Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Paper puppets

Cardboard automaton Flying Spaghetti Monster

Is there any more that needs be said? It's a working, mechanical, printable model of his noodly appendages. Wow.

Update: There is more to be said. There's a video of it in action.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Closet in the Locker Room

Lately, lots of people are talking about reactions to athletes coming out.

Frank DeFord has an interesting take on the subject. He observes that it's the fans, not the teammates, that are a threat to gay athletes. The bottom line, not team morale. His evidence? The lack of out movie stars. Acting is a very safe place for homosexuals - and yet because of financial reasons no major movie stars are out publicly, for fear they would stop making lots of money.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Bush firing prosecutors

The Bush Administration is firing Federal prosecutors for no reason. Or perhaps, one should say, for very bad reasons. Just as they installed partisan hacks in Iraq to screw up the job, they're installing partisan hacks in the prosecutor's office, to enforce the laws they like and ignore others. Grr.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Overenthusiastic SWAT teams

I think John Brownlee has it exactly right in this post. Police forces and security apparati have become overfunded and overenthusiastic thanks to the propaganda of the Dept. of Homeland Security. Thus, the deeply disappointingly stupid overreaction in Boston to a simple prank, and now the news that police exploded 2 CD players playing obscenities in a church. It seems to me rather obvious that the CD players were not explosives, but simply CD players.

Apart from airplanes, federal buildings, and whatever new building they put on the world trade center site, it seems like random churches and malls aren't terrorist targets. As I thought to myself on 9/11, if they would have to explain what blew up on the news, it's not a target. Golden Gate Bridge, Space Needle, yes. The Roman Catholic Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe? No.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Beatbox video

This is really quite something. Pity the website takes an eternity to load, at least when it's early evening in the UK.

If you pause the video and wait for it to load, it's a wonderful style mix. Kitchen show and beatboxing. Impressive beatboxing, but made much more impressive through the dry humor of style.

Updated: I took out the embedded video later because it autoplays. Stupid autoplay.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Cute, so cute

Cute Overload is the perfect antidote to yesterday's slapstick comedy. It's everything that 2 young men hitting each other with sticks isn't.

Although this blog points out that sometimes you need to see a robot puppy. Follow that second link to see a Locutus of Borg kitten.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Physical Comedy

This is very basic, crude physical comedy. But such enthusiasm!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Annie Liebowitz cinema

Annie Liebowitz took an amazing series of photos of movie stars, with them arrayed in a series of tableaux that tell a story.

It's pretty cool.

Monday, February 19, 2007

45 degrees isn't cold

I imagine in my head that 45 is a low temperature. But now that it's that warm in the morning, my morning bicycle commute is much more pleasant. When it was in the high 30's, it was much harsher.

For those of you in Canada, here that is again:

I imagine in my head that 10 is a low temperature. But now that it's that warm in the morning, my morning bicycle commute is much more pleasant. When it was in the single digits, it was much harsher.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Babies everywhere!

I remembered this commercial in a dream. Very intense acting. It's great!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Crazy lady with death wish

The crazy lady is back.

On my bike ride home, I used to run into this old woman walking in the bike lane across a viaduct. Well, not literally run into, but almost. There's a sidewalk on the other side of the street, but she never uses it. And now, a week ago, I saw her again, walking on the wrong side of the street.

I hate that lady.

She is a danger to herself and to others. I have to stop suddenly or swerve into traffic to not hit her. And THERE'S A SIDEWALK 15 FEET AWAY!
I stopped once and tried to ask her to use the sidewalk, seeing as how it's safer. She acted like I was a telephone pole, ignoring me and walking around me. The look in her eyes was tragic. Unfocused, wan, and distant. As though she didn't understand English, or human beings.

I hope she dies peacefully in her sleep. Soon. Because I don't want a bus driver saddled with the guilt of hitting her.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Zombie Preparedness

A branch of Homeland Security the government forgot about:

The Zombie Preparedness Initiative

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Colbert on Fresh Air

This interview from 2005 is a bit old, but I keep talking about it.

Stephen Colbert talks about his career, and the intention behind the different themes in his show. Like bears.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Head Mountain

This is an excellently drawn work of Japanese animation. With dreamlike symbolism, it explores a variation of the classic Japanese theme of civilization versus nature.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Little Miss Sunshine

Little Miss Sunshine is an excellent movie.

I was afraid of seeing it, because the reviews I saw captured very well how dysfunctional all the characters are. They are indeed a collection of disturbed people.

But I was afraid that the movie would be sad. Which it's not. It is full of joy and love. It is a happy, fun movie. It's a black comedy, but a comedy for sure.

It's some sort of cousin of The Addams Family. Spinning clockwise instead of counter-clockwise, having bright sunshine colors instead of thunderclouds and gravestones. But a family of love and joy, ironically juxtaposed against a backdrop of torment.

Also, the acting is perfect. First rate. And ensemble. No one actor stands out. They all fit together into one family. Excellent.

The story is also brilliant. No detail is unnecessary, but nothing is forced. Everything unfolds, connected to everything else. And the drama builds and concludes with perfect rhythm, with archetypical connection between the goal and the obstacles in the way.

It's a modern family Odyssey.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Tabletop object art

This guy makes sculptures from various objet d'art. Like playing cards, soup cans, spoons, pencil sharpeners.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Barbie doll jewelry

This lady makes jewelry out of Barbie dolls. It's creepy.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Monster House

I just saw the movie Monster House.

It's pretty good. The characters are just a little close to stock characters rather than genuine personalities. But the visuals are shiny, and the story's ok.

Although I bet I would have totally gotten the movie with the sound off. Which I was surprised worked during my trip East 2 weeks ago - with a Woody Allen movie!

Anyway, I'm still not sure how I feel about the motion capture technology used to make Monster House. Same as used to portray Gollum in Lord of the Rings. On the one hand, pretty impressive way to amp up your effects budget. On the other, the animators who shaped human bodies in The Incredibles are true artists who created original body language.

I've read somewhere speculation that Andy Serkis and other motion capture performers might get their own category of award some day. Who knows? My question is, if that happens, are we honoring a new art form, or making actors sit at the little kids' table?

Wednesday, February 7, 2007


I found this really interesting article about how psychics read you.

I find particulary interesting the different experiments. They give people a fake personality test, but give everyone the same personality profile. Everyone thinks the profile accurately describes them! (Unlike other personality tests that actually have different results.

Although in another experiment, they had people pick a horoscope personality and had zero correlation to actual birth dates. Unless they knew which horoscopes they were supposed to be. The placebo effect works quite well. If you believe in it.

I read the horoscope aloud to blind people each week. They are much less convincing when you read all 12, because they're all the same. Especially on New Year's Eve, when all the horoscopes had really bad corny phrases about old acquaintances and resolutions.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Weird puppet night

I saw Drunk Puppet Night. It was strange.

A grab bag of hit or miss puppetry for adults. To be fair, we had pretty bad seats, next to some loud, disrespectful hecklers. So I couldn't see some of the acts well at all. Which is rough for puppets. Although, loud disrespectful hecklers are probably part of the traditional puppetry experience if you consider puppetry historically.

Some of the acts were really awesome. The Adventure of Diamond Joe, while not exactly puppets, was awesome, charismatic and inspired. The story about Cora Gated, with puppets made of "found materials", clearly all recycled trash, was pretty damn awesome performance and construction. Paper Kant was a really cool stop motion animation. And there was a shadow puppet display about a guy on the beach that showed an amazing sense for rhythm.

Puppetry is animation before the invention of film. Just as theatre has become eclipsed by film and TV, puppetry captures the same imagination and skills as animation.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Apple v. Apple

At long last, Apple Computer and Apple Records have settled their trademark dispute.

Although I suppose it's now Apple, Inc. instead of Apple Computer. I'm just glad Steve Jobs and the Beatles are getting along.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Is Obama Black

Stupid article in the Oregonian on Senator Obama not being black.

I like Leonard Pitts' take on the question.

He's always an insightful commentator. And he's a member of a UCC church!

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Day break rocks!

Why did no one watch this show? Why must the Oregonian critic call it an "insta-dud"? It's so awesome!

More episodes will be posted online Monday, and I am ready. The last one was brilliant. He solves the crime, figures out how all the pieces fit together, is master of his domain.

And then he wakes up. Still stuck in his violent Groundhog Day, still framed for murder.

I love how the music, the cinematography of the last 10 minutes of the episode is that of a finale. They make you think it's over. The music is soothing, the shots are longer. The action slows. Lots of flashbacks, summing up and tying off. Everything is taken care of, the story is over, we're ready to say goodbye.

Because I knew there were more episodes coming out, it was brilliant suspense. I knew this was a false ending. But it unfolded very engagingly.

I wonder what they'll think of next.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Deja Vu

Groundhog day is the perfect day to write about Day Break. I finally started watching the episodes that ABC finally posted online.

I really enjoy the intelligence behind the ambiguity of the first episode that never aired. Hopper, the lead character who's repeating the same day over and over, meets a crazy homeless guy. He met him before, but now he's in a different place. Because he's living the same day over and over. Or is he just a crazy brain injured guy who thinks that? Brilliant scripting and acting, never giving clarity to the answer. Definitely giving Hopper the question: is this real, or are you crazy too?

Thursday, February 1, 2007

I have a beard

I've had a beard for a while now. Over a year, continuously. And the majority of the time for the past 15 years.

And yet this afternoon I forgot that. Thought I didn't. Weird.