Watch Carrie Fisher roast George Lucas

Carrie Fisher kills it at the American Film Institute's 2005 Life Achievement Award honoring George Lucas.

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A candy corn and pretzel fire for your HD fireplace

PES's classic stop-motion animation The Fireplace, newly remastered in 4k.

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Killer Morricone noir-jazz/avant-garde soundtrack reissued on vinyl

Directed by Michele Lupo, "Un Uomo Da Rispettare" (A Man to Respect) is a 1972 Italian/German crime flick starring Kirk Douglas and Florinda Bolkan. Released as The Master Touch in some countries, this story of a safe cracker and a circus gymnast is considered to be a mediocre movie at best. However, the soundtrack by legendary composer Ennio Morricone is absolutely fantastic. This isn't a typical Morricone spaghetti western score but rather veers into the avant-garde, noir-jazz soundtrack vein. But even during the music's most abstract moments, it still maintains the cinematic groove of which Morricone is the master. I'm delighted that our friends at the Superior Viaduct record label are reissuing Un Uomo Da Rispettare on vinyl for just $20! The first 500 copies are on translucent green wax and only available directly from the label.

Check out a track below and, if you're so inclined, watch the actual film.

Da Rispettare OST LP (Superior Viaduct)

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See 46 shots that were cut from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Vashi Nedomansky cut together 46 shots that were seen in the various trailers for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story but didn't make the final film.

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Is that a real Wookie photobombing this group photo?

At r/mildlyinteresting, people are suggesting that's either Chewbacca in the background of this photo posted by Redactor lolarsystem, or the back of a hirsute woman's head. Both are incorrect. It's quite clearly a Bigfoot. Read the rest

How to Destroy Democracy: SF Bay Area event Jan 10 with Masha Gessen and Drew Sullivan

We hope you can join us for this urgent conversation hosted by Institute for the Future, where Mark Frauenfelder and I are researchers:

Institute for the Future in Palo Alto, California invites you to join us January 10, 2017 for an eye-opening discussion about global politics, corruption, and our best hope for preserving civic society featuring:

• Masha Gessen, author of The Man Without a Face: the Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin and Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot

• Drew Sullivan, co-founder of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP)

• plus additional investigative journalists from Russia and Eastern Europe.

Right-wing populist parties and autocratic leaders are gaining power in many countries, from France and Russia to Hungary and Poland. This trend long predates the recent U.S. elections that have added fuel to the fire. How did we get here? What are the real stories behind the headlines? This is a rare opportunity to hear first-hand from journalists who risk their lives analyzing the multi-trillion dollar criminal economy and uncovering corruption around the globe.

This group of journalists, along with other experts from the realms of media, academia, policy, and technology, are in the Bay Area to participate in a private convening hosted by the Institute for the Future in partnership with the Skoll Foundation and OCCRP. The convening, called The Future of Democracy: Preserving A Vibrant Civic Media, will result in a public roadmap of initiatives to preserve an open civic dialogue and strengthen democracy for everyone.

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Watch this Bloom County Christmas special from 1991

Based on Berkeley Breathed's 1991 children's book A Wish for Wings That Work: An Opus Christmas Story, this TV special aired on December 18 of that year. In a 2003 Washington Post interview, Breathed responded thusly to a question about where one could find a VHS or DVD copy of the cartoon:

Hopefully in the rubbish pail. We can do better than that and we will with an eventual Opus film... but I'm glad you enjoyed it. I presume your family was on speed when they watched it. I would imagine it helps.

(Wikipedia, thanks UPSO!)

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Mysterious trumpets of the apocalypse heard in Spokane, Washington

Numerous residents of a Spokane, Washington suburb reported hearing unsettling trumpet sounds overnight on December 14. Listen to a recording of the noise below. Non-believers suggest that it may have been the sound of many snowplows scraping the concrete roads or train rails creaking in the cold. One news outlet's "science expert" commented that "temperature does affect the speed of sound, which can make certain things sounds different than what we are used to hearing."

Of course, we all know the truth: It is the seven trumpets as described in the Book of Revelation. The apocalypse is nigh, and it's starting in Spokane.

"Strange sound in Spokane Valley has thousands of people talking" (KHQ via Mysterious Universe) Read the rest

Why is KFC a Christmas tradition in Japan?

Around Christmas, many KFC restaurants in Japan see 10 times their average daily sales. Customers order their KFC special Christmas dinner weeks in advance or wait in line for hours to score a Kentucky Christmas dinner package including chicken, side dishes, cake, and even wine. WTF??! Marketing, that's what. From the BBC:

According to KFC Japan spokeswoman Motoichi Nakatani, it started thanks to Takeshi Okawara, the manager of the first KFC in the country. Shortly after it opened in 1970, Okawara woke up at midnight and jotted down an idea that came to him in a dream: a “party barrel” to be sold on Christmas.

Okawara dreamed up the idea after overhearing a couple of foreigners in his store talk about how they missed having turkey for Christmas, according to Nakatani. Okawara hoped a Christmas dinner of fried chicken could be a fine substitute, and so he began marketing his Party Barrel as a way to celebrate the holiday.

In 1974, KFC took the marketing plan national, calling it Kurisumasu ni wa Kentakkii, or Kentucky for Christmas. It took off quickly, and so did the Harvard-educated Okawara, who climbed through the company ranks and served as president and CEO of Kentucky Fried Chicken Japan from 1984 to 2002.

The Party Barrel for Christmas became almost immediately a national phenomenon, says Joonas Rokka, associate professor of marketing at Emlyon Business School in France. He has studied the KFC Christmas in Japan as a model promotions campaign.

“It filled a void,” Rokka says.

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Combophotos: wonderfully surreal photo montages

Stephen McMennamy created this brilliant and delightful series of montages that he calls "Combophotos"! You can see more on his Tumblr and Instagram. Also below, a CNN interview with the artist!

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Meet yo-yo virtuoso Coffin Nachtmahr

"There are kids who had a security blanket; I had a security string," says Coffin Nachtmahr.

Invisible Thread, directed by Early Light Media. (National Geographic)

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The real story of the Nazis' drug use

We've all heard that Nazi soldiers were fueled by methamphetamine. (This isn't uncommon in military history. For example, see the US army's use of "pep bills" in Vietnam.) But new research gets way more specific about the history of drugs in Nazi Germany. From CNN:

Now, meth, cocaine and even opiates have been referenced in association with German soldiers in a new book by German author Norman Ohler, "Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich," set to publish in the United States in March, but already released in other parts of the world, including the UK.

"Norman Ohler's Blitzed depicts the pervasive drug culture that allegedly developed in Germany's Third Reich," wrote Paul Weindling, a research professor at Oxford Brookes University, in an article in the journal Nature in October.

"Nazi officials took high-performance drugs such as methamphetamine hydrochloride (crystal meth) and cocaine. German military units and aviators were dosed with the patent methamphetamine-based drug Pervitin (manufactured in Germany from 1937) to improve operational efficiency. And drugs such as Pervitin and metabolic stimulants were tried out on students, military recruits and, eventually, in concentration camps," Weindling wrote. "Questions remain, however, over precisely how the drugs were tested, prescribed, distributed and used."

"What drugs were the Nazis on, anyway?" (CNN) Read the rest

The story of the world's worst videogame

For better or worse, video game designer/programmer Howard Scott Warshaw is perhaps best known for the Atari 2600 game "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" (1982). That game is considered by many to be the worst video game in history and blamed for driving the video game industry crash of 1983. (To be fair, it wasn't entirely Warshaw's fault. He was also the talented developer behind the classic Yars' Revenge and other fine titles.) Above is the Big Story of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial and Warshaw, now a psychotherapist in Silicon Valley.

And in case you missed it, the film Atari: Game Over is a wonderful documentary about E.T. and the mass burial of unsold copies of the game.

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World's smallest man dancing with his pet cat

As discussed on r/OldSchoolCool, this 1956 photograph depicts either the "world's largest cat dancing with his pet man" or the "world's smallest man dancing with his pet cat."

Further investigation reveals that the fellow is Henry Behrens who at 30 inches tall traveled around with "Burton Lester's Midgets" in the 1950s. Read the rest

First look at Blade Runner 2049!

"Replicants are like any other machine. They're either a benefit or a hazard. If they're a benefit, it's not my problem."

In theaters October 6, 2017.

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Watch "Terminal Madness," 1980 TV special about personal computers

In 1980, WMTV in Madison, Wisconsin produced this feature about early personal computers and the geeks who loved them. I enjoyed the discussion of The Source, which was the first online experience I ever had.

George Martin, who posted the video to YouTube, writes: "About halfway through the video there is a segment filmed at my home showing how I had programmed a Cromemco Z-2 computer to control lights and appliances."

(Thanks, UPSO!)

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First ever video of Ghost Shark, with sex organ on its head, alive in the ocean

Ghost sharks, aka chimaeras, are elusive relatives of sharks and rays that live in the black depths of the ocean, as far down as 2,600 meters. The Ghost Shark was captured on video by a remotely operated vehicle deployed on a geology expedition by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in waters off Hawaii and California. The scientists who analyzed the video think that it's a pointy-nosed blue chimaera (Hydrolagus trolli) that usually calls the waters off Australia and New Zealand home. This is the first time researchers have known this species to swim in the Northern Hemisphere. From National Geographic:

Unlike those more well-known sharks, chimaeras don’t have rows of ragged teeth, but instead munch up their prey—mollusks, worms, and other bottom-dwellers—with mineralized tooth plates.

A pattern of open channels on their heads and faces, called lateral line canals, contain sensory cells that sense movement in the water and help the ghost sharks locate lunch.

And perhaps most fascinating, male chimaeras sport retractable sex organs on their foreheads.

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