Like a battered wife, I glance at the supermarket $5 DVD bin hoping this time will be different.— Ed Daly (@ezeddaly) March 15, 2012
Now for a special treat! Twaggies illustrator extraordinaire, David Barneda, has put together this fun little doodle showing how he made the Thursday Fail Twaggie above. If you like it, maybe we'll do it more often...
Oversleep, get the wrong coffee, burn yourself on it, step in puddle, walk in wet shoe, slip in work lobby. Thursday, I'm done with you.— Catherine Faas (@catherinefaas) May 9, 2013
You can find out where your favorite Arrested Development jokes came from with this fun new site called Recurring Development. It's an interactive site where they've tagged dozens of jokes to the first three seasons worth of episodes. And if IT doesn't get you in the mood for What’s Spanish for “I know you speak English?” nothing will.
Keeping on our classical music theme from yesterday... Like many of you, I've had Shazam on my iPhone since the app launched in 2008. What started out as a party trick for me (look what MY phone can do!) slowly, over time, morphed into a "So what are the kids listening to these days?" necessity. But one thing that remained frustrating about the app was that it couldn't tell Mozart from Bach. In fact, it didn't seem to have ANY classical music catalog in its database.
Well, it's nowhere close to perfect now, but in recent months, Shazam has actually started identifying most of the major pieces of classical music I've thrown its way. And, this will come as little surprise, even giving me the specific recording I'm listening to in that moment complete with conductor and orchestra names and year recorded. This is especially important when trying to discern the difference between, say, Glenn Gould's Goldberg Variations recorded in '55 vis-à-vis the one recorded in '81. (For the, er, record, I prefer the '55… less singing! heh. heh.)
The good folks at Shazam haven't done any major press around this advancement. My hunch is they're keeping it on the DL until they expand their archive. So for now, this post on this blog might be the only Google-able news on the app's classical music evolution. A little over a year ago, I wrote about Shazam's inability to tag classical music over on the mental floss blog and people in the comments were suggesting other apps like Soundhound. I've tried them, but this new version of Shazam is much, much better than all the others. Plus, I'm totally loving the new UI. It's a much improved tagging experience. Now if they'd only get rid of the annoying ads! Sigh. Well, "I can dream, can't I?" (Written by Sammy Fain with lyrics by Irving Kahal, published in 1938, from the musical, Right This Way.) Oh, and, of course, you CAN get rid of the ads... you just need to move from freemium to premium, which they call "Encore" and costs you $6.99 for a life-time subscription. SO here's a challenge to you loyal neatoramanauts:
If 5 people leave comments below telling me why they think I should upgrade, and another 5 tweet @neatorama why I should plunk down the $6.99, not only will I do it, but I'll cover another $6.99 for one of the lucky 10, chosen at random.
Ready, set, SHAZAM!
When I was a kid, my introduction to classical music was via Bugs Bunny cartoons. That's where I first experienced composers like Wagner ("Kill the Rabbit!") and Rossini ("Although your face looks like it might have gone through a machine..."). And who can forget Michigan J. Frog's rendition of Rossini's "Largo al Factotum?" ("La, la-la-la-la-la-la LA la!")
For better or worse, kids aren't watching the old WB cartoons like they used to. Maybe they're not PC enough or look too faded next to the awesomeness of The Clone Wars. But kids still need to be exposed to classical music in a way that's accessible. That's why I recently took my son to an evening of John Williams's music, conducted by the maestro himself.
Besides the fun atmosphere (like a mini-Comic-Con, people were all decked out in Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Superman garb), my son really enjoyed watching and listening to the big orchestra play all his favorites: "Princess Leia's Theme," "The Imperial March," "Luke's Theme," and also the theme from E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.
Having studied classical music in college, I was able to give him special insight and explain which instruments he should watch as different sections of the orchestra brought forth different parts of the themes. If a similar concert comes to your town, I strongly recommend it as a great intro to the symphony orchestra.
Two great things have happened since the concert:
First, I notice when I'm driving him to school in the morning and have the local classical station on the radio, he'll call out which instruments he hears playing. And while not always correct, at least we're not listening to The Backyardigans and Yo Gabba Gabba every day now.
But even better, once, on the way to school, the radio was playing "Habanera" from Georges Bizet's opera Carmen and my son called out: "Hey dad! It's the song from Up!" Indeed it was! If you remember the good folks at Pixar used it extremely effectively when Mr. Fredricksen was coming down the stairlift to get to the main floor of the house.
It doesn't get much better than that! Pixar will be his WB.
Over on the Neatorama Twitter account, we try hard to follow people back and actually respond to Tweets, but if you're on Twitter, you know how overwhelming that can be. If you ask me, it's also overwhelming trying to figure out new people to follow and, most importantly, unfollowing people who aren't following you.
But we're tackling the chaos with a new amazing tool called ManageFlitter, which helps you handle all the issues I just mentioned. You can plug in a Twitter handle, like @neatorama, and follow all the people we follow in just a few clicks. You can also see who follows us and, of course, unfollow all the people who aren't following you - again, in a few clicks.
And by the way, if you're not following us, don't you think it's high time you did? Don't you want to be in the same company as this guy below?
Brilliant, genius film here that will help you get your smile on today. Promise! It was created by Auckland's Media Design School. The comedy is a nod towards the early films of directors Kevin Smith (Clerks, Mallrats) and Richard Linklater (Slacker, Dazed and Confused). Directed by James Cunningham with visual effects by eleven Media Design School students.
Via Vimeo: Link
Would you pay $159 a pound for ham? Oink! In the above video, Philadelphia food and wine writer Brian Freedman takes us on a tour of some pretty fancy spots in the City of Brotherly Love that are serving up more than just cheesesteaks. The fancy ham comes from the Iberian pig and is aged for 5 years. It's so fancy, the guy selling it needs a special certificate of authenticity to serve it up.
[update! Don't forget that our Pin to Win contest is till LIVE! So what are you waiting for? Get pinning and start winning!]
This is going to be FUN for Pinterest members (established and new)! -- Something we tried before with some success, so thought another was in order, only with a Holiday slant. So here's how it works:
1) Put together a wishlist board of items from the Neatoshop - stuff you really want, badly (minimum 5 items, but no max)
2) Be as creative as possible when coming up with a name for your board, or a theme for your wishlist - just try to tie it back to the Holiday season in some way shape or form.
3) Add the hashtag #NeatoPinToWinHOLIDAYS to each and every item you pin to that board and paste the URL address of your board into the comments below!
5) Close your eyes and wish really hard for something on your wishlist! The Neatorama editors will get together a week from today and pick a few items from a few boards and put them in the mail to you. Bonus points for funny or otherwise well-thought-out themes and creative board titles that make us smile.
Here's a sample board we put together, just in case you're new to Pinterest and have no idea what we're talking about. Note that the Elmo backpack is pinned correctly, with #NeatoPinToWin, while the zombie foot dog toy is not.
Oh, and in case you missed it, here are the winners from the last Pin To Win contest.
Professional foodie (what a GREAT job, eh?) Josh Ozersky takes us on a guided tour here of NYC's East Village pizza parlors. I never knew there was a term for it: but wait til you learn about "tip sag" - which is the ratio of sagginess to crust when you hold a slice of pizza in one hand.
If we may commit the sin of pride for a moment: Pee-wee Herman, who has more than 1.3 million followers on Twitter and only follows 275 people back, follows neatorama. Don't you think YOU should be, too? So go do it, now. Otherwise, when we tweet something bad about you, how will you know it? (That was so funny I almost forgot to laugh!)
It's official, Neatorama's Facebook page has gained its 25,000 fan! Thanks to all of you over the years who have come along for the ride, and for all the amazing comments. I, personally, read every single one of them! We really love our neatoramanaut community and love how much you share our content over there. Below is an example of something you'd find over there if you LIKE our page (and then set your preferences to ADD TO INTEREST LIST (otherwise Facebook won't show you too much of our content, based on their new sorta-lame algorithm.)
Last month, after publishing my interview with NASA's Steve Collins, I promised a second interview with another member of the JPL Curiosity Rover team. Today, we finally get that interview with Erisa Hines, a key member of the JPL team that landed the rover on Mars.
If you’ve been living under a rock the past couple months, here’s the quick recap: Late last November, Curiosity was set off on an 8 1/2-month, 354 million-mile journey to Mars. She’s the largest rover ever sent to the Red Planet, about the size of a Mini Cooper, plutonium powered and packed with all kinds of goodies to perform science experiments once landing safely on the surface of Mars.
On August 5th (Pacific Time), she successfully landed after completing the dangerous 7-minute entry, descent and landing which involved busting through the Mars atmosphere at about 13,000 MPH, a ginormous parachute to help slow it down and some down-firing booster rockets to bring the rover finally to a soft, safe landing.
Erisa Hines was integral member of the team that flew the spacecraft to Mars and was super generous with her time as she gave the following interview over the course of about an hour when I visited JPL a couple months ago.
Name: Erisa Hines
Born and raised: Northeast of Kansas City, MO
Grew up: On a farm with ponds to fish in and a horse
Collected: She-Ra: Princess of Power dolls
Passion growing up: Dancing (tap, jazz, ballet mix)
At an early age: Taken with NASA shuttle program and wanted to be an astronaut, but also a veterinarian
High School: Valedictorian of graduating class
Undergrad: University of Miami (College of Engineering)
Grad: MIT (Dual Master in Aerospace & Technology and Policy Program)
DI: While doing your grad studies, were you more interested in building and flying rockets or the science involved?
EH: At the time, definitely building and flying rockets. I didn’t yet have an appreciation for the science. I think it’s been this project (Curiosity rover) and being here through a landing, and seeing the science come back within seconds, whether it’s a picture or starting to hear some of the scientific conversations that are going on about the place we’re in and where the rover is headed, I am now interested in the science.
DI: When you started at JPL, what was your first project?
EH: Dawn, which is the asteroid mission and I appreciate the science they’re doing, which is this really hot, dry rock and this really cold, icy rock, but we think they came from the same place in history, and have evolved very differently. So let’s go study them with the same instruments, get comparative data, and try and learn from that. The science is much more real to me. I worked on this mission for about a year and a half, where I was heavily supporting the flight director at the time. So I was helping to get all the launch products ready. And I was running launch scenarios in the test bed.
DI: So after Dawn, what was next for you on your personal journey to Mars?
EH: I next worked on Altair, the lunar landers missions. So in the ‘60s, those lunar modules held two men and took them to the surface of the moon. With Altair, we were designing the spacecraft to hold 4-6 people, so it was a much larger lander than what had been done before. Had we continued with the program (it was shelved), it would have been the largest spacecraft manned by humans to another planet, or another body. It was based out of the Johnson Space Center in Houston, so I was going to Houston twice a month.
DI: So how’d you get to be part of MSL (Mars Science Lab)?
Oink! Check out Josh Ozersky as he takes you on a walking tour of the best pork BBQ in NYC's Chinatown. I'm definately adding these restaurants to my to-do list next time I get to the Big Apple.
And if you're still in the mode for pork after watching the video, be sure to take a stroll over to our Bacon Store. There's plenty there for the pork enthusiast.
That's right, neatorama has created an IG account! So if you're in the mood for neato images each day, be sure to follow us! We promise to follow back. That's a good deal, right?
Hey, maybe we'll even ask you if we can put some of YOUR images on our blog one day. If, of course, we like one and you give us permission. Neat?
A wonderful, new exhibit has opened at The Peterson Museum in Los Angeles called Aerodynamics: From Art to Science. According to me and my 5-year-old, Jack, here are the highlights...
1. 1955 Streamline X "Gilda"
Built by the Italian coachbuilder, Ghia, in collaboration with aerodynamicist (is there such a profession?) and mathematician Giovanni Savonuzzi, the car nicknamed Gilda (pictured above) was inspired by Rita Hayworth's character of the same name from the movie Gilda. Sexist? Possibly. But don't forget this was 1955, folks.
2. 1937 Airomobile
This three-wheel automobile got more than 40 mpgs! However, Paul Lewish, who conceived of the vehicle, couldn't get financial backing and the beaut never made it out of prototype mode. Such a shame!
3. 1992 Oldsmobile Aerotech
The Aerotech was part of a series of experimental high-speed vehicles built by GM between 1987 and 1992. Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt drove the first one, setting a closed-course speed record of 257 mph!
4. 1948 Davis Divan Sedan
A couple weeks ago, I promised a couple interviews with members of the JPL Curiosity Rover team. Today we start with attitude control engineer Steve Collins, who’s been working for NASA for the last 20 years, starting with the failed Mars Observer orbiter, launched in 1992. Since that time, JPL has been responsible for numerous successful Mars missions, Curiosity, of course, the latest and greatest.
If you’ve been living under a rock the past couple months, here’s the quick recap: Late last November, Curiosity was set off on an 8 1/2-month, 354 million-mile journey to Mars. She’s the largest rover ever sent to the Red Planet, about the size of a Mini Cooper, plutonium powered and packed with all kinds of goodies to perform science experiments once landing safely on the surface of Mars. On August 5th, 2012 (Pacific Time), she successfully landed after completing the dangerous 7-minute entry, descent and landing which involved busting through the Mars atmosphere at about 13,000 MPH, a ginormous parachute to help slow it down and some down-firing booster rockets to bring the rover finally to a soft, safe landing.
Attitude control engineer Steve Collins was a key member of the team that flew the spacecraft to Mars and helped keep it pointed in the right direction, making small adjustments over the 8.5-month journey to make sure NASA hit their target, a spot close to the mountain range called Mount Sharp, which geologists on the team think will help them uncover more history about the water thought to have once flowed over the surface.
Steve was super generous with his time and gave the following interview over the course of about 30 minutes.
Name: Steve Collins
Grew up: in SoCal, watched the Apollo landing on TV with great interest and attended North Hollywood High School
While growing up: His parents fed him a regular diet of books about space
DI: Did you always know from an early age that you wanted to work with rockets?
SC: In high school I decided I’m pretty good at science but I wanted to diversify, so I took an acting class and a class in drama and started to get interested in that. When I was selecting colleges, I looked for places that had a theater department and an astronomy program because I was torn between astro physics or something like that and theater at that time.
[DI note: Steve attended UC Santa Cruz where he studied modern dance, acting, and Shakespeare in addition to physics.]
DI: So after college, did you go directly into rocket science or...?
SC: My father worked in the motion picture business (he was a cinematographer) so I worked in the industry for a while doing camera work and stuff like that. So after I graduated college, I went and did that for a while. I didn’t pursue acting professionally but have continued to do amaterur theater or underground theater my whole life.
I saw an ad in the newspaper for a position with a small aerospace company that I pursued. It turned out that I had taught myself the right computer programming languages on my Commodore 64 (6502 Assembler) just because I was curious about it but also I used it to do simulations for my Bachelor’s degree thesis in physics, which was around orbital mechanics and stuff. And so they needed someone to program an Apple II, which uses the same processor and they saw I was interested in physics and space stuff so they hired me. I worked there for 10 years.
There I learned how to do engineering and went to Colorado to support 13 GPS spacecraft launches and got a taste of spacecraft operations. So that became the right stuff on my resume to get a job at JPL doing an operations job.
First JPL Project: Mars Observer - orbiter launched in 1992
DI: What was your first job at JPL?
SC: I flew the Mars Observer all the way to Mars but then we lost the spacecraft right at the end, which was a disappointment, but then I went on to a whole series of 6-8 projects here at JPL that were successful. I worked on the MER Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, I’ve done four or five different comet flyby missions which were interesting and fun.
DI: What was going through your mind when you knew you’d actually successfully landed Curiosity on Mars?
As previously posted on this blog, a brand new Webseries has launched called Hungry In (New York) (Los Angeles) (Austin) (Phildelphia) (etc). If the rest of the episodes are as good as the first, this YouTube premium channel show might just give traditional media a chomp for its money. Here's what Tubefilter had to say this morning:
The conceit of the show is simple: Six local food writers, each hailing from a different city, take you on a tour of their favorite places to eat. The foodie Wonder Team consists of New York’s Josh Ozersky, Los Angeles’ Adrianna Adarme, Philadelphia’s Brian Freedman, San Francisco’s Marcia Gagliardi, Austin’s Tolly Moseley, and Chicago’s Erica Bethe Levin. The show will thus profile not only the flavor profiles of various cities but also the differing attitudes of each critic. Each host is a member of Citysearch’s scout team...
Check out the premiere episode below and tell us what you think! And if you're craving even more bacon after taking a stroll through NYC's Hamburger Alley, be sure to visit our bacon store!
Hamburger Alley map created for Hungry In and used with permission by illustrator Brett Affrunti.
My son Jack, who just turned 5, has long been a geek of sorts, what with his own series of tech reviews over on the GeekDad blog and all. But the other day he outdid himself when I asked him what he wanted to be when he grows up. Give the soundcloud file a listen below and hear it for yourselves...
Note: Jack has not seen even a few seconds of ANY of the first 6 Star Wars films, but he can't get enough of the Legos, characters, etc. Should I break his heart and tell him who George Lucas is and how tightly THAT empire is controlled?
I recently took a trip to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in nearby Pasadena to interview a couple of the rocket scientists who successfully guided the Curiosity Rover to the surface of Mars. One of them is now involved with driving the rover around the Red Planet. I'll post those two interviews separately in the days to come, but I thought I'd whet your whistles with the shots in the gallery below. Most are of the mission control rooms that adjoin one another. These are the very same rooms that NASA used to control all the unmanned Apollo missions in the '60s, as well as practically every other unmanned flight to distant planets, commets, moons, infinity and beyond.
I have to say it was quite a rush being there and learning from the scientists first-hand. Of all the photos in the gallery below, my favorite is the close-up of one of the monitors you see in the mission control room. The screen tracks the position of every live mission to-date, including, of course, Curiosity, or MSL (Mars Science Laboratory). You can see that one down at the bottom of the list. Up at the top, at 35 years and still ticking, VGR2 - or Voyager 2, the first Voyager spacecraft to launch, and the only spacecraft to visit Uranus and Neptune. It's the longest-operating NASA spacecraft ever. So enjoy these and stay tuned for the interviews to come...
We're launching a brand new feature tonight! Drawn To Facts will be published every Sunday night, featuring some of the best up-and-coming illustrators from around the world. Tonight's illustrated fact comes courtesy of artist Margo Murphy. Let us know what you think in the comments below!
Fact: More than 35 lives were lost between 1878 and 1890 during the infamous Hatfield-McCoy feud, which stemmed from a dispute over the ownership of a pig.
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