Five things on Friday #87

Things of note for the week ending August 29th, 2014.

FALL INTO THE THINGS

1. McMoons
No, this story isn’t about a lunar McDonald’s opening up sometime soon. No. This is in fact a STUPENDOUSLY AWESOME story about a bunch of ex-NASA civilians deciding to capture an abandoned satellite by taking over a disused McDonalds and assembling the tools they need from EBAY. Yes, that’s right, EBAY.

Not. Kidding.

MCMOONS!

Honestly, this is one of the best things I’ve read this month.

You should read it.

McMoon’s is, of course, what the crack team of space commandos have [re]christened their new home. Love it.

2. Ricky & Jerry
Jerry Seinfeld has, for some time now, had his own web series simply called ‘Comedians in cars getting coffee’. If you’ve never watched it before well hurrah! You’ve got loads to catch up on.

Ricky and Jerry

I watched the Ricky Gervais one last week and, aside from being hilarious, it reminded me not only of the lovely friendship the two have but also the quite frankly, fantastic HBO special, ‘Talking Funny‘.

It’s a 49 minute long discussion about comedy between Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Louie CK, and Ricky Gervais – and it is GOLD.

Watch it tonight instead of TV.

You won’t regret it.

3. Minority Reporting
A short dissection of the finale of the [criminally underrated] Minority Report. Spoilers, obviously. But read this and I doubt you’ll ever be able to watch it in the same way again.

4. Distracting Extras
I’m not a big one for adding list posts to a list of posts you should read. HOWEVER. This list of ‘The 12 most distracting extras in movie history‘ genuinely made me chuckle. Yes, the Star Wars Storm Trooper is in there, but what about the underwear girl from Teen Wolf? You ever seen her before?

Great work.

Link contains 12 YouTube clips. FYI.

5. What’s next for Twitter?
A great piece of conjectural thinking from Alex Young of We Are Social. If you’re sat around thinking ‘Exactly what is next for this Twitter thing I work so hard on?’, then this post is a really good place to start.

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Bonuses this week:

 

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Chet Faker – Gold

Oh my God this music video is so good I want to cry.

Chet Faker

Seriously, just watch it.

The music. The movement. The undulating sheen*.

WATCH IT AGAIN.

Make it big.

HD.

SO. GOOD.

 

*via the inimitable evj – thank you for this.

Uhhhh.

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Five things on Friday #86

Things of note for the week ending August 22nd, 2014.

THE THINGS. THERE ARE FIVE OF THEM.

1. Annual Wildlife Photographer of the Year Finalists
There isn’t much I can add to this. The photos are, of course, amazing. These are just a couple of my favourites but the whole set really is worth ten minutes of your time.

 Wildlife Photographer of the Year 1

STRETCH.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2

TWEETING.

via Distractify.

2. Cap and Hulk = SCIENCE
Here is a three minute video explaining how the science behind Captain America and the HULK [if they actually existed in the real world].

Super interesting. Super fun. Super SCIENCE.

Speaking of superheroes…

3. The Phantom of Papua New Guinea
Have you ever heard of The Phantom? No, not that scary fella from the Opera. The purple one, from the jungle. The ghost who walks. The man who cannot die. Him. Once played by Billy Zane in a [terrible] film of the same name.

This guy:

Phantom

Yeah, you remember him.

He was in [the frankly awesome] Defenders of the Earth Saturday morning cartoon show, remember?

Right.

Anyway.

Apparently – and this is so random – back in the 1960s and 1980s, Mr Purple Pants started appearing on the war shields of the people of New Guinea.

The Wahgi people of Papua New Guinea have long made enormous shields from tree trunks, and have continued to make these shields as a form of ritual artwork. In the late 20th century, many of these Papua New Guinea highlanders began incorporating “new ideas” into their traditional works, so that shields bore emblems of football teams, beer brands, and, yes, the Phantom. Western comic books became widely available in the region after World War II, and the Phantom became a particularly popular character.

I picked this story up from iO9 and they’ve got a huge bank of various images of The Phantom depicted in multiple ways on said shields.

THE PHANTOM

It’s really awesome; I just love the idea that there were these badass warriors walking around with THE PHANTOM on their shields. ‘COME ON THEN! WE’VE GOT THE GHOST THAT WALKS!’ – or something like that.

4. Cyborgs

I know a cyborg. His name is Dan Lane (and it’s his birthday today – happy birthday Dan). His level of human/robot integration is probably higher than others but then again, if you know someone who wears contact lenses; they’re a cyborg too.

Do you know who else is a cyborg? Neil Harbisson. He has an antenna that comes out of his head specifically for turning colours into sounds.

Not kidding.

Go read.

5. Batman photo album
A bit of a superhero-fest this week (sorry not sorry) but I couldn’t not share this.

EItHIlD

Last week, someone posted this rather fantastic, 32-image photo set from The Dark Knight.

Specifically focusing on the interrogation scene between The Joker and Batman, the set is interspersed with quotes from an interview with Christopher Nolan discussing the work and effort that went into the scene, both from the actors therein and also the director of photography, Wally Pfister.

Great reading.

Great photos.

Great link.

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Bonuses this week:

See you next week.

 

 

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Five things on Friday #85

Things of note for the week ending August 15th, 2014.

Whirlwinds of light

— Whirlwinds of Light, via This is Colossal.

1. Smartphones leak, dumb phones don’t
International master of misadventure,  John McAfee, spoke at Def Con recently and one of the things that picked up as a headline over at the Wall Street Journal was the following:

‘On the subjects of privacy and security, McAfee said smartphones are spying on American consumers, who don’t bother to read user agreements. “The most promising privacy thing is stupid phones,” he said. “I’m dumping all my smart phones.”

He said he had started brownlist.com, to collect complaints against large corporations. He also said he has an app for Android phones that tracks privacy permissions for various apps.’

A few things:

  • This is not news.
  • This could be the start of a new trend against all things privacy-related.
  • I get the impression that this is especially not news to the people it matters most to.

Something to think on maybe?

If you want to stay clean, and prevent THE MAN from getting his dirty hands on your lovely, lovely data. Go get a dumbphone. Like a Nokia 106 for example.

2. There’s a hexagonal hurricane on Saturn

Hexagonal Hurricanes

The above was first sighted back in the 1980s, when the NASA Voyager probes flew past Saturn for the first time. In the 30+ years it takes Saturn to pass around the Sun, we can finally get to see it again.

And the New York Times has made a gorgeous, sub-three-minute video to help tell the story -

This is my favourite item this week. By a long shot.

- via Mental Floss

3. Planes IRL vs Planes Hollywood-style

0aircraftcutaways-002

0aircraftcutaways-007

I really, really liked this photo-essay. Interesting for not only seeing how crazy big planes can be (in contrast of your average human being) but also gaining an insight into how plane scenes are shot on film.

Check it out.

4. Samsung + New Ad Space
I’ve never owned a Samsung phone (something about the version of Android that it runs combined with the achingly boring product design really puts me off) however every now and then you have to applaud the epic trolling enjoyed by its marketing team over Apple (‘Screen Envy‘ definitely made me chuckle).

One of Samsung’s latest was this little video poking fun at ‘wall huggers’ – aka – iPhone users who have to sit next to plug sockets all the time while their [poorly-powered] iPhones charge. It seems, not happy with its near-15m views, Samsung has taken this down another level. Literally.

Samsung wall huggers

‘Samsung Galaxy S5 with Ultra Power Saving Mode. So you have the power to be anywhere but here’

A super smart use of ambient media in conjunction with an already well-established viral video. Contextually relevant and guaranteed to hit your target market. I think this is great.

Well done, Samsung.

Sidenote: I guess this makes me a Samsung blogger now, right? Christ.

5. Behind the Scenes of Guardians of the Galaxy’s aliens
Seen Guardians of the Galaxy yet? If not, why not? It’s not ‘just another superhero movie’, nor is it ‘one of those Marvel films that I know nothing about’ neither is it ‘a film for geeks’. GotG is probably the summer blockbuster of 2014 (with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes running a close second).

So yeah, see it.

Now that’s out of the way, Fast Co.Create has published a [completely spoiler free] behind the scenes look at some of the make up and special effects that went into creating the aliens that appear in said film.

GOTG Aliens

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Bonuses this week:

  • This Louis CK interview is a long read, but both excellent and worth your time.
  • Anagramatron hunts for tweets that are anagrams of each other. It’s so brilliantly bizarre that it’s my recommended Tumblr of the week!
  • If you’re a male social media expert who happens to be vegan, single, and an active Tinder user, I’d recommend not reading this AMAZING comic strip.

 

Did you like this stuff? Did you find any of its interesting? If you did, do me a favour and tell your friends. I’d really appreciate it, cheers.

Have a great weekend.

 

 

 

 

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Goodbye, Robin Williams

“I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people that make you feel all alone”

Good Morning Vietnam

The news is out.

The memories are amazing.

Personal demons. Depression. It’s all so terribly sad.

I’m on IMDb as I write, reading over Williams’ filmography and trying to work out exactly how many Robin Williams performances I have and haven’t seen. Having watched Insomnia a couple of days ago, I was already in the mood to start the exploration into his body of work but waking up this morning and learning of his passing has only compounded that desire further.

In reverse-chronological order, please find below the list of all Robin Williams’ films that I definitely have seen. Followed by a list of films to watch if you want to do something nice for him today/tonight/this week.

Let’s do this.

ROBOTS (2005).
Surprisingly watchable non-Pixar animated film. Having a kid brother, I’ve seen ROBOTS at least fifteen times – and it still doesn’t bore me.

INSOMNIA (2002).
I picked this up recently after realising it was the only Christopher Nolan film I hadn’t seen. If you’re familiar with Nolan’s work you can see that his efforts here, while good, are still developing. Also a decent point of note: Insomnia marks the second time (after MEMENTO) that Nolan hired Wally Pfister as his director of photography. Against the backdrop of the crisp green and whites of Alaska, you can see how and why these two men have stayed partners for so long.

I digress.

I went for Nolan, was unsurprisingly impressed with Pacino (a man whose entire acting palette can be defined by the weight of the world he is carrying – but it’s still awesome), and then mesmerised by Williams. There’s a play by the name of ‘Our Country’s Good’, I was in it once, and a character in it named Ketch. Ketch is supposedly a killer, but no one thinks it possible – least of all him – but the quietness and the intensity eventually gives him away, both in words and in violence. This felt like that.

Worth seeing if you haven’t already.

A. I. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (2001).
Written by Kubrick, directed by Spielberg, this film should be a mess. And it is really. However, I can neither remember much about it nor for the life of me which part Robin Williams played. IMDb says it was ‘The voice of Dr. Know’. Nope, I got nothing. A re-watch is required.

GOOD WILL HUNTING (1997).
Robin Williams won his first and only Oscar for his turn as Matt Damon’s father-figure / psychologist. I don’t think I’ve seen this since the 90s. I’m going to fix that.

FLUBBER (1997).
Yeah, I’m pretty sure this was terrible.

JUMANJI (1995).
I remember being wowed by the CGI in this film; I wonder if it still stands up? Probably not. But still. Interesting fact: JUMANJI is actually based upon a 1981 children’s picture book of the same name. I don’t remember much of Robin Williams (I’m beginning to realise how young I was when I saw most of his work) but I guess that means it demands a re-visit.

NINE MONTHS (1995).
This Hugh Grant ‘comedy vehicle’ is about a commitment-phobe guy whose girlfriend, Julianne Moore, finds out she’s pregnant. Geez, the 90s. Robin Williams appears in what is ostensibly a cameo performance as the latter’s obstetrician. There’s a funny moment involving an accidental of the gestation period of a cow, but that’s about it.

MRS DOUBTFIRE (1993).
Robin Williams stars as an actor who, after going through quite a messy divorce and only being awarded time to see his kids once a week, disguises himself as a woman (an older Scottish nanny, to be precise) so that he can stay in contact. This film is magnificent. First off: it’s classic Robin Williams. Second, from a cultural standpoint, this film was huge.

This was the the early 90s. Everyone’s parents were breaking up. It was just a thing that happened. But MRS DOUBTFIRE was first time, I think, when a film not only addressed the effects of what long-term separation of two parents might do to children but also looked at that separation from the father’s perspective. The emotional impact of ‘You can only see your children at weekends’ puts Williams’ character through turmoil which in turn, drives him through this transformation. A worthy re-watch.

ALADDIN (1992).
The number one box office smash of 1992 (beating Home Alone 2, Batman Returns, and The Boydguard, to name but three) and it’s so easy to see why: this is both Walt Disney Pictures and Robin Williams at the top of their game.

If you’ve not seen this already, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? If you have, I doubt very much you’ve only seen it once. Still laugh out loud hilarious in places, Disney’s ALADDIN is pitch perfect.

HOOK (1991).
The synopsis is wonderful: Peter Pan (Williams) has grown up to be a cut-throat merger and acquisitions lawyer, and is married to Wendy’s granddaughter. Captain Hook (Hoffman) kidnaps his children, and Peter returns to Never Land with Tinkerbell (Roberts). With the help of her and the Lost Boys, he must remember how to be Peter Pan again in order to save his children by battling with Captain Hook once again.

Dustin Hoffman as Captain Hook? Sold.
Bob Hoskins as Smee? Sold.
Julia Roberts as Tinkerbell? Sold.
Maggie Smith as Granny Wendy? Sold.
Robin Williams as Peter…? SOLD.

THE FISHER KING (1991).
Christ, I haven’t seen this since the 90s. I will fix that this week. I love Gilliam and this deserves a revisit. Williams’ third Oscar nomination too.

DEAD POETS SOCIETY (1989).
This film means more to me than any other; and there isn’t much else I can say.

THE ADVENTURE OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN (1988).
My Dad took me to the cinema to see this mental, mental acid trip of a film. Terry Gilliam left to run riot with a cast of thousands and sets that seemed to travel through space and time itself. I LOVED it when I saw it and Robin Williams it bat-crazy as ‘my-head-is-detachable-at-will’ King of the Moon. This film is such a huge chunk of my childhood, I might watch it first.

GOOD MORNING VIETNAM (1987).
We have arrived at ground zero, ladies and gentlemen. This is the performance that announced Mr Williams’ departure from TV and that, from now on, Hollywood is where it’s at. Endlessly quotable but of course known best for that title (you couldn’t walk two metres in the playground without hearing another kid yell it) Robin Willams, as ever-so-slightly-based-on-a-real-armed-services-radio-DJ-but-not-really, Adrian Cronauer, is just brilliant.

Unsurprisingly, Williams picked up an Oscar nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role – and that’s not to be sniffed at for what was fundamentally his breakthrough gig.

A truly great film.

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I’m pretty sure that covers off all the Robin Williams films I have seen. Going through his filmography on IMDb reminded me that I’m still yet to see ONE HOUR PHOTO or THE BIRD CAGE which I’m sure some of you will balk at.

The sad thing is, Robin Williams is gone now.

But to celebrate his life, and the effect on mine that he had, I’m going to work my way through the following list of films as soon as I can:

  • Dead Poets Society
  • Good Will Hunting
  • The Birdcage
  • A.I.
  • Jumanji
  • One Hour Photo
  • Mrs Doubtfire
  • Aladdin
  • Hook
  • The Fisher King
  • Good Morning Vietnam

Did I miss any?

Mork

You’re not alone any more. I don’t think you ever were. But then again, I don’t think you ever knew. All over the world tonight people are going to enjoy you again. It’s sad that it takes a loss to remember the joy. But it is what it is.

Nanu Nanu, Mork.

Robin Williams. 1951-2014.

 

 

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