Because this video deserves more than 278 views

Tony Tuthill’s animated video for Elvis Costello’s Green Shirt

And because demos are cool



And because ukelele covers are all the rage

DSLR Video – The Royal Hounds “I’m In Love With a Zombie”

UPDATED WITH BETTER AUDIO

I’ve been radically changing up my videos. I ditched the tripod in favor of a video monopod. Now I’m moving around, which makes the videos much more interesting. Now that I’ve got the audio and video under control I’ve jumped into video editing, whick makes the whole video an actual, like, video, instead of just video clips.

There are some other videos in the can that are better than this one (which has a couple of places where my framing wasn’t as good as I would have liked). I’m putting this one out first because it’s the title track to the band’s new album. The CD release parties are in Knoxville on May 23rd at Preservation Pub and May 25th at Wild Wings Cafe. Check ’em out.

The Royal Hounds “I’m In Love With a Zombie”

P.S. One of the challenges with the monopod is that you can go high and you can go low, but you have to use the pan/tilt head to compensate for the change. So if you start low, the camera is tilted up. As you life the monopod vertically you have to push the tiltbar up at just the right rate to level the camera. Otherwise you wind up pointing at the floor or ceiling until you get the camera levelled.

Star Trek “Into Darkness”

Saw the new Star Trek. I liked it a lot, just not as much as the first reboot. The story is small – Vulcan isn’t destroyed and Earth isn’t threatened. Some of the plot points you can see coming a mile away.

The Kirk/Spock friendship is still the best part of the reboot. The other thing I like about the J.J. Abrams movies is how they seriously consider the realities of life in space. Last movie it was the lens flare. It was overdone, but it showed how raw and harsh life in outerspace would be. In the new movie there’s a scene where the Enterprise has lost power and artificial gravity and is falling sideways into a planet’s gravity. As the heroes run down a corridor they’re running on the wall. When they come to an intersection with a hallway they have to jump across the gap caused by the intersecting hallway. Wicked.

Spoilerific stuff for people who have seen Star Trek Into Darkness

This one really telegraphed the punches. In the first scene with Admiral Marcus isn’t at all concerned about all-out war with the Klingons. He’s all it’s inevitable and let’s just go ahead and get on with it, so you’re wondering if he’s just a little too enthusiastic.

Then he’s handing over a super secret black ops photon torpedo. That torpodo is suspicious because it never gets opened, despite characters wanting to open it or inspec it. That isn’t a small detail – Scotty resigns because he doesn’t know what the energy source is inside the torpedo or how will it affect the warp core. So right away it seems like the secret squirrel photon torpedo is a Trojan horse.

The thing with the Tribbles is likewise a big searchlight painting the sky. Why is Bones shooting Kahn cells into Tribbles? Sure, they’re doing fan service to Trekkies whose Spock Ears are no longer in mint condition, but come on. Things don’t happen in drama for no reason. And at least Wrath of Khan had the decency to let Spock stay dead until after the credits rolled. (Though I’ll admit Kirk dying to save everyone had me a little teary-eyed.)

As far as the villain … He was a badass, but even if he’s 5 times faster and 5 times stronger than a human, he’s still just a dude. Send 20 guys with phasers after him and he’s toast. And the Federation has starships. He just seemed too outmanned to be a threat.

Cord Cutting: VLC Remote Control for Your Smartphone

More and more we’re connecting a laptop to the TV to watch video with VLC Media Player. The lack of a remote control was a nuisance. There are some USB-based remote controls with trackballs and keyboards for 30 or 40 bucks, but I found a remote control app called VLC Remote.

To use the app, run the setup software on any computer you want to be able to control. VLC Remote autodetects computers on the network running VLC and the helper program.

The app runs on Android, iOS and WebOS. I’m using the iOS version and it works great. I’m using the free version, which has volume control and basic controls for start, stop, pause, fast forward and rewind. The only small hassle is having to use the laptop to open the video file. Since I connect the laptop every time I want to watch video it’s no big deal. If I had a dedicated computer connected to the entertainment center I’d buy the the paid version, which has file browsing and some other geegaws like a graphic equalizer.

Stuffed Animal Pants

I was watching Young MC’s Bust a Move video and noticed a young guy who looked like Flea wearing crazy stuffed animal pants.

I Googled and sure enough that’s Flea. He wore the same pants in RHCP’s Higher Ground video. Nice pants.

Justified Tuesday – Who is Drew Thompson?

Last week’s previews hinted that we’d discover Drew Thompson’s identity in tonight’s episode. Who do you think Drew Thompson is?

Here’s what we know about Thompson:

  • He was involved in the incident where a parachutist fell to his death with a load of cocaine strapped to his body.
  • That happened 30 years ago. If he was between 20 and 40 at the time he’d be 50 to 70 years old now.
  • He has a widow/ex-wife named Eve Munro, the psychic.
  • Some people know his identity – Arlo Givens, ex-sheriff Hunter Mosely, and probably others I’m forgetting.

Last week’s episode dropped a lot of clues on one character. Melissa and I our guessing it’s him. Our guess is the same as this guy’s (I’m linking instead of saying for people who don’t want potential spoilers).

What’s your guess?

George Takei Hates William Shatner

My wife is starting a new job. She couldn’t find her Social Security card, so one day while we were out and about we stopped by the Social Security Administration office.

In the waiting area there was a big TV showing information about Social Security. One of the videos starred Star Trek actor George “Sulu” Takei and Patty Duke. They’re dressed in Federation uniforms and making terrible Trek jokes about navigating through asteroid fields and how navigating socialsecurity.gov is so much easier.

When Patty Duke is finished telling George Takei about navigating socialsecurity.gov she says “It’s so simple Kirk could do it” and George Takei laughs heartily, because George Takei hates William Shatner.

Was Argo Really the Best Picture of 2012?

Argo won Best Picture at last night’s Oscars. I saw the movie and liked it, but when I left the theater I never dreamed it would be considered the best movie of the year. I have a theory about why it won.

If you haven’t seen it, Argo is the story of a group of Americans who escape the U.S. embassy to Iran when it’s overrun and take refuge in the Canadian embassy. The CIA hatches a plan to get them out of the country with fake passports by pretending they’re part of an advance film crew scouting locations for a science fiction movie called Argo.

The embassy workers get out of a number of scrapes because the Iranian authorities are fascinated by the movie project and fawn over storyboards to the point of distraction. The message that Iran may hate America but loves American movies stroked Hollywood’s ego. No doubt that helped make Argo a favorite of the Oscar voters.

“Why Most Rappers are Broke”

Some of it is bling. Some of it is the lifestyle. Some of it is that most artists in any genre don’t make money off of their records, due to record companies being pretty much pure evil.

Part 1:

Part 2:

See also: the famous article about how record companies rip off artists. It’s published under Courtney Love’s name. Me, I don’t believe she could have ever strung together that many coherent sentences.

5 Depressing Realities Behind Popular Reality TV Shows

At Cracked. The saddest one was that so many people on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition wind up losing their new homes:

One family, which had a new home specifically designed to help their developmentally challenged son, was forced to put the house on the market after just a little over a year because they simply couldn’t afford what it cost in both time and money to maintain a palatial four-bedroom estate while trying to raise three children, one of whom has special needs. That’s like Santa Claus bringing a lonely kid an awesome robot friend who, by the way, must be fueled by human blood.

Another couple fell behind on the $405,000 loan they had to take out just to keep their utilities connected in the million-dollar mansion built for them by the show (which inexplicably included a carousel and a movie theater, because those are things that a young husband and wife need to turn their luck around) and were forced to sell the house and auction off most of its contents.

I guess that’s why Habitat for Humanity doesn’t put carousels and movie theaters in the homes they build.

Another depressing reality: most of the restaurants on Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares go out of business. I find that a little sad. I don’t like seeing small businesses fail. Then again, it’s hard to feel too sad about a cockroach-infested restaurant going under.

P.S. I always wondered about whether the publicity really helped the businesses. If I find out that a restaurant had cockroaches and dead rats in the kitchen I wouldn’t eat there even after they cleaned it up. If they let it get that bad once, they’ll do it again.

Justified Tuesday – Gangstagrass

Long Hard Times to Come (used as Justified’s theme):

I’m Gonna Put You Down:

Nobody Gonna Miss Me:

Long Hard Times to Come lyrics

Read more of this post

Justified Tuesday – What’s the Badger Game Lindsey Talked About?

In episode 3, Lindsey reveals to Raylan that she and her ex-husband stole from people and that they specifically used something called a badger game. The next weekend I watched a 1941 movie, Shadow of the Thin Man, that mentioned that one beautiful but nefarious character’s expertise was the badger con.

I had never heard of it, so I checked Wikipedia:


The badger game is an extortion scheme, often perpetrated on married men, in which the victim or “mark” is tricked into a compromising position to make him vulnerable to blackmail.

There are two competing explanations for the origin of the term badger game. One explanation is that the term originated in the practice of badger baiting. Another says that it derives its name from the state of Wisconsin (the Badger State), where the con allegedly either originated or was popularized.

This con has been around since at least the early 19th century. There are several variations of the con; in the most typical form an attractive woman approaches a man, preferably a lonely, married man of some financial means from out of town, and entices him to a private place with the intent of maneuvering him into a compromising position, usually involving some sort of sexual act. Afterward an accomplice presents the victim with photographs, video, or similar evidence, and threatens to expose him unless blackmail money is paid.

The woman may also claim that the sexual encounter was non-consensual and threaten the victim with a rape charge. It can also involve such things as the threat of a sexual harassment charge which may endanger the victim’s career.

If photographic evidence is not used in the scam, then an accomplice will usually burst into the room during the act, claiming to be the woman’s husband, father, older brother, etc., and demand justice. The con was particularly effective in the 19th and earlier 20th century when the social repercussions of adultery were much greater. A famous person known to have been victimized by the scheme was Alexander Hamilton, whose adulterous affair with Maria Reynolds was used by her husband to extort money and information from him.

Cordcutting – Watch Downtown Abbey Free

Amazon Prime members can watch Season 1 and Season 2 in HD for free. Season 3 is available at PBS.org.

Via Instapundit.

Justified Tuesday: Is Justified the Best Crime Show on TV?

Andrew Klavan thinks so. That sounds right. When I found out a friend doesn’t watch Justified I always tell them that it’s good enough to be an HBO show.

The main competitor in crime shows would be HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. You can just look at Boardwalk and tell it has a bigger budget. The camera work is better. It’s more self-consciously artistic. It’s a good show, but not as enjoyable for me personally. Boardwalk is mostly about power relationships between the characters, few of whom are sympathetic, much less heroic.

Justifed is better at drawing you into the characters, good and bad, and some of them are people you actually like. I care about what happens to Raylan Givens. If Nucky Thompson gets killed on Boardwalk, well, that’s why there’s no retirement homes for old gangsters. Son of a bitch had it coming anyway.

Here’s another big difference. When Justified rolls credits I can’t wait for the next week’s episode. With Boardwalk I just don’t get the same thrill.

Amazon Reviews You Can Use

How to Avoid Huge Ships:

This book really is one of the best huge ship avoidance references I’ve come across, not just for the effective methods it teaches as to avoiding huge ships, but also for exploding some of the huge ship avoidance myths that many of us take for granted.

For example:
– Do not charge the huge ship at full speed in an attempt to scare it off. This may work with coyotes, but it is less effective with huge ships.
– Similarly, do not roll your boat over and play dead. Unless the huge ship is captained by a grizzly bear, this will not work.
– Do not attempt to go under the huge ship. This is typically not successful.
– Do not attempt to jump over the huge ship.


I’m a little annoyed with the sarcastic “reviewers” of this book. You all seem to think it’s funny that some people would honestly like some expert advice on ways to avoid huge ships. What, you’ve never been traveling at a very, very slow speed straight toward something really, really big that you could see for miles and miles away, and wished you’d known what steps you could take to avoid crashing into it? Well, all I can say is “congratulations!” What’s it like to be so perfect? You haters just keep on enjoying your huge-ship-collision-free little fantasies. I for one am going to buy this book and learn something, because I live in the real world, where huge ships and the dangers they present to people like me are actually a serious issue.

The 2009-2014 Outlook for Wood Toilet Seats in Greater China:

This is so weird. My husband and I were just discussing the 2009-2014 outlook for wood toilet seats in greater China the other day. Now today, here I am surfing Amazon and wouldn’t you know it? The 2009-2014 outlook for wood toilet seats in greater China. I am so happy the price seems reasonable. I’m thinking Amazing Anniversary Present!!!!!!


I was thinking, “Sweet! Finally a version of Outlook that will run on my wooden Chinese toilet seats!!” Little did I know this has **NOTHING** to do with Outlook for Windows or any other MicroSoft product. It is NOT a five-year wooden-toilet email/calendar software product, but is in fact some kind of WELL-DONE REPORT ON TOILET SEATS!! By coincidence still entirely useful to me in my line of business but now I will have to find some other way to coordinate my inter-seat schedules and emails!! Buyer beware!!