28 December 2007

If everyone could see the things that I hear

But the eye is irreducibly complex!!!!

The tongue, an organ of taste and touch, may seem like an unlikely substitute for the eyes. After all, it's usually hidden inside the mouth, insensitive to light, and not connected to optic nerves. However, a growing body of research indicates that the tongue may in fact be the second-best place on the body for receiving visual information from the world and transmitting it to the brain.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-­Madison are developing this tongue-stimulating system, which translates images detected by a camera into a pattern of electric pulses that trigger touch receptors. The scientists say that volunteers testing the prototype soon lose awareness of on-the-tongue sensations. They then perceive the stimulation as shapes and features in space. Their tongue becomes a surrogate eye.
Don't worry. I'm sure the Creationistas will come up with some way of pooh-poohing this research. It's all in Gawd's plan or something.

Tangentially (and mostly because I love this song,) Sean A. Day's got a link to The Bobs' "Synaesthesia". Enjoy.

via Freakonomics

I slept with all of the "Friends"

There's video above, FeedReader
Just me vid-jacking Deadspin. This is a clip from the woulda-been Joe Buck Show, featuring Paul Rudd. I like the structure - a talk show filmed in the back of a cab with the cabbie as co-host - and I love the seriousness with which Paul Rudd answers Joe's questions.

Why You Don't Need An Education To Be A Screenwriter

Or: What I Didn't Learn in Film School
by Unnamed Successful Screenwriter.

Nikki Finke's rumor-porting on the Worldwide Pants/WGA side deal includes some anonymous griping from screenwriters, one of whom said "I'm going back to work." He continues to show an extreme ignorance, of the sort I'd normally only associate with glass sorters and George Bush supporters:

"I have gotten five phone calls tonight from feature writers and every single one of them has said some variation on, 'Bullshit on this. Why am I looking at staying out of work until April when these guys are going to start picking up paychecks on Tuesdays?'"

The writer continued: "All you're doing every time a movie or TV star goes on Letterman is making money for a member of the AMPTP. If you're going to strike GM, then you strike GM. You don't say, 'We're going to give a waiver to the guys making pickup trucks because they're really good guys.'" You don't maintain solidarity by letting a handful of guys go back to work. So what's next: Lorne's people go back to work? Then Colbert's people go back to work?
That's right, nimrod. "If you're going to strike GM, then you strike GM." I know it's tough to grasp, but the AMPTP is an association, nay an alliance of producers. Since the jackhole brought in the auto analogy, let's run with it.

Let's posit a mythical alliance of GM, Ford, Daimler-Chrysler, Panoz, and Tesla* illegally colluding to negotiate with the UAW. If my boys in Georgia decide they want to get back to work sooner and break from the alliance to make their own deal with the UAW, they have every right (and every legal obligation) to do so. No one would begrudge labor returning to work with a valid, viable contract. And no one would confuse a separate corporation for a fucking pickup division. Then again, auto workers are smarter than this retard.

Go back to work. We're all dying to see your magnum opus, the latest Uwe Boll movie. Sorry. That's cruel. Uwe wouldn't hire someone this FUCKING RETARDED to write one of his movies.

A member organization in the AMPTP broke ranks and negotiated a deal with the WGA. The first of many? Maybe, maybe not. What is sure is that a separate corporate entity with independent fiduciary responsibilities negotiated a deal with labor independent of the colluding alliance of which it is a member.

* Actually, I don't think Panoz or Tesla are union shops, but that reality would ruin my analogy.

26 December 2007

What's new Buenes Aires?

Hand of God is gonna slap Diego.

Argentine Jewish newspaper Iton Gadol has received hundreds of emails slamming soccer legend Diego Maradona for his comments in praise of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Agentine Jewish news service reported Wednesday.

21 December 2007

Latkes and Lo Mein

There's video above, FeedReader
via SteveG

Ensign Crusher vs. Captain Kirk

Wil Wheaton has done such a great job reinventing himself, I sometimes forget where he comes from. He blogs that he and his son Nolan were watching ST:TOS and...well, Wil's incredibly self-deprecating:

We saw some other things that made us laugh and cringe, but people who fall over white barriers and crush plants shouldn't cast stones at white paper labels on the captain's chair, so that's all I'm going to say about that.

20 December 2007

On the bottom, boys. You have to be on the bottom.

Brace yourselves. This is going to be the most misogynistic thing you're likely ever to read from me.

Now I understand why Governor Huckabee was so very anxious to get Wayne Dumond out of prison. He was just paying it forward. The only way his boys are ever getting any is the Dumond way.

Exsqrabblization: Cheating your way to the podium

John Hodgman. John Oliver. Scrabble.

Need I say much more? Alright, I guess I do. 826NYC (modeled after 826 Valencia in SF,) is holding a charity Scrabble tourney. Wait. It's a charity Scrabble for Cheaters tourney. Donate money to a worthwhile cause - "a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6-18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write" - by buying cheats for the team of your choice. Those cheats get used in-game, and will guide your chosen recipient on to an ill-deserved victory.

No victory tastes as sweet as one bought and paid for. Fair play is for losers.

Panda Fur...go ahead and fuck it

There's video above, FeedReader

There's been a lot of talk about the moguls' motivations, that they're greedy beyond greednitutedesnous, but the other point that needs to be stressed is that they are totally banoonoos. They have left the reservation. They have so much, they have forgotten the concept of human need. That's why this vid is a true vid, even if the sound is a little spotty.
via Joss hisself

For *really* long orgasms...

Be sure to use silicon nanowires!

The new version, developed through research led by Yi Cui, assistant professor of materials science and engineering, produces 10 times the amount of electricity of existing lithium-ion, known as Li-ion, batteries. A laptop that now runs on battery for two hours could operate for 20 hours, a boon to ocean-hopping business travelers.
That's right guys and gals, a ten-fold improvement in battery life! Also, increased durability and longevity of the batteries themselves of course, due to the stable nature of the nanotubes.

19 December 2007

Trudy, Trudy, Trudy

While 30 Rock has become the funniest, most consistent show on the air - the Seinfeld or Arrested Development of the latter naughts - my heart still belongs to How I Met Your Mother. Despite some painful misfires early in this third season, HIMYM still brings the funny with heart each Monday.1 I think it's that heart - worn on the sleeve or as a fetching codpiece - the gives HIMYM a slight edge over Tina Fey's chaos-fest over on the PeaCORK.

The other thing creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas bring to the table is an OCD-sufferer's attention to continuity. It doesn't matter if a throwaway joke is three years old; Bays and Thomas won't forget it. I was reminded of this in a round-about way this morning which I'll quickly share (to demonstrate how much of a continuity wank I can be as well.)

I was driving to work and saw a Trans-Am. That made me think about Knight Rider. That made me think about how they're using a Mustang instead of a Trans-Am in the new version NBC is airing in January. But, I thought, that's okay. In the original pilot, the Trans-Am was actually Michael Long's car that Knight Industries updated while The Hoff was recovering from his gunshot to the face. So it only makes sense that the Knight Industries Three Thousand (yes, they thought that was a clever name this go-round) would be whatever car it happened to be.

Aha! says I! When KARR appeared (that's the evil supercar Knight Industries built before KITT) it was also a Black Trans-Am! Horrible continuity error. If only everyone could be like Bays and Thomas. But wait...at the end of "The Pineapple Incident", didn't future-Ted say "I left Trudy a message but she never called me back." And didn't Trudy show up again this season on "Third Wheel"??? So maybe these aren't the exemplars of...

That was my train of thought this morning. It's not an original complaint. Back when episode 3.3 aired, lots of people noted that Bays and Thomas had slipped up. Although technically the Dad had said she never called, the implication was that Ted and Trudy had never seen again. This was an unusually big continuity glitch for the show. Then it occurred to me that maybe the kings of continuity wanking had pulled a fast one.

Trudy was played by the adorable, hilarious, awesome actress slash role model slash math whiz2 Danica McKellar. Danica's no virgin stranger to continuity dust-ups.

Kevin and Winnie...did they? Depends. Do you believe the narration in the pilot of The Wonder Years, or what happened in the series finale? That's an epic gaffe. It's one every writer and producer who cares about continuity remembers. It's one that cont-wanks like Bays and Thomas surely remembered as they cast Danica.

I now believe that HIMYM pulled a fast one, a meta-gag on the fans of the show. "We're so obsessive about continuity that we'll intentionally tweak it and cast Winnie goddam Cooper in the role!"

Or, you know, they screwed up.

1 This is obviously not true right now, as Les and Pals WON'T NEGOTIATE IN GOOD FAITH!!!)
2 If you've got a school-age girl, buy her Danica's book Math Doesn't Suck: How to Survive Middle-School Math Without Losing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail.

17 December 2007

The force behind the AMPTP

Besides the Big 6, who else is in the AMPTP?

Then there are the real powers behind the alliance: HSUS, DSF, and Menno-Hof. What, you’ve never heard of these puppet masters? They are, respectively, the Humane Society of the United States (“the nation's largest and most effective animal protection organization”), the Disciples Seminary Foundation (“a unique, cooperative institution that collaborates with seminaries, churches, regions, and conferences on the Pacific Slope to provide exceptional theological education and resources for growth in faith”), and last but not least, the Mennonite Anabaptist Information Center (“a non-profit information center that teaches visitors about the faith and life of Amish and Mennonites, located in Shipshewana, Indiana”). That’s right, the Amish. We’re doomed. They don’t care if the strike ever ends... they don’t own TVs.
Of course, it's not like Nick Counter's spoken to the Amish. Or most of the other 350+ companies in the Alliance. I exaggerate. Nicky-boy has talked to...
Albemarle Productions, Allenford Productions, Appleton Productions, Arlington Productions, Ashland Productions, Auckland Productions, Belleville Productions, BOT Productions, Canterbury Productions, Corsica Productions, CPT Holdings, Floresta Productions, Garden Films, Glenhill Productions, GPEC, Halberd Productions, Highway 61, Hillard Productions, Hudson Productions, La Mesa Productions, Lafitte Productions, Llamame Loco Producciones, Madison Productions, McFarlane Productions, Montrose Productions, October Holdings, Quadra Productions, Rosecrans Productions, Salamander Film Productions, San Vicente Productions, SCFV Development, Seneca Productions, Topanga Productions, Trackdown Productions, Vasanta Productions, Westholme Productions, Woodridge Productions, and Wooster Productions
all of which are owned by Sony. And that's just a sampling of the "independent" producers of today's Hollywood.

Gibbons on the set

Holy crap! Dave Gibbons is happy! Dave Gibbons is happy!

I think...nope. Not gonna jinx it. I'll leave it at: Dave Gibbons is happy!

We need to get insurance on the f***ing writer over here

There's video above, FeedReader

A few weeks back, Bob Kushell wrote and co-starred in one of the best strike videos. Great, funny stuff with Christina Applegate playing his wife. Here's a link.

Well, the video was so successful - bringing about an end to the strike and all - that we now get to see the making-of video. Beware: there's some really raw stuff in here. Passionate, angry stuff. I mean, "I Heart Huckabees"-level stuff if you know what I mean. Also included are some of the auditions for the role of "wife". Interesting to think of the other ways this groundbreaking work could have gone, sort of like the mythical casting of Ronald Reagan in Casablanca.

The Demon Composer

Day-am! Sondheim went to town on Sweeney Todd. I expect the movie will be great, but I've got my doubts that I'll be picking up a copy of the soundtrack.

I'm also a little nervous how it'll all play out without the framing of the story within the opening and closing portions of "The Ballad of Sweeney Todd". I think it's appropriate to cut its other incarnations during the film (and the opening that I posted a week or so ago with the ballad remaining in the score worked,) but I'm probably going to miss the final curtain-call version. Then again, anyone who isn't a devotee would probably be confused and taken out of the immersive experience by that massive breaking of the fourth wall.

Uh, and I just thought about something I'd not considered before. Toby's being played by a child in the film. Not a man-child, and not a dimwitted teenager. Will he still "pat it and prick it and mark it with a B"?

14 December 2007

So pure, he can ride a unicorn!

Crap! This was supposed to come out this month. Looks like it's been pushed back until spring. Alas. At least I can see the newer, raunchier, R-rated trailer with more, much more NPH!

There's video above, FeedReader

"...clam out"???

Yep. That's raunchier.

via Inner88

What are you doing this weekend Brian?

Brian. Poor kid really should consider a legal name change. That, or a career in Bond villainy. He could kill with his trumpet/coronet. Shoot poison darts or something. We expect our Bond villains to have...unusual names.

via Deadspin

11 December 2007

Pushing Buffy

There's video above, FeedReader

The problem here is that Ned can't just touch himself and come back to life. Hence all the rigmarole. That, and I don't think Kristin Chenowith is going to be breaking out into song during the movie.


I've got very little to say about this other than:

  • great business idea, wish I'd thought of it first
  • great gift idea for your foodie friends and family
  • and damn, that's some really high quality printing for that price point

10 December 2007

"Shoot first, translate later."

There's an adlink above, FeedReader

I've been meaning to watch this movie forever, but I kept putting off ordering from Amazon. However, thanks to our friends at the AMPTP, I figured the easiest way to keep up the boycott of American DVDs was to Buy Canadian™. So it worked out all around.

Alex Epstein co-wrote the screenplay, and I was really looking forward to seeing how his works translate to the screen (because I do NOT have a bootleg copy of Charlie Jade downloaded from a torrent and have never seen Naked Josh.) I've learned a lot from his blog and books; here was a chance to see his craft(y) in action.

So Sunday afternoon I'm finishing up an upgrade of my desktop OS. I come out to the family room and TheWife's got a schmaltzy, feel-good holiday movie running on the Disney Channel. Turns out, it really was schmaltz: Full-Court Miracle. Really bad movie. But...TheWife likes her bad movies and when I sat down, it was two seconds before my buddy Dan Willmott's all-too brief scene. So I was invested. Damn you, Dan!

Suffice it to say, the oil in the backup generator lasted longer than expected and the little Maccabees had time to pull off their miraculous comeback against the crosstown Warriors. Yes. It was a Hanukkah miracle. Oy.

Okay. Enough schmaltz. I needed to cleanse my palette with a pair of mismatched buddies, some vulgarity, brief nudity, and lots of blood. Woohoo! Bon Cop Bad Cop into the DVD player!

First, my one and only complaint. While I can't discount the possibility that my tuner or speaker setup is to blame, for I do have this problem to a lesser extent with other discs, the audio mix on this disc sucked. Music and FX so loud they rattled the windows with the volume turned up appropriately for dialog. And no, I don't stand on my porch screaming at the kids to turn down their music. This mix was bad.

Okay, now on to the good.

And boy howdy was it good. The movie's much, much funnier than I expected. On a continuum from 48 Hours to Beverly Hills Cop I was expecting this to fall to closer to Nolte and Murphy. Instead, it shocked me and landed a lot closer to Reinhold and Murphy. And that's a good thing.

Any movie that can give me a dead body torn in half by a couple of bickering cops in the first 15 minutes is going to be high on my list. Higher still when they bicker in two languages!!! Unfortunately my French is as rusty as something or another made of iron that's been allowed to oxidize for a really long time, so I was compelled to leave on the English subtitles*, but the bilingualism is so central, so important to the movie that I was happy to be awash in the competing tongues.

One of my favorite scenes has our heroes - uptight Ontario detective Martin Ward (Colm Feore) and rogue Quebecois detective David Bouchard (Patrick Huard, who also wrote the story) discussing the forms, uses, and conjugation of a French word (I'll need to watch again to catch it and confirm, but it was one of the more colorful 'fuck's, I believe) all while beating a suspect to get him to fit in the trunk of Bouchard's car. Y'all should know how I feel: any linguistic humor is gold. Coupled with Stooge-level physical abuse like here, and I'm in heaven.

As this is a Canadian production, you know there has to be maple syrup, mounties, and hockey. It's a legal requirement. At least it is to get any government funding. That's what Epstein and Jim Henshaw and Dennis McGrath seem to imply, anyway. So it was with no small sense of mirth that syrup was poured on french toast, the buddies were only thrown together in order to keep the RCMP from taking over the initial murder (complex jurisdiction, what with the victim being impaled on a road sign between the provinces,) and the murders are all about hockey. Maybe I read too much into those things, but it felt like a thumb in Ontario's eye.

Get the movie. Seriously. Click above, buy a copy, and laugh your ass off. Assuming you find blood, bullets, and bilingual barbs amusing.

Oh yeah. Why did I bring up the bad holiday basketball movie when I started this review? Because it too was a Canadian production. So Martin Ward's teen-age son was also one of the mini-Maccabees. Such tonally (and quality-wise) different movies back to back, sharing an actor (albeit in two small roles) boned my funny tickler.

* There are three ways to watch the movie on the DVD: with English subtitles; with French subtitles; and with no subtitles.


There's video above, FeedReader

The artistry of beauty of these "Speechless" videos is reaching a new high.

09 December 2007

The Inner Light

Flipping through the channels this evening I saw the the G4 network was airing "The Inner Light", the finest episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Originally airing the end of May '92, I don't think I've seen it but twice, both in that same season, 15 long years ago. And still it lingers in my memory. In that the episode is a contemplation on life, love, death, and memory, it is fitting it should sit so deeply in mine.

The episode is as touching and wrenching today as it was in '92, a testament to some fine performances and the quality of the screenplay by Morgan Gendel and Peter Allan Fields (from a story by Gendel.) A very spare score, relying more on the mournful diegesis of a flute than the usual orchestral bombast of ST:TNG, sets the contemplative mood. I cried when I saw it back then, and I damn well cried again tonight when the probe launched, and at the episode's close while Picard played his flute one last time.

As the AMPTP shucks and jives and tries to kill its golden goose to save a few sous, I'm happy to be reminded that magic only happens because of writers. There's a reason this is the greatest of all ST:TNG episodes: the story.

07 December 2007

Christmas Untraditions

I'd never seen John Scalzi's list of unsuccessful holiday specials before. Fortunately he linked to it again. If you've never read it, do click here. I promise it's not "a quiescently glistening cherem of pus."

There's Michael Ironside drunk on cannibalism, Ayn Rand drunk on reheated Nietzsche, and Dorothy Parker drunk. Good stuff.

05 December 2007

Rapists heart Huckabee

Mike Huckabee's surging in the polls. His compassionate, caring spiel is apparently wowing them in the heartland. Very compassionate, Huckabee is. At least to killers and rapists.

In an effort to preempt scrutiny of the Dumond case, Huckabee has said that if the issue were to be raised during the '08 race, it would be because his rivals for the nomination feel threatened by his campaign. "Suddenly I seem to be in the cross hairs of every predator who is out there," Huckabee told reporters recently. "To me that seems to be a good sign of life."
Funny. I think the only ones in the "cross hairs of every predator who is out there" are the women who must worry who else Huckabee will fight and scrap, haggle and wrangle to free from prison.

04 December 2007


There's video above, FeedReader

Grr Arg!

Inbred Bible Thumpers

There's video above, FeedReader

First off, I wouldn't watch the video above unless you have a very, very strong stomach. It's Fred Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church doing a music video. Very disgusting people, very disgusting song.

Now, I'm not allowed to refine castor beans and use them on these people because why? And where the FUCK is CPS to take the children away from these monsters?

via Warren Ellis

The elusive prey

Andrea Grimes at the Dallas Observer does a little anthropological fieldwork.

After weeks of painstaking research and late-night expeditions that had turned up next to nothing, I was finally on the verge of a breakthrough. I found myself standing, nearly motionless, in the dark, warm environment that I'd identified as the native habitat of the creature I'd been trying so hard to track down: Homo sapiens douchebagus, a hard-partying bipedal primate indigenous to Dallas.

Many people know this creature better by its common name: the $30,000 millionaire. The name is derived from their distinctive behavioral pattern of spending more money than they make in an attempt to appear wealthy and desirable. A clever creature, adept at camouflage, Homo sapiens douchebagus is a peculiar species, and evidence of its existence is largely anecdotal. I hoped to capture one in the wild.
This is the kind of hard-driving research we should be seeing more of, from both our scientists and our journalists. I commend Ms. Grimes for her dedication and efforts.

Apparently, his mother's vagina was...a pussy?

There's video above, FeedReader


via Beckylooo

Shoot me! I'm not afraid to die

There's video above, FeedReader

Note to the AMPTP: this is "promotional use". Not a full episode streamed online, not a series of webisodes with original content, and not whatever other hare-brained ideas your accountants and lawyers tell you can be pulled off. This promotes the show; it is not itself the show.

There's video above, FeedReader

Then again, it's BSG. It doesn't really need any promotion. The end is nigh.

via A Mike Life