Friday, November 30, 2007

Laugh-Out-Loud Cats #562: Teh Fez and Anvl

Laugh-Out-Loud Cats #562
Originally uploaded by Ape Lad.

The "Laugh-out-Loud Cats" are a turn of the century style single panel comic created by Adam "Ape Lad" Koford. It features "the exploits of one Meowlin Q. Kitteh (a sort of cat hobo-raconteur) and his young hapless kitten friend, Pip."

Adam mixes internet memes, news stories, and pop culture then stirs in "Krazy Kat" and "The Yellow Kid" simplicity resulting in something that really is magical. Such a combination of art, technology and interactivity could not have existed 5 years ago.

After I made a comment on one of his recent comics, a new piece was posted with my idea incorporated, within an hour. This I am a honoured to be part of the creative process.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Cuteness overload

Be warned that this video of a dwarf hamster is far too cute. You may need to watch something disgusting afterwards to wash the sweetness from your eyes.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Wednesday One-liners

Here are some Wednesday One-liners to help you get through the week.

"I like clothing to make a statement. These say 'I'm not naked' "

"If you can't masturbate to the Food Network, you haven't been unemployed long enough."

"Some people get confused about the posted speed limit. They don't realize that it is measured relative to the ground, not from he car behind them. "

"Science Fiction conventions are like sausages, those who enjoy them should not watch them being assembled."

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Open letter to Network Television

Dear Network Television,

I know you must have a lot on your mind, considering the continuing writers strike and the November sweeps upon you, but I have a request.

Please stop vomiting your logo, commercials and bullshit text on the lower third of the screen. At best it is distracting, at worst it hides subtitles and supporting text. Stop it.

I know in your eyes the shows are just the filler between the "content" of the ads, but for the duration of show would it be such a sin to let it stand alone without urging us to buy hair products and obscuring the reason I turned to your channel in the first place?

Your Friend,

Monday, November 26, 2007

Lego Indiana Jones

The "Lego Indiana Jones" game looks like it will have similar feel and game play as the Lego Star Wars games that I love so much. This also means new minifigs, which everyone loves.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

David Boreanaz on the picket line

David Boreanaz on the picket line
Originally uploaded by zeitgeist_1975.

The Sunday Flickr Favourite team says Honk for the writers, and honk for David Boreanaz.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Introducing the Blunder bassoon

An elegant weapon from a more civilized age

During the buildup to Dragoncon 2007, I was tasked with constructing props for several members of the Vertigo's crew and companions. I made a stethoscope for our Doctor of Physik, a vasculum for our Botanist, but we also needed a weapon suitable for our weapons specialist and slayer.

First I did a little research on the kinds of weapons available in the real-world Victorian age (1830's to 1900's) and what was postulated by the Victorian fiction. Here is a short time-line of the history of firing mechanisms of personal weapons in the 1800's:

Flintlock: 1630 - 1860
Percussion Cap : 1830 - 1870's ish
Pin fire: 1835 - 1880
Rim fire: 1850 - Present
Centre fire: 1873- Present
Disintegrator Beam: 1898 -The not too distant future

The dates are estimates, with some disagreement between patent dates and first sale dates. Depending on when one's steampunk adventures take place, a rim fire revolver could be anachronistic, while having a energy beam weapon is within the bounds of the imagination of the era. Since this was kind of a golden age of development of the personal firearm, I tried to make something really interesting.

Since this is the weapon of a steampunk slayer, it needed to fire various target specific ordnance, including shot shells, gas assisted wooden flechettes, holy water phials, and bolts of bottled lightning from an advanced voltaic pile. The hose leading off from the bottom of the barrel is a "gas venting hose," which could be coupled to a exhaust canister or chemical drum.

Blunderbassoon Blunderbassoon
Using a toy "Smok'n Barrel" shotgun as a frame, I cut, sanded, and painted it into what we see here. I gave the plastic stock and grip a faux wood finish made it look used, but well cared for. The new muzzle is a toy clarinet. The idea was to invoke the look from the wide barrelled blunderbuss, while adding and steampunk styling such as gold and copper fittings. The scope is a Pirates of the Caribbean Mega Bloks spyglass.

Since it was build from of a toy gun, there is a functioning sound module in the stock that makes a "phutwow" shot sound effect when the trigger is pulled. The break action works great for carrying, storage and re-loading.

Let's face it. It's an excellent steampunk weapon.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Dragon*Con 2007 Sunday report

The slow and sporadic posts recounting my trip to Dragoncon 2007 continues with the details of my Sunday activities at the four day convention in Atlanta Georgia.

After the late night festivities and libations at the Wolfpack party on Saturday, Sunday shaped up to be more sedate. I decided to get in line for one of the big panels in the big ballroom. The loss of some of the program space in the Marriott due to renovations combined with record attendance in the shape of full panels and the form of overcrowded common areas. I got in line an hour early for the "Star Trek: The Next Generation Reunion panel" and I think it was worth it. The panel was Brent Spiner, Jonathan Frakes and Gates McFadden. It was fun to watch them riff off the audience. Clearly they have done enough conventions to know all the questions, and know all the answers so they were going to have a good time with it.

After the panel, it was time for lunch so I made my inaugural visit to the newly opened Marriott High Velocity sports bar. The Bar looks fantastic. The food was good, but the service was ridiculously slow. The hotel knows the convention means a higher than normal number of people eating in the hotel over the weekend, and last year had hired additional staff and modified their shop hours to accommodate the demand. It didn't feel like they compensated enough this year.

Liquid Lunch
The beautiful High Velocity Bar

Still, I was in no rush, so I casually sat in the bar and drank, whenever the bartender thought to take my order and serve the drink. Aaron Douglas from Battlestar Galactica sat at the other end of the bar, being all cool. I met a rock guitar player named Scott Banks and we talked about how to be cool when chatting with the celebrities. I got my chance to try being cool myself when Nichelle Nichols comes in, clutching a bouquet of flowers and, while standing beside me, starts looking for a place to sit down. When she started to walk away, I took the chance and invited her to sit next to me. She laughed a little and politely declined. Shortly afterwords, she and her entourage was led to a private room, when the rest of the bar realized she was there, they gave her a short ovation. She smiled and waved like a homecoming queen. Such are the ways of Science Fiction Royalty.

After some milling about people watching, and other related Con oriented activities, our group decided to suit up as the Crew and Companions of the Airship Vertigo once more and attend the Harry Potter Yule Ball. We attended last year and had a good time, so we sought to bring some steampunk to the party. It was a lot of fun, despite not winning the costume contest as we all hoped. Since the Yule Ball is hosted by the Young Adult track, the party was dry, which was probably just as well given the liquidity of the weekend up to that point.

Some highlights from the Harry Potter Ball were the Slytherin outfitted Jay and Silent Bob, and the Whomping willow costume replete with stilts.

Slytherin Jay and Silent Bob Whomping Willow

My Sunday Flickr photos

Previously on Slashboing

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Trivia to show how smart you are

Here are some quick facts you can use at cocktail parties to show that you are, indeed smarter than the people around you.

-The names of the MGM Lions, in order of use are "Slats" "Jackie" "Tanner" and "Leo". There is an unnamed fourth lion in the sequence, who roared mid-1956 to early 1957.

-Lasersdisc was first sold in 1978 under the name DiscoVision. The first title marketed in North America was Jaws, and the last title released in North America was Sleepy Hollow in 2000.

- The ritual of burning sugar over a glass Absinthe dates from the late 1990's and is not a historical method of serving the drink. This is done with bohemian-style 'absinth' because it lacks many of the oils that create a louche when water is dripped in.

-The book "A Clockwork Orange" was inspired by a real assault on the author's wife. The book inspired a film, which inspired Arthur Bremer to shoot Governor George Wallace. Bremer's diary inspired the film "Taxi Driver" which in turn inspired John Hinckley, Jr. to take a few shots at Ronald Reagan. Don't ever think people can't be inspirational.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Top 5 Fastrack Training Moments

There comes a time in an adventure story where the young and isolated hero-to-be must learn how to fight with a sword. This usually has to be accomplished in a very short period of time, so later on in the story he can show up the villains who have been using a sword for years. Sometimes this calls for a montage.

Here are my Top Five occurrences of this, presented in no particular order.

Order of the Stick:
Captain Scoundrell trains Elan. Set on the pirate's airship, this is a glowing homage to fast-track training needed by would-be heroes. The hows and whys of training are highlighted best here. [Part I] [Part 2]

Star Wars:A New Hope: Obi-Wan trains Luke. On a different kind of pirate's airship, the novice Luke learns to wield his sword of light. More importantly it is another opportunity to describe the nature of the force to the audience.

Heroes episode "Landslide" : Kaito trains Hiro. No airships this time, but the plucky Hiro must learn the way of the sword, and more importantly the way of the warrior.

Lord of the Rings:Fellowship of the Ring: Boromir trains the Hobbits. A tall mountain stands in for the airship here, as Boromir give the little ones a refresher in dodge, turn, parry and thrust.

Stardust: Captain Shakespeare trains Tristan. The pirate's airship again becomes the centre for training, as shopkeep Trisan learns swordwork, dancing and fashion sense.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Periodic Pr0n

Is there anything more regal or stately in the scientific community than the periodic table of the elements? If there is, I haven't found it.

Befitting the order and harmony found in the Mendeleev depiction of the periodic relationship of the elements, Theodore Gray has build a fine wood periodic table table. Each entry in the table has a small name plate in a specific kind of wood. The noble Gases are defined by the noble hard maple, the transition metals in white oak, rare earths in red oak. The uniqueness of Hydrogen captured in Gabon ebony.

Under each plate is a small sample of each element in as many states as can be mustered. Flakes of metals, tubes of gas, and atomic collectibles all are represented in the physical table.

Pictured here is Tungsten or "Wolfram." Both words are cool, and given its high melting point it is my favourite element.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Arguement Against Cursive

cursive (click "all sizes" to read it bigger)
Originally uploaded by Ape Lad.

It is "Sunday Flickr Favourites" time again, with this case against cursive by the indomitable Adam "Ape Lad" Koford.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Gadget Pr0n

To solve food acquisition quandaries I present some utensils that may change the future of snacking as we know it.

The titanium spork is 1.0, but the Brunton folding titanium spork is serious 2.0.
If a combined fork and spoon with a high strength-to-weight ratio is too garish and modern for you, the bamboo tipped Brunton folding chopsticks are the ancient and refined alternative.Think geek also offers a set of collapsible chopsticks with a stainless steel shaft and white ash tips that are sexy as they are deadly.
Next time you use a "fork" and "knife" consider some of these alternatives.

Disclosure: I don't get a dime from these companies, I just like interesting tech.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Doctor Who Children in Need 2007

This is the 2007 Doctor Who contribution for the Children in Need 2007 fund raiser. It is full of pure fanboy joy.

[Link to the video should the embed fail]

Futzing with photos

Tell me if you have ever seen this happen: People gather at an event, and a stranger is found to take a group photo. Cameras appear. Many cameras. Everyone in the shot wants a picture with their camera.

When film was king, this made sense. The process of getting duplicates and distributing them back to the group was time consuming, pricey and awkward which gave rise to the gang camera cluster. What made sense in the darker ages, is anachronistic in the digital age. Talented engineers and software designers developed digital cameras, memory sticks, email, USB, flickr, photobucket, zipfiles, and ftp servers explicitly to share digital information.

Despite all these things being literally a our fingertips, we still inundate bystanders with arm-loads of cameras to take the identical shot, and I don't know why.

Whenever this situation occurs, and the accidental photog pauses due to confusion over the point and click interface, I quip something along the lines of "Too bad we don't have a vast network of high-speed computers to share this readily transferable digital information." Some people laugh, most roll their eyes, but my point stands.

If emailing or posting pictures is too much of a hassle, perhaps cameras should be able to transfer pictures between them wirelessly, so the swap can be done on the spot. iPhones can probably do this already, when not grating cheese or adjusting the blinds on the space shuttle, but once real cameras have this functionality, I hope to see an end to the gang-up camera cluster.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Blog Readability Test

A "Blog Readability" test was applied to Slashboing. The results are surprising:

I'm just saying.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Repect John Munch

At the time of writing, the character of John Munch is the only character to appear in nine different series, portrayed by the same actor. The actor in question being the one time funny man, Richard Belzer. I loved the character on Homicide, and was glad to see him move on to Law and Order when the first series ended.

richard belzer
Originally uploaded by K8 Balls O' Fire.

The deadpan Munch can be found in:

Granted most of these are from the Law & Order franchise, but it is still an impressive achievement. This character is iconic enough to be included in the Sesame Street production of "Law and Order: Special Letters unit".

[Link to video should the embed fail]

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Top 5 worst ideas for television

Although I support the writers, I'm a little worried that the strike will cause network television to digress further into reality shows and high concept game shows.

Here are some awful ideas for shows that may be around the corner:
  • So you want to be a Mailman
  • Celebrity Duck-Duck-Goose
  • Wheel of Veal
  • Waterboarding for Dollars
  • Find the Cocktail Onion, with Regis Philbin

Monday, November 12, 2007

Why the writer's strike is important

[Link to video should the embed fail]

found via

Fandom realizes that all of our favourite characters that we wish to emulate, and all their witty dialogue that we love to quote, sprung from the minds of writers. Desiring to show support for the writers in some tangible way, Fans 4 Writers was formed, initially to deliver pizza to the strikers. The army behind this fan group reads like a who's who of big-name Browncoats who have earned the right to that name more times than I can count.

Hold the line.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Flying Man

Hotel Bed Jumping
Originally uploaded by Chrispitality.

The Sunday Flickr Favourites team bring us this picture of a man who can fly. Or more accuracy of a man who can jump. On beds. In hotel rooms.

I love this picture because it shows what kind of shots you can get without dipping into Photoshop.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Happy Caturday!

According to the seldom wrong source of "Encyclopedia Dramatica," Caturday is a "4chan meme that involves mass-posting of images containing cats and cat related objects, like kittens." 4Chan is where many internet memes are born, and where they go to die.

In the noble spirit and hoary traditions of Caturday, I too will display my cat on this fine day before Sunday. No LOLing please, unless it's really good.


Friday, November 09, 2007

Worst Film company known to man or beast

Have you ever gone to the video rental place and found box art looked suspiciously like a previously made film, or looked like the poster for a film that was still playing in the theatres? You won't have to look to hard to find titles like "Transmorphers" or "Snakes on a Train," so you may wonder where these straight-to-DVD, overt knockoffs come from.

Chances are, these poor imitations are made by The Asylum.

There is nothing wrong with making a cheep film. Having a story to tell and the passion to tell it can often make one reach beyond the budgetary grasp. There is nothing wrong with making amateur films. There is nothing wrong with parody, or riffing on popular culture. However The Asylum makes derivative clones on the cheap and sends them out to make a quick buck.

You have been warned.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

eShopping Therapy

I have been working some longer hours lately and haven't had a chance to get much shopping done. Both the necessities and the luxuries have gone wanting. Given that, and the strong Canadian Dollar, the only answer is to shop online.

I used to think that the online experience would never replace the tactile pleasure of the brick-and-mortar store, but I was wrong. While shopping for Guitar Hero III, I had to go to five different stores. When I bought Guitar Hero: 80's, it arrived promptly from Amazon.

Here is what all arrived today, even though it was made up of four different orders from two different sites:
This assortment makes me feel good, for a while. I have also done my Christmas shopping for about half of the people on my list. Yes I do my Christmas shopping before Remembrance Day, I'm awesome that way.

Some may note that I did not provide a link regarding "Led Zeppelin." If you don't know who this band is, a Wikipedia page will not help you. You have either been living in a cave your entire life and the whole mouse-keyboard interface is confusing to you, or you don't have ears for hearing. Both tales are sad, but neither can be cured by a hyperlink.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Dragon*Con 2007 Saturday report

I know it has been a few months, but I feel that I should complete my day-by-day diary and report from Dragoncon 2007.

Part the First: The Parade

Last year I was lucky enough to be in the parade as a Jedi. This year I chose to watch, so I could cheer each group and get some decent pictures. I got some great shots, but was unfortunately on the opposite side of the street from veritate to capture her properly whilst she was performing in the parade. I loved seeing the Monarch's henchmen and the Ghostbusters herding a Louis Tully through the streets. My parade shots can be seen on my flickr set.

Monarch Henchmen Louis Tully and the Ghostbusters

Part the Second: Convention Activities

After the parade, I hit a quick panel on Star Wars Lego. The host of the discussion wore a full body Darth Vader costume made from Lego. He gave a review of the Lego Star Wars licence, and some of the terms and challenges that are unique to Lego builders. The custom minifigs were fantastic, with LEDs mounted in the droids and Clone Commandos making them really unique. Note the minifig based on the concept art Luke figure from Celebration IV.

Lego Vader Helmet off Custom Lego Luke and Clones

Other convention highlights include finding music by the zombie rock group The Serpenteens, getting some comics signed by Adam Hughes, and finding the Eighth Doctor TV movie on DVD.

Part the Third: Evening sortie

The evening hours were spent in my "formal steampunk" costume at the Wolfpack party. The Wolfpack is a group dedicated to quality costumes and props, supportive members, and kick-ass parties.

This party was indeed kick ass, with rock from the Killer Robots, pole dancing girls and friendly hosts. I was personally thanked several times, with a handshake, for coming to the the event.

Killer Robots are coming to get you

My Saturday Flickr photos

Previously on Slashboing

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Guitar Hero III Review

After hitting five different stores, I managed to acquire Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock for the Playstation 2. This is my little review.

Guitar Hero III
Originally uploaded by ray_lukes.

Look/Feel: The new styling is good and not distracting. The cosmetic changes were likely made because it was developed by a different company than the earlier games in the series. Your "streak" status comes up on the screen when you reach a milestone, which adds a little visual noise to the interface, but it is soon ignored as you progress.

Setlist: Top notch. Almost every song deserves to be there. Some of the atonal guitar "noise" parts are less than fun to play. Melody is king in a game like this.

Game Play: Mixed. While little has changed over the course series, there seems to be a slight adjustment in the response of the strum bar for this game. The earlier games were more forgiving with the amount of "slap back" of the tab it would allow before counting it as a separate strum. This means one could flick the bar like one would strum a guitar. This game is much more finicky, so I had to change up my playing style to accommodate. This will only effect those players who strum in that fashion, which appears to be a minority.

The Hammer-on, pull-off technique is great, and the indication for it (a white ringed note) is much clearer with this game's design. The song encoders for this game took good advantage of this and made huge sections "hammer-onable."

: Most of the cosmetic changes are not worth noting. Slightly different characters, outfits and guitars don't have an impact on my enjoyment of the game. The "star power" actions your avatar perform have been made more realistic, and less showy unless there is a mode I have yet to unlock.

Battle Mode: The addition of battle mode will make two person games much more interesting. I have only played against the in-game bosses on "Difficult," so I'm not sure how I would fare against another player.

Overall: A must have game, if you enjoy the series. The gameplay changes are minor, and are easily overcome. By the time you finish this game, going back to GH 1 will be like discovering it anew. The songs are great, and one always needs more songs to satiate the Guitar Hero cravings.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Current Fixation: Pho

I've been on a Pho kick for a few months now. Pho (pronounced "fuh") is a Vietnamese noodle soup that combines Chinese, French and native influences into a bowl of pure joy.

I am not alone in touting this man-soup love. Every Friday our company drives about 50 blocks to have huge bowls of Beef Sate. We have taken to wearing red shirts on this day to prevent sate splash damage. One of our crew has even started wearing sate goggles to prevent eye damage from the savoury soup. Yes, we are serious Pho lovers.

To make our Phodays extra special, I have created gang colours for our company to wear. Group Pictures will follow.

In other photastic news, the blog Phofever seeks to track every Pho place in the United States along with reviews. When they include Canada to the guide, I plan on adding to it.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Better get some ice on that.

Better get some ice on that.
Originally uploaded by Mr_Sable.

Sunday Flickr favourites brings us proof of the application of ice to accentuate the finer points of a photograph or film.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Starship size comparison

Compiled by Dan Carlson, here is a very well researched and informative diagram showing all the relative sizes of various ships and Starbases from multiple Science Fiction and Fantasy series.

I admire this level of detail in any fandom project.

Click to view larger

Nablopomo 2007

I have joined the National Blog Posting Month project. I will be posting daily for the month of November, as I did last year. This should counter balance my diminished posting for the month of October, but I haven't been surfing the web as freely as I usually do, leaving me with less to pass on to my friends those who pass randomly through the blogosphere.

For those readers on Livejournal, I have a feed that can be added to your friends list, available here.

It is time to make blogging fun again.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Favourite Swedish Chef Recipe

This is a classic Muppet Show sketch that I repost here without further commentary so as not to take away from the experience.

[Link to video should the embed fail]

Thursday, November 01, 2007

On Bananas

Have you heard that bananas are going to be extinct in 10 years? That has been the chatter since it hit the news 2003. Is this forecast overly pessimistic? Perhaps.

Beautiful blue sky ruined by....
Originally uploaded by [OP].

The Cavendish banana is indeed at risk due to its manipulated genetic monoculture and a range of ailments from which it has no natural defence. However there are several hundred varieties of bananas available, with new ones being developed to fill our insatiable lust for affordable year round tropical fruit. There are also strict quarantine regulations to prevent the spread of infection to all the various farms.

While no one can deny the need for greater genetic diversity for a stable and secure food supply, we should also be wary of sensationalist headlines.