So what am I working on?

I am currently enrolled in the UX track at UCLA extension. I've completed UX I – UX Design and am currently taking UXII – UX Strategy.

I tell people I am taking classes, and they ask, "In what?", and I answer "User Experience Design". To which I usually get a blank look or "What's that?"

I've refined my answer to, "The way people interact with digital experiences."

Most people's usual response is, "Oh, OK." and a quick change of subject.

But for any of you who are still curious about what UX is, I found this Slideshare:

About user experience

Image by samuiblue courtesy

What's it like to attend Comic Con?

Someone sent me this question on Quora. Comic-con can scarcely be described, it must be experienced, but here's the crib notes.

It's  a circus, really, where everyone who attends has the  chance to participate. It fills the halls and the stairwells, spills out onto the sidewalks and streets, jams every corner with the bizarre and  unexpected. It's a whirlwind of color and sound. It's massive and  throbbing with life. It's the bar in Star Wars where people from many worlds and time periods collide. It's green hair and ray guns, steel  claws and robots, Doctor Who and Game of Thrones, Goth and Middle-earth. It's every genre imaginable colliding and reforming into something  completely new. It's manic. It's glorious. And I wish that everyday life embraced more of the freedom of imagination that's kindled there.

A few words of advice:

1. Wear comfortable shoes. Nuff said.
2. Plan ahead of time and be prepared to wait in line. Look at the schedule and figure out exactly what you MUST see. If it's a panel, get in line at least 2 hours before it starts. If it's in the 6,000 seat Hall H, get in line at least 6 hours ahead. People camp overnight for Hall H. I got in line at 5am for the Doctor Who panel that started at 12:30pm and was one of the last people they let in the door.  If there's something on the floor you want to see, go there as early in the con as you can because you may never make it there later.
3. Be prepared for sensory overload.
4. A masquerade tip. If you want to see the masquerade but don't care if you sit up front, avoid waiting in line all day by showing up just before it starts. There are always seats left in the back and you can walk right in. And there are huge video screens throughout the hall.
5. Bring snacks and water. Sometimes it's impossible to get to food if you're waiting in line or running from one place to the other.
6. Bring a poster tube.
7. MAKE FRIENDS!! My experience at Comic-con over the years has gotten more fun because I now run into people I know. If there's something in particular you are a huge fan of, hang around the booth a while and talk to people. Get cards. Give cards. Talk to people while you're waiting in line. Comic-con is a huge gathering of geeks if nothing else, and you can always find someone who shares your interests.
7. Don't expect to see everything. Don't even try.


Truth and Fiction in Film

I'm on a quest to see all nine nominated films for the Best Picture Oscar, and I'm pretty far behind. I saw Argo on Friday. It was riveting, but I wondered how close it really was to reality. Everything was timed so perfectly. So I did some research and found a couple of articles, one written by Mark Lijek, one of the rescued Americans, who said it didn't happen like the movie. Another said that Canada's role was seriously downplayed. Another that the bazaar scene and chase scene on the tarmac were invented.

It's disappointing to learn that Argo is just another case of revisionist Hollywood history. It happens with real life events and fictional stories alike, as in how much The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit deviated from the books. Even though I understand artistic license, people who watch the films without looking up the actual historical facts (which are often murky to start with as in Zero Dark Thirty) or reading the books will never know the difference, and over time, everyone comes to believe that the movie is how things happened.

I also found this article with comments from Tony Mendez, the CIA agent. I may just have to read his book.

So today I went to see Life of Pi. Almost unbearably beautiful, both visually and emotionally. But it left me with so many questions. So I found a Q&A with the author of the book, Yann Martel, to see if he would answer some of them. Whereas I was questioning the altering of reality in Argo, Martel's whole intent is to make you question what is real and what is imagined, and he intentionally leaves it up to the reader/viewer to decide.

A Week of Magic in Middle-earth

When The Return of the King world premiere took place in Wellington, NZ, I so so so wanted to go. But at the time, it just wasn't going to happen. When the announcement that The Hobbit world premiere was going to take place in Wellington, too, I just had to be there for it. I knew that for the rest of my life, if I didn't go, I would have said "I should have gone." When announced they were organizing a tour, I jumped at the chance.

After months of anticipation, I finally landed in Middle-earth.

My trip couldn't have been more fantastic. I made an instant fellowship of friends – there were a few more of us on Hobbit Premiere tour than the Dwarves' 13 +1. The day after I arrived, I joined 1,000 other folks on Lyall Bay beach to set a Guiness World Record for the most sand castles built in an hour using a mold made by Richard Taylor of Weta Workshop. I was then whisked away to a Middle-earth marketplace where artisans that worked on The Hobbit sold their wares (of course, I took home a few momentos). I visited the Weta Cave, and as an added bonus which really made my trip, I got to tour "Window into Weta", a brand new section that is open to the public where you get to see a large variety of props and costumes and some of the processes and sculptors in action. I partied with characters from Middle-earth, got to dance to music performed by two of The Hobbit's Dwarves – Jed Brophy (Nori) and William Kircher (Bifur), and cheered as Peter Jackson, Elijah Wood, Andy Serkis and Phillipa Boyens took the stage. I attended art shows of two Weta artists – Greg Broadmore's Doctor Grordbot's fantastical creations and The Gloaming by Johnny Fraser-Allen. I got to have drinks at The Embassy theater the night before the world premiere of The Hobbit was shown there and upon leaving the theater, watched as the Hobbiton stage rolled up on the back of a flat bed. The next morning, at 4 a.m. New Zealand time, I was woken by a text message saying I had a ticket to the premiere! I hung out at Te Papa (the Museum of New Zealand) waiting for The Hobbit press conference to let out and was rewarded by getting my photo taken with Aidan Turner (Kili). I walked along the red carpet passing by the actors as they signed autographs and greeted fans. I watched The Hobbit in the Reading Cinema in Wellington, New Zealand, Middle-earth. I visited Hobbiton. And it is real and beautiful beyond words. And I was sent off from Auckland airport by a Dwarven guardian.

I can scarce believe it all happened, but I will remember it forever.

Near Field Communication (NFC) business cards. BUT....

...and it's a huge but. iPhone 5 is not NFC enabled. But, but...these are so cool. Just touch one of the cards to an NFC enabled phone, and your info – music, portfolio, store hours, you name it – is instantly transferred. I just ordered some new cards from MOO, so I hope they'll send me a sample to check out. I'll just have to find someone with a Samsung to try it out on. Damn.


TED (, the live platform for ideas of all kinds has spread to local chapters. TEDx events are offshoots independently organized but sanctioned and assisted by TED. I went to a TEDx in my beach city tonight, and it was great. Not only was the venue amazing (It was the city's old library that I had never been in before. A view of the Pacific Ocean and cool architecture.), but so was the food and the program.

The topic was "Words, books and art have documented lifestyles over time, but those records are being transformed due to technology, shifts in supply and demand, transitions from one school of thought to another, and alterations in customs and habits."

The speakers were an artist who uses books as physical objects to create with (Lisa Occhipinti who created the book podium above), antique bookseller Jeff Weber who described the struggles book sellers face with the internet and ebooks so accessible, museum curator Max Presneill who passionately advocated that we go to indie galleries and support emerging artists, and author Susan Straight who is an awesome storyteller in person and in print.

We also viewed two videos of TED talks that were very inspiring to me personally. One was of book cover designer Chip Kidd  and the other was of transmedia designer Shilo Shiv Suleman

TED is such an incredible forum. For years I've lamented that musicians and actors get all the spotlight, and while I love me those types of rockstars, it's about time that some other types of earth shakers get some kudos. TED elevates creativity and intellect and makes scientists, writers and artists rock stars.

I'm looking forward to TEDx UCLA next month.

Photo ©2012 Nancy Steinman


In an effort to stop the SOPA and PIPA bills going to the floor today, major sites have gone to blackout in protest. It's pretty incredible, and for some controversial. Wikipedia contributors fear that taking a stand on issues taints the free encyclopedia's content since the articles are supposed to be completely unbiased. But freedom of the internet is what's at stake. And that in turn means freedom of enterprise. Whether you care about your rights or your pocketbook, or both, there is a reason to write your representatives.

Here is a really good explanation of what the fallout from the two bills would be:

And a way to voice your opposition.


Down with the Capital, right?

Lionsgate's "Style-Centric Marketing" seems at complete odds with the message of Suzanne Collins' books. But I’m sure the fans will gobble it up and regurgitate it just like the Capital Citizens.

Wouldn’t it be ironic if everyone boycotted the line of clothes, nail polish and other merchandising in support of the Mockingjay and rebelling against capitalism?

Nevertheless, the costumes and makeup look amazing and original.

Ahhhh! New Hunger Games website! To gain access and follow via tumblr use password: #lookyourbest  –aceybee via Tumbler

140 Character Cinema

Update: Since watching Syfy's Riese, Webseries are sprouting up all over. Some of the best (IMHO) are Felicia Day's The Guild (a hits-too-close-to-home but hilarious geek fest about gamers –, Mercury Men (brooding black and white, retro sci-fi where the bad guys are atypical glowing white beings –, and Jane Espenson's ultra-short (each episode is under three minutes) Husbands (

I watched SyFy Channels' 10-part Web mini-series "Riese" yesterday. It's a little Steampunk and a little Camelot, but what it is mostly is little. Each episode is less than 10 minutes long. But this suited me just fine. I watch most of my TV on Hulu these days while I'm working on something else. It's a whole lot easier to watch a series of short episodes than hour-long ones. And there are so many interesting shows to watch now that it becomes daunting to try and get up to speed on an entire series.

The actors were culled from other SyFy series, and the acting bar is not set too high. What was amazing to me is how the story still held up with only ten minutes to develop each episode. The show concept is not breakthrough, though it still holds some surprises. Basically, the Hero Princess is on the run, her family killed in a power grab. It is she who has to set things right and de-throne the current empress who is keeping the good citizens down. The Steampunk aspect has an important part in the story, though it only really comes into play in the last few episodes, and you are left wondering in the beginning why people are wearing goggles and leather face masks. There is court intrigue, the prerequisite amount of sword and crossbow action, Goddess worship and a masked bad guy to round things out.

Maybe it is the very archetypal throughline that allows the series to work. That and the fact that there is a narrator filling in the blanks. Each episode provided enough information that it felt complete, left me wanting to find out what happened next, and moved the story along. The characters were easily readable so not a lot of backstory or deep exploration of their personalities was necessary to get to know them. All-in-all, it was not a great series, but it was somewhat interesting and unique in its format. There must be another season in the works because the story is definitely not over after the tenth episode.

Is this the future of storytelling then? With all the massive amounts of information bombarding us on a daily basis while we are at the same time trying to keep up with Facebook, work, commuting, family, and all the latest trends, news and sports, will we want all of our entertainment to come in Twitter-like encapsulation?

What does this say for books? I'm currently in the middle of about five or six, half of them fiction, the other half about social media and film. Being able to carve out the time to really sit down and read has become harder and harder. I read the headlines on my CNN app. I link to articles online. I listen to news and music in my car and on my computer in iTunes, rarely at home.

But I still need and want the escapism of a good story (maybe even moreso with all the political unrest and stark realities of natural and man-made disasters taking the forefront these days). Perhaps the compacted version is enough to satisfy our cravings. If so, I hope only in part. One of my all time favorite stories, "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, is roughly 1,500 pages long. I'd hate to live in an era where the author would never even have attempted to write it due to a lack of readership. But if the rabid fan base and many transmedia works that LotR has inspired is any indication, the full-blown narrative is still an important part of our culture. But that's a whole other story.

Strive for change, not perfection.

January is my favorite month of the year. Once you get through all that holiday and New Year's hoopla.

It's like dawn – the moment between night and day when anything might be possible in the hours ahead. It's clear and cool, a clean canvas waiting to be painted. The calendar is still a blank slate.

Time to pick up the pen.


The above is a poster that I helped design for a friend of mine who recently broke a Guinness World Book record for miles run in sand in 24 hours. He ran a total of 83.04 miles within the 24-hour period. The previous running-in-sand world record was for 62.28 miles. Just to clarify, this was running non-stop with only a 5-15 minute break between each 3.4 mile lap for 24 hours straight. Think about it. Running for 24 hours straight? Then add to that running in deep, loose sand. It is pretty unbelievable. But I was there at 3 a.m. when he broke the world record, 9 hours ahead of the previous record, and I watched him keep on running to complete the full 24 hours. I saw him do it, and I still can hardly believe he did.

So, what am I trying to say? How about that pretty much anything is possible if we set our minds to it. And yet most of the time most people never come near to accomplishing their full potential. I know for myself there are a list of things that I never seem to get to. And maybe therein lies the problem: a lack of focus. In order to accomplish the monumental things, everything else has to become secondary. You have to decide what it is that you want to do (hmmm) and then develop laserbeam focus for that one task, disregarding everything else except the essentials. But we all know how hard that is.

There are so many, many distractions in our daily lives, more now than ever before. Technology has enabled us in many ways, but it’s also a time suck. Inundated by emails. Absorbed by ginormous widescreen movies in our own homes. Keeping up not with the Jonses, but with our friends, which now number in the hundreds thanks to Facebook. And then there’s the ulitmate distraction: “Call of Duty: Black Ops”. How many countless hours have been lost to video games? On the day that particular game was released, $360 million was spent to purchase it in North America and the United Kingdom alone. Maybe that’s another thing holding us back: Priorities. How did Black Ops become the most talked about thing on TV, radio and Twitter on the day of its release? How is it that we value slaughtering virtual characters more than accomplishing personal goals?

Think of what we could do to change the world, and ourselves, if we all got focused on something truly important.

Back to my friend Christian Burke, the 24-hour runner. Having completed the one goal he set himself, he has set another, which I don't doubt he will accomplish. His aim now is to run a full marathon in every nation in the world – there’s 195 of them. He wants to bring his love of running to the world. And he gets closer to reaching this goal every day by focusing with unswerving vision on the finish line. You can follow his journey here:

Will Work for Brainfood

Someone recently told me that they thought I might be overqualified for a job that I am really interested in. I started thinking about what this means. Taking into consideration the rapidly changing face of the business I'm in – advertising – I wonder if there is really any such thing as "overqualified". No matter how much experience you have in one aspect of the industry, we are all currently riding a rapid learning curve. Social media is reshaping the way we think about reaching our audiences. Invention and possibility is the name of the game.

Experience can be really beneficial in this market. It makes the basics a no-brainer so all your attention can be focused on the most important thing – having a creative epiphany. Here's a for instance. I'm an art director, and a thorough knowledge of production – both digital and print – means that I won't have to spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to make something look good on screen or print right. So, I have more time freed up to do the creative concepting part of the job. And we all know that without a great idea behind it, no matter how slick or beautiful the work is, it won't do the job.

I have a friend who's in a band. I once asked him if it was boring having to play the same songs over and over again. He said no. That each successive show was more fun because the songs became so familiar that he didn't have to think about how to play them anymore, and he could just relax and enjoy and be free to make that night's performance his best. It's kind of like that. A brain trained to concept knows how to ignite that creative spark more easily than one that is just learning the process. It's "been there and done that" and so leaps ahead to make new connections.

Of course, keeping up with the current pace of change can be challenging. But there is a trick – foster curiosity. Be open to change and always look at things like you are seeing them for the first time. Stay hungry for the next new idea. Maybe that's why I enjoy listening to alternative music so much – there's always a new, undiscovered sound waiting to be heard. It's the same thing with new ideas. You just have to open your brain to them.

Eduard Kachan |</strong>

Film Independent's Directors Close-up

Wow. What an amazing evening. Jason Reitman is a directing guru. Really fascinating to hear his insights. Wish I'd written down more of what he said. Or recorded it. One of the things he said that struck me was that you can't make anyone else's film. (ie. don't try to reproduce a Tarantino-style film.) You have to create your own authentic vision. And this quote comes from his father who co-produced "Up In The Air". Paraphrasing: Don't worry about your barometer for comedy... It will never be equal to your barometer for honesty.

Next week's session is John Lee Hancock, the director of "The Blind Side". The Landmark in West LA is awesome, and there was a fully hosted wine bar after the panel.

Artists for Peace and Justice Haiti Benefit

Attended a benefit party/silent art auction last night. There were some amazing photos taken of kids in Haiti showing how deplorable conditions there really are.

Also lots of other cool art. Shepard Fairey donated a piece, which of course drew some high bids. "Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros" rocked the house. I'd never seen them before, and they are really loads of fun. I think there were 11 band members including a trumpet and accordian along with four vocalists.

The event was hosted by If you are looking for a way to donate to Haiti relief and want to make sure your money gets into the right hands, check them out.