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"

Friday, April 30, 2010

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Free Rice

Free Rice combines my two favorite activities: learning and helping. Answer questions to test your ability at any of a variety of subjects including vocabulary and foreign languages, and for every question you answer correctly you donate 10 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program. I highly recommend this web site for when you are bored and have nothing but a computer to keep you entertained for an extended period of time.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Familiar Face in the Village Voice

Elliot Mayo is one of my best friends and an important member of my band Get Stop Ticket. But he's also a brilliant DJ in New York, DJ Elijah. He was recently featured in the Village Voice. He's the guy on the far right who didn't put his beard on right.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

True Love Guaranteed

My newest YouTube sensation. This video contains a warning: do not watch this video with someone unless you're OK with falling in love with them. If you watch it with family, things will get freaky. I do not advise that.

25 Songs With One-Word Titles

An old friend recently caught up with me and told me that she was in a contest, but that she needed to think of twenty five songs with one-word titles. This is one of the lists I gave her:

1. "Fire" by Jimi Hendrix
2. "Fire" by U2
3. "Fire" by Bruce Springsteen
4. "Fire" by Ohio Players
5. "Fire" by Emerson, Lake and Palmer
6. "Fire" by Kasabian
7. "Fire" by Busta Rhymes
    8. "Time" by Pink Floyd
    9. "Time" by Timbaland
    10. "Time" by David Bowie
    11. "Time" by Hootie and the Blowfish
    12. "Heartbreaker" by Led Zeppelin
    13. "Heartbreaker" by Mariah Carey
    14. "Heartbreaker" by Pat Benatar
    15. "Heartbreaker" by will.i.am
    16. "Heartbreaker" by Electric Light Orchestra
    17. "Heartbreaker" by Grand Funk Railroad
    18. "Heartbreaker" by Michael Jackson
    19. "Heartbreaker" by Dolly Parton
    20. "Heartbreaker" by MSTRKRFT
    21. "Hero" by Mariah Carey
    22. "Hero" by Chad Kroeger
    23. "Hero" by Enrique Iglesias
    24. "Hero" by Nas
    25. "Hero" by Ozzie Osbourne

      Saturday, April 17, 2010

      The Outfield "Your Love"

      The Outfield, "Your Love" from Play Deep (1986: Columbia)

      A Guide To Tolerable Chick Flicks: Ryan Reynolds

      I have nothing against the chick flick genre. Like any genre there are good examples of a chick flick and bad examples of a chick flick. The trouble is that it's just the easiest genre to manipulate for markets, and as a result there are quite a few cookie-cutter movies, movies lacking in substance but which people want to see anyways.

      A friend of mine, who shall remain anonymous for the sake of his current relationship, admitted that he had been dragged to quite a few terrible films simply because of this strange siren's call that certain masses of women feel associated with any chick flick. After speaking with him, he suggested that I should publish a sort of guide that helps men to choose the good chick flicks rather than have to suffer through the bad.

      This is the first installation of that guide.

      The first rule of picking out a chick flick with substance is: Look for Ryan Reynolds. I don't know what it is about this guy, but he breathes life into the genre. Everyone tries to be quirky in a romantic comedy, but when it's Ryan Reynolds it works. He even made Blade: Trinity (2004) tolerable. Blade: Trinity! He was the only redeeming quality of X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009). This man is a miracle worker.

      Here are a few chick flicks that were made tolerable by Ryan Reynolds: Just Friends (2005) - let's remember, though, that he had the help of Anna Faris in this film; Definitely, Maybe (2008) - best romantic comedy I've seen in years; Adventureland (2009) - sure he's not the lead, but Reynolds helps this movie not turn into a sad, sad, sad, sad, sad attempt at a movie like Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist (2008); The Proposal (2009) - in three days I saw three movies, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009), Public Enemies (2009), and The Proposal - The Proposal was easily the best of the three, even though it starred Sandra Bullock.

      If you're writing this down, remember this:

      Rule #1: Look for Ryan Reynolds.

      Friday, April 16, 2010

      Britanick Comedy

      I don't usually go for sketch comedy or improv groups, but these guys are seriously funny. Britanick Comedy are the makers of two videos I've already embedded in the blog: A Trailer for Every Academy Award Winning Movie Ever and The Morning Routine.

      Catch-27: To Be Or Not To Be A Rock Legend

      As some of you may know, I turned 27 on December 25th of 2009. On that day I was faced with one of the most difficult realizations of my life.

      You see, all of the greatest rock stars died when they turned 27. Here are just a few:

      Jimi Hendrix

      Janis Joplin

      Jim Morrison

      Kurt Cobain

      I'm sure you can understand the dilemma I was thrust into. It was the lose-lose situation, the kobayashi maru.

      Let me make my problem explicit. Either I die this very year before my 28th birthday or I am not one of the greatest rock stars in history.

      Neither of these alternatives are acceptable for me. It seems I'm going to have to get my Kirk on.

      LED Binary Watch

      I'd buy this, except I don't even have the patience for clocks with hands. I need digital. I figured I had some friends out there who could appreciate a binary watch. I'm not smart enough. More about the watch here at ThinkGeek.

      Thursday, April 15, 2010

      Meteor Over the Midwest

      Perhaps you've heard your Midwestern friends talking about a gigantic meteor in the night sky, one that shook houses and "left them speechless" even though they couldn't stop talking about what had just happened. Here's a video taken from a police officer's dash camera.

      George Orwell's Spain

      The J.J. Abrams Women

      The upcoming J.J. Abrams television program Undercovers offers a strong likelihood to thrust formerly under-the-radar actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw into the limelight.

      Mbatha-Raw, however, is just one in a long line of unknown actresses who gained a significant career boost by becoming a lead actress in an Abrams television program. Surely, you remember Keri Russell, who became renowned as TV's Felicity.

      There's also the star of the hit spy drama ALIAS Jennifer Garner. I prefer when she doesn't pull her hair back.

      Let's not forget LOST's Evangeline Lilly, who is arguably the best actress among these ladies. I say arguably because Keri Russell has really been showing her A game in the last several years.

      Finally, Fringe's Anna Torv.

      Sunday, April 11, 2010

      A Good Name: Casimir

      I intend to name a future pet Casimir. It's a good physics name. Something classy. What kind of pet would I name Casimir? My first thought was a siberian cat.

      I also considered using the name for either a red angus cow or an iguana. I suppose I'll just have to see what hand life deals me.

      Marilyn Manson "The Dope Show"

      Marilyn Manson, "The Dope Show" from Mechanical Animals (1998: Interscope)

      Angel: After the Fall

      Angel: After the Fall is a comic book series published by IDW Publishing, a canonical storyline that picks up on the storyline from the WB television series Angel. It exists in lieu of a sixth season, and it is doing everything a sixth season ought to. Seriously, check this out, and while you're at it pick up Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight, published by Dark Horse.

      Abramsed: Movies I Want J.J. Abrams to Overhaul

      Who didn't love last summer's J.J. Abrams version of Star Trek (2009)? It was everything Gene Roddenberry would have asked for combined with some strong Abrams themes like the daddy issues of Kirk and Spock. Some might say that Abrams's greatest talent is overhauling old ideas. The upcoming television program Undercovers is being described as a re-working of the ideas behind the decent Pitt and Jolie film Mr. and Mrs. Smith (2005). I'd argue that Fringe is a play on important themes from old science fiction films like They Live (1988) and Scanners (1988).

      Sometimes a movie will come out with an incredible premise, but then the filmmakers make some sort of compromise for the sake of money. The film Mean Girls (2004) was surprisingly smart, but it still mattered to include stupid falling-into-trashcans comedy (which lead me to coin the term Lohanized, where a good movie is made stupid for stupid audiences). Sometimes someone comes up with a good idea but settles on a terrible script. Sometimes it's as simple as casting a terrible actress like Jennifer Aniston in the film. I wish many of these movies with great premises could be Abramsed. I wish they could be injected with that amazing quality of fun, wonder and human drama while holding on to the original creative intention of the movie.

      Here are a few films that I wish would be Abramsed:

      1. Dude, Where's My Car? (2000)

      I love the idea of creating a suspenseful mystery out of not remembering what happened the night before. I think it's the most fruitful story possibility I've seen in the last several years and yet I don't think anyone has ever perfected it. Memento (2000) came the closest, but this film didn't reflect the loss of one night in memory. It reflected the loss of all long-term memory. The Hangover (2009) came awfully close as well, but the mystery was completely overshadowed by the comedy. If J.J. Abrams took on the Dude Where's My Car theme, you'd have a proper balance of comedy, character development, mystery and intrigue. You could argue that he's already made his first attempt at this storyline on LOST with the mystery of Christian Shephard's Australian death.

      2. Legally Blonde (2001)

      Doesn't anyone else see something dark and human about a woman who gets into law school for the sake of winning the heart of a boy? This movie had everything going for it. Witherspoon had already proven her dark comedy obsession chops in 1999's Election and 2000's American Psycho. Like Mean Girls there was a Heathers (1988) vibe: who couldn't popular girl Elle Woods manipulate in pursuit of the boy she wants? But instead of Bret Easton Ellis, we got Bend and Snap. Instead of brilliance, we got Lohanned. This "pretty girl" needs an Abrams makeover like crazy!

      3. The Incredibles (2004)

      This was probably the best delivered film on this list, but it was still missing something. Films like My Super Ex-Girlfriend (2006) and Hancock (2008) attempted to show the underbelly of what would happen when flawed human beings get incredibly abilities. They'd still be jealous. They'd still become alcoholics. It'd just be more dangerous for everyone around them. The Incredibles borders on some serious issues for a superhero family, much like the Fantastic Four comics have for years. But in the end, nothing really seemed like it was on the line. The family would certainly get back together. These films never take any risks. They always aim for the happily ever after. And in the case of The Incredibles we're bombarded with childish humor. Yes, it was a children's film, but if we keep lowering our standards of comedy we lower our expectations for the intelligence of our children, and that is a serious problem. Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl should be separated. Hancock should, in some terrifying and unexpected moment, accidentally murder someone Alan Moore style. One thing I love about Abrams is that he doesn't lower his expectations for his audiences. He feeds mass audiences theoretical physics and they ask for more.

      4. The Bounty Hunter (2010)

      When I saw the trailer for this film, I was filled with two equal and opposite emotions. The first was ecstatic joy. This premise is even better than Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Instead of two married spies who know nothing about the spyhood of the other, you have a divorced couple that falls on either side of the law. The second feeling was a deep sadness. The comedy in the trailer was superficial and uninteresting. Aniston simply cannot act and Butler's been phoning everything in since he played King Leonidas. J.J. Abrams wouldn't let that fly. He'd have a good script and he'd inspire Butler to his best, and Aniston wouldn't be able to screw it up because the story tells itself.

      5. Knight and Day (2010)

      I understand that it's a little too early to call this film a failure. As a matter of fact, I was blown away by the trailer. There are just so many ways for this film to go wrong. I don't trust a single soul working on this project the way I trust J.J. Abrams. The director James Mangold has done some great films, premiere amongst these in my mind is 3:10 to Yuma (2007), but he's never directed this sort of dark comedy. The script comes from Patrick O'Neill, who has never written a script for a major film. Cameron Diaz is just plain terrible and Tom Cruise has so much of an ego that it's easy to forget that he can at times be an impressive actor. I'm hoping this film is good, but I know it'd be better with Abrams involved. He's worked with Cruise in Mission Impossible III (2006) and is currently working with him on Mission Impossible IV (2011). He does magnificent action with interesting stories, but is also capable of the ridiculous.

      J.J. Abrams and NBC's Undercovers

      In the wake of the end of LOST, fans of the J.J. Abrams will likely plunge into an abyss of nihilism. They will look around for little things that might fill the holes in their souls, plugging one leak only to find that two more have sprung up. Why not watch Fringe? Well, they might say, Fringe is a great show but it's very different from LOST. The crazy speculative fiction, fantasy and science fiction ideas are on the surface, whereas we've had to dig for it in LOST.

      Enter J.J. Abrams, the creator of LOST, who has decided to direct the pilot of the upcoming NBC spy series Undercovers. Some hope! Something to hold on to! And he's already picked his leads. Actress Gugu Mbatha-Ra and actor Boris Kodjo. This is exciting! Undercovers is going to be similar to the Brad Pitt film Mr. and Mrs. Smith (2005) where two spies live together and yet do not know that their spouse is a spy.

      This television program already has the potential for greatness. But it's already clear why it might not make it. Abrams creates amazing serial television programming, but the major networks are terrified of serial television shows. Later seasons inevitably encounter a drop-off rate because watchers don't feel like they can join in at the middle of the story. They feel like they'd need to get caught up. Angela Bromstad, president of prime-time entertainment at NBC and Universal Media Studios, has already claimed that Undercovers "really is a closed-end procedural each week... They'll have a specific mission that they go out on." I feel fairly confident in saying that it's serial-phobia that destroyed a good show like Dollhouse, which was originally going to be much more serial at the beginning but which met network road blocks every step of the way.

      If you're troubled about whether or not this show will make it, I suggest you trust in J.J. Abrams. Networks have been afraid of serial programming for years. ALIAS started out as a procedural spy program with serial elements, but once it gained a definite following it was a serial. Fringe is still a paranormal procedural medical program, but in the last several episodes it has developed a strong serial storyline. LOST started out as almost an homage to reality TV's Survivor, and after several seasons Abrams snuck some heavy theoretical physics in the back door to make things incredibly interesting. Furthermore, with the advent of on-line viewing of past episodes, television on-demand, TV on DVD and sites like Hulu, it's not too difficult to get caught up on serial television programs.

      If you ask me, good television should be about really sticking to the story and nurturing interesting characters. This is why all the Law and Orders and CSIs and so on are just bad television. What I expect from Undercovers is that J.J. Abrams will show NBC his procedural face as a distraction while he sneaks in a serial story full of interesting science fiction ideas. My other prediction is that Undercovers will deal with alien communications and technologies from outer space.

      Saturday, April 10, 2010

      Serious Sam HD: The Second Encounter Trailer

      The original Serious Sam: The Second Encounter was one of the most fun multi-player games I remember from my young PC gaming days. I really enjoyed Serious Sam HD: The First Encounter, so you can imagine how excited it is that The Second Encounter is getting re-made in HD. Pre-order the game now through steam and get a discount, then patiently wait to play it on April 28th, 2010.

      CBS Video

      CBS's video player is nothing particularly amazing. It's not particularly bad either. It's just a method of getting free streaming video. What is particularly amazing is their inclusion of TV Classics such as MacGyver, Star Trek: The Original Series and Twin Peaks (possibly the best show ever made).

      The only real downfall is that there is occasionally a missing episode. For example, Twin Peaks is missing the feature length pilot, the 18th episode of the last season, and the movie follow-up Fire Walk With Me (1992).

      Journey "Faithfully"

      Journey, "Faithfully" from Frontiers (1983: Columbia)

      Friday, April 9, 2010

      Neave Planetarium

      The Neave Planetarium is an interactive map of the stars and planets. Check it out here.

      Where It Belongs T-Shirt

      My close friend Zach Grantham designed this t-shirt. It is currently under review for inclusion in the Threadless catalog. I would be really happy if I could buy this t-shirt through Threadless, so I'm asking that as many people as possible head on over to this page. Once you get there, vote for it and leave some good feedback.

      Thursday, April 8, 2010

      Iron Man 2 Trailers

      I get to watch this movie opening weekend in New York City! Jealous?

      Shane Sings 5 Octaves On Piano

      Future Man Arrested at Large Hadron Collider

      I found this article from incredibly interesting. Thank you, CNET UK.
      A would-be saboteur arrested today at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland made the bizarre claim that he was from the future. Eloi Cole, a strangely dressed young man, said that he had travelled back in time to prevent the LHC from destroying the world.
      The LHC successfully collided particles at record force earlier this week, a milestone Mr Cole was attempting to disrupt by stopping supplies of Mountain Dew to the experiment's vending machines. He also claimed responsibility for the infamous baguette sabotage in November last year.
      Mr Cole was seized by Swiss police after CERN security guards spotted him rooting around in bins. He explained that he was looking for fuel for his 'time machine power unit', a device that resembled a kitchen blender.
      Police said Mr Cole, who was wearing a bow tie and rather too much tweed for his age, would not reveal his country of origin. "Countries do not exist where I am from. The discovery of the Higgs boson led to limitless power, the elimination of poverty and Kit-Kats for everyone. It is a communist chocolate hellhole and I'm here to stop it ever happening."
      This isn't the first time time-travel has been blamed for mishaps at the LHC. Last year, the Japanese physicist Masao Ninomiya and Danish string-theory pioneer Holger Bech Nielsen put forward the hypothesis that the Higgs boson was so "abhorrent" that it somehow caused a ripple in time that prevented its own discovery.
      Professor Brian Cox, a former CERN physicist and full-time rock'n'roll TV scientist, was sympathetic to Mr Cole. "Bless him, he sounds harmless enough. At least he didn't mention bloody black holes."
      Mr Cole was taken to a secure mental health facility in Geneva but later disappeared from his cell. Police are baffled, but not that bothered.

      Boys Will Be Girls

      The Expendables Trailer

      I cannot imagine a world in which this movie would not please me.

      Undead Vs. Human T-shirt

      Buy this t-shirt on Threadless.

      Wednesday, April 7, 2010

      Tuesday, April 6, 2010

      Monday, April 5, 2010

      March Mayhem Developer's Showdown

      Gamers might find themselves in this March Madness tournament courtesy of The Escapist. The March Mayhem Developer's Showdown pits a variety of game developers against one another in the competition of the best developer.

      The Final Four pitted three of my favorite developers against one another. Blizzard, the makers of the Warcraft, Starcraft and Diablo series, fought valiantly but finally lost against BioWare, the developers responsible for the Mass Effect games and Dragon Age, while Valve, the innovative designers of the Halflife, Counter-Strike, Team Fortress and Left 4 Dead series, dominated annoying and superfluous Zynga, who cursed the world by developing Farmville, Mafia Wars and Vampire Wars (these are the people responsible for all the stupid Facebook invitations daily).

      My prediction is that BioWare is going to win. They've started off with a decent lead, and I've heard more ravings about Mass Effect 2 and Dragon Age in the last year than even the magnificent Left 4 Dead 2. If it were up to me, however, Valve would win. Even if Valve couldn't lay claim to some of the most entertaining games in the business, which it can, the content-delivery system called Steam is reason enough to consider these folk the best developers. I would have chosen Blizzard over BioWare as well because they innovated the world of on-line playing with BattleNet and World of Warcraft.

      The final battle between Valve and BioWare is being waged now. You can vote here.

      Best In Show Champions: LOST

      The results of the Hulu Best in SHow contest are in and you have chosen LOST as your favorite television program. Click here for detailed results.

      Broken-hearted Male Mathematics

      LOST Designs On Threadless Tees

       A while back I made a post regarding a blog titled LOST 365, in which artist Jared Stumpenhorst has committed to making 365 LOST-related works of art, one for each day in the year of LOST's final season. Well, a couple of Jared's designs have made their way to the hip on-line t-shirt and print shop Threadless Tees. If Stumpenhorst's designs get enough votes, they will be made available on the site as t-shirts and/or prints.  I'd really like to purchase one or both of them, so I think you should help me vote them in.

      As an added incentive, if either of Stumpenhorst's entries receive over 100 comments on Threadless, someone who commented will receive a free print of any picture from the LOST 365 Project. If both get over 100 comments, two free prints will be awarded.

      Contest details can be viewed here.Vote for "Mindless" and/or "Turbulence."