July 27, 2015

10 years of this crap

And I think we're done here...

It's been ten years and ten days since my first post, and I think it's time to draw the shutters closed and lock this place up.

I started this blog as a place to put down some of my thoughts and possibly connect with my students. I think I managed some success in both of those realms, and I was able to connect with a few other friends along the way as well.

I want to thank my many readers for the past decade, especially those who commented and challenged my missives. I hope that my 3599 posts have provided you a fair bit of entertainment over the decade.

Feel free to check my ongoing material science blog, Materials Witness.

Mr Tea is peeing in a cuppa

The Guardian's resident food equipment blogger, Rhik Samadder, has been suffering for our entertainment for a couple of months now, trying out all sorts of horrific kitchen gadgets and the food produced therefrom...

There's Mr Tea, quietly and horrifically peeing into your cup of brewed goodness...

There's Garlic Zoom, a stagecoach of garlic chopping fun...

And most horribly the Egg Master, creator of tubular eggs...

July 26, 2015

July 24, 2015

Update: Collectible Minifigs series...um...14?

MinifigPriceGuide.com has an image of collectible minifigure series 14, subtitled Monsters, confirming what we've already known about the series: that they're going to be Halloween-themed.

The image isn't in high resolution because it's a scan from a small image in a print catalog.

Of more interest, though, are the various figure prototype images on the same story, some of which we hadn't seen before.

July 23, 2015

Robert Downey, Jr's paycheck

Today I'm providing just a few facts about what Robert Downey, Jr is paid for the Marvel movies:
  • The Avengers - $50 million
  • Iron Man 3 - $75 million
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron - $80 million
  • Captain America; Civil War - $80 million
My source: Uproxx (whose sources are Forbes, IGN, CBM, and Variety)

Plus, he has the big, giant A from the side of the mythical Stark Tower in his house.

He really is Tony Stark, isn't he?

July 22, 2015

Freemium = 'not really'

I've been playing QuizUp, a freemium game, for a year and a half now. It's a free app, but it does allow in-app purchases of 'experience point' multipliers, a buck to double your experience points (or whatever the game calls them) for ten minutes, a couple more bucks to double the experience for half an hour or an hour. I have yet to pay a single penny through the game, but I know that freemium games are wildly profitable - Clash of Clans had more than $1.8 BILLION in revenue in 2014.

Thankfully, South Park laid it all out...

This last one, I warn you, is more than a little NSFW.

July 21, 2015

The Summer Media

Quick hit reviews as I continue not to accomplish the tasks on my summer to-do list...

  • Lucy - moderately interesting for the first half, less so for the second half. Scarlett Johansson is attractive but plays an thoroughly unlikeable and not-engaging character. Don't bother
  • Ant-Man - Possibly the funniest of the Marvel films and way better than I expected it to be. Computer generated effects during the shrinking scene are wildly inventive and entertaining. Paul Rudd is charismatic and engaging, too. The young effects on Michael Douglas at the very beginning of the movie are impressive as heck, too.
  • A Million Ways to Die in the West - kinda chucklesome but not entertaining enough to sit all the way through a second time. I can't even suggest you make it a first time.
  • Superman: Unbound - passable adaptation of a far more interesting comic book 
  • Knights of Badassdom - A movie about LARPing that loses most of its entertainment value when Peter Dinklage dies. From there it's mostly a long slog to a predictable ending.
  • Chasing Amy - I rewatched this for the first time in at least a decade. It's still pretty entertaining but didn't connect as well with me this time around. I'm pretty sure I've moved on from Kevin Smith.
  • Don't Be a Menace While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood - It's been twenty years since I watched Boys in the Hood, but this parody echoes that movie and its era marvelously. Funny even if it's dated
  • Frank - Weird, weird film...far less chucklesome and entertaining than the trailer suggested, but it's well acted and written, just weird and kind of depressing
  • I Hate Christian Laettner (30 for 30) - Like most of the ESPN 30 for 30 series, this one's very well done. It's not Bo Knows or the one on Brian Bosworth, but it's still impressive.
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt - I watched the entire first season. Chucklesome if formulaic sit-com. The characters are likeable enough as are the actors, but the pattern (something mentioned in passing during the 1st act turns out to be the solution during the 3rd act) does get repetitive by the end. 
  • The Spoils of Babylon - Only watched the first episode but wasn't too interested in watching more than that. The comedy is very broad as is the satire. Big, big cast of funny people, though.
  • Arrested Development - I'm currently halfway through the second season. I appreciate that the gags are repetitive and recurring. Funny stuff

July 20, 2015

Morbid Monday

I happened upon a great article titled "The Man Who Dissolved His Wife"...
On May 7th, Adolph reported his wife missing, but her family suspected foul play. Police questioned relatives and friends and searched the city for Louise Luetgert or her remains.
During a search of Luetgert’s factory on May 15th, a watchman suggested they look in a steam vat in the cellar that was used to dip sausages. The police looked inside, and found that the vat was filled halfway with a putrid-smelling, reddish-brown liquid. When the police pulled a plug near the bottom of the vat, on the outside, the slimy liquid and small pieces of bone fell out. Inside the cauldron, police found a gold ring with L.L. engraved on the inside.
But it turns out that article is just one in a series of Morbid Monday articles from Atlas Obscura.

They've a bunch of sick, sick articles, most of which are worth a read.

July 17, 2015

A new Beaker?

I've taken a lot of photos of Beaker around the country, and some other folks have taken Beaker outside the country, even.

But Beaker's gotten big or at least gotten to be a hassle, so I haven't been taking Beaker much of anywhere for a while now.

I wonder, though, if I might not be looking at Beaker's replacement in the multicolored ModiBots.

They've be less weight to carry, more poseable than Beaker ever has been, more varied (coming in eight different colors with lots of different accessory sets), and small enough to throw into a pocket.

I might just get some of those printed for myself this year thanks to PHS's 3d printers.

July 16, 2015

Miley's weird...but "Jolene" isn't

She can sing pretty well when she isn't being intentionally provocative (read: weird)...

July 15, 2015

A Gray Day

You could do a lot worse than to listen to this David Gray acoustic playlist on YouTube today.

July 14, 2015

Lincoln Heights

The Atlantic published an article titled "What Happened to Lincoln Heights" that explores the loss of population, tax base, and hope of the Cincinnati suburb that I've come to know as I teach students from there.

The article is interesting enough, but there's so much more information and history along those lines in the book Fly in the Ointment: school segregation desegregation in the Ohio Valley. The book isn't perfectly written, but it was hugely informative for me in learning about the history of Lincoln Heights.

July 13, 2015

2015's first half lists

One of my great musical struggles is finding new music. It's easy to buy the new Wilco, Richard Thompson, Ryan Adams, Avett Brothers, and a few others, but it's not going to help me expand my musical horizons.

Thankfully, NPR is helping me out. I particularly recommend the Songs we love 2015 (so far) link. It's a whole bunch of playlists

I love it when people make me cocktails.

July 4, 2015

Out of nowhere comes this wonderful, energetic performance

July 3, 2015

The things I have seen

Here's what I've poured into the brain of late...
  • The One I Love - Interesting premise of a married couple working through romantic struggles are recommended by their therapist to take a weekend away at a specific countryside villa. The couple find the the villa's guest house has a surprise in store for them, a surprise that at first seems positive but then turns darker, threatening their marriage and even their lives.

    The secret of the villa is never revealed - some suggestions of both magic and technology are suggested - and the rules of the game aren't always consistent making the twist a little less acceptable to me. The actors did a fine job with their parts, each changing their character just enough to fit well with the villa's secrets, but the film felt largely predictable and never paid up on its promise. Good, not great...
  • Wet Hot American Summer - With the decidedly NSFW preview of Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp making its appearance this week, I thought it time to give the original a try. I started by reading "The Ultimate Oral History of Wet Hot American Summer" from Details magazine and finding out some entertaining tidbits - particularly that the weather was awful for almost the entire shoot and that the cast often found nonsensical ways to move from one scene to the next (simply walking off piers, handing trophies off-screen). The movie, however, was a disappointment. It certainly has a cast with enough comedy chops to produce something glorious - and I'm still hopeful that the sequel can be glorious - but that promise never comes together to provide more than a few chucklesome moments. This is clearly the work of sketch comics who were learning to write beyond the sketches but hadn't yet found a way to write a complete film.
  • Irredeemable vol 7 & 8 - Thankfully PLCH didn't pick up the last two volumes to finish collecting this series, especially since volume 9 collected only two frickin' issues. The story continues to get darker with every opportunity for hope ending with another few million people dead as the Plutonian (a Superman archetype) kills more people to definitively remind people not to mess with him. Don't spend as much time with this series as I did.
  • Batgirl vol 5: Deadline - Meh...there are some redeeming qualities to this version of Batgirl: her reliance on family, her intelligence, her red hair. But the continuingly incestuous nature of her storylines (brother's a serial killer, ex-roommate is a secret agent trying to recruit Batgirl, a schoolmate being the Big Bad of this story arc) has become tiresome. The writers need to stop looking inward, trying to apparently tie the entire Gordon clan into one big Gordian knot. I'm hoping that Batgirl of Bensonhurst can redeem some of the good but clear the rest.
  • Batman/Superman: Game Over - Eight issues collected from two series (Batman/Superman and World's Finest) and apparently drawn by a half dozen different artists makes for a very jumbled read, the constant art changes drawing a reader abruptly out of the story, which is sad because some of the stories are actually interesting reads. Batman and Superman are threatened by a Toyman-created video game augmented by Mongul's interference, Mongul's son appears to avenge his father's defeat, and Powergirl and Huntress (both from Earth 2, something that I thought wasn't going to exist in the New 52 universe) come to the Batman/Superman pair seeking help. Even more egregious than the use of frequent artist changes (sometimes even in the middle of a story arc) is the use of horizontal pagination for two issues. Seriously, they made me turn my whole comic 90 degrees sideways to read two of the issues - for no reason that I could understand. Meh...oh, and weirdly, I kind of like how Jai Lee draws his characters, but I cannot stand that he doesn't ever draw backgrounds. His people just float in smoggy/smokey/hazey multicolored clouds.
  • Batman Beyond: 10,000 Clowns - Seriously, does every new supervillian have to be an estranged brother (or sister or ex-roommate or childhood friend) of the hero? Yeah, here the Big Bad is the hero's girlfriend's brother, but it's still too tightly wound for my tastes. I really like the Terry McGinnis version of Batman with Max and Bruce as his technological helpers. The television series was incredibly well made, and most of the comics I've read in this run have been as well. This volume, too is well written and drawn, but I do tire of the incestuous battles that all of the heroes seem to perpetually face.
  • Wonder Woman: vol 3 Iron and vol 4 War - And yet, I dig the familial ties throughout this run of Wonder Woman. Here we have Diana winding her way through her Olympian family trying to recover and protect their newest member, baby Zeke, about whom a prophesy has vaguely foretold dire events to come for the Olympians. Diana is forced to ally herself with Olympians who may or may not be trustworthy - and whose allegiances seem to shift from moment to moment. The center - Wonder Woman, herself - always seems to hold, however, and that keeps her motley band together...barely. And now Wonder Woman has the power and responsibilities of the God of War imbuing her. Where do we go from here?
  • Fantastic Four: Island of Death - Welcome to sunny - and deadly - Puerto Rico. This volume collects four stories of the FF in and around the island nation. In fact, the island's beauty and charm are so much at the forefront of the stories (and of the natives' words) that I'm curious whether this was produced in conjunction with the Puerto Rica board of tourism. In all, the stories and art are entertaining enough, though, that I don't really care. It's fluff, but it's fun fluff. Interesting, too, that the comic was also released in Spanish.
  • Suicide Squad: Kicked in the Teeth - blech...just blech...nasty, nasty blech
  • Harley Quinn: Hot in the City - I'm going to quote from Collected Edition's review of this volume to start...
    Conner and Palmiotti's Harley Quinn series is not uproariously funny, but it is entertaining and goofy. Most appealing about the book is its bizarre range -- ultra-violent battles with ludicrous assassins we maybe expect, but it's wondrously confusing when the audience suddenly finds themselves, in the midst of it all, with Harley watching a burlesque, competing in roller derby, or holding a rooftop party for the tenants of her new apartment building (a trick Palmiotti pulled in Superboy, too). To some extent the new Harley Quinn series doesn't know what it is, except that it's not superhero comics as usual, and that may be its biggest selling point.
    That's about right. It's fun but it isn't brilliant fun. The first issue, however, is well worth finding and reading as Harley destroys the fourth wall auditioning various artists for her first solo book, each artist getting a couple of pages to showcase how he or she (I didn't actually pay enough attention to see if there was actually a female artist included anywhere). The rest of the volume never lives up to that excellence, but at least it's a fun read.
  • Batwoman: World's Finest - Here we get more gorgeous Batwoman artwork from JH Williams and a continuation of the previous two volumes' ever growing and tightening noose of conspiracy centered around the apparent crime organization Medusa - until we find that Medusa is The Medusa, the Gorgon, the sister of Greek mythology - which requires Batwoman to step up her game and team up with Wonder Woman, with whom she stands side by side, holding her own every red-booted step of the way. This is a fascinating Bat-family title in that is almost never overlaps with Batman, Robin, or even Batgirl, and I think that makes for a stronger character, one who doesn't need to be part of the Family in order to be successful. And there's the character-developing plot of her relationship with Maggie Sawyer as a well-written bonus. Check this one out, for certain.

July 2, 2015

An old skit...

I dig the sketch Le Jeunes de Paris on Saturday Night Live. It's just absurd enough for my tastes.

I am curious, though, why the videos rarely survive on YouTube for long - issues with music licensing, perhaps?

Luckily other video streaming sites aren't quite as legally-bound...

Les Jeunes De Paris from pete theman on Vimeo.

There are still two more I'm trying to embed - one with Anna Kendrick and a second with Emma Stone. I'll see what I can find. 'Til then, I'll link to them.

July 1, 2015

Collectible Minifigs series...um...14?

The info's not out in English yet, but it looks like the French (and then some English sites) are getting some advance info on the upcoming September release of the next series of collectible minifigures.

We've heard before that the release would be Halloween-themed (or monster-themed, maybe) and gotten a few leaked photos before, but this is a confirmation of that theme from the Lego Group, itself.

September 1, here we come, 16 for 16 again!