Monday, November 23, 2009

Symphony Of Science - "Our Place In The Cosmos"

Symphony of Science is back with another outstanding geeky auto-tuned gem. Once again, Carl Sagan takes the lead, proving he is still modern science's greatest poet. But he's getting terrific backup on the hook from Richard Dawkins!

"A Glorious Dawn"
"We Are All Connected"

Just discovered the 7" vinyl of "A Glorious Dawn". The album's B side is "An etched reproduction of The Voyager Golden Record".
Only six dollars? Hell. Yes.

[via Geekologie]

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Fabulous World Of Jules Verne

I discovered the delightful trailer for The Fabulous World of Jules Verne while watching the DVD 42nd Street Forever 5 with my friend, Dr. Lao. I immediately wanted to go out and find a copy of the film.

Fabulous World is a 1958 Czech film based on the Jules Verne book, Facing The Flag. What makes the movie so cool is its gorgeous production design and stop motion animation. Everything in the movie is made to look like old fashioned engraving illustrations like those found in the original editions of Verne's book. And the live action, animation, and other special effects are meticulously integrated.

You can watch the entire movie in pieces on YouTube, but the quality of the print is pretty lousy and you don't get to see a lot of the detail that went into it (the trailer found on 42nd Street Forever is much better looking). It's a great example of how innovative filmmakers could be on a tight budget, and long before CGI became available.

This movie is begging for a restoration. And with the popularity of steampunk these days it wouldn't even be that hard to market. Here's hoping someone will pull this out of obscurity and put it on DVD or Blu-Ray where it belongs (ahem, Criterion).

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Al Roker Gets His Nub Yubbed

On October 30th, the entire cast of the Today Show got into the Halloween spirit by dressing like characters from Star Wars. They even hired extras to play characters like the Ewoks featured in this clip. Maybe you should have a better screening process for extras when you have a live broadcast...

That Ewok is my new hero.

[via Geekologie]

Monday, November 09, 2009

Beer + Clam Juice...Oh, It's Happening

Introducing the Chelada, an unholy concoction of Budweiser and Clamato. They might as well have called it Cthulada, and slapped an image of ten thousand tormented, wailing souls on the label.

[via Laughing Squid]

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Paranormal Activity

I saw The Blair Witch Project way after all the hype had died down, and was completely underwhelmed. Paranormal Acitivty wasn't very high on my radar for this reason. Generally when something starts to get hyped as the SCARIEST MOVIE EVER, I tend to tune out. But I ended up going, and was fairly surprised.

I found Paranormal Acitivity to be a pretty successful attempt at the faux documentary style. And it was genuinely scary (something which Blair Witch was not), and gradually built the scares up in a very effective way.

There are a lot of familiar elements at play, including characters that are so thick headed you want to throttle them. There are a lot of don't-investigate-the-creepy-sound! moments, but at least the stubbornness feels like a character trait rather than poor writing like it does in lesser horror films.

There are some very startling and disturbing moments, and everything is heightened by the convincingly natural performances. This should become a classic rental or purchase for people looking to creep themselves and their friends out.

Where The Wild Things Are

I really enjoyed Where The Wild Things Are, but wasn't blown away by it. I loved the style of it. The special effects were very impressive (props to the Jim Henson Company, and the CGI crew).

I always appreciate kids movies that aren't afraid to have real emotion, or be scary occasionally. Some of my favorites growing up were movies that terrified me in certain parts, like The Dark Crystal and The Secret of NIMH. Wild Things has a lot of serious stuff going on. It really captures the range of conflicting emotions that young children have to deal with. And splitting those different emotions into the different characters of the Wild Things was really clever.

There was also enough quirky humor to keep things from getting too bogged down in angst and grief. Bob and Terry were a particular highlight.

Great performances, direction, soundtrack...All around terrific movie. The only thing that kept it from being a classic for me was the general lack of story. But it's hard to fault it for that since it already has more story than the book. It's hard to create conflict in a movie without real villains. But it's still a great adaptation.

Carl Sagan Day

"Those afraid of the universe as it really is, those who pretend to nonexistent knowledge and envision a Cosmos centered on human beings will prefer the fleeting comforts of superstition. They avoid rather than confront the world. But those with the courage to explore the weave and structure of the Cosmos, even where it differs profoundly from their wishes and prejudices, will penetrate its deepest mysteries."

Today is the first annual Carl Sagan Day. We all know that he sounds good auto-tuned (if not a little bit like Kermit the Frog). But his voice and words are beautiful enough without manipulation. Take this brief ode to our planet:

Sagan's gift, more than anyone else I'm aware of, was in highlighting the beauty of science and nature. His ability to see the whole of mankind's history and future in a single blurry snapshot of a pinpoint in space is startling.

The fantastic radio series/podcast, Radiolab, featured the following story on their episode entitled "Space". It perfectly illustrates Carl Sagan, the scientist and the romantic.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

My new music from October:

1. Dead Man's Bones - Dead Man's Bones
2. Death Cab For Cutie - Narrow Stairs
3. The Divine Comedy - A Secret History
4. The Feelies - Crazy Rhythms
5. Flight of the Conchords - I Told You I Was Freaky
6. Lil B - Based Blunts Vol. 1
7. Mika - The Boy Who Knew Too Much
8. Mojo Nixon - Bo-Day-Shus!!!
9. Mojo Nixon - Frenzy
10. Mojo Nixon - Gadzooks!!! The Homemade Bootleg
11. Mojo Nixon - Mojo & Skid
12. Mojo Nixon - Otis
13. Mojo Nixon - Root Hog Or Die
14. Mojo Nixon - Whereabouts Unknown
15. Mojo Nixon - Whiskey Rebellion
16. The Mountain Goats & John Vanderslice - Moon Colony Bloodbath
17. The Mountain Goats & Kaki King - Black Pear Tree
18. Muse - The Resistance
19. Music Go Music - Expressions
20. Roy Orbison - The Very Best Of Roy Orbison
21. Sufjan Stevens - The BQE
22. Tegan & Sara - Sainthood
23. Uri Caine Ensemble - Wagner e Venezia
24. The Very Best - Warm Heart Of Africa
25. Yo La Tengo - Popular Songs

Fuzzy Wuzzy Was A Bear...

Bears look weird without fur, apparently:

[via Boing Boing]


Illinoize is a very tasty mash-up album of Sufjan Stevens songs with various hip-hop artists, including Outkast, Aesop Rock, Brother Ali, and Gift Of Gab (of Blackalicious). Oh my yes.

[via A.V. Club]

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Michael Moschen

Remember that cool crystal ball trick Jareth did with his hands in Labyrinth? Michael Moschen was the juggler behind that wonderful image. Here's a video where he makes that trick look like child's play:

[via Laughing Squid]

xkcd - Movie Narrative Charts

The latest xkcd strip is both an exercise of supreme geekery, and a wonderful work of art. Click for the largeness.

I want a posterized version NOW.