Entries for February 2007

February 27, 2007

50 States in 10 Minutes

50 States in 10 MinutesOccasionally during downtime on a particularly slow photo shoot, I’ve played this game with my assistants. Everyone takes out a piece of paper, and numbers it from 1 to 50. Then you get 10 minutes to write down every state you can remember. Finally, you compare it to the master list and see who got the most answers. 10 minutes seems like more than enough time to remember a list of 50 items, right? And yet somehow I’ve never managed to get more than 48 of them.

Well, you don’t need to get out a piece of paper or a timer. I’ve put together an on-line version of this game. It’s a bit low-tech [see update below for high-tech version], but it works.

Have a go at it and then post your score in the comments.

Update: Thanks to reader Erik Wannebo, we now have a nifty interactive version which keeps track of your progress as you go and tallies your score for you. Check it out!

February 20, 2007

George Bush and Jack Bauer

The current issue of the New Yorker magazine has an interesting article about Joel Surnow, the man behind the TV show “24” and how his personal politics are closely aligned with those of the Bush administration in ways that may manifest themselves on the show.

With that in mind, I found a similarity between George W. Bush and Jack Bauer that isn’t mentioned in the article. I put together a little video to demonstrate:

February 14, 2007

I see the Death Star

Whenever I walk through the Union Square subway station, I have to navigate through all these vertical I-Beams that are all over the place. It always reminds me of something, but I couldn’t figure out what. Finally it dawned on me. It’s the first stage of the Death Star level in the Star Wars arcade game. Watch this comparison video to see what I mean:

(Nothing is wrong with your speakers. The video is intentionally without sound)

Previously: I see R2-D2
Previously: I see Storm Troopers

February 13, 2007

Libby Lewis on Lewis Libby

NPR LibbyListening to NPR the other day, I heard a story filed by NPR National Desk reporter Libby Lewis. Immediately I had to wonder why she isn’t covering the Lewis Libby scandal. If I worked at the assignment desk, I’d put her on every story about the Vice President’s former Chief of Staff. I’d get a little kick out of hearing her introduced. “With more on Lewis Libby, here’s NPR’s Libby Lewis.”

Hmm. It looks like she has covered the story occasionally. Well then consider this a call for more Lewis Libby stories by Libby Lewis!

February 12, 2007

Idea: Simultain-O-Vision

Okay, imagine this. You go to a movie with your friend Pete. It’s an alien invasion movie about some lizard creatures from another planet who kill and oppress Earthlings. For the sake of our example, let’s just say it’s a remake of the 1988 movie They Live, and that it stars former wrestler The Rock. When you pick up your ticket at the box office, you’re asked if you sympathize with the aliens or the humans. You decide to sympathize with the humans, and you’re given a special pair of sunglasses. Pete picks the aliens, and he’s given a different pair of sunglasses.

Simultain-O-VisionYou sit down and watch the movie, each of you with your glasses on. A few minutes into the movie, there’s a scene with a couple sitting on their couch watching TV. As you watch, you hear the sounds of the TV show they’re watching. It’s a nature program. They make some comments to each other about the show. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, two aliens jump in and attack, killing the humans.

Meanwhile, Pete has been sitting next to you with his pair of glasses, watching the same screen. But he’s seeing a very different visual. He’s seeing the scene from the aliens’ perspective. He still hears what you hear — the TV on, the couple’s comments to each other — but he sees the aliens climb in through the window, sneak up on the couple, and finally jump in and attack, killing the humans.

Later on in the movie, the aliens begin putting subliminal messages on billboards that only their fellow aliens can plainly see. You, with your human-sympathizing sunglasses on, see billboards advertising computers and such. But Pete, sitting next to you and watching the same scenes, sees the word “OBEY” on the billboard. He sympathizes with the aliens, so he gets to see what they see.

As The Rock wanders through the film, passing average citizens of his fair city, little does he know that some of them are actually aliens. You of course have no idea, either. But Pete, sitting next to you with his special glasses, is able to see which people are really aliens because they have hideous alien faces.

At some point in the film, The Rock gets his very own pair of Alien Sunglasses, and he’s able to see for himself who the aliens are and who the humans are. Action ensues, and The Rock saves the day.

How does it work? Rather simply. It uses the same technology as 3-D movies, but in a different way. In a traditional 3-D movie, two slightly different images — each representing what your right or left eye would see — are projected onto one screen through different filters. To avoid being too technical, we’ll just call them filter A and filter B. To get the 3-D effect, your right eye needs to see only what’s projected through filter A, and your left eye needs to see only what’s projected through filter B. So you wear special sunglasses with different lenses over each eye which filter the corresponding images. Filter A over your right eye makes sure it only sees what’s projected through a “A” filter. Filter B over your left eye makes sure it only sees what’s projected through an “B” filter.

In Simultain-O-Vision (that’s what I call it), there are two different images projected on the screen, only this time they are not representing what each eye sees. They are representing what each Sympathizer sees. Human Sympathizers get sunglasses with two “A” filters and no “B” filters. So they will only see the image projected through an “A” filter. Alien Sympathizers get sunglasses with just “B” filters. So they will only see the images projected through a “B” filter.

In practice, the “A” and “B” filters are actually polarized lenses set at certain angles. This means that if an audience member tilts his head even a little bit — or if the glasses aren’t made to an exacting standard — the angle of the lenses isn’t quite right, and he will see both visuals simultaneously and probably get a nasty headache. But some people will have more problems than others.

As a bonus, the “Sympathizer” aspect of the movie can be retained when the movie comes out on DVD. It can take advantage of the rarely-used “angle” button on your remote control so you can switch back and forth between Human and Alien perspectives while you’re watching the movie.

February 10, 2007


I don’t usually write about things going on elsewhere on other blogs. I pretty much just write original stuff and let other people link to me. Well, this week has been extremely busy and I haven’t had much time to write anything, so I figured I’d take a moment this morning to acknowledge and thank some of the websites out there that have linked to entries I’ve written on more than one occasion. Thanks goes to the following blogs, which you should check out if you don’t already. In no particular order:

Design ObserverGawkerGothamistAdrantsBoingBoingMetafilterJason KottkeThe Nine at Yahoo!USA Today’s Pop CandyWaxy.orgTVGasmMental FlossCynical-C BlogWashington Post’s CelebritologyWired’s Table of MalcontentsGrowabrainCoudal PartnersConsumerist

Apologies to those who I’ve overlooked.

Hmm. Now that I look at the list, those are all pretty popular websites anyway. They probably won’t benefit that much by my listing them here. Well, since I’m taking this rare moment to link to other blogs, here are three lesser-known blogs I enjoy and recommend:

You Thought We Wouldn’t Notice - A website trying to call out those who are ripping off other people’s designs.

News From Me - Mark Evenier’s blog could be described accurately as being a great site for finding entertaining video from yesteryear. It could also be described as a site that keeps you updated on animation industry greats as they pass away, including illustrators, voice actors, and others. It could also be described as a place to find occasional insightful political commentary. It’s all these things and more.

Dave Greten’s Blog - His reviews of movies he hasn’t seen are highly entertaining, and his description of his hike up Mount Kilimanjaro had me ready to tie on my hiking boots and book a flight to Tanzania.

February 5, 2007

Idea: An Orange Clockwork

An Orange ClockworkHi hi hi there, droogs. This weekend, oh my brothers, I, your humble blogger and narrator, had a thought in my rasoodock to create this orange clockwork. Viddy well this malenky clock which you can hang in your domy for just a little pretty polly. Perhaps your pee and em, or some other veck or soomka you know would find this clock real horrorshow.

Now available in the Ironic Sans store.

February 1, 2007

Le Reve - The Blog

Le Reve The Dream Auction PosterA few weeks ago, I wrote about a poster I was auctioning on eBay. The poster was from the Christie’s auction of Picasso’s painting “Le Reve,” a painting with a recent history that is arguably more interesting than its early history. The story in a nutshell: The painting’s owner just sold it for a record-setting price, and then accidentally stuck his elbow through it.

Well, here’s just a quick follow-up: The guy who bought the poster from me has started a blog about it called Le Reve and Me. On his blog, he wonders if he should expand his new collection of Le Reve memorabilia to include the auction catalogs, and he ponders whether or not he should stick his elbow through the poster. I have no idea what else he plans on doing with his blog, as I suspect the amount of Le Reve memorabilia to be had is fairly limited. But I’m sure he’d appreciate your input. It’s a fascinating story, and it just keeps getting better. Who knows what his collection will fetch some day?