talented and lovely wife of Rick Bradley from OG Consulting), and a pair of Dalek prints - which brings me to the protip here.

I bought the Dalek prints for $50 apiece, and they're now trading on eBay at $125. It's only been a few years. Likewise, I have two of these Ganesha "vinyl toys" (that's what they're called, but I think the term "statuette" is more accurate) by the graffiti artist Doze One, interpreting the Hindu god as an early 1980s hip-hop icon.

I think they cost me around $50 each, maybe $75, and they go for $250 on eBay now. In either case, the absolute profit is not that much, but the ratio is extraordinary. If you can spend $100 to make $500, do it. And these are relatively obscure pieces; the work of big-name artists sees much, much better appreciation. Around the same time I bought the Doze Ganeshas and the Dalek prints, I also spotted a piece I wanted but didn't bother to pick up. It's a miniature copy of the Jeff Koons sculpture Balloon Dog. Here's an original:

The smaller versions, attached to a shiny dinner plate, ran around $300-$350 on eBay when I first discovered them. They were available in two colors, red and blue, and I intended to buy both, but never got around to it. If I had, I'd be pretty stoked about it today. They now list for $18,500.

I assumed everybody knew about this, but the other day I tweeted about being excited some art was on the way, and mentioned that I expected it to go up in value, only to get a response from someone who seemed to think it a gamble, so: art almost always goes up. It is the best small-scale, short-term investment.

Although most of the money I've made on this blog has gone towards funding my acting training, a small percentage has gone into building my art collection. Thanks anyone and everyone who's ever bought anything from me; I'm very lucky and I really appreciate it.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Gold's Gym Downtown Los Angeles Didn't Steal $749.85 From Me After All

A while back I posted on this blog about a billing dispute with Gold's Gym in downtown LA. I've been in communication with Gold's Gym, they have clarified their position, and I'm retracting any and all inferences or accusations that they acted improperly.

Killing Me / Starry-Eyed

Blogged these before, but I've got to bring them back, because they're just irresistible.

Skinny Daemons In Ruby

Nabbed from Ruby Inside. Very nice and tidy.