Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Year In 40 Seconds

Happy New Year, everyone. I'm signing off until January 2, as I'll be on the road a lot until then. But I figured this time-lapse video was the perfect way to close out 2008:


One year in 40 seconds from Eirik Solheim on Vimeo.

(Via Towleroad.)

Monday, December 29, 2008

Transformers II Is Shooting!

Wired reports:


Hollywood action director Michael Bay enlisted the U.S. military to provide realistic props for his 2007 giant-robot epic Transformers. After the Pentagon helped rewrite the script, Bay got access to helicopters, warships and -- for just $25,000 an hour -- F-22 stealth fighters.

As we speak, Bay is shooting a sequel that has even more U.S. military hardware on display, according to USA Today. The director set up shop at White Sands, a test range in New Mexico, standing in for Egypt, where the new movie's climactic battle takes place. "As far as I know, this is the biggest joint military operation movie ever made," said Bay's liaison officer from the Army.

Continue reading.

Beware Of Dried Out Christmas Trees

This video is pretty awesome--so long as something similar doesn't happen in one's own home:



So make sure to keep your Christmas tree well-watered and then throw it out before it's completely dead.

(Via Boing Boing.)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

An Environmentalist Analysis Of WALL-E And Quantum Of Solace

Climate Progress' Joseph Romm writes:
The best eco-movie of the year is Disney/Pixar’s Wall-E — easily one of the best movie dystopias ever. It ranks with Blade Runner, Brazil, A Clockwork Orange, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, the Matrix, Planet of the Apes, Soylent Green, and the first two Terminator movies.

Yes, Hollywood loves dystopias. Perhaps because it is one (okay, technically Hollywood is an anti-utopia).

The worst eco-movie of the year for me was Quantum of Solace. I had been somewhat hopeful upon learning the villain was a green-washing “eco-entrepreneur.” But as a huge James Bond fan, I was quite disappointed. The writing and directing were dreadful, among the worst of the entire series. The story line was incoherent. The characters’ motivations were opaque. And the direction of the action scenes suffered from the Jason Bourne syndrome — way too much fast-cutting.

I still like the grittiness of Daniel Craig — his Bond is much more like Ian Fleming imagined in his books than anyone since the Sean Connery of the early movies. Still, the gritty realism is undercut again and again as one guy with a pistol keeps beating a dozen guys with machine guns — not something you find much in the books.

Continue reading.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Random Goodness

First random thing:


Next Nature reports:
Nanotechnology isn’t just protecting your food - it’s in your food. Scientists are manufacturing nano-sized vitamins that are easier for our bodies to absorb. In the future they hope to create ‘interactive’ food - food and drink that could change color, flavor or nutrients on demand.

Meanwhile, top chef Heston Blumenthal is dreaming of Willy Wonka style sweets, with three different tastes in one. Supported by the University of Nottingham, he’s even employed a research student who will investigate how nanotechnology could improve foods’ flavour.

Unfortunately, we're no where close to building functional nanobots like the one pictured. But it is a pretty sweet picture. I suppose that's why Next Nature included it in their post.

Second random thing:


(Via Brand Flakes for Breakfast.)

Third random thing:


(Via Inspire me, now!)

Consider me inspired. To do what exactly, I don't know.

Fourth and final random thing:


(Via Boing Boing.)

Beware of snowmen with mustaches, I guess.

That is all.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Best. Street Art. Ever.


MUTO a wall-painted animation by BLU from blu on Vimeo.

See more of this artist's work at blublu.org.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

William Burroughs' Christmas Special

Merry Christmas, everyone! Enjoy:


(Via Reason.)

(Cross-posted at The Podium.)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Mysteries Of American Chinese Food

This is a great exploration of how Americans have radically altered Chinese cuisine. But just because it's not authentic doesn't mean it's not tasty.


(Jennifer 8. Lee: Who was General Tso? and other mysteries of American Chinese food)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Food Is A Wonderful, Terrible Drug


(Via DoseNation.)

These women's concoction is obviously a much greater threat to public health than marijuana.

(Cross-posted at The Podium.)

Make It Rain On Me

This is a great project, bringing the idea of a rain cloud following and tormenting a single person out of the cartoons and into the real world. However, I'd prefer a sun that always kept my surroundings bright no matter how dreary the weather. That would definitely help boost my mood.


Make It Rain On Me (Outdoor) from Paul Outlaw on Vimeo.

(Via Urban Prankster.)

The True Face Of Leonardo Da Vinci?


(Click here to learn more.)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Mirrors, Mice, Birds, And Music

Why? Why not?


(Via DoseNation.)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The ultimate finals playlist

Songs I'm obsessed with! As per usual! Let's hope people read it and weep!

Right now, I'm watching Wall-E (which is strangely not unlike 2001: A Space Odyssey), procrastinating going to work, and eating a lot of junk food, compliments of my mom's annual finals care package. Wall E is precious. Eve-a!

Songs to pass your finals to, or, Songs for Eve, OR, I finally updated my Facebook music interests after months of loving the same bands forever

"Jungle Drum" — Emiliana Torrini (love the Icelandic songstresses)
"Sleepyhead" — Passion Pit (such a catchy little ditty. everytime I play this song for someone they freak out and love it immediately)
"If U Seek Amy" — Britney Spears (Ok, ok. So it's really cool to like Britney right now. I'm not going to feel guilty. Don't judge me.)
"Fix Up, Look Sharp" — Dizzee Rascal ("ooooiiiii! I stay sweet as a nut, sweet like Tropicana, when the hammer hits, your head splits like a banana!".........best lyrics ever?)

"Love Lockdown" — Kanye West (is there anyone who genuinely doesn't like Kanye? maybe. if so, they probably also don't like Wall-E.
"White Diamonds" — Alela Diane (You hold that feather, sister. Her voice makes me melt. Like Wall E and Eve holding hands.)

"Coffee" — Motel Motel (borderline too whiny...but it's a must-have on this playlist)
"Brooklyn Go Hard" — Jay Z feat. Santogold (SUCH a bomb track.)

"Gifted" — N.A.S.A. feat. Kanye West, Santogold, & Lykke Li (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AaKA2HKKqZw&feature=related)
• "Everyone's At It" — Lily Allen
"Gravity's Rainbow (Soulwax Remix)"Klaxons (Can't believe I wasn't into these guys earlier.)
"Mountains" — Biffy Clyro
"Crush" — Jellyhead (Thank you so much, Ultimate Dance Party 1998! Age 12, welcome back! If you watch one video, make it this one. My favorite part is the lime green spandex jumper costume. I believe I once owned something similar.)



ACKKK! I AM SO EXCITED RIGHT NOW. Eve and Wall-E are saving all the fat people and the theme song to 2001:A Space Odyssey is playing!!! The Dawn of Man! I knew it. I am so pleased with myself that I can catch that popular reference. This movie rocks. hehe. all the fat people with no bones are having issues trying to walk. Robots holding hands is so precious.

That's it, kids. Hope you pass your finals with this playlist. oh! Also, a few movie recommendations: Mr. Brooks, and Flatliners. Just....Netflix that shiz.

—Ann, who pledges to stop eating junk food....soon.

Cute Things Falling Asleep

Yet another welcome distraction from finals: Cute Things Falling Asleep!

Examples...

Sleepy sloth:



Sleepy kitten (one of many):



(Via Slog.)

A Bush Family Christmas

Apparently, everyone in the White House is on crack:

Monday, December 15, 2008

Shoes Mashup

If finals week is getting you down, this is just the thing to cheer you up!


(Via Slog.)

Flash Rave!

Urban Prankster reports:
Students at UNC Chapel Hill organized a Flash Rave in the Undergraduate Library to blow off steam during exam week. UNC is my alma mater, so I’m proud to see stuff like this going on down there.



Doing something like this at the UI would be awesome.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Trans-Siberian sensory assault

Last night had been the night I'd been waiting for all semester long. It would serve as the grand finale, a "last blast" to an absolutely insane Fall semester at Iowa. I knew that my $50 ticket was money well spent, as this is my third time seeing Trans-Siberian Orchestra, at the I-Wireless Center in Moline, IL.

In case you're (sadly) unfamiliar with the group, TSO is an elaborate crew consisting of several guitar players, two keyboardists, scores of vocalists, an orchestra and two electric violinists, that crank out some of the most unique interpretations of classic Christmas and Classical music you've ever heard. TSO was formed in New York, by Paul O'Neill, and there are two sets of performers that tour simultaneously nationwide, usually in and around the holiday season.

Not only was this concert the end of the semester for me, it is also the perfect way to start thinking about the holiday celebrations to come.

Now, TSO is widely known for their spectacular live performances. At any given time in the nearly three-hour set, there are at least 15 people on stage, save for maybe a few simpler numbers. The first half of the show is the Christmas-themed portion of the show, blasting through songs off of their three Christmas albums, but mostly sticking to the "Christmas Eve & Other Stories" album. Complete with narration, the story of keeping the faith, in Christmas spirit, life, and humanity is ever present, and incredibly inspiring. The previously mentioned album is heavily focused on this, particularly in the song "Old City Bar:"

(Note: These are not my videos from the show I went to...but I was in the CENTER of ROW 7!!!! Sorry, I'm still kind of freaking out about it!!)



Trans-Siberian Orchestra does a remarkable job at keeping the audience engaged. Don't let the "Orchestra" bit fool you. With solos and (literally) blinding light displays, should you get bored, you might want to question how alive you really are. The second half of the concert is primarily dedicated to their more rockin' numbers, with wintry modern classics such as "Queen of the Winter Night," "Christmas Eve/Sarajevo, 12/24," and "Wizards in Winter:"



TSO does not skimp on quality in the slightest, as can be seen and heard from the video above, the musicianship and light spectacular that they present each and every night they perform, is simply stunning. Each musician puts forth all their energy and might for a fantastic performance. Being so close to the musicians, for the first time, I was able to see on their faces just how much fun they were having up there!

The show finally closed with a song from the "Beethoven's Last Night" album: "Requiem: The Fifth." This song truly is the culmination of all the tasty goodness we have been experiencing for hours (and honestly, I wish it could have gone on forever). This is where the band, crew, everyone goes all-out, complete with pyrotechnics, fireworks, every strobe light available, the list goes on and on. We were able to feel the flames shooting on stage, and actually started to sweat a bit because it was so persistent. The lights were blinding, but somehow it made the experience all the more enjoyable.



As we left the I-Wireless Center, the arena in a dense fog, all I could think of is how excited I am to see it all over again next year.

So the Kelso thing? Not just an act...

Oh, dear, sweet, hometown Homestead-Ashton. That's Kutcher, and not The Daily Iowan's beloved and oft-Rickrolled news reporter with the surname Shurson.



I'm actually watching Guess Who?, Kutcher's 2005 socially-relevant comedy of a much better socially-relevant film, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? How fated that this film is on TBS one day after Mr. Kutcher visited Iowa City, home of his semi-mater the University of Iowa, on an altruistic mission?

Mr. Kutcher was here as part of Mediacom's flood relief effort Make A Difference. He and his wife Demi attended the Iowa basketball game, before shuffling over to the Englert for a fundraiser screening of his new film, Personal Effects, a VIP fan meet and greet, and awkward press conference, which I had the good fortune to attend.

It was made very clear that the press were not allowed to see the film unless they purchased a ticket, so I decided to go the DI Wine and Cheese route instead. But I took notes, like an actual reporter, and I'd like to share them now.

Kutcher called Dan Gable a personal hero, and said that he was a wrestler in high school. But he "wasn't good enough to be an Iowa wrestler," though he wanted to be one, but he is "good enough to play one in the movies," which he does in Personal Effects.

He signed on to this particular fundraiser because it "provided the gravitas of a long-term solution." And to the haters on various Iowa news outlets' websites, who condemn Kutcher for not coming home to help earlier, he replies, "What are they doing?"

In explaining his involvement, Kutcher cited the biblical proverb about teaching a man to fish as opposed to just giving a man to fish, saying a teacher taught it to him. He said that Iowans knew how to fish, but all they needed was a "rod and a reel."

And that was only the beginning of Kutcher's kind comments to Iowans. Some even came at the expense of other natural disaster victims. He said, "Iowans like to get it done themselves," about the lack of press coverage after this summer's flooding in comparison to that other disaster, Hurricane Katrina. He said Katrina victims, in contrast to Iowa flood victims, embraced a more "give it to me" attitude about relief and rescue efforts. He then compared the flood to the 2004 Tsunami as well, saying that a "flood appears to be more gentle," and people like to see carnage, things that are more "cinemagraphic," whatever that means.

He said he's from Hollywood, so he's dramatic, and will scream for Iowans to get aid. There's a "sense of earnership" (another made up word?) and "pride" so Iowans "didn't cry as loud" when the nation's "second largest national disaster" in history hit the Corn state.

"I'm passionate about other people," he said, doe eyed and scruffy in front of the press.

The whole event boiled down to Kutcher wanting to "raise awareness" because "people forget quick," and "it's easy to forget when there's no drama."

He sounded genuinely moved when he describe Cedar Rapids as "a ghost of a town" and how "shocking" the images were during/post-flood. He saw the hospital where he was born in under water, drowning alongside the museums where he used to rollerblade on the railings.

Take from the quotes what you will, and feel free to comment or e-mail me if you want more salacious details or my personal opinions.

He's pretty cute in real life though.

-Meryn, who is now watching A Lot Like Love as part of TBS' Kutcher double-feature. She doesn't care what you say, this movie is a personal favorite, mostly because of the soundtrack and the plot. plus Kutch gets naked with Amanda Peet. HOT.

The YouTube Screening Room

Did you know YouTube has a section on its website called the Screening Room? It allows you to watch high quality short films that you'd probably never otherwise get a chance to see. Check it out.

Here's an interesting one about a young gay man coming out it his family--it's called Second Guessing Grandma:


(I suggest clicking through to the video's page and viewing it in high definition and full-screen view.)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Happiest day of my life

Today a genie came down from the sky and asked what two things I wanted in life. Obviously, I replied that (1) I would like Kate Walsh to be single again, as she obviously belongs with me and (2) that Jennifer Aniston also return my love her her by posing for GQ.

And that genie sure worked his/her/its magic. That, or Santa came early this year because my wish list is quickly being filled.

Wish 1: Kate Walsh

E Online reports that Kate's husband wants a divorce in an article.

Meanwhile my personal publication, B Offline, reports that I am single, available, and most certainly the perfect match for Kate. Don't worry you'll all get invites to the wedding — and tickets for Private Practice tapings, anyone?

Wish 2: Jennifer Aniston

Oh, how I love Jennifer Aniston. She's hilarious. And gorgeous. And has the best/most adorable facial expressions which the NYT Magazine shared with us last week:















And now Jen is gracing the cover of GQ for next month…nude. Okay, so I'm not going all frat-boy and *insert inappropriate reference to last week's 'SNL' digital short* just at the sight of slightly covered breasts and exposed thighs. Come on, I can't be a womanizer unless I'm talking about B. Spears! I just love that J.A. - just a few weeks before Marley and Me (you know, that cute movie my little brother wants to see?) is released - is baring it all.

























But now my jealousy is kicking in:





























What?!? And I can't be one of those models?? I mean, I already have the Lion King-esque hip tattoo so I should be a shoo in.

So, there ya go. A glimpse into my testosterone-filled brain for a second. If you're looking for something a little more estrogen-based, find Meryn and remind her that Ashton Kutcher will be here tomorrow.

—B. James Stewart

Killer Chic: Hollywood And Che Guevara


(http://reason.tv/video/show/622.html)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tourist Snapshots From North Korea


(http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/paul_koontz_shares_his_pix_of_north_korea.html)

I would jump at the chance to go to North Korea--though being trapped there would be one of the most hellish fates I could imagine.

The Future Of Urban Design?

I want to live in a city like this:

Monday, December 8, 2008

Print Is Doomed, Electronic Media Set To Boom

Andrew Sullivan ponders the accelerating print media apocalypse:
Take the newspaper industry. It has been faltering badly under the pressure of new media for a few years. For much of the past decade, circulation for all papers has been declining at about 2% a year. The last year has been a test case of sorts. Newspapers had the story of a lifetime: an election campaign of historic interest, suspense, drama and personality. From Hillary to Barack, from John Edwards’s love child to Sarah Palin’s Down’s syndrome child, from John McCain’s wild lunges for relevance to the first black president, it was the kind of year in which circulation should have boomed. If you live for a story, this year was an embarrassment of riches.

And yet the decline didn’t just continue. It accelerated.

Between March and September the 500 biggest newspapers in America reported an average circulation decline of 4.6%. In six months. That’s close to a 10% decline per year. No newspapers showed any but fractional gains. It is therefore a near-certainty that many towns and cities in America will no longer have a newspaper after the down-turn. And that may apply not just to small names but to some big ones as well. The Los Angeles Times, for example, has gone from a circulation of 1.1m to 739,000 since the turn of the millennium. Its staff has been halved. Morale has never been lower.

Continue reading.

The solution? This:


(Via Engadget.)

Business Wire reports:
Flexible displays are paper-like computer displays made almost entirely of plastic. This technology enables displays to become easily portable and consumes less power than today’s computer displays. Popular applications for the technology could include electronic paper and signage.

The production feat is a milestone in the industry’s efforts to create a mass market for high-resolution flexible displays. Plus, from an environmental standpoint, the displays leapfrog conventional display processes by using up to 90 percent less materials by volume.

Mass production of such displays can enable production of notebook computers, smart phones and other electronic devices at much lower costs since the display is one of the more costly components.

I wrote a column detailing my predictions along these lines a few months back:
Technology enthusiasts have predicted the death of paper for some time now but have traditionally had trouble explaining what would take its place. Despite their usefulness for many tasks, the electronic displays on present-day laptops and other gadgets remain unable to match old-fashioned paper in terms of being lightweight, flexible, and, perhaps most importantly, easy on the eyes. Thus, although many people today, especially the young, get much of their news online, dead-tree publications still serve a unique and vital function.

But those age-old compact sheets of ground-up wood pulp are about to be supplanted by a new medium. If "plastics" was the economic buzzword of the late 1960s, "electronic paper" will likely achieve similar fame in the 2010s. The name may or may not stick, but the development of the technology is already proceeding at a rapid pace. Numerous electronics manufacturers are experimenting with flexible circuits that can be embedded in rubber, producing devices such as screens, keyboards, and touch pads that can be twisted, rolled, or folded without damaging them.

Continue reading.

The news today is particularly grim for daily newspapers, with the Chicago Tribune going bankrupt and the New York Times running out of money. Within the next several years it seems likely that most of the mainstream print media industry is going to suffer a fate similar to that of the famous Hindenberg airship:



The best way forward for primarily text-based media outlets is to move to business models focusing on making content available in as many electronic formats as possible. The flexible displays and electronic paper discussed above are going to proliferate with amazing rapidity over the next couple of years. News organizations that embrace this development and give up on wasting money squirting ink onto paper and shipping it all over the place will survive. The vast majority of those that don't will die. Sure it will be a painful process, but evolution always is.

Make no mistake, the media ecosystem that will grow up on the foundation of ubiquitous flexible electronic displays will be far better than the current print media environment. Barriers to entry will be substantially lower, opportunities for diversity will be greater, and stodgy centralized management will cease to be anything but a liability. So bring on the fiery doom as soon as possible. Only after there are ashes can a phoenix rise from them.

(Cross-posted at The Podium.)

Update:

I've written another blog post expanding on this one: Electronic Newspaper Business Models.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Lonely Island Boys Rock My World

Hey, DI Arts staff fans and friends. Meryn's here to write the sequel to last year's "Why I Love Andy Samberg" post. It goes something like this: Jorma Taccone is the cutest guy alive. Andy, Jorma, and their friend Akiva Schaeffer, founded the Internet film comedy group The Lonely Island. These guys found themselves on Saturday Night Live soon after, Andy as a performer and Jorma and Akiva as writers. Together, they took the show into the 21st Century with the groundbreaking Digital Shorts; legitimizing YouTube with the sensational "Lazy Sunday." Not all the Digital Shorts are hits, but the ones with music tend to score with viewers. Now, the Digital Shorts are a must-see feature on SNL, and the subject of frequent Monday morning office chatter. SNL's Digital Shorts, with original music often composed by nerdish sex bomb Jorma, are also a hot spot for big names like Justin Timberlake (in the insta-classic "Dick in a Box"), as well as Jake Gyllenhaal Maroon 5's Adam Levine (in "Iran So Far Away," a tribute to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad's trip to NYC).

Imagine my glee this past Saturday when I turned to the Peacock Network and saw this:



Yes, and the hottie rapping alongside Andy Samberg is Jorma Taccone. (I know, right?) He's also in Samberg's film, Hot Rod, directed by Akiva Schaeffer (who cameos in this Digital Short as the DJ). Molly Sims, Jamie Lynn-Sigler and none other than Mr. Timberlake round out the cast of my favorite Digital Short of this season. Please enjoy.

-Meryn, who is eternally bummed out to discover that Jorma Taccone is happily married.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Cable News as "Mean Girls," An Addendum

I'm not endorsing the positions of Jon Stewart and "The Daily Show" but this piece is a nice little bookend to that Medium I wrote a few weeks ago (to shamelessly plug my own work). And Stewart does it far better than I could ever hope to.



Oh, and sorry A.C. and Chuckie-T, but Jon Stewart is definitely the hottest of the cable newsmen, in addition to being the funniest by far.

-Meryn, who just can't believe David Gregory is going to be the new host of "Meet The Press."

Monday, December 1, 2008

I love stumbling.

I found this on NetScrap. I find it accurate. Note to fellow imbibers: try avoiding Stage 5 complications.

THE FIVE STAGES OF DRUNKENNESS

Stage #1 -- Smart

This is when you suddenly become an expert on every subject. You
know all and greatly wish to express this knowledge to anyone who
will listen. At this stage you are also always right. And of course
the person you are talking with is very wrong. You will talk for
hours trying to convince someone that you are right. This makes for an
interesting argument when both parties are "smart". Two people talking,
in fact, arguing about a subject neither one really knows anything
about, but are convinced that they are they complete authority on the
subject makes for great entertainment for those get the opportunity to
listen in.

Stage #2 -- Handsome/Pretty

This is when you are convinced that you are the best looking person in
the entire room and everyone is looking at you. You begin to wink at
perfect strangers and ask them to dance because of course they had been
admiring you the whole evening. You are the center of attention, and all
eyes are directed at you because you are the most beautiful thing on the
face of the earth. Now keep in mind that you are still smart, so you can
talk to this person who has been admiring you about any and all subjects
under the sun.

Stage #3 -- Rich

This is when you suddenly become the richest person in the world. You can
buy drinks for the entire bar and put it on your bill because you surely
have an armored truck full of your money parked behind the bar. You can
also make bets in this stage. Now of course you still know all, so you
will always win all your bets. And you have no concern for how much
money you bet because you have all the money in the world. You will also
begin to buy drinks for all the people in the bar who are admiring you
because you are now the smartest, prettiest, and richest person on the
face of the earth.

Stage #4 -- Bulletproof

You can now pick fights with the people you have been betting money with
because you cannot be hurt by anything. At this point you would go up to
the boyfriend of the woman who had been admiring your beautiful self
all evening and challenge him to a battle of wits for money. You have no
worry about losing this battle of wits because you know all, have all
the money to cover this bet, and you obviously win a fight that might
erupt if he looses.

Stage #5 -- Invisible

This is the final stage of drunkenness. At this point you can do
absolutely anything because no one can see you. You can get up and dance
on a table; you can strip down to your underwear, to impress the people
who have been admiring you all evening, because the rest of the people
in the room cannot see you. You are also invisible to the person whom
you have picked a fight with earlier in the evening. You can walk through
the streets singing at the top of your lungs (because of course you are
still smart and know the tune perfectly) and no one will think anything
of it because they can't see you. All your social inhibitions are
gone. You can do anything, because no one will know.

And you certainly won't remember !

up next: the DI releases nude pictures? no. rest easy.

In the spirit of both the upcoming Fall Out Boy album, Folie A Deux (which I'll be reviewing on its release date of December 16th), and the finally-arrived Wentz baby, Bronx Mowgli (...yeah), I saw this floating around online and couldn't resist. Please feel free to join in.


This dude is someone's father now. Think about that.

The "Be Pete Wentz" Poetry Meme

01. Put your music player on shuffle
02. The first lines of twenty songs = a poem; the first line of the twenty-first song is the title
(for full Wentzian effect, which you can see on display here, along with a host of other assorted plugs for clothing and other ridiculous crap, i've gone full no-caps):

i just want to belong

the seaweed is always greener 
needed some time, so i could find a little strength to redefine
i came up like everyone, they taught us all the same
dear, i fear we're facing a problem

when your eyes fall down you know you're like a crook
long ago
standing at the back door
my latest sun is sinking fast

sittin here, eatin my heart out, waitin
i wake up, my shoulder's cold
everybody knows which way you go
she turned me on, but now i'm shakin

like a moth to a flame burned by the fire
every time the day darkens down and goes away
in my place
hello?

come to my house
bah humbug, no that's too strong
it's easier to fall and harder to stand
don't want to say goodbye to you

Ahahahahahahahaha! That was awesome. And I actually swear that I didn't not put that one Christmas-themed song in there on purpose--iTunes works in mysterious ways, what can I say.

— Anna, who's a classic (like a little black dress).

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Bitch is the new Britney

It's Meryn, bitch. And I'm here to live blog the premiere of Ms. Spears' comebackumentary "Britney: For the Record." Let's snark away, kids....


9:02 p.m. The title track from Britney's latest album is kind of a jam.
9:02 Father and custodian Jamie Spears "makes his baby some cheesy grits." Yeah, the Spearses are every bit as southern-fried as the media portrays them to be.
9:05 p.m. Britney gives a spiel about "good," "great," and "OK" performances, which really serves as a shadow mea culpa for her God awful VMA performance in 2007, though she doesn't explicitly mention it.
9:06 p.m. Brit-Brit is ALREADY crying. Even the folks on "Intervention" wait until at least fifteen minutes in to let the tears flow. This is going to be drainin' y'all...
9:09 p.m. Britney says she'd "be dead without dancing." Yeah, I can add a few others to that list of things keeping Britney alive, but now is no time for me to speculate...
9:10 p.m. Britney opens up about JT. I'm lovin' it. And she looks really good now. Now she's slipping into "parody-Britney" and it's feeling a little faux...
9:12 p.m. Demarchelier! Seriously? Lucky bitch.
9:13 p.m. Britney is explaining a video concept and she sounds like her Kentwood-self, talking slow and getting in to it. I can't tell if her drawl is adorable or sounds a little like someone who is intellectually-deficient...
9:14 p.m. I don't know, but Brit-Brit is talking about how much her music is a reflection of what she's going through, and I can't help but wonder if that's true for people who don't write most of their own songs...
9:15 p.m. Britney and Dave Grohl, both singers who record while chewing gum.
9:16 p.m. Britney asks, "Is that the end?" while recording a track, clearly taking a note from Janet Jackson circa Rhythm Nation 1814.
9:17 p.m. Yes Britney, people do shave their heads all the time. But YOU don't. Is she having trouble seeing the distinction? And most people don't have paparazzi looking on as they shorn their locks.
9:18 p.m. Britney looks like her Oops I Did It Again self. Props.
9:20 p.m. Britney's talking about how spiritual her dancing is and how certain movements are cathartic and emotional, but why must they show her grinding on other people and fondling herself as she says this? It makes her argument harder to believe.
9:21 p.m. I find myself rooting for Britney, even though my better angels are telling me not to. Or maybe it's my demons. Either way, this documentary is Britney's Triumph of the Will.
9:23 p.m. I appreciate Brit-Brit's candor about how much she enjoys being famous at times. Though I wish she'd stop conducting business in her childlike voice. Like Jan Hooks says, "You're a grown woman, use your lower register!"
9:25 p.m. Is the Blair Witch-style camerawork really necessary during the paparazzi scrum? I mean, when you consider the camera is still in the car?
9:27 p.m. Props to the interviewer for phrasing the "victim of success" question as such instead of saying "How does someone become a fucking joke?" which might be how some of us would put it.
9:28 p.m. Did Britney just take a swipe at Katie Holmes? (CHEAP SHOT COMING) If Tom ever lets her out of her cage, Katie's going to be PISSED.
9:30 p.m. I guess even documentaries include the compulsory shopping montage.
9:31 p.m. Some shocking and much-needed humility from Britney. Snaps.
9:33 p.m. As Britney talks about the emotional depth of In the Heights, I can't help but wonder if she's someone who feels forced to fulfill her stereotype/media given image, or if it has been created because it is an accurate depiction of who she is. Chicken or egg?
9:34 p.m. Britney just referred to K-Fed as "her babies' daddy." HELL YES B-SPEARS!
9:37 p.m. Even the commercials are all-Britney. This is like an episode of "Saturday Night Live," and I can't tell if the commercials are part of the documentary or if they're real. And I can't believe she built them in to the special. What?
9:40 p.m. Jamie Spears is kind of frightening and yet intriguing. And he just compared his weekend fishing hobby to Britney's career. What does that even mean?
9:41 p.m. Britney and Jamie's relationship reminds me of that scene in Madonna: Truth or Dare when her dad comes backstage. Is it just me?
9:43 p.m. Unlike most celebrities, I do actually believe it's hard to be Britney and live her life. If I weren't so dead inside, I might be crying with her. They should show this in film classes.
9:45 p.m. I'm starting to believe that Britney is her generation's Michael Jackson, in the sense that we're watching her breakdown and she's on TV telling us about it, just like the Gloved One's statement from the Neverland Ranch after the LAPD raided his house. You know, the first time he was accused of child molestation.
9:47 p.m. Is Britney shooting a sequel to the "Oops I Did It Again" video? That red turtleneck makes me think so. Did I miss something?
9:48 p.m. This background piano track is SO "Movie of the Week." Ugh, too "True Life"-y, MTV.
9:49 p.m. No one told me Madge was going to show up!!! Wait, why isn't her face moving? Why does she look like a Calico? I'll never figure out why Madonna takes an honest interest in the affairs of Ms. Spears.
9:52 p.m. The time is really flying but I don't feel like I'm learning a lot. Anyone else feeling some gossip-natured blue balls? Oh B.Spears, such a tease...Some things never change.
9:54 p.m. I thought that was Perez Hilton in the gold sequined coat. It's Jamie Spears. Whoops.
9:55 p.m. (CHEAP SHOT NUMBERS 2 and 3) "Y'all are pretty fairies and I'm an ugly witch." Sounds like Christina Aguilera, circa Dirrty. Or Bill O'Reilly on any given day.
9:57 p.m. This scene is also like Madonna in Madonna: Truth or Dare. Hanging out with the dancers, thought it's all much more sanitized. This is making me wish there was an uncut, Miramax version of this documentary where Britney's dancers show her their penises and she's excommunicated by the Church. Anyone?
10 p.m. Britney's almost 27 and is still referring to herself as a girl. The problems really are deeper than we know.
10:01 p.m. You go and show that inner-Material Girl, Britney. All that rage about being impatient and waiting for the "fucking fireworks." LOVE IT.
10:02 p.m. What? You haven't told enough but you want to write "a good, mysterious book?" NO! I WANT THE TRUTH, ALL THE DIRT, CRYSTAL CLEAR!
10:03 p.m. Somewhere Christina Aguilera is touching her massive boobs and is pissed because Britney's video looks an awful lot like her "Hurt" clip. I'm just saying, from far away it's hard to distinguish the two.
10:04 p.m. Britney or Ralph Macchio? It is hard to tell. But seriously, she is funny. I just don't know if she intended to be.

I'm going to eat queso and watch Damien Fahey feed Brit-Brit's ego some more. But I will say this: Overall, the documentary was somewhat enlightening, heartbreaking, and fucking awkward. I do feel bad for Britney, but unfortunately she didn't prove that whole "I'm a smart person, what the hell was I thinking quote" as much as I'd have liked. I want to cheer for her, but even this documentary can't make me. But I don't want her to fail as much as I used to. Let me know if you think it lived up to the hype.

-Meryn, who hopes that her future MTV documentary is more salacious and less Confederate-tastic.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Failure to bird launch

I think this is Ann's first official post since we created profiles....about time. BOMB DOT COM!

While I have no itemized list of the illnesses spreading around the UI campus, it's been ages since I made a worthwhile playlist, and I've been working off the same one (inappropriately titled "da new hits") for months now. I have spent the last few days at home stealing wireless from the neighbors (Thanks John!) and obsessing over my "recently added" section of iTunes.

But before we get to the good stuff LET'S TALK ABOUT T-GIV. Also about how Jarrett still dubs himself Dr. Tongue. I for one am feeling not too shabby about my Thanksgiving consumption performance, even though we did not have a turkey. I'm sorry, let me repeat that, because I'm not sure it set in:
MY FAMILY DID NOT HAVE A TURKEY FOR THANKSGIVING.
Conversation in car:
Sister: I've never made a turkey before.
Sister's boyfriend: Yea, I've heard it's actually quite an art — like, it's really rather hard.
Mom: Yep, it is. Which is why Grandma did not make one this year.
Ann: -chokes on gum, sputters- Well, then surely.....surely someone else did?
Mom: Nope. Grandma made a ham instead, and you know what, she doesn't want to hear about it.
Ann: No...no turkey?

and all of a sudden the sky went black and my world crashed around me. This was almost as bad as the time we had cold cut sandwiches on Thanksgiving because half the family is vegetarian and nobody planned ahead. My life was funneling away and there was nothing I could do to make it better. But at least it couldn't get worse, right?

WRONG!
NOBODY EVEN MADE FLAVORED BREAD!!! WE DIDN'T EVEN HAVE ROLLS! HERESY!When I was a child, this was the only thing I ate at Thanksgiving because I gag-reflexed everything else. And now that I'm at an age when I can appreciate a boss stuffing mix, I was severely crestfallen about it when nobody bothered to make any.

BUT ON TO THE REAL MEAT OF THIS BLOG.
My latest playlist, entitled "Up a crick without a turkey"

"Thunder Jam #1" — Juiceboxxx (Milwaukee nerd rap at its finest. Wait. it's actually quite likely that there aren't that many nerd rappers in the 'wauk. oh well, this guy is legit, with really ill beats and sick lyrics) (plus, you can't negate this video)

"Windowdipper" — Jib Kidder (Alright, so I love Girl Talk. Everyone knows that. I stumbled across this on accident and it's not too shabby. but this guy is pretty cool. Plus, all the PC error sounds made me a little trippy, seeing as I have a Mac, and I couldn't figure out what was happening. best part: "WASSUP WASSUP WASSUP WIT DAT!" aka, my favorite thing to say while throwing fake gang signs.)
"Afterparty at Jimmy's" — Anya Marina (sounds like Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs)
"Such a Twat" — The Streets (YES! Any song that talks about losing cell phone reception while using phrases like "I'm such a twat!" is a hit in my book.)

"Lord Let it Rain on Me" — Spiritualized (legitimately one of the awesomest bands ever with super intimate but yet booty-kicking beats and pedal droning)
"Let it Fall" — Lykke Li (I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Scandavian sasstresses. This dame hails from Sweden, and her d├ębut album, Youth Novels, released earlier this year. I'd liken her to Jenny Lewis, MGMT, a sweeter Santogold, and the Ting Tings)
"Phonography" — Britney Spears. Please don't judge me.
"Poker Face" — Lady Gaga (please see: "louis virtel" for more fame musings)
"Council Estate (South Rakkas Crew Remix)" — Tricky (You know, at this point, I'm not even a little embarrassed by how much I love hip hop and anything I can (1) run (2)dance or (3) OWN to. There are a ton of remixes of this song and I love them all.
And I also love him a little.
"Compute" — Soulwax (tune in right around 1:10 for it to really kick tush)
"Mirando" — Ratatat, the band my dad once claimed he liked.

Well, I'm going to go drown my giddiness in a piece of pie, because if there's anything my family does not chince on, it's pie. Straight up Village Inning it.
-Ann, who thinks break seemed awful short, and who is proud to say not only is her child an honor roll student, but far more importantly she just embedded her first video(s)

That little one, that's Gretchen Weiners


Watch CBS Videos Online


This video makes life worth living. And I'll be writing homoerotic-themed fan fiction about it on my new blog, "I'm Hagtastic!"

-Meryn, who only wishes she could've been in that pool too, but she won't wear a swimsuit for less than $10,000.

Artistic Staircase Designs



Check out these 15 unique staircases.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Real Meaning Of Thanksgiving

Nausea-inducing gluttony:


(Via Slog, Dosenation.)

Enjoy the leftovers, everyone!

(Cross-posted at The Podium.)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

THANKSGIVING ZUBAZ FEST


Santa, are you there?

It's me, Jarrett. I know we haven't talked in a long time. Times are tough. The economy, terrorist attacks in Mumbai, fast-approaching entrance into the real world... it's not a very cheery holiday season. That's why I need a boost, a special present that would bring joy back into my bleak existence. I'm talking about Zubaz pants. 



You see Santa, I have been single for a while now. I lack companionship. If I wear Zubaz pants, the girls will see how confident and stylish I am and totally want a Dr. Tounge appointment. They'll think, wow, someday he'll wear those pants to our son's high school football game and yell explicatives to the referee, and it'll be hot. That's my man, she'll think. That's my dad, my son will think, as he goes 12-19 for 198 yds. and 3 tds. Great game management son. Great comfort management, Zubaz. It's a class of gentleman unparalleled by modern fashion.



Just like a circus... except not.

Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers.

The tryptophan has kicked into high gear for my family, and, as customary, they've all crashed in the living room. I, on the other hand, am not a T-Giving fan (just ask the arts staff, they'll know) and am just as energetic as ever. So I thought I'd blog about something we can all be thankful for:

BRITNEY SPEARS YA'LL!!

My review of Circus won't be published until Tuesday, but there is something else to review, too. That shitty album cover. Exhibit A:


Ms. Spears has never had a good album cover. And Circus isn't breaking the trend. When I (and countless others) learned that the disc was going to be called Circus, I hoped for some kind of "wink, wink" innuendo as to her circus-like personal life. Or maybe something very Vaudeville-esque, out of a Tim Burton movie perhaps.

But no. Instead, we get stuck with this textbook example of tacky Photoshop. This cover looks like it was made in about 15 minutes for 20 bucks. The album itself isn't that bad, full of mostly intense dance tracks, but you'd never know that based on Brit's serene face and halo-like glow. Lame. The border is what seals the deal, though. I think Brit stole all the stars I should have been giving this review and used them to Bedazzle her album cover.

Sorry, Brit, but I give the cover of Circus zero stars.


p.s. I know I was wrong about my Top Model prediction. But I'm glad.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

and my eyes, they despise you

It doesn't take a rocket scientist, or even a halfway-deece music blogger to connect the dots between Green Day and blink-182 in terms of mid-90s pop-punk. As in, without GD breaking, there would be no blink. But as much as I speak in worshipful, semi-creepy tones about Billie Joe and the rest of his band--I have to give Mark, Tom and Travis the bulk of the credit/blame for the past few years' recent surge of increasingly lamer and lamer rocker-type bands.

Maybe it's that the band members themselves are getting younger--I remember being deeply, personally affected by the entrance of blink-182 into my life in middle school, and I'm sure numerous others were as well, be they my age or even younger. Or sadly, maybe it has something to do with jacking an image than it does a music-making philosophy.

Want to know what I'm talking about? Here is a video for a very terrible song by a band called All Time Low:



Now. Here is the video for the song, perhaps you remember it, "All The Small Things," by blink-182.



Honestly, I would make a list of the things lifted either in actuality or in general principle, but I'm tired, and I think doing so would make me sad. But hopefully the point of how bands (and All Time Low is certainly not the only one to do so--I'm looking at you, even shittier groups like We The Kings and 3Oh!3) have not just been "inspired" by blink's contributions to music, but seeming are attempting to just become the band that can fill their place in the pop-music sphere. As opposed to, you know, exploring what may work for their band without another group hovering over their proverbial shoulder every second of the time.

The connection between groups was made all too clear at the MTVu Woodie awards a few days ago, as you can see here when former-blink member Mark Hoppus gives All Time Low an intro to performing that he mentions was "personally requested by the band." I just bet.

(If you leave the player running, the song they perform is actually better than the one I embedded above. For what that's worth.)

--Anna plays the leader, 'cause she knows it's what she's good at.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Turbaconducken!

Behold!!!
How do you improve upon a turducken (turkey stuffed with duck stuffed with chicken)? Behold, the Turbaconducken. It’s a turducken wrapped in bacon! Bacon Today has the step-by-step recipe with pictures.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Uhh.. real fierce...

The day has finally come...

Tomorrow night, for the 11th time (!), Tyra and her faithful panel of expert judges will select yet another "Top Model." To be honest, this season has been decent - at least, better than the past four or five cycles. The photoshoots have been sufficiently tacky, in traditional ANTM style, but nowhere near as bad as some of recent memory (posing as former ANTM moments? Really, cycle 8, really?). In fact, some of the shoots have been down right good. The eliminations, too, have been about 90% fair, the only bullshit one being Lauren Brie's several weeks ago.

But, alas, we're down to three:
Analeigh
McKey
Samantha
So, who's going to take the crown? Let's review the portfolios of our hopefuls:

Analeigh - our peace-loving (if that ever-present necklace is any indication), bubbly girl-next-door from Cali. Her photos have been ok, not the best, but certainly not the worst. She's super friendly, which is good for CoverGirl and Seventeen magazine, since that's pretty much the only criteria the show ('s producers) look for anymore. Oh well. At least if she wins, her "My Life as a Cover Girl" spots will be tolerable, unlike Whitney's. Excuse my while I puke.
Best photos: This, this, and this. Worst: This and this.

McKey - the only one left that's actually a good model and can do ~*~high fashion~*~. She has taken the best photos, and has never been in the bottom two (Analeigh has been once, and Sam has been twice). She also booked every single job she visited on her go-sees, so that has to say something. The erstwhile Brittany is this season's obligatory Girl With Sweet Pics and Long Legs but Suffers from Lack of Tween-Love Potential. Whatever, she could bring some dignity to the show if she wins.
Best photos: This, this, this, this, and this. Worst: This.

Sam - uf. Admittedly, she looks hot with the makeover. But that was nothing of her own doing (credit goes to hairstylist Christian Marc, the unsung hero of ANTM). Like Analeigh, she started out rough and got ok, probably the best improvements, but never as good as McKey (p.s. Judges - her natrual disaster shot wasn't even that good). Her naivety was kind of cute at first, now it's just annoying and close-minded. She would be a good CoverGirl, of course, so she has that working in her favor. But the finale is all about the fashion show, and we all know how THAT worked out for Sam last time.
Best photos: This , this, and this. Worst: This and this.


My all-important prediction? Sam will get the boot first for her inability to walk slash inconsistent photos, leaving McKey vs. Analeigh in the finale, a metaphor for ANTM's age old "High fashion" vs. "Commercial" battle. In the end, the judges will praise McKey for her edge and great pictures, but Analeigh will prove victorious, since she has a better story - struggled at first, got better, got good, and stayed cute the whole time.

I'm fine with that, even if McKey is going to have my children some day. Anyone is better than Whitney.I was rooting for you! We were all rooting for you!

one bizillion reasons for anna to never blog again

You know what I love? Lists. This has to have become obvious by now. I love wasting hours/days/weeks of my life watching them tick away on Vh1, my favorite book when I was younger was my hardbound copy of Entertainment Weekly's 100 Best Movies Of All Time.

I literally googled "fun list," and this (<----) is what resulted. Awesome.

I love them. But what I might love even more than lists is hating lists. Or at least, having a really great one to argue over for a long while with those as culturally nerdy as me, be it ranking the best Season 4 "West Wing" episodes (um, start with "Game On" and go from there...), or, as is currently the case, the latest fancy-dancy Rolling Stone issue—the 100 Best Singers of All Time.


Obviously, first off, that's a completely misleading title. If it were really "of all time," there'd be opera and all sorts of non-western singers that RS readers clearly have no time for. But, more pertinently, the foreword thing specifies (though it might have been a little more prominently placed, to ward off the million commenters in advance) that this is really "...of the rock & soul era." AKA—don't look for Ol' Blue Eyes, Bobby Darin, any other crooners and others from before around the 50s here. Which is cool, I can dig it as a stipulation. I have plenty of other complaints, as you might have guessed. :)

Also, I might argue that at times, they even messed up the keyword—you know, the "Singer" part of things—as well, confusing it with maybe "performer" or just plain old "musician we need to put on here, or people will be pissed". Here, let me give you some of the actual list, so you can get a sense of what I mean.

The Top 25:
25. Michael Jackson
24. Van Morrison
23. David Bowie
22. Etta James



21. Johnny Cash
(Whoops.))
20. Smokey Robinson
19. Bob Marley
18. Freddie Mercury
17. Tina Turner
16. Mick Jagger
15. Robert Plant
14. Al Green
13. Roy Orbison
12. Little Richard
11. Paul McCartney
10. James Brown
09. Stevie Wonder
08. Otis Redding
07. Bob Dylan
06. Marvin Gaye
05. John Lennon
04. Sam Cooke


03. Elvis Presley
('Sup. Sweet teddy bears, bro.)
02. Ray Charles
01. Aretha Franklin


So yeah. The rest, with a whole bunch of douchey commentary. (On the Internet?! No, I know. I was shocked too.) Generally, I think it's solid, with my main problems being more philosophical than rage-filled (...see the hip-hop songs post for an example of that.).

It's difficult for me to see how RS (even though it wasn't just them choosing) was determining the characteristics that make up a "great singer." For me, it's different as regards the genre — obviously a musician like Sam Cooke or Otis Redding can't be judged against the same criteria as Mick Jagger or Axl Rose (further down the list, but he's there).

But I guess some things remain consistent no matter what: ability to literally deliver the notes of a song, the way you translate the emotion and make a performance your own, distinctiveness (you're not going to mistake Bjork, who's also there, for anyone else, whatever else you might say). And, despite all the little indie scenesters at Stereogum pitching fits because Jenny Lewis or whoever didn't make the cut, I think time and influence does need to be considered—they didn't just stick "of all time" on there for a lark.

Now. All that being said. Bob Dylan, get the hell out of my top 10. Yeah, I'll say it. Great songwriter, awesome performer, visionary, et cetera. Singer? NO. Same goes for John Lennon—if you need a Beatle that high, switch Lennon and McCartney, considering Paul's literal range was better (just take a look at the songs they respectively sang!), and drop Lennon to somewhere in the mid-20s or 30s.

Both Bob Marley and Little Richard fit into the mistake of awesome performer/human vs. singer that I mentioned a little higher up. But basically I want to rearrange this entire list to fix what I feel are the two most glaring errors— Freddie Mercury and Michael Jackson need to be in the Top 10.

Things to keep in mind while you consider my case:

For Freddie:




Think about the range (vocally, emotionally and generically) contained within this one song, overplayed as it is. Then compare and think about Queen's entire catalogue—stuff like "We Are The Champions," "You're My Best Friend," or one of my personal favorites, "Good Old-Fashioned Lover Boy." Seriously? Not above Roy Orbison?

And, I can't even believe I'm having to do this, the case for Michael Jackson:



Michael is 14 in this performance. Could you (or almost anyone on this list, for that matter, not to be a bitch about it) sing like that in the peak of awkward adolescence? Ten years later, he put out an album many consider to be one of, if not the greatest pop album in music history. And, while this may be predictable as one of my MJ choices to those who know me, the live/combo performance is a stellar one:



Keep in mind that those seemingly ridiculous, oft-parodied high notes that he's so fond of hitting during dance sequences are, you know, in a register most human voices can only dream of. And I mean, this is just two videos with a lot of time in between—I haven't talked about "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough," "Beat It," or you know, any of other actual songs on Thriller. The point I'm trying to make is that this is a voice that has been able to grow up and still continue to make amazing pop along the way.

Okay. Seriously, that is ENOUGH from me. What do you guys think—are voices like Dylan's (or Stevie Nicks', or Tom Waits' or anyone else in the same sort of vein) to be valued alongside Aretha? How do you qualify something like a great singer? Who's missing, who's ranked too high, who's always been way too overhyped? Talk to me!

—Anna is starting with the girl in the mirror. And the gigantic gospel choir, too.