Slate is carrying an interesting piece from Kelly McEvers about her trip to Indonesia in search of real modern pirates. Three parts, so far, have been published, and I don't know how much remains. I can, however, tell you that it's all fascinating, and I don't know whether to call McEvers brave or stupid. I think this about sums it up:

At the hotel I think about how bipolar this has been. One minute I'm dying of boredom; the next I'm totally high. Right now, I can just picture it all unfolding. The conflict between the pirate and his uncle. The scene at the seedy disco, planning the next attack while prostitutes serve us beer. The moonless night out at sea.

Either way, I can't help but anticipate the conclusion. I suppose that's what some documentary involves - journalists take risks so we don't have to (or where we'd never think to).

City Screens

Continuing my unintentional string of movie-related posts, I have some more details by way of Richmond BizSense about the eventually-to-open Movieland theater on Boulevard...

What I'm most interested/concerned about is the notion that they're looking to create an "upscale" movie experience with beer, wine, and no pre-movie ads. That lack of ads spell higher ticket prices in my mind (we'll see), and should help determine whether movie-goers prefer low prices over ad-free cinema.



Guy Ritchie, film maker behind Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch (two of my faves!), is filming Sherlock Holmes starring Robert Downey Jr. as Holmes and Jude Law as Watson!

It should release sometime vaguely in 2009, so I have another flick to toss on what's becoming a long list of theater trips.

December In the Theater

The following is a list, in order of release date, of films which I'd like to see in a theater this month:

The Day the Earth Stood Still
This remake of the 1951 sci-fi classic looks intense and stars Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Connelly, and Jon Hamm. It's out on Friday, December 12th.

The Wrestler
Darren Aronofsky, the director of Requiem For a Dream and The Fountain, has managed to make me interested in a story about a washed-up professional wrestler. I get a Raging Bull vibe from this, but with more redemption. December 17th.

The Spirit
Frank Miller's latest hyper-stylized graphic-novel-on-screen doesn't look as visually fresh as Sin City, but I'm a sucker for that spilled-bottle-of-India-ink asthetic. This almost certainly gory flick opens on Christmas Day.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
This also opens on Christmas Day. Two words: David Fincher.

Revolutionary Road
I think this film appeals to my struggle between cynicism toward and desire for the American dream. It hits the big screen on Boxing Day.

Does this movie have a chance of saving Tom Cruise's career? I dunno, but a WWII-era suspense flick involving high-explosives and slightly desaturated cinematography sounds right up my alley. December 26th.

Play on, sisters.

I read an interesting profile of nearly all-girl hard rock band today. The AccoLade isn't all that interesting, musically - the lyrics are a touch cheesy and the music isn't my taste, but the New York Times wouldn't write up any average rock group. This band, you see, is from Jidda, Saudi Arabia. While Jidda is apparently one of the more "moderate" cities in that desert its citizens still risk getting dragged downtown for a head shaving from the religious police. The fact, then, that these young girls play loud Western music, sing in English, and hang around with their robes open to reveal jeans and t-shirts is really quite extraordinary and brave.

Here's the line that really got to me:

“The upcoming generation is different from the one before,” said Dina, the Accolade’s 21-year-old guitarist and founder. “Everything is changing. Maybe in 10 years it’s going to be O.K. to have a band with live performances.”

Rock on girls.

Official Monty Python YouTube Channel

Monty Python have* their own YouTube channel, and they intend to add loads of high quality video as time wears on.


Here's a fine example:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ZlBUglE6Hc&hl=en&fs=1&rel=0&color1=0x3a3a3a&color2=0x999999&ap=%2526fmt%3D18%20&w=580&h=470]

*I felt the British pluralization was appropriate given the subject matter.

The Sea Forts

sea forts

Flickr user Tim Mitchard has a photo set about the WWII-era Maunsell Sea Forts (Thanks, Mitch, for permission to use the photo above). These giant tin-cans-on-stilts were an interesting piece of the British defense system against Nazi air raids, and Mitchard has a detailed write-up about the forts and his photography of the relics.

The Price of Love

My friend Stephanie has made a habit of posting an 80s/New Wave music video every Thursday for a while now, and yesterday she posted New Order's "World" (I've embedded the MTV Music version because it's a little clearer):

New Order |MTV Music

I'm not terribly fond of the song, but the video is fantastic short-form film making. The whole thing is only five shots over nearly 4.5 minutes, and the second shot is almost 1.5 minutes alone! That's some serious coordination and rehearsal. It was directed by Baillie Walsh who's since directed videos for Kylie Minogue and Oasis.

The Sky In Flames

sunset out of focus

I have some new snaps on my photostream. This latest batch is pretty motivating for me because for the first time in ages the results look exactly as I imagined them. The only edits I've made are the clean-up of a few obvious dust spots. The color and exposure are otherwise spot on. Wewt!


Behold the birthday clown, sad and terrible (with a touch of potty humor - strictly PG, though) :

Scenes From An Unmade Movie : Job from Jason Zada on Vimeo.

Chocolate Pie Chart

chocolate pie chart

This edible info graphic is spectacular. I wonder how it tastes...
(via swissmiss)


Ladies and gentlemen, today I received what will be my final film camera for quite some time. Adding to a 35 mm SLR and a 6x6 medium format, I now have a compact 35 mm rangefinder camera - a Canonet QL 17 GIII to be exact.

This camera has a nice wide lens with a fast aperture, a leaf shutter, working meter, shutter priority mode, and is in fairly pristine condition. Flickr user Martin Taylor has already taken better studio shots of what this machine looks like, so I'll spare you the crappy digicam shot. I'll also spare you any pictures from the test roll - all Ritz Camera had (it was after Richmond Camera closed) in a single roll was cheap Fuji 800 color film, so it's noisy as all get-out. It did prove, however, that there are no light leaks and that the focus and metering seem quite accurate.

Now I'll finally get to try out that ISO 25 black and white Croat film I've been dying to shoot...

I couldn't help myself. I cleaned up the noise a bit (maybe too much?) from this picture of my beautiful wife, so I had to post it:

valerie in the doorway

The Australasian Antarctic Expedition, 1911-1914

frosty penguins

The State Library of New South Wales, Australia, has a Flickr account and has uploaded two dozen photos from the first "Australasian Antarctic Expedition" that ran from 1911 to 1914, led by geologist Douglas Mawson. Most of the photos are either silver gelatin prints or negatives, and several of them are quite spectacular.

Adipose Rex

So the other day I woke up with a phrase that slapped me in the face: "Adipose Rex." So I decided I had to draw a picture of this fat tyrannosaurus...

fat tyrannosaurus

It felt pretty good to draw for the first time in years even if it was a silly cartoon character. I used to draw quite a bit through high school but dropped off sharply when I picked up the guitar. Because of that lag, this simple little drawing actually represents a ridiculous process that took me a few evenings. I sketched out some concepts in my Moleskine (maybe I'll share those some time...probably not) and settled on the style you see above. I scanned the page from my notebook and printed it so I had a larger image to replicate neatly on trace paper (Val has loads left over from her drafting classes in college). Finally I scanned the traced image and cleaned it up a bit in Photoshop before posting to Flickr.

Keep an eye out...I make no guarantees, but this may not be the last you see of this big guy.

New Season of Radio Lab

Holy sweet mercy it's about time :-)

One of my favorite radio programs (via its podcast), Radio Lab, has started its new season. Do check it out - it's more fascinating than I can describe.


Yeesh...I've been nutsoid-busy at work and painting some of the house like a fiend. That's almost done, and then I can resume my regularly scheduled blogging.

And I'm working on something special, too...


I just took delivery of these tripod legs today:

tripod legs

And this tripod head as well:

tripod head

Now if only I could find my 300mm lens...it'll be nice to finally have a stable shooting platform for that puppy.

If You Build It, You May Be Arrested

But I think I'd still like to build my own gasoline powered soda bottle rocket launcher.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBJwiwfqg70&color1=0xb1b1b1&color2=0xcfcfcf&fs=1&w=580&h=470]
(via Coudal)

Stuff Happens, or Why Bill Nye Is Still My Hero

Tonight Valerie and I watched, for the first time, Stuff Happens. Here we have a show hosted by Bill Nye (the Science Guy!) that explores the environmental impact of our everyday lives in an industrialized nation, and the two half-hour episodes we caught investigated the common kitchen and breakfast foods (an apt pairing, I'd say). There a plenty of statistics, demonstrations, illustrations, and so forth, all presented in that down-to-earth and quirky Bill Nye fashion.

I know the distribution of the Science Channel or Planet Green isn't too widespread, but if you have either one, check it out. Entertaining and informative.

Our Folded Universe Will Become Universe Origami

There are pop culture critics, and there's The Hater. Today Amelie Gillette tears down what sounded like a good idea on paper...


This is an absolutely brilliant design for a ladle whether it's used for punch or a pot of chicken soup:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SiPAyU-2wOY&color1=0xb1b1b1&color2=0xcfcfcf&fs=1&w=580&h=470]

(via Gems Sty)

The "Missing" Flickr Browsing Option

John Gruber tipped me off to Flickr's iPhone-specific version of the website (clicking from a non-iPhone mobile or computer shows you the generic mobile site) just one day before I acquired an iPhone of my own. I've had a similar reaction to Gruber - the iPhone-optimized Flickr site is fantastic and useful. It's so good that I've had no reason to use Exposure (the App Store program for easy Flickr navigation), and in fact, I've discovered a feature that I wish the regular Flickr website included.

If I'm looking at photos from my contacts, I see something like this:


If I click on that first image from The 10 cent designer I see something like this in the sidebar:


I'm taken to the page for the specific photo as if I was viewing the user's photostream and I see a visual next/previous navigation element above the "This photo also belongs to:" section. If I want to look at the photos from my other contacts I have to go back to my contacts page and click on another user's photo or username. This, in my opinion, breaks convention with most other contexts in which you click on a photo on Flickr's site. If I click on a picture in a group pool, I get a next/previous navigation for the pool. The same is true for a set and, of course, the photostream itself.

On the iPhone-optimized Flickr site, however, we have the behavior I've wanted for a few years. In the next two screenshots I've highlighted an image in light green so you can see the behavior. First, we have the "photos from contacts" list:


The third image from the top is the one to watch here, from Jean-François Juteau. When I tap the image directly above, from a different user, I see this:


You can see that the next image is the green-highlighted picture. I wonder what it would take to add this same functionality to the standard web version of the website? I'd hope the feature is programmed portably, but we'll see. Perhaps I'll write the good folks at Flickr to determine whether I'm only the four-thousandth person to bring this to their attention :-)

A Functional Heart

In a manner of speaking:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70dKZjP4NOo&color1=0xb1b1b1&color2=0xcfcfcf&fs=1&w=580&h=470]
(via, etc.)

Lego Man


where I drew some blood (with light)

light streaks underneath an overpass

Man, do I ever need a new tripod. But sometimes what I have works just fine...