A compilation of random and interesting things, musings, musics, videos, and more. Brought to you by a UChicago student with a penchant for procrastination.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Whirl + Ball = Whirlyball?

At first hearing the name Whirlyball, one might assume that a game with such a seemingly benign name would be nothing more than one whose goals involved the whirly-ing of a ball, much like the ever loved bases-ball. But no, my friends, this game is something else indeed.

Defined as Whir-ly-ball
(hwur lee bol) noun. (1) "The second most fun thing in the world." (2) For all ages, women & men. (3) Beyond description.

A hybrid of bumper cars, lacrosse, polo and basketball - this game has everything one would ever want or need in a game, from the violent crashes of NASCAR (albeit at a top speed of 4mph) to the fast paced excitement of a curling championship (I'm not joking, curling is a sweet game)! It definitely is an amazing experience that'll pit the bumper buggy maneouvring skills of some against the intensity of whiffle-based sports enjoyed by others. And while it may seem that only in a bar setting this game could thrive, it actually prohibits play while intoxicated, pregnant, or short ... so there.

As an introduction to the famed pastimes Chicago has to offer to the world, the Tufts House inaugurated us first years to the joys of this traditional game, made all the more appealing thanks to the ever constant flow of pizza and pop. The photos speak for themselves.

If you ever want to experience the joys of whirlyball for yourself there's pretty much one place in the Midwest that has games in a couple of different locations. You can find more info at whirlyball.com Additionally, the Wikipedia entry on Whirlyball, while somewhat sparse, is still pretty informative.

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Sunday, September 17, 2006

Talk Like A Pirate Day

With International Talk Like A Pirate Day just a few short days away I've been seeing what can be done to improve my general comprehension of this mystical and well-respected language. Just as I was abut to hunker down and study for a French language placement exam, I happened upon a great distracting and equally educational tool: An instructional video for talking like a pirate! With easy grammatical and syntactical guides, this video makes pirate-speak fun and accessible to the common landlubber.

I'll see you on Tuesday - ye scurvy salty dog. But if checking out the video and the Original Talk Like a Pirate Day site isn't enough, here's Stephen Colbert in pirate garb.

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Wednesday, September 6, 2006

The Ultimate Pac-Man Tribute

I have to admit that of all of the classic arcade characters, I've always had a soft spot in my heart for Pac-Man. Perhaps it's his simplicity (he is just a circle with a wedge cut out of it after all) or his affinity for little yellow orbs (delicious, delicious orbs), yet there's just something I've always found reassuring about this video game icon.

To a certain degree I think all of America can in fact claim to share the basic values which Pac-Man espouses. For both Americans and Pac-Man a traditional family seems to be central (he did after all spawn a Mrs. Pac-Man and Pac-Man Jr. spin off) and both share a tremendous innate dislike of ghosts. Yet, most important of all, it seems that Americans can completely identify with a creature of a voracious and unsatiated appetite, in essence, a complete glutton. The central goal which defines Pac-Man, is the acquisition of orbs - which he stuffs himself with - incessantly. Mirrored by a similar capitalistic desire for wealth and the general girth of the American populous, it's no surprise that Pac-Man has affected culture in such a sweeping manner. He is in essence living out the American dream - just in video game form, and with the addition of those tasty cherries as bonus points.

Having been inspired once again by this video game giant after stumbling upon a miniature version of the classic Pac-Man game (both a perfect way to pass the time and aditionally ruin your eyesight) I was moved to explore more deeply this cult of the Pac. Not only has this 8-bit character become a generation defining figure, but his fame has grown to such an extent as to even spawn it's own religious sect. And the following examples can only illustrate a continued interest this video game icon.

To begin with, a video tribute to Pac-Man seems like the only fitting introduction to the many feats of this cultural behemoth. With some slick editing, the video cuts to the many cameos which The Pac has made in television and entertainment -- and even takes a minute to address the evolution of the simple game as video game technology advanced. The Simpsons clip always cracks me up and the video even features footage of the glitch which occurs on the 256th level of the game - freaky.

But in all honesty, one of the best things
about the video above is the amazing sound track running under the sweet editing, none other than Aphex Twin's Powerpill from the Pac-Man EP. Relased in May of 1992, the remix showed that Pac-Man fever was going strong ... although it wans't an actual fever, thankfully, I couldn't even begin to imagine the horrific symptoms ...

As a neat side project for the breakbeat and hardcore electronic group Aphex Twin, this soundtrack contains some amazing remixes of the original song in all of it's video game glory. Links to the tracks below open the mp3 file in a new window.

Pac-Man (Original Edit)
Pac-Man (Ghost Mix)
Pac-Man (Choci's Hi-Score Mix)
Pac-Man (Mickey Finn's Yum Yum Mix)

YouTube is brimming with Pac-Man related videos, whether completely random or deeply rooted in cultural phenomena. Things like a 1982 commercial for 7-up, featuring a red Pac-Man hopped up on the sugary corn syrup concoction give a better understanding of the historical place of the figure - yet it isn't all that entertaining ... the following, however, are awesome.

College pranks at their finest, with a Pac-Man inspired twist. Based out of the University of Michigan through the UM Patriots. I just wonder how cumbersome those costumes were.

Stop motion re-enactments of Classic Arcade games: in this instance Pac-Man is a delicious pizza creature that appears alongside other legends - the asteroids one is pretty neat.

A classic Futurama episode, Raiders of the Lost Arcade, which realizes the hypothetical: what would happen if life were more like a video game? Keep an eye out for General Colin Pac-Man and Zoidberg's foray into the realm of Pac-land.

A cute commercial dubbed Pacman el victorioso, featurin
g yours truly in a south of the border puppet show. The language of Pac-Man truly is international.

Further projects based on the classic yellow creature have involved everything from a customized kart racers to a Pac-Man guitar, yet the
artistic medium has remained the best for exploring the deep bond we share with our video game brethren. One such final outlet, the i am 8-bit art exibit out of Los Angeles, showcases various artistic interpretations of the many icons to have graced the 8-bit screen. The place of Pac-Man among such legends is firmly represented in the gallery of works.

Pac Man in Hospice by Greg "Craola" Simkins

Pac-Man by Peter Gronquist

If all of this hasn't gotten your Pac going then there is a whole lot more info on Pac-Man compiled all over the web by people way more wholly engrossed by this little yellow dude than myself. You can find tons of emulations of the game itself - the flash version being nicely updated. For those of you interested in the history of Pac Man, check out his Wikipedia entry. If you're in it for the memorabilia - there's an entire virtual museum devoted to collectibles. Or, if you'd simply like to find more random things that people do in the name of Pac-Man, there's a blog for that. Ooh, and don't forget the Pac-Man shirts!

But honestly, what could be sweeter than light-up LED animated Pac-Man bicycle wheels?

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Monday, September 4, 2006

MyHeritage Celebrity Collages

Ok, I know it might seem that I'm falling into some horrible spiral of internet fad-dom, but I couldn't let this one pass by. After seeing MyHeritage's Celebrity Collages posted on some other blogs I figured it was my chance to see what celebrity I most closely resembled - because, hey, when it comes to procrastination what's better than to implement potentially useful facial recognition technology for completely pointless pursuits? The layout of the website makes looking up your celebrity match really simple: after a quick bit of registration (no e-mail verification required) just upload a front facing photograph of yourself and the collage tool does the rest, cropping your face and running it through its database of celebrities. And the results? Well ... see for yourself ...

MyHeritage - find your celebrity doppelganger
While fun for a laugh and a bit of boredom busting I can't really say that my experience with the Celeb-o-matic validates the claims of this algorithm-based technology's amazing face recognition abilities ... see, in all actuality I actually don't have a trace of Asiatic genes in me, a shocker, I know. I can see how the glasses may have thrown off the results, but I'd like to think, or pray, it was a glitch that paired me up with that one guy who like he just slaughtered and ate a baby - I mean, I enjoy a dead baby as much as anyone else - but that guy just looks creepy!

And finally ... because this was waiting to happen, this technology will help validate, once and for all, every one of those late-night look-alike based jokes! Presenting, the Herman Munster's celebrity equivalents ...

What, no John Kerry? Well, maybe it's not the best - but it does slam Bush and Prince Charles - so it's a-ok in my book. Try it out for yourself at MyHeritage Celebrity Collage Page - enjoy

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Fodey Image Generators

I recently Stumbled upon quite a neat little website that's staked out its niche in the image generator section of the internets. While websites like the Church Sign Generator and the ever popular Colbert Report on Notice Board Generator provide specific resolutions to your customization needs - leave it to fodey.com to create a plethora of generated image and animation goodness. If you're ever bored out of your mind, or would like to be comforted by the highly disturbing customizable creature animations available (reminiscent of those freaky Quizno's commercials) just take a gander at this site. See how much fun it is?

gif animation
Uh, a squirrel?

gif animation
Aw, a flower ...

gif animation
It's mustachio'd ...

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Sunday, September 3, 2006

Malapropism Fun: Take One

Whether it be Dogberry in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing or our very dear, but linguistically challenged President George (Dubyah) Bush - it seems that the trend of attempting to use seemingly erudite vocabulary (or any string of words at all) to try and sound authoritative or a least intelligent, yet ultimately failing miserably, has been around as long as the English language itself. Malapropism, the term for this type of language abuse, is itself an annoyingly and ironically fiendish word ... but hey, when the results make lexicographers and wordnistas laugh in a haughty way, it can't be all that bad. But hey, no one really wants to be the guy making the flagrant linguistic gaffe, like the one below --

Update (Sept 19) -- A nice article through BBC World News addresses the wealth of political gaffes all around the world, in case you want o check out more political blunders: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/5360412.stm

So yeah, here are some random words you definitely might not want to confuse, seeing as they regulate not only the salvation of your immortal soul but obscure pop culture and literary references.

Consubstantiation - the assertion that the body and blood of Christ only coexist in and with the substance of the bread and wine of the Eucharist

Transubstantiation - the process by which the bread and wine in the Eucharist literally turn into the body and blood of Christ

Transmogrification - that /other/ magical process by which Hermione turns into a cat

Anthropomorphization - your standard 10th grade literary analysis buzz word, through which one defines the attribution of human characteristics to inanimate objects, animals, forces of nature, the unseen author of things, and others ... like God, who apparently has a long white beard

Animorphs - a process by which preteens of the 90s turned into total geeks

- the underlying tenet of Carl Jung's theory which surmised that we're all tapped into a collective unconscious, which at it's core spawns the same trite storylines for fantasy/adventure novels whereby the characters are basically interchangeable. Like ... [Neo the intrepid young hacker] finds the guidance of a wise mentor named [Gandalf] to defeat a looming villain named [Lord Voldemort] by using [The Force] to ultimately triumph in the battle of [good] verus [bears]

Yeah, I think that's a good start - maybe I'll bring in some more installments later on - because, Thesauruses ... Thesaurii ... MAKE LANGUAGE FUN - Yeah! And in all honesy, who dosen't love a well placed Shakespeare reference?

"Shakespeare hates your emo poems" at Threadless

"Prose before Hos" at Busted Tees

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