On the consumption and creation of media.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Free Music Mondays

Here's the free, legal music downloads for the week, featuring Sunspot, the Wisconsin band that "blend[s] the best and most passionate ingredients of punk, alternative, and metal to create an intense rock and roll cocktail". The trio consisting of Ben Jaeger (guitars/vocals), Mike Huberty (bass/vocals), and Wendy Lynn Staats (drums/vocals) have combined to create some amazing tunes. Here are the tracks (+ indicates my favorites, right click link and choose 'save as' to download):

* The Breach
* Scott Bakula +
* Summer Day +
* When the Revolution Comes +
* Prozac Girl +
* Pretend
* Bonus: Interview mp3 from 1/16/05 on WJJO (haven't listened to it)

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FREE Movies - Fallen out of copyright

From Digg: "Watch & Download Hundreds of free movies. It's awesome archive for classical movies. Enjoy" A nice collection, but beware that the music and standup comedy is most likely not in the public domain. Also, check out http://www.publicdomaintorrents.com/ for more.

read more | digg story

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Sunday, July 30, 2006

Video Game News / Findings

Here are some video game news reports and other articles:

Final Wii Specs - MaxConsole.com purports to have all the info on the Wii hardware. Lots of details but it can't be fully confirmed.

Ten Great Mario Moments - From GameVideos.com, here are ten great Mario videos for you to enjoy.

Clean Shaven Mario - Found this in the comments section in digg for the above article. Hilarious!

E3 Cancelled? - Everyone is reporting that the biggest annual video game event is closing shop. Instead, publishers are interested in smaller, more frequent events.

How the Wii Will Save Adventure Games - Good article explaining how Wii will mark the triumphant return of adventure games.

As you can probably guess, I'm a Nintendo fan and most video game news posted here will be in regards to them.

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Alfred Hitchcock's "Rebecca"

I just finished watching Alfred Hitchcock's "Rebecca". Although this is the only Hitchcock film to win the Best Picture Oscar, I don't feel that it is better than many of his other works, probably because this was his first 'Hollywood' film, according to IMDB.com. The beginning of the film is almost painfully slow moving, although the final third of the film is excellent. I had a problem with the script/editing throughout most of the film, as there seemed to be too many extremely short scenes - it just felt very unnatural, although perhaps this was intentional. Hitchcock does a decent job directing, with a couple of very memorable shots, however as I stated earlier it cannot compare to his later films. I recommend seeing this film, but here are the Hitchcock films I would rank higher (in no particular order):

* The Birds
* Psycho
* North by Northwest
* Vertigo
* Rear Window
* Dial M for Murder

It boggles my mind that he never won an Academy Award for best director and Rebecca was his only film that won best picture.

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Saturday, July 29, 2006

Hideo Kojima to create Snake's Super Smash Bros. Brawl stage?

From Digg.com: "Chris Hoffman from Nintendo Power wrote in regards to the new Super Smash Bros. for the Wii, saying 'if you want to talk about something big, how about the news Hideo Kojima, Snake's creator, is designing Snake's level in Brawl? Snake's inclusion means we're not only getting one of the best characters in gaming, but one of the best developers as well." This is guaranteed to be one of the greatest games on the Wii.

read more | digg story

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Friday, July 28, 2006

Free Media Fridays

Here's the 2nd installment of Free Media Fridays, where I post 4 pieces of media (movie, sound, image, text) that can be freely copied and distributed (be sure to check each individual license before doing so).

Video - "Skateboard Sense" by Sid Davis Productions
Courtesy of archive.org
A 70s skateboarding safety video that has some surprisingly awesome footage of riders performing tricks.

Sound - "Dreams of an Android" by Andreas Karlsson
Courtesy of Wikimedia
Cool electronic song released under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5 license.

Image - "The Rani-ki-vav" by Dattu Prajapati
Courtesy of Wikipedia.org
Some great photographs of the famous stepwell in India. Other images from this set (all released into the public domain): 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

Text - "Mosses from an Old Manse" by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Courtesy of Project Gutenberg
Specifically, "The Birthmark" and "Young Goodman Brown", two excellent short stories by Hawthorne.

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Sci-Fi Channel Trailers - The Dresden Files and The Lost Room

For those you are looking for trailers for The Dresden Files (Harry Dresden, Chicago's only wizard, helps police solve crimes) and The Lost Room (seemingly everyday objects each have their own extraordinary powers), here are the YouTube videos:

The Dresden Files

The Lost Room

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Nintendo News

Here's some news updates and other articles that I have found (some from digg) regarding Nintendo:

Wii Home Page - The Wii's official site. Check out all of the controller and system features if you haven't kept up to date.

Wii Launch Revealed? - Over at Joystiq.com they have evidence suggesting that Wii will launch this October.

Wii Soothsayer - In the Dec. 1991 issue Nintendo Power, Jimmy Peterford's dream system is capable of playing video games from every system (virtual console), and get this... it would come with the game Super Mario Galaxy.

Possible Region-Free Wii? - Explains why making the Wii region-free is a benefit to both the consumer and Nintendo.

Sadness - A preview of the black and white Victorian-era horror game. Although there is not much info to reveal, they do state that there will be no heads-up display - their focus is going to be making this game as realistic as possible.

Mario's Skills as a Plumber - Funny article questioning if Mario really has expertise as a plumber.

Weta's Tribute to Nintendo - Weta Workshop's "Tripod" structure contains an N64 controller and a gameboy in its design.

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Fun with Movies Quizzes

Over at funwithmovies.com they have some cool movie quizzes where you have to identify 30 movies while only given a single screenshot from each. Here are the links to the quizzes and the scores I got:

Quiz 1: 15/30
Quiz 2: 19/30
Quiz 3: 13/28

Post your own scores in the comments section.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

David Lynch's "The Alphabet"

From Digg: "A short film by David Lynch from the late 60s / early 70s. Hauntingly scary, completely Lynch." This post on Digg linking to an early Lynch film made me check out his IMDB profile to see which of his films I have and haven't seen.

First, what I've seen:
Rabbits (2002) - The strangest recent thing that I have seen from Lynch. In a single room, three people in rabbit costumes act out various scenes that basically don't make much sense. Very intriguing, but you really have to work (more than usual) to try and piece things together into any kind of logic.
Mulholland Dr. (2001) - I really enjoyed this. A failed TV pilot re-edited into a movie, this psychological thriller is more "explainable" (honestly, after I looked at what was on the net) than Lynch's more confounding films. Probably my favorite Lynch film.
Lost Highway (1997) - Not much to say, but it's recommended viewing.
"Twin Peaks" (1990) - I only watched about the first 1 1/2 seasons - after they revealed who killed Laura Palmer I kind of lost interest. I should go back and finishing watching the remaining episodes.
Blue Velvet (1986) - What lurks beneath suburbia? Another great film.
Dune (1984) - Just an average film, probably the most 'mainstream' thing Lynch has done.
Eraserhead (1977) - Definitely an experience, I can't say I enjoyed this as much as his later works.

And here are the one's I want to see:
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992) - The prequel to "Twin Peaks", I'm planning to watch this whenever I get around to finishing the second season of the show.
Wild at Heart (1990) - I've been wanting to see this for a while but haven't gotten the opportunity.
The Elephant Man (1980) - If it's #105 on IMDB, it's gotta be good.

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TV and Movie 555 numbers

From Digg: "Very long list of numbers used in TV shows and movies." A very comprehensive list, it's interesting to browse through and see who has been given the same number in different shows/movies. I recommend checking out the Wikipedia entry on 555 phone numbers for more information (did you know that now only 555-0100 through 555-0199 are reserved for fictional use?).

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

YouTube Tuesdays

Every Tuesday I'll post my top 5 YouTube videos that I have found during the previous week.

1. Sandi Thom - Wish I Was a Punk Rocker
An awesome song - simple tune but very catchy - and it's all shot in a single take (reminded me of Wax - California). Found at Scooter McGavin's 9th Green.

2. ATL Waterpark 2
Video of inline skaters tearing up an abandoned water park. Found at The 9.

3. Nick Burns, Your Company's Computer Guy
Classic SNL skit with Jimmy Fallon. This is just one of them; click on the video to go to its page and the rest appear in the side bar. They have all of the skits except for the one featuring Jackie Chan.

4. Funny Parrot
Absolutely incredible. This parrot can imitate just about anything you can imagine.

5. Biggest NHL Fight in History
Ottawa Senators vs. Philadelphia Flyers, players continue to get into fight after fight after fight, leaving only two players per side at the end of the game.

If you found any YouTube videos you'd like to share, post the link in the comments section.

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Monday, July 24, 2006

Free Music Mondays: Millencolin

Every Monday I'll post a band's music that you can (legally) download for free. First up: the Swedish punk rock group Millencolin, consisting of Nikola Sarcevic (vocals, bass), Mathias Farm (guitar), Erik Ohlsson (guitar), and Fredrik Larzon (drums). Formed in 1992, the band has released six full length albums over the past 14 years, including two absolute must-haves: Life on a Plate and Pennybridge Pioneers. Their music style has evolved over the years, with albums shifting from ska, to punk, to rock, and recently back to a more punk sound. The band has plans to record a new album as early as winter 2006.

Here are the tracks (+ indicates recommended):

The Melancholy Collection (a collection of early EPs and b-sides)
* Nosepicker
* Coolidge (cover of The Descendents)
* Vixen +

Same Old Tunes
* Mr. Clean +
* Chiquita Chaser
* Da Strike

Life On A Plate
* Bullion +
* Killercrush
* The Story of My Life

For Monkeys
* Random I Am
* Twenty Two +

Pennybridge Pioneers
* No Cigar +
* Fox
* Material Boy
* Penguins & Polarbears +

Home From Home
* Man or Mouse
* Kemp +
* Fuel to the Flame

* Biftek Supernova +
* Ray

Also, be sure to check out the Live Music section of MillencolinArt.com. It has some great live mp3's and videos. For more info on the band check out their home page and their Wikipedia entry. Note that as I post this both MillencolinArt and their official site are down, but hopefully they will be back up soon.

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Sunday, July 23, 2006

Video Game Themed Cakes

From Digg: Pictures of same amazingly well-done video-game themed cakes. Included are an NES cake, Game Boy cake and arcade cabinet cakes. It's always interesting to see how other people express their passion for something. For more video game cakes (not sure if it is the same person), check out this flickr set.

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Desktop Background / Wallpaper

The wallpaper of your computer may be one of the first things you alter after getting a new computer (or, unfortunately, after you need to reinstall an operating system). I like a desktop background to be simple in design because I don't want it to be a distraction when I am trying to find an icon on the desktop. However, I still prefer it to be more interesting to look at than a solid color or a tiled pattern. They also have to have a high enough resolution so that they don't need to be stretched out and distorted. As a personal preference, I also like a darker colors over light.

The image to the right is the background I currently have on my computer. It is predominately only two colors (black and dark blue) but the outline of the treetops and the sun rescue it from appearing too plain. Other wallpapers included with Windows XP that I previously used include 'Stonehenge' and 'Red moon desert'. Both of these manage to be pleasing to look at without appearing too busy as to be distracting.

Here are some resources for free desktop wallpaper:
* Wikipedia featured desktop backgrounds - These are images that have been selected as some of the best on Wikipedia that are also large enough (and have an appropriate aspect ratio) to be used as wallpaper.
* Caedes Desktop Background - You are sure to find something you like here. I believe this is where I found the wallpaper that I currently use, although I have been unable to find it again.

Also, have you ever wondered where the default Windows XP background came from? The image is called Bliss and was shot in Napa Valley, CA. Read more about it in its Wikipedia article.

What do you look for in a desktop background? Have a favorite place to get them for free? Be sure to post about it in the comments.

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10 ways to fix TV

From Digg: A good article about what the network's need to do in order fix current problems in the television industry. My favorite points:

3. We like complexity.
Definitely. Not only referring to external companions to the shows as the author mentions, but also complexity in the shows themselves. People like to think and be challenged, and I think that's why shows with plots that continually cross each other (24, Lost) are so successful.

10. We want women in strong roles.
Another good point. I feel this is one of the strong points of Battlestar Galactica, a glaring omission from the author's write-up. On this sci-fi show, the women are treated completely equal to men to the point of sharing the same locker rooms and bunks. This balance of gender status is quite refreshing and does make for much more interesting entertainment.

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Saturday, July 22, 2006

Scifi.com has posted the pilot of the new show Eureka, free to watch!

Although I was not impressed with the first episode, it's nice to see Sci-Fi releasing it free to watch over the web. This is a great oppurtunity for people who missed the premiere of the show to get into the series. Other people on the net seem to really enjoy it, so maybe I'll get into it after a few more episodes.

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Let the Lightsabers Ignite: LucasArts Confirms Wii Support

From Digg: "In a Star Wars panel this afternoon at the San Diego Comic-Con, LucasArts representative Steve Sansweet confirmed that the company that would be working with all three next generation systems, most importantly for us, the Wii." This is more great news for the Wii. However, a major question remains in regards to my previous post - will this game use canned moves as well or can LucasArts develop an adequate system for real-time control of a lightsaber? Everyone's desire is to have full control of a lightsaber, but as noted this may be more difficult than initially imagined. As someone mentioned in the comments of the previous article, you can have real-time control with penalties for making "button-mashing" equivalent moves. We'll have to wait and see what LucasArts can come up with for this landmark Star Wars game.

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Why Ubisoft's Red Steel for the Wii Needs "Canned" Sword Moves

From Digg: "A lone blogger comes to Ubisoft's aid in attempting to explain why they chose to go with canned animations/techniques for sword moves in Red Steel for the Wii rather than freestyle play ... and why they were right to do so." An excellent read. "Rather than asking themselves [the developers] the question, 'How can I make swordfighting realistic?' they should instead be asking themselves the question, 'How can I make swordfighting really fun?'".

More Info:
* Red Steel Wikipedia Entry

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Friday, July 21, 2006

Nobody's Watching picked up by NBC

From Digg: "According to Cynopsis, NBC will announce today that it has ordered six episodes of Nobody's Watching, a series initially rejected by the WB that found a new life on YouTube." YouTube has gained an amazing amount of power in such a short time. Like I said in my previous post about one episode TV shows gaining popularity, I'm not sure if reviving them is a good idea. I do like the fact that they are going with the (relatively) low budget approach, with each episode costing them less than $1 million to make. Hopefully this lack of funds spurs more creativity into the show since they will somehow have to compete with everyone else. Even though I don't have high expectations, I'm rooting for this to really turn into something amazing because this may lead networks to ask the viewers what shows they want aired instead of their executives. With broadband access to the internet widely available, I think the decision making behind TV programming should be handed over to the viewers.

More Info
* Variety Article
* "Nobody's Watching" Wikipedia Entry
* Added: Good post at The Computer Vet Weblog

Free Media Fridays

Every Friday, I'm going to post a collection of media (a video, a sound, an image, and a text) that are freely available to be copied and distributed. One of the great benefits of the internet lies in the ability to easily share works that are free to the public. I will try to give an idea of the license that accompanies each work, as some may have certain restrictions, but if you are planning to reuse a work you should read the full agreement provided.

Video - "Your Name Here" by Calvin Workshop
Courtesy of archive.org
License: Public Domain
One of my favorite videos on archive.org, this film aims to be "the ultimate generic industrial film". It is supposed to be a video where you can easily insert your own product and company name and just like that have a complete promotional film. I still can't believe that this was made in 1960 - they have an uncanny awareness of all the cliches during the era when these types of films were being made. I always suspected that industrial filmmakers didn't realize how corny their videos were, but I guess this video shows otherwise. It's as if they have a grab bag of tricks they can use for each movie, but for this one they just threw in everything.

Sound - "Nature Letter A" by Jesse Hammons
Courtesy of archive.org
License: Attribution-ShareAlike 1.0

A well recorded collection of nature sounds, including bugs, birds, frogs, and the ocean. It brings about a nice feeling of tranquility - I only wish the clip lasted longer.

Image - "Eggs Oranges" by mmagallan
Courtesy of stock.xchng
License: No usage restrictions
A photograph of two white eggs on an orange surface. Simple yet stunning.

Text - "Metamorphosis" by Franz Kafka
Courtesy of Project Gutenberg
Licnese: Project Gutenberg License
Honestly, I haven't read this yet myself. I remember other English classes in high school having to read this story and I always had an interest in getting around to reading it myself. Having recently watched the movie "Kafka" (review coming soon), I was reminded of this text. Hopefully this classic short story will be worth the read.

Hopefully you have discovered something new that you can share with others.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Mike Nelson's Rifftrax

This is great news - Mike Nelson of Mystery Science Theater 3000 fame will be releasing audio tracks of humorous commentary, called Rifftrax, to be played on an MP3 player while you watch the DVD version of a movie. You can download the audio track from his web site (the first one is for the movie "Road House" and costs $1.99), but you have to obtain the DVD of the movie yourself. Although this track features only Nelson, he is hoping to feature others along side him in future releases. I'm definitely planning on giving this a shot if I can get a hold of "Road House" on DVD. I'll give a review of the commentary if I end up getting it - I'm hopeful, but only having one person commentating could get stale. Make sure to listen to the sample of the Rifftrax on the right side of the page.

I've heard of fans creating their own commentaries for movies but I haven't listened to any. After a quick search I found this commentary for "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" as well as this commentary community. In addition, there is a piece of software called Sharecrow which allows you to easily sync homemade commentaries with a DVD. Post any interesting commentaries that you know of in the comments section.

More Info
* Rifftrax Announcement on Lileks.com
* Rifftrax Announcement on MST3Kinfo.com
* Mike Nelson Wikipedia Entry
* MST3K Wikipedia Entry
* Road House IMDB Entry

The Wilhelm Scream - The Most Popular Sound Effect In Film

From Digg: "Many of you out there may be aware of the Wilhelm scream, a sound effect used dozens of times in films and television. This site describes the history of the scream and links to listings of films it can be found in." I know whenever I watch a movie and I hear a similar sounding scream I wonder whether or not it's the Wilhelm. This article goes into great detail about the creation and subsequent popularity of the most used sound clip in film history. I'm curious as to if there are any other sound effects that have gained a cult following among sound effects departments - perhaps there are some that aren't as distinctive as the Wilhelm scream (edit: look at the Wikipedia entry for Wilhelm scream, it lists a few more). On a related note, I highly recommend checking out the band 'A Wilhelm Scream'.

More Info
* Wilhelm scream Wikipedia entry
* Wilhelm scream Youtube compilation (Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Lord of the Rings)
* Another Wilhelm scream Youtube compilation (Many films)

read more | digg story

The Differences of Super Mario Brothers 2 and Doki Doki Panic

As you may or may not already know, the version of Super Mario Bros. 2 released outside of Japan was basically the Japanese game Doki Doki Panic with a graphical facelift. Nintendo felt like that the Japanese version of Super Mario Bros. 2 was too difficult for American audiences, so they decided to alter an easier game they already developed and released that overseas. In this article on About.com (and Part II), you can see just how similar the two games really are. Was this a blunder by Nintendo to deprive American fans of the true Mario sequel? I think Aaron Stanton sums it up well in his review of the Japanese version of SMB2 - "many Mario fans list the outlandish styles of the U.S. release of Mario Brothers 2 as the best in the series. Miyamoto's version might have fit better into the line-up of Mario titles leading to Super Mario World and Yoshi, but it probably wouldn't have left nearly as many distinctive memories. There are legions of fans that wouldn't change Doki Doki Mario (as I like to think of it) for anything." More Info - Slashdot Article, SMB2 Wikipedia Entry, Japanese SMB2 Wikipedia Entry, Doki Doki Panic Wikipedia Entry

Every Jeopardy Question Ever!

From Digg: "Here is an archive of every jeapordy question ever... sorted by season." Although in reality the web site doesn't contain every Jeopardy question (only the last two seasons seem completely fleshed out), it looks like it's well on its way. Not only does it have the questions from the Jeopardy games, but also the contestants and what prizes they won. A quick search for 'baseball' yielded 256 clues, 5 Final Jeopardy round clues, and 17 players. One change I would make is including the corresponding questions that go with the clues in the search results. It seems like the only way to view them is to click on the game where the clue occurred and hunt for the clue on that page. Other than that minor complaint, this site is very impressive and hopefully they reach their goal of recording every Jeopardy question.

read more | digg story

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

CTU Ringtone from "24"

While watching the third season of 24 on DVD, my brother commented on how cool it would be to have the same ringtone as the office phones from the Counter Terrorist Unit in "24". My search on Google for "24 TV Ringtone" came up with the perfect site as the first response. It has the distinctive ringtone in a variety of different formats, so you should be able to find one that is compatible with your phone. Download the free ringtones here. Note that this isn't an advertisement or spam.

Battlestar Galactica Season 3 Preview

From Digg: "The minute long Battlestar Galactica Season 3 Preview debuted last night on the SciFi channel. Watch it now on YouTube. October is so far away." I agree, this season looks like it will be another amazing adventure. I have to give props to the creators of the show for allowing such a drastic turn of events at the end of season 2. This will definitely help keep the show feeling fresh and will allow for a lot of interesting situations. Click on the 'read more' link to see the trailer. Also check out the 30 second teaser (I think from the end of last season).

Update: Download a high quality Quicktime version of the trailer here, from http://hyper123.net.

read more | digg story

New Shows on the Sci-Fi Channel

The Sci-Fi Channel has quite a few new shows that have recently premiered or will premiere in the coming months. Here are my views on these series, ranked from most anticipated to least.

Garth Marenghi's Darkplace - first episode available online, premieres July 27
After watching the opening episode on Sci-Fi's web site, this parody of horror movies and 80s television is definitely the show that I'm looking forward to the most. A British comedy that lasted one season in 2004, Darkplace presents itself as an 80s TV show that has only now been able to air due to the dearth of quality programming. Intercut with the episode are interviews that take place in the present day with the (fake) actors who starred in the series. These aren't as funny as the main parts of the show, but it does help mix things up. My only knock against the show is that they sometimes go overboard in faking low production values to the point where it just becomes distracting. Everyone should at least check out the first episode online and see if you like this type of humor. More Info - Wikipedia

The Lost Room - premieres December 2006
The trailer that aired during last night's Eureka premiere piqued my interest in this show that will debut later this year. Here's the blurb from the press release: "Krause plays Joe Miller, a homicide detective who discovers a key that contains unimaginable power and that is only one of several seemingly mundane objects with powers that others would do anything to possess. Elle Fanning plays Miller's daughter, who vanishes inside a motel room that is the locus of power." In addition to this information, the trailer stated that there are about 100 of these objects (examples give: a bus ticket, a pen, and a razor) that have this magical properties. From what I understood, the plot will deal with Miller collecting these objects and returning them to the motel room to rescue his daughter. I'm not completely certain of these details, but if anyone knows where the trailer is on the net please post it. Although I haven't seen much of it, the premise seems quite original and I have high hopes for this show.

Dead Like Me - every Tuesday at 7pm
This show, which aired on Showtime for two seasons before being cancelled, is now playing on the Sci-Fi Channel with back-to-back episodes once a week. The premise is that an 18 year old girl dies in a accident and, because her soul filled the quota of a grim reaper, must now act as a reaper herself. In the first two episodes, other reapers basically laid out the ground rules of being a reaper and explained to her all the details of how the process works. This show really impressed me and it will be interesting to see where it is headed. The fact that the reapers can be seen by normal humans is a nice twist, although their appearance differs from what is was when they were alive. This leads to some intriguing interactions between the protagonist and the living, especially her family members. More Info - Wikipedia

The Dresden Files - premieres January 2007
Like "The Lost Room", "The Dresden Files" also had a trailer that aired during the "Eureka" premiere, although it did not impress me as much. The blurb from Sci-Fi: "The Dresden Files pilot, written by [Hans] Beimler and [Robert] Wolfe, tells the story of Harry Dresden, a Chicago-based private detective with extraordinary abilities. Where others see typical crimes of assault, kidnapping and murder, Harry sees otherworldly forces at work. He's a wizard, the real thing, the only wizard listed in the Chicago yellow pages." This could be a hit, but I honestly don't know enough about it to have a solid opinion. The premise doesn't excite me as much as "The Lost Room", but I'll wait until I see the premiere before I pass judgment on it. More Info - Wikipedia

Eureka - every Tuesday at 9pm

The premiere of this series yesterday was not very encouraging for this show to have a long term place on Sci-Fi. The plot revolves around a U. S. marshal who discovers a secret town populated with the world's greatest scientists. Although I did not have high expectations going in, the 2 hour pilot episode was not satisfying on any level. Poor acting and a lack of humor made me want to give up on the show, but I stuck it out until the end. I'll give it another chance next week, but if I'm not impressed I probably won't be tuning in any more. More Info - Wikipedia

Who Wants to be a Superhero? - premieres July 27
Eleven people compete to become the next Stan Lee superhero. I'll probably give this show a chance, but I'm not much of a comic book fan and the concept just seems too corny for it to actually be entertaining.

The Amazing Screw-On Head - pilot episode online

From Sci-Fi's site: "In this hilarious send-up of Lovecraftian horror and steampunk adventure, President Abraham Lincoln's top spy is a bodyless head known only as Screw-On Head." I honestly didn't find anything 'hilarious' about the pilot episode. I like the concept and the art style, but the show didn't get me to laugh at all. Being a half-hour show, I might check it out again if they pick up the series, but I wouldn't count on it. More Info - Wikipedia

Not ranked by me: Night Stalker - premieres July 28
I didn't even realize this show was going to be on the Sci-Fi Channel at all until I was doing research for this post. From Wikipedia: "
The series starred Stuart Townsend as Carl Kolchak, an investigative reporter whose wife was murdered. Kolchak spends his time investigating other strange murders, believing they are linked in some way to his wife's murder." Six episodes of the series aired on ABC in 2005, but this summer all 10 episodes filmed will be shown this time around. More Info - Wikipedia

Any shows that I missed? Post them in the comments section.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Keith Schofield - Music Videos for Geeks

Keith Schofield has a knack for creating captivating music videos that incorporate some facet of geekdom. Here's the breakdown of three videos (Quicktime required) that he's directed:

Hard 'N Phirm - "Pi"
My personal favorite out of all of his videos. It cleverly incorporates a song about the number Pi with a parody of the public broadcast children's show "Zoom". The setup before the song begins is hilarious - it treats itself as if it was an actual public broadcast show and it nails the humor dead on. The song itself is pretty catchy as well - much better than any song I could have imagined that deals with a mathematical constant. At some points the actual digits are sang to a tune (the video portrays it as a robot's recitation) and it still sounds cool. Another notable moment includes a breakdown into a rap that takes a step out of the show's studio and into the street where the rapper makes up a story using Pi's digits (backwards and forwards).

DJ Format - "3 Feet Deep"
This presents the rap "3 Feet Deep" as the creation of two rappers playing an arcade game. Armed with orange plastic mics hooked up to the machine, they have make up the rap on the fly according to the on screen challenges in order to earn points. For example, at one point a word bank appears on the screen and one of the rappers must incorporate all of the words into his continuously flowing rap. Even though the commands given by the game are obviously written specifically for this rap, it's fun to imagine a game like this actually existing (and for players to be this good at it) . There is also a 'twist' at the end which makes the whole video that much cooler.

Wintergreen - "When I Wake Up"
The video chronicles the rise and fall of the infamous Atari game "E.T.". The shots cut between members of Wintergreen playing the game on a living room couch, title cards telling the story of the game, and the band traveling to the burial site of the cartridges. This is not one of Schofield's best efforts, in that the music doesn't really fit too well with the subject matter that the video deals with. Although it's still fun to watch, it's not a spectacular example of what can be accomplished with the fusion of images and sound.

You can check out the rest of his videos on his home page: http://www.keithschofield.com/. Post other music videos you've found dealing with 'geeky' subjects in the comments section.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Caché (Hidden) Review and Comments

Caché (Hidden) is the story of a family who finds strange video tapes left on the doorstep of their house. While the police refuse to intervene because no crime has been committed, the father eventually traces the tapes to a person he remembers from his early childhood. The continuing series of events creates conflicts between the husband and wife, the parents and their child, and the father and the person he discovers from his past.

Despite having only two scenes gruesome in nature, the director manages to elicit a feeling of uneasiness throughout the entire film. The extremely long takes combined with no musical score creates a tense atmosphere that makes the few violent scenes in the film all the more nerveracking.

The ending of the film leaves many issues open to interpretation. Although more definitive answers would have been appreciated, it's always interesting to try to piece together theories of your own and to hear others' ideas as well. In regards to this, I highly recommendd looking at web sites after viewing the film to read what other people have thought up. The very last scene of the film contains something that can be very easily missed but changes the entire meaning of the story. If I had not researched the film online after viewing it, I never would have picked up on it. In the end, the actual plot of the film matters much less than the themes and issues it attempts to tackle (the nature of hiding things, the relationship between Algerians and the French, etc.).

This is a must-see for anyone who wants something different from a standard movie-going experience and doesn't mind having to put some work into understanding the deeper layers of the story.

Recommended Links
* Wikipedia Entry
* IMDB Page

Ben Stiller's HEAT VISION AND JACK Pilot! (and other one pilot shows)

Here's the description from digg.com about Heat Vision and Jack:
"Quite possibly the funniest pilot. Ever! Ben Stiller created and directed this show in 1999. It starred Jack Black as the smartest man alive who travels around with a talking motorcycle, voiced by Owen Wilsion. Meanwhile, actor Ron Silver hunts down the pair. Hilarious."

I remember seeing this a few months ago, posted on a site other than digg. It was interesting to watch, but I honestly didn't find it very funny. I think most of the appeal comes from it involving well known stars (Stiller, Wilson, Black) and its limited production (one episode) rather than it actually being a show that people would tune into every week. The same goes for shows in which only the pilot exists, such as Lookwell (featuring Adam West; some clever moments) and Nobody's Watching (I like the concept, but I don't know how much content they could make). People praise these shows for being ingenious but I don't think they would have the 'wow' factor if they were actally picked up and made a season's worth of episodes.

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