Books for Soldiers

March 29, 2007

Michael Jackson wants Vegas robot. No, seriously.

jackorobot.jpgMichael Jackson wants Vegas robot. That's the headline from this Yahoo! Music news article. And I think it says a lot about me and our culture that my first reaction to this news was, "Well, of course he does."

The idea of the Prince of Pop having a fifty-foot tall robot "wandering the desert" actually appeals to me. It feels right. Why shouldn't there be giant robots roaming the American SouthWest? And why not giant Michael Jackson robots? You can't tell me that you wouldn't appreciate having a giant Michael Jackson break free of its tethers. In much the same way that Pink Floyd's pig balloon did in 1976 during the photoshoot for the "Animals" cover, the Michael Jackson robot could move harmlessly over the country-side, becoming an oddity like so many other oddities in Vegas. People will go there to be married between his ankles. He will shoot lasers at the sky in the newlyweds honor. He will grab his crotch and release a mechanical scream which validates their love.

All of this got me to thinking: what would I be surprised to read about Michael Jackson. I couldn't think of anything, so instead I came up with a list of headlines that wouldn't surprise me:

"Michael Jackson to raise cabbages on the moon."

"Michael Jackson to cure disease using human tears."

"Michael Jackson wants to fly, but only while happy."

"Michael Jackson eats his own soul."

"Michael Jackson claims 'There is no Michael Jackson, only Zuul.'"

Posted by sferrell at 8:29 AM

March 26, 2007

The Apple TV Revolution

Steve Jobs would have you believe that the Apple TV is the most revolutionary product to hit the living room since the invention of the ... well ... TV. So is the Apple TV revolutionary? A lot of people online would have you believe that it's nothing more than an overpriced hype machine to stream low quality iTunes content to your living room.

"I don't understand what makes appletv revolutionary. Why all the hype over a media extender?"
"Pay $300 to download overpriced content?"
- From digg.com

Do you have to buy your video from the iTunes Store? No. Is it for everyone? No. Are there other products out there that do the same thing. Yes ... well, sort of. So how could the Apple TV be revolutionary?

The amount of ire that the Apple TV is generating on blogs and discussion groups is bizarre and funny. Most of the comments seem to stem from a lack of information as much as a rebuke of all things Apple. Even professional reviewers seem to be missing the mark a bit. Since I don't own a video ipod, I've only listened to the audio version of the dl.tv podcast. In last Thursday's show, Patrick Norton gave their first impressions of the device and closed with these thoughts, "This is for people who have a whole lot of money invested in iTunes content." That's a refrain I hear and read again and again.

Sitting there on my couch, watching dl.tv for the first time, I thought, "Well, that's ironic." Patrick Norton made no mention of how revolutionary this could be for video podcasters. Whoops, did I just say "revolutionary"? Of all people, I would have expected a video podcaster to point out how easy the Apple TV makes it for podcasters to reach the living room. Yes, there are other products that do this, but do they do it with the amazing simplicity of an iPod? You plug it in, turn on iTunes on your PC or Mac and it just works.

For the first time I watched podcasts like Diggnation, dl.tv, The Merlin Mann Show, The 1Up Show, and many others in my living room on a giant screen. The video quality varied from the mediocre to the sublime. Some of the broadcast shows that I watch don't look as good as Pixel Perfect with Bert Monroy. It was after Pixel Perfect that I realized how revolutionary the Apple TV could be. Whoops, there's that word again.

Let's not forget that the iPod wasn't the first MP3 player, but it was the most user friendly. For the moment, the same holds true for the Apple TV.

For me the ability to watch podcasts on my HDTV is revolutionary, but is the Apple TV truly a revolutionary product? Only time will tell. But in the meantime, I’m going to pop open a beer and enjoy the latest episode of Diggnation while sitting on my couch.

- From toyman.tv


Posted by mferrell at 3:31 PM

December 2, 2006

Pynchon

Salon, from years back, has a nice article about "finding Pynchon," the persistent recluse. It unearths how easy it is to unearth Pynchon, and it reveals how the revelation dispells some of the magic. Intentional or not, Pynchon's eluding the media these many years incorporates the mystique of his writing. It is the actual cover of the book. I'd not want to remove it any more than I'd want to tear the first five chapters out of his books.

Let him have his peace, let me have my mystery.

Posted by sferrell at 12:02 PM

November 29, 2006

How I learned to stop worrying and sell myself

So as I await the February submission date for my first novel, Numb, I find myself dealing with a bit of angst over how to sell myself. I've decided to become a hooker. No, that's not right. I've realized that there is a fair amount of self-promotion in book-promotion, as publishers rely heavily on authors to carry the weight. I spoke briefly to my agent after reading this article from the Miami Herald. I wasn't in a panic, but shared a "what have I gotten myself into" comment. She talked me off the ledge by comparing book-pr to child rearing. It seems impossible before you start, but once you do it sort of all works out. She also pointed me toward this article by David Louis Edelman, an SF writer. I liked a lot of his ideas, and most important I like his attitude. It seemed refreshing to see someone else say "I don't really know what I'm doing but I'll try."

So, in my next life as a hooker, I'll give it my best shot.

-Sean Ferrell

Posted by sferrell at 9:39 AM

October 31, 2006

"Up, up, and aw-- oh, nevermind."

guidingstupid.jpgFollowing up on my "ode to Richard Donner" I thought I'd point out how Marvel will willingly bend over and take one up the @$$, all in the name of 'cross-promotion.' They have worked with long-running soap "Guiding Light" to create a soap-opera super-hero.

At long last, the chasm between soap opera fans and comic book fans has been bridged. Our long national nightmare is over.

This is, simply, one of the dumbest things I've ever heard. Doesn't anyone remember the era of "General Hospital" in the late '80s when they had an alien on the show? Or, what about "Days of Our Lives"'s use of demonic possession? The best part about the former was that it got the producer canned; the best part of the latter was that Marlena Black, the character who was possessed by Satan spent her time crushing Christmas oranaments--now that's evil! Please, don't ask me how I know any of this. Brain cells have died bringing you this information.

Best line from the NYTimes article:

Ellen Wheeler, the executive producer of “Guiding Light,” said the idea for a collaboration came from another Marvel comic book milestone: the July wedding of the Black Panther and Storm, an X-Men character, whose dress was conceived by Shawn Dudley, the costume designer for “Guiding Light.” After that, it was simple: “Let’s call them to see if there’s anything to talk about,” Ms. Wheeler said.

It's really exciting when the high-powered producers of entertainment put their heads together. It's something else when it's your costumer.

Posted by sferrell at 11:16 AM

October 27, 2006

STAR TREK bloopers

If YouTube gives us nothing else, at least it give us this:

Posted by sferrell at 3:41 PM

October 24, 2006

Family Guy Top 10 Videos

Someone at YouTube put together a video of the "Top 10 Segments" from the series Family Guy. What I find most intersting about the collection is that it's really not all that different from an actual episode. If the countdown introductions were removed, would any one even notice that it wasn't a real episode?

Posted by sferrell at 8:58 AM

September 6, 2006

Love means never having to say you're Suri.

Vanity Fair has just published photos of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes with baby daughter Suri. Unexpectedly, they also published this photo of Mr. Cruise taken in the delivery room as Suri was being born.tom.jpg

Posted by sferrell at 2:29 PM

May 15, 2006

Anti-Net Neutrality - Corporate scamjob

Looks like big business is trying to push back against the "net neutrality" campaign. This link is to a piece of propoganda about net neutrality:

DontRegulate.org

The spin is atrocious. It argues that companies like Google and Microsoft will make the consumer pay for the upgrades to service if net neutrality is enforced (currently the ISPs are the ones who are forcing us to pay for it). It claims that Microsoft and Google will get rich if net neutraility is enforced (as if AT&T and Verizon are building a faster pipeline out of altruistic motives). It says that net neutrality would force the government to come up with "volumes" on how the net should be run (no, we just want the law that used to apply to the internet to be reapplied; it was the law that says that a phone company can't refuse any other phone company's call provision), and it points out that net neutrality advocates can only site two times that sites have been blocked (that is because up to this point it would have been illegal, but now it's up for vote, dumbass).

When you read something ask "who benefits from this?" It's as simple as that. So watch that crap-fest video, then follow the link to the parent site and check out the corporate sponsors... or follow this link below.

Hands Off

Notice how many corporations that are also ISPs are there... see AT&T? See Verizon? Who benefits? The rat-bastards do.

Posted by sferrell at 3:37 PM

March 6, 2006

One thing leads to another.

swarzjones.jpg

Posted by sferrell at 4:06 PM

February 3, 2006

PKD on science fiction writing

Philip K. Dick sure could be funny when he wanted to be. As an ambassador for Disneyland, he had to be.

Philip K. Dick - How To Build A Universe That Doesn't Fall Apart Two Days Later (Essay)

Posted by sferrell at 9:53 AM

January 20, 2006

Counter Strike: MOOOVE!! I SAID MOOVE!!!

Someone lost his mind while playing Counter Strike online. I don't know if it's the one who made the video or the kid he was teasing.

Posted by sferrell at 7:58 PM

January 11, 2006

Liar, Liar!

Well researched article pointing out how James Frey, author of "A Million Little Pieces" may have fabricated his memoir. My advice to Frey would have been that there is a word for fabricating your memoir: fiction.

Smoking Gun finds out Frey's lies

Posted by sferrell at 10:17 AM

January 9, 2006

Funny man makes a smart movie about being funny... in the Muslim world.

Albert Brooks is underrated as far as I'm concerned. His Merv Griffin appearance as a ventriloquist who drops his dummy while singing "Way Down Upon the Swanee River" so that he can light and smoke a cigarette is understated and brilliant. Most of his movies and cameos are laugh-out-loud funny too, but in a world that thinks Adam Sandler is funny is there a place fo subtle, sophisticated humor?

We'll find out January 20th when his new movie opens up.

So an Imam Walks Into a Mosque . . . - New York Times

Posted by sferrell at 11:59 AM

January 4, 2006

Make your own comics

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Witty Comics - The Lake

Posted by sferrell at 10:22 AM

December 29, 2005

"Pass the Chronic-What?!-cles of Narnia!"

Instant Notoriety for a Rap Video From Saturday Night Live - New York Times

Check out the "Lazy Sunday" video here.

Posted by sferrell at 11:18 AM

December 19, 2005

If I were on Evangelion... who would I be?


Which Evangelion Child Are You?

Posted by sferrell at 10:41 AM

July 5, 2005

I can dream, can't I?

batssupes.jpgThis movie trailer for a film that doesn't exist, get's most everything right. It looks like it could exist, and it looks like the story could have been taken directly from the Superman/Batman comic currently being written by Jeff Loeb. I continue to hold out hope that the new Superman movie won't stink (the image of Superman which has been released reminds me more of myself in my pajamas than the world's mightiest hero), and given the stregth of Batman Begins I think they should get it right. If they do, wouldn't it be great for them to do a little "made for TV" marketing gimmick by creating a little adventure with Christian Bale and Who's-His-Face playing Superman? Can't they do at least that much? Even just creating commercials for the movie which include references to Batman might be enough for me? Come on! PLEASE!!

Why do I feel like a drug addict?

Posted by sferrell at 10:21 AM

February 8, 2005

May the Force be... uh, no... nevermind.

starwars6.jpgAs a lover of all things STAR WARS, I'm asking you all nicely to please stop.

p.s. Is this guy trying to be ironic, or is this costume a political statement. Hard to say.

Posted by sferrell at 11:02 AM | Comments (2)

A Brave New World

Okay, we've hit a level of irony that even I can't fully handle. Using Trillian for IM Chat is great. It has a little feature that highlights words in the conversation which links to an encyclopedia and other web links of possible interest. But here's what popped up when I used the word "pencil":

A pencil is a handheld instrument used to write and draw, usually on paper. The writing is done with graphite (except for colored pencils), which is typically covered by a wooden sheath. Pencils may also have an eraser or "rubber" attached to one end. The pencil differs from most pens (other than erasable pens) in that erasing is possible.

Is this for the children? Those for whom the "pen-sill? What is pennn-sill??" will be an archaic tool?

And why stop at pencil? Why not link to "paper", "writing", or "independent thought"?

Posted by sferrell at 10:23 AM

January 24, 2005

Captain, you should come to engineering...


Posted by sferrell at 10:41 PM

January 20, 2005

Revenge of the Dorks

triumph.jpg Triumph the Insult Comic Dog's roast of STAR WARS fanatics is still incredibly funny, and getting funnier as we approach "Episode III."


Posted by sferrell at 10:12 AM

January 12, 2005

How human is human, anyway?

guardian.jpgAbuse, such as that at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, is something other people do, not us, we say. It's described as "inhumane", not human, as a way of dehumanizing the abusers. They are described as not viewing the captives as human, as if human should necessarily recognize human. As if just labelling someone else as "inhumane" removes their human essence. In truth the actions of some humans proves that humans are capable of all types of horrible acts. These acts are sadly, terrifyingly human.

Lost in all the stories about Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo prison abuse is the fact that there's something about the wiring of the human brain that leaves this sort of abuse to be a real possibility. If the powers that be don't actively stop it, abuse will happen. The fact is that those with power benefit from the natural uprising of abuse. The fact that it springs up unbidden gives them the ignorance to avoid being responsible. Not fake ignorance: true ignorance. "No one asked for this," they can say. So people in power, like the Bush administration, who don't look to avoid it--if not actually run to embrace it--invite it take place by simply not saying "Thou shalt not...". Memos are written to explain international treaties as "quaint" but they don't even need to be written for the prisoner abuse to take place.

The soldiers who carried out the abuse claim "orders" were being followed, and that no "real harm" was done, or that harm was "asked for" by unruly prisoners; meanwhile, their parents run before press corps and defend their children as "good kids" in a "bad situation." Any and all of these reasons spring up on their own, but how is that possible? How can "good kids" do such horrors?


The Stanford Prison Experiment: A Simulation Study of the Psychology of Imprisonment
shows how it is. Scary how human we are when we don't pay close enough attention to ourselves.

Posted by sferrell at 12:43 PM

January 11, 2005

Check your "Force powers" at the door.

wjstarwars22.gif
Eric Neel at ESPN's "Page Two" had this to say about San Diego Chargers QB Drew Brees if he finds himself separated from Coach Marty Schottenheimer:

"[He'll be] tracking Nate Keading like Boba Fet on the heels of Solo, looking to carbon freeze his behind."

This is possibly the stupidest STAR WARS reference I have ever seen. He gets the spelling (Fett) and plot point wrong (Fett didn't want to freeze Solo, Darth "Neck-Pincher" Vader did), and makes a comment so esoteric that even if he'd gotten those two things right it would still be a stupid remark (Nate Kaeding--note that Neel misspelled his name too!--was the kicker who missed the field goal which would have won a playoff game for the Chargers). Aren't there any geeks working on the ESPN site that should have seen these? Have STAR WARS geeks fallen asleep at the switch?! Where's the fact checking?!

Please don't allow Eric Neel into the theater for Episode 3.
Thanks.ESPN.com: Page 2 - Wild weekend in the cards

Posted by sferrell at 11:36 AM | Comments (1)

December 28, 2004

Resume

jamegumb.jpg
I've been thinking about my resume lately and I came to the sad conclusion that my job description is best summed up as this: I rub the lotion on my body and then put the lotion in the basket.

Posted by sferrell at 4:48 PM | Comments (2)

December 25, 2004

Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa

Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa Santa

Posted by sferrell at 1:42 AM

December 23, 2004

A Festivus for the rest of us.

festivus.jpg
You should really keep those more fortunate in mind and send them an airing of your grievances today (December 23rd) as it is Festivus. This site has a helpful e-card for just that purpose.

For the unintiated, Festivus is a un-holiday created by the father of one of the writers of Seinfeld. God help him he now works on "Listen Up." Anyway, this New York Times article about the Seinfeld episode introducing Festivus is well worth reading.

Happy Festivus!!

Posted by sferrell at 2:34 PM

December 15, 2004

Good for what ails ya!

fukital.jpg

(note: this image was received from the internet, not created by numbmonkey... kudos to whomever did make it)

Posted by sferrell at 12:05 AM