Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Bait and Switch

I was doing some research this evening about carry-on luggage restrictions (just a few days left before my first visit to the US in more than 18 months) and Google returned this amusing news hit:

As you can see, the headline regarding snakes on a plane is purple because I immediately clicked on it, hoping for a humorous attempt at shock journalism. I could hear the over-dynamic news reporter voice in my head saying, "Snakes On a Plane. You've seen the movie. But could it really happen? Don't miss our special report. It could save your life!"

Unfortunately, the link led to this article about snacks on a plane, not snakes.

It was a lesson in disappointment.

Technorati: carry-on, Snakes On a Plane

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Resurrect Pod?

"Lord! It's a miracle!" - Warden Samuel Norton, The Shawshank Redemption

My iPod, like so many moody iPods before it, has abruptly shown signs of life again. I got up to check my email because I couldn't sleep, and just on a whim I decided to give the old "lock, unlock, reset" sequence one more try. What do you know? Now it suddenly wants to be charged up for old times' sake.

Its battery is probably knocking on death's door, but at least now I have one more chance to back up my music collection before it finally buys the farm, or the iPod spontaneously combusts like that guy's heart in Temple of Doom, which ever comes first.

Imaginary conversation:

A: See? Your iPod wasn't dead after all.

B: You're right.

A: I bet you'll never rush to make a diagnosis like that again.

B: You mean my diagnosis that the iPod was fried for good?

A: Yeah. Or, to put it another way, like the diagnosis that led to the euthanization of Terri Schiavo.

B: Let's not compare apples to oranges. My entire music collection wasn't trapped inside Terri Schiavo.

Technorati: iPod, resurrection, Terri Schiavo

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Die Pod

Following the example set a few months ago by my feeble, old PlayStation 2, my iPod decided today that its own day-to-day existence was unjustifiably troublesome and redirected all its energy into a new hobby: Not working.

I mean, really not working. It won't turn on, doesn't charge up when plugged in, can't be reset, won't recognize or be recognized by my doesn't even show the "sad iPod" icon. It has apparently become a $400 doorstop.

The loss of the iPod itself isn't what bothers me. I do feel I got my $400 worth of use out of the thing; in its heyday it accompanied me on many a boring Ginza Line subway commute. It was, as iPods go, a dependable little bundle of musical happiness. The disappointment lies in the 2200 songs trapped on its hard drive, henceforth inaccessible.

If I buy another MP3 player, which I certainly will, I can't help but feel that buying another iPod would be a violation of principle. As machines go, iPods seem overrated, overpriced and overly difficult to have repaired. At any rate, I've already decided that my next MP3 player will be Flash memory-based. I have far too many bad memories of holding my stunned iPod up to my ear and hearing its hard drive going, "zzzzz, click...zzzzz, click." I never want to hear my MP3 player of choice emit a "zzzzz" or a "click" ever again.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Let's Learn Japanese: Taru-Doru

Taru-doru (noun) Chunky model.
I should take a minute to say that, when I make a Let's Learn Japanese post, there is about a 50% chance that the I am presenting some very obscure, less-than-useful Japanese. I may very well be teaching you some Japanese that, should you try to use it in front of an actual Japanese person, might prompt a puzzled "ha?" response.
This word, taru-doru, is one such word. A combination of the word taru (meaning "barrel") and the last two syllables of the Japanese-English loan word aidoru ("idol"), the word taru-doru has appeared on the internet out of necessity; until taru-doru, there was no convenient word for "slightly overweight female gurabia models." But after searching for the term on Japanese Google, I get the impression that the word has yet to catch on in typical circles.
The girl in the picture is self-described taru-doru Ruike Asuka. Her blog, entitled Ruike Asuka: From Barrel-Idol to Idol...My Diet Has Begun, consists mainly of pictures of Ms. Ruike worrying about her tummy, pictures of Ms. Ruike eating and pictures of Ms. Ruike worrying about her tummy all over again. The heartbreaker is that it's very difficult to see any progress in her alleged weight loss efforts from her first post (14 months ago) to now.
I'd like to be supportive of anybody's honest attempts to lose weight, but the fact that Ms. Ruike refers to herself as a taru-doru on her own blog makes me wonder if she really wants to stop being a "chunky idol."
Technorati: , Ruike Asuka
テクノラティ: 樽ドル, 類家明日香

Monday, August 14, 2006

Star Wars Mash-Up Report

I refuse to apologize for not posting lately because I have been enjoying a glorious summer vacation and am therefore not sorry.

More than a year ago (wow, really?) I posted this entry about the Star Wars mash-up I was working on. Since then, after much procrastinating, postponitrating and lacadaisicaliflating, I finished the mash-up itself and have begun work on a video for it this weekend.

It's going well; I've finished the first twenty seconds of video for the two-and-a-half-minute mash-up and, so far, it's quite amusing (in regard to both content and the fact that the whole project has become a crash course in creating Flash animations, something I have been meaning to teach myself for some time).

Technorati: , flash

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Portrait of a Badass: Audrey II

Character: Audrey II
Actor: Levi Stubbs (voice)
Film: Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
Badass Moment: Twoie sings "Feed Me"

I saw Roger Corman's original 1960 B-horror film The Little Shop of Horrors for the first time when I was a kindergartener. Or most of it, anyway; it was being projected in a park in Minneapolis and I think I fell asleep and was taken home by my parents before the ending. Kind of a gruesome film for a little tyke, in retrospect. Fast forward to the VHS release of Frank Oz's film based on the stage musical based on the Roger Corman film, and one would see a nine-year-old me singing along with one of very few musicals I would ever deem "un-stupid." The damage was done. At a very tender age I had been inundated with images of sadistic dentists and man-eating plants.

The plant in question is Audrey II (affectionately called Twoie), whose soulful singing voice serves to convince geeky flower shop employee Seymour Krelborn (Rick Moranis) to feed her as many unfortunate humans as possible. Over the course of the film, viewers witness Audrey II's gradual transformation from a cute little flytrap, to an obnoxious, man-sized adolescent, to a bellicose, room-sized threat to humanity. And all to the tune of one of the catchiest soundtracks ever to deal with the topic of horticultural manslaughter.

Fans of the Corman film and the stage play with their tragic/comic endings might have taken issue with the remake's radically different climax, in which Seymour and Twoie face off in an explosive (literally, explosive) battle to the finish. The way I see it, the ending of the 1986 version is a prime example of the disasters that can come of market research. The remake originally called for a final scene in which giant flytraps run amok, destroying New York City, crawling up the Statue of Liberty, etc. This scene was shown to test audiences in an unfinished state; it was black and white with rudimentary visual effects. I'm willing to bet money that the test audiences saw this and, completely missing the point of the test screening, said "I didn't like the ending," because it looked crappy.

People are stupid that way. I used to work for a market research group that showed movie trailers, sometimes with unfinished effects, and no matter how many times you tell the test audience that the film is not yet finished, they ignore you and say dumb things like, "Why does Lara Croft look like a computer-generated wireframe?" The studio, in turn, misinterprets the test audience's gripe and makes radical changes to the film. Stupid, stupid market research.

Audrey II, you are a mean, green badass from outer space. We salute you.