Entries for May 2006

May 31, 2006

Idea: Lexidiem, the word of the day.

Why isn’t there a word that means “Word of the day?” Well now there is.

Lexidiem. n. sing. lek-si’-dee-im. (preferred) lek-si-dee’-im (altern. accepted) 1. Word of the day. [Modern American English, from Greek lexis (word) and Latin diem (day), reflecting the hodgepodge of international roots that make up Modern American English words].

Example 1: “Lexidiem will probably be this blog’s only lexidiem.”
Example 2: “Dictionary.com features a lexidiem section.”
Example 3: “Webster’s Dictionary on-line has a lexidiem section, too.”

This cliché is dead. Long live this cliché!

Things that are proclaimed dead yet hailed to be long living:

DevoThe bookThe internetDECThe DesignerEconomicsJavaEmailEminent DomainThe Human Rights CouncilLayoutClint the chimpanzeeGroksterEnvironmentalismTax reformTelevisionThe AssessorThe peace processThe wolfYahoo!PageRankThe kioskMicrosoft BobRobin HoodCamper Van BeethovenInternet radioRomanticismFirefox HelpWikipediaDVDPGPMicrosoftAllofMP3DocumentaryThe King

May 30, 2006

Is that a Pepsi logo on that Coca-Cola product?

Coke BlakThis weekend I saw a poster advertising the new Coca-Cola Blak, some sort of Coke-and-Coffee hybrid.

I went through what must be the usual response to seeing this new product, an assortment of comments involving the word “gross” and mentions of Pepsi AM and Pepsi Cappuccino.

But then I looked more closely and was shocked at what I saw. Is that a Pepsi logo on the bottle of Coca-Cola Blak?

Coke Blak

Am I seeing things? It is a slightly distorted Pepsi logo, right? I mean, I’m sure it’s supposed to be some sort of riff on the Coca-Cola swooshy ribbon thing, but it sure looks like a stylized Pepsi logo to me. Will this go down in history as another great Cola Packaging Snafu?

May 29, 2006

Remote Remake

ClickThe poster for Adam Sandler’s new movie Click asks the question, “What if you had a universal remote… that controlled your universe?”

Well, that’s an intriguing question. For the answer, maybe he should have just asked one of these people:

  • The main character from the 1985 episode of Steven Spielberg’s TV show Amazing Stories called “Remote Control Man.” The plot: “An unhappy and frustrated husband with a nagging wife and an incorrigible son, finally finds solace in his new TV set that comes alive with the use of a magic remote control.”
  • Pete from the British Australian kids’ show Round the Twist. Here’s the plot of a 1990 episode called “Spaghetti Pig Out”: “Chaos reigns after a bolt of lightning hits the video remote control - it works on people! Pause, rewind and fast-forward have amusing consequences.”
  • Benny Hill. His Golden Classics DVD contains a skit called “Henry’s Remote Control” in which “Benny discovers he can control the real world with his remote control and sets off on his journey, leaving his nagging wife in ‘freeze-frame’ mode.”

  • George Jetson. In a 1985 episode of The Jetsons, “George Jetson happens to sit next to a brilliant, but unrecognized genius. This genius has invented the one-of-a kind Re-Play-Ola. The genius decides to give it to George because the genius can always make another one. The Re-Play-Ola has the ability to rewind time, allowing the person who possesses it, the ability to rewind, modify, erase, and the unusable stop button.”
  • The main character from Rewind, a 1999 Spanish movie about a man who has a party that “doesn’t go terribly well — food gets burned, things get broken, Pablo makes a scene — and later in the evening, Andres nearly finds himself regretting that he videotaped the entire evening. However, when he rewinds the tape, much to his surprise he finds he can rewind real life as well, giving him a chance to salvage the party after all.”
  • Bart Simpson, from the Simpsons episode “Treehouse of Horror IX”, where a plutonium-charged remote control has the power to send him and Lisa into episodes of their favorite — and least favorite — TV shows.
  • The kids from the movie Pleasantville where a fight over a magic remote control sends them into the world of their favorite old black and white TV show.
  • Ned from the 90s Fox Kids cartoon Ned’s Newt. In a third season episode called “Remote Possibility,” Ned recieves help from “a magical remote that doesn’t work on televisions but does seem to work on everything else.”
  • The kids from Eerie, Indiana. In an episode called “Scariest Home Videos,” a magical remote control sends them into an old black and white mummy movie.
  • R.L. Stine. He wrote a short story called “Click” for his Goosebumps books that was eventually adapted into an episode of the Goosebumps TV series. From tv.com: “Seth Gold is sick of being ordered around by his sister, his mother, and his father. His hobby is channel-surfing, so he orders a remote from a company in a magazine… Seth notices it can also be used to change the radio station… As a joke, Seth presses the Pause button while aiming the remote at his sister. His sister actually pauses! Seth now realizes this new remote can control more than just the TV.”

I guess there just aren’t any original movie ideas anymore. Maybe something good is on TV. Now what did I do with my remote…?

May 27, 2006

Hot town. Summer in the city.


Looks like it’s finally summer…

May 26, 2006

60 Seconds in the Life of the Apple Store Stairs

Part 12 in an ongoing series of (approximately) 60 second films.

Filmed at the new Apple store on Fifth Avenue.

May 24, 2006

Idea: The Correlation Project

I want to see a website that lets me keep track of something simple for a set period of time, and then compares it to a database to search for correlations. For example, over the course of a week or month or year, or even on an ongoing basis, it could ask, “What did you have for breakfast today?” or “What color shirt did you wear today?” or “How many calls did you get on your cell phone today?” Maybe a daily e-mail would remind you to log in with the answers.

Then it would compare the answers to other things that are already tracked such as the stock market, phases of the moon, sports scores, etc., and spit out some correlations.

It could tell you “On 93% of the days on which you ate eggs for breakfast, the stock market went up.” Or, “When the moon is waxing, you are 88% more likely to wear a green shirt than when it is waning.” Or, “On days when you get more than 7 phone calls, the Yankees win their games.”

Or, if you opt in to share your information with others, it could tell you, “For the past year, you’ve been on the same Green Shirt Schedule as Joe Shmoe of Hackensack, NJ, who has worn a green shirt every day that you did.”

There would need to be a notice reminding people that there is no causation implied by these findings, just correlations. People have a tendency to apply too much meaning to these sorts of things, and think they are evidence of paranormal phenomenon or conspiracy. But I think it’s interesting just to look at these things for the sake of seeing how easy it is to find coincidental correlations retrospectively. If such a project existed, maybe it could show people just how common coincidence really is with an experiment they can participate in themselves.

May 22, 2006

Animated Manhattan: The Critic

Part 9 in an ongoing series looking at New York City in animation.

The CriticThe Critic aired on ABC in 1994 before moving to Fox in 1995 and eventually being cancelled. But in the meantime, I enjoyed watching the adventures of Jay Sherman, movie critic and single father.

The show took place in New York, and the program made wonderful use of the city. In every episode, Manhattan is visible in the view out a window, or in the background as Jay goes about his life, meets women, tries to be a good dad, and tries (sometimes in vain) to be an appreciated son.

The CriticJay frequently spends time in the park, at restaurants, and around town in general. The attention to detail is incredible, even where it’s not necessary. In some general scenes when no specific real world location is intended, it’s amazing how the artists have captured the look and feel of the city with their brushes.

Since it’s easier to talk about this series’ depiction of New York City in general terms than it is to address specific episodes that highlight New York particularly well, here is a simple gallery of New York City as depicted in various episodes of The Critic. More information about the show can be found in its Wikipedia entry or by picking up the entire series on DVD. Enjoy:

The Critic The Critic
The Critic The Critic
The Critic The Critic
The Critic The Critic
The Critic The Critic

IMDb Rating: 7.9/10
BCDb Rating: N/A
My Rating: 9/10

(My rating is for the series’ depiction of NYC only)

May 18, 2006

When Isamu Met Bucky

Noguchi and FullerI had the pleasure this evening of attending the opening of a new exhibit at the Noguchi Museum in Queens highlighting the work of sculptor Isamu Noguchi and his good friend Buckminster Fuller.

Buckminster Fuller, many people will remember, was the man most famous for inventing the geodesic dome, an incredibly strong structure made up of a network of struts. Fuller’s invention was conceived as an extremely lightweight but stable building that could be erected simply and inexpensively. While the dome was a big success, he designed it after a long string of other inventions which Fuller hoped would create a better life for humanity, but which never caught on.

A chrome sculpture of Fuller by Noguchi overlooks several exhibits
Several of those inventions are showcased in the new exhibit. One highlight is a scale model of Fuller’s Dymaxian House, an easy-to-ship and easy-to-assemble home that hangs from wires around a central column (“Dymaxian” is Fuller’s made up contraction of the words Dynamic, Maximum, and Tension). Fuller imagined this as the wave of the future, an ultra-efficient, ultra-affordable, mass-producible home. But only one Dymaxian House was ever built. It was lived in for 30 years before being relocated to the Henry Ford Museum in 2001.

A visitor examines a model of the Dymaxian Car
Fuller’s Utopian vision extended beyond homes. In 1933, he built a prototype Dymaxian Car, a highly efficient vehicle that seated 11, reached 120 miles per hour, got 30 miles per gallon (unheard of at the time) and did it all on only 3 wheels. It was 20 feet long, but barely needed more space than that to do a full 180 degree turn. Sadly, an accident at the 1933 World’s Fair prompted investors to abandon the project, and the car never passed the prototype stage. It’s a shame it never went any further in development. It’s hard not to imagine how automobiles would be different today. For the current exhibit, the Noguchi museum has brought together models, pictures, and video footage of the car in action.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. The exhibit explores many more of Fuller’s projects, but these were my favorites.

The sculpture garden at the Noguchi Museum
The exhibit, called “Best of Friends: R. Buckminster Fuller and Isamu Noguchi,” reflects the friendship and values of two men, each dedicated to improving the lot of the common man, one working through science and the other through art.

The lives of both men are presented nicely through an exhibit designed by graphic designer Tomoko Miho, who the AIGA called “the design world’s best kept secret.” Along one wall, an extensive timeline follows the parallels of both men’s lives, and is included in full as a gatefold in the exhibition brochure, making it a great souvenir.

The exhibit opens this Friday, and continues through October 15.

May 15, 2006

Idea: A parking lot compass

Maybe this idea is obvious enough that somebody is already developing it, but I did a quick search and didn’t see anything. So I submit the following.

parking lotWhy doesn’t someone make a compass to help you find your car in the parking lot? This should be an optional accessory for every GPS-enabled car. You should be able to get a keychain or purse-sized device that will point to your car so you can find it when you come out of the mall, grocery store, etc.

Obviously, this presents a small problem because if someone finds your keys they can find your car and drive away with it. So maybe there’s a keypad on the device so you can type in a password. Or, if it can be done cheaply enough, there can be a thumbprint scanner attached, to make identification even simpler.

Random Acts of Emphasis

Delta Sky ItalicsI flew Delta this weekend, and found myself LOOKING through their in-flight magazine while waiting to take off. I noticed something in their magazine that I’ve noticed before — they randomly ITALICIZE things for no apparent reason. And sometimes they use all-caps for no apparent REASON.

I suppose they think it adds visual interest. Italics and capitals are treated as design elements. And that’s fine. But it makes for CONFUSING reading when they use it in every headline. When I read, I mentally EMPHASIZE the italicized and capitalized words. I think the Sky Magazine people forget that. At least they DON’T add bold into the mix.

Delta Sky Italics

May 9, 2006

60 Seconds in the Life of Luggage

Part 11 in an ongoing series of (approximately) 60 second films.

May 8, 2006

9/11 in 3D

[Note: See update for images you can view in 3D without the need for special glasses.]

wtc3dx2.jpgOn September 16, 2001, CNN.com posted a video of aerial views of the World Trade Center site taken by a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter flying around lower Manhattan. Using near-consecutive frames from this video to simulate right-eye and left-eye views, I’ve created 3D images of Ground Zero as seen a few days after the attacks of 9/11.

To view these images in 3D properly, I’m afraid you need those red-and-blue glasses that give some people headaches. But it might be worth finding a pair to see what the terrorists did in a way only people who were there in person saw it previously — in three dimensions. I think it’s pretty powerful.

That reminds me: Sorry for such a heavy topic on a Monday morning.

Below is a gallery of thumbnails. Click on any individual image to see the full image in a pop-up window.

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Update: Read on to see images of Ground Zero that you can experience in 3D without glasses.

Personally, the following method of viewing images in 3D gives me a headache, but I’ve had a request to include images for use with this method, so I’m happy to do it.

To view the following pairs of images in 3D, cross your eyes until the two pictures converge into one. That single image will be in 3D. If your head hurts or you develop eye strain, stop! I don’t recommend doing this for very long.











The movie Constantine was on TV this weekend. I tried to watch it but it was so bad I couldn’t make it past the first 15 minutes. But that was long enough to see this in the opening credits:


It looks like someone forgot about kerning. The letters seem to all be monospaced, leaving far too much room around some letters, particularly the “I”. Do I expect too much from multi-million dollar productions? Or do the producers accept too little?

May 2, 2006

I see storm troopers.

What ever it is I think I see, becomes an imperial storm trooper to me.

SUV Trooper

At least, that’s the first thing I thought when I saw this car yesterday. Maybe I’m reaching. Or maybe it’s just a slow blog day.

May 1, 2006

Idea: A remake of “Fred Ott’s Sneeze”

OttIt seems these days that Hollywood scrapes the bottom of the barrel for movie material. Of the movies opening this summer, 7 are sequels and 17 are remakes or adaptations.

Well I’ve decided to do Hollywood one better. I’ve gone back further than anybody ever has before to remake a movie. I’ve remade one of the earliest known movies, an 1894 film called Edison Kinetoscopic Record of a Sneeze, also known as Fred Ott’s Sneeze, starring Thomas Edison’s assistant Fred Ott. You can view the original film here, courtesy of the Library of Congress.

My remake is more of a re-imagining, really, than a remake. I’ve decided not to make a period piece, but instead to modernize the story of one man’s struggle to remove an irritant from his nostril, setting it in the present day in a small apartment in New York City.

Here is my film, simply called Ott. Enjoy.

Bonus: Watch the extended Director’s Cut of Ott.