Saturday, March 06, 2010

Unilluminating Inanities Facts

After an unusually long period of effectiveness the Google/Blogger spam-filters stopped working some months ago. Or maybe the spammers finally figured out whatever trick Google had employed to keep them at bay. Whatever the case, I've been getting a lot of junk spam comments on a lot of my old blog posts of late, but none more than this one, my "Men Who Stare at Goats" review post. Right now it's got 83 comments, all of which appear to be in Japanese. Most have a helpful link to some Japanese adult sites. The spammers are also enjoying commenting on my Asheville post. 23 so far on that one.

Thought I'd share.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Winter is Coming

HBO has officially picked up George RR Martin's "Game of Thrones" for a full 10-episode season

From the Hollywood Reporter:

Winter is, indeed, coming.

HBO has greenlighted highly anticipated fantasy series "Game of Thrones."

The premium network has picked up the project for a first season debut next spring (below is the first released photo from the series). Nine episodes plus the pilot have been ordered. Production will begin in Belfast this June.

From the moment the project was first announced in development, the series based on the George R.R. Martin novels has generated enormous, perhaps unprecedented, online interest for a series at such an early stage.

The sprawling tale set in the mythical land of Westeros tells the story of the noble Stark family who become caught up in high court intrigue when patriarch Eddard (played by Sean Bean) becomes the king's new right-hand man. The four-and-counting books in the series would each be used as one season of the series.

Unlike many fantasy novels, the "Thrones" series largely avoids relying on magical elements and instead goes for brutal realism -- think "Sopranos" with swords. Martin, a former TV writer ("Beauty and the Beast"), writes each chapter as a cliffhanger, which should lend itself well to series translation. David Benioff and Dan Weiss are the series creators.

That image above is the first one released to the public. Bad things have clearly happened there in the snow. Sadly, more bad things will happen soon.

The first episode will air next Spring, which is damn far away, but plenty of time for me to save my pennies and sign up for some pay cable for 10 weeks. I'm telling you folks, if this series is half as good as the first book in this series, people are going to go nuts for this. Can't wait.

In fact, do yourself a favor: click it.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

New Car!

The wife and I bought an '07 Prius from a CarMax on Saturday.

We'd been circling and circling the new Honda Insight, test driving it a couple times at different dealerships, but at the end of the day, we just didn't want to eat the depreciation costs that come with a new car. But we weren't exactly thrilling to the idea of a used car. Obvious financial benefits to going used, sure, but not as fun as being the very first owner of a car. So if we did go used, it'd have to be something that would keep us away from the wallet-rapists that dwell in auto-repair garages nationwide for a very long time. The memories of what was done to us to keep the Crown Vic running the last couple years are still fresh in our minds. So with the loan approval set to expire soon, the wife did a little looking on-line and found some newish Priuses with low mileage at a CarMax across town. We went, test drove, and said yes to becoming a two-car household again. Yay!

[And yes, it is a Toyota but no, it is not under recall. Yet. We're not really worried about the acceleration problem: folks who've run the numbers say Toyota drivers have a better chance of getting struck by lightning than experiencing uncontrolled acceleration. Of course it was my good buddy Akio Toyoda who told me that, but he's always been so open and candid with me and really everyone since I've known him, I feel like I can trust it.]

Some fun facts about the new car:
1.) When I drove out to my folks' house to show them the car, we drove 62 miles. Our average mpg on the way over: 57 mpg. A little more than a gallon. Of course the Prius gets amazing mileage when you're essentially coasting downhill, and since my folks appear to be much closer to sea level than I am, I basically just steered over there. It usually averages in the high 40s. So much better than the 15 mpg I got with the Crown Vic.

2.) To put the Prius in park, you press the 'park' button. Those thousands of minutes wasted and untold millions of calories expended to shove a metal stick jutting out of the steering column from one groove to another is now, finally, a thing of the past.

3.) And just when you thought I couldn't get lazier, to turn this thing on and off? Another button. Push-button start folks. Prius understands me. Prius gets how much I hate putting a key in the ignition and turning it.

4.) Reverse camera. When I back up, I see what the back of my car sees. No more backing up over bikes, cats, and toddlers. Also next time I go to the drive-in, I can back up to the screen, put it in reverse, and watch the magic of movies unfold on my dash display! Nevermind the bright white reverse lights or the unceasing beep beep sounds my car will make.

Now these features are by no means new to the automotive world, but they are quite new to me, so I feel like I've stepped into the future of cars. And the gas mileage! Who knew I hated to buy gas this much? But I do. And who needs smug liberal bumper stickers when you drive a Prius? Smug liberal is basically implied. But then again, cost-conscious conservatives also love them some fuel economy. People of all political stripes can get into this thing. Anyway, we're both enjoying the new car.

Also, total digression:

Everytime I go the NYTimes website, in the lower right-hand corner I see this photo and it's really messing with me. Thought I'd share with the group.

Monday, March 01, 2010

The Internet Age's Airbrush Virtuosos Bring You a Megan Fox Time-Lapse

This is pretty amazing. Starting with a blank PhotoShop canvas, this guy, Nico DiMatttia, re-creates a very nearly photo-realistic still of Megan Fox from one of the Transformers movies. It's a time-lapse of the process and it lasts 5 minutes.

One thing I've learned from artists like this is that when you get to a certain level of mastery, skilled artists, especially those who work in paint (real and virtual), are not horrified or discouraged when the image they're creating looks like hell in the early stages. Whenever I work in color and I get my image into the looks-like-hell stage, I'm never really able to bring it out of it. I just need to practice like this guy! Anyway, worth a look (or let it load and just watch the last little bits to see how he finishes it off.)

One question to consider: did Nico choose Megan Fox as his subject for the 7-8 hours it took him to do this because he's a savvy artist and knew Megan would get his YouTube more total views, or did he choose her because he's kind of a cheeseball and the absolute best thing he could think of to spend 7-8 hours drawing in excruciating detail on PhotoShop was Megan Fox? I don't know. We report. You decide.