Best Things This Year (2015)

Speaking at Data Point Live in San Francisco
Speaking at Data Point Live in San Francisco

If 2013 was the year I shook up my life, and 2014 was the year I learned how to succeed in it, 2015 was about challenging myself not to accept the easiest trajectory. 2015 was a busy year and it threw interesting things my way. Sometimes that was difficult, even hopeless, but I will never forget you 2015.

1. Public speaking – I did so much public speaking in 2014 that I felt like I needed a break from it this year, but that certainly didn’t happen. I spoke at 6 events this year
Data Point Live, New York
Data Jawn, Philadelphia
Data Point Live, San Francisco
Games using the HTML5 canvas, Philly Javascript Devs
Thinking in Data, Data Science Philly
Directives as Components, Angular-Philly

It would be shocking to me if I did more than one or two events in 2016, but that’s what I said last year, too.

2. bengarvey’s brain – I created a twitter bot using twitter_ebooks to guess what I’m really thinking about. He tweets about every 9 hours and if you favorite his tweets, he might start bugging you. Some choice tweets:

3. Rocket Booster – I worked on a fun Jetpack Joyride clone with the kids called Rocketbooster. It’s not 100% complete, but it’s fun. It takes forever to load all the game assets, so be patient.

Rocket booster
You can play as Sasha or Owen. Collect stars to power your jetpack and get further.

I probably spent more time making the music for Rocketbooster than programming it. All the songs are available here on soundcloud.

4. Work
I’m coming up on 3 years at RJMetrics and just got promoted to Engineering Manager. I wrote cool stuff including our new Data Warehouse Manager, a huge improvement to dashboard sharing, and some crazy tricks to get data out of Amazon Redshift. I also spent an extended tour of duty leading our support team to crush the support queue.

The blue line is our net support queue
The blue line is our net support queue

5. Work Part 2
I won the RJMetrics chili cook off thanks to the now “award winning” Ben’s Awesome Chipotle Chili.

6. Odyssey of the Mind
I’m coaching Sasha’s Odyssey of the Mind team this year! We just started practicing and it’s been wild.

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7. Trello
I’ve been using Trello for years, but now I’m using it for everything including a shared grocery list.

8. The Bentindo Entertainment System
I gave Jake a raspberry pi powered game system for Christmas this year I white-labeled as the Bentindo. This was the image on the back of the box.

Back of the Bentindo box
Back of the Bentindo box

9. Books I Read
REAMDE by Neal Stephensen
Principles of Product Development Flow by Donald Reinertsen
The Call of Cthulu by HP Lovecraft
Ender’s Game by Orsen Scott Card
The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
What If? by Randall Munroe
The Innovators by Walter Iassacson
Welcome to the Monkey House by Kurt Vonnegut
The Martian by Andy Weir
The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
Axe Cop Vol.1 by Malachi Nicole
The Subtle Knife by Philip Pullman

10. Moves / TV
Interstellar
Master of None
Cosmos
Black Mirror

11. Wine
The Formula Shiraz by Small Gully Wines

The Formula
Incredible

12. Music
Still listening to The Blow’s Paper Television weekly. Ok daily.
My favorite album released this year is Ratatat’s Magnifique

Other albums I enjoyed (not necessarily new)
Bleached’s Ride Your Heart
Bass Drum of Death’s GB City
Lana Del Ray’s Ultraviolence (but wow is it uncomfortable)
Bully’s Feels Like

Playlist of songs I’m super into right now

Especially this one

Previous years
2014
2013
2012
2011

Ben Garvey’s 100 Greatest Movies of all Time

It’s been about two years since I updated my list, so I decided to redo it.? Some of the movies have shifted around and I added some new ones (The Departed, Wall-E, Zodiac, The Aviator, and Inland Empire).? A few good movies got bumped from the top 100 (The Royal Tannenbaums, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Magnolia, Clerks, LA Confidential, and Tommy Boy), but room had to be made!? The only movement at the top was swapping positions for Vertigo and Chinatown.? Here’s the new list!

100 Monty Python and the Holy Grail -1975
99 Psycho -1960
98 Sideways -2004
97 Napoleon Dynamite -2004
96 Network -1976
95 Zodiac 2007
94 Close Encounters of the Third Kind -1977
93 The Last Picture Show -1971
92 Little Miss Sunshine -2006
91 Heathers -1989
90 Terminator 2 -1991
89 Jackie Brown -1997
88 Full Metal Jacket -1987
87 Run Lola Run -1998
86 The Silence of the Lambs -1991
85 Young Frankenstein -1974
84 The Shining -1980
83 Superbad 2007
82 Swingers -1996
81 Office Space -1999
80 Pi: Faith in Chaos -1998
79 Being John Malkovich -1999
78 Taxi Driver -1976
77 Ferris Bueller’s Day Off -1986
76 The Usual Suspects -1995
75 This Is Spinal Tap -1984
74 Ray -2004
73 Requiem for a Dream -2000
72 The Pianist -2002
71 Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me -1992
70 Amelie -2001
69 The Aviator 2004
68 One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest -1975
67 Bowling for Columbine -2002
66 Monty Python’s Life of Brian -1979
65 Monster’s Ball -2001
64 The Deer Hunter -1978
63 Reservoir Dogs -1992
62 Sexy Beast -2001
61 Kids -1995
60 The Piano -1993
59 Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure -1985
58 Life Is Beautiful -1997
57 Batman -1989
56 The Virgin Suicides -1999
55 Donnie Darko -2001
54 Raiders of the Lost Ark -1981
53 The Matrix -1999
52 Schindler’s List -1993
51 Memento -2000
50 American Movie -1999
49 The Graduate -1967
48 Forrest Gump -1994
47 Throne of Blood -1957
46 Saving Private Ryan -1998
45 Ran -1985
44 Fargo -1996
43 About Schmidt -2002
42 Braveheart -1995
41 American Beauty -1999
40 Kill Bill: Vol. 2 -2004
39 Blade Runner -1982
38 2001: A Space Odyssey -1968
37 Swimming Pool -2003
36 Ghost World -2001
35 Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon -2000
34 Wall-E 2008
33 Rear Window -1954
32 A Clockwork Orange -1971
31 Capote -2005
30 Fight Club -1999
29 Monster -2003
28 The Departed 2006
27 Star Wars: Episode VI: Return of the Jedi -1983
26 Lost in Translation -2003
25 The Goonies -1985
24 Mystic River -2003
23 Rushmore -1998
22 Groundhog Day -1993
21 Caddyshack -1980
20 Blue Velvet -1986
19 Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind -2004
18 Lost Highway -1997
17 The Shawshank Redemption -1994
16 Pulp Fiction -1994
15 The Third Man -1949
14 Inland Empire 2006
13 E.T. -1982
12 The Godfather -1972
11 GoodFellas -1990
10 Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope -1977
9 Star Wars: Episode IV: The Empire Strikes Back -1980
8 Eraserhead -1977
7 House of Sand and Fog -2003
6 Chinatown -1974
5 Vertigo -1958
4 Citizen Kane -1941
3 City of God -2002
2 Mulholland Drive -2001
1 Dr. Strangelove -1964

Here’s a link to the old list.

Cutie Theater: Episode V

The long awaited episode of Cutie Theater is here! We pick up where Episode IV left off. The Robots have been defeated and things are looking good in Cutie Land… or are they?

If you haven’t watched Cutie Theater before, get caught up before watching Episode V. Michaela, McKenzie, Jeanne and I worked really hard on Episodes 5 and 6 and we hope you like it!

Please send this to all your friends and digg it up!

Obligatory Dark Knight Review

The most hyped movie of the summer is undoubtedly Dark Knight, which Jeanne and I saw last night.? Was it really as good as everyone said it was?? Does Ledger deserve an Oscar for his performance as the Joker?

The quick answer is that it was not perfect, but pretty good.? I liked it a lot more than Batman Begins.? Heath Ledger was awesome, but I don’t see how you can give him an Oscar.? I was most impressed with how Chris Nolan took the character and found some way of making it even a little believable.

Read the rest if you’ve seen the movie.
Continue reading “Obligatory Dark Knight Review”

The Happening

I haven’t been to the theater in almost two years, but Jeanne and I made it out to see M. Night Shyamalan’s new movie, The Happening. It’s probably not as bad as the reviews say, but it’s not good either. Clearly M Night wants to be the next Hitchcock and this is his take on The Birds. Unfortunately for me, the Birds is my least favorite Hitchcock film.

As usual, the visual direction is great but The Happening’s dialog and pacing feels wrong. Casting Mark Wahlberg as a science teacher isn’t as unbelievable as Denise Richards as a nuclear physicist, but it still seemed strange. I think Wahlberg is a capable actor, too. He was great in the Departed.

The only part of the film I really liked was the overall concept, which is probably what most people hated. Read on if you’ve seen the movie.

Continue reading “The Happening”

Inland Empire (Again)

I watched Inland Empire again last night before sending it back to Netflix.? I think it’s easy to write it off as a random conglomeration of scenes, especially because David Lynch claims he didn’t use a script and filmed it as he went, but then I look at someone like Jackson Pollack who always claimed he had complete control over his art.? Who would you believe?? I think watching Lynch’s films, especially Inland Empire, requires you to let go of the traditional movie structure and enjoy it as you would an album or a painting.

Laura Dern

I love the movie.

Lynchian Empire Strikes Back: An INLAND EMPIRE Review

I knew David Lynch’s next movie was going to be called INLAND EMPIRE, but I didn’t know much about it other than that Laura Dern and Justin Theroux were in it. After seeing the film I still don’t know much more than that. INLAND EMPIRE’s theater release was extremely limited and it finally came out on DVD this week.

Laura Dern

Laura Dern plays Nicki, an actress who thinks she’s about to get the role of a lifetime. She ends up with several lifetimes as reality becomes blurred and she (and you) won’t be sure of what is real or what is fake. This is standard stuff for most of Lynch’s films, but if you thought Mulholland Dr. was difficult to follow consider yourself warned. INLAND EMPIRE is a brutal two hours and fifty two minutes of beautfiul, disturbing, mind altering film (or whatever you want to call it, since Lynch shot the whole thing digitally).

Watching a movie like this is difficult, but I can’t imagine what it must have been like for Laura Dern making it. Her performance is incredible and many times throughout I thought it may be possible that the entire movie was made for her. Not as in INLAND EMPIRE was a present to her, but that most of it will only make sense if you are her. It’s one of about a billion theories you could have about the film.

I loved this quote from the movie’s Wikipedia article:

In an NPR “Weekend Edition” interview, Laura Dern recounted a conversation she had with one of the movie’s new producers. He asked if Lynch was joking when he requested a one-legged woman, a monkey and a lumberjack by 3:15. “Yeah, you’re on a David Lynch movie, dude,” Dern replied. “Sit back and enjoy the ride.” Dern reported that by 4 p.m. they were shooting with the requested individuals.

My verdict: It’s incredible, but only for serious Lynch fans.

Laura Dern and David Lynch