I'll reopen the request window once the blog is set up. The first batch of 10 will go out shortly, and then I'll move on with the rest of you.
Thanks for the excitement, everybody! The ghosts thank you!
We're a geek culture podcast and blog covering video games, music, food and more. We are the kinds of people who evangelize whatever we are into - it could be anything - but it's usually pretty geeky. We're casual, conversational, NSFW and hopefully interesting. We hope you enjoy it.
Feed our mailbag and get your letter read on air!feed it!
I'll reopen the request window once the blog is set up. The first batch of 10 will go out shortly, and then I'll move on with the rest of you.
Thanks for the excitement, everybody! The ghosts thank you!
Ross, Ryan, Jinny and Chris come together this week to talk about all the junk they've been geeking out about. We've got GDC news and announcements, news about new Katamari games, Fable DLC and the return of The Phantom, Modern Warfare 2's trailer's effect on the developers versus the commenters, the ridiculous bullshit of OnLive Where the Wild Things Are's stunning trailer (no matter what Ross says), how to make home made corn dogs and mailbag. Yep. That's right. Corn dogs. Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes!
Believe it or not, I AM ZEE GREAT ARTIST.
I'm introducing a strange new idea.
I am willing to paint you a ghost, in watercolor, and mail it to you. WHAT IS THE CATCH? You must immediately email afterwards and tell me HOW, WHEN, WHERE AND WHY this ghost died, and provide me with an EXTRA SPOOKY NAME for said horror. Image and description will then be published on a forthcoming blog!
Email me your snail mail address to firstname.lastname@example.org. Privacy ensured!
These days the concept of a "hand-drawn" animation is quite alien. Even shows that still animate on paper eventually send everything into a computer program to be inked, colored, or composited. But there was a time when cartoons were inked, colored and composited painstakingly by hand.
Sometimes a concept can be bigger than the people who convey it. Since signing to major label Capitol, The Decemberists have brought two fanciful (and highly conceptual) folk tales to life.
Frontman Colin Meloy - much maligned for purveying "thesaurus rock" and much beloved for making it tastefully palatable - could care less about the classifications, petty or otherwise. He's only concerned with the story. On The Hazards of Love, Colin and his swarthy, seasoned shipmates have recklessly run ashore, found some friends, and are colonizing the forests.
Much akin to their past works, but drastically cross-hatched, Hazards incorporates elements of "California One/Youth & Beauty Brigade", the pastiche prog themes from The Tain, and the solemnity of preceding Crane Wife. It's unmistakably Decemberists, and undeniably new. With this record, unlike past Meloy-led expeditions - which upon repeated listening leaves a campy residue - is a maturation of sorts; a culmination.
Opening number "Prelude" bleeds with organs into a crisp, revealing "Hazards of Love 1" where Colin's character shape-shifts from a fawn into a suitor for the angelic Margaret (voiced by Lavender Diamond's Becky Stark). Their courtship is contested by the searing Forest Queen (played by My Brightest Diamond's Shara Worden). Eventually, as in all their morbid tales, the couple succumbs; they're held captive by the angry river and they drown with a kiss. ("We Both Go Down Together" ring a bell?)
But the real glory is the insular drama of the centerpiece tracks in Hazards. Worden's Forest Queen reigns supreme with vocal strength such that her wrath is well remembered long after (see "The Wanting Comes in Waves/Repaid" and "The Queen's Rebuke/The Crossing"). A bitter widower kills his children to become a bachelor and the youngsters come back to haunt him in "Hazards of Love 3", recalling their own deaths like something out of an Edward Gorey illustration.
But the oak in the center of Hazard's woods is Margaret's "Won't Want for Love". It's the perfect example of what The Decemberists have become - Meloy and Chris Funk riffing like they're being measured against late-era Zeppelin, John Moen keeping an effectual, but even-tempered beat resembling Mick Fleetwood, and Jen Conlee hammering keys with a Pink Floyd-like precision.
It's ironic that with such a devoted fan base and such an unalienable, literary-obsessed style, that The Decemberists has arrived at what might be their career's magnum opus by loosening the resolutely-gripped reins on their sound and allowing guest performers to shape their destiny along with them.
Stark's recurring chorus "I may swoon from all this swaying/but I won't want for love" is the revelation here; you can't help but adore the strange path that The Decemberists have carved. And if Hazards of Love is but a landmark in their journey, the end point will be unimaginably grand.
The usual cast gets their geek on this week, talkin' bout Battlestar Galactica (no spoilers, we swear!) and what we really expect from a series finale. It's also GDC time, so we discuss a little gaming news and declare the iPhone a viable gaming platform. Why, you ask? Well you'll just have to listen to the show! We also discuss the existential weirdness that is Instant Action, and how PC gaming may just rise from the ashes. Ross also introduces us to a very intriguing PC game called The Path, and then we all gush about a little iPhone game called Drop 7. Lots of mailbag, too. Remember to subscribe in iTunes by going to weeklygeekitunes.com!
As I scroll down the list of completely ridiculous terms people actually type into search engines in order to end up at The Weekly Geek, often times I wonder if the universe is trying to tell me something. This week I'm showcasing the month's most negative and insulting search terms. Be sure to click through to the Google Image Search result for added angst!
I hope you're happy, Internet. I hope you're happy. *Runs away sobbing*
Ok, folks. Here's the deal.
As you may or may not know, I am a film student. Film is a very time-consuming, very difficult process. Even major studios take years and hire hundreds of people to make a simple two-hour movie everybody hates. Learning about it is even more daunting, and Dr. Helmig is competing for freetime I just don't have anymore.
But I'm not ending it. No! Instead I'm expanding what I do here at the Weekly Geek. The comic will update basically whenever the heck I feel like it and in between those sparse comic updates will be demos, showcases, and how-to's on video production, animation, and photography. Basically a dumping ground for all the things I learn and/or produce in film school. One week I'll show you how to animate on cell, the next I might show you how to do good green screen compositing, or I might just show you a funny video I made.
This all starts next week. Until then, I'll show you a little animation I did about a year ago. This was actually painted on cell, and shot underneath a 35mm camera.
Next Thursday, I'll show you how I made it.
While this movie smacks loudly of the often over-used Wes Anderson/twee/emo/Little Miss Sunshine brand of filmmaking, I am starting to really appreciate the fact that our generation has these kinds of romantic comedies instead of the shitty You've Got Mail style of the 90's. Here's Away We Go, featuring a cast made up entirely of awesome people.
Disclaimer: I am completely gay for these kinds of movies.
[link via The Slog]
After listening to this week's podcast, you're going to seriously re-think the way you view the world. It is that mind-blowing. What kind of podcast deserves this much hyperbole? Why, one with me, Jinny and Ross, of course! Join us this week as we discuss the most recent Bioshock 2 rumor quashing, pointing fingers at who started it and who propagated it. After the actual details are revealed, we ponder if sequels actually tarnish their source material in any way. Professor Layton is seeing a new trilogy in Japan, but will we see it in the states? Then, I recommend a podcast for the first time ever, and we berate the SciFi channel for their ridiculous re-branding. I also talk about tater tots. Then we open the mailbag. These are exciting times, my friend. Exciting times that call for an exciting podcast. Won't you listen?
It's Friday! You know what that means? More batshit crazy search terms from The Weekly Geek's raw server logs. Each one of these terms are actual phrases someone typed into a search engine in order to get here. Each week is just another layer in the onion of insanity. And if you read them all together, it kind of sounds like a beat poem! Like always, click the phrase to get the Google Image Search result. Onward!
You really can't make this shit up.
The Internet truly is a treasure trove of weirdness. Enter That's My Face, a site where you can upload a few photos of your face and blammo you get a mask, action figure, 3d crystal (!) or any number of other forms of terrifying simulacra.
The Internet never ceases to amaze/horrify me. I want a mask of my own face to wear to costume parties. Best. Costume. Evar.
[link via @archiemcphee]
Just about every day Jinny and I excitedly plan our dinners far in advance. We both delight in the whole process. Making dinner together is our jam and pretty much every night is date night. I live a wonderful, charmed life let me tell you what. Anyway. Yesterday was burger night, one of our staple go-to meals. Usually we'll get a big pack of meat from Costco and grind our own hamburger, storing it in Foodsaver bags in the freezer. Add seasoning, shape into patty, fry. Suuuuper easy, but man cannot live on burgers alone! No, sir. We need the Robin to burgers' Batman. We need tots.
Normally I'd have a bag of Ore-Ida™ Brand Tater-Tots™ in the freezer for these occasions, but alas we were out. Not keen on leaving the house, I thought "how hard can making homemade tater tots be?" The answer? Not very hard at all. After consulting the hive mind (thanks, Papapishu!) I concocted a recipe that actually ended up kicking serious amounts of ass. See that photo up there? That's how much ass I kicked. The tots came out crispy on the outside and nice and tender in the middle, just like tots are supposed to be. Though most tots are made through an extruder, I sculpted these by hand. They came out looking like tots you might see as a canapé at a fancy restaurant. I could see serving these at a party, or even just as we did last night - alongside a really great hamburger. Here's what went in 'em!
Chris Furniss' Fancy Tots (worst band name ever?)
(measurements are approximate, adjust as you see fit. Maybe one day I'll actually measure this stuff in grams or whatever)
4 medium sized russet potatoes
1 cup Flour
1/4 cup minced Shallot (onion can be substituted, but shallots are best)
1 tablespoon Salt
1 tablespoon Pepper
Dash of Cayenne pepper
1. Grate the potatoes either with a mandoline slicer or a normal grater. Chop into smaller pieces. The point is to get nice, small slivers of potato. Work quickly so the potatoes don't oxidize. Grate onto a paper towel or put into a salad spinner to draw out moisture.
2. Add the potatoes and the rest of the ingredients into a large mixing bowl and mix thoroughly with your hands. Start to squeeze some of the mixture into your palm like you're making a snowball. If it's sticking together, good! If not, add a bit more flour.
3. Get your fryer goin'. A deep fryer works best, but if you don't have one you can always do a shallow fry in a pan with a lot of vegetable oil. Heat the oil to around 350 degrees.
4. Shape your tots. Squeeze a little bit into your palm and push it together. I tried to make them slightly cylindrical to look more like the classic tot shape, but just as long as you keep them small and uniform the shape is up to you. Place each finished tot on a baking sheet to fry in batches, or drop each finished tot directly into the oil. Cook for about 8 minutes, or until golden brown and delicious.
5. Remove from fryer onto a baking sheet with a wire cooling rack, or onto paper towels to drain. Be sure to season liberally right when they come out so they can absorb the seasoning better. A little sprinkle of kosher salt is good, or you could go all out and use some seasoned salt or even (gasp!) bacon salt. Keep in a warm oven until time to serve!
For dipping, I usually gravitate toward Ranch dressing, but I could see a nice homemade mayo or even some sriracha playing quite nicely with these gems. Just don't disgrace them with ketchup, please. I mean, seriously. If you try these, let me know what you think! I'm contemplating making a big batch and then freezing them myself. They were just too delicious to go back to Ore-Ida™.
There! The Tater Tot mystery is solved. You're welcome.
Interested in more food porn? I'm always uploading snapshots of stuff Jinny and I make for dinner, check out my Flickr stream!
Well folks, the academic career of a film student is wrought with time-consuming project after project, and this week I have been hit particularly hard. However, instead of a... "special needs"... narrative critique of a show nobody has watched since the mid-90's, I created a short animation in Garry's Mod for a class assignment titled "Gmod Gnome Dance." Hey, it's sort of like a Dr. Helmig comic in video form. Hope you enjoy.
You might recognize the singer for The Handsome Furs as being one half of Wolf Parade. His expressionate and otherworldly voice provides a slightly unnerving compliment to the rough guitars and catchy melody in The Handsome Furs' latest single, I'm Confused. It's a great song, but that's not why I am posting it. See the first blond girl who gets puked on? That's my little sister. So proud. *sniff*
[link via Popmatters]
Zach Condon has a vast imagination. Its taken him to the far reaches of the globe. From his humble Santa Fe domicile he's been to Eastern Europe, Paris, and now, Oaxaca. With a horn in tow and a hired translator he ventured to the home of the Aztecs.
Beirut is a gateway to world culture in a universal language. And as such, Condon's rag-tag Mexican funeral band for March of the Zapotec doesn't just steep his songs in tequila and bake them in the hot Baja sun, it takes us all with him for the journey.
"La Llorona" (the Spanish legend of the weeping lady) maintains the street-band feel of Beirut's past efforts with a tale of a man who tries to buy a stubborn lover's affection. "The Akara" - probably where Condon got the inspiration for his March title - sways with rattling drums and crying trumpets as a mistress who, tired of waiting for her lover, cuts her "kite strings" free. The lovely "On a Bayonet" bleeds right in to thematic closer "The Shrew" that erupts with cymbal crashes in a cacophony of Latin madness.
After the closing number, Condon's secondary moniker Realpeople make its debut (Holland) with five tunes; some of which pre-date his Beirut experiments. It's a neat addition to see how far he's come in such a short time. "My Night With a Prostitute from Marseille" and "Venice", in particular, come off sounding like what might happen if Dntel's Jimmy Tamborello made a second Postal Service record using Zach's vocal talents instead of Ben Gibbard's.
Bottom line though: this short, 6-song glimpse into Mexico's rich traditions is glorious. But the remarkable part is that Condon has kept the Beirut experience fresh by incorporating the sounds of each passport stamp (Gulag Orkestar, The Flying Club Cup) and twining it into his study current location. The ghosts of his Russian and Parisian trips are resurrected in March of the Zapotec for the gigantic splendor of Dia de los Muertos.
This week's podcast is special not only for the mind-blowing Tracy Morgan impersonation Qais has perfected, but because Ryan is actually here in Seattle with us to record the show! Join us, along with Jinny and Ross, in discussing the week in geekery. We've seen Watchmen and we tell you what we think of the ridiculous amount of blue wieners in the movie. The Beatles Rock Band gets a release date and we talk Boy and His Blob and our memories of obscure retro games and lies kids told about video games. We also discuss Shaq and how his giant game of Twitter tag proves he's some sort of alien. Or robot. Either one. And more! SO much more.
Another week, another set of completely ridiculous search terms people have used to navigate to this website. I've only been doing this for a couple weeks and I have got to say it is my new favorite feature on the website. It cracks my shit up. The Internet is like a lens for humanity's true self. It is a terrifying thing to behold. Remember, these are all actual terms people typed into Google in order to get to this website. I can't make this shit up. As usual, click through to see the requisite Google Image Search results, for kicks.
UNTIL NEXT WEEK
I was moved this morning by the sheer creativity of humanity. In times like this it's easy to lose sight of just how good things can be in life. When faced with seemingly unending despair it is absolutely vital that you have moments like the ones that Thru-You can provide. This project, curated and produced by a man named Kutiman, is like if Gregg Gillis from Girl Talk got his hands on a bunch of random YouTube videos and mashed them all up into one cohesive album. It is stunning.
I think perhaps the project is made stunning not just by the catchy melodies and incredibly talented instrumentation Kutiman found, but by the different elements all together. It's a symphony of sight and sound and it will charm the shit out of you. From the woman sitting in her living room singing softly to her baby, to the man freestyle rapping on the street, to the kids performing in a school quartet on stage in front of their parents, this is humanity at its best. This is life-affirming stuff here. These are ordinary people doing what they do. I get the same feeling listening to this music as I do listening to the music of The Books. The Books include samples in their music in a very similar fashion, evoking the same sense of humanity.
You can even delve deeper into Kutiman's creative process. Most of the videos have video responses and urls linking to the original videos, which is incredibly fascinating. It turned me on to a whole new world of creativity out there. People making videos of whatever talent they have. Kutiman just spliced it together, almost as if it was always meant to be that way.
I get the sense from projects like this that as a society we have no more usefulness for celebrity. Why should we? We are all talented. We are all awesome.
Her catalog has been about shooting the gap. Finding a perfect middle ground between a gloomy Tacoma past and a gleaming Nashville present. With Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, Neko Case found the right mixture; a merging of independent rock edge with dusty country ramblings.
After the excellent building-blocks Furnace Room Lullaby and Blacklisted, 2006's Fox Confessor was haunting, desolate, and it won my nod for Album of the Year. Though, with any artist, and with Case in particular - whose work solo and with The New Pornographers is superb - following greatness time after time becomes increasingly difficult.
And indeed Middle Cyclone, on first and second listens, seems like a group of average songs tethered together by fleeting moments of brilliance. Tracks like "Vengeance is Sleeping", "Magpie to the Morning", and "The Pharaohs" all suffer from a lumbering repetition musically that bogs down otherwise amazing vocal performances. "The Next Time You Say Forever" and "I'm An Animal" seem short and underdeveloped, but with glowingly awesome potential.
Fortunately, further dedication to Cyclone brings the realization that these brief little 15 to 30 second flashes are the true payoff. Like real twisters, they're here and gone in an instant, but the effects are permanent and dramatic. "This Tornado Loves You" describes the wreckage:
"My love, I am the speed of sound/ I left the motherless, fatherless/ their souls dangling inside-out from their mouths/ but it's never enough, I want you..."
Other golden grains are sifted out of the chaff. "Polar Nettles" ties descending piano lines and a rattling snare march to Case displaying the shocking new "Sistine Chapel painted with a Gatling gun." The title track has her humming a soft nocturne above a preciously off-kilter music box. Closing cut "Red Tide" brings smoky saxophones as Neko recalls the "smell here of gravel and cigarettes lit/ when the match made them sweet/ when the engine turned over and beat up our street." The bridge of first single "People Got a Lot of Nerve" pushes her voice to precise new heights with a lack of restraint that's refreshingly vulnerable.
On the album's promotional video, Case admitted that some of Middle Cyclone's audio takes had her balancing on the edge, knowing she was either on to something amazing or the whole thing could fall apart with a gust of wind in her Vermont-based barn/studio. Really, aside from the high expectations and any perceivable letdowns here, it's that she's walking (and reveling in) that fine line between failure and glory that makes this record great.
It's Watchmen time already! This week sees the release of a movie based on a comic book that may or may not upset aforementioned comic book's hardcore fanbase! Join me, Jinny, Ross and Ryan as we discuss Alan Moore's superhero masterpiece and how it really can't be adapted to cinema. We try to answer the question of whether or not movies based on books tarnish the memory of the book, talk about Jimmy Fallon taking over Late Night, Sam Jackson returning as Nick Fury, jabber a bit on about Flower some more, move on to the evergreen geek subject of zombies and then descend into madness discussing the utopian dreams of Utilikilt-wearing wolfshirts. It's all out of love, people. And of course, mailbag! Lots and lots of mailbag. Thanks, guys!
It's not quite there, but the various apps and the sheer ubiquity of the iPhone makes it an interesting musical tool. Here's a video of a band called The Mentalists performing MGMT's Kids on their various devices. Clever little proof-of-concept, if you ask me.
[link via p4k]
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