Yes We Can! Hell No You Can’t!

(Nod: Roger Ebert)

Approved

From the White House Flickr stream today:

approved

In case you’re concerned that the president can’t draw a circle, his name contains 11 letters, but he used 20 pens to sign his name, so more than one pen was used for some letters.

Toles

Another brilliant cartoon by Tom Toles:

toles

More Chat Roulette Piano Improv

Ben Folds, impersonating his impersonator, signs into Chat Roulette during a concert and serenades the people he meets.   Amazing:

Here again is his impersonator.   Also amazing:

(Nod: Nagle and GOOD)

“This Is What Change Looks Like”

White House photographer Pete Souza captures President Obama applauding the House passage of the health care bill last night:

obama

The Health Care Vote

The Atlantic‘s James Fallows on why this moment matters:

For now, the significance of the vote is moving the United States FROM a system in which people can assume they will have health coverage IF they are old enough (Medicare), poor enough (Medicaid), fortunate enough (working for an employer that offers coverage, or able themselves to bear expenses), or in some other way specially positioned (veterans; elected officials)… TOWARD a system in which people can assume they will have health-care coverage. Period.

That is how the entire rest of the developed world operates, as noted yesterday. It is the way the United States operates in most realms other than health coverage. Of course all older people are eligible for Medicare. Of course all drivers must have auto insurance. Of course all children must have a public school they can attend. Etc. Such “of course” rules offer protection for individuals but even more important, they reduce the overall costs to society, compared with one in which extreme risks are uncontained. The simplest proof is, again, Medicare: Does anyone think American life would be better now, on an individual or a collective level, if we were in an environment in which older people might have to beg for treatment as charity cases when they ran out of cash? And in which everyone had to spend the preceding years worried about that fate?

Toles

toles

Chat Roulette Piano Improv

Fantastic stuff:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32vpgNiAH60

(Nod: Nagle)

They’re Creepy and They’re Kooky

addams family

/Film is reporting Tim Burton will work on a 3D, stop-motion Addams Family film something that seems better fit for Tim Burton than a glove is fit for a hand based on the original cartoon by Charles Addams.   So if his past films are any indication, Gomez will be voiced by Johnny Depp and Morticia by Burton’s wife, Helena Bonham Carter.   And we’ll get a Danny Elfman score instead of a Marc-Shaiman-doing-Danny-Elfman score as we did in Barry Sonnenfeld’s 1991 film (terrific score nonetheless).   Seems like this good be great.

A + B = C

I haven’t posted a Sporcle quiz lately, so here you go: Name the movie based on other characters the actors have played.   This is what I call “The Movie Game” and have played with people in the past.   The idea is this: An actor in movie ‘A’ and an actor in movie ‘B’ starred together in movie ‘C’.   Got that?

For example, I would say, “Edward Scissorhands and The Lord of the Rings,” and you would say, “Pirates of the Caribbean” because Johnny Depp in Edward Scissorhands and Orlando Bloom in The Lord of the Rings starred together in Pirates of the Caribbean.   It’s a fun game for when you need to pass some time (waiting, driving, etc.).

Sporcle takes this concept a little further.   Instead of giving movies, they give you character names from those movies.   This version is a little harder, I think, because if you don’t know who played the character and don’t know what movie that character is from, you’re stuck.   At least with knowing the movie (in my version), you might have an idea who was in that film.   With this version, there are enough clues that you can still probably have a shot.   Try it!

Toles

Tom Toles takes on the Texas Crusaders.

toles

Brackets

After about four months of development time and a few very long nights last week, my NCAA touchscreen brackets graphic debuted on SportsCenter yesterday. ESPN college basketball analyst Doug Gottlieb revealed his bracket using the Perceptive Pixel touchscreen.

Here are a few short videos of Doug in action yesterday:

Part of my fun with this project was working with all the anchors and analysts who will be interacting with the touchscreen. Yesterday I was in support mode making sure Doug was comfortable with the graphic.

Doug making a pick:

doug gottlieb ncaa tournament brackets

Doug tossing away two teams’ stat panels:

doug gottlieb ncaa tournament brackets

Doug and others will be using the touchscreen throughout the tournament, so check it out on ESPN!

iMaxi iPad Case With Wings!

We all should have seen this one coming: The jokes about the iPad’s name continue.   The iPhone Blog posted yesterday Etsy is releasing a case for the iPad called the iMaxi.   And it has wings.

imaxi

This is as creative of a case as AirMail’s folder sleeve for the MacBook Air:

airmail

Which was made in response/homage to Steve Jobs at the keynote address announcing the Air.

jobs with macbook air

Well done.   Well done.

Betty White is Awesome

betty

Saturday Night Live head writer Seth Meyers on Twitter yesterday confirmed on 08 May, Betty White will be hosting the show.   Fantastic!

“Dr. Linus”

linus

“Dr. Linus” certainly wasn’t the most exciting or most tense episode of the series, but it was a great episode to move the story along and start giving us answers (keep reading).   Here are a few thoughts:

But something that I wanted an answer for didn’t get: How did Ben escape from the temple?   Last week we left him in an unsettled state backing away from Sayid, and this week we see Ben running through the jungle.   Did he use the secret passage, too?   If not, how did he get past smokey?

Some future action (don’t know what yet) will reset everyone’s timelines at some point before the crash of Oceanic 815.   Therefore, the flash-sideways that we see now really isn’t an alternate realty like the writers have said; instead, it’s THE timeline.   This theory of mine was backed up by:

The most revealing piece to me was when Roger Workman mentioned the Dharma Initiative and leaving the island.   That was the first mention of the island in any flash-sideways we’ve seen so far.   Something happened to change what we know of their past.   What was it?   And when was it?   We also found out that Richard Alpert was given a gift by Jacob and that presumedly Richard came to the island on the Black Rock.

Back in “The Substitute” when we were first introduced to Dr. Linus, a friend of mine and I thought that his teaching subject, European history, wasn’t an accident.   For instance, why not have Ben be a statistics teacher or a grammar teacher; European history was chosen for a reason.   Perhaps that reason was revealed in this episode.   When discussing Napoleon on Elba, Dr. Linus mentions something about Napoleon being powerless on his own island a parallel to Ben on the LOST island.

That wasn’t the only parallel between on-island and off-island Ben.   In both story lines, Ben was tempted by Locke and was given the choice of being the Ben we’ve known for so long or a different Ben; he could choose the self-interested path to power, or he could act for the greater good.   Both on-island and off-island, he resisted temptation and chose the more righteous path.

Final thought: Walter Peck is still a dick.

Can’t wait for next week!

Do You Know Where Your Cows Are?

GOOD this week linked to a website called “Where Is My Milk From?” that will, upon entering a code found on your milk container, tell you where in the U.S. your milk came from.   Very cool and very interesting to see 1.) where it came from and 2.) what larger distributor is behind “generic” milk.

For instance, my Stop-and-Shop-branded milk is produced by Garelick Farms in Franklin, MA.   They make their own milk, but apparently they also produce Stop and Shop milk.

stop and shop milk map

Last week I had Market-Pantry-branded milk from Target.   This milk came from Byrne Dairy in Syracuse, NY.

target milk map

I probably wouldn’t have thought anything of this, except I started watching Food, Inc last week.   The film mentions that so few food corporations control the American food supply, and even when you think you’re buying a different brand, you really aren’t.   Nowhere on either milk cartons are Garelick or Byrne mentioned.   That seems obfuscatory at best, nefarious at worst.

See where your milk came from (and who actually produces it).

Oscar Wrap-Up

My predictions were 62.5% correct. I scored 15/24 and tied my coworker in the contest. He won on the tiebreaker, but has graciously decided to give me the prize anyway. So thank you, @nagle!

Two Oscar-related videos here. The first one says thanks:

(Edit: video removed from YouTube.)

And the second is “a trailer for every Academy Award winning movie ever”:

(Nod: The Daily Dish for both)

Alternate LOST Titles FOUND, ctd.

Add this one to my list from the weekend:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nd6n_5XKVxo

(Nod: TV Squad)

My Oscar Predictions, For What They’re Worth

oscars

(Hint: they’re probably worth nothing.)   My coworker Jon Nagle has an Oscar contest, so I decided to fill out a ballot… and then decided to post my predictions (or, rather, guesses in some cases) here.   We’ll see how I did later.

Best Picture: Avatar
For anyone who takes the film-going experience seriously, the achievements of Avatar cannot be ignored.   In a recession economy, this film became the highest-grossing film of all time by well over $100 MILLION dollars (as of this weekend, it stands at $720 million).   Dollars aside, the technologies both invented and pushed to the next level will have a profound impact on how movies are made in the future.   Was Avatar the best film of the year.   Perhaps not.   But its contributions to the industry are unmatched.

Actor in a Leading Role: Jeff Bridges
I didn’t see Crazy Heart (or any other on this list) (actually, come to think of it, I’ve seen very few of the nominated films this year), but the Bridges has the buzz.   And he won a Golden Globe.   And a Screen Actors Guild award.

Actor in a Supporting Role: Christoph Waltz
He foxtrotted away with a Golden Globe, tangoed with a SAG, and tonight, he’ll waltz with Oscar.   Sorry, couldn’t resist.

Actress in a Leading Role: Sandra Bullock
This one will be close, but the feel-good-ness of the film and her performance (so I hear) will speed her away with this award.

Actress in a Supporting Role: Mo’Nique
Is this a competition?

Animated Feature Film: Up
Just because it’s Pixar doesn’t make it a shoe-in, but this one’s a shoe-in as it was the film that was hiding under our porch because it loves us.

Art Direction: Avatar
For certain the best on this list.   Breathtaking creativity.

Cinematography: Avatar
This will be either Avatar or The Hurt Locker, but the 3D-nature of Avatar will push it ahead.

Costume Design: The Young Victoria
I have no idea, but everyone loves a period piece, right?

Directing: Kathryn Bigelow
Because the Academy plays politics, this is her consolation prize for not winning best picture.   Pretty good consolation prize if you ask me.

Documentary (Feature): The Cove
I just started watching Food, Inc. (disturbing, very, very, very disturbing), but I hear The Cove makes a bigger, umm, splash.

Documentary (Short): The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant
Topical.

Film Editing: The Hurt Locker
Didn’t see the film, but I understand the editing plays a central role to the success of the film.

Foreign Language Film: The White Ribbon
Yep, just picking something here.

Makeup: Star Trek
If Frida can win for a unibrow, then Star Trek can win for pointy ears.

Music (Score): Up
Typing Up here and not Avatar hurts me.   This is the one category I feel I can give an honest prediction (does that mean I’m lying in the others?).   Up was NOT the best score of 2009.   Maybe Avatar wasn’t either.   But of the five nominees, Avatar was by far the best musical achievement.   Given my past abhorrence of everything James Horner, I can’t believe I’m advocating for a win over Michael Giacchino who is easily one of my favorite film composers.   That said, Giacchino has won a Golden Globe, BAFTA award, and a Grammy.   Tonight he’ll win his first Oscar.   If the Academy asked me (they didn’t), Up wouldn’t have been nominated because the best Giacchino score of 2009 was Star Trek.   If Up wins, though, I will definitely be happy for Giacchino.   And at least this year, the as-Oscar-worthy-as-Windows-is-bug-free rubbish of Gustavo Santaolalla won’t win.   (If you’re so inclined, you can read my reviews of James Horner’s score for Avatar and Michael Giacchino’s scores for Up and Star Trek.)

Music (Song): “The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)”
It’s been winning other awards.   How’s that for concise compared to the above category?

Short Film (Animated): A Matter of Loaf and Death
Nick “Wallace and Gromit” Park will win.   But Logorama is awesome.

Short Film (Live Action): Kavi
No clue.

Sound Editing: Avatar
Sound Mixing: Avatar

I have no idea what the difference between these two are.   But Avatar had great sound.

Visual Effects: Avatar
Avatar should win this award and some other super-awesome-technical-achievement special-award.   Because the visual effects were better than Megan Fox, Scarlett Johansson, Miranda Kerr, and Bar Refaeli walking into my bedroom at the same time.   With whipped cream.   Seriously, there’s no competition in this category.

Writing (Adapted Screenplay): Up in the Air
The best?   Or a consolation prize?   Probably both.

Writing (Original Screenplay): Inglourious Basterds
This film will need something other than best supporting actor.   So screenplay it is.

Well that’s the end of the list.   Thanks for watching.

Alternate LOST Titles FOUND

Some very creative people cut new LOST title sequences in the style of other TV shows.

Full House:

Friends:

Smallville:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XerwtCHugc8

The Office:

That 70s Show:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1gAnmFyYHr4

The Wonder Years:

Road Trip: MoMA

A couple weekends ago, some coworkers and I traveled to New York City to visit The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).   This trip marked the first time I had been to the museum.   Here are some of the photos I took.

Road trip? More like a rail trip:

train ticket

Walking from Grand Central, I ducked inside St. Patrick’s Cathedral:

st. patrick's cathedral

st. patrick's cathedral

Parked:

parked

MoMA:

moma

Museum-goers:

moma

Claude Monet’s water lilies:

monet

monet

The Starry Night” by Vincent van Gogh:

starry night by vincent van gogh

Museum-goers:

museum-goers

“Cinema Redux” of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. A frame was captured every second in the film, and each row represents one minute of the film. More here.

vertigo

In the same section of the museum, there was this amazing touchscreen application called “I Want You to Want Me.”   The application pulled together information from multiple dating websites and created this interactive display of what people want and who they’re looking for.   Read more about the project here.   The official video:

Post-MoMA, the Chrysler Building in reflection:

chrysler

Back at Grand Central:

grand central

grand central

Headed home:

grand central

Buy Me Some Peanuts and Hack-er Jack

mlb at bat iPhone app

Via TUAW, the 2010 edition of the MLB At Bat iPhone app will allow you to stream audio in the background while you accomplish other tasks on your iPhone.

While Apple doesn’t allow 3rd party apps to run in the background on the iPhone or iPod touch,* Silicon Alley Insider notes that you can listen to audio in Mobile Safari while using other applications. It’s this trick that MLB exploited with At Bat 2010. With the tap of a button, At Bat will push an audio stream to Mobile Safari.

Note that MLB didn’t come up with this trick, nor is their app the first to exploit it. ESPN Radio does it, as well as Scanner911 and FlyCast. Still, it’s nice that MLB’s devs acknowledged that some users might want to check email or hop onto Twitter while listening to game, and made it easy to do so.

Dear Apple: please make this available sans-jailbreak and sans-hack.   Thank you.

Sic Semper Rome Fans?

rome

Thus always to fans of Rome?   Entertainment Weekly is reporting the HBO series Rome may finally be headed to the big screen:

Fans of HBO’s critically-beloved (but short-lived) series Rome may not have seen the last of Vorenus and Pullo. Multiple sources have confirmed to EW that a big-screen sequel to the sword-and-sandals series is well underway. Rome creator/executive Bruno Heller who went on to create CBS’s hit The Mentalist has finished a script for Morning Light Productions, which financed the development and will produce the film. Series stars Kevin McKidd (Lucius Vorenus) and Ray Stevenson (Titus Pullo) will likely sign onto the movie, which picks up in Germany four years after the series ended. The next step for Morning Light is to find a director and a studio, since HBO Films won’t be involved.

Fantastic news if you enjoyed the short-lived series.   I caught the series on DVD, and I wasn’t disappointed.   The production value of Rome was astounding the costumes, the set pieces and the play on Roman history was delightful.   I hope this film happens.

(Nod: /Film)

No Avatar-me? Then Avatar-yourself

Back in January, I wondered why there was no web-app that transformed a photo you upload into a Na’vi character from Avatar.   While I still haven’t found one (although I really haven’t been looking), I did find these fantastic instructions to Photoshop yourself as a Na’vi.   The example the author walks you through creates a Tom Cruise avatar:

tom cruise avatar

And via /Film, here’s Shrevatar:

shrevatar

The Smoke Monster Does Math

Apparently this was a known thing amongst the LOST internets, but in looking for the sound effect made by the Smoke Monster this morning, I learned something new.   Note the sound Locke’s calculator makes in this scene from “Walkabout” (Season 1, episode 4):

Sound familiar?