top tax rate

(Via Chart Porn)

Who You Gonna Call?

Improv Everywhere takes over the New York Public Library.   Back off, man.   I’m a scientist.

(Via /Film)

The End?

i'm lost

I don’t have anything profound to say, but I’ve been kicking some thoughts around in my head since Lost ended last night.  If you’ll excuse me, the show really Lost me last night.

Lost was most successful combining character-driven stories with supernatural, mythological stories—character drama coupled with science fiction.  People who grew an attachment to the series largely because of the mystery of the island and the happenings on it, though, were summarily dismissed last night.

The series finale was overflowing with character drama and great drama at that.  The reunions all throughout the show and the flashbacks to the characters’ good times and bad were poignant reminders of how great the show was.

But Lost built itself on the magic of the island, and that magic was all but forgotten in favor of the lousy and confusing final 15 minutes.

I’m a details person, and I feel like Lost often was, too.  How many times did the numbers, either together or separate, come up?  From the car odometer to the 108-minutes (the sum of the numbers) between Desmond entering them to the table number the Losties sat at for the concert benefit in last night’s episode (table 23, Jack’s number), the numbers were woven into the details of many episodes.  What will bug me for as long as I think about this show is how many little things will never be explained.  The Hurley bird?  The outrigger shootout?  The Egyptian hieroglyphics?  Why did the light cave release the smoke monster when He Who Shall Never Get A Name went in but when Jack, Desmond, and Locke went in nothing happened?

But more importantly, what about all the things we were led to believe were important?  How about the numbers?  How did the guy at Hurley’s institution know about the numbers?  How did they end up on the hatch?  Why were they in Rousseau’s radio transmission?  What about the statue?  Why was it important?  Why was Walt special?  And what really happened to him?  Were these and other never-to-be-explained things not really important at all?

And what about the battle between good and evil?  The entire sixth season was setting up for an epic showdown.  Where was it?  So this wasn’t about good and evil?  Light and dark?  White and black?  What made Jacob “good” and Man in Black “bad”?  What would really happen if Man in Black got off the island?

But then there were those last 15 minutes.  What we learned last night was that the flash-sidewayses didn’t matter for anything.  Nothing that happened in them mattered at all—what happened, didn’t happen—which begs the question, what was the point of them?  Were they just to fill air-time?

The Lost series as a whole made me think and made me ask questions.  But last night, the Lost finale tossed out thinking and relied solely on feeling.  “The End” definitely made me feel feel like I was cheated out of closure.  If Lost is to be viewed as a story, I’m still waiting for a real ending.

Here, though, is what I did like about “The End”:

  • The opening sequence cutting back and forth between on-island and off-island characters accompanied solely by Michael Giacchino score.
  • All the rest of Giacchino’s score in this episode was hands-down the best of the season, if not the last two or three seasons.  The music of this episode deserves an album release by itself.
  • The nostalgia factor with the various character returns and the reunions.
  • Sawyer calling Man in Black “Smokey.”
  • The Target smoke detector commercial.
  • The camera pull-back with Locke and Jack looking down the waterfall just like they looked down the hatch early on in the series.
  • The look on Ben’s face when Jack told Hurley he would be his replacement.
  • The look on Ben’s face when Hurley asked him to be his number two.
  • Frank finally having a purpose.

And finally, here are some of my favorite lines from the episode:

  • Frank: “In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a pilot.”
  • Smokey to Jack: “You’re sort of the obvious choice, don’t you think?”
  • Jack to Smokey: “You’re not John Locke.  You disrespect his memory by wearing his face.”
  • Jack: “What happened, happened.”
  • Kate: “I saved you a bullet.”
  • Juliette: “We should get coffee sometime.”
  • Jack to Desmond: “I’ll see you in another life, brother.”

So here’s to a Lost movie?


(Via /Film)

This Is CNN (Or What It Could Be)

I flagged this a while ago but forgot to post it.   Jay Rosen imagines how CNN can transform and save itself from sinking.   His ideas:

  • 7 pm: Leave Jon King in prime time and rename his show Politics is Broken. It should be an outside-in show. Make it entirely about bringing into the conversation dominated by Beltway culture and Big Media people who are outsiders to Beltway culture and Big Media and who think the system is broken. No Bill Bennett, no Gloria Borger, no “Democratic strategists,” no Tucker Carlson. Do it in the name of balance. But in this case voices from the sphere of deviance balance the Washington consensus.
  • 8 pm: Thunder on the Right. A news show hosted by an extremely well informed, free-thinking and rational liberal that mostly covers the conservative movement and Republican coalition… and where the majority of the guests (but not all) are right leaning. The television equivalent of the reporting Dave Wiegel does.
  • 9 pm: Left Brained. Flip it. A news show hosted by an extremely well informed, free-thinking and rational conservative that mostly covers liberal thought and the tensions in the Democratic party…. and where the majority of the guests (but not all) are left leaning.
  • 10 pm: Fact Check An accountability show with major crowdsourcing elements to find the dissemblers and cheaters. The week’s most outrageous lies, gimme-a-break distortions and significant misstatements with no requirement whatsoever to make it come out equal between the two parties on any given day, week, month, season, year or era. CNN’s answer to Jon Stewart.
  • 11 pm: Liberty or death: World’s first news program from a libertarian perspective, with all the unpredictablity and mix-it-up moxie that libertarians at their best provide. Co-produced with Reason magazine.

This would be a network actually worth watching.

(Via The Daily Dish)

Soundtrack Review: Robin Hood

From the Robin Hood trailer, the end goal of Ridley Scott and Russel Crowe seems pretty obvious: make another Gladiator.   While they may have matched the look and perhaps the feel, they certainly didn’t match the sound.   Marc Streitenfeld’s score for Robin Hood is only slightly better than five hours of non-stop, out-of-tune bagpipes accompanying baby cries and cat wails.

Back in January when I discussed 2010 film scores, I wrote this of Streitenfeld composing Robin Hood:

This is a Ridley Scott film, so I assumed Hans Zimmer would be composing.   Officially, he’s not, but since Marc is one of Hans’s goons, no doubt this will sound as if Zimmer composed it.   And I’m sure I’ll be very pleased.   Will this be in the vein of Zimmer’s masterful Gladiator or the less-serious-but-still-exciting King Arthur?   Here’s hoping for the former.

Unfortunately, Robin Hood is in the vein of neither maybe the lower gastrointestinal track of one of the two, but certainly not in the vein.   The music is uninspiring, unexciting, and utterly devoid of any apparent effort.

Marc Streitenfeld comes from the Hans Zimmer school of composing   or, as I usually say, Marc Streitenfeld is a Zimmer goon.   Zimmer’s studio, Remote Control (formerly Media Ventures), churns out similar sounding music for almost every film they touch.   For most films, the main, credited composer has a band of merry men to supply additional music, so in most cases you cannot be entirely sure who actually composed the score.   With this many composers collaborating together, you might think the goons should output some great stuff.   You would be mistaken.

Usually for films that are solely credited to Zimmer, I rather enjoy the scores Gladiator, Angels and Demons, The Last Samurai, and Pirates of the Caribbean 3 to name a few.   But when his goons step up, I set myself up for extreme letdown when I expect something more than their last effort.

To be fair, not everything that has ever come from Media-Ventures/Remote-Control is terrible.   The first Transformers score, while unoriginal, was still exciting and afforded repeated listens.   And of course, Media Ventures produced John Powell who is easily one of the top composers in the business today.

Streitenfeld’s Robin Hood, though, fails to provide anything worth praising, just like Ramin Djawadi’s Clash of the Titans score.   (I didn’t write a review of it, but I wrote on Twitter, “Ramin Djawadi’s Clash of the Titans score is a miserably generic, sub-par heap of mediocrity. Is the film this uninspiring?”)   There is barely any thematic content in Robin Hood.   The only passable theme is a warmed-over theme from every other goon score:


Then there’s this “action” music:


Yes, I feel and see the intensity of battle in my mind   so intense I thought cutting my toenails might be more interesting.

And then there’s whatever the hell this is:


The only track that’s worth anything is the last track, “Merry Men,” which combines the warmed-over theme with some much-needed and desired jauntiness:


Shameful that the last track finally offers something to draw you in to the score but then ends leaving you feeling more cheated than these salmon.

What’s amazing to me is that music this uninspiring whether it be this specific score or any other mediocre effort makes it past the approval process.   Do no film directors or producers stop and say, “Hey, that’s some pretty shitty music.   Shouldn’t we hire someone better?”   Or do these directors and producers not notice the stench of awful music because the rest of the film reeks even more?

A film this big deserved a better score a decent score at least.   Marc Streitenfeld’s score is not a decent score   not even close.   If you liked Zimmer’s Gladiator or even Jablonsky’s Transformers, stay away from Streitenfeld’s Robin Hood.   This isn’t music; it’s cobbling together some notes in a subpar effort to get a job done.   And what a terrible job it was.


The End

Via /Film, here’s a holy-shit, fan-made trailer for the series finale of LOST tonight.

Sunspots of a Different Kind

Via Discovery News, French astrophotographer (how’s that for a job title) Thierry Legault snapped a photo of Space Shuttle Atlantis just before it docked with the International Space Station while they both traversed the sun.   Check out the full version here.


A World of Paint Chips

I saw this Sherwin Williams yesterday for the first time.   Very well done.

One Theme Changes Everything

At work, I recently heard the theme music for ESPN’s coverage of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.   After listening to the music a few times, I’ve not been so impressed and so in love with a singular piece of music in a long time.   Composer Lisle Moore has created a remarkable piece of music which terrifically marries traditional Western orchestration with African-inspired rhythms and vocals to achieve a stunning and even uplifting result.

You can hear a tiny bit of the music toward the end of this video.   Although these few seconds don’t do any justice to the amazing music, it’s at least something until you can hear the full theme in a few weeks:

On a related note, here’s a very well done ESPN promo narrated by Bono for the World Cup.   One game changes everything.

Dude, That’s One Son of a Bitch, Brotha

Signature phrases by LOST characters.




Betty White is Awesome, cont.

Betty White was terrific last night on Saturday Night Live. Her “Delicious Dish” segment was on par with Alec Baldwin’s. “If it’s one thing I’m known for, it’s my muffin.”

And the Emmy Goes to…

Last Monday (26 April), I had the honor of attending the 31st Annual Sports Emmy Awards in New York City for the first time since I started working at ESPN two years ago.   I was nominated for two Emmys along with the graphics team for the SportsNation show.   As the phrase goes, it was an honor just to be nominated.

emmy awards

The awards were held in the Frederick P. Rose Theater. Our pre- and post-show receptions were held in the Time Warner Center overlooking Columbus Circle and Central Park:

emmy awards

The reception room:

emmy awards

For the category “Outstanding Graphic Design,” MLB Tonight won. But so did SportsNation (and the post-announcement video clip featured “Walk the Plank,” one of my touchscreen games!):

emmy awards

So now I’m an Emmy winner!

emmy awards

A terrific honor, for sure, and I’m proud to share the award with the rest of the SportsNation graphics team. I work with some very talented people.

Post-show reception over, waiting for the buses to return us to ESPN:

emmy awards

Congratulations to the entire SportsNation graphics team on the Emmy win!   And congratulations to all the other winners!

emmy awards

emmy awards

Sir Michael Caine on The Daily Show

I just watched Jon Stewart’s Sir Michael Caine interview from last Friday’s The Daily Show, and I thought the whole interview was delightful.   Michael Caine seems like a great person to have a conversation with, and the way and the length of time he directly talked with the audience was something very refreshing.   The interview is a nice, little end-of-the-day wind-down.   Enjoy:

A Galactic Odyssey Against Oppression

The original trailer for The Empire Strikes Back, featuring a voice-over from everyone’s favorite scruffy-looking nerf herder. What a treat. I want to see this movie now!

The Conception of Wine

School project of Tiago Cabaco:

(Nod: FlowingData)

The Morgan Freeman Chain of Command

This is old but still worth posting because Morgan Freeman is awesome.   This chart is just missing Lucius Fox.

morgan freeman chain of command

(Nod: Roger Ebert)

He’s There to View the Tapestries!

From the White House Flickr stream:

President Barack Obama admires a tapestry at Prague Castle in Prague, Czech Republic, April 8, 2010.


He went to view the tapestries! But he is neither a Scottish lord nor Mickey Mouse.

Just as long as he hasn’t gone and caught a sniffle.



Winners Bracket

On Saturday, ESPN Sports Saturday on ABC launched.   Included was a new show called Winners Bracket, created by the team behind the ESPN show SportsNation.   Winners Bracket is hosted by Michelle Beadle and Marcellus Wiley.

For both shows, I create the touchscreen games the anchors and guests play during the show.   On Saturday, I was on-hand for the launch and snapped some photos (I tweeted most of these on Saturday, but here are a few more).

Check out Winners Bracket on Saturdays at 5p ET on ABC!

winners bracket

The studio crew discussing their plan for the show:

winners bracket

Director Chris going over the shot list:

winners bracket

An hour before Winners Bracket launched, I was still making updates to the touchscreen game:

winners bracket

Director Chris doing his thing:

winners bracket

Michelle and Marcellus:

winners bracket

Playing the touchscreen game:

winners bracket

Marcellus fixing his earpiece:

winners bracket

Playing the touchscreen game with Jalen Rose:

winners bracket

Reaction shot with Alexi Lalas:

winners bracket

Jalen Rose watching the show:

winners bracket

The winner of the first-ever Winners Bracket was a Dwyane Wade dunk.   Marcellus and Mike Greenberg guessed correctly.   Michelle did not:

winners bracket

After the show, the entire crew gathered for some cake and celebration:

winners bracket

My souvenir from the launch:

winners bracket

Michelle wrote, “The Genius rules all. Michelle Beadle” Marcellus wrote, “The Genius BROTHER! M Wiley, Dat Dude 75.” My nickname amongst the SportsNation crew and others at ESPN is “Joey the Genius” or just “Genius” for short.

Being part of a team launching a new show is one of the best aspects of working in the television industry. Congrats to the entire Winners Bracket team for a successful launch and a great show!

Earth! Wind! Water!

When these powers combine… they’re gonna take pollution down to zero!

Well that’s the idea, at least, behind a recent study. From Wired:

A 1,550-mile-long network of offshore wind stations could provide power from Massachusetts to North Carolina with minimal threat of outages, according to a new study.

Scientists had considered offshore wind as a potentially limitless source of power. Compared to land, the ocean has stronger and more constant winds, though still not constant enough to be a primary energy supply. This study indicates that offshore wind deserves more serious consideration as an energy alternative.

“The technology’s there, the materials are there, we have the willpower to reduce carbon emissions, we have a reliable power supply that doesn’t lead to fuel shortage,” said Mark Jacobson, a civil and environmental engineer at Stanford University. “The next step is really to start implementing this on a large scale.”

There are currently no commercial offshore wind stations, though companies have started developing six wind farms along the east coast. Together, the developments could produce as much energy as a large coal or nuclear power plant.

These seems very promising.   Couple this with developing super-efficient solar panels, and, well, we might just make that green-haired captain proud.

Rhyme Time: LOST Edition

Sporcle Alert!   Can you name the LOST characters from these limericks?   User rockgolf, who created the quiz, must have spent a good amount of time writing these.

On The Island, a man without doubts
He and Jack had their share of fall-outs
He had only one kidney
When he flew off to Sydney
But he couldn’t go on Walkabouts

A killing machine on two legs
Shoots Ben’s girl tho she kneels down & begs
But his resume’s greater
Than the rest on the freighter
‘Cuz he whips up a mean batch of eggs.

100 Pixar Characters

A terrific infographic from Chilean graphic designer Juan Pablo Bravo charts the heights of 100 Pixar characters.   Very well done.


(Nod: /Film)

All the President’s Pens

From The White House:

Why do presidents use so many pens to sign legislation? White House Staff Secretary Lisa Brown explains.

AND!!!   Brown confirms my speculation back in December that Obama’s pens are left-handed pens!

(Nod: Nagle)

Policing for Profit

The Institute for Justice produced this nice motion graphics piece on “the abuse of civil asset forfeiture.”   The content is interesting, too.   From their site:

Civil forfeiture laws represent one of the most serious assaults on private property rights in the nation today. With civil forfeiture, police and prosecutors can seize your property and use it to fund their budgets all without charging you with a crime. Americans are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, but with civil forfeiture, your property is guilty until you prove it innocent and law enforcement has a huge incentive to police for profit, not justice.

(Nod: The Daily Dish)