Dumb Things I Have Done Lately

Friday, September 25, 2009

WMV is making me upset

I'm okay with not understanding things. Happens all the time.

What I'm not okay with is not understanding things that I should understand. When I don't understand something I should understand, it frustrates me. When I get frustrated, I get upset. I get upset, I get angry.

I wouldn't like me when I'm angry.

This is what I don't understand: I have a video file, WMV. From a webinar broadcast, so nothing complicated, just audio (mono) over static Powerpoint slides. 1024x738, 48 minutes. 2.78 fps, data rate 271 kbits/sec. File size: 39 megabytes.

However, the second I touch it -- nay, look at it -- in this case, to trim a few minutes off the front and back -- and save it, the file size increases, even as the display size decreases. 640x480, 45 minutes. 2.55 fps, data rate 1704bits/sec. File size: 53.2 megabytes.

Right now, I'm using Quicktime 7 Pro to edit, with Flip4Mac Studio Pro to export to WMV (Quicktime X doesn't allow exporting); Studio Pro doesn't let you customize the default settings, though I've had the same problem using Windows Movie Maker.

I'm not adept at video, so please tell me: What am I doing wrong?

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Breeders Notes

The DCist writeup of the Breeders show Friday night at the Black Cat pretty much covers everything (much better pictures, too). Just a few things:

* Had to drive through some fairly torrential rain on the toll road to get there (microburst-y stuff, intense but it cleared up by the time I got on 66). People were going 40 on the highway. It was dicey at times.

* Got good parking just around the corner and got in a bit before they opened the upstairs doors. I got a beer in the Red Room and watched the neat, orderly queue, which featured many folks who had obviously first seen them in the 90s.

* Despite my Tweet early on, it did get pretty full, and might have even sold out.

* The band was solid. They seemed like they were having a lot of fun, too.

* Did not realize at the time that substitute bassist Josephine Wiggs was in the original band, nor that she was also one half of Dusty Trails (a CD I picked up from the 88 cent bin at Sounds on St. Marks a long time ago, and that I listen to a lot)

* Did not get any good photos; was a little too far back. They were also enforcing the "no video" policy with a strobing flashlight (which I was tempted to counter with my own, but didn't)

The Breeders' Kelley Deal on violin, Josephine Wiggs on bass.

* Was gratified that they got Cannonball out of the way early, even if it is a favorite. Hate to see signature songs cloistered away in encores. 9 seconds of it:

* As noted, stood next to some variety of man-child who felt it necessary to incessantly yell "Kelley!!!" as if she had forgotten her name, or was fending off the end of the world.

* They did leave us wanting more, in that the encore was a little lacking. But it was a good show.

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Thursday, July 09, 2009

The Worst July 4th Skating Video You'll See All Week

July 4th, I met up with the Washington Area Roadskaters for their July 4th skate. As I twittered, we met up at the White House, moved through Georgetown, Dupont Circle, Union Station, and then to the Tidal Basin to watch the fireworks.

I also filmed the most boring skating video ever made as we made our way through the Georgetown Waterfront:

I didn't have any fancy stabilizing rigs, just held the camera at my sternum, pointed mostly straight ahead. Which is why you mostly see butts. (You know what they say: Unless you're the lead dog, the view never changes. Which is fine, if you happen to be an assman.)

Through the first part of the skate, I was sucking wind, mostly because I was feeling the aftereffects of a few of these Porch Day beverages:

This was the first time in a long time that I wore my helmet while skating. I had a headlamp strapped to it (a River Rock 6V LED, uses 2 CR123 batteries -- got it on sale at Target) -- it's pretty powerful, with good throw and spill. It was useful to highlight road hazards, and also to let people know that I was coming.

It might have been useful for the skater ahead of me who was involved in a collision with a bicyclist as we were making our way through the crowds near the Mall, on our way down to the Tidal Basin. I didn't see what happened, but I don't think anyone was hurt.

We had a good spot on the Tidal Basin. Here's a fireworks photo:


Afterwards, we headed past the Kennedy Center to Foggy Bottom. At one point, we were on one of the roads that leads onto the 66 on-ramp (I was just following the crowd) -- a cop stopped us (since they were starting to release traffic onto the road), but was nice enough to hold up traffic at one point so we could cross the median and get to the Kennedy Center. (He didn't actually do it, but I could hear the *facepalm* in his voice.)

We ended up hanging out at the outdoor patio of a TGIF for a while for food and drinks (sorely needed, as I'd been starting to cramp up).

That's about it.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

More Kickball Footage: Still Not Getting Any Better at This Video Thing

Had some offline time this weekend, so I was catching up on some photos and videos. Here's a quick clip from a kickball game on 5/21, notable for a sexy play at home (Please excuse the cameraman's hooting.):

We won the game pretty handily.

The next video is from 6/11 -- we were short-handed, but after a back and forth effort, we went into the bottom of the 6th down by a couple of runs. Somehow, we managed to pull off a win:

This particular video, I finally stopped using the Fade to White transition and moved to the Cross Dissolve. (This was a big step for me.)

Also, even though the camera shake is pretty minimal (well, except for the part where I was laughing because Dennis baited a fielder into making a play for him, so Michelle could get home), I didn't use any of the homemade Fig Rigs or Poor Man's Steadycams or anything -- just held the camera carefully.

One of these days, I'll invest in a real digital camcorder. As well as figure out how to optimize the file export settings -- I'm still not happy with the quality, especially after YouTube gets done with it.

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Using My Poor Man's Steadycam to Document Our Lackluster Kickball Performance

We had a kickball game on Wednesday. Even though it wasn't cold and rainy, the team was pretty flat offensively and we lost. (I went 0 for 2 at bat, including kicking into a double play, and was accused of being a rules lawyer because I reminded a girl that she couldn't take a lead off of first base.)

It did give me a chance to finally test out the Poor Man's Steadycam that I built just over a year ago (and hadn't used since).

The results were... mixed. I didn't really try walking around with it, just doing some basic panning. Even so, there's a lot of camera shake, because instead of using the prescribed 2.5 or 5 pound counterweight at the bottom, I just used a screw-on cast-iron flange, which I thought I could get away with because my Canon powershot only weights 1/4 pound. It saved weight, but basically killed the motion-dampening action, which defeats the whole purpose of the thing (other than to make people wonder "What the heck is that guy holding in his hands?").

Also, the wind noise is really prominent in spots -- need something with an external mike and one of those fuzzy covers.

Anyway, here's the video (make sure you click the "HQ" option, I may not have picked the best file size settings):


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Monday, September 08, 2008

Evidently, I'm Stuck on Any Pop Song With a "Hey, Mickey" Cheerleader Beat

Here are some of my recent CD purchases, paired with the cross-promotional and marketing opportunities that influenced me into buying them:

The Jesus and Mary Chain, Psychocandy. Sure, I knew them from that one song on The Crow soundtrack, and was overexposed to Just Like Honey thanks to Lost in Translation. But despite prodding, I never really twigged to how much bands I like (or should like) were influenced by them.

Anyway, I finally decided to go to the source (well, I also have Stoned & Dethroned, but that doesn't really count), thinking all the while of that scene from High Fidelity:

In an older entry about Pulp, commenter Sylvia pointed me to UsedCDSearch, which worked out pretty well.

The next two were recent $7.99 loss leaders at Best Buy:

MGMT, Oracular Spectacular. I am somewhat ashamed to admit that I was first exposed to this song in a Wonkette item about a supposed (and obviously fake) 'DC Prep' TV series trailer. But it's a catchy tune.

The Ting Tings, We Started Nothing. Again, already aware of them, thanks to the iPod commercial with Shut Up and Let Me Go (which I don't particularly like -- it's kind of annoying), but the Great DJ video interested me greatly when I saw it at DC9 a couple of weeks ago, so I took a flyer on the buzz.

My ears are currently bleeding because I've been listening to That's Not My Name on infinite repeat.

Apparently, all it takes for me to get irrevocably stuck on a pop song is for it to use a "Hey, Mickey" cheerleader beat. (With handclaps. Handclaps are very important.)

It's happened before with Avril Lavigne's Girlfriend (yeah, I've contributed more than a few views to the YouTube video's 100 million views. Hey. Hey. You. You.), although That's Not My Name is a lot more layered.

Though I have drawn the line at the Lil Mama Lip Gloss song, which is saddled by a concept and lyrics too stupid for words.

I guess it's a good thing that there just aren't that many pop songs that rely on the cheerleader beat.

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Sunday, July 06, 2008

Snout Shoes and Lifting Bodies at the 2008 Folklife Festival (with a bonus Anonymous encounter)

On Saturday, I met up with new buddy Vinnie to check out the 2008 Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the Mall. It was hot (but not "DC in July" hot), and it was cloudy but didn't rain, which was nice.

I didn't take too many photos, but here they are: Smithsonian Folklife Festival and DC.

A few notables -- first, from Texas, a video of Guy Clark:

Guy Clark and Verlon Thompson singing Homegrown Tomatoes.

Then, over through Bhutan, where we saw that incense-making is a lot like working with a Play-Doh factory (except more grueling):

We watched a textile artisan weaving at the loom:

Though I was also interested in the action behind the loom:

Seen head-on, the shoes look like snouts:

After the shoes, it was NASA's turn. Here's me trying to be clever with a shot of a model of the Ares 1 rocket and the Washington Monument:

I also got to hold $100,000 worth of NASA history -- a hand-crafted, stainless steel test model of an HL-10 lifting body. It was heavy:

We also saw robots, UAVs, space food, astronaut gloves, and high-altitude pressure suits.

Afterwards, we headed up to Dupont Circle to grab a bite at Bistrot du Coin. I did not expect to see Anonymous parked in front of the Church of Scientology, though they seemed happy that someone knew who they were (in a manner of speaking):

Anonymous, promoting their You Found the Card anti-Scientology Web site and this month's protest.

Then, after dinner, we did a little walking around and grabbed dessert in Georgetown.

So it was a pretty well-rounded DC afternoon (even if I did manage to lose a pair of new, albeit somewhat cheap, sunglasses, which disappeared under baffling circumstances).

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

My Dumb Is Your Gain: Feist CD Giveaway Winner

Last week, I announced a CD giveaway, because I'd bought a copy of Feist's Let It Die (even though I'd already owned it), and I wanted someone else to benefit from my dumb move (because stupid should hurt -- or at least cost).

Seven of you commented in the entry before the 11:59 PM cutoff date, and were eligible for the giveaway: Dan, Talking Budgie (E), Kanyixin (Kim), Anime Heart (Joanna), Susie, That Tatted Up Chick, and Push the Pull Door.

In the interests of transparency, and to prevent any accusations of favoritism (or stinginess, especially when it involves postage to exotic locales like Australia or Wisconsin), I decided to shoot the video of the robust and completely random selection process:

And here's a photo of the winning number:

Congratulations to Kim -- I will send you your CD as soon as you tell me where to send it.

Now, I realize that the video doesn't actually prove anything, as I could have easily re-shot the video until I achieved the desired result. (Whatever that would be.) But if you think I would actually do that, maybe you should be spending your media cycles somewhere else.

(Incidentally, this is also the first real video I took using my poor man's steadycam, though I really just used it as a monopod.)

Thanks to all the commenters, and a special thank-you to Susie for giving me a plug in the TruTV Dumb as a Blog.

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Friday, May 02, 2008

I Fell Asleep to Girls Gone Wild... and Now I Have Steel Drums Stuck in My Head

The headline comes from a twit this morning (I don't like calling them "tweets"), and it's all true: I fell asleep on the couch last night with the TV on, in the heart of late night infomercial hell.

So for most of the day today, I've had the Girls Gone Wild steel drums stuck in my head.

The only way to lose an earworm is to replace it with another; my nuclear option is the Chipmunks version of Achy Breaky Heart (for a while, I wasn't sure it actually existed, or if I'd conjured it up in a particularly bad fever dream -- and even if you haven't actually heard it, you can hear it, right?)

In this case, I was able to ditch it with the Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters version of Tonight You Belong to Me from The Jerk, which is a much sweeter and far more pleasant song to have stuck (you can hear it here -- embedded mp3).

Looking on YouTube, though, there's a very nice version by user ShelleyY -- I've included it below. Enjoy:

Now, to finish a few things and head over to the inaugural Friday Night Live in Herndon.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I Can't Hear You Right Now

I flaked on the Web Content Mavens Meetup tonight -- I'd been planning to go, but I took a decongestant this afternoon and it really knocked me out. Which was a pity, since they were going to be looking at open source Web CMSes.

The greater pity is that my head is still stuffed up. I feel like I'm underwater. So I'm a little iffy on Thursday night's DC New Media Technology Happy Hour. Though I hope to be fully up and running for this weekend's eDemocracy Camp.

In other news, I was looking for a knife sharpening video on YouTube, and found a way to use your car to sharpen a knife in seconds:

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Weekend Mockup: Meet Head Coach Max Zorin and More

Skimming through weekend events:

* Semiconductor mogul/supervillian Max Zorin was named head coach of the Redskins. (I may have read that incorrectly.)

Grace Jones will replace him as offensive coordinator.

* Herbie Hancock won Best Album of the Year on the strength of his song, Rockit. Once again, Grammy voters show their unwavering support for jazz in their boldest move since Steely Dan beat Eminem.

* The WAMU Winter Membership Campaign is happening. Do they use canned phone-ringing noises to fill dead zones during the on-air pitches? If not, they should. Or at least do an A/B test to see if playing phone-ringing sound effects generates more calls. It's radio, they're used to that sort of thing.

* The McCain campaign responds to the will.i.am "Yes We Can" Obama video:

[Technically from today -- via Corey, who saw it on DailyKos because he is a communist]

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Thursday, February 07, 2008

All the News You May or May Not Use at LiveNewsCameras.com

Al's Morning Meeting had an item yesterday about LiveNewsCameras.com, which is an online video news experience that comes out of the Chicago Fox affiliate. It launched this week:


It's a moderated mashup of Fox news affiliate feeds -- if you click one of the updating thumbnail photos, you'll see the video stream from that station. If they're doing a news broadcast, you'll get it; at other times, you'll get a variety of things: Beauty shots of the scenery, raw live feeds from remote crews, traffic cams, weather radar, streaming feeds from their Web site, etc.

You can see the human element in the upper right -- they've got commentary from live video moderators who will highlight particular feeds. (Yesterday, you also overheard chatter from neighboring cubicles, though I think they've fixed that.) Just now, reporter Andy Roesgen was moderating. He'd been talking continuously for some time now -- it was kind of impressive.

The human moderation does add an extra dimension to the coverage (they also take great pains to point out that you can mute the moderator, but when you do that, you lose a lot of the value), but it also raises a significant problem: Having a human moderator is not particularly useful when there isn't anything going on. Which is going to be most of the time.

So, to avoid awkward dead air, the moderator either has to come up with filler (like rampant, unbased speculation during a crisis), or try to find something, anything, interesting from the available feeds.

And interesting doesn't mean relevant -- just because you get the unfiltered, raw scoop on a Philadelphia row house fire, doesn't mean it's relevant to you; you may find the illusion of relevance, which just means you get invested in something that wouldn't otherwise matter to you. It's kind of an artificial investment.

In many ways, it's kind of the news extension of the kind of "ambient intimacy" that many people ascribe to Twitter.

However, in Twitter may be kind of a solution to this -- they're already using their Twitter account and displaying the feed under the moderator video. Instead of trying to have a talking moderator 24/7 (or however long they're using human coverage), maybe they can pull in humans only when events warrant, and use Twitter (or similar alerts) to let people know.

Al has an interview with their news director -- it's in the nature of an experiment, and they're still feeling things out. Like I said, it has an interesting flavor, so we'll see what becomes of it.

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Naked Whining College Students, Donut Clerks, and Instant Celebrity

A few bits on instant celebrity in the world of social media:

* Being Overly Aware Is Not Good: You probably saw the item this week about the Dunkin' Donuts clerk in NJ who fought a robber so he'd "look good" in the inevitable YouTube video.

While bonking the robber in the head a few times with a metal tip cup may or may not have been the best course of action (the clerk didn't get hurt, though the robber got away with $290 in cash), choosing a self-defense strategy simply because you don't want to look bad on camera does not make for good long-term survival prospects. Though it might get you on a late night talk show. (Alas, we will never know, with the writer's strike and all.)

* Being Unaware Is Also Not Good: Via Obscurestore -- Tufts University has a Naked Quad Run, which is pretty much what you would expect (and similar to events at other schools).

The local paper ran a puff piece on it, and the web version features quotes, photos, and an embedded YouTube video: "Tufts Naked Run brings students together -- with a few injuries." Here's the video, which features rear nudity:

Judging by the article and video comments, there are a lot of whiny, indignant, and insulated college students who don't seem to understand that, just because you're on the grounds of a private university, doesn't mean that you're not still in public view (think "exposing yourself in a bar"), and thus fair game to journalists, citizen journalists, perverts, and perverted citizen journalists.

It's slightly puzzling, because this is supposed to be a generation raised on social media, instant fame, and content sharing. I can only guess that this charming naivete about privacy in public and the power of social video sharing comes from a stunning sense of self-entitlement, brought to you by the campus-wide, tuition-powered protective force field that surrounds many institutions of higher learning.

Anyway, in the comments, there's a lot of posturing about private property, dire warnings of potential under-18 nudity, a complaint about wikipedia plagiarism, and even some internet tough guy "smash your camera" talk, but it really just comes down to people being upset about having video of their pasty goose-fleshed buttocks wobbling around on the Web. To which the answer is simple: Don't go naked in public. Or at least wear a mask.

* Lastly, this week's Tom the Dancing Bug comic has another edition focusing on instant instant celebrity, followed by instant nostalgia (condensed version).

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Friday, November 30, 2007

Today Are Crazy Sex Day, Plus 35 Is NOT Middle-Aged and Racewalking From Samurai

* Grammar Nazis and Crazy Sex Day: From today's Sinfest comic:

Sinfest's Slick: "If I was president every day would be Crazy Sex Day."

While I am something of grammar and spelling purist, I don't consider myself a "Grammar Nazi" -- I'm more of a, um, "Grammar Youth." Possibly a Grammar Detective -- part of the Grammar Police, only undercover: observing, gathering evidence, building a case.

* 35 Is Not "Middle-Aged." (Dammit): A news item of no particular consequence about a 35-year-old guy who allegedly blackmailed a 20-year-old MySpace friend into having sex (after she revealed that she'd had a three-way -- well, it just says she engaged in sexual acts with them, so I will believe what I want to believe -- with two college hockey players that she thought might have been videotaped).

Okay, maybe there's some particular consequence here (*furiously taking notes*). But the Fark headline from which this story comes reads:
"If you're a middle-aged fat guy looking to pick up college chicks, this local paper has a step-by-step guide... if you don't mind the ensuing jailarity. (with mugshot goodness)"
Besides the usual snark, there's a sidebar discussion in the comments as to what constitutes "middle age," with a lot of vociferous protestations and denial from fellow mid-30s oldsters.

As I'm going to live forever (also, I'm going to learn how to fly -- high!), I must also add my note of protest.

* Know When to Walk Away, Know When to Run (Samurai Edition): Lastly, here's a video (via BoingBoing) that asks and answers the question: When chased by sword-wielding samurai, would a champion racewalker walk or run?

Bonus: Remember this video the next time you sit in a massage chair.

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

Welcome, You've Got Dammit! 24 in 1994 (Video)

Here's a CollegeHumor.com video that's far funnier than it has any right to be:
24: The Unaired 1994 Pilot (link via TotalFark):

It's a 24 short that portrays the people at CTU trying to do what they do now, except using early 90s technology -- dialup, one-way pagers, pay phones, dot matrix printers (with tractor feed paper), etc.

As a tech user during that era and a former AOL insider, it was especially fun to pick out the anachronisms (though I could not for the life of me remember the term "anachronism" -- unemployment is making me soft).

If you want to get picky, AOL 3.0 didn't come out until 1996 (I was still using 2.5 when I started); Geocities wasn't really Geocities in 1994; they did, you know, have fax machines in 1994; and people were able to get stuff done before online (And even before computers. Or so I heard.)

Oh, and you can see they're using AIM (on a Windows 3.1 machine?) instead of an AOL client -- AIM didn't come out until 1997:


Since I don't even know if you can run AOL 2.5 or 3.0 on a modern machine (I couldn't, the last time I tried -- don't remember if they were ever officially sunset or just allowed to die... assuming you could find an installer -- need an install floppy?), chalk it up to "revealing mistakes."

The references to Lycos, Encarta, and such, as well as a contemporaneous event or two (Nancy Kerrigan, anyone>) were amusing. I got a few chuckles. (But why did the terrorists just disappear?)

College Humor's production values have been pretty good and are getting better all the time. Good job.


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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Caught Up in the Halo Hype (The Last One Standing)

Up until now, I've managed to avoid most of the hype around Halo 3 (which should be out... right about now). I'm not much of a gamer -- I have an Xbox (Zero60), and I completed the first Halo (though only on Heroic, not on Legendary), but that's it. I don't even have Xbox Live.

Then, last week, I caught this clip of the Halo theme done on Mario Paint:

It started with that. Now, with all the commercials and the hype, I can't get the Halo theme out of my head.

It Gets Better
Then, today, saw this Halo promo short film on the Discovery Web site: Halo: Last One Standing, which is evidently part 3 of a series set right before the events of Halo 3, with effects done by WETA (the SFX company that did Lord of the Rings, not the public broadcaster).

It also evidently kicks seven types of ass.

Just as an example, there's a scene about halfway through, where a Marine gets jumped by a Brute, tries to scramble away and gets pulped by the Brute and his Gravity Hammer. It's chilling and brutal:

Note the blood spot where the unfortunate Marine got Hank Aaroned into the wall. At least he died with his pistol in his hand.

If the Halo movie looks anything like this short, it's going to rock.

However, in the spirit of sucking out the fun of sci-fi by overanalyzing it, I do want to point out two things that don't make sense:

1. Early on, a Marine grabs a Brute Spike Grenade that's sticking into the wall next to him about to explode, and hurls it into the air, blowing up a Covenant Banshee that's streaking by:

The Banshee he's going to frag is off-screen.

It looks really cool, but leaving aside the fact that it's ludicrous (unless he was just trying to get rid of the grenade and simply got improbably lucky), it's way too short of a throw. The grenade, which is about 2/3rds the length of a baseball bat, barely completes a full rotation and doesn't diminish appreciably in the distance before it hits the conveniently-passing Banshee. For the Banshee to be that close, it would have to be a whole lot bigger.

Yes, I know they applied artistic license to fit everything in frame, but you're already having a guy shoot down the equivalent of, say, an A-10 ground-attack jet by chucking a hand grenade at it -- we're already stretching credulity pretty far.

(Now, if you have the Master Chief do it; sure, why not -- he's a cyborg. But you still have to fix the perspective problem.)

2. The apparent plot of the short is that the Marines need to figure out where the Master Chief is going to land by painting him with a laser designator:

According to the dialog, "Search & Rescue teams are awaiting coordinates," and "That's it, we got it; recovery team has his coordinates."

Of course, needing a guy on the ground to paint a re-entry vehicle makes absolutely no sense. To make sure the guy was within visual range, you'd need to put in him the general vicinity of the landing (and if you knew that, you wouldn't need the guy).

And it's re-entering the atmosphere -- it's not something you can hide. Once they spot it on radar/lidar (or just look out the window of that hovering Pelican dropship and follow the smoke trail), they'll know where it's going to land (the guy on the ground wasn't marking it all the way down, so it's not maneuvering -- it's on a ballistic trajectory).

I suppose it could have been explained away as some back-assward way to do IFF interrogation,if they were trying to sneak the Master Chief's re-entry vehicle in among a cloud of decoys, but the dialog and on-screen action don't indicate this (and there's that whole "guy on ground" problem again).

Anyway, this is an awfully long entry for someone who ostensibly isn't interested in the Halo 3 launch, so I'll just say I hope the movie is good, whenever it comes out.

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Something From AT&T That Doesn't Suck

I had the TV on just now, and an AT&T commercial came on. It features a band -- a girl on keyboards and a guy on drums -- playing a show in a club; the shot pulls back and shows all the happy cellphone users in the crowd bopping along (and presumably bootlegging the show with their phones).

It's a 15-second spot, and you only hear the song for about 10 seconds, but the tune is impossibly catchy:
I checked out the url featured in the commercial, Then Ewatt.com (hey, that's what it says), which had no relevant information, but The Google has the ad on the first page of results -- the song is "For The Actor", the band is Mates of State, and they've got 4 songs for download on their MySpace page.

Another band for the list (which needs refreshing, anyway -- most of the bands I would go see live are defunct in one way or another).

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Why Didn't Someone Tell Me About Pulp?

I'm not sure how, but I managed to completely miss Pulp back in the 90s.

That changed recently when I saw this clip of William Shatner covering 'Common People' with Joe Jackson and Ben Folds on the Tonight Show in 2004 (can't embed it, unfortunately).

I was watching it for the Shatner kitsch factor, but then Joe Jackson jumps in with his vocals and the song really takes off. It especially starts kicking ass when they duet.

(Take note around 2:19, when Jackson laughs a bit in reaction to Shatner over-emoting on the "everyone hates a tourist" line.)

Anyway, it rocks. I was curious about the original, which also rocks:

I'm kind of obsessed with both versions right now. I keep playing them back-to-back, then all of sudden, I see an hour has gone by.

And while I doubt I'll pick up the Shatner Has Been album, Different Class is definitely on my list.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

A Glaring Error in the Beastie Boys' 'Paul Revere'

Every time I listen to the Beastie Boys' Paul Revere (which is probably more frequently than would be considered healthy), I always change one lyric in my head. The verse goes:
Pulled out the jammy -- aimed it at the sky.
He yelled, "Stick 'em up!" and let two fly.
Hands went up and people hit the floor.
He wasted two kids that ran for the door.
Now, the line that goes:
He wasted two kids that ran for the door.

should be:
He wasted two kids who ran for the door.

The two kids are people (even after being wasted), and as such, should be referred to using the pronoun "who."

So I always make the correction.

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Friday, July 13, 2007

Please Do Not Offer My Senate a Hindu

I guess I'm a bad person, but sometimes I can't help but enjoy watching a good trainwreck unfold.

Specifically, I'm curious to see how the conservative blogosphere reacts to today's disruption of the Senate's morning prayer, which was delivered by a Hindu and interrupted by three Christian protestors:

Politics and religion. The only way it could get better if it had been delivered by a lesbian. Or possibly a terrorist.

[Title comes from here. Wav here.]

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Former President Gerald Ford Eaten By Wolves (He Was Delicious)

This will probably be the 10 millionth time you see this today, but if you haven't, this SNL sketch of Dana Carvey as Tom Brokaw pre-taping obituaries for Gerald Ford is one of the funniest things you'll ever see (even now, given news of his actual death):

This link was posted in the Fark thread, which also brings up the ever-popular "Trifecta in play/Celebrity deaths come in threes." Who's next -- will it be Castro, as one poster suggests? (I know it would make my dad happy.)

Incidentally, the bit at the end where Dana Carvey is speaking some "African" language of clicks and pops for the Zimbabwean invasion scenario newscast is one of the reasons why the whole Rosie O'Donnell "ching chong chinese" affair from a few weeks ago didn't bother me much -- whether it's gringos speaking fake Spanish by adding -o to everything (el pass-o el mayo-o), or someone putting on a Sgt. Schultz German accent or whatever, making up sounds for languages you don't speak just doesn't strike me as all that offensive.

If she'd done the slanty-eyed, buck-toothed thing, then we would have problems. But otherwise, it's silly and stupid and some folks need to get a grip.

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Monday, December 25, 2006

James Brown... Is Dead

And L.A. Style experiences a sudden surge of popularity, bobbing briefly into view, before sinking back into the depths of obscurity:

I saw the Godfather of Soul at the 9:30 Club with MWH a few years ago.

James Brown wasn't actually on stage all that long; he was more like the emcee at a variety show, which included a few different vocalists and a magician, plus about 23 people on stage.

We were standing pretty close to the stage -- close enough that we flinched when he snapped the mike stand at the crowd, reeling it back by the cord with the practiced hand of the hardest working man in show-business.

I remember at one point, he was talking about DC, and something about how we needed to get the city back on track. We weren't sure exactly what he was saying, but we applauded along dutifully, until he said something that made me realize, "Wait a second, are we clapping for the return of Marion Barry?" (This was before his political resurgence, such as it is.)

Anyway, I'm glad I got the chance to see an icon like him live, especially in a small venue like the 9:30 Club.

However, it looks like we're going to be hearing a lot more of 'Christmas in the Ghetto' during the holidays from now on, which is unfortunate, since it's one of my least-favorite Christmas songs.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

9/13/99: Never Forget

Sept. 13, 1999: Never Forget

September 13, 2006 marks the anniversary of the tragic events at Moonbase Alpha, where all 311 of the base's inhabitants were lost and presumed killed after terrorists set off a thermonuclear chain reaction on the moon's Nuclear Waste Disposal Area 2.

The resulting catastrophic explosion blasted the Moon out of Earth orbit and into deep space (an event that has been seared into our collective consciousness through repeated viewings of footage from Alpha's internal cameras):

It seems hard to believe, but only 7 years after the Moon was stripped from the sky, the events of Sept. 13, 1999 seem distant and remote -- as if they had happened 30 years ago, not 7.

To commemorate this horrific event, and to honor its victims, I've created some graphics to show our resolve and prove to those who would harm us that we will NEVER FORGET:

We Will Never Forget Moonbase Alpha

Similarly, we must always remember the heroism of the Eagle Transport pilots and crew as they tried to rescue the trapped Alphans:

Let the Mighty Eagles Soar

May the victims of the Moonbase Alpha attacks always be remembered:

God Bless Moonbase Alpha

Spread the word with graphic badges:

Space 1999 Memorial Gif: 9/13/99

Space 1999 Memorial Gif: 9/13/99

Space 1999 Memorial Gif: 9/13/99

9/13/99: Never Forget.


Okay, so I liked Space: 1999 as a kid. I had some of the toys -- an Eagle transport (not the big one... though I wanted it), the playset (with action figures), the Colorforms, and a jigsaw puzzle. But I'm not a diehard fan. I don't participate in any of the online fan forums. And I especially never thought I'd be doing up tribute graphics for the "anniversary" of a fictional event from a 70s TV show.

So why do it?

I blame YouTube, and two blog entries that were floating around the geekosphere last month: The best and worst sci-fi openings of all time.

I didn't geek out about the lists then and I won't now (other than to say that the Blake's 7 opening and closing themes should have been on the best list).

Not only did the Space: 1999 theme song bring back memories, but it rocks. It still kicks ass (listen to that bass line! the wailing guitars! the orchestral break!) -- and it's aged really well (unlike, say, the Star Blazers theme, which, though still epic, is a lot more like a show tune than I remembered).

Anyway, when I was watching the Space: 1999 opening credits, I zeroed in on the "September 13, 1999" title cards.

Obviously, because of the Sept. 11 anniversary, we've been seeing a lot of remembrances and memorials on the Web, including graphic tributes of genuine sincerity (but varying quality) with crying eagles and "Never forget" and such.

I think it was the eagles that did it for me. Eagles and the Eagle Transporter. I guess you had to be there.

Anyway, I'm not trying to make fun of anyone's 9/11 memorial graphics -- I guess I just kind of overloaded on them over the past week. So that's why all this "Never Forget: 9/13/99" silliness.

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