Phil Hartman’s SNL audition

A great sample of the genius that was Phil Hartman!

Phone Echo

Have you ever called your cell phone from your google phone/skype?  If you hold the 2 phones near each other and say anything it creates this echo where digital you (cell) talks to digital you (skype/google phone), and you (you) just sits back.  I like to think of all the geniuses at google and the billion dollar satellites hurling through space that allow me to do this.  It’s good times.

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Happy Thanksgiving 2010 from Earshot Presents

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family! It’s time for the 2010 Thanksgiving slideshow from Earshot Presents. If you enjoy the video, please share it with your social media networks by using the social buttons on the bottom of the post.

The song chosen for this year’s slideshow is Simple Gifts. Simple Gifts was written by Elder Joseph Brackett in Goreham, Maine in 1848. The old Shaker hymn was popularized in 1944 when American composer Aaron Copland used it in his scoring of the ballet Appalachian Spring. It’s since been adapted and arranged by hundreds of artists and was most recently used in a John Williams string quartet arrangement (fea. Yo-yo Ma) during the inauguration of President Barack Obama.

Simple Gifts
‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free,
     ‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
    ‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gain’d,
    To bow and to bend we shan’t be asham’d,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
    Till by turning, turning we come round right.

Have a great holiday.

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Macy’s Balloon Fun Facts

The following interesting balloon facts come from a William & Mary College webpage.

  • In order to have a balloon in the parade, companies must pay Macy’s $190,000 the first year to cover the cost of construction. After that the yearly price of admission is about $90,000. In total, companies are paying Macy’s about $5 million a year.
  • The night before Thanksgiving is termed “Inflation Day” by Macy’s. At this time, many New Yorkers crowd around to watch the giant balloons being inflated for the morning’s parade.
  • Macy’s is the world’s second largest consumer of helium (the US government is the first).
  • Balloons can become unruly and dangerous when winds get high. If winds pick up, handlers must rein the balloon in and fly it close to the ground. Some times, conditions have become so bad that balloons are removed from the procession.
  • All balloons are constructed in an old Tootsie-roll factory that now functions as a parade studio.
  • These days roughly 15 balloons are flown each year, though in the first years there were as few as three.
  • Each balloon takes 320 to 450 pounds of nylon.
  • Each balloon is filled with 10,000 to 14,000 cubic feet of helium. The largest balloon ever, Shamu the baby whale, used over 18,000 cubic feet.
  • Baloons consist of multiple chambers, which aid in balance and allow the balloon to continue flying even if one chamber leaks. It is also easier for artists to construct the balloons piece-meal. The chambers carry different pressures to ensure that the various parts of the balloon take on the shape they are supposed to.
  • During inflation, balloons are held in place with enormous nets and 50 tons of sandbags. The nets alone cover some 10,000 square feet, and two whole city blocks are closed off for the process.
  • On average, each balloon requires 50 handling lines and 60 or 70 handlers to be flown. There are also a pilot, two copilots, a captain, and two co-captains who go through extensive training.
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    Brothels around Ground Zero

    Tea Party endorsed candidate Carl Paladino believes that allowing a mosque near Ground Zero insults the memories of those who died as result of the terrorist attacks on 9/11/01.  Paladino believes that the area “where the dust fell” should be considered sacred, and protected from un-holy activity by eminent domain.  Note: the small government guy wants to use eminent domain–against the vote of the local Community Board.

    Dust fell all over Manhattan, Brooklyn, and North Jersey, but much of it was concentrated south east of the original World Trade Towers.  Do people truly consider the neighborhood around Ground Zero sacred, or has it been re-integrated into the usual ebbs and flows of a modern business district?  Is all this holy ground talk just serving to drum up right-wingers?

    Well, a google maps search of “escorts Lower Manhattan” finds a multitude of less than sacred business operating “where the dust fell.”

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    Bed Bug Sniffing Dog

    The Smoked Salmon had a bed bug sniffing dog come to the apartment, not because we had been bitten by bed bugs, but because we stayed in a beach house that she suspected of bed bugs based on no one having received bites or even seen a bug. The bed bug sniffing dog, who I’m told is called Ruby, came to the apartment, sniffed around, and sat in the corner near the bed. Ruby’s Partner, a human, declared that Ruby had found bed bugs and we needed to pay him $1,500 to exterminate the pests. Sitting equals a positive diagnosis, I was told. Oh and it would be $325 for Ruby’s services up to that point. “But where are the bugs?” I asked. “Can’t Ruby find and actual insect to confirm his diagnosis?” Ruby’s Partner assured me that further investigation was unnecessary and any further hesitation on my part put my family at great risk. “So you want me to give you $1,500 based on the recommendation of a dog?”

    I got Ruby and the Partner out of the apartment with only the $325. We’ve thrown out our bed and are working on a compromise.

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    World Cup Update

    I’m loving the World Cup. But, as an American unfamiliar with the culture of professional soccer, I am left with some unanswered questions. Why is the refereeing so bad? Why do so many players sport the faux-hawk? Why are they introduced with their S. African boyfriends and girlfriends?

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    Greatful Dead: Logical Inconsitancies Found

    I believe elements of the song “Uncle John’s Band” don’t make sense, and worse, are logically inconsistent.  The Smoked Salmon was listening to the song this morning and that’s when I noticed the lyrics: “Come hear Uncle John’s Band by the riverside.  Got some things to talk about, here beside the rising tide.”  Riverside?  Rising tide?  Is the band playing near a river or the ocean?  Rivers don’t have tides unless you’re in some brackish part.  We’re going to get a man on this…  The East River has tides but it’s not a true river.

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    Make Phosphorescent your Summer Jam.

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    Phosphorescent is the project of songwriter Mark Houck, formally of Athens, Georgia and now based in Brooklyn. Houck’s Phosphorescent seems to strike a amazing balance in all regards. (more…)

    Powerhouse Flowerhouse, Oakland

    Having been on my block for a full year now, it’s fun to see certain things coming back into bloom in the same places where they first impressed me last year. The giant magnolia flowers mid-block are back. And so is my favorite perennial delight–a house down the block covered with what Brad has identified as bougainvillea. The over-the-topness of this… thing… the road-hazardous distraction of it in all its glory… reminds me of the famous annual Christmas displays in the suburbs of New Jersey. If I ever own a house in a climate conducive to bougainvillea, I’m going to baste the building’s facade with the seeds of this plant like it’s a Chia Pet and set the timer for the first day of summer.

    The following is from Wikipedia:
    Bougainvillea (pronounced /ˌbuːɡɨnˈvɪliə/)[1] is a genus of flowering plants native to South America from Brazil west to Peru and south to southern Argentina (Chubut Province). Different authors accept between four and 18 species in the genus. The plant was classified by Europeans in Brazil in 1768, by Philibert Commerçon, French Botanist accompanying French Navy admiral and explorer Louis Antoine de Bougainville during his voyage of circumnavigation.

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    BFC World Cup Preview

    Rule 1.  If you’re American, then root for America.  I don’t care where your grandma lives, or where you cousin was born.  If you talk like an American, you’re an American and should support your team in international competition as such.  If you need clarification on this point, move back to the ancestral country for a while.  The people in the ancestral homeland will call you a name that translates back into American English as, “American guy.”

    Corollary to rule 1: the converse is not true.  If you do not have an American accent, but you would like to support America, and/or be an American, then go for it.

    I’m about to watch USA v. England with a bunch of English people.  I’m going all out American chauvinism.  There is no “go USA, despite the fact I didn’t support our foreign policy in the Bush years.”  That’s what the British expect from liberal Americans, and they’ll verbally pick you apart for it.  We can’t beat them at their own game, and by their game I mean being a freedom hating wuss.  It’s fried chicken and freedom fries for me baby!  The only reason I’m watchin this damm sport is cuz it’s cloudy.  Cuz when the suns out, guns out, that’s what I say.  I’d rather be killin’ defenseless animals!  U. S. A!

    I’m not advising you on how to vote here.  I’m suggesting a character to pick up when you need to hold your own at a bar full of Brits.  I’m going to be in Brooklyn, but still out numbered.  I’m going red blooded, redneck.  The further I take it, the more ironic it will be (everyone knows that deep down I’m a freedom hating wus too).   Most Englishmen have never actually met a conservative american despite spending all their time hating on the stereotype.  They’ll be caught off guard and flummoxed. Then ask them it they’d like to kill anymore pelicans with their oil.  After all, a man doesn’t go to a sporting event at a bar to make friends.

    That said, in the event American is eliminated from competition, I’m going to cheer for England.  And that’s not because I have English blood, it’s because as a scientist, I want England to win to set off a natural experiment on how drunk a country can get.

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    Hella Pizza

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