Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sunday, March 27, 2011

That Synch'ing Feeling

Looks like these guys got an entire apartment complex to participate in a lipdub of The Beatles' "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da".

Here in Furniture City, it was recently announced that Rob Bliss, an event coordinator and promoter in my home city of Grand Rapids, MI is planning a massive lipdub as well to happen sometime in 2011. It's going to be set to Don Mclean's nearly nine-minute-long 1971 epic "American Pie", and is supposed to feature marching bands, a large pillow fight, a football game, kayakers in the Grand River, Metro Cruise cars, swing dancers, Fifth Third River Bank runners, a helicopter take-off, and crowds spelling out “Experience Grand Rapids,”to name a few things. While I'm not wild about the song choice (can't we update to something a little more recent than this 40-year-old chestnut?), it still sounds like a fun experience that I might try to get in on.

As long as I'm giving shout-outs to local lip-synching, I found a pretty good video ("So Much Love" by The Summer Rockets) done by the students of Calvin College, also here in Grand Rapids, which, judging by this video, seems to have the most wholesomely attractive student body I have ever seen...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Thanks for clearing that up

(via Miss Cellania)

Episode IV: A New 'Trope

There's always something strange and wonderful to be found over at arts blog This Is Colossal. Here, animator Tim Wheatley creates The Cyclotrope, his very own zoetrope out of a bicycle wheel.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

If your nose runs and your feet smell, you're upside-down!

One of the best gifts I got last Christmas was this Easter Island Head Kleenex holder courtesy of my sister. It still cracks me up. Thanks, Krista! Dum-Dum dispenses on-demand nasal maintenance in our bathroom to this day.

My birthday is just around the corner. I still wear an XL. Hint.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Defunct-y Chicken

A somewhat poignant list of defunct restaurant chains in the US.

How many do you remember patronizing? I can come up with nine for which I have (sometimes) fond memories :

1) Burger Chef - Burger Chef and Jeff were the cartoon mascots. The Yumbo, a ham-and-gloopy-cheese on a toasted sesame seed bun, rocked my world.

2) Chi-Chi's - I know I've eaten at Chi-Chi's, but I other than the episode below of WKRP In Cincinnati, where news director Les Nessman pronounces pro golfer Chi Chi Rodriguez's name as "Chy Chy Rod-wa-gweeze", I got nothin'.

3) Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour - There was a Farrell's at the Scottsdale Mall in South Bend, IN, and we used to beg Mom and Dad to go there on a semi-regular basis. We always wanted to but never had the courage to order The Zoo, which was comprised of 8-and-a-half pounds of ice cream (I remember it was supposed to be 21 scoops), and was brought out with sirens and alarms and run out to you in a stretcher by two Farrell's employees.

I've tracked down one of their old commercials from their heyday in the mid-Seventies.

4) Henry's Hamburgers had over 200 locations in the early 1960s, even more at that time than McDonalds. When I was but a wee lad, I used to beg my parents to stop at the one in nearby Benton Harbor (MI). Sadly, it was around that time in the mid-1970s that Henry's fortunes took a precipitous fall, and that Benton Harbor store is the sole remaining Henry's. They kept their sweet neon sign, though.

(image source All Things Michigan)

5) Kenny Rogers Roasters - If it's good enough for Kramer, it's good enough for me.

6) Mr. Fables - mostly confined to the West Michigan/Grand Rapids/Holland area. Ate there maybe twice. Meh.

7) Sambo's - Come for the pancakes, stay for the quasi-racist overtones!

8) Showbiz Pizza Place - In the 1980s, Showbiz was a competitor with, and was eventually subsumed by, Chuck E. Cheese's. At this point I was really too old to be there for the creepy animatronic bear band or the crappy pizza, but it was the height of the video game arcade era (younger readers, think of the abandoned arcade in last year's Tron), and there was a pretty extensive arcade within the friendly confines of Showbiz Pizza Place (or as we smart-assedly dubbed it, Slowbuzz Pizza Face).

9) York Steak House - In the mid-80s, my friend John and I used to frequent the York Steak House tucked inside the now-circling-the-toilet Orchards Mall. Chopped steak and a baked potato. Cute waitress that John asked out once or twice, if memory serves.

I for one welcome our goatee'd robotic overlords

Geminoid DK is an ultra-realistic android from Japanese robotics company Kokoro, and was built to look exactly like Associate Professor Henrik Scharfe of Aalborg University in Denmark.

Upon first watching this video, I was almost convinced that it was an actual person with perhaps a bit of latex prosthetic work applied to make him look robotic enough and yet human enough to dwell in that creepy area known as The Uncanny Valley (think Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation).

But no, this is an actual robot. He's/It's got his/its own Facebook page if you care to, you know, be friends with the most realistic mechanical lifeform now that the Showbiz Pizza Rock-A-Fire Animatronic Hillbilly Bear Band closed up shop in the early 90s.

The Geminoid is fulfilling a higher purpose than shilling subpar pizza to the unwashed masses, though. It is going to be used for researching "emotional affordances" in human-robot interaction, the novel notion of "blended presence," as well as cultural differences (from different continents) in the perception of robots.

IEEE Spectrum Online has an excellent write-up and many more pics and videos.

Friday, March 04, 2011

This nostalgia is part of a balanced breakfast

54 Cereals We Loved and Lost

I was never their demographic, so excuse my ignorance, but which Block Kid is the one in the leather jacket holding what seems to be a deep and heartfelt conversation with a flake of cereal?

No funny throwaway line here. Freakies was the Best Cereal in the History of the Universe.

Sure it has magical healing powers, but dammit, E.T., I don't know where that finger's been. You mind taking it out of my cereal bowl?

Upside: Gremlins cereal was a whole grain low-sugar way to start your day, packed with 7 vitamins and nutrients a growing body needs!

Downside: Gremlins flakes turn into evil little monsters once they get wet from the milk.