Chris Higgins is the author of The Blogger Abides and writes for This American Life, The Atlantic, Breakfast on Mars, and The Magazine. You can follow him at chrishiggins.com.
Airing tonight as part of the PBS series Independent Lens, check out DIRT! The Movie, a documentary about dirt -- what it is, how it got there, and why it's important.
Dirt is very important stuff -- it contains a lot of microorganisms working together to maintain ecosystems. Dirt is critical of course to food and other plant growth, but it's also a critical part of the overall ecosystem -- it processes rainwater and has effects on climate. In DIRT! The Movie, we learn about what dirt actually is, how... READ ON
Roger Ebert made waves a while back when he claimed that video games can never be art. While I'm not touching that argument with a ten-foot pole, I thought you might enjoy the video below -- shot in 1993, it shows Ebert and his pal Gene Siskel playing Greatest Heavyweights of the Ring on a Sega Genesis, using the Sega Activator™ "Full Body Controller." This video game, and the resulting clip of the Siskel/Ebert bout, is certainly not art. Though it is brought to you by Jelly Belly, Lady Remington,... READ ON
Star Wars: Uncut is a web project in which 473 people each contribute 15 seconds of footage for a complete, shot-for-shot remake of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. Participants' remakes range from cartoons to Lego stop-motion, and there's even a segment using only dogs. The producers have released roughly five minutes' worth of footage, and it's a real treat -- silly and charming, with a new style every fifteen seconds. Check it out:
Star Wars Uncut "The Escape" from Casey Pugh on Vimeo.
Full... READ ON
This happened Wednesday night. So two men are having a debate; they're vying to be the Democratic candidate for Governor of Oregon in the next election. The men are former Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber and former Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury. Video of the debate is streaming live on Bradbury's campaign website. In the middle of the debate, someone in the crowd yells: "Is there a doctor in the house?" Kitzhaber, who is a former E.R. doctor, jumps off the stage and runs into the crowd.... READ ON
Released in 1991, L.A. Story is my favorite Steve Martin movie -- yes, I like it even better than The Jerk. It's a little shocking to realize that the movie is nearly 20 years old now, as I distinctly remember watching it when it was released. I recall being completely obsessed with every character in this movie, and also kinda into Enya. Those were the days.
Anyway, L.A. Story is a strange love story, full of references to Shakespeare, spare footage from the film Koyaanisqatsi (seriously!), satire... READ ON
This is nice: Screen Caps is a site presenting HD-quality screen captures from movies, without commentary or explanation. Just big crazy screen caps, many of them suitable for desktop wallpaper. Below are a few of my favorites (sized down to fit this blog) -- can you figure out what movies they're... READ ON
I finally saw The Wrestler this weekend, and it was great. One little detail jumped out at me, though -- in one scene, the eponymous wrestler plays a Nintendo game with a neighborhood kid. The game is based on the character in the movie, and appears to be a real mid-80's NES game, but it can't be, because the wrestler character (Randy "The Ram" Robinson) is fictional. But in this scene they're playing the game, executing moves like the "Ram Slam" on each other. What? How did they do that?
It turns... READ ON
Aaron Fechter invented the original Whac-A-Mole game in 1971. Well...he took the idea from "some Japanese guys" who had created a creature-whacking game first, but Fechter made the mechanism work reliably by inventing an air cylinder system to power the moles and an audio-tape-driven pattern that governed the moles' timing. Also, Fechter's game used only moles, rather than a variety of animals in the Japanese game. In the video below, Fechter (who went on to create the Rock-afire Explosion animatronic... READ ON
I can't tell you how often I hear someone use the term "literally" when he or she means "figuratively." It bugs me nearly as much as "misused" quotation marks. So I urge you to check out Literally, a Web Log, a site cataloging the horrendous misuse of the term "literally." Examples? Oh, you bet:
Literally kill for vampire co-star: Kristen Stewart (of the Twilight movies) said: "I literally saw Jacob in him." "I would kill for him, literally."
Literally tear Santa's heart out. Santa Joe... READ ON
In the TED Talk below, Jane Poynter discusses her experience living for two years (plus 20 minutes) in Biosphere 2 in the early 1990s. In short, the experiment was to find out how to create a sealed, self-sustaining ecosystem. This was a huge challenge, and ultimately they had to add oxygen to the environment to make it work (more on that in the talk). Poynter talks about the Biosphere 2 experiment in some detail (as much as fifteen minutes allows), complete with lots of photos and personal... READ ON
Barry Manilow did not write his hit "I Write the Songs."