Sunday, February 28, 2010

Best war movies and shows (1)

Here's a round-up of my favorite war movies, ordered by conflict. One thing that's instantly obvious is that while there's a huge number of WWII and Vietnam War movies, good WWI movies are a bit hard to come by. Did I forget something important? Leave a comment.

Also, regarding WWII, there are many other great films that are not actually centered around any battles per se, but tell stories of e. g. concentration camp inmates or POWs. These movies (such as The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), The Pianist (2002), Life Is Beautiful (1997), Schindler's List (1993) or also Der Untergang (2004), famous for its creation of the Ranting Hitler meme) are not included here and will be topic of a separate post.

Historical: Hero (2002)
While not a war movie per se, Hero has some of the most amazing shots of the historical army of Qin in the first part of the movie. This turns into a nearly ridiculous fight when Jet Li start to fend of the millions of arrows launched by them. This movie is so amazing throughout, when you watch it on the big screen some of the scenes are just so beautiful that you nearly forget to breathe.

Honorable mentions: Braveheart (1995), The Warlords (2007), Musa (2001), Red Cliff (2008). Yes a lot of Asian movies on this list, they really have a knack for those prehistoric drama stuff.

World War I: Paths of Glory (1957)
There are some people who hold this as Stanley Kubrick's greatest movie, and I can understand why: it has all the markings of a perfect modern movie, a great star (Kirk Douglas), some battlefield action scenes, courtroom drama, etc. All in all, well worth a watch even though it's more than half a decade old now.

Honorable Mention: All Quiet on the Western Front (1979). This was even made for TV, it's quite long but a good movie.

World War II: Band of Brothers (2001)
Not a movie, but a 10-part television drama produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg and hands down the best coverage of WWII ever. The series follows some paratroopers from the day of the Normandy landing until they reach and occupy Germany, and each episode has a bit of a different focus. The episode centering on the field medic (episode 5 or 6 I think) is extremely intense and gives a very haunting image of the horrors of war. Excellent throughout.

Honorable Mentions: Das Boot (1981), The Thin Red Line (1998), Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970). Das Boot has gotten some recognition for its great depiction of the life on the German submarine U-96, being re-released as a Director's Cut with an additional hour to the original theatrical version (209 minutes) in 1997, but the version to watch here is the full original 6-hour version that was broadcast on television in the eighties. Tora! Tora! Tora!, an American-Japanese co-production is one of my favorites despite (or maybe because of) its clinical approach and lack of real plot.

Vietnam War: Apocalypse Now (1979)
Behold this amazing original trailer for Apocalypse Now, the big daddy of all Vietnam War movies. It was among the first being filmed and contains so many great scenes depicting the absurdity of that conflict, I don't even know where to begin; from the first shot to the surfing scene, or the lit-up bridge or the final scenes at Angkor in Cambodia. Remind me to finally watch the re-release Redux already, I've had that on my list so fucking long already.

Honorable Mentions: The Deer Hunter (1978), Full Metal Jacket (1987), Platoon (1986). These are all good in their own right, Deer Hunter was a favorite for a long time because the story is so unassuming and not primarily centered on the war itself.

Stay tuned for Part 2 (modern conflicts) next week.

Fight Sheng Long

I feel a bit sorry for all the countless gamers who must have fallen for this hoax back in 1992: gaming magazine Electronic Gaming Monthly published above-pictured guide to unlock a secret character called Sheng Long in the game Street Fighter II This was based on a mistranslation in the English localization of the game on the Super NES where Ryu is quoted with "You must defy Sheng Long" instead of "You must defy the Rising Dragon Punch", his signature move, thereby creating the notion that there's a hidden character somewhere to be found.

EGM went the whole nine yards with their prank, including fake screen shots and pretty outrageous conditions to unlock the secret character: you'd have to make it to the final round without ever getting hit by the enemy, and then fight ten rounds against the final boss without you or him ever hitting each other. Of course, back then these ridiculously hard conditions where not unthinkable, if you think about how unbelievably hard some of the old-school games where and only the most dedicated gamers would beat them.

EGM even left a April Fool's warning on the same page, but the story pretty soon got out of control. Without (like today) the internets crying "fake!" on every other page, the story was being picked up all over the world by other magazines, and the result was gamers all over the world shoving quarters into the arcade game, trying to unlock the secret. Well, I guess if you want a good prank, you just have to find a clientèle that's ready to sacrifice a whole lot--gamers probably are perfect targets in that respect.

The Top 3 Video Game Pranks of All Time | ZUG

The battle axe jump

Figure skating again: in this video, Russian figure skater Evgeni Plushenko performs the rare Battle Axe Jump.

The Daily What: Triple LOLz of the Day

Olympic pictograms

An educational video, unfortunately not embeddable, that traces the development Olympic pictograms since their first appearance at the 1936 Olympics. Pictured above still the most clean and iconic pictograms ever, the ones developed for the 1972 Munich Olympics.

Olympic Pictograms Through the Ages - Video Feature -

Figure Skater II

Oh well, I'm not watching any Olympics this time around but I guess even for this blog it's impossible to get around it. So here's a couple of Olympic Games goodies, first up: the Figure Skater mock-up game cover.

EPICponyz: Figure Skater II

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Concept cars of the 1960s

After the 1950s concept cars I give you the 60ies edition. Here things start to get a bit exciting. First up we have a Bertone Alfa Romeo Carabo, less than one meter high, and only one prototype of this baby was ever built. Hell and yes!

Concept Cars - Bertone Carabo

Oh yes. This is a 1965 Chevrolet Mako Shark II. Really nice in its first edition from 1962 already, the later version depicted here is just about the hottest car you can imagine. Yummy! Carros Conceitos

O.S.I. made some amazing cars back in the day. Their Alfa Romeo Scarabeo from 1966 was nice but the real killer is the Alpine Silver Fox from 1967. With a very strange body this looks more like a nautical vehicle than a car. I remember in my old supercar card games from the 1980s, this was one of the most badass cards you could get.

Concept Cars - O.S.I. Silver Fox

And another Chevrolet: this one from 1969 is called Manta Ray and you can see why immediately, this lead to the development of the truly amazing Corvette XP-882. Hot hot hot! Also stay tuned for the 1970s edition next week. Carros Conceitos

UPDATE: This may not be forgotten: 1968 Ferrari Berlinetta.

Earthquake in Chile

These look more like out of a blockbuster movie: The Big Picture's photographs of this morning's devastating earthquake in Chile.

Earthquake in Chile - The Big Picture -

Kick-Ass favorite scene

The new Kick-Ass trailers are boring the crap out of me. These have become increasingly Hollywood-like and by now are so heavily cut that the focus is much more on the comedy element than the amazing action scenes. Well we'll see how the final movie turns out, meanwhile here's my current favorite scene from the movie which has been online for quite a while.

Kick-Ass Clip: Bulletproof Vest - Trailer Addict

Extreme cold training

Well..yeah. South Korean soldiers toughening themselves in ice water and shouting patriotic messages. If you know a bit about the situation at the Korean border where around 2 million soldiers of South and North Korea have been in a permanent standoff for nearly 60 years, then this video shouldn't come to a surprise.

Blame It On The Voices: South Korean army extreme cold traing

Crawler city

This is a great Lego sculpture that really has to be admired in full size. It reminds me a bit of the the traveling city of "The Gone-Away World".

LEGO Steampunk City Is Mad Max On Rainbows And Acid - Apocalypse - io9

Gaming with your girlfriend

Sure, this is fake, as can be easily seen when the console is lifted and there are no cords connected. Still, this situation is not totally unrealistic when you're gaming with your girlfriend--beware of kicking her ass too much.

YouTube - Psycho Girlfriend Smashes Xbox

Roadside bomb

Not sure if this is fake or real: a roadside bomb tearing up the surface of the street.

デイリーモーション - amazing Video 619 ( - ユーモア ビデオ

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Dorothea Lange

Meanwhile, on the other side of the pond, there was the Big Depression. Photographer Dorothea Lange captured the spirit of the 1930s in her photographs, and some of the most iconic shots (such as the last photograph above, picturing Florence Owens Thompson) were taken by her. These come in especially handy for my increased interest in the period after having just finished watching Carnivále.

The Depression-Era Photography of Dorothea Lange | Quazen

Japanese industrial posters

Way cool: here are various posters from different expositions held in Japan from the late 1920 to the early 1940s. It could be argued that the changes in visual style resulted from the development of Japan from an expanding industrial nation to a warring empire, but I guess it has more to do with the selection of the topics of the exhibitions. In general, these are just cool and stylish.

Vintage Japanese industrial expo posters ::: Pink Tentacle

Child preachers

Scary: a video collecting footage of ten different agitated child preachers.

Blame It On The Voices: Child preachers

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Concept cars of the 1950s

Niccccce stuff: actually the real cool designs came around in the 1970s (in my opinion, that is), but there are a few notable examples of funky concept cars from the fifties: the Lincoln Futura (on which the original Batmobile is based on), the Ford Nucleon (yes, that's the car that was supposed to be powered by a nuclear reactor. Not pictured here as only models exist), the Chevrolet Corvette (1957! way ahead of its time), and the GM Firebird (the car that looks like a jet fighter). Stay tuned for the 1960s edition next week.. Carros Conceito

Solar system infographic

Another excellent infographic of the solar system, this one also has the non-planets Ceres, Makemake, Eris and Haumea! Made by Michael Paukner who also has lots of marvelous graphics and posters on his Flickr account.

Flickr: Michæl Paukner's Photostream

German teen soldiers

Some color footage shot at the Oder Front shortly before the final attack of the Russian army.

YouTube - UnknownWW2InColor's Channel

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Epic beard man interview

This meme is out of control: if you haven't heard of the Epic Beard Man meme by now, then it's time to do your homework. Here's the first proper interview with Thomas Bruso, 67-year old "hero" of the video, who explains his world view and goes through the full range of emotions, like a truly epic man.

EPICponyz: Interview with EBM

Usage of the word "Photoshop"

Awww come on Adobe: it is widely known that (like Google) the company that created the software Photoshop is not at all happy with the widespread use of the brand name as a verb. But their full "guidelines for the usage of their trademark" are just ridiculous: You're not supposed to say "Photoshop's new features are impressive" because it's not allowed to use the possessive form, and also you must include the full trademark signs. Of course saying that "something was shopped" is totally out of the question (no slang, no verb use). Have a look at the full guidelines at their web page, and then take a deep breath when you realize that these guidelines are even more strict than those for book authors who want to use the brand name in print! Ridiculous.

Adobe Systems Incorporated Permissions and Trademark Guidelines

Yeah Toast

I have no idea what I just watched, but it was hilarious: here's a rendition of the song "Toast" by Heywood Banks, as performed by the red engineer from Team Fortress 2.

EPICponyz: TF2: Yeah Toast!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Pictures of old Japan

Breathtaking, mind-boggingly stunning photographs of Victorian-age Japan by Italian photographer Adolfo Farsari, taken in the 1880s. You know that I'm a big fan of old photography, especially when they are beautifully arranged (or in color, like the stunning pictures of Prokudin-Gorskii). Farsari's hand-colored photos are extremely rare as he was one of the only photographers during his sojourn in pre-modern Japan. Check out the whole article for a lot more photos and background to his work.

Adolfo Farsari – The Man Who Shot Old Japan | Quazen

Wifi memory card

Wait, what? They are building wireless memory cards now? I'm stupefied. How is this even possible? These little suckers have a built in wireless transmitter, so they can upload images and movies to your PC, or on your favorite picture sharing portal or social network, via Wifi automatically. Of course also geotagging all your pictures automatically via triangulating wireless networks. Wow, it's almost scary what this technology can do.

Inspected Gadget: EyeFi Pro X2 8 GB Wireless SD Memory Card

New Vegas

And another highlight coming our way: the much anticipated sequel to Fallout 3 is called New Vegas and is currently scheduled for autumn 2010. For this I can't wait. I nearly spent 100 hours playing Fallout and all add-ons and it's still magic--the sequel is overdue already!

Fallout: New Vegas - The Vault, the Fallout wiki

2010 action movies

Oh yes. 2010 is going to be an awesome year for movie-going. I can easily find half a dozen movies on this list that I want to see in cinemas. Kick-Ass, Machete, Prince of Persia, A-Team, Expendables, Tron... this is how we roll! By the way here's the awesome Machete trailer from Grindhouse.

Top 30 Best Action Movies Of 2010 (List) | Movie Moron

Cyanide & Happiness

I don't know what exactly it is about Cyanide & Happiness but I have found nearly any comic strip by them hilarious. And now I discovered their animated comic strips on the Youtube channel! Be sure to check out their amazing Cyanide and Happiness book -- yes, Internet literature is the best.

YouTube - ExplosmEntertainment's Channel

Shady URL

This, I like: don't just create a shortened URL for Twitter like with, but make it suspicious and frightening looking: ShadyURL.

ShadyURL - Making Your Twitter Followers A Little More Uneasy

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Last meals

Photographer James Reynolds visualizes some last meals by death row inmates before their execution. It doesn't mention whose meals these were, but it's possible to attribute a few of them with the help of Wikipedia.

Last Suppers : James Reynolds

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Alien 3 Pepsi commercial

This Alien 3 tie-in Pepsi commercial ran as the top spot at the Superbowl in 1992. I agree that it's a ridiculous and uncalled-for emasculation of the greatest monster in horror history.

Topless Robot - I Guess They Took The Pepsi Challenge on LV-426

Baking cookies with Photoshop

Nice stop motion video shows how to bake some cookies with (an analogue version) of Photoshop. Yes, you need to know how to use "layers" for this.

The Daily What: Stop-Motion Short of the Day

Monday, February 15, 2010

Four Senegalese soldiers

Famous and rare color photograph showing four Senegalese soldiers fighting in France during the First World War. The French cultural ministry has a lot more of these on their web site linked below.

Ministère de la culture - memoire: Quatre militaires sénégalais

Diaries of a shooter

These are some great black-and-white photos shot by documentary photographer Zoriah around the world, but many in Iraq and Gaza.

Diaries of a Shooter: Stories

D&D on Microsoft Surface

This is strange and on the other hand pretty astounding: these role-players are using the flatboard Microsoft Surface to play an interactive game of Dungeons & Dragons. Surface is a multi-touch touchscreen which also features object recognition and costs around 15,000 US$. Despite this, I guess this kind of technology will really have some potential in the future, if you think of interactive, intuitive board games like this.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Ringworld, 1970

Well hell-loo: I remembered Ringworld by Larry Niven as a real classic, but picking it up after a long time, I once again realized what a truly amazingly imaginative piece of fiction this is: it introduces the concept of the Ringworld, an artificial ring one million miles wide, circumfering a sun at the same orbit as the Earth, therefore creating livable space of 3 million times the Earth's surface.

The technology Niven uses in the book is cool, the action is dense, the main character is fun and the aliens he's traveling with are hilarious -- an enormously fantastic read!

Read Ringworld online

Planets of the solar system infographics

Very neat infographics for the planets of the solar system. Yes, including Pluto but excluding Eris. I guess it will be a while before the new school catches on here.

Under the Milky Way - a set on Flickr


One show I've been enjoying recently is Carnivále, an HBO show from 2003-2005 set in the age of the Great Depression in the 1930s in America. It's a tale of the struggle between the forces of good and evil, personified in the characters of Ben (Nick Stahl) and Brother Justin (Clancy Brown) -- yes you read that right, we have pitted against each other John Connor (from Terminator 3) and training sergeant Zim from Starship Troopers.

The settings and scenery are just awesome, HBO used around 4 million dollars for each episode, which is really a lot of money -- and you see can see great quality on the screen, even the opening titles with the Tarot cards is amazing. Huge recommendation! By the way, you can play some online tarot at HBO's official oldschool site.

HBO: Carnivale

Monday, February 8, 2010

Prince of Persia

All right let's see, what other promising movies do we have upcoming this year? The Lovely Bones, Tron, Kick-Ass, The Book of Eli... oh yeah and Prince of Persia, another video game-based movie coming out in May.

Topless Robot - Give Him the Dagger, Dickweed

Jet engine blows away a truck

I didn't know that was possible: a 747 jet engine totally blows away a truck in this staged video.

Blame It On The Voices: 747 jet engine blows away a truck

Queen Millennia

Well I'll be damned: someone uploaded all episodes of Queen Millennia, a Japanese anime series created in the early 1980s by Leiji Matsumoto. Yes, that's the guy who also made the video / movie Interstella 5555 together with Daft Punk, so it's not surprising that the style is quite similar.

I remember watching this series when I was in my teens just like the protagonist, and I guess I wasn't the only one who had fantasies of the girl Yayoi serving up some hot chocolate with whipped cream while you're piloting a spaceship! The drawing style, story and music of this series are all awesome. Oh Joys of the Internet!

Youtube - Queen Millennia - Die Königin der tausend Jahre

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Splitting the atom

Sooo beautiful. Massive Attack's new video directed by Edouard Salier shows an epic battle in bullet-time. Watch the full HD version on the Vimeo page... amazing.

Massive Attack-Splitting the Atom-directed by Edouard Salier on Vimeo

Ground Zero Nagasaki

From the amazingly detailed WWII Timeline over at How Stuff Works:

Results of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Pictured is ground zero in Nagasaki before and after the bombing. Though the city had good bomb shelters, many Japanese had become blasé about air raids and ignored the warning sirens on August 9. Due in part to the hilly topography, damage was confined to an area about 2.3 miles by 1.9 miles. Fire was limited by waterways. Some medical services survived, and even train service continued. The number of deaths was lower than at Hiroshima, with the Japanese government assessing the figure at 25,000. Ironically, Emperor Hirohito was at that very moment trying to decide how to end the war.

Howstuffworks "Japan Surrenders and World War II Ends: June 1945-September 1945"

Digital doomsday

New Scientist asks an important question: "Books last for centuries. Computer memories last only decades. If disaster struck, how much of our knowledge would future humans be able to retrieve?" It's a very interesting article pointing out how our world of today relies very much on short-lasting methods of saving data, when even hard disks and tape recordings are not probable to last more than 50 years.

Digital doomsday: the end of knowledge - tech - 02 February 2010 - New Scientist

The Superbowl by directors

The Superbowl, if it were directed by famous directors. The David Lynch version is really very funny.

EPICponyz: Super Bowl by Directors

Amazon test product

Check out the great reviews on the Amazon "test product", maybe it's time to get one yourself. This Is a Test Product and Nothing Will Be Sent to You

Alien cake

He he he. So after the Starcraft cake here is an Alien wedding cake.

Mein Kampf re-release

It feels really strange that it will be possible that this book will be re-released, but at least it is to be hoped that it will be an annotated version:

Adolf Hitler's autobiography "Mein Kampf" is to be republished in Germany in 2015 for the first time since being banned under the country's constitution at the end of the Second World War.

Under the post-1945 German constitution, the dissemination of Nazi philosophy has been a crime punishable by fines and imprisonment.

But the copyright, held by the state of Bavaria where the Nazi movement began life in the 1920s, expires in 2015, 70 years after the death of its author in his Berlin bunker.

I remember that one lady I worked for had an inherited original copy of "Mein Kampf". She constantly ridiculed the book, pointing out some passages where Rudolf Heß (who wrote down the dictations of Hitler) had abbreviated some passages of Hitler's rants with "etc. etc."

Adolf Hitler's 'Mein Kampf' to be republished in Germany - Telegraph

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

North Korean propaganda posters

A couple of these North Korean posters are familiar, but the collection in its entirety is awesome.

ISO50 - The Blog of Scott Hansen » North Korean Propaganda Posters

Star Wars kites

Well what can ever be branded with Star Wars and not be awesome? Behold these great Star Wars kites.

ThinkGeek :: 3D Star Wars Starfighter Kites

Bioshock 2

Well, it's a well-done video for sure, but why do it not care about the setting of Bioshock and its soon to be released sequel? I did play the first one for a couple of hours, but somehow I never felt at home in the underwater city of Rapture. Fallout 3 executed a similar theme much, much, much better.

Topless Robot - Bioshock 2: Everything's Better Down Where It's Wetter

Mass Effect 2 out

I didn't care much for this game until the awesome teaser trailer came along, and now I can't wait to get my hands on this: Mass Effect 2 is out. Yummy!

Inspected Gadget: Mass Effect 2

Facebook closes Iron Sky's page, reopens it

Interesting: Facebook shut down the Iron Sky fan page, presumably because of some algorithm detecting the term "Nazi"; then, after some fan protests, they brought the page back 12 hours later, regretting the "misunderstanding":

On February 2nd Facebook closed down the Facebook fan page of Iron Sky, a Finnish-German science fiction comedy where the Nazis, who fled to the Moon in 1945, return to invade Earth in 2018. Apart from a generic note about Iron Sky having violated the terms of use of Facebook no reason for closing down the page was given.

Facebook’s decision to close down the Iron Sky page caused an outcry amongst the fans, who founded a support group in Facebook, changed their Facebook avatar to Iron Sky themed pictures and used Twitter and other social media to spread the news. The Facebook support group gathered over 1000 users in a very short time.

About twelve hours after the page was closed Iron Sky team received an e-mail from the Facebook team, where they were informed that the page is reopened. No reason for the initial decision to close it down was given.

Facebook re-opens Iron Sky fan page : Iron Sky :: Official Movie Site