Monday, March 30, 2015
The people in the “The Walking Dead” world apparently have never heard of the term zombie or seen a zombie movie like “Dawn of the Dead” or “Zombieland.” Instead, they use the term “walker,” which previously was only used to describe people getting exercise by walking (such as “mall walkers”) or a crutch frame for the disabled or elderly.
In “The Walking Dead,” set on the East Coast of the U.S., the main characters use the term “walkers” to describe zombies. Other people they have met have called the living dead “biters,” “rotters” and “roamers.”
This summer, AMC will air a companion series called “Fear the Walking Dead,” which is set in Los Angeles, home to Hollywood. It is an original series, with characters and stories not based on a comic book.
But Kirkman is likely to stick to his concept that the people in “The Walking Dead” live in an alternate universe where zombie movies, books and other fiction were never made, so the term “zombie” would be unknown to the characters.
In a time of post-modern horror movies and TV shows, where characters are familiar with all the concepts of vampires, werewolves and the like, characters in “The Walking Dead” are blissfully ignorant.
It will be interesting to see what characters in “Fear the Walking Dead” call zombies. Will they independently come up with the term “walkers”? (That’s a stretch.) Or will they use some other term?
We’ll find out this summer.
Photos: Scenes from the upcoming “Fear the Walking Dead.”
Sunday, March 29, 2015
The sex-can-be-scary metaphor is a familiar trope in horror movies and TV shows.
In some movies, beautiful women lure men to bed to kill them. Some of these ladies are succubuses who want to suck out their victim’s life force (“Lifeforce,” “Lost Girl”). Others are alien black widows who want reproduce (“Species”). And still others are just plain psychos (“Basic Instinct,” “Gone Girl”).
The latest trend is sexually transmitted horror. In these films, someone has consensual sex and is infected by a demon or turns into a monster.
Now in theaters, the hit movie “It Follows” features an evil supernatural force that follows a girl after a sexual experience.
Last week, on the second episode of the CW’s new show “iZombie,” a woman becomes a zombie after having sex with someone infected with the affliction.
Another example is the 2013 horror movie “Contracted.” One critic said, “Contracted does for sex what Jaws did for beaches.”
Sexually transmitted horror has been depicted in movies before. David Cronenberg’s “Shivers” (1975) is one example.
Usually the sex in these movies leads to pregnancy. An alien, demon or monster gets a woman pregnant with his spawn. Often it involves rape, such as in “Rosemary’s Baby” (1968) and “Demon Seed” (1977).
But sometimes it’s consensual as in “The Fly” (1986), “The Fly II” (1989) and “Prometheus” (2012).
Photos: Poster from “It Follows” (top); still from episode 2 of “iZombie.”
Tuesday, March 24, 2015
226. Movie Title Stills Collection (annyas.com/screenshots)
227. The Final Image (finalimageblog.com)
228. Famous Objects from Classic Movies (famousobjectsfromclassicmovies.com)
229. Google Street Scene (googlestreetscene.tumblr.com)
230. Quiet Earth (quietearth.us)
231. No. 1 Song on Your Birthday (playback.fm/birthday-song)
232. What Ridiculous Food Day Is Your Birthday? (games.usvsth3m.com/what-ridiculous-food-day-is-your-birthday)
233. Sad Kanye (sadkanye.tumblr.com)
234. This Charming Charlie (thischarmingcharlie.tumblr.com)
235. Inspirational Rap Lyrics (inspirationalrap.tumblr.com)
236. Selfies at Serious Places (selfiesatseriousplaces.tumblr.com)
237. Lady Parts (someladyparts.com)
238. Endorsement Bombing (endorsementbombing.tumblr.com)
239. TL;DR Wikipedia (tldrwikipedia.tumblr.com)
240. Sleeping MIT Students (sleepingmitstudents.tumblr.com)
241. Napping All Over Rutgers (runapping.tumblr.com)
242. Ephs Sleeping In Public (ephssleepinginpublic.tumblr.com)
243. White Boys in Salmon Shorts (whiteboysinsalmonshorts.tumblr.com)
244. Humanitarians of Tinder (humanitariansoftinder.com)
245. Signs from the Near Future (signsfromthenearfuture.tumblr.com)
246. WTF Comcast (wtfcomcast.tumblr.com)
247. Pendleton Ward’s Cartoon Tumblr (pwcartoons.frederator.com)
248. Wrong Hands (wronghands1.wordpress.com)
249. Song Lyrics in Chart Form (songlyricsinchartform.tumblr.com)
250. Candy Wrapper Archive (candywrapperarchive.com)
Photos from Song Lyrics in Chart Form (top) and Google Street Scene from "Goodfellas."
Monday, March 23, 2015
What follows are a few particularly interesting ones.
Candy Wrapper Archive
Candy Wrapper Archive is a collection of standard and king-sized candy wrappers. The archivist started collecting them in 1983 and began digitizing them in 2008.
As a candy lover, I enjoy looking at the variety of wrappers, including such favorites as 3 Musketeers, Baby Ruth and Snickers.
Evolution of Soft Drink Cans
As a soda lover (hey, I have a sweet tooth), it’s fun to look at how beverages like 7Up, Coca-Cola and others have changed their can designs over the years.
Visual News adapted the photos for its own article on the subject. And so did BuzzFeed.
Cover Browser displays galleries of comic book covers as well as covers from books, video games and other materials. Created in 2006, the website has more than 455,000 covers.
I enjoy browsing through covers for “The Amazing Spider-Man” from when I was a kid.
RadioShack Catalogs provides an archive of catalogs from the consumer electronics store chain from 1939 to 2005.
Check out this 1985 catalog entry for the TRS-80 portable computer. Brings back memories.
Logonoid has collected a large gallery of company logos, brand logos and trademarks. It has over 7,100 logos in 33 categories, from airlines to watches.
The Museum of Bags
Museum of Bags showcases bags as icons of culture and history. The collection has more than 7,000 pieces ranging from retail to political bags.
Porn Parody keeps track of the adult entertainment industry’s penchant for parodies of mainstream movies, TV shows and real-life politicians and celebrities. (Warning: The website contains nudity and sexual content.)
Saturday, March 21, 2015
Up top is a favorite of mine from cartoonist John Atkinson called “Anatomy of songs,” which he posted on his Wrong Hands blog in July 2014.
The pop music portion appears to have been inspired by an Internet meme that first cropped up online about three years ago on Reddit and elsewhere. It showed a modern pop song interspersed with rapper Pitbull saying weird things.
Anatomy of more songs.”
Song Lyrics in Chart Form from comedian Erik Tanouye.
Instead of poking fun at genres, he diagrams the lyrical content of individual pop songs.
I’ve posted a few examples below.
Thursday, March 19, 2015
A study by Priceonomics found that the No. 1 source for BuzzFeed content is Tumblr, followed by Instagram, according to the Washington Post.
What’s interesting is that Tumblr remains popular despite its heavy-handed treatment of users practicing fair use of copyrighted images.
Tumblr deleted my three blogs a year and a half ago after it received complaints from a photographer about my use of a couple of his images on just one of those three blogs. Tumblr didn’t respond to my appeal of the DMCA takedown notice and unilaterally deleted my work.
I criticized Tumblr at the time for not having at least a three-strike rule.
Fast forward to now and it appears Tumblr has finally instituted such a rule, according to a story on Techdirt. This rule may have saved my three Tumblr blogs from oblivion.
But I digress.
There are many interesting niche-themed blogs on Tumblr. What follows is a dozen of them.
Selfies at Serious Places
Selfies at Serious Places collects photos of people taking self portraits in places where they shouldn’t such as at funerals, cemeteries and former concentration camps. (See article by Business Insider.)
Lady Parts compiles sexist casting call notices for actresses. (See article by the Huffington Post.)
Endorsement Bombing is a website that shows funny examples of “unexpected endorsements for surprising expertise” on LinkedIn, the professional social network.
TL;DR Wikipedia. The humor blog is described as “Wikipedia: Condensed for your pleasure.” By the way, TL;DR stands for “too long; didn’t read.”
Sleeping MIT Students
Another is Sleeping MIT Students, which shows students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology sacked out around campus. (See article by the Huffington Post.)
Napping All Over Rutgers
Napping All Over Rutgers covers sleepy students at New Jersey state university.
Ephs Sleeping In Public
Ephs Sleeping in Public highlights passed out students at Williams College.
White Boys in Salmon Shorts
White Boys in Salmon Shorts was started to draw attention to the preppy trend of white males wearing salmon-colored shorts.
Humanitarians of Tinder
Humanitarians of Tinder collects screenshots from the dating site Tinder where the subjects use photos of themselves working with impoverished people in other countries. (See article by the Huffington Post.)
Signs from the Near Future
Signs from the Near Future imagines what road signs and other signage will be like in the future with advancements in technology. (See article by the Huffington Post.)
WTF Comcast features funny show descriptions from the Comcast on-screen program guide.
Pendleton Ward’s Cartoon Tumblr
Monday, March 16, 2015
No. 1 Song on Your Birthday
The website Playback.fm has an app that can tell you the No. 1 song in the country on the day you were born and also for the week you were likely conceived.
For instance, on the day I was born the No. 1 song was “Soldier Boy” (1962) by the Shirelles. The week I was likely conceived the No. 1 song was “Tossin’ and Turnin”” (1961) by Bobby Lewis.
I wish someone would put together a similar website for the top movie at the box office on your birthday and maybe the top-rated TV show.
On a similar note, another website can tell you: What Ridiculous Food Day Is Your Birthday?
Everyone Gets Sad Sometimes, Even Kanye
The blog – officially called Everyone Gets Sad Sometimes, Even Kanye – shows what a glum, miserable person West is. (See article by the Huffington Post.)
This Charming Charlie
This Charming Charlie mashes Peanuts comic strips with song lyrics from Morrissey and the Smiths.
The blog is the work of graphic designer Lauren LoPrete. (See article by the Huffington Post.)
The blog successfully fended off copyright takedown notices from record label Universal Music, which doesn’t understand the concept of fair use. (See article by Techdirt.)
Inspirational Rap Lyrics
Inspirational Rap Lyrics combines uplifting images with raunchy rap lyrics. The results are comical.
Photos from Sad Kanye, This Charming Charlie and Inspirational Rap Lyrics.
Sunday, March 15, 2015
Disney’s 2015 live-action feature film “Cinderella” opened Friday to positive reviews and stellar box office receipts. While the film has impeccable talent, led by director Kenneth Branagh, what likely sold it for audiences was the Disney brand name.
So if Mickey Mouse does fall into the public domain, there will still be Disney’s Mickey Mouse and everybody else’s versions. And as long as it continues to make a superior family product, Disney has nothing to worry about from its rivals.
After all, anybody can make a Cinderella movie because that fairytale has long been in the public domain. (Check out “16 strange, fascinating, lesser-known onscreen Cinderella stories.”) But the Disney name has cachet in the category.
Last year, Disney did a live-action Sleeping Beauty movie in “Maleficent.” Up next is a live-action retelling of “Beauty and the Beast.”
Photo: Disney’s “Cinderella” (2015)
Saturday, March 14, 2015
No one would argue that patented inventions should be owned in perpetuity by the inventors, their families or corporations.
Generic drugs and other low-cost products are made possible by inventions coming off patent protection. Plus, inventors have an incentive to create new, better products as the patents on older inventions expire.
But when it comes to literature, songs and other creative works, people are more tolerant of prolonged periods of protection. They don’t understand that society benefits greatly when works come off copyright protection.
Copyright protection was never meant to be a way to enrich descendants of creators or corporations for generations.
But here we are in an age when patents in the U.S. expire after 17 years, but copyrights can easily last for 100 years or more thanks to numerous extensions. Patents and copyrights used to be on equal footing.
U.S. copyright protection currently lasts for the life of the author plus an additional 70 years. For works created for hire (such as for a movie studio), the copyright endures for a term of 95 years from the year of its first publication.
Critics of the U.S. government say it serves the interests of corporate political campaign donors and their lobbyists more than the general public. No place is this clearer than with the entertainment industry, which has bought more influence than just about any other industry.
Every time Mickey Mouse approaches the end of copyright protection, the Walt Disney Co. returns to Capitol Hill and persuades lawmakers to extend the terms. Expect to see Disney’s lobbyists press Washington, D.C., soon for another extension as “Steamboat Willy” (1928), the first Mickey Mouse cartoon, is set to enter the public domain in 2023.
The bastardization of copyright and trademark laws can be seen all around us.
One recent example is the adult children of the late Marvin Gaye suing pop music artists Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams for mimicking Gaye’s musical style on “Blurred Lines.”
Another is pop singer Taylor Swift trademarking such phrases as “This sick beat” and “Nice to meet you. How you been?” from her songs.
Bad copyright precedents include the family of Martin Luther King Jr. copyrighting the late civil rights leader’s “I Have a Dream” speech, so news organizations and others have to pay for its use even though it was a public speech, not a commercial performance.
Or how about the song “Happy Birthday To You,” which was first published in 1912? The copyright holders continue to collect fees for its use in movies, TV shows, radio and elsewhere when it arguably should be in the public domain.
Then there’s the case of Sherlock Holmes.
Even though the first Sherlock Holmes detective story was published in 1887, the estate of author Arthur Conan Doyle, continued to push for copyright protection. The Doyle estate exhausted its legal appeals in the U.S. in 2014 and Holmes is now definitively in the public domain, free for all to use.
Being in the public domain allows artists of all stripes to adapt the character and stories into new works without having to get permission or pay licensing fees. High schools can perform Sherlock Holmes plays, comic book artists can make Sherlock Holmes graphic novels, filmmakers can make Sherlock Holmes movies and TV shows.
Sherlock Holmes joins other public domain characters as Hercules, Snow White, Cinderella, Robin Hood, Dracula, Frankenstein, Tarzan, Pinocchio, the Wizard of Oz, Tom Sawyer and many more.
Being in the public domain provides increased exposure for works that have been locked up by copyright restrictions. Consider all the Sherlock Holmes adaptations in production.
The BBC has “Sherlock,” a TV series starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. CBS has “Elementary” starring Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu.
Warner Bros. is developing a third “Sherlock Holmes” movie starring Robert Downey Jr. as the famed detective. Paramount Pictures is doing “Young Sherlock Holmes,” which depicts Holmes and buddy Watson as teenagers.
A recent comic book by Karl Bollers and Rick Leonardi called “Watson and Holmes” reimagines Sherlock Holmes and John Watson as African Americans in New York City’s Harlem district.
Soon we’ll see Ian McKellan as an elderly Sherlock Holmes in the movie “Mr. Holmes,” directed by Bill Condon. It’s based on the book “A Slight Trick of the Mind” (2005).
Art: Infographic of Sherlock Holmes film and TV adaptations from the Blackmoods blog.
Years Of Brainwashing The Public Into Thinking Everything Creative Must Be 'Owned' Has Led To This New Mess (Techdirt; March 13, 2015)
Why you should care about the public domain (Tech-media-tainment; Feb. 22, 2012)
Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Since May 2009, I have written about the shortcomings of the Internet and digital media when it comes to content – music, video, archived information, etc. I published a recap of the first 20 parts of the series on Nov. 3, 2010, and the next 20 parts on July 5, 2014.
Here is an index of parts 41 to 50 of the series “The Failed Promise of Digital Content.”
Part 41: Online information vanishing for variety of reasons
Part 42: Some TV shows likely will never get released on DVD
Part 43: 14 notable TV shows not available on DVD
Part 44: 16 notable movies never released on DVD in the U.S.
Part 45: Ownership of music, movies and software slipping away
Part 46: Authors can sign paper books, but not e-books
Part 47: Some music still not available for download or streaming
Part 48: Link rot scourge continues
Part 49: Some deleted web content preserved by ‘fair use’
Part 50: Father of the Internet warns of a ‘digital Dark Age’
Photo: I Can Has Cheezburger? Lolcats.
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
Constant updates to computer software and hardware could make older file formats unreadable years from now, Cerf said. If something isn’t done to ensure backwards compatibility to old file formats, we could be face a “digital Dark Age,” where much of the information from the 21st Century is lost, he said.
Cerf is promoting an idea called “digital vellum,” which involves preserving content by having software that can interpret old file formats.
With so much of our information – documents, photos, videos, etc. – stored in digital formats, it’s a scary thought that that information could be irretrievable in the future.
Google’s Vint Cerf warns of ‘digital Dark Age’ (BBC; Feb. 13, 2015)
Why the ‘Father of the Internet’ Thinks You Should Print Out Your Photos (Time; Feb. 14, 2015)
Father of the internet: ‘If we don’t move now, we risk losing all the data we’ve created in the 21st century’ (Business Insider; Feb. 20, 2015)
Cerf Warns Of A ‘Lost Century” Caused By Bit Rot; Patents And Copyright Largely To Blame (Techdirt; Feb. 20, 2015)
Internet pioneer Vint Cerf predicts the future, fears Word-DOCALYPSE (The Register; June 5, 2013)
Will your Internet data still be there in 100 years? (CNN; June 22, 2012)
Photo: Light in the Darkness by Flickr user Martinak15.
Monday, March 9, 2015
Such is the case with the CW’s “The 100,” now in its second season.
The series started out as a CW version of “Lord of the Flies,” cast with the network’s usual assortment of attractive young men and women.
In the first season, 100 juvenile prisoners from an orbiting space colony are sent to the Earth’s surface as guinea pigs to see if the planet is habitable nearly a century after a nuclear war. After losing their communications link to the station, the kids go primal and start to turn on each other. But they have to band together to fight territorial warriors dubbed the Grounders. The first-season finale introduced the Mountain Men, a new group for the protagonists to contend.
The first season of “The 100” got off to a decent start and then kept getting better.
“The 100” earned a Metacritic score of 63, signifying generally favorable reviews.
Critics didn’t have the benefit of viewing the entire season of “The 100” before they gave it thumbs up or down. Almost all the reviews were posted in March 2014 around the premiere, save for one from January 2014.
In the second season, “The 100” went from good to great, with richer character development, fun plot twists and exciting action scenes. Of course, there are no reviews of season two of “The 100” on Metacritic.
I compare “The 100” to HBO’s “Game of Thrones” in terms of story sweep, violence and body count. The producers aren’t afraid to kill off a main character or to throw a curve.
“The 100” is by no means perfect. You have to overlook a lot of scientific implausibility. But it’s a great ride. “The 100” season finale is Wednesday. Thankfully, “The 100” has been renewed for a third season.
Sunday, March 8, 2015
A lot of copying, aggregating and curating happens on the Internet. Some of it crosses the line into copyright infringement when full articles and photo galleries are lifted and republished without permission. But much of this activity is “fair use.”
For instance, critics and journalists often need to sample works to discuss their artistic merit, societal impact or newsworthiness. “Fair use” is a right not an exception to copyright law, as Techdirt explains.
Recently, for my series on interesting websites, I tried to revisit a Tumblr blog that featured famous music album covers minus dead members. The website, called Live!, devised a clever way to illustrate how much musical talent is no longer with us.
But it’s now offline, no doubt deleted because of Tumblr’s disregard for “fair use” rights. Likely a record label or three complained to Tumblr under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that their album covers were used without permission. Of course they were, but the artist didn’t need permission to use them. These are clearly transformative works. They don’t diminish the value of the original works or take away potential album sales.
As I’ve written before, Tumblr is the absolute worst website for remix artists and web curators to use. Tumblr listens to large media companies but not to its users when it comes to copyright issues.
In October, the Electronic Frontier Foundation produced a chart showing which websites were the best and worst at “Protecting Your Speech from Copyright & Trademark Bullies.” Tumblr was far and away the worst, scoring a big fat zero in five categories.
But I digress.
Despite Tumblr’s best effort to delete the content of the Live! I See Dead Peoples blog, other websites that reported on its works preserved many of its images. Those websites include Laughing Squid, PetaPixel and Gizmodo.
Tumblr is responsible for a lot of link rot as it deletes users’ blogs. In 2013, it summarily deleted my three Tumblr blogs after one photographer complained about a couple of his pictures being on just one of those blogs.
Other websites copied the photos from my blog, LFL Wardrobe Malfunctions, and made their own galleries. They exist online today, including the disputed photos, because they’re hosted on services that are more respecting of fair use than Tumblr.
Another website that disappeared is Hot Olympic Girls, a pictorial of beautiful female athletes in the Olympics. But thankfully for admirers of the female form, its photos were preserved on a Facebook page called Hot Olympic Girls.
Photos: Cover of the Beatles album “Abbey Road” without John Lennon and George Harrison; snowboarder Elena Hight from Hot Olympic Girls.
Saturday, March 7, 2015
Disappearing webpages and online articles are part of the here-today, gone-tomorrow nature of the Internet. It’s also the biggest failed promise of digital content.
Last June, I ran an online tool from BrokenLinkCheck.com to look for broken links on Tech-media-tainment. The service processed 1,178 web pages and found 570 broken links. I took me hours to clear out the dead links.
On Feb. 20, I ran the Online Broken Link Checker tool again. It processed 1,317 web pages and found 85 broken links. It’s alarming how many links to articles and websites went bad in just eight months.
Since last summer, some of those weblinks died when websites went under or were acquired. More common were websites sunseting articles or changing their URLs. This is most common with old media like newspapers and magazines. Digital news organizations treat their articles with more respect.
In some cases I was able to find articles with changed URLs by doing searches on a media company’s website. Other times I located the content on other websites.
If the Internet is going to be a trustable resource for research, the scourge of link rot must end.
Photos: 404 error pages from broken links on Tech-media-tainment. From top, CNet error page, Oscar.com error page, and Vanity Fair error page.
Monday, March 2, 2015
people glued to their mobile devices.
Well, the New Yorker’s fixation with people addicted to their smartphones continues.
Check out the cover of the Nov. 24, 2014, issue and two alternate covers for the Feb. 23 & March 2, 2015, double issue.
Well, the New Yorker’s fixation with people addicted to their smartphones continues.
Check out the cover of the Nov. 24, 2014, issue and two alternate covers for the Feb. 23 & March 2, 2015, double issue.
Sunday, March 1, 2015
But the trend could be nearing an end because the latest show is a comedy. Usually hot movie and TV trends run their course when they hit the parody stage.
“The Last Man on Earth” stars Will Forte as the title character. The series has received mostly positive reviews, scoring 77 out of 100 on Metacritic.
Meanwhile, NBC recently ordered a comedy series called “Apocalypse,” which stars Rob Lowe, Megan Mullally and Jenna Fischer.
“The set-up: A comet is on an unavoidable collision course toward Earth and one extended family must navigate the societal chaos that ensues,” Entertainment Weekly reported. “Characters include a foul-mouthed priest, an unhinged white supremacist, a mild-mannered bank manager, a germ-phobic cyber-terrorist, a five-star general and a child who (possibly) rose from the dead.”
Another sign that the post-apocalyptic TV show trend is over: broadcasters have pulled the plug on two post-apocalyptic shows in production.
Check out: List of post-apocalyptic TV shows.
Photos: Advertising for “The Last Man on Earth.”