road to knowhere

Storm’s starting to come in at work. Shoulda brought my hoodie today. There is also a reflection of me holding a blue napkin and eating an apple. Keepin’ it real.

Storm’s starting to come in at work. Shoulda brought my hoodie today. There is also a reflection of me holding a blue napkin and eating an apple. Keepin’ it real.

How Can You Become A BP Scientist?

I love this blog! It’s kinda like someecards, but it also plays on the bitterness we all had toward those kids in the Scott Foresman science textbooks who always did everything right on the first try. I remember many times in elementary school wanting to jump into the pages of those books, with their world of perfect physics and chemistry where the balloons never popped when they weren’t supposed to and you didn’t spill crap on the floor and get yelled at all the time.


Pillows vs. Condom Sales

Yesterday I read the New York Times “Taylor Momsen did not write this headline” column about search engine optimization, Google rankings and basically how the blog factory, aggregators and new media are boxing web headline writers into formulas and tactics that aren’t punny or appealing in a literary way like those of yore. Today I’m listening to the Stuff Mom Never Told You podcast “The Not-So-Skimpy History of the Bikini” (don’t judge) and I hear hosts Molly Edmonds and Cristen Conger doing damage control on  their own headline mishap during the listener mail portion at the end.

On April 7 they released a show called "Why have Japanese condom sales dropped?" It was partially inspired by the NYT Magazine article “Love in 2-D,” which covered a Japanese subculture of men who have fallen in love with pillows depicting their favorite anime, manga and video game characters (the first glimpse of this for American audiences, in parody form, was a 30 Rock plotline where James Franco was in love with one). Now, treating a pillow like your wife or girlfriend and condom sales dropping are correlation vs. causation, two separate issues. But does that matter when it gets people to listen to your podcast?


Now, let’s also point out that the title was a little bit tongue-in-cheek. Because we got many e-mails that tried to explain to us all the reasons why Japanese condom sales might be dropping, and these included things like the aging of the Japanese population, the Japanese attitude towards work — one woman wrote in and she had a Japanese boyfriend and he has to work, y’know, 60 hours a week, and so she’s like of course, you know, you sleep when you get home after that kind of work. Like you may not be having as much sex. Umm, one person pointed out that the age at which Japanese youth lose their virginity is not that different than in the U.S….

Then Conger cuts in:

So obviously, you know, it’s a complex issue and the point we were trying to make with the title was, admittedly, to try to get your attention, which it did … the answer to that question in the podcast was not Japanese condom sales have dropped because people read manga. That wasn’t the point at all.

I am certain neither of the hosts had any ill will in mind, nor were they attempting to popularize some outrageous and unfound postulation. It does make you think about being careful when crafting a title that you want to be attention-grabbing but not misleading, though. That’s a struggle that old and new media alike deal with constantly.

Nothing to watch on TV? Need a break from the frustrating game overs? Check out this amazing full-length Mega Man film created by fans. With no major studio or distributor, this Eddie Lebron fellow and his troupe are somehow navigating a copyright minefield and taking this microcinematic masterpiece on tour (apparently he has done this in the past with tribute film Ghostbusters: Generation, which I’m also going to have to watch later).

The special effects and CGI would be laughable if this had millions of dollars behind it, but they are absolutely awesome considering they definitely don’t. The plot, writing and acting are ho-hum in many parts, but overall it’s a really impressive movie. You can tell those involved poured their hearts and souls into it.

Oh, and a minor spoiler. Mega Man does kick ass, which makes it nothing like every attempt I made at those games way back in the day. My Mega Man got cut up at the ankles every half-minute by some annoying wall-crawling droid a third of his size. So, you know, it’s not completely faithful in that respect to one of the most frustrating side-scrollers I played in my youth. But that would have made a pretty short movie.

Stan Lee optimistic on future of comics

Stan Lee recently did a Q&A session with Chris Hardwick (you might remember him as the co-host of Singled Out back in the 1990s). The podcast of it is available at Hardwick’s website The Nerdist. The whole talk is a really great listen. I knew Stan Lee has been around for several years — playing a major role shaping the comic book business and repeatedly reinventing it and revamping it — but I did not realize he’s clocking in at 87 YEARS OLD.

And he’s still as lucid, “with it” and mindful of technology and the future as ever, coming off sounding like the wise genius grandfather we all wish we could have. He reminds me of Betty White, but with more than just the one trick of an elderly person saying vulgar things. Be sure to check out around 29:40 when Hardwick gets him talking about the iPad and how it could change comics:

Well, nothing hurts anything. Everything changes things. I think there’ll always be comics, just the way there’ll always be books, there’ll always be movies, there’ll always be television. I remember when TV first came out. Everybody said “Well, that’s the end of books. Nobody is ever going to read a book. They’re going to just stay looking at their TV screen.” There’s still a book business. There will still … Whether this is good or bad I don’t know, but there will always be comics. They may not be as big as they were or they may someday be bigger than they were. You know, a lot of these movies that are based on comics make people who enjoyed the movie want to go and read the comic book series. So it works both ways. One hand washes the other. And I love technology. I don’t understand it. I’m no good at working anything, but I love the idea of all these new things. And all that they do is keep people interested in all the new ways of looking at a story or being involved in a story. And with video games, they’re part of the story. So it’s a fascinating age we live in, it really is.

It’s sort of pep talky and vague (I get the impression his lips have to stay sealed on many of his projects), but nonetheless refreshing to hear a guy with roots in old media so excited about where his creations are going. Most 87-year-olds I’ve talked to fear and loathe the Internet.

My brief love affair with “Dollhouse” is over

The Joss Whedon-Eliza Dushku series recently became available on streaming Netflix, and all of the sudden I’ve finished both seasons (including paying for the second one on Amazon Video On Demand) in the span of about 8 days. I’ve been raving about this show to many people since I started chain-smoking those episodes, and unfortunately I haven’t found one person to share in my fanboy geekgasm banter.

I can’t devote a 20-minute ranty vlog to it, but I do have to say this show explored some pretty cool cyberpunk themes (uploaded consciousness, brains powering supercomputers, the Übermensch) I haven’t seen on TV or in movies. I’m talking Neal Stephenson, William Gibson and Charles Stross territory here. The premise is a Zen garden-like “house” built at least four stories under Los Angeles where “dolls” (humans with their brains wiped nearly clean of memories and thoughts) are “imprinted” with personalities and rented by wealthy clients for lust, romance, secret agent-type missions or whatever they can think of.

OK, enough with the scare quotes. It’s a Johnny Mnemonic meets La Femme Nikita sort of tale, and obviously there’s a string of fun vocabulary that any Comic Book Guy in waiting would jump to employ. Don’t even IMDB or Wikipedia it past the first paragraph because you’ll be spoiling it for yourself in no time (it’s got that Battlestar “Who’s a Cylon?” fun going for it with “Who’s a doll?”). Plus, you get your Firefly, Buffy, Angel and Dr. Horrible love with Alan Tudyk, Summer Glau, Alexis Denisof, Amy Acker, Felicia Day and at least a few others of the Whedon ilk rounding out the rotating cast of characters. There’s a few other things I’d love to say but that dang New York Post went and beat me to it.

Seriously, watch it. Just 26 little episodes that will set your heart and mind on overdrive. And actually, that’s how I like it. I watched every Battlestar Galactica episode over the course of two months as the show was wrapping up last year. Harper’s Island I devoured in a matter of days. With Burn Notice I lined up 30 episodes for a crash course before jumping into the third season midway. I’m mostly watching shows when I know their lifespan. I no longer have the patience for the another season, another plotline the creators developed over the summer game. Sometimes it’s good. Sometimes it’s deplorable. It’s so 1990s. What I like about good TV nowadays is that the plotlines have me convinced the creators have a plan from the start. That just makes it all the more enjoyable for me to consume all at once.