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11 May 18:41

Problem With ADHD Meds  *IMPORTANT*


I have recently discovered that the reason why my ADHD medication has seemingly stopped working after 5+ years taking Concerta, is because I unknowingly switched to a malfunctioning generic.


The pills above that are cylindrical, say ‘alza’, and have a drilled hole in the end are brand name Concerta. These have a special OROS dispersal system that the generic pills, Mallinckrodt, do not. 

If you recently, or in the past, had your pills switched to flat, smooth pills with an ‘M’ on them, and your Concerta stopped working, it’s because the dispersal system is different and screws up the effects. 

Many people have been reporting their ADHD meds stopped working altogether, have been producing unprecedented effects, etc. Speak to your doctor about switching to Concerta only, no generics, if you have experienced these effects as well after a long amount of time without a problem with Concerta.

Signal boost please for the other ADHDers struggling out there!

09 Oct 16:38

【TBT】”Pet Bird” flavored ice cream available in parakeet, cockatiel, and sparrow

by RocketNews24

Birb ice cream tastes like: “when you’re sleeping with your mouth open and your cockatiel runs over your face and gets its leg in your mouth.”

Do you like ice cream? Do you like putting birds in your mouth?

Of course we all do, but with only two hands it can be hard to do both at once. That’s why Torimi Cafe came out with a line of ice creams modeled after three breeds of small birds.

This is your Throwback Thursday article of the week, your peek into the archives of RocketNews24 featuring articles from back when we were just getting started. We’d hate for you to miss any of the quality quirky news from Asia and Japan just because you recently stumbled upon our site. And if you’re a devout RN24 reader, thanks for sticking around! Enjoy this blast from the past! 

(Originally published on May 14, 2013)

Torimi Cafe is a place where you can enjoy a cup of joe and a plate of curry surrounded by 36 pet birds. However, the cafe decided to bring a taste of their birds to masses, selling three specially-made flavors at the Hanshin Department Store Small Bird Expo in Osaka from 8 to 13 May.

According to Torimi Cafe, they use all natural ingredients which cost a little more than normal ice cream ingredients. They were using the expo as a test run to see if the ice cream would sell well enough to recoup the costs. If successful these ice creams would be sold at their shop in Kobe and through delivery.

Torimi Cafe initially announced that “once in your mouth, the aroma of a parakeet would spread intensely.” This remark lit up Twitter with comments such as “uh, how did they check what the birds taste like?” To answer that question here is a description of the three flavors.

Java Sparrow

java sparrow

The java sparrow is a small chubby bird which feeds on grains and seeds. In that spirit, you are treated to vanilla ice cream with grains mixed in. But wait! As the ice cream melts in your mouth you might feel something roly-poly, just like a java sparrow on you tongue. That would be the marshmallows hidden inside.

According to Torimi Cafe, “it’s the feeling of pressing the breast of a java sparrow into your mouth.”

sparrow sign



Parakeets are known to be more lively and active birds and as such the mellow taste of the java sparrow ice cream is jazzed up with some honey and apple. There are still some grains mixed in, but to a lesser extent. As Torimi Cafe put it, “it’s like eating some vanilla ice cream in one hand and then taking a whiff of a parakeet in your other hand.”




Cockatiel ice cream remains lively with the taste of honey-apple, but rather than grains, is mixed with larger pumpkin and sunflower seeds. The effect is a rumbling and bouncy taste which, in the words of Torimi Cafe, is like “when you’re sleeping with your mouth open and your cockatiel runs over your face and gets its leg in your mouth.”


So there you have it. We can all stop demanding a snack that simulates the taste of a cockatiel running on our faces because it has arrived.

If you weren’t able to hit the Small Bird Expo this year, don’t worry. It would appear that the trial run of these ice creams was a success so we should see a return in the not so distant future.

Source: Torimi Cafe via Naver Matome (Japanese)
Images: Wikipedia – Kirk, Jason L. Buberel, Cheese Sandwich

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Origin: 【TBT】”Pet Bird” flavored ice cream available in parakeet, cockatiel, and sparrow
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09 Oct 14:28

Presenting the ZEN PENCILS BOOK! Pre-order today

by Gav


After over a year in development, I am super-excited to finally announce that the first Zen Pencils book collection is available to pre-order. Yay! The book has over 170 pages of your favourite comics and includes an exclusive pull-out poster you won’t be able to get anywhere else. It will be available next month on November 11 2014, in time for the holiday season.

I received some advance copies last week and the quality of the book is fantastic. My publisher Andrews McMeel have been printing comic collections for over 30 years, including all the Calvin and Hobbes, Far Side, Cul de Sac and Oatmeal books, so they know what they’re doing. I’m so happy with the final product and I’m positive you will be too.


Comics included in the book:

Always Be Prepared – Shaolin Monk
Find a Job You Love – Confucius
The Man in the Arena – Theodore Roosevelt
No Regrets – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
In Spite of Everything – Vincent Van Gogh
A Question to the Buddhist
There Are No Limits – Bruce Lee
Never Give Up – Calvin Coolidge
The Most Astounding Fact – Neil deGrasse Tyson
Make Good Art – Neil Gaiman
Welcome to Science – Phil Plait
Who’s the Crazier Man? – Henry Rollins
Our Deepest Fear – Marianne Williamson
On Kindness – Roger Ebert
Make Gifts for People – John Green
Nature Loves Courage – Terence McKenna
Ask Yourself – Howard Thurman
Ultimate Self-Help Book – Stephen Fry
Advice for Beginners – Ira Glass
11 Ways to Be Average – Chris Guillebeau
Around the Corner – Charles Hanson Towne
The Two Wolves
What If Money Was No Object? – Alan Watts
What Teachers Make – Taylor Mali
You Aren’t Like Them – Timothy Leary
To Love at All – C.S. Lewis
An Astronaut’s Advice – Chris Hadfield
Life Is Not Easy – Marie Curie
The Fire Within – Sophie Scholl
Don’t Compare Yourself to Others – Jiddu Krishnamurti
The Woman in the Arena – Brené Brown
I Would Rather Be Ashes than Dust – Jack London
Ithaka – Constantine P. Cavafy
Invictus – A Tribute to Nelson Mandela
Graduation Speech – Erica Goldson
On Happiness – Henry David Thoreau

I had to get permission to use most of the quotes in the book. Unfortunately, some of the most popular authors did not agree to be included. This includes the Bill Watterson and Carl Sagan quotes. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit disappointed, but I’m still very happy with the selection and overall content of the book. The book collects the best of the first two years of Zen Pencils. Any comics posted after February this year will be included in the next collection (fingers crossed there will be a ‘next collection’).

Oh, and did I mention you get this exclusive pull-out poster?


You know, to be honest, even though I signed the book deal awhile ago and have been working with my publisher on it for months, I never quite believed that it would happen. Only when I held that advance copy in my hands did it actually hit me that the book was real. My whole life I have been buying and reading comics, including many published by Andrews McMeel, never really thinking that my own comic collection would be on shelves for people to buy. Who knows, a kid might pick it up, just like I had years ago, and become hooked on comics and start to draw the characters from the book, just like I had done, and begin their own lifelong obsession with art and drawing. That makes me smile.

When I started this website, I had no grand ambitions to publish a book, I was just hoping to get enough attention so companies might want to hire me for freelance cartooning work. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would have the luxury to turn down all freelance work because I was too busy with the website, and that the website was able to sustain me financially. Never in my wildest dreams did I think a publisher would want to collect my comics into a book and that someone halfway around the world might gift that book to a friend or family member this Christmas. Yes, it’s been a crazy two and half years since I started this site, and this book is the culmination of everything I’ve done in that time.


How pre-orders help

Although not out for a few weeks, you can pre-order it now, which does help a lot. Pre-orders lets the publisher know what kind of interest the book is generating and gives them enough time before the official launch to print more copies if needed. The last thing I want is there not be enough books to go around and you having to wait to get one. So if you’re thinking about buying a copy, I encourage (ok, I’m begging!) you to pre-order to make sure you don’t miss out. You can order from the links below:


The book will be available worldwide. International readers, if you don’t want to order it online your local bookstore will be able to order it in for you. Just give them the book’s ISBN number: 9781449457952

You can also visit the official book page.

A lot of you have been asking for a book collection since the early days of the website. It’s finally here, and I hope it meets your expectations. Without all your support and encouragement, this book would not have happened. Seriously, publisher’s look at how engaged an audience is when deciding to sign a new author. So a big, giant THANK YOU to the best readers in the world – I’m sure together we can make the book a success :)

– Gav

07 Aug 13:28

This Man Befriends a Wild Armadillo in Brazil

"Move over canines- has man found a new best friend?"

Submitted by: (via RM Videos)

06 Aug 15:01

Passengers Save Man Trapped Between Train and Platform in Australia

by Stan Schroeder

You know those "mind the gap" signs at train stations that warn commuters of a dangerous space between the train and the platform? A passenger at a Perth train station did not heed the sign, but, luckily, other travelers were there to help free his trapped leg Wednesday morning.

A video of the incident shows the man getting stuck between the train and the platform during boarding. Soon enough, dozens of other commuters gather to push the train, tilting it just enough so the man can free his leg and enter the train

According to Transperth spokesman David Hynes, who spoke with ABC News, the company alerted the driver to make sure the train didn't move, and then organized the nearby folks to help Read more...

More about Australia, Us World, and Train Station
06 Aug 14:55

Kawaii Box Giveaway

by Heidi Kenney

Need more Kawaii in your life? Subscribe for monthly delivery.

Kawaii Box is the cutest monthly subscription service. Subscribe Now and receive a box filled with hand-picked kawaii items from Japan and Korea directly to your home every month. Your box will be shipped in the beginning of each month and the shipping is absolutely free, anywhere on the planet! Each box includes 10-12 cute, original and licensed kawaii items.
Enter below for a chance to win a box of your own!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
06 Aug 14:52

Women’s sumo: slightly less traditional, but maybe even more fun than the original

by Master Blaster

I'm impressed. Way to break gender disparity here!

Although Japan has several martial arts that could claim to be national sports, few are quite as distinctive as sumo. With its massive yet lightning-fast athletes who must live a strict and traditional lifestyle, sumo continues to be an attractive sport to watch.

However, how many people out there knew that there is also a women’s sumo federation? Almost certainly not as many as there ought to be, because women’s sumo is entertaining on a few different levels, as we’re about to see in this video from the 1st International Women’s Sumo Tournament.

This video taken from the tournament held in Sakai City, Osaka in April of 2013 at the Ohama Koen Sumojo and features around 70 participants representing 18 teams from Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Thailand.

From the very first match of the video you can see a reason to be hooked on women’s sumo: the disparity of body types can be quite large!

You might consider this match to be a foregone conclusion, but the sometimes vast differences in heights and weights lead to some interesting techniques. For example, see how the woman on the left uses her thin figure against the larger woman at the edge of the ring.

The slender fighter manages to swing her legs in and out of the ring keeping herself in play, while her opponent appears to be unable to move forward any more without putting herself out of the ring.

In the end, the smaller woman still lost but that stratagem could have played out in her favor. The sizes of fighters range from everything in between those two women, creating a wide variety of interesting matches.

At around the 14:30-mark, there is another battle of varying weights, only this time the smaller fighter comes out on top…

literally by deftly using her opponent’s size against her.

It’s not all high-flying mismatches of weight, however. There are several fights in the more traditional style of two equal fighters very carefully trying to get under each other’s center of gravity, locked in a delicate power struggle.

Many of these matches can be seen between the 20 and 26 minutes marks.

Whether originally a fan of sumo or not, it’s hard not to be entertained by this video. Be careful, however, as it’s around 36 minutes and moves at a fairly brisk pace. It’s easy to lose track of time while watching so make sure you pack a snack and you don’t have any appointments first. Once you’re all set, sit back and enjoy the show!

Source: Shizuoka Shimbun SBS (Japanese)
Video and Images: YouTube – Kappa2700
Original article by Takashi Harada

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Origin: Women’s sumo: slightly less traditional, but maybe even more fun than the original
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05 Aug 21:02

SciShow Explains What Makes Hummingbirds So Unique

by Brian Heater

Fascinating, beautiful tiny birds!

In the latest episode of SciShow, host Hank Green explains the various biological elements that make hummingbirds such a unique family of birds, from their tiny size and large hearts to the physical limitations that help them hover.

Hummingbirds can’t make or hop or do ant of the other things you see other land-based things you see most other birds doing. They can only perch and shuffle from side to side.

05 Aug 18:05

‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ Star Chris Pratt Raps Eminem’s ‘Forgot About Dre’ Word-For-Word During an Interview

by Justin Page

More Chris Pratt being crazy-adorable!

During a recent episode of The Whoolywood Shuffle radio show on SiriusXM Shade 45, Guardians of the Galaxy star Chris Pratt sat down with host DJ Whoo Kid and brought up that he knew all of the lyrics to the 1999 album Chronic 2001 by hip hop artist Dr. Dre. After being called out to prove it, Chris let loose and rapped Eminem‘s verse from the song “Forgot About Dre” word-for-word.

Here is the original music video for “Forgot About Dre”:

submitted via Laughing Squid Tips

05 Aug 17:59

New father dresses like iconic pop culture characters and takes baths with his kid

by Mike

Bizarre bath cosplay...


Normally I pride myself on being able to come up with at least somewhat clever headlines for my articles, but this story is so bizarrely specific, I ran out of space just trying to come up with a comprehensible title.

What you’re looking at is a new father who got the idea to pose with his daughter in the bathtub every couple of weeks to record her growth from gross poop machine into vaguely human infant. The man’s wife apparently proposed that they add a little makeup to dad’s face to make things interesting and then the situation, as you can see, kind of escalated from there.

It bears some explanation that, while in western cultures being naked together with a kid – even your own kid – hedges a little close to the border of good taste, it’s commonplace in Japan to take baths with the whole family even when the kids are well on their way to becoming functional human beings. Every family’s cutoff point differs, but some parents are comfortable bathing with their kids even as they approach their teens.

That’s not to say the way the Japanese do it is any better or worse. It’s just that, free from the influences of “Christian values,” Japanese families don’t mind nudity as much as those in the west do, and are free to dress up like the Joker and bathe with their kids whenever they want:



Without the makeup, the father in question turns out to be not so hard on the eyes – in addition to being a super awesome dad – as proven by this photo letter he left for his wife. The letter mentions some sort of difficult illness he had a bout with, which lends a weird sort of poignancy to his Doraemon pose:


Here are the rest of the photos in the series, although I’d be lying if I said I actually recognized all of them.









Source: Spotlight Media

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Origin: New father dresses like iconic pop culture characters and takes baths with his kid
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16 May 00:50

Arguably the Greatest Restaurant Renovation in the District – Nando’s Peri Peri opening May 21st in Tenleytown

by Prince Of Petworth

4231 Wisconsin Avenue, NW

Last week we learned Nando’s Peri Peri would be opening their Tenleytown location on May 21st and the transformation on the outside from Armand’s Pizza looked great. Turns out that was just the tip of the iceberg in terms of how freaking amazing the space turned out. I was able to take some preview photos earlier this week – and I’m gonna have to say this is easily in the top five coolest restaurant renovations I’ve ever seen. Followers of PoPville know that I love old stuff – so it will come as no surprise that lots of old elements of this building were uncovered and incorporated into the new space. You can read the cool background on the building and design below:

Nando’s Tenleytown Release, History (PDF)

Nando’s Tenleytown Release, Design (PDF)

Honest to God, the photos won’t even do justice to how awesome it is. Have a look:

part of 2nd floor

a snapshot of how the walls changed over the years

Tons more photos after the jump.

first floor front

first floor

first floor prep area

old door uncovered and preserved

first floor front

looking up into second floor

2nd floor

preserved sky lights

2nd floor

2nd floor

2nd floor

2nd floor old apartment door frame saved

2nd floor seating

2nd floor


looking out on Wisconsin


awesome wrap around patio

15 May 17:17

Herd of Elephants Work Together To Rescue a Baby Elephant Caught In River Current

by Lori Dorn


In this amazing footage captured by a guest of the Kicheche Laikipia Camp in Kenya, a herd of elephants crossing the Ewaso Nyiro in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy work together as a team to rescue a tiny calf that had gotten swept up in the current of the rain swollen river.

via Cute Overload, The Kids Should See This

14 May 22:57

148. STANLEY KUBRICK answers a question

by Gav

A mention at the end, the documentary "Room 237" is full of wack-a-doo conspiracy theorists desperately trying to convince us that their POVs are valid and was altogether entertaining.


RELATED COMICS: Roger Ebert On Kindness, John Lennon Produce Your Own Dream, Bill Watterson A Cartoonist’s Advice, Chris Hadfield An Astronaut’s Advice, The Dalai Lama answers a question.

Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999) was a filmmaker responsible for classic movies such as Dr. Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey, A Clockwork Orange, The Shining and Full Metal Jacket.

Growing up in the Bronx in New York, Kubrick was terrible at school and often skipped class to go to the movie theatre. He soon developed an interest in photography, teaching himself how to use the camera his father gave him as a gift. Similarly, Kubrick didn’t have any formal education in directing and taught himself all aspects of filmmaking. Kubrick on making his first short film, Day of the Fight in 1951:

“I was cameraman, director, editor, assistant editor, sound effects man—you name it, I did it. It was invaluable experience, because being forced to do everything myself I gained a sound and comprehensive grasp of all the technical aspects of filmmaking.”

By the age of 31, Kubrick had already worked as a photojournalist at Look magazine for five years (check out some of his amazing photos) and directed four feature films. In 1960, he was hired to direct the most-expensive film ever made at the time, Spartacus. Kubrick butted heads with Kirk Douglas, the leading-man and producer, over the film’s direction and the bad experience made Kubrick vow that he would have complete creative control on all of his future films.

Kubrick is often described as an eccentric thanks to the stories about his obsessive attention to detail, treatment of actors, personality quirks and reclusiveness. But these anecdotes are overshadowed by his ground-breaking movies, technical expertise and the opinions of those close to him, who described him as a warm, loving and gregarious genius of a man.

The quote used in the comic is taken from a 1968 Playboy interview Kubrick did soon after the release of 2001: A Space Odyssey. You can read the context of the question in this Brain Pickings article.

- Watch this awesome 11-minute tribute video to Kubrick (NSFW).
- The recent documentary Room 237 claims that the visual effects Kubrick pioneered in 1968 for 2001: A Space Odyssey was just a dress rehearsal for his most ambitious ‘film’: the 1969 Apollo moon landing. The film argues that Kubrick was in cahoots with the United States Government and faked the moon landing. Kubrick was so guilt-ridden he left clues in his next movie, The Shining, which gave away his involvement. I don’t believe the claim, but it’s a fascinating documentary and it makes a pretty convincing argument.
- It’s recently been announced that Steven Spielberg will be turning Kubrick’s unrealised movie Napoleon, often referred to as ‘the best film never made’, into a TV miniseries.
- Spielberg and Scorsese on Kubrick.
- Thanks to Anthony and Max for submitting this quote.

13 May 18:54

Everything Wrong with ‘X-Men: First Class’ in 8 Minutes or Less

by Justin Page

For their ongoing series, CinemaSins has released a new video that hunts down “Everything Wrong with X-Men: First Class in 8 Minutes or Less.”

You’ve been asking for this one for a while, and with the new ‘Days of Future Past‘ opening soon, we finally have a good excuse. Yes, ‘X-Men: First Class‘ may be an awesome film, but like all films… it, too, has sins.

submitted via Laughing Squid Tips

10 May 01:33

Grillo, A Portable Stainless Steel Barbecue That Folds Up Like an Umbrella

by Brian Heater

Something to add to the collection of grills in my garden?


Created by German design firm formAxiom, Grillo is a stainless steel barbecue that folds up like an umbrella, so you can take it with you. Below the metal grill is a “fire hammock,” a steel ring mesh that holds the solid fuel while you cook.

After much exploration, the unique umbrella-like folding method which Discovered. The simple, sturdy tripod footing is most suitable for uneven surfaces and the flower-petal cooking surface is not only artistic but So Has the ability to fold Itself into a miraculously small package.

The barbecue’s design also makes it much easier to clean than conventional grills.




images via formAxiom

via gBlog, The Awesomer

09 May 20:40

Uber Will Send A Manicurist To Your Home This Sunday

by Sarah Anne Hughes

Go and view the comments just for the GIFs, you're welcome! Kelly, check out the hamster eating carrots. O_O

Uber Will Send A Manicurist To Your Home This Sunday For $35. [ more › ]

09 May 19:31

An Interactive Visualization of Baby Names in the United States by Year

by Rollin Bishop

Always fascinating.

Baby Name Visualization

Computational design studio Zato Novo has created an interactive visualization of baby names in the United States by year. Users need only choose a gender and plug in a name and the map of the United States fills in states with color based on the popularity of the name in that area and shifts year by year from the past into the present.

The tool includes over 29,000 names pulled from around 100 years worth of United States Census Bureau data.

via FlowingData

09 May 19:29

The Geek’s Guide to 2014 Summer Movies

by Ruth Suehle

I need more days in my weeks...


Angelina Jolie stars as the titular Maleficent. Photo credit: Frank Connor, Disney.

Summer movie season traditionally starts Memorial Day weekend, but this year it seems to be leaking earlier into May, with something you’re going to want to see every week. Of course, we’ve already had a great movie year for geeks with treats like The Lego Movie and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, so maybe there’s just not enough room in the summer for all the fun. You’ve got a lot to see in the next few months! Time to start booking those babysitters.


This month got off to a good start with The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Not the best comic book movie ever, but far, far from the worst. By the way, in case you’re still confused by the X-Men bit at the end, no, there’s no crossover. It was simply a deal to get Marc Webb out of a contract. But they are working on a Venom spinoff as well as a Sinister Six film—you see the hints in this Spider-Man—which they hope will result in a Spidey-centric success like the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But let’s stick to this year. What’s left in May?

May 9

Chef would hardly be worth mentioning for a geek’s calendar, but it does feature Robert Downey, Jr. and Scarlett Johansson. You can pretend that The Avengers have decided to give up shawarma for a food truck.

If you need to take the kids that night, though, Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return may be a better choice. And no doubt this animated feature will be a less terrifying sequel to Dorothy’s story than the 1985 Return to Oz (though I do love those Wheelers). This musical has an amazing voice cast, including Lea Michele, Dan Aykroyd, Kelsey Grammer, Jim Belushi, Frank Oz, Oliver Platt, Martin Short, Patrick Stewart, Bernadette Petters, Tom Kenny, Mike Judge, and Billy West.


Legends of Oz. Photo credit: Clarius Entertainment

May 16

Godzilla is an origin story set in both Japan and the US. Breaking Bad fans will no doubt see it just for Walter White vs. Giant Lizard. But to succeed, it will have to overcome a lot of negative feelings leftover from the last American try back in 1998.

May 23

Now the geek season really kicks off with the three-day Memorial Day weekend in the US and X-Men: Days of Future Past. I’m always excited for more X-Men, but my husband joked that it’s a bad sign when they bring in the old guys because you can’t do it on your own, à la the final episode of Enterprise. It’s not an unfair accusation, since X-Men: First Class had a far lower opening weekend than X-Men: The Last Stand, X2, or X-Men Origins: Wolverine. But let’s be honest. We’ll always show up for more Hugh Jackman.


Photo: Alan Markfield – TM and © 2013 Marvel and Subs. TM and © 2013 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.

May 30

You have two options at the end of the month that could hardly be more different: Angelina Jolie’s long-awaited Maleficent and Seth MacFarlane’s A Million Ways to Die in the West. Like Wicked gives us insight into the Wicked Witch of the West, Maleficent will tell us how that horned villain became so cold.

If you enjoyed Ted, you’re likely to be ready for A Million Ways To Die In The West. Ted/Family Guy/American Dad! creator MacFarlane has lined up a great cast, including Liam Neeson, Sarah Silverman, and Neil Patrick Harris—oh yes, we’ve got musical numbers here. Revealing the Doc Brown gag with Christopher Lloyd in the trailer, however, makes me concerned that we’ve already seen the funniest bits. The R-rated trailer (below, fair warning) is better than the theater version, assuming you share MacFarlane’s (and my) adolescent sense of humor:


June 6

Do we still get excited about Tom Cruise movies? I think Rock of Ages was the last time I did. Though it was originally to star Brad Pitt, Edge of Tomorrow is now Cruise’s next science-fiction, shoot-things-and-blow-them-up entry. Because Oblivion did so well. You might be better off spending the time reading the Japanese novel All You Need Is Kill, which it’s based on.

A better option that day might be to accompany your YA reader who will be lining up for The Fault in Our Stars, based on the New York Times bestseller of the same name. One site is already selling a preparedness kit with tissues.

June 13
Sequels…such a crapshoot. How to Train Your Dragon 2 has a lot to live up to, but it looks like it just might do it. My daughter is still wearing an Astrid costume, which is getting more than a bit short, since the first movie came out in 2010. But if you need help talking yourself into seeing it, David Tennant has a role as a Viking after having narrated HTTYD-based audio books.


Hiccup´s mom Valka (voiced by Cate Blanchett) lived among dragons. Photo credit: DreamWorks Animation – How to Train Your Dragon 2 © 2013 DreamWorks Animation LLC.

June 20
It’s not exactly geek-themed, but I couldn’t make this list without the movie I’m most excited about as a musicals geek. Jersey Boys. I love the musical. I love Frankie Valli. I love The Four Seasons. And you can bet where you’ll find me on June 20—seeing John Lloyd Young, who won the Tony for his performance in the Broadway version of Jersey Boys, bringing it to the screen.

June 27
Transformers: Age of Extinction. Dinobots. I’m pretty sure you already know without me describing any further whether you’re on board for Michael Bay’s fourth whack at your childhood.


July 11
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes follows 2011′s Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which did quite well. It’s more technically interesting this time around, as the actors were able to wear their motion-capture suits outside, and most of this movie was shot in actual Vancouver forest. Also the primates are riding horses, which isn’t relevant to much, but is amusing as a still.

July 18

The Wachowskis, known for the Matrix movies, V for Vendetta, and Cloud Atlas have created their first film based on an original script since The Matrix. Jupiter Ascending could be a refreshing bit of unfamiliarity in a summer full of stories we know. It features Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum. Check out the trailer:

July 25

More Hercules. If you’d like to see The Rock wearing a fake beard made of yak hair, this one’s for you. We’ll see if this one does any better than The Legend of Hercules, which flopped back in January.


August 1
Are you nervous? I’m nervous. Every time I see the Guardians of the Galaxy trailer, all I can think is, this is either going to be hilarious or the worst thing that has ever happened to a comic book. It has an amazing cast. It has Lego tie-ins. It has Bradley Cooper as a raccoon. Let’s hope for the best.

August 8
I think Michael Bay might be a bigger threat to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles than Shredder. The Internet has collectively already beat this movie up. All hope isn’t lost until we actually see the result, but I’m certainly not holding my breath until August.

Instead that day, I’m more likely to see Scarlett Johansson’s Lucy. The Winter Soldier might as well have been subtitled “Cap ‘n Widow” instead, but this time ScarJo gets her own superhero movie, and it looks good.

August 22

If you haven’t had your fill of sequels yet, strap in for Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. It’s partially based on “Just Another Saturday Night,” a story from Sin City Volume 6: Booze, Broads, & Bullets (3rd Edition), as well as two original storylines.

And beyond

Don’t worry. There’s still plenty to be excited about once the summer ends—most notably the next installment in The Hunger Games series in November and The Hobbit: There and Back Again in December. What are you most excited to see this summer?

The post The Geek’s Guide to 2014 Summer Movies appeared first on GeekMom.

19 Apr 17:53

TinkerBots, A Toy-Building Set That Allows Young Children to Build Simple Robots

by Rollin Bishop

OMFG! Off to add this to the kids' Xmas list... Hello, Grandma?

TinkerBots is a toy-building set from the company Kinematics that allows young children to build simple robots out of a series of blocks. This is accomplished thanks to a “Power Brain” block that includes an Arduino-compatible microcontroller and powers the little robots. Once the toys are built, the “Power Brain” can record whatever movement the toy is put through and then replicate it. If a puppy is twisted in a certain way, for example, it’ll reproduce the twist over and over. More complicated robots, like racers, can use a tablet or mobile app for control. TinkerBots is currently raising funds via an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign.


TinkerBots Puppy


images via TinkerBots

via heise online, Nerdcore

09 Apr 22:11

GIF | bef.gif


YES!! 1,000X
via Rosalind

29 Mar 03:26

Sneak Peek at Gaia Murals Inside Soi 38 Offering Thai Street Food Soon at 21st and L St, NW

by Prince Of Petworth

Badass murals! I want to check them out in person. Anyone up for Thai? The space has already been blessed by a monk, so it's got that going on...

2101 L Street, NW entrance on 21st

Last week we noted we were getting close to Thai Street Food at Soi 38 (website says opening late March) on the corner of 21st and L St, NW in West End. A reader was lucky enough to attend the monk’s blessing of the space and passes along these cool photos including murals by Gaia:






28 Mar 19:14

Alexis Ohanian: Sucking is the First Step to Being Sorta Good at Something

by behanceteam
About this presentation

Alexis Ohanian has founded reddit, Breadpig, and hipmunk but he’ll be the first one to tell you: “I still don’t know what I’m doing.” 

When creating our next great work, we can be held up by failure, or by worrying what the world will think, but Ohanian urges us to remember that it’s hard enough to get people to care about your success. The web allows us to fail and fail fast and we should embrace this dynamic. And when you do eventually traction, treat your customers like royalty. “Your first 100 users are magical,” he says.

About Alexis Ohanian

Alexis Ohanian is a startup founder and investor in Brooklyn, NY. After graduating from UVA in 2005, Alexis and his co-founder Steve Huffman started reddit, now a top 100 website. Now a reddit board member, Alexis focuses on social enterprise Breadpig.

Alexis helped launch hipmunk and ran marketing/pr/community before becoming an advisor and joining the fight against SOPA & PIPA. He invests and advises over sixty tech startups. He’s Y Combinator’s Ambassador to the East, co-founder of the non-profit IHAS, and is writing a book, Without Their Permission (pre-order now! Drops Oct. 1, 2013).

Along the way, Alexis spoke at TED, volunteered in Armenia as a Kiva Fellow, and was named on Forbes 30 Under 30 list two years in a row (and then turned 30). He proudly doodled the logos for all three of his startups.


Without Their Permission

28 Mar 19:03

The Dune in our Heads

by Ethan Gilsdorf

These concepts for a Dune movie are phenomenal! But, I also doubt they would have been produced well in 1975.

Dune is in Your Head

The mirage of Jodorowsky’s Unfilmed Epic

 By Ethan Gilsdorf

A problem crops up when filmmakers try to adapt epic fantasy worlds to the big screen—particularly beloved, richly-imagined literary ones. Sacrifices must be made. Characters are cut, and plotlines are re-routed. Scenes and places don’t match what readers have pictured with their minds. Fans of the original book cry foul.

In the case of director Alejandro Jodorowsky, he had a vision for Frank Herbert’s masterwork Dune that was so over the top, so surreal (and, at times, so absurd), it probably would have blown the minds of critics before they had a chance to grumble.

That is, if Jodorowsky’s translation and transmogrification of Dune had ever been made. It never was.

Finally, the story of the greatest science fiction epic never made has finally been told. Jodorowsky’s Dune is a new documentary about that beautiful, crazy-ambitious, disaster of an adaptation.

“They did everything right, really. Maybe a little too, right, you know?” said director Frank Pavich, when I reached him earlier this week via telephone from New York City.

“They” were Chilean cult filmmaker Jodorowsky, the self-taught visionary behind El Topo (1970) and The Holy Mountain (1973), and his French producer Michel Seydoux. This was 1975, and Jodorowsky had assembled a dream team of actors and artists to bring alive Herbert’s tale of a feudal-like interstellar culture driven by the market for a valuable substance caled the “spice.” David Carradine was to play Duke Leto, Jodorowsky’s 12 year old son Brontis was cast as Paul Atreides, Udo Kier (Andy Warhol’s favorite actor) would be Piter De Vries, and Orson Welles was slated to play Baron Harkonnen. (Apparently, Welles was lured by promises of on-set French bistro food.)

Spacecraft concept art by British artist Chris Foss   

Jodorowsky’s vision extended to the soundtrack. A different band or composer was to invent music representing each of Dune’s major families. Straight off of their “Dark Side of the Moon” success, Pink Floyd would write and perform the House Atreides theme. The French prog rock band Magma would cover the House Harkonnen. The British avant-rock group Henry Cow and German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen were also approached  (Contrast this with the band chosen for the 1984 David Lynch version of Dune: Toto.“I bless the spice down in Arrakis. Gonna take some time to do the things we never had...Ooh ooh ooh”)

Even Mick Jagger and Salvador Dali had agreed to be in the movie.

Orson Welles was slated to play the antagonist, Baron Harkonnen (Photo: Gary Graver)   

Pavich’s documentary focuses largely on Jodorowsky, now 85, who recounts his courtship of each of the film’s key players. He spins one unlikely story after another. “Whenever you think that he’s embellishing it, you kind of roll your eyes and think, ‘Well, this possibly can’t be true,’ somebody else would back it up,” said Pavich, whose previous feature was N.Y.H.C., a 1999 documentary about New York Hardcore music scene. “These stories really did happen like that. It was a weird time. I think that the circles [Jodorowsky] was travelling in—of course he would be at a weird party in Paris, where Mick Jagger would be.”

Fanboys and girls would have drooled over the visual team. A then-obscure H.R. Giger designed the creepier Harkonnen settings. Dan O’Bannon, known at the time for his work with John Carpenter on the sci-fi film Dark Star, was brought on as the special effects wiz. (Jodorowsky rejected Douglas Trumbull because he found him too full of himself.)  British artist Chris Foss designed the space craft. And Jean Giraud, aka French comic book artist Moebius, brought Jodorowsky’s dreams to life in some 3,000 storyboard drawings that perfectly capture a character or scene with a few quick pencil marks on the page.

Concept art by Swiss artist H.R. Giger   

These drawings showed every shot in the film, every composition, every angle and every camera movement, as well every line in the script. Along with concept art and sketches of costumes, spaceships, vehicles, palaces and landscapes, the storyboard drawings were then bound into a 30-pound book that Jodorowsky used to shop his mammoth project to financiers and Hollywood studios. Twenty copies were made.

At that point, two years of pre-production had run up a tab of $2 million. The overall budget has been estimated at $15 million, “because nobody really knew how high it could possibly get.” Mind to you, this was 1975, two years before the success of Star Wars. Blockbuster sci-fi epics were hardly the slam-dunks they are today. In that era, a $15 million price tag would have been an “insanely huge,” Pavich said. Amazingly, $10 million was raised from Jodorowsky’s money and European backers. They needed the final $5 million, from “a studio partner, so they could get the film out on US screens.”

That money was never raised.

Jodorowsky and Moebius   

Production was shut down just as filming was about to begin in Algeria. “They had the cooperation of the Algerian government,” Pavich said. “The Algerian army was going to play Harkonnen extras.”

Today, of those 20 original bibles, only two remain. Seydoux has one. Jodorowosky kept another copy all these years in his Paris apartment, where much of the Jodorowsky’s Dune takes places.

“I wanted to make something sacred,” Jodorowsky says during one of his many bombastic moments. “Dune will be the coming of a God.” When he tries to persuade Pink Floyd to come on board, he describes his project as “the most important picture in the history of humanity.” Modest, the man is not. But shining through Jodorowsky’s often poetically-broken English are his indefatigable spirit and enthusiasm, which win you over in the end.

Alejandro Jodorowsky (Photo: David Cavallo)

“He speaks whatever he feels like. Sometimes he doesn’t even know. It’s in French, and English, and Spanish – he kind of goes all over the place,” said Pavich. “He doesn’t have a self-censor button.” In between the interviews with Jodorowsky (whose intimates call “Jodo”), we hear from producer Seydoux (also a producer of Pavich’s documentary), Giger, Star Wars producer Gary Kurtz, Nicolas Winding Refn, and others.

All the while, that tome gains psychic weight. Its pages which we occasionally glimpse become more poignant, and more pregnant with possibility. Why? Because Jodorowsky never shot one foot of film for his adaptation of Dune.

Storyboard of Dune (Photo: David Cavallo)   

“As we were making the film, we learned there was nothing. Nobody had any record of anything.” Pavich found no photographs of the artists at work, nor of the location scouting in Chile, Mexico and Algeria. Jodorowsky’s document was all that remained.

“What an amazing object that is,” said Pavich. Between its covers, in these drawings, the film still lives.

Pavich brings some of that imagination to life by cleverly, but not obtrusively, animating Moebius’s pencil sketches. “I didn’t want to sort of CGI-ify the whole thing. Because then it becomes someone else’s vision—my vision, or someone else’s—when it really should be Alejandro’s.” His approach, via the animation of Emmy Award-nominated Syd Garon, was to take the original artwork and “just breathe enough life into it” to “lift it off the page.” The viewer sees some movement, and a glimmer of what Jodorowsky’s film would have been like. “Then hopefully your imagination carries it the rest of the way, because that’s where the movie exists—in his imagination, and yours, and all the viewers’.”

As Jodorowsky rails against those who got in the way of his vision, the documentary becomes as much about an unmade movie as it is a meditation on hope and hubris. “Why will you not have ambition?” Jodorowsky admonishes the viewer, Yoda-style, towards the end of the film. “If you fail, it is not important. You need to try.”

David Carradine and Jodorowsky   

As for those 18 other copies of Jodorowsky’s Dune, they disappeared. As Pavich conjectures, the drawings and designs could have made the rounds in Hollywood. George Lucas might have seen the book. Steven Spielberg might have seen it. Ridley Scott, too. Or their minions. After all, O’Bannon, Giger, Foss and Moebius went on to work on Alien. O’Bannon was also writer for Heavy Metal, Lifeforce, Invaders from Mars, Total Recall and other films, and even did a little computer graphics for Star Wars. Chris Foss did design work for Superman, Flash Gordon, and the Kubrick version of A.I. Artificial Intelligence. A comic called “The Long Tomorrow,” written by O’Bannon in 1975 and illustrated by Moebius, was said to influence Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. And so forth.

Concept art by Chris Foss   

From that design team, and sprouting from Jodorowsky’s psychedelic brain, came a hundred science fictional ideas, aesthetics, and family trees. But Pavich doesn’t think Jodorowsky’s Dune inspired thievery.

“I don’t think that they’re pillaging it and stealing ideas. I think they’re taking it and they’re being inspired by it,” he said. “Sometimes things seep in and you don’t even realize it.” That’s what makes Jodorowsky’s Dune an interesting story, Pavich added. “It’s not an unmade film that just ended, it’s an unmade film that just keeps on living. And you see its children in other films.”

Concept art by Giger   

As for Dune, Italian producer Dino De Laurentiis bought the rights and hired David Lynch to direct it. Which Lynch did. Fans of the original book cried foul. Dune also became a three-part TV mini-series in 2000.

As for Alejandro Jodorowsky, he went on to direct a few other films, including last year’s The Dance of Reality. But thinking about his Dune, I wonder how all of Jodo’s wild images would have been captured by circa 1975 technology. Probably poorly. In a way, I’m glad the film was never made.

The best version of Dune is the one still in my head. Or, I should say, in all of our heads.

Giger in his studio   

Concept art by Foss   

Concept art by Giger   
All photos courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics   

Discuss this articleRead the next article


28 Mar 13:39

Birth control, business, and religious beliefs: In Plain English

by Amy Howe

via Tertiarymatt

Almost two years ago to the day, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a challenge to the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, which requires virtually everyone in the United States to buy health insurance or pay a penalty.  This morning, it heard a new and different challenge arising out of the Affordable Care Act:  can a business be required to provide its female employees with health insurance that includes access to free birth control, even if doing so would violate the strong religious beliefs of the family that owns the business?  After the oral argument today, it looked like the Court’s answer may well be no, although the decision may not prove as sweeping as some of the challengers might prefer.  And as is so often the case, it looks like Justice Anthony Kennedy may hold the key vote in the case.  Let’s talk about the proceedings at the Court today in Plain English.

Justices Sotomayor, Ginsburg and Kagan (Art Lien)

Justices Sotomayor, Ginsburg and Kagan (Art Lien)

As Lyle explained in his preview of today’s oral arguments, the two cases at the Court today (which were treated as one ninety-minute argument) were filed by two deeply religious families and their family businesses:  the Green family owns the craft chain Hobby Lobby and the Christian bookstore chain Mardel; the Hahn family owns the cabinet company Conestoga Wood Specialties.  Regulations issued under the Affordable Care Act require the companies to provide their female employees with health insurance that includes no-cost access to twenty forms of birth control.  The families, however, object on religious grounds to providing four of those forms – two brands of the emergency “morning after” pill and two kinds of interuterine devices (IUDs) – that prevent embryos from implanting in a woman’s uterus.  Because they believe that human life begins at conception, the families therefore believe that if the corporations were to cover those four forms of birth control, they would in essence be “complicit in abortion.”

The families and the companies went to court, arguing that the “birth control” mandate violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), a 1993 law that Congress enacted as a response to a 1990 Supreme Court decision holding that an individual’s religious beliefs do not excuse him from having to follow a law that applies to everyone – in that case, a state law prohibiting the use of the hallucinogenic drug peyote.  (The Court also agreed to review whether the mandate violated the Hahn family and Conestoga’s religious rights under the First Amendment, but there was very little discussion of that question today.)  Under RFRA, the government cannot impose a “substantial burden” on the exercise of religion unless that burden uses the narrowest possible way to promote a very important interest of the government.

Former Solicitor General Paul Clement argued first today, on behalf of the challengers to the mandate (collectively referred to as “Hobby Lobby”), and the initial battle lines were quickly drawn.  Three of the Court’s more liberal Justices focused on the potential scope of the rule that Clement and his clients were advocating.  If Hobby Lobby prevailed, Justice Sonia Sotomayor asked, could employers refuse to cover other medical procedures, like blood transfusions?  Or, Justice Elena Kagan added, what about vaccinations?  Clement responded that any procedure to which an employer objected on religious grounds could be reviewed under the RFRA “substantial burden” test.  Hobby Lobby’s case, he argued, was an easy one, he argued:  the fact that the government has excused other employers – such as churches, small businesses, and religious non-profit groups – from having to comply with the mandate demonstrates that the government’s interest in having Hobby Lobby comply with the mandate is not very significant.  By contrast, he noted, an employer who objected to providing coverage for vaccinations, he noted, might have a tougher time meeting the RFRA test because of the very strong government interest in having as many people as possible vaccinated to prevent the spread of disease.  That answer did not seem to satisfy Kagan, who lamented that, if every medical treatment to which someone objects must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis,” everything would be piecemeal, nothing would be uniform.”

(Art Lien)

(Art Lien)

Kagan then turned to the prospect that a decision in Hobby Lobby’s favor would have sweeping effects on RFRA even more broadly, raising a point to which both Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and she would return to several times.  RFRA, Kagan suggested, was an uncontroversial law when Congress – by an almost unanimous vote – enacted it. That overwhelming support for the law strongly implies, she contended, that Congress certainly did not expect the law to apply to for-profit corporations, allowing them to seek religious exemptions from, for example, laws governing the minimum wage, child labor, or family leave.  And even if, as Clement assured the Court, courts have not previously seen such claims by for-profit corporations, Kagan predicted that a ruling in Hobby Lobby’s favor would cause religious objectors to “come out of the woodwork.”

After spending a few minutes on questions from Sotomayor about how the mechanics by which a corporation exercises religion, the Justices then plunged into the nitty-gritty of Hobby Lobby’s options under the ACA and the mandate, focusing in particular on whether the company faced a “substantial burden” for exercising its religious beliefs.  Kagan and Sotomayor suggested that the company could choose not to provide insurance for its employees at all, which would subject it to a penalty of $2,000 per employee – which, Kagan speculated, is probably less than it would have to pay to provide insurance for an employee.   And if that’s the case, Kagan continued, where is the substantial burden?   This theory seemed to pique the interest of Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is often regarded as a key vote in high-profile cases.  Assuming hypothetically that the costs to the company are the same whether it provides its employees with health insurance or instead pays the penalty and compensates the employees so that they can buy their own insurance, Kennedy asked Clement, what would your case be?  Clement countered that Hobby Lobby would still face a burden because, if it didn’t provide its employees with insurance, it wouldn’t be able to attract workers.

(Art Lien)

(Art Lien)

If Paul Clement faced tough and persistent questions from Justices Kagan, Sotomayor, and Ginsburg, Solicitor General Don Verrilli found Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Alito and Scalia to be difficult sells during his forty-five minutes at the lectern.  Verrilli emphasized several points.  The first was that, in determining whether an exemption is available under RFRA, courts must consider the effect that the exemption will have on others – here, Hobby Lobby’s female employees, for whom contraceptive coverage will not be available.  Significantly, that argument seemed to carry at least some weight with Justice Anthony Kennedy, who earlier in the argument had expressed concern that an employer’s religious beliefs could trump the rights of female employees.  But other Justices were skeptical, asking Verrilli to identify language in RFRA that would even allow courts to consider the interests of the female employees.

Verrilli also urged the Court to focus, in deciding whether Hobby Lobby is even entitled to bring a lawsuit under RFRA, on whether the company is a “person” that can “exercise religion.”  And it would be, he argued, a “vast expansion” of the law for the Court to hold that for-profit corporations can make claims for religious exemptions from generally applicable laws.  But the Chief Justice suggested that the Court’s holding might not necessarily be that broad:  the Court could limit its decision in this case to whether corporations like Hobby Lobby, Mardel, and Conestoga, which are owned entirely by one family, have to comply with the mandate, without deciding whether a larger, publicly owned company can object to a law or regulation on religious grounds.

Several Justices also expressed doubt about whether, even if a corporation can exercise religion for purposes of RFRA, the government has a compelling interest in requiring corporations like Hobby Lobby to provide insurance that includes access to free birth control or the mandate is the narrowest possible way to do so.  On the first point, the Justices emphasized that the government has, for a variety of reasons, declined to require other employers – including churches and religious non-profits but also for-profit companies whose health insurance plans are grandfathered in – to comply with the mandate, thereby undermining the government’s argument regarding the mandate’s importance.  And on the second, Justice Antonin Scalia suggested that it wouldn’t be “terribly expensive” for the government, rather than the employers, to pay for the four forms of birth control at issue in this case.

Justice Stephen Breyer, who is often regarded as the fourth member of the Court’s more liberal wing, asked relatively few questions today, and the questions that he did ask for the most part did not tip his hand.  But, although the government will almost certainly need Breyer’s vote to prevail, that won’t be enough; it will need a fifth Justice, presumably Justice Kennedy.  Although Kennedy’s other comments and questions had suggested that his vote might be in play, any optimism that the government may have harbored probably faded when, toward the end of Verrilli’s argument, Kennedy told Verrilli that, under the government’s view of the case, a for-profit corporation like Hobby Lobby could also be required to pay for insurance that would cover abortions.

Will Justice Kennedy – as it appeared today – provide the key vote, or will we get a June surprise the way we did two years ago, in the Court’s ruling on the individual mandate?  We likely won’t know anything more until June, but whenever we do, we will be back to cover the ruling in Plain English.

In association with Bloomberg Law

26 Mar 16:44

The Snowy Owl Is In Minnesota For Treatment

by Sarah Anne Hughes

Thank goodness the owl is okay! She's getting fancy feather implants to replace her damaged feathers. Minnesota is a much better place for her than McPherson Square in DC.

The Snowy Owl Is In Minnesota For Treatment She left the East Coast to have damaged feathers replaced. [ more › ]

26 Mar 16:40

147. The Artist-Troll War 4: GOOD ART TRIUMPHANT

by Gav

Awesome Kurt Vonnegut note.


Yay, the story is finished! Read PART ONE, TWO & THREE

This ended up taking longer than I had planned and was a lot more work than I envisaged. I’m glad I attempted a long-form story, but I don’t see myself doing it again anytime soon. I’m too spoilt with the Zen Pencils format of being able to change styles and subject matter with each new shorter comic.

The theme of internet trolls has been on my mind for awhile now. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, comment boards … is it just me or is the internet being suffocated by negativity and hate? Not necessarily directed at my work but just in general. Maybe I’m visiting the wrong sites but everybody thinks they’re an expert and can’t wait to tell you you’re wrong, or something sucks and why the hell did that person even bother trying?

It’s time to choose a side. Are you on the side who takes the easy option? The troll. The armchair critic slinging snarky quips behind the safety of a keyboard. Firing sarcastic bullets at those in the trenches. Or are you a creator? Someone who makes something. Someone who lets themselves be vulnerable in front of an audience, who contributes something new and hopeful to an increasingly dark and depressing world. Choose. Which side are you on?

And listen, I know my work ain’t the greatest thing since sliced bread. I’m relatively new at being a professional cartoonist and I’m sure Zen Pencils isn’t for everyone. But I’m all in – 110%. I’m going to continue to learn and (hopefully) improve and I’m extremely lucky to have a loyal group of fans who have supported and encouraged me every step of the way.

I’ll leave you with this wonderful letter from the incomparable Kurt Vonnegut which a reader (thanks Akshaya) recently posted on the ZP Facebook page (I got the transcript from Letters of Note and I adapted a similar quote from Vonnegut nearly two years ago). Students at Xavier High School had to write their favourite authors asking them to come visit their school. Vonnegut was the only author to reply:

“Dear Xavier High School, and Ms. Lockwood, and Messrs Perin, McFeely, Batten, Maurer and Congiusta:

I thank you for your friendly letters. You sure know how to cheer up a really old geezer (84) in his sunset years. I don’t make public appearances any more because I now resemble nothing so much as an iguana.

What I had to say to you, moreover, would not take long, to wit: Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience BECOMING, to find out what’s inside you, TO MAKE YOUR SOUL GROW.

Seriously! I mean starting right now, do art and do it for the rest of your lives. Draw a funny or nice picture of Ms. Lockwood, and give it to her. Dance home after school, and sing in the shower and on and on. Make a face in your mashed potatoes. Pretend you’re Count Dracula.

Here’s an assignment for tonight, and I hope Ms. Lockwood will flunk you if you don’t do it: Write a six line poem, about anything, but RHYMED. No fair tennis without a net. Make it as good as you possibly can. But don’t tell anybody what you’re doing. Don’t show it or recite it to anybody, not even your girlfriend or parents or whatever, or Ms. Lockwood. OK?

Tear it up into teeny-weeny pieces, and discard them into widely separated trash recepticals. You will find that you have already been gloriously rewarded for your poem. You have experienced becoming, learned a lot more about what’s inside you, and you have made your soul grow.

God bless you all!
- Kurt Vonnegut”

Thanks for your patience while I tried something a bit different. Next comic, we’ll get back to more cartoon quotes from inspirational folks!

25 Mar 22:40

Smithsonian Resident Associates Program - A Toast to Women Bartenders!

by russiansledges

@Kellygo & @Amber, I'm booked on Thursday nights, but you should go if you can. via Russian Sledges

Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails (LUPEC), an educational and charitable organization, celebrates the contributions of “the dames of the bar” by looking back to the recipes and traditions of this great American invention. LUPEC-DC offers a toast to the modern cocktail’s intrepid and inventive foremothers in a program featuring mixologists and LUPEC members Lynnette Marrero and Meaghan Dorman from the New York chapter and Misty Kalkofen and Kristen "Kitty" Amann from the Boston chapter. They highlight trailblazers such as Ada Coleman, head bartender at the Savoy Hotel’s famed American Bar from 1903 to 1924, and Helen David, who opened Michigan’s now-legendary Brass Rail during the Depression. They also look at the social changes that Prohibition and World War II brought to female barkeeps, as well as the work of their modern-day counterparts. Members of LUPEC-DC mix up some dame-created cocktails. Cheers to the ladies!
24 Mar 12:44

First Full Trailer for FX’s Television Adaptation of the Film ‘Fargo’ Offers a Small Glimpse at the Story

by Rollin Bishop

holy crap, this looks amazing!

“You think this could be, like, an organized crime thing?”

The first full trailer for the loosely connected television adaptation of the 1996 film Fargo has been released by FX Networks. The 10-episode adaptation will feature an all-new cast, including but not limited to Allison Tolman, Martin Freeman, Billy Bob Thorton, and Bob Odenkirk. FX recently released a series of short teaser trailers for the show. The television series is currently scheduled to premiere on April 15th.

via Samit Sarkar

20 Mar 21:46

Girl Power Books to Celebrate Women’s History Month

by Kate Hannigan

Whether you have a daughter, niece, or young friend, these books look like excellent gifts!

Women’s History Month is a great time to dive into some wonderful new books. And GeekMoms everywhere can sit down with the kiddos and share tremendous reads that celebrate women’s stories, for a range of ages and reading levels.

Dare the WindFor the youngest audience, a variety of new books feature real women who faced serious odds to become what they dreamed. First up is Dare the Wind: The Record-Breaking Voyage of Eleanor Prentiss and the Flying Cloud (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), which was published last month. Written by Tracey Fern and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully, it tells the story of a girl who was “born with saltwater in her veins” and wanted to sail the high seas. She learned all she could about ships and sailing, and she grew into a seaworthy woman. With the Gold Rush on, not only did Ellen, as she was called, sail with her husband from New York City to San Francisco to stake a claim, but she navigated their ship there and set a world record for speed.

Who Says Women Can't Be DoctorsTanya Lee Stone’s Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors?: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell (Christy Ottaviano Books, 2013) is an eye-opener for young readers who might not blink at the notion of having a woman for a doctor. Such was not always the case, as we know. Illustrated by Marjorie Priceman, it looks at the many obstacles young Elizabeth had to overcome in order to study medicine. She was not one to shy from conflict: “This was a girl who had once carried her brother over her head until he backed down from their fight.”

Told in simple language that lays out the challenges and attitudes of the times (the lone medical school that accepted Elizabeth as a student did it as a bit of joke), Stone’s book is an inspiring story of how one young girl opened the door for generations of women to come.

Josephine BakerPatricia Hruby Powell’s Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker (Chronicle Books) hit bookstores in January. Illustrated by Christian Robinson, it looks at the ground-breaking dancer and civil rights advocate Josephine Baker, who worked her way from the slums of St. Louis to the grandest stages in the world. ”They all six slept in one bed—Daddy and Mama, heads one way, four kids, the other way—newspapers covering the windows.”

Undeterred by boundaries and categorization, Josephine believed in herself and her abilities. She went on to earn her pilot’s license and worked as a spy during World War II. Later she adopted 12 children from around the world, calling them her Rainbow Tribe. Author Powell and artist Robinson celebrate the story of an extraordinary woman whose life was lived with style and strength.

Pure GritFor older readers, the jaw-dropping Pure Grit: How American World War II Nurses Survived Battle and Prison Camp in the Pacific by Mary Cronk Farrell hit shelves only last month. It tells the story of U.S. Army nurses in the early 1940s who enlisted for peacetime duty. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor thrust America into World War II, and the 101 American Army and Navy nurses serving in the Philippines were suddenly under fire. Working in makeshift jungle hospitals, the nurses aided wounded and dying American soldiers as bombs exploded nearby.

Most of them were later captured by the Japanese as prisoners of war, where they suffered disease and near-starvation for three years. Of particular note is the treatment they received upon return home, where, with their health ruined and lives utterly changed, they were still not regarded as combatants by the U.S. government.

Code Name VerityAlso for older readers, the historical fiction of Elizabeth Wein is tremendous. Her Pritz Honor book Code Name Verity (Disney-Hyperion, 2012) has been called the “rare young adult novel entirely about female power and female friendship” as well as one of the great war books. In order to buy time before her imminent execution, a young female spy captured in Nazi-occupied France slowly pens a confession of the part she plays in the Resistance. And as it unfolds, readers learn about two young women from very different classes who become the best of friends, their relationship tested by fire in a secret mission that determines which one of them will live and which will die.

Tense writing along with remarkable voice, this is a book that’s hard to put down. Its follow-up Rose Under Fire, which was published in September and features a female American pilot captured and sent to Ravensbrück, is equally well-received. Wein’s detailed research and devotion to telling the history of real women in aviation, the role of women in World War II, and the women’s concentration camp at Ravensbrück is clear in both books.

The post Girl Power Books to Celebrate Women’s History Month appeared first on GeekMom.

20 Mar 21:30

King for a Day, An Art Show Tribute to Author Stephen King at Hero Complex Gallery in Los Angeles

by Justin Page

Sorry to @ereed for scary clown images.

As I lie awake and listen... by Martine Johanna
As I lie awake and listen… by Martine Johanna

King for a Day is an upcoming group art show at Hero Complex Gallery in Los Angeles that will feature artwork influenced by author Stephen King. The show opens on Friday, March 21st, 2014 from 7 – 10 PM and will be on display until April 6th. Prints of the work being presented will be available to purchase online from Hero Complex Gallery. A portion of all proceeds will go to helping The Haven Foundation, a non-profit organization that aids freelance creatives who are unable to work due to disease or accident. You can RSVP for the event online via Facebook.

We Never Had Friends Later Like The Ones We Had When We Were Twelve by Sam Gilbey
We Never Had Friends Later like the Ones We Had When We Were Twelve by Sam Gilbey

The Shawshank Redemption by Paul Shipper
The Shawshank Redemption by Paul Shipper

Salem's Lot by Zombie Yeti
Salem’s Lot by Zombie Yeti

Want a Balloon by Casey Callender

Want a Balloon Variant by Casey Callender
Want a Balloon? by Casey Callender

Pressure and Time by Adam Rabalais
Pressure and Time by Adam Rabalais

Christine by Mainger Germain
Christine by Mainger Germain

images via Hero Complex Gallery and credited artists

via The Fire Wire