I think about a world to come where the books were found by the golden ones, written in pain, written in awe by a puzzled man who questioned, "What are we here for?" All the strangers came today and it looks as though they're here to stay.

-David Bowie "Oh! You Pretty Things"

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

RedEye's Best TV Character Tournament 2010

The Hulu Best in Show vote hasn't even concluded, and there's already another set of brackets based on hip television programs. The first round is already concluded. The only significant upset I can think of is that Neal Caffrey from White Collar beat Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother. How can Neil Patrick Harris get knocked out in the first round?

Check out the tournament here.

Panda Takes Revenge on Tree Branch That Wronged Him

Monday, March 29, 2010


If you've ever wanted to record something without paying a lot of money for some professional program you've probably been faced with the same problem I had last year. The problem is that everyone knows that Apple's GarageBand is the most amazing freeware recording program ever, but that it is not available on PC.

The best program that you're going to find for free and that will work on a PC is Audacity. It's not as easy to use as GarageBand, but it certainly doesn't take much to figure out. I would definitely recommend the program if you're new to recording and want to make decent songs without buying a lot of extra software.

Check out Audacity or just download it here.

And The Nominees Should Have Been...

My ten favorite films of 2009 in alphabetical order.

1. Avatar

Captivating from beginning to end. James Cameron may have done more for the film industry than any person who has ever lived, and I do not believe this to be hyperbole. I think way too many of you decided you were going to hate this movie before you ever saw it, and then you stuck to your guns because you didn't want to be proven wrong.

2. Away We Go

Most of the critics did not seem to understand this film. I suppose I can empathize. With understandable, realistic characters and a brilliant literary writing style I find it hard to believe that any film critic would understand this movie.

3. The Box

I can think of just as many reasons as you can why this film shouldn't be good. It starts out slow. It goes a little long. Cameron Diaz can't act. And yet this film is easily better than Hurt Locker and Blindside. As a matter of fact, I saw absolutely no difference between Cameron Diaz and Sandra Bullock's portrayal of strong southern women, except of course from the fact that Sandra Bullock walked home with an Oscar that all of the other nominees deserved over her.

4. Inglourious Basterds

I get that you wanted to see the Basterds more. I get that you want to undermine Quentin Tarantino's cinematic vision. As long as he keeps delivering brilliant dialogue and amazing movies, however, I'm going to keep loving them. Inglourious Basterds is not only among the years best, but possibly Tarantino's best.

5. Moon

"And the winner for Best Picture goes to Moon." This is what you would have heard if you watched the Academy Awards ceremony in the alternate reality where the best film of the year is based on merit rather than making a political point. Moon was easily the best film of 2009. EASILY!

6. The Road

Throughout 2009, this was the film that critics were talking about as a surefire Oscar win, but come February 2010 and it wasn't even nominated. I finally saw the film and it really impressed me. I'm still thinking about it. Daily.

7. Star Trek

Is it my fault the year's best films were almost entirely science fiction, fantasy and speculative fiction? No. I wish I could take responsibility for this trend. It means that people are interested in feeling a sense of wonder, and wonder is the most significant thing a film offers us. This movie was good enough that I wanted to watch the sequel immediately afterward. Then I realized that a sequel didn't exist yet and felt sad.

8. Up in the Air

Well, at least the Academy got three out of ten correct. I'm sure you can go far in this world if you are performing at 30% of what you should be performing. I, however, care about the best, and you'll find that Justin Tiemeyer agrees with the Academy: Up in the Air was one of the best.

9. Watchmen

Yes, I read the graphic novel, and probably a long time before you did. My immediate thought was that Watchmen couldn't be more impossible to make. Alan Moore's vision is perfectly exemplified in graphic novel form. Well, guess what? The visionary director of 300 did the impossible. Watchmen was amazing.

10. Where the Wild Things Are

As of 2009, Spike Jonze is the man to beat when it comes to capturing childhood wonder and the psychological complexities of the pre-adolescent struggle. In Where the Wild Things Are, the collective visions of Maurice Sendak, Spike Jonze and Dave Eggers came together in a stunning masterpiece. This movie made me feel happy to be alive.

My Six True Loves of the '80s

1. Phoebe Cates

Most of you know her from Fast Times at Ridgmont High (1982) and think of her every time you hear the song "Moving in Stereo" by The Cars. I actually fell in love with Phoebe Cates after watching Gremlins (1984) and Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990).

2. Elisabeth Shue

With the combined weight of The Karate Kid (1984) and Adventures in Babysitting (1987) it was awfully hard not to fall in love with Elisabeth Shue in the '80s.

3. Apollonia

Not only did Purple Rain (1984) set the standard for every music movie that would come in the following decades; it also introduced us to Apollonia Kotero. In a decade full of beautiful girls, Apollonia was the first woman I ever fell in love with.

4. Mia Sara

I'm a freak. If you ask me what my favorite movies of the '80s are I'm not very likely to rank Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986) very high. It's common for me to miss Ferris Bueller references that you will make. The movie just didn't do as much for me as it did for you. But Mia Sara certainly had the look. She could have been in The Toxic Avenger (1984) or Return of the Killer Tomatoes (1988) and I would have fallen in love with her.

5. Jennifer Connelly

Jennifer Connelly had me forever after Labyrinth (1986). Thank goodness. Jennifer Connelly is the right '80s actress to be immortally bonded to, especially seeing her exemplary performances and growth as an actress that follows in the next few decades. Connelly remains to this day a force to be reckoned with in the realm of acting and beauty, even long after David Bowie decided to bless her career with his magic goblin wand (Was that in poor taste? You have to admit that David Bowie's nether regions were kind of the star of that movie...).

6. Jami Gertz

Traditionally there are two kinds of women that have always captured the hearts of men: those who are mysterious and those who need to be rescued. Jami Gertz was both when she played the love interest in The Lost Boys (1987). Who among you didn't dream of being Jason Patric in that movie just so you could be a beautiful man who wins the heart of the mysterious vampire groupie?

If Juggalos Got Their Own News Channel

Saturday, March 27, 2010

DR Congo Rebel Massacre of Hundreds is Uncovered

Sometimes even the most light-hearted of people must get serious. If you know me well, you know that I have a connection with the Democratic Republic of Congo. It's a long and complicated story, but you could say that I have family in DROC. That's why this kind of news rips me apart more than most.
Evidence of the massacre of at least 321 people in Democratic Republic of Congo has been uncovered by the BBC.
The killings took place last December but have not previously been reported.
Fighters from the notorious Lord's Resistance Army raided several villages in a remote part of north-eastern DR Congo, killing and abducting children
Human Rights Watch says this is one of the worst massacres carried out by the LRA, whose fighters roam across several countries after spreading from Uganda.
The rebel leaders initially claimed to be fighting to install a theocracy in Uganda based on the Biblical Ten Commandments, but they now sow terror in Sudan and Central African Republic, as well as DR Congo.
You can read the full article here at BBC News. Here is a similar article from The New York Times.

You might ask how something like this goes overlooked. I might ask you if there are a lot of things that get overlooked when people are too busy arguing whether or not health care is socialism. I think half of us are too busy Obama-izing our profiles and the other half are too busy turning Obama posters into Joker mockeries to really care about anything anymore.

You may have detected some bitterness in the last couple of sentences.

Guillermo Diaz

Actor Guillermo Diaz. You probably recognize him as Guillermo on Showtime's Weeds or as Poh Boy in the Tracy Morgan comedy Cop Out. This dude has these crazy ways of contorting his face to make him look crazy, angry, sarcastic or constipated. The trouble is knowing which is which. I don't know if he's going to kill me ask me for some food that's high in fiber.

Why I Don't Like Your Politics

I am not particularly interested in joining in on polarized debates between Republicans and Democrats. For some time I've taken a perspective from the outside. I prefer to analyze what people are saying and doing and make fun of them when they are being ridiculous. I would imagine that there are some people out there who believe that the nation has no place for a person like me who is unable to commit to a party and stand his ground. I am under the opposite opinion. The United States of America needs more people like me.

Why don't I like your politics? It's not that the side you're on is wrong. It's the fact that you're mislead by your party. Am I talking to Democrats or to Republicans? The answer is yes.

When the founding fathers of this nation gathered together to work out a system of government and make it public through the Declaration of Independence and US Constitution, there was a belief that any one individual could be the leader of the nation that was to be founded. I will pause right here in order to prevent objections. I understand that there are only particular groups of people who are granted this right under the original documents. Blacks and women surely couldn't be president back then, a fact that has only been half contradicted today. What I mean to say is that the United States was intended to be closer to the United Souls of America. The whole of the USA is reflected perfectly in each and every one of its atomic units. Whether you were a lawyer or a farmer, it didn't matter. What mattered was that you cared about liberty and the good of your people, and that fact was proven by the fact that you were living in this country. Each individual was blessed with the power to determine what this country would become. Each individual could become the president of the nation. A nation constructed from individuals such as this could use any method to elect their leader. Even random lottery will bring about a good leader if all are valued as powerful and responsible. I believe this was the dream, even if the people who fall under the term "individual" were a much more narrow group in 1776.

The political system that I was born into in 1982 is very different from this ideal. I live in an America where popular rhetoric and propaganda points not to treason or massacre as the worst crime that can be committed on American soil, but not voting in elections. I can crack jokes about killing people in a crowded room and a small percentage of people will find the joke tasteless, but any suggestion that people shouldn't worry about voting is enough to clear a room. Don't believe me? Try it for yourself. Throw together your best argument for murder and your best argument for not voting and survey the reactions of the people you are surrounded by.

Americans are all born with the same power, the power to determine what the country will become, but we're raised to forfeit that power. We forfeit that power through voting. I'm not saying that the popular vote or the electoral college are an evil in and of themselves (regardless of how much I might feel that they are at times). What I'm saying is that people are no longer using their power to make change in this nation. People are doing whatever they can to get rid of this power, and the easiest way to do this is to fill out a ballot every four years. By trusting in our elected officials to do everything for us, we divest ourselves of power, building up a system that we are no longer capable of controlling, a system that only tangentially benefits us, a system that is more of a spectator sport than a government for the people and by the people. A random lottery for president in today's political climate would be a disaster for hundreds of reasons, but mostly because whoever is chosen has already decided to deny him or herself of any power or responsibility for this nation.

Why don't I like your politics? Because all you do is vote and complain. This nation was meant to be a nation of heroes, a nation that would give birth to heroes. Instead it's a nation of partisans. Do heroes debate about whether or not a bill sounds like socialism? No. That's what partisans do. Heroes act. They choose paths that lead to the perpetuation of liberty and the greater good through practice. Are you angry that the person you voted for didn't get elected? I'm sure you can volunteer to do some grunt work for a charity that is working toward making someone's life better. What better way to exorcise demons than through hard work that you know will help others?

Do you want to make fun of George W. Bush or Barack Obama all day? Of course you do. I do too. The difference between you and me is that I make fun of them knowing that each of these individuals has devoted his life to protecting liberty and promoting the greater good. But that's only two out of 300,000,000. The rest are busy making sure these two men are responsible for everything that is wrong with their lives. The difference between you and me is that when I make fun of the president I understand that its Justin Tiemeyer, not Barack Obama, who is responsible for (and who has the power to end) the ills of Justin Tiemeyer's world.

That is why I don't like your politics.

Google Earth

I'll admit that Google Earth can kick the butt of a low-level video card, but the program has so many uses that its hard not to understand it as one of the best multi-purpose programs released in the last several years. My buddy is a Naval Officer receiving Naval Aviator training in Corpus Christi, and he'd study the runways and the lay of the land each and every night during his training using Google Earth. I'd like to consider myself a restless traveler of the Earth, an explorer who listens for leads and then follows up on them. I'm able to plug destinations into Google Earth and plan interesting journeys just by finding hotbeds of travel suggestions. There's a good chance that you can find a use for Google Earth that has nothing to do with any of the uses I've just mentioned.

Google Earth Home Page

Download Google Earth

Hulu Best In Show

Yeah. I've heard the rumors that Hulu's about to start charging. I honestly don't watch anything on Hulu anymore. There are much better ways to watch television and movies for free. What excites me about Hulu is the Best in Show competition, a March Madness I can get behind - popular television shows are pitted against each other throughout the month of March and only one can finally claim the title of Best in Show. This week's vote pits Community against the Simpsons for best comedy and Burn Notice against LOST for best drama. This is one election where I don't support the apathy vote (or absence thereof).

Vote Now! Vote Often!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Double-Decker Just-Jelly Sandwich

Using the intermediary bread technology of the McDonald's Big Mac, I've discovered a means of making an ordinary sandwich taste like cake. Give this a shot some time. You'll never need to eat a Fruit Newton again.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Lunar Halo

For the love (or lack thereof) of John Cusack, whatever you're seeing in the sky has nothing to do with the end of days. "I would like to talk to you about Thomas Aquinas" - now, that has something to do with End of Days (1999). What you're seeing in the sky is called a lunar halo. Light from the sun is first reflected off of the moon and then refracted by the airborne ice crystals in high level cirro-stratus clouds.

Copycat McDonalds Shamrock Shake

Some of you know of the great struggle in my life over the last few weeks to find a Shamrock shake somewhere in Texas or New Mexico. Alas, St. Patrick's day came and went, and never did a Shamrock shake pass before my face. Lucky for me someone has managed to copy the formula for the McDonalds Shamrock shake.

Recipe courtesy of Kree (though hopefully not the scientifically and technologically advanced militaristic alien race) (was that xenophobic of me?) via Recipe Zaar.

Evil Dead in 60 Seconds With Clay

South Park Studios

If you make good enough product, you can give it away for free and people will still buy it. I dare you to come up with a better sentence to describe South Park Studios, Matt Stone and Trey Parker's web site devoted to the free streaming of all South Park episodes.

Lime Green Shirt

Lime Green Shirt is a promotional company oriented toward throwing shows, making music and creating social platforms for electronic music. Lime Green Shirt's roster includes Jon Phillips (DJ Aegis), Ken Jepsen (DJ Archangel), Elliot Mayo (DJ Elijah), and Matt Perrin (DJ Sylock).

These guys were some of the pioneers that helped spearhead electronic music in Grand Rapids, Michigan (my home town) from 2001-2007, and they're also a few of my closest friends. Currently, the group does shows in Chicago, Grand Rapids, Detroit and New York, runs a raunchy podcast known as the Shirtcast, and owns, manufactures and distributes Black Ice Slipmats for the benefit of DJs everywhere.

And now they have their own blog.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Trailer

I really hope this movie is good.

NYC Garbage Art

One thing that I remember living in New York City was the garbage. There was always a neighborhood with trash blowing out of its receptacles and dog-sized rats turning said garbage into a small city within a city. I sometimes miss that trash. Thank God for Justin Gignac, and this article from Web Urbanist.
Centuries ago, there was very little garbage, but the little bits of this and that buried in the ground are now fascinating visual clues to a life long gone. Trash today is much easier to find – especially in the urban jungle of New York City, where it’s hard to walk ten steps without seeing litter on the ground.
But artist Justin Gignac still sees stories even in the ubiquity, and is out to prove that with some clever package design, Manhattan’s refuse can be art. Gignac sells plastic cubes of trash from the Big Apple for $50 a pop.
“I sell garbage. I scour New York City streets picking up trash. After filling bags with subway passes, Broadway tickets, and other NYC junk, I carefully arrange plastic cubes full of the stuff. Each box is unique and won’t leak or smell. The cubes are then signed, numbered, and dated, making them perfect for anyone who wants their own piece of the NYC landscape,” Gignac told Geekologie.
To some – especially New Yorkers – Gignac’s work seems a bizarre testament to the fact that there’s a buyer for absolutely everything imaginable, no matter how worthless it may seem.  But to those for whom New York City is a far-away, almost mythical modern metropolis, it could be a strange little slice of a life totally unlike their own.
It’s a little bit Andy Warhol, a little bit street-corner-junk-hawker and a whole lot of kitsch, but it’s clearly a hit – over 1,200 NYC Garbage cubes have been sold to buyers in 25 countries. And, after all, perhaps part of what collectors of these strange gems are paying for is a public service: that much less trash on the streets of one of the world’s most magnificent cities.
 If you're reading this blog , then you already know what to get me for my birthday. Or Christmas... Whichever comes first.

Neill Cameron's A to Z of Awesomeness - A Comic Book Alphabet

Neill Cameron is a British illustrator who, with the help of followers of his blog, Facebook, and Twitter, developed an awesome illustration for each of the 26 letters of the alphabet.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Check them out for yourself at NEILLCAMERON.COM.

Kurt Vonnegut Explains Drama

I sometimes wonder if we killed Kurt Vonnegut because of our decades long obsession with MTV's The Real World...
People have been hearing fantastic stories since time began. The problem is, they think life is supposed to be like the stories.
Check out the full post at the blog of Derek Sivers.

Irish Car Bomb

You don't have to be a terrorist to enjoy a good Irish Car Bomb, and it sure doesn't need to be St. Patrick's Day. Here are the ingredients for you do-it-yourselfers:
3/4 pint Guinness stout
1/2 shot Bailey's Irish cream
1/2 shot Jameson Irish whiskey
Add the Bailey's and Jameson to a shot glass, layering the Bailey's on the bottom. Pour the Guinness into a pint glass or beer mug 3/4 of the way full and let settle. Drop the shot glass into the Guinness and chug. If you don't drink it fast enough it will curdle and increasingly taste worse.
Special thanks to Drinks Mixer for their handy recipe.

Inflatable Bag Monsters

Last Chance to Get a Good Look at Mars Until 2012

Tonight is the last night that Mars will be visible in the night sky until it approaches Earth again in 2012.
On Thursday night, March 25, many people may look up at the sky and ask the question, "What's that bright star next to the moon?"
The answer for Thursday night is Mars, but that answer changes night by night as the moon travels along the ecliptic, the path the sun, moon and planets follow across the sky. If you ask the question again on Monday night, March 29, the answer will be the ringed planet Saturn.
Such conjunctions of the moon and planets are regular reminders of how rapidly the moon moves across the sky.
Mars was in opposition to the Sun on Jan. 29, when it appeared 14 arcseconds in diameter, 1/120 of the diameter of the moon. Two months later, it is much farther away, and has shrunk to only 10 arcseconds in diameter.
This will be your last chance to get a good look at Mars until it approaches the Earth again in 2012.
The sky these spring evenings presents a striking contrast between its western half, filled with the bright stars and constellations of winter, and its eastern half, with Regulus the only bright star. Mars sits in solitary splendor in Cancer, one of the most insignificant zodiac constellations, just above the plane of the Milky Way.
But there is much lurking beyond the dim stars of spring, for we are entering the realm of the galaxies. The constellation Leo alone contains five of the brightest galaxies in Charles Messier's famous 18th century catalog of deep sky objects.
When we look towards Leo, we are looking above the plane of our Milky Way galaxy at the depths of intergalactic space, unhindered by the clouds of dust and gas which fill our galaxy.
I suggest a party. I'm sure many of you have said "Goodbye Moon" before, but who among you has ever given Mars a proper farewell? Tonight's the night we make up for lost time. Take to the great outdoors tonight and shout a memory to the sky. The time capsule of Mars will return with pictures of yesteryears in time for the upcoming apocalypse.

The original article can be viewed at SPACE.com.

Electric Six "Synthesizer"

Electric Six, "Synthesizer" from Fire (2003: XL)

The Morning Routine

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat

I didn't get into drinking until long after your ordinary average adult. Early on friends would attempt to convert me to the cause of alcoholism by offering me flavored beer. Because I didn't like the taste of beer, they figured that these amalgams would appeal to me and act as a kind of gateway drug. It never seemed to work. Flavored beers always tasted worse than regular beer.

This truth about flavored beer held true for a very long time. Only recently did I disperse this myth, and only then with the help with Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat. Its like Samuel Adams mixes a really smooth beer with some really good black cherry ice cream, only it doesn't taste as terrible as an actual mixture of beer and black cherry ice cream would taste. It's got a kind of hybrid vigor, the best of both worlds.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Mary Louise Parker

Actress Mary Louise Parker. You may recognize her as Nancy Botwin on Showtime's Weeds. She's pretty adorable, isn't she?

Love Shack

I went to the Love Shack in the Fort Worth Stockyards last night. It was easily the best food I've eaten in Fort Worth. I ordered the Double Dirty Love, a burger with bacon, cheese and quail egg. They're also known for their Milkshake of the day.

Love Shack has two locations:

Fort Worth Stockyards
110 E. Exchange Ave.
Fort Worth, TX 76164

Trinity Park - Fort Worth
817 Matisse, Suite 445
Fort Worth, TX 76107