Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Your Mildly Amusing Comic Book Moment of the Day

Manoman I wish I had a scanner right now. On the other hand, it may require a somewhat specific sense of humor to find the following caption excerpt insanely funny (emphasis from original):

Dr. Strange, mystic master--Valkyrie, woman warrior--The Hulk, big green strong person...

As found in Giant-Size Defenders #5, reprinted in Essential Defenders volume 2.

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War is Funny?

War Is Boring #1
Originally uploaded by david_axe
I just discovered War is Boring, a comic featuring the adventures of David Axe; war journalist, Danger Room contributor, and author of the similarly-titled blog War is Boring.

There's not a lot of it, but it's all pretty entertaining.

Once Again: Scientists Continue to Prove That Scientists Just Hate Mice

From Joe Z. Tsien's article "The Memory Code" from the July 2007 issue of Scientific American (emphasis mine):

Witnessing the 9/11 terrorist attacks, surviving an earthquake or even plummeting 13 stories in Disney's Tower of Terror are things that are hard to forget. So we developed tests that would mimic this type of emotionally charged, episodic event. Such experiences should produce memories that are long-lasting and strong. And encoding such robust memories, we reasoned, might involve a large number of cells in the hippocampus, thus making it more likely that we would be able to find cells activated by the experience and gather enough data to unravel any patterns and organizing principles involved in the process.

The episodic events we chose include a lab version of an earthquake (induced by shaking a small container holding a mouse), a sudden blast of air to the animal's back (meant to mimic an owl attack from the sky) and a brief vertical free fall inside a small "elevator" (which, when we first started doing these experiments, was provided by a cookie jar we had in the lab).

Really, the part that had me ROTFLing was the image of some undergrad at Boston University who gets to explain to people that he got his research credits for picking up a mouse cage and shaking it around.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Must Read: High Amusement

TPM brings us the full dirt on the scary-sounding "ice packs full of clay" being used by terrorists practicing bombing runs.

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Monday, July 16, 2007

That Sound? That Was The Internet Exploding

That sound you just heard? That was the internet exploding in a hail of guitars. Suddenly, everywhere on the internet is awash in the same rumor:

Emanuel Fialik of Pilgrim Management GmbH, which represents German industrial metal pioneers RAMMSTEIN, has issued the following press release:

"On the 13th of July 2007 the industrial gothic top act RAMMSTEIN announces that after the release of the next studio album, which is about to get finished, the current singer and frontman Till Lindemann will leave the band...

..."The new singer which was found and signed to be the new RAMMSTEIN frontman is the co-founder and ex-member of the electro industrial act KMFDM and current singer of SLICK IDIOT — En Esch — who recently moved to Berlin to join the band.

If true, it must be said that that's a combination with that's potential. And En Esch has desperately needed someone to rein him in since he left KMFDM. But most importantly? Given Rammstein's predilections for setting things (especially lead singers) on fire, here's a suggestion for all the metal press out there: whatever you do, DO NOT ASK En Esch about that time his apartment caught on fire.

Trust me on this.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Real World Supervillians Brought to Justice?

AP: Two indicted in collar-bomb case.

Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong, already imprisoned for killing her boyfriend, was notified Tuesday that she may face charges of bank robbery, conspiracy and a firearms count, lawyer Lawrence D'Ambrosio said. He says Diehl-Armstrong, 58, is innocent.

Just in case you were so blown away that your brain has blocked out the massive bizarreness:

On Aug. 28, 2003, 46-year-old Brian Wells set out to deliver an order for two pizzas to a mysterious address that turned out to be the location of a TV tower. He turned up about an hour later and roughly two miles away at a PNC Bank branch in Summit Township, with a note demanding money and saying he had a bomb.

Wells took the money from a teller, got into his car and was soon captured by police. Hanging from his neck under his T-shirt was a triple-banded metal collar and a device with a locking mechanism that kept it in place. Attached to the collar was a bomb.

"It's going to go off," Wells said. "I'm not lying."

Someone had started a timer on the bomb, Wells said, and forced him to rob the bank.

While police waited for the bomb squad, the bomb exploded, killing Wells. Police found a gun resembling a cane in the car and a nine-page handwritten letter that included detailed instructions on what Wells was to do with the bank money and how he could unlock the collar by going through a kind of scavenger hunt, looking for clues and landmarks.

The note also included a list of rules and a threat that Wells would be "destroyed" if he failed to complete his mission.

If you haven't heard about this previously, I think you can understand why it left a lasting impression. I'm glad to see something finally happening with this case, because every once in a while someone will remind me of it and I'll start thinking about how little I would want to live in a world where I could walk around the corner and run into Dr. Doom.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Trailer Links For Me To Look At Later

#1. Twitch: Trail of the Screaming Forehead (follow-up to The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra

#2. Twitch: The Drummer

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Monday, July 09, 2007



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We Read Books, Too

Having finished Godel, Escher, Bach last week; I decided to take a second attempt at working my way through Thomas S. Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. I originally picked it up back in February during my whirlwind tour of college campuses across the country, making it about halfway through before I stopped visiting schools and thus stopped having lots of random chunks of downtime.

I'll hopefully give you a bit of actual discussion later, but for now I offer you this random Quote of the Day:

In the absence of a paradigm or some candidate for paradigm, all of the facts that could possibly pertain to the development of a given science are likely to seem equally relevant.

From Chapter II, p. 15 of the 3rd edition, this is about the closest he gets to me being able to accept some of the basic stipulations he needs to build his thesis off of. On the other hand, it's also a great description of about 2/3 of the work I did this Spring. Feel free to make of that what you will.

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Some Things Are Both Shiny AND Useful

Thanks to Comics Should Be Good, I discovered my new favorite piece of webjunk: the Kill Your Boyfriend random quote generator. My first quote:

"All the books I ever read had scenes where the girl has sex for the first time and it's a big disappointment. Why did they lie to me? This is brilliant!"

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Friday, July 06, 2007

Quote of the Day

Via Wonkette commenter Omnilation:

Oh, on the contrary, Ms. Noonan, many of use would give up our right kidneys not to understand a single word you're saying.

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Apparently I Missed Out on That "Obama Girl" Phenomenon

Okay, this is seriously one of the strangest things I've ever seen... and I've seen some pretty strange things:

Can hot pretend (I assume) lesbians launch our first woman presidency? If not, then nothing else can.

Grabbed from Wonkette.

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Random Movie Review: Fatal Contact

Fatal Contact (2006)
aka: Hak kuen (Cantonese title)
Written & Directed by Dennis Law
Starring Wu Jing (aka Jacky Wu), Ronald Cheng, and Miki Yeung.

I find it interesting that what seems to be most noteworthy about this movie to me is what it's missing. Which is to say: if it had had a slightly tighter script, it could easily have been an classic. Or if it had been somewhat better directed, it could easily have been an amazing film. You can understand why I find it a bit ironic to discover that it was written & directed by the same person. On a similar note, I found the consistency and solidity of a few characters to be one of the most appealing parts of the film; but what one of the things the movie is missing most is solid character development.

The premise: Wu Jing is a member of the Chinese National Wushu team who gets talked by his girlfriend into becoming an underground fighter. As one could expect, lots of great fight scenes ensue. People have been saying for years that Wu Jing is the next Jet Li, and I've been inclined to agree ever since I first saw him in 2005's SPL (released in the US as Kill Zone). All he really needs is a breakthrough film--a solid enough lead in a good enough movie--to catapult himself to stardom. And this movie comes perilously close, which is why I feel a bit let down that it doesn't quite make it.

Ultimately, there's a lot of interesting themes swirling around in this movie; conflicts and foils abound regarding loyalty, fealty, and trust on the one side with greed and suspicion on the other. The nice thing is that we get clear characters who embody these traits in their own fashion; the annoying thing is that it's incredibly clear who represents each to the extent that we're never really surprised by any character's actions, because we knew going in that that's exactly the sort of thing they'd do. It also has the common HK problem of giving us characters who would rather tell us how they feel on certain topics rather than show it through their actions.

But it doesn't quite succeed as an action movie either. It's not to say that the action isn't excellent, because it really is. It's just that the escalation from match to match eventually reaches the point where each fight feels arbitrary: each time, you're just sort of asking yourself, "Are we done yet? Or are they going to find yet another way to show us they're taking it to the next level?" And those are questions that a movie really doesn't want you to start asking yourself.

The most frustrating part about the movie is it's inability to decide whether it's an action comedy or a dramatic tragedy. And as much as I respect what it was trying to do with the latter, it was really the former that's more enjoyable. And just as you think that's where it's going, they pull out a (really rather well) telegraphed plot twist that turns into a depressingly nihilistic ending. The final scenes are really well done and could easily show up in a great movie; it just shows up at the point where I've decided that this movie isn't the one I want to see end that way.

But I'm probably coming down too hard on this movie: it's quite good, and it's immensely entertaining. If you're a fan of MMA & kung fu flicks, then you'll definitely derive enough enjoyment from it. And it's definitely a good movie in it's own right--easily 3.5 or 4 stars out of 5--it's just in that category of films that are good enough to make you wish they were even better.

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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The L to the O to the R-E-M

I just grabbed my PIs to show them the poster-in-progress. I'd love to take a picture of it for you--if I had a decent enough camera, which I don't--just because it currently consists of a drawn outline on the white board marking the dimensions with 20-odd pieces of paper with pictures and graphs on them taped all over the place, surrounded by notes, arrows pointing all over the place, and random scribbles. It looks like the bulletin board in the tinfoil-hat guy's apartment just at the moment. I'm resisting the urge to start including references to the Freemasons, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the breaking of the Seventh Seal just to make the subtext explicit.

But the amusing thing that just happened was that I accidentally introduced them to while showing them the poster. See, I had several variations on "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet" distributed throughout the poster to simulate the introduction, conclusion, and various captions, just using it as a placeholder for text (as it's usually used for), and apparently neither of them had heard of it before. I'm not sure if I've previously gotten the chance to tell John something novel without having just learned it myself, so I am immensely pleased with myself for the moment.

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This Trailer Just BLEW MY MIND

Thanks to Twitch, I have found out that the D-War site now has a full trailer with full CGI.


It's a Korean fantasy/kaiju film involving a giant serpent which eats Los Angeles. The Hollywood pitch session would be "Lord of the Rings meets Godzilla." I would like to take this moment to heartily endorse this product and/or service.

If your experience is anything like mine, the web page will take forever to load and the trailer will load in a super-jumpy manner. I recommend just selecting the download option once you get the trailer up, and just watch it once you're done.

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Monday, July 02, 2007

Above: Trailer for Lust, Caution. Some will tell you this is Ang Lee's new film, others will tell you it is Little Tony Leung's new film; I will tell you it's Lee-Hom Wang's new film. I didn't know it was being made for US release until now; maybe this means Mahiru no hoshizora will get released with english subtitles somewhere? Please?

Below is the trailer for the new Lee-Hom Wang single, Luo Ye Gwe Geng. According to this blog, it's "inspired by" the movie although it will not be in it; it is also being credited to "Kuang Y.M.", Lee-Hom's character in the movie. What does all this mean? I dunno.

All this & more, originally via Twitch

Video comments:
A: The sound quality is poor.

B: After what I've heard off of Heroes of Earth, this seems like a major step back for Lee-Hom. Gotta pay the bills, I guess.

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