27 October 2005

Europe's first pyramid?

Not to rip from The Daily Show, but... Whaaaaa????

I was watching The Disco(very) Channel tonight and this story came up, with video and everything. They've found bricks, too! Huge ones! And all 20,000 years BEFORE the pyramids in Egypt. The BBC article I found has a snippet:

Bosnia's leading Muslim daily Dnevni Avaz writes excitedly about "a sensational discovery" of "the first European pyramid" in the central town of Visoko, just north of Sarajevo.

Excavations at a hill site above the town have been going on for several months and initial analyses "have confirmed the original claim that this is Europe's first pyramid and a monumental building, similar in dimensions to the Egyptian pyramids."

"The pyramid is 100 metres high and there is evidence that it contains rooms and a monumental causeway ... The plateau is built of stone blocks, which indicates the presence at the time of a highly developed civilisation," the daily explains.

"Archaeological excavations near the surface have uncovered a part of a wall and fragments of steps," it reveals.

"Visocica hill could not have been shaped like this by nature," geologist Nada Nukic tells the daily. "This is already far too more than we have anticipated, but we expect a lot more from further analysis," she concludes.

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26 October 2005

Bunnies Re-enact Movies

Why? Why NOT re-enact famous movies in 30 seconds using bunnies?

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24 October 2005

Fractal Food

Good God. This is cool (but ignore the screensaver, it sucks). -M

Fractal forms--complex shapes which look more or less the same at a wide variety of scale factors, are everywhere in nature. From the fluctuations in the cosmic microwave background radiation to the coastlines of continents, courses of rivers, clouds in the sky, branches of plants and veins in their leaves, blood vessels in the lung, and the shape of seashells and snowflakes, these fractal or self-similar patterns abound. The self-similarity of most of these patterns is defined only in a statistical sense: while the general "roughness" is about the same at different scales, you can't extract a segment, blow it up, and find a larger scale segment which it matches precisely.

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22 October 2005

guess Who else blogs around here


be warned, if you've only just eaten, you really don't want to see his photo!

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21 October 2005

Superman is a dick.

Hmmm. Rev, this is right up your alley. This guy has put up a lot of superman covers on his site and ... the results are pretty funny.

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19 October 2005

Opacity: Shipwrecks

I just found the COOLEST site called Opacity that has some really amazing wallpapers on it. Elsewhere in the site, don't miss the gallery of Staten Island shipwrecks. But don't think of getting your own pictures... the site's disclaimer really tries to discourage the causal passers-by. Lee, haven't you sent me pictures years ago taken by a similar guy in Indiana or somewhere?

PS-- sorry for the broken images. His site blocks blogs I guess.

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Camera (not sheep) Tossing

Thanks to digital cameras, which are pretty much free film, people have started doing something that wasn't really done in any sort of popular way back when we all had film cameras: CAMERA TOSSING. What is it? Put 'er on timer and... TOSS.

Some of the results look like those old Spirograph images, and others even have faces in them! Neat.

Um, since my S70 is my only camera, I'm not sure I'm going to be doing this, but you do see some interesting results.

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Please buy these pants.

You may have seen this eBay advertisement roaming around here and there, but it's not to be missed, especially not the questions down at the bottom.

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15 October 2005

Sheep tossing & other delights

We spent today at the 2005 Scottish Highland Games... what a treat! :) Did you know there's a sport called "sheep tossing" (pictured)?

We tried to find Arn a kilt in the Duncan family tartan, but no such luck.

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14 October 2005

UFO Maps

Um... we've all heard about people hacking the "open" API from Google Maps to show all sorts of things like hurricane tracks and Starbucks locations, but... uh... what about showing maps of UFO sightings?

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13 October 2005

"Do you like scary movies??"

Though there’s never a bad time to watch scary movies, IMO, it’s always worth digging out a few favorites in the thriller, slasher, spooky and horrific mode as Halloween rolls around. With that in mind, here are 13 really cool scary movies you might enjoy, whether you’ve seen them before or not. Since this isn’t a “best” list, just a “cool” list, I’ll arrange ‘em chronologically in the complete post. Enjoy, and if you watch one of these that you've never seen before, let me know what you thought about it! (NOTE: large post, lots of pics inside)

Freaks (1932) dir. Tod Browning

Browning’s use of actual circus freaks in this story about manipulation, exploitation, and finally, revenge, makes it disturbing to this day. A full-sized woman pretends to love a midget, and breaks up his marriage to a fellow midget, in order to reach the fortune he supposedly owns. When the other “freaks” decide to avenge him- look out! My favorite image from this movie is of an armless, legless man crawling under the circus wagons in a storm, a knife gripped in his teeth, illuminated by lightning. Yeesh.

Night Of The Hunter (1955) dir. Charles Laughton

This is more of a thriller than a “horror movie,” but it’s also a gorgeous, surreal story about innocence and evil. Robert Mitchum is brilliant as the con-man preacher (who famously has “love” and “hate” tattooed across the knuckles of each hand) who kills a widow and then pursues her young boy and girl, seeking the money their father got in a bank heist. This is the only film actor Charles Laughton ever directed, and its visual look has inspired everything from The Nightmare Before Christmas to music videos. The scene where we see what happened to the widow (Shelley Winters) is possibly the best, creepiest scene ever in a movie.

Last House On The Left (1972) dir. Wes Craven

Craven still calls this his “grimmest” film. Shot almost documentary-style (a ploy that would pay off well for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre a couple of years later) this story of an older couple wreaking violent revenge on the “druggies” who killed their daughter has several nasty, nasty shocks.

The Crazies (1973) dir. George Romero

Even though I LOVE zombie flicks, and Romero’s Dawn Of The Dead is one of my all-time favorite films, I just have to recommend this movie for now, the one he did between Night Of The Living Dead and Dawn. An experimental bio-weapon named “Trixie” accidentally gets released into a small town, causing the townspeople to fly into murderous rages. The government tries to contain the outbreak and… what to do with those infected, or the possibly infected? Plays almost like a low-budget action movie at times, with Romero’s usual populist social commentary laid on heavily throughout. (I saw this film after seeing Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later… and was struck by some of the similarities, even though the tone is completely different.) Lots of great scenes of townsfolk fighting off moon-suited G-men who won’t explain why they’re breaking into their homes, and also scenes of the same townsfolk going psycho once “Trixie” infects them.

Black Christmas (1974) dir. Bob Clark

Some folks want to call Halloween the first slasher flick, but make no mistake- this Canadian low-budget flick was the origin of the species. (OK, not counting Psycho, which was kind of the pre-history of the species.) Coming out four years before that other holiday-oriented horror flick, Black Christmas pulled tricks that would become clichés in the next decade. Unlike most of the films it spawned, this movie dwells on the loss of its murdered characters (a couple of them, anyway) in a way that makes it feel dark and doomy throughout, in spite of a streak of bizarre humor that also runs though the proceedings. . (There’s a nice Christmas-related gag revealed when the name of the town is seen on the police cars in the movie… I haven’t seen this mentioned in any of the online articles about the movie, so I won’t spoil it for you, but be on the lookout.)

Death Bed: The Bed That Eats (1977) dir. George Barry

This movie is almost too weird to describe, but I’ll try. There’s this bed in the remains of this old house, made out of a possessed tree, and when people sleep on it, it eats them. And there’s a guy trapped in a painting in the same room who is cursed to watch it all. The acting is strictly amateur, but the imagination behind this movie has to be admired. And there’s something kind of surreal and dreamlike about the whole movie… people wandering into the house when their car breaks down (of course!), later seen as fizzing skeletons as they sink into this weird yellow liquid that’s apparently inside the bed. I’m not doing it justice, but if you’re in the mood for a really different, and actually pretty good, B-movie, check this one out.

Dead & Buried (1981) dir. Gary Sherman

The audience sees travelers passing through a small New England town murdered, only to turn up later as citizens of the town, with no one apparently the wiser. The local sheriff begins to suspect occult practices are going on behind his back, involving even his schoolteacher wife. And exactly WHAT is going on at the local funeral home, run by coroner Jack Albertson? This obscure little movie deserves a MUCH wider reputation than it has gotten; it’s a horror movie, but doesn’t really fit neatly into any of the usual genres… it’s just a strange, scary story with a really, REALLY great ending.

The Howling (1981) dir. Joe Dante

This movie is apparently beloved of horror fans for its groundbreaking special effects… there are long scenes in the movie where a victim stands and waits 10 minutes for a person to change into a werewolf, and THEN attack them. I like the movie for its bizarre storyline, its (sometimes lame) attempts at social commentary, and the final “getaway” scene. Everything is obvious and played really broadly, but the ending is something special.

Phenomena (1985) dir. Dario Argento

Absolutely the coolest, WEIRDEST movie by one of my favorite directors in any genre. Argento leaves behind the gothic, primary-colored hells of his 70s films like Suspiria and Inferno, instead creating a sort of fairy tale of murder. Set in the Swiss Alps, and starring a 14-year-old Jennifer Connolly as an American at a private school, this movie has something a lot of Argento movies miss: a good (though twisted) plot. Connolly’s character can communicate with insects, and helps entomologist Donald Pleasance (!) track down the killer who’s been killing young girls and tossing their heads into the river. (NOTE: very violent, with heads going thru glass windows, scissors stuck thru hands, etc.)

Scream (1996) dir. Wes Craven

Scream spawned so many imitators, parodies, and general pop culture bad karma that it’s easy to forget how brilliant it actually is. (The intro bit with Drew Barrymore (pictured above) is both terrifically meta, and just great as a horror scene in and of itself.) The slasher genre was pretty dead (ha ha) in the mid 90s; Scream reminded a bunch of people who’d liked horror in the 80s why they liked it so much. It borrows from a bunch of others in this list, esp. Black Christmas, but in the horror genre theft is never a crime, and anyway, references to other flicks are what this movie’s all about.

Ginger Snaps (2002) dir. John Fawcett

If this movie had ever been released in the U.S. (other than on DVD), I think it’d have been a hit. From the subtle, disturbing opening scene of a mother finding her toddler playing in the yard with a severed animal paw, to having the adults in the film all try to brush off high school “bad girl” Ginger’s growing werewolf tendencies as just hormones and puberty (“But I’m growing hair on my body!”), there are so many terrific details in this film. The two teenaged leads, playing Ginger and her younger sister Brigitte, are also great. Note that in true genre style, the movie has so far inspired two crappy sequels... read the packaging carefully.

28 Days Later… (2002) dir. Danny Boyle

OK, I love zombie movies, as I’ve said, but this was just STELLAR. Grim, believable, and playing on our fears of everything from pandemics to terrorism, this movie freaks me out no matter how many times I watch it. The scene with the car stuck in the tunnel while running zombie shadows start growing on the wall is just classic. Also, unlike with a lot of horror flicks, I thought the acting in this one was great all the way around.

One Missed Call (2003) dir. Takashi Miike

From what I’ve read about Miike, this is his most commercial flick, and it’s a blast. Japanese teenagers start getting voice mail on their cell phones from three days in the future, and when they listen to it, they hear themselves, screaming while they die. Then three days pass, and sure enough… something fatal (and highly statistically improbable) happens. Creepy, imaginative, satirical, and better acted than a lot of these “J-horror” movies, it gets almost TOO twisty by the end, but still, it’s a lot of fun.

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The Great War in Color

The Lumière brothers of France are best-known for their development of the first practical (by 19th century standards) motion-picture camera, but did you know they also developed a method of taking color still photos as early as the World War I era?

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Unlike Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii, whose color photography of the same era involved taking three separate photos (with everyone sitting VERY still!) and then compositing them, the Lumières method involved dyed grains of potato starch scattered on the negative before it was exposed, allowing the picture to be captured in a single shot, although with a large amount of grain visible.

There are also a couple of other methods of color photography shown (none as effective as these two) on The Great War in Color. Enjoy!

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11 October 2005

Stop pre-approved credit card offers

This is not the kind of thing we normally post here, but I thought y'all might be able to benefit from this (I know Arn and I can): a handy link I just picked up from Clark Howard's website.

Optoutprescreen.com lets you opt out of pre-approved credit card offers for 5 years, or forever. (more in the complete post)

You can also opt back in later, if you want, although you're better off using a site like cardweb.com if you're shopping for a credit card.

I know from working on so many identity theft stories at CNN that these offers are a huge source of identity theft crimes... all someone has to do is fish one of your discarded forms out of the trash, and send it in, changing the address to their own. (This was the primary reason we bought a document shredder, and run ALL of this kind of junk mail through it.)

As Clark Howard points out, stopping these offers is especially important if you're about to move, otherwise whoever moves into your old address is going to keep receiving YOUR pre-approved credit card offers.

So... consider this an OST PSA. :)

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I Still Think Of You, Jim Henson

Wow... this is so touching it kinda choked me up. :)

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10 October 2005

Teenager In Love

A band I mentioned several weeks ago, Purty Mouth, updated their website, and one of the updates involved uploading their cover of "Teenager in Love" by Kirsty MacColl. SO get this song. It is WICKED AWESOME.

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Fire destroys Wallace & Gromit sets, props

BRISTOL, England -- The company behind the new "Wallace and Gromit" film said Monday its "entire history" has been destroyed in a fire at a warehouse containing props and sets.

"Gromit? Did you remember to unplug the toaster?"

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08 October 2005

All The Things She Said Are About Us

I just came across a MOV file of the new t.A.T.u. video for "All About Us", from the new record, Dangerous and Moving. I found a advance copy online, so I've heard the full record (I was so happy about this, because I fucking love this band; 200 km/H in the Wrong Lane is just one of those Pop Masterpiece Records. The new album sounds a lot like the old one -- so much so I was surprised to find out that Trevor Horn only produced one song this time -- but a little bit mature. And, hey, "Gomenasai", one of the stand out tracks, has strings arranged by the Richard Carpenter[1].

Anyway, this probably isn't the single I would have chosen from the album, though it is very good; it just sounds a bit too much like the singles from the first record (which is, I assume, precisely why it's the leading single). Anyway, though, the video is great -- it's another one of the "dark" t.A.T.u. videos. They seem to like doing those, with "30 Minutes" being the one where one of them blows up the carousel where the other is cheating on her with a boy, and the "Not Gonna Get Us" one where they run over lots of stuff/people including themselves (but not in an Upperclass Twit of the Year way, which is what I always think of whenever I hear of someone running themselves over...).

This album is a little interesting, since even though t.A.T.u. have decided to actually cop to the faux part of the faux-lesbianism that was the theme of the first album, there're still a lot of songs (this one included) that seem to actually keep that going. (Although, I suppose, if the last album had "Malchik Gay" (a song, sung by a straight girl pretending to be gay, with a narrator who's a straight girl wishing that a gay boy were straight so that she, the straight-gay-straight girl could go out with him), this album can have the far-less confusing trope of straight girls singing songs from a gay voice without having to pretend themselves. Sort of a "Jo the Waiter" type thing.)

Anyway, check it out -- it really is, like the previous album and singles, a great pop song. I hope the album does well (it's been getting really good reviews from what I've seen, which is both understandable and surprising), and that there's a third t.A.T.u record in a year or two. (Though, I must admit, I'm kind of expecting this one to not do so well, just because they did seem to have a bit of the "one-hit wonder" nature; I so hope I'm wrong, though.)

The record comes out next week, and that means that come Tuesday, I'll be at the record store. Mainly because not only would I be buying a copy anyway, but according to their site:
"Dangerous and Moving" Deluxe Limited Edition
On October 11th, release date for t.A.T.u.'s 2nd album, "Dangerous and Moving," Interscope will issue a Deluxe Limited Edition which will include the album CD as well as additional material. Details are still forthcoming, however, label sources say that the Deluxe Limited Edition will contain behind-the-scenes footage, a special poster and actual multi-track parts to one of t.A.T.u.'s songs so that fans can make their own remixes! It hasn't yet been confirmed in which countries this limited edition will be made available.

And, well, I've decided that I'm actually going to be suckered into that particular scam, and that I will SO pick up the Limited Edition version. I'm not sure what's on it or what's different, but, man, I am so wanting it.

Because I have a good attitude about menstruation t.A.T.u.![2]

[1] I suppose this means they'll starve themselves to death with no non-brother to stop them/but he'll help remember them now through this special TV off-em.
[2] Any kidding I am doing at their expense is done out of love. Mainly because I completely and unabashedly am a huge fan. On the site, they mention that they're planning a US tour. They'd SO better be coming to Seattle, because I will be front-row-center.

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07 October 2005

Nurse With Wound List

Over at WFMU, they've been working their way through the Nurse With Wound Influences List. I haven't listened to a whole lot of Nurse With Wound, and I'm not sure if they're entirely My Thing, but they've got some pretty cool influences on that list.

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Here's the first volume, the second volume, the third and the fourth, which is currently the most interesting for me. Mainly because it features a couple of cuts from Grey Scale by David Cunningham (a/k/a the heavy-lifting part of The Flying Lizards)! This is one of those things I've been wanting to hear for a long time, and so it's pretty cool to hear a couple pieces from it.

It's, not surprisingly, similar to some of the more sound-scapey pieces of the first Flying Lizards album (in fact, it's been rumored that one of the single B-Sides from that album was taken from these sessions, and comparing that track ("All Guitars" from Summertime Blues) to these two, you can kind of see that. It's really cool; both avant-garde-classical-type-music, but also pretty loose and, well, fun! Check them out.

From these lists, I've also been thinking of downloading/listening to the Orchid Spangiafora (which I've heard OF, but I've been trying to rack my brain from WHERE), and again from this list, Food Brain.

Also, while I'm all dorking out, I found this link a while ago of an album released in the 1950s of Japanese Music Concrete/Early Electronic Music. It's really pretty awesome, and one of the composers is Toru Takemitsu, probably most known for his film scores for loads of stuff including Ran, so, hey. Some really awesome stuff here, too. And I think I've mentioned how awesome the album Dreams by the Otomo Yoshihide New Jazz Ensemble is, right? Seriously, it is totally awesome and my favorite of his albums. So, there.

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06 October 2005

The name's Cash... Johnny Cash.

Holy crap!

I'm a huge fan of Johnny Cash (definitely the only artist I like who was also liked by my dad AND my grand-dad!), but I never knew he'd submitted a theme for a James Bond movie, circa 1965. It was rejected, but wow, what a GREAT song... Thunderball!

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05 October 2005

What does James Dobson know...

...about Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers that the U.S. Senate doesn't?

Dobson told The New York Times he supported her because of her religious faith and because he has reason to believe she opposes abortion.

"Some of what I know I am not at liberty to talk about," he told the newspaper.

Sen. Ken Salazar (D- Colorado), who has tangled with Dobson before, wants to find out.

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04 October 2005

Going Postal

How interesting. Columbine and all the other school rage incidents are actually failed revolutions? Interesting interview.

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02 October 2005

Entrances To Hell

I've been a member of the Entrances To Hell group on flickr.com for a while now, but didn't realize till tonight that it was inspired by this website. (More in the complete post..)

I'm not sure what this site is, exactly... a photo gallery or some sort of meta-fiction, but it's great. :D The descriptions are especially imaginative... here's the one for the pic above:

Vowo mi is the delivery point for the devils honey supply. The beehives of England have for centuries organised thrice-monthly deposits of best honey here in return for being allowed to live without satanic interference. The connection to the core is a simple plastic tube, 12cm in diameter. Scientists working for the government of Harold Wilson released a tiny survey vehicle into Vowo mi in 1961 almost immediately losing radio contact with the probe's passenger the spider-monkey Kiki. Kiki is now the devil's osteopath and can speak fluent Karatakak. Vowo mi has a good vibe and a pleasing aspect.

Radiation trace: .0674834 spectrons

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01 October 2005

Thirteen Ugly Children Roll Gutterballs

I've been doing Mix CDs for a while -- I'm actually in the process of putting together a new one, but in the time being, I figured I'd compile the first 16 weeks or thereabouts of the mp3s I've been posting to Phancy.com into a 2-disc Mix CD ready for downloading-and-burning. (So, yeah, this one is a little bit of a DIY one.)

It looks like all the mp3s are actually still live (though who knows for how much longer), so, you can check them out if you're so inclined, and check out the notes and whatnot, too. So, hooray!

The Big Ol' Link & Stuff.

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Nick Park is now... Everywhere

I just saw this cool article on Nick Park. An interview.

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