Archive for December, 2010

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10 Movies For New Year’s Eve

[ 1 Comment ]Posted on December 18, 2010 by admin in Popular Media

Saturday, December 18th, 2010

This New Year, if you’d rather watch a film you’ll remember than drink away a night you’ll forget, here are ten New Year themed films that include some of the best and the worst movies ever made.

Okay, okay. So you had a bad
year. No need to jump. Yet.

Christmas is less than a week away, and you know what that means. Time to start over-anticipating the next holiday, i.e.: New Year’s Day. I’ve always been a bit perplexed by the holiday tradition of drinking your brains out on the last day of the year, as if that will somehow make it go away. The year, that is, not your brain. Even when I did drink – which used to be quite often – I certainly didn’t see anything especially exciting about drinking for a holiday, and now that I don’t, my New Year’s Eve is more often spent having a nice dinner and watching a movie or going to a party where I know that getting staggering drunk isn’t the over-arching theme. This year looks like a movie year for me, so if you’re thinking along the same lines, we’ve rounded up some interesting New Year’s themed films for your consideration. In my opinion, probably the best New Year’s film ever made was the Coen Brothers’ The Hudsucker Proxy. If you saw it but missed its message of circles, cycles, and beginnings-being-ends, give it another go-round, so to speak. On top of the always-stylish Coen Brother’s production and set design, it’s full of brilliant and over-the-top performances by Tim Robbins, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Paul Newman, Bill Cobbs, and Charles Durning. And of course Jim True-Frost as “Buzz the Elevator Operator”. I love this film so much that a couple of years ago I made it part of the evening’s party plan, cuing it to start at exactly 10:22:45pm so that Tim Robbins’ character would jump off the building at exactly midnight. Yeah, I know. A little weird. Anyway, this year I thought I’d break away from the Hudsucker tradition and explore some other New Year’s films. Some selections and unsolicited commentary below. Read the rest of this entry »

Shining Some Light On The Death Of Incandescent Bulbs

[ Comments Off ]Posted on December 17, 2010 by admin in Clean & Green

Friday, December 17th, 2010

Is the plan to do away with incandescent bulbs part of a vast energy industry conspiracy? Probably not. But that sounds a lot more interesting than “hey, get ready to change your lightbulbs in a couple years”.

The future’s looking bright, but at a
price. 33 bucks, to be more specific.

It’s kind of interesting that many of us are not aware that there’s a massive plan underway to do away with the incandescent bulb by 2014. I say “most of us” because I’m not aware, and I say “massive plan” because there are an estimated 3 billion to 4 billion screw-in sockets in the US, accounting for about 10 percent of all US electricity consumption. According to the SYLVANIA Socket Survey, only 36 percent of Americans are aware of the planned phase out, which was legislated by the federal government in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. So what are we switching to? This Washington Post item provides a nice summary. The three main options are LED’s (only 33 bucks per bulb on Amazon!), Halogen bulbs, and CFL’s (compact fluorescent lightbulbs). CFL’s are those wormy-looking things that you’re probably already familiar with, and will probably be the most common replacement at first, due to their lower cost and higher efficiency amongst the three options. They’re not cheap though; while we may be reducing energy consumption, even these bulbs typically cost about six times as much as a conventional bulb. This is theoretically offset by the fact that the CFL’s will last five years instead of just a few months, but it’s hard to imagine how an industry this large would take a change in revenue stream like this sitting down, so look for elaborate planned obsolescence schemes or even higher prices down the road. I jest a bit of course, but consumers have genuine concerns about other issues, like the toxicity of substances like Mercury that are used in the bulbs, and the difference in the color value of the light they produce. US News answers some of these commonly asked questions here.

Rock Star Games’ L.A. Noire Uses MotionScan 3D Technology To Bring Nuanced Expression To Characters

[ Comments Off ]Posted on December 16, 2010 by admin in Technology

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

New 3D motion capture tools like MotionScan by Depth Analysis open up incredible possibilities for character creation in media. Just imagine a Hollywood that didn’t require the expense and annoyance of a real life Tom Cruise.

A while back we pointed out how much your robot sucks, but fortunately, the digital simulation of you seems to be doing just fine. Today RockStar Games released a trailer (also below) for their upcoming release LA Noire (available April 2011), which features an intriguing behind-the-scenes look at the new technology that drives the game. I’m not even a gamer, and I find this fascinating. While consumers are already probably starting to get a little ho-hum about the motion capture and computer generated imagery that James Cameron spent ten years perfecting, and that Robert Zemeckis seems to think is the future of cinema – after Polar Express, Beowulf, and A Christmas Carol, he’s now working on a 3D Yellow Submarine – it seems the technology is accelerating at a rate that may outstrip the pace of typical Hollywood production and lead to even more interesting uses. The possibility of real-time rendering combined with the amazing affordability – you can set up a full motion capture studio for about six thousand dollars – opens up all sorts of possibilities. Imagine, for instance, a Hollywood that doesn’t need the ongoing expense and public annoyance of a flesh-and-blood Tom Cruise, or virtual worlds like Second Life that don’t look like they were rendered in fifty dollar 3D home design software. If you’ve seen movies like Surrogates, you’re already aware of the benefits of not actually living your real life, but with lower prices and consumer-targeted software, we could do away with all this annoying “real life” stuff altogether! Of course, there are those who believe we’re living in a computer simulation already, but why not add an extra layer just to be sure? In the meantime, see the LA Noire trailer and some screen grabs below to reassure yourself that you are in fact living in the genuine reality, and that the technology doesn’t yet exist to make a Matrix-like existence possible.
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We Mix You A Merry Christmash – Fun Alternatives To Your Usual Christmas Music Playlist Ideas

[ 2 Comments ]Posted on December 15, 2010 by admin in Holidays

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

After weeks of Christmas songs insinuating themselves into your life, a holiday playlist is probably the LAST thing you want to think about. So we’ve done some thinking for you.

This is not a gratuitous image exploiting
women. We included a clip of Charo singing
Feliz Blah Blah Blah on Pee Wee’s
Playhouse below. Made ya look though.

It all begins around the first of November, when you’re at the market staring at piles of deeply discounted mini chocolate bars left over from Halloween, and suddenly, like some sonic message from the dark side, “Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town” pokes through the ambient shopping noise. By mid-December, you’ve probably subliminally absorbed so many Christmas songs that you find yourself spontaneously whistling “Walkin’ In A Winter Wonderland” while making love. So it’s natural that so many people groan at the idea of listening to Christmas music on purpose. Which is a shame, because thanks to the thousands of crassly opportunistic attempts to cash in on the Christmas spirit, there are literally thousands of tunes to choose from, in every genre, from several decades. We’ve previously tried to cover all the bases; over the past couple of years we Jewished you a merry Christmas with Oye To The World, suggested some Santastic mashups with Generation Xmas, and with Generation Triple X-Mas we got on Santa’s naughty list. So this year, we thought we’d try to get back on the “nice” list with some actually sane Christmas music ideas, and a few oddities thrown in for fun. If you’ve ever gone searching on the web for some new holiday music ideas, you may have had that Wikiphilia-like experience of suddenly realizing you just wasted three hours of your life mindlessly YouTubing weird Christmas tunes like we did. So we have to give considerable thanks to MistleTunes,, and Check The Cool Wax for their passion and devotion to compiling and organizing thousands of offbeat and obscure holiday songs. They bring a lot of the spirit back to what should be one of the best parts of the holidays. The music! Hope you enjoy, and feel free to share your own playlist ideas. Read the rest of this entry »

Sick Of Hearing About Julian Assange & WikiLeaks?

[ 1 Comment ]Posted on December 14, 2010 by admin in Editorial & Opinion

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

So let’s move on then, and talk about OpenLeaks, Daniel Domscheit-Berg, Bradley Manning, and the future of truth, journalism, and democracy.

Kudos to Time magazine for featuring Julian Assange on their cover with an American flag gagging him. And kudos to their readers for voting Assange person of the year. Not because I think he’s some kind of hero. Hell, I don’t know; under various countries’ laws he’s probably a criminal of some kind or another. In fact, early on, I jokingly suggested that WikiLeaks was a disinformation machine set up by the US government. But if Assange gets thrown under the bus by the British and Swedish legal systems and ends up being “extraordinarily rendered” by US intelligence, the greatest tragedy would not be Assange’s personal demise, it would be if we all forgot about the principle behind what he was doing and returned to pointlessly quibbling about the latest partisan political folly of the week. So I hope conservatives everywhere smolder about Michael Moore’s self-satisfied support of Assange. And I hope liberals have hernias about Sarah Palin suggesting he should be hunted down like Osama Bin Laden. And I hope Vladimir Putin keeps making jabs at our sham democracy with barbs like “So, you know, as they say in the countryside, some people‚Äôs cows can moo, but yours should keep quiet“. And I hope women like Sady Doyle keep convicting him without a trial. And I hope pseudonymous misogynist bloggers like “Ferdinand Bardamu” keep dialing up the outrage on the other side by revealing the identities and addresses of the accusers. And I hope the former WikiLeakers who are organizing OpenLeaks keep dissing Assange to get press for their new venture. And I hope bloggers like Gene Lalor keep fretting that Bradley Manning is a homosexual traitor. And I hope that bleeding heart liberal intellectuals in Berkeley erect a statue in his honor. And I hope Daniel Ellsberg keeps pointing out that his experience with the Pentagon Papers was identical to the WikiLeaks debacle. Because in the end, there’s some nebulous hope that by keeping the dialog about the broader issue alive, more people will realize that the real issue is truth, and possessing the integrity to speak it. It may have taken some personally flawed personalities to do it, but the big filthy satchel of lies has been dumped on the ground. Let’s look at the contents before we decide whom to lynch.
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