Thursday, December 9, 2010

3-D Everything

Posted By on Thu, Dec 9, 2010 at 11:33 AM

Last night I was watching TV with my girlfriend when a commercial for Tron: Legacy came on. We were wondering if the Pink Palace IMAX theater would be showing it. (For the record, it doesn't look like it.)

Anyway, this led to a conversation about how ubiquitous 3-D entertainment is becoming. Avatar — the highest grossing film of all time — was largely seen in 3-D, stores have 3-D TVs on display for holiday shoppers, and sports in 3-D is now a reality.

It occurred to me that the shift to 3-D over 2-D is similar to the shift from mono to stereo in audio reproduction.

There are some obvious parallels: Stereo sound seeks to reproduce how we hear in the natural world — our ears hear things slightly differently and we can therefore determine a sense of distance and direction. Our eyes determine depth and distance the same way. 3-D technology gives each eye a separate "channel" of information to replicate the slightly different points-of-view our eyes see in the natural world. (Which is why 3-D stuff looks weird without the glasses and even weirder if you have the glasses and close one eye.)


Will 3-D reproduction become the standard the way stereo audio is?


And just for fun...

Friday, December 3, 2010

On Holiday Spirit

Posted By on Fri, Dec 3, 2010 at 9:05 AM

When it comes to Holiday Spirit, I'm what marketers call a "late adopter." I just can't get revved up the day after Thanksgiving (or Halloween, as it seemed to be this year) the way some people can. Deep down, I know I can't sustain my enthusiasm for a whole month without serious risk of having a blowout and going all Dan-Aykroyd-in-Trading-Places at someone's party.

See above.
  • See above.

I'm not a humbug, I'm just pacing myself.

But this vid making the rounds put a smile on my face:

(My favorite part is the janitor with the wet floor sign. But anyway...)

Something about a flash mob in a shopping mall really hits the nail on the head when it comes to our attitudes toward the collection of various religious and secular events we now call The Holidays. It expresses a hope we all seem to have: In the midst of the consumerism-binge, something kind of amazing can happen. At least enough to make you smile and say "that was awesome."

I know it's a little early yet, but Happy Holidays.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Well, Buckle My Hat...

Posted By on Wed, Nov 24, 2010 at 10:58 AM

...It's Thanksgiving time again.

I was originally just going to post this link, in celebration of the time-honored tradition of hand turkeys.

There are, of course, many variations but my favorite is this guy:

This cat has thumbs.
  • This cat has thumbs.

Most cats wouldn't be able to make your standard hand turkey because the don't have thumbs. (And a headless hand turkey just looks like a bush or something.)

But that cat appears to be polydactyl, meaning it has a genetic mutation that caused it to grow more toes than normal. They're sometimes called Hemingway cats, because Hemingway had one and now his estate in Key West is covered in them.

There's lots of folklore around polydactyl cats and they were especially popular on ships. (And good lord there's a lot of stories about ship's cats.)

I'm not really going anywhere with this, except to say once and for all... Only mutant cats get to make hand turkeys.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Twitter Trivia: The Rules

Posted By on Tue, Nov 23, 2010 at 10:41 AM

(Every Tuesday around 2pm, I conduct a little trivia contest via Twitter. To play, you need to have a Twitter account and you need to follow the Memphis Flyer.)

Here's how it works:
The prize for each week's contest will be announced in a Tweet a few minutes before the question is posted.
Once the question is posted, reply @memphisflyer to enter.
The first correct response wins. Twitter timestamps are by minutes (not seconds), so if there is not a clear winner, correct responses from the first minute will be entered into a random drawing to select a winner. The winner will be contacted via Twitter Direct Message with details about claiming the prize.

Lastly, if you win, you cannot win again for one month. You know, just to spread the love around.

Good luck!

Friday, November 5, 2010

TGIF Links

Posted By on Fri, Nov 5, 2010 at 11:13 AM

Some things I found interesting. For your edification:

Sorry I haven't posted. A blog comprised entirely of excuses for not blogging.

Happy Guy Fawkes Day!

How not to be a good editor.

Man in scary-good old man mask passes through airport security, boards international flight to Vancouver.

Physicist Richard Feynman on magnets and why "Why" questions can be so difficult to answer (video).

Daylight Savings Time ends this weekend. "I just wish they would stay plain old every day time all year round — the way God made it."


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Walking the Walk

Posted By on Tue, Oct 26, 2010 at 12:30 PM

In the last few weeks, you may have heard about the various campaigns that have started up to combat teen bullying — particularly of LGBT youth — in the wake of several suicides.

Best I can tell, it all started with columnist and activist Dan Savage's It Gets Better Project, a YouTube channel comprised of testimonials encouraging young people to persevere through painful times.

The submissions accumulated quickly from all quarters, including videos from the cast of Wicked currently performing at the Orpheum here in Memphis, President Barack Obama, and Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson.

Bishop Robinson's video is particularly poignant since the only real opposition to LGBT rights — and the only support for LGBT teen bullying — comes from the religious right.

Another Episcopal Bishop, John Shelby Spong, has since posted a Manifesto*. It begins...

Bishop John Shelby Spong
  • Bishop John Shelby Spong

I have made a decision. I will no longer debate the issue of homosexuality in the church with anyone. I will no longer engage the biblical ignorance that emanates from so many right-wing Christians about how the Bible condemns homosexuality, as if that point of view still has any credibility.

and continues...
I will no longer listen to that pious sentimentality that certain Christian leaders continue to employ, which suggests some version of that strange and overtly dishonest phrase that "we love the sinner but hate the sin." That statement is, I have concluded, nothing more than a self-serving lie designed to cover the fact that these people hate homosexual persons and fear homosexuality itself, but somehow know that hatred is incompatible with the Christ they claim to profess, so they adopt this face-saving and absolutely false statement.

The struggle of moderate Christians against the small but vocal fringes is one I'm familiar with.

When I was in high school, I was active in the youth leadership of my church (Christian Church, Disciples of Christ). One summer, I attended a national conference in Kansas City along with some other youth leaders from Arkansas. The main item on the docket was the issue of LGBT ministers. But the issue wasn't whether there could be LGBT ministers, but how to deal with intolerance within congregations. There was never any question of whether or not an LGBT individual could serve.

The first morning of the conference, we looked out the windows of the convention center and saw that we were being protested. There was a small crowd out on the corner with signs quoting Leviticus. There were children with signs saying "God Hates Fags" and worse. This was my first (and thankfully only) personal encounter with Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church.

I couldn't fathom that anyone would protest a church conference. My emotions ran the gamut from shock to anger to sadness, even a bit of titillation that we were somehow controversial.

Luckily, my fellow convention-goers had a more clear-headed response. They went outside and sang to the protesters. Loudly.

Some went out and bought sidewalk chalk. When the protesters left at the end of the day, they went outside and covered the street corner in Bible verses espousing love and acceptance.

Though I'm no longer affiliated with a church, I still have a lot of respect for the church in which I was raised, largely due to the events of that weekend. I was — and still am — proud to be involved with fellow humans willing to publicly stand against bigotry and hatred, especially coming from people supposedly on the same "side."

That message is now gaining strength through leaders like Bishops Spong and Robinson. If you call yourself a Christian and are tired of being tarred with the brush of intolerance and bigotry, it's time to stop talking the talk and... well, you know the rest.

(* First read here.)

Friday, September 17, 2010

In the Audience at the Ian MacKaye Q&A

Posted By on Fri, Sep 17, 2010 at 12:01 PM

Ian MacKaye was at the Brooks last night for a public Q&A. So was I.

After introductions from Cameron Mann and Andria Lisle (which were blissfully short; the crowd knew who they were there to see), Ian MacKaye was met with a decidedly reserved round of applause from a crowd that would've looked perfectly at home seeing a show the Hi-Tone up the street. This set the stage for his initial remarks.

He mused on the fact that the event was inside a museum, which serve as "cold storage lockers of history," and that venues greatly influence the behavior of an audience. Over the next hour and 45 or so he fielded questions — mostly about music — that led to some interesting tangents and anecdotes.

Some things from my notebook:
On creating music and the collaborative process: "Don't come in with a [completed] song or you will be sad."
On Al Jourgensen of Ministry, whom he worked with briefly in Pailhead: "He's a really sweet guy. And deeply talented."
On music's role in society: "It's a point of gathering," and "a sacred form of communication."
On audience: "It's not a show if people don't go."

He had a great line about fear. I won't pretend to recall his exact words, but he was talking about situations that cause a knee-jerk reaction in people, specifically new and revolutionary types of music. He said that the fear reaction is just unused areas of your brain being massaged. Most people turn the fear of the new into hostility, but for him it's a signal that there's more to it.

Ian MacKaye is a thoughtful guy who puts his intellect out front. The world seems to pass first through his brain before emotion gets involved. A very calm individual. I've always been interested in people who are willing to think about things like live music performance analytically.

His final remarks brought the whole thing back around to issues of venue. His current band The Evens doesn't play rock clubs or bars. They specifically seek out unusual locations that are outside the realm of the alcohol industry. For him, it's about getting back to that "point of gathering" without the trappings of commodity that are often regarded as unavoidable today. He seems to be searching for something primal — that impetus that first made cavemen gather to make sounds together.

Although last night's gathering wasn't a music performance, I think anyone who attended will agree that music was the reason, at root, that we were all there.

Bonus: David Byrne gave a TED talk about how the architecture of venues has influenced music, which I was reminded of. It's a terrific presentation you should watch:

Friday, September 3, 2010

Thoughts on the Internet Hate Machine (*Annotated)

Posted By on Fri, Sep 3, 2010 at 11:08 AM

This article on Gawker/Valleywag asks: "Is 4chan Turning Into Internet Good Guys?*"

You may not know or care what 4chan is. I'll let you read what Gawker says about them.

As the article points out, the Internet Hate Machine has been cranked into motion twice in recent weeks in order to track down the woman who trashed a cat and the girl who pitched puppies into a river.**

Gawker asks:

"OMG, are they coming back over to the Light side, like Anakin Skywalker at the end of Return of the Jedi???"***

I think the real point is much simpler: animal cruelty is repugnant. Even to the repugnant-est folks around.

Explosion/Puppy enthusaist Michael Bay
  • Explosion/Puppy enthusaist Michael Bay

(*Shouldn't that headline read either "Are 4chan Turning Into Internet Good Guys?" or "Is 4chan Turning Into Internet Good Guy?)

(**Anyone else surprised that both were women? Isn't sociopathy, like, a million times more common in men?)

(*** actual factual quote from Gawker McValleywag himself)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Damn, That Sucks.

Posted By on Fri, Aug 20, 2010 at 10:14 AM

Leaving my apartment this morning, I crossed paths with an acquaintance who lives in the building. He threw his hands into the air and asked, "How long have you lived here, man?"
"About four years."
"Ever had your car broken into?"
I looked over his shoulder and saw a truck missing it's driver's side window. "Damn, that sucks."
I went on to tell him that my car had indeed been broken into a few years ago while parked in a particular area near our building — the same place he had happened to park last night.
In both our cases, the thieves didn't take anything of consequence: He lost his radio, which he didn't think to be of much value. I lost a booklet of burned CD's, having learned not to keep originals in the car after a previous break-in wiped out my collection.
In my case, the cost of the broken window far exceeded the value of what I lost; probably so for my friend, too. These were crimes of opportunity and desperation, not premeditated or orchestrated.
It reminded me of Bruce's column this week. His friends' reactions to his break-in included "That's Memphis" and "Get used to it." As an addition to that list, I humbly submit "Damn, that sucks."
Sometimes it sucks to be here. I think we can all fess up to that.
But that's true anywhere. Here, it sucks because it's really freakin' hot and sometimes your stuff gets taken.
But then you know not to park there any more. And autumn is on it's way. And today is Friday.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Phone Book Guilt

Posted By on Tue, Aug 10, 2010 at 9:19 AM

This photo was taken outside my apartment building a while back.

Uninvited mountain of paper.
  • Uninvited mountain of paper.

Every time a Yellow Pages appears outside my apartment door, I get a little sad.

It just seems so wasteful — using a whole brick of paper to print information I already have at my fingertips and plopping it, uninvited, at my doorstep. It's like saying here's your share of dead tree guilt! Enjoy!

On top of that, I didn't sign up for it in the first place. I haven't had a land line in years and I haven't needed a phone book since I learned to spell Google.

(I mean, I enjoy a good tow truck or bail bondsman ad as much as the next guy, but I don't need a 5-pound brick of them every 6 months.)

So I started wondering — can I unsubscribe from phone books like I unsubscribe from spammy newsletters?

And then I stacked the new phone book on top of the others next to my front door and went back to thinking about comic books, racquetball, gummy bears...

... until this article about a proposed city-administered phone book opt-out in Seattle renewed my interest in the subject.

Turns out you can, in fact, unsubscribe from phone book delivery by searching by area code.

So I did. Next time, that giant pile of pulp outside my apartment will be one phone book smaller.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday Fun

Posted By on Fri, Jul 23, 2010 at 11:34 AM

Comic-Con attendees counter-protest Phelps and Westboro Baptist Church with hilarious results.

word, son.
  • word, son.

File under "things I learned today"... Mosquito Hawks don't eat mosquitoes, or anything else for that matter.

Get off the phone, then order.

Zach Whitten, of Brain Release Valve and The Great and Secret Thing, has an awesome list of non-superhero graphic novels he recommends... ...and that should take care of my spendin' money for the next few weeks.

Young comedian miraculously recovers from heckler after he starts a bit with "The first time I had sex [pause]..."

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Could your child be a talentless mess?

Posted By on Thu, Jul 22, 2010 at 1:02 PM

While browsing the CNN homepage, I saw this photo and link:

God, let's hope not.

The article that followed is titled Want to keep your child drug-free? Here are five signs of possible trouble.

Thank God, our kids won't turn out like Lindsay Lohan if we just keep them off drugs!

But seriously, these articles should stop mentioning the movies she's been in because nobody saw them and the only way we've heard of this person is because she's on sites like CNN because she does drugs.

CNN evidently saw Lohan's time in jail as an opportunity to re-purpose some stock material to get parents worried about their kids.

But the resources they link to are hilarious. Check out this Drug Guide by Slang from

It includes the term "fags" for cigarettes, in case your child is on drugs and British, "booze" for... well, booze... in case your child talks like a 50 year old bartender, and "weed" for marijuana in case your kid is not particularly creative.

Also funny is the link to that goes to a blank page.

[Insert "someone somewhere is on some drugs!" joke here.]

(screenshot of the blank page = covering my ass in case they fix it)
  • (screenshot of the blank page = covering my ass in case they fix it)

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Posted By on Thu, Jul 15, 2010 at 3:55 PM

A post on Wired yesterday discusses a news report out of Oklahoma claiming that kids are downloading mp3s that cause drug-like effects when listened to. It's called "I-dosing" and it's all the rage, according to the news report and some clips from YouTube in the background.

I'm reminded of the reports of strawberry-flavored meth being sold to children. (It tastes YUMMY and we know kids love snacks!) Obviously the whole thing plays to parents who fear that the internet will corrupt their kids. (It will, just not with mp3s of droning sounds.)

"Digital drugs" sounds like some crazy underworld from a Phillip K. Dick novel but, they're just sound files. So theoretically the same sounds could be played on vinyl, right? I'm pretty sure if there were sounds that actually cause drug-like effects, we would have heard about it a long time ago and Pink Floyd records would be even cooler.

But that's not to say music can't have interesting psychological effects. I've got a good bit of music in my collection that will mess with your head.

Like this:

Monday, July 12, 2010

Barefoot Bandit Captured

Posted By on Mon, Jul 12, 2010 at 9:30 AM

Colton Harris-Moore was apprehended in the Bahamas yesterday.

(If you haven't heard that name before, Google it.)

He's lucky to be alive. Ever since he was reported to be armed, I thought he'd never see a courtroom.

His court appearance should be a media frenzy and I have a feeling Colton Harris-Moore will be a household name by the end of the week.

One of the few photos of Harris-Moore, with various stolen items. Found (deleted) on a stolen digital camera.
  • One of the few photos of Harris-Moore, with various stolen items. Found (deleted) on a stolen digital camera.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Friday Light Reading/Viewing

Posted By on Fri, Jul 9, 2010 at 10:35 AM

Steve Carrell and Stephen Colbert in the return of Even Stevphen:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Steve Carell
Colbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionFox News

15 Things you didn't know about Office Space.

Weekly photo lineup contest from The Smoking Gun. Match the arrestee with his/her weapon of choice.

A Fatwa we can all get behind. Fatwa decrees vuvuzela haram above 100 decibels.

Cat steals women's panties from neighbors' clotheslines and brings them home. (Side note: I always get a little tickled when the BBC or any other UK news org uses the term "knickers." Pip-pip cheerio!)

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