Monday, March 30, 2009

Virtual Barbershop

I got a hankering to listen to the Virtual Barbershop again. It's an amazing piece of audio work - it so perfectly imitates a natural sound environment that you can't help but respond: I turned my head when the door opened, and flinched when he brought the clippers close to my ear. I'm not the sort of person who purchases much audio equipment, but I tell you - I'd buy whatever it is that they're selling.

Find a good pair of headphones and have a listen if you haven't before. If you listen to it and find nothing special about it, that means it's time to buy a new set of headphones.


Make Your Own Dunkin Donut.

D2 is having a contest to get people to make their new donut. Click here to go make your own donut or to vote for other donuts - remember, whatever wins, that's one more type of donut you get to order (for a limited time, natch). Also, the winner also receives $12,000. Twelve finalists receive $1,200 and a year's worth of free donuts. There's actually a huge number of different options in terms of fillings, toppings, etc., so it's a lot of fun. The donut on the left is my creation, the Peanut Butter Karma.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Where The Wild Things Are

The trailer for Where The Wild Things Are, the live-action adaption of the beloved children's book, is out today. Despite its heady resume: visual master Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich, Adaption, every music video ever) directing and indie god Dave Eggers ("A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius") writing, I have been predicting for about a year now that this movie is going to be unbelievably terrible and will lose huge amounts of money.

Then I watched the trailer today, and I don't know if it's the visual style, or the indie aesthetic, or the raspy growl of James Gandolfini, or the wise decision to use an Arcade Fire song on the trailer, or the fact that the kid who plays Max seems to really be that actual kid from the story (the actor's name is - get this - Max Records. How cool is that?), but I am one million percent on board. It's still going to make no money, but the trailer alone is all sorts of heartbreaking. Click the link and see for yourself.

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Can you believe this is a real commercial?

It's official: Lindsay Lohan will never have a comeback. She will only keep imploding, until there is no Lindsay left, just a faint wisp of tanning spray.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Proving again that I am awesome in things that really do not require awesomeness, my NCAA bracket has 15 out of the 16 teams correct (this is not necessarily that impressive, since a bracket where I would have only picked the higher seed would've given me 14 out of 16), and ESPN selected me to play in their top fantasy league, The Man's League.

You don't step to me in dork factor, readers.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

T9Word Update

I tried to type "whoa!" into a text message, but T9 didn't recognize it, only giving me "zinc!" and "winc!" The latter of which I can find no definition of in any dictionary I checked.


I like how he just "happened to have a costume in his locker"

Peracchio linked me to this, and I loved it: "Fireman Dresses Up Like Spider-Man To Save Autistic Boy From Ledge." My favorite part was the last sentence 'Mr Yoosabai normally uses the costume to liven up fire drills in schools.' Best. Fireman. Ever.

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100 Movies You Should See Before You Die

Yahoo! has created a list of "100 Movies To See Before You Die," which is making the rounds across the net. Cinephiles will probably have seen about 80, I would guess. I guessed - without looking at the list - that I would probably have seen about 40. Final tally: 45.

There's at least 20 movies that are on the list of "I need to watch this. Soon." In fact, at least a dozen are saved on my DVR, waiting impatiently for me to become classy enough to watch them (I'm looking at you, Sunset Boulevard). It's tough to find a couple hours out of the day to sit down and watch one.

Well, it's not that hard, but I just don't have the patience to do so.


Sexy People

Please check out Sexy People, a blog where people send in their terribly ill-advised Olan Mills pictures from the 70's and 80's. It's impossible not to giggle.

It's a nice compliment

I looked in the mirror this morning and realized that a recent spike in weight had suddenly given me a strong resemblance to Glenn Beck, who is not looking particularly well these days himself (as Colbert noted "the chins-to-Beck ratio is awfully high"). This is about as terrifying a thought as one can have in the morning, and so in my depression I gave up on shaving or combing my hair for the day and ventured out into the world in full "don't mess with me, compadre" mode.

I was searching for a book at the library a few hours later when another browsing gentleman caught my eye and walked up.

"Hey," he said, "do you know what famous person you look exactly like?"

Please don't say Glenn Beck. Please oh please ohpleaseohplease...

It turned out I reminded him of Neal McDonough, who is, in celebrity terms, the single best possible celebrity comparison for me, or rather, for my ego (by the way, I once met McDonough, who, though very polite, is absolutely terrifying in person).

The guy in the library turned out to be a bit of nut - he was taking out "Charmed" companion guide, which is the literary equivalent of giving up on your life - but we had a lovely conversation about the merits of the new "Street Fighter" movie, which I have not seen but know more than enough about movies to fake it ("the action sequences were great, but Chris Klein is just a terrible actor, right?" "Totally!"). After about 15 minutes of truly breathtakingly geeky conversation - it is not often that strangers expect you to know intricate details of the behind-the-scenes habits of the actors on "Smallville" - my new friend wandered off and I went off with a bounce in my step. It's not every day you remind someone of a clear-eyed six-foot bodybuilder. At least, not if you're me.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

New American Idol Rule

I know that reality television should not be the first place I go for honesty, but I've been frustrated by the to-do over the new American Idol rule. The judges this year have been granted a "save" - that is, if they feel a contestant is good enough to win the whole contest but they got voted off, the judges can save them and give them another chance.

The example they keep giving - on the show, on talk shows, in interviews - is Chris Daughtry, who was surprisingly eliminated in the final rounds of the show despite being favored to win. The expression on his face when he finds out he's been voted off is priceless ego-check television - he really couldn't believe that he was cut. He went on to become one of Idol's most famous success stories, and the judges keep using this as the example of how they plan to use their save this year. "If we'd had the save back then," one of them mentioned in an interview the other day, "we definitely would have saved Daughtry." This is supposed to be important because whoever wins Idol is supposed to become the big star, and the producers feel that having a runner-up exceed the success of the winner devalues the competition (and, I suppose, it does). But Idol is always going to be beneficial primarily to easygoing, likable singers like eventual winner Taylor Hicks, who America consistently voted for but lacked any sort of commercial marketability. The same is true of this year's likely winner, Danny Gokey - he's talented, warm, and has a heartwrenching backstory, but nobody's gonna buy his CD. And Daughtry, though not quite likable enough to hold through to win the competition, is much more clearly the sort of artist who's capable of making records that people would actually buy. Though if the judges had had this save rule back then, maybe he would have won the competition, too.

Of course, it's not true - the new rule wouldn't have saved him at all. Daughtry, famously, finished fourth during the fifth season of Idol. The new rule only allows the judges to save people up until there are six people remaining.


Saturday, March 21, 2009


I once read a piece by Bill Bryson complaining about spell check (it was from a while ago, I admit) and how it kept not recognizing the perfectly legitimate words he would type in. I'm sure that things were different when he wrote the piece, but by the time I read it, it just seemed comical - who can get irate at spell check? Certainly it sometimes doesn't recognize proper nouns, or gives you truly comical suggestions for replacements, and I'm sure it was worse in its early stages, but what of it? It's just not a big enough deal to get upset about - certainly too much to write an article about. If you don't like the suggestions, just ignore them.

Yet I find myself in a similar situation these days because of my cell phone. Unlike those of you with iPhones and Blackberries and what have you, I still am using a LG Chocolate, and that means I'm stuck with a program called T9Word. I'll explain - since Chocolates don't have a keyboard, I have to type on the keypad. There are two option for typing: one is typing each word letter by letter by scrolling through the options on each number. For example, to type "can," I go to the "2," which has "ABC" written under it, and would hit the "2" three times until it got to the "c," pause until it moved to the next letter, then hit the "2" again to get "a," then hit the "6" twice to get "n." However, if I use T9Word function, I can just hit the "2" twice and then "6" once, and my phone will guess that I actually need the word "can," since that's the most likely option for those numbers. If I actually need "ban," or "cam," I just hit the "next" button until it comes up.

Now, this is a handy program, and it sometimes makes texting faster than it would be on a full Qwerty keyboard, but - sometimes it does not. Occasionally you come to a word that it simply cannot recognize, and in order to fix it, you have to delete everything you've typed, go to the menu, switch from "T9Word" to "Abc," re-type the word, re-enter the menu, switch back to T9Word, and keep going. It's a little frustrating, especially if you're in a hurry.

What's worse is when you have a word you know it should recognize and yet it does not. For example, today I was trying to type Maundy Thursday, and instead of "Maundy," all it would give me was "oatmex," a word that gives me zero results on Google. It won't recognize my friend Shawn's name, instead giving me "Shawo," which seems to be a unpopular Chinese name. And instead of "Chipotle," it always gives me "Aggrotle," a word that only comes us on the internet in posts where people say "hey, I tried to type 'Chipotle' onto my phone and it came up 'aggrotle!'"

While you can eventually train your phone to recognize certain word, it always gives its options first, so no matter how many times I type "Shawn," it's still gonna try to get me to take "Shawo."

Of course, sometimes it can be funny. I texted a friend the other day to say "Hey, we're going to lunch. Want to come?" But instead of "Want to come?" it came out "Want to bond?" and I sent it without noticing. Never heard back.

Additionally, the program seems to want you to be a better person. Typing any profanity into the program gives no results, and it refuses to recognize certain insults if it considers it too hurtful, instead choosing to make up words as less painful options. "Slut," for example, only turns up "plut," "asshole" is "assimle," and "motherf***ing" is "motheretailing," which sounds like it should be something even though it's not.

Anytime I get a good T9 result, I'll try to remember to post it. They're always fun.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

New Posts

I haven't been posting, you'll note. You might have worried about my well-being, or you just chalked it up to laziness, but the situation was dire and entirely out of my control: I lost the internet (those of you who guessed lazy were also not wrong).

You see, I am an internet thief. Worse than that, an unabashed internet thief. My next door neighbor has an unprotected router and I have no scruples about exploiting it. In fact, one of the emphases for buying a laptop was the promise of a built-in wireless card and free, untethered internet. And it's been heaven ever since.

Of course, that's when this story takes an ugly turn. A few weeks ago, I was surfing the net late on a Friday night (oh, like your weekend's so busy?) when my internet disappeared. Were they on to me? Had my clueless neighbor gotten wise? My Airport had no answers as it pinwheeled sadly.

Maybe they just went on vacation, I thought, and turned off everything in their apartment on their way out. Maybe it'll be just for a long weekend, or a week. But the next Monday came and went without anything happening. All week I waited, trying to remember what people did with laptops before they could surf the web while watching TV ("I think I'll organize my iTunes!"). The next Monday rolled around. Nothing.

I finally admitted that I'd lost the internet for good and called Comcast to get cable, scheduling an appointment for the following Monday. But late Sunday night, while I poked away at a video project I was supposed to have gotten done a month before ("Well, I guess there's nothing else to do!"), my Airport sprung back to life. My neighbors had returned from vacation and plugged in their wireless! I called Comcast at one in the morning and canceled my appointment, cheerfully chatting away at the technician on the other end who clearly found my vitality awfully trying ("I got into this job to be unpleasant to people in the wee hours of the morning, and I'll be damned if you're going to slow me down."). And I've been exuberantly pirating internet again ever since.

The moral of the story: If you wait around long enough, sometimes someone solves your problems for you.

The other moral of the story: there'll be more posts coming soon.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Worst Academy Award Winner To Headline A Show

TNT has been pumping out promos like crazy for its various moderately watchable original programming, and every single one of them has been hammering the "starring Academy Award winner..." line to death. Watch 'Saving Grace,' with Academy Award Winner Holly Hunter! Watch 'Leverage,' with Academy Award winner Timothy Hutton! Even multiple seasons into a show, the tagline remains the same.

Of course, none of their ads mention exactly when and what these people won Academy Awards for. For example, Hunter won hers in 1993 for The Piano, a performance where she (mercifully) played a mute. And Hutton won an Academy Award for Ordinary People, a movie that came out in 1980, only a few months after The Empire Strikes Back. Hutton - who, it must be said, does an excellent job on 'Leverage' - is nearing 50 and was only 18 at the time that film was shot.

It got me thinking... who would the absolutely worst choice among all Academy Award winners to headline a new TNT show? And what kind of show would that be?

Note: No Heath Ledger jokes.

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No Posts

I know I haven't been posting - I'd been getting the internet at home from an unprotected wireless router in a nearby apartment, and I think the owner finally got wise. It disappeared a couple weeks ago and hasn't been back.

I finally ordered internet of my own today, so I'll be back to sending out random interesting crumbs of pop culture any day now.

Good News

For those of you, like me, who have been following this, Jason Segel has finished his Muppets script!

I find it adorable that Segel doesn't know any celebrities and had to fill all the cameo spots in the script with "Celebrity 1," "Celebrity 2."

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Only a few of you will get this...

But with all the various cases that Apple is selling for the iPhone (and you aren't allowed to have an iPhone without the case), it's remarkable to me that no one has created one that says "Don't Panic" in large, friendly yellow letters on it.

And yes, I got the idea from this comic.

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