Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Favorite websites in review, part 10

These websites were featured on Tech-media-tainment. So they bear the TMT stamp of approval.

226. Movie Title Stills Collection (annyas.com/screenshots)
227. The Final Image (finalimageblog.com)
228. Famous Objects from Classic Movies (famousobjectsfromclassicmovies.com)
229. Google Street Scene (googlestreetscene.tumblr.com)
230. Quiet Earth (quietearth.us)
231. No. 1 Song on Your Birthday (playback.fm/birthday-song)
232. What Ridiculous Food Day Is Your Birthday? (games.usvsth3m.com/what-ridiculous-food-day-is-your-birthday)
233. Sad Kanye (sadkanye.tumblr.com)
234. This Charming Charlie (thischarmingcharlie.tumblr.com)
235. Inspirational Rap Lyrics (inspirationalrap.tumblr.com)
236. Selfies at Serious Places (selfiesatseriousplaces.tumblr.com)
237. Lady Parts (someladyparts.com)
238. Endorsement Bombing (endorsementbombing.tumblr.com)
239. TL;DR Wikipedia (tldrwikipedia.tumblr.com)
240. Sleeping MIT Students (sleepingmitstudents.tumblr.com)
241. Napping All Over Rutgers (runapping.tumblr.com)
242. Ephs Sleeping In Public (ephssleepinginpublic.tumblr.com)
243. White Boys in Salmon Shorts (whiteboysinsalmonshorts.tumblr.com)
244. Humanitarians of Tinder (humanitariansoftinder.com)
245. Signs from the Near Future (signsfromthenearfuture.tumblr.com)
246. WTF Comcast (wtfcomcast.tumblr.com)
247. Pendleton Ward’s Cartoon Tumblr (pwcartoons.frederator.com)
248. Wrong Hands (wronghands1.wordpress.com)
249. Song Lyrics in Chart Form (songlyricsinchartform.tumblr.com)
250. Candy Wrapper Archive (candywrapperarchive.com)

Photos from Song Lyrics in Chart Form (top) and Google Street Scene from "Goodfellas."

Monday, March 23, 2015

Niche websites: Candy bar wrappers, soda cans, comic book covers, etc.

The World Wide Web is full of websites devoted to niche topics, which is great. I appreciate the dedication of people who maintain online resources in specific areas of interest.
What follows are a few particularly interesting ones.

Candy Wrapper Archive

The Candy Wrapper Archive is a collection of standard and king-sized candy wrappers. The archivist started collecting them in 1983 and began digitizing them in 2008.
As a candy lover, I enjoy looking at the variety of wrappers, including such favorites as 3 Musketeers, Baby Ruth and Snickers.

Evolution of Soft Drink Cans

Leibold, a branding, marketing and packaging design company, put together a photo gallery and article about the “evolution of soft drink cans.”
As a soda lover (hey, I have a sweet tooth), it’s fun to look at how beverages like 7Up, Coca-Cola and others have changed their can designs over the years.
Visual News adapted the photos for its own article on the subject.

Cover Browser

Cover Browser displays galleries of comic book covers as well as covers from books, video games and other materials. Created in 2006, the website has more than 455,000 covers.
I enjoy browsing through covers for “The Amazing Spider-Man” from when I was a kid.

RadioShack Catalogs

RadioShack Catalogs provides an archive of catalogs from the consumer electronics store chain from 1939 to 2005.
Check out this 1985 catalog entry for the TRS-80 portable computer. Brings back memories.


Logonoid has collected a large gallery of company logos, brand logos and trademarks. It has over 7,100 logos in 33 categories, from airlines to watches.

The Museum of Bags

The Museum of Bags showcases bags as icons of culture and history. The collection has more than 7,000 pieces ranging from retail to political bags.

Porn Parody

Porn Parody keeps track of the adult entertainment industry’s penchant for parodies of mainstream movies, TV shows and real-life politicians and celebrities. (Warning: The website contains nudity and sexual content.)

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Funny pop music diagrams

I love humorous graphics that diagram pop music songs.
Up top is a favorite of mine from cartoonist John Atkinson called “Anatomy of songs,” which he posted on his Wrong Hands blog in July 2014.
The pop music portion appears to have been inspired by an Internet meme that first cropped up online about three years ago on Reddit and elsewhere. It showed a modern pop song interspersed with rapper Pitbull saying weird things.

Pitbull is an easy target and has been parodied quite often online.

Atkinson followed up his original cartoon in January with “Anatomy of more songs.”

Recently I discovered a blog called Song Lyrics in Chart Form from comedian Erik Tanouye.
Instead of poking fun at genres, he diagrams the lyrical content of individual pop songs.
I’ve posted a few examples below.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

12 interesting Tumblr blogs

Tumblr has become the go-to website for viral Internet content. That honor used to belong to Reddit, but the tide has turned.
A study by Priceonomics found that the No. 1 source for BuzzFeed content is Tumblr, followed by Instagram, according to the Washington Post.
What’s interesting is that Tumblr remains popular despite its heavy-handed treatment of users practicing fair use of copyrighted images.
Tumblr deleted my three blogs a year and a half ago after it received complaints from a photographer about my use of a couple of his images on just one of those three blogs. Tumblr didn’t respond to my appeal of the DMCA takedown notice and unilaterally deleted my work.
I criticized Tumblr at the time for not having at least a three-strike rule.
Fast forward to now and it appears Tumblr has finally instituted such a rule, according to a story on Techdirt. This rule may have saved my three Tumblr blogs from oblivion.
But I digress.
There are many interesting niche-themed blogs on Tumblr. What follows is a dozen of them.

Selfies at Serious Places

Selfies at Serious Places collects photos of people taking self portraits in places where they shouldn’t such as at funerals, cemeteries and former concentration camps. (See article by Business Insider.)

Lady Parts

The website Lady Parts compiles sexist casting call notices for actresses. (See article by the Huffington Post.)

Endorsement Bombing

Endorsement Bombing is a website that shows funny examples of “unexpected endorsements for surprising expertise” on LinkedIn, the professional social network.

TL;DR Wikipedia

For people who think Wikipedia entries are too long there’s TL;DR Wikipedia. The humor blog is described as “Wikipedia: Condensed for your pleasure.” By the way, TL;DR stands for “too long; didn’t read.”

Sleeping MIT Students

There have been several websites devoted to photos of students sleeping in libraries and public areas of schools. One was the now defunct Asians Sleeping in the Library, which was archived at least in part by the Chive.
Another is Sleeping MIT Students, which shows students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology sacked out around campus. (See article by the Huffington Post.)

Napping All Over Rutgers

Napping All Over Rutgers covers sleepy students at New Jersey state university.

Ephs Sleeping In Public

Ephs Sleeping in Public highlights passed out students at Williams College.

White Boys in Salmon Shorts

White Boys in Salmon Shorts was started to draw attention to the preppy trend of white males wearing salmon-colored shorts.

Humanitarians of Tinder

Humanitarians of Tinder collects screenshots from the dating site Tinder where the subjects use photos of themselves working with impoverished people in other countries. (See article by the Huffington Post.)

Signs from the Near Future

Signs from the Near Future imagines what road signs and other signage will be like in the future with advancements in technology. (See article by the Huffington Post.)

WTF Comcast

WTF Comcast features funny show descriptions from the Comcast on-screen program guide.

Pendleton Ward’s Cartoon Tumblr

As a fan of “Adventure Time,” I also like its creator’s Tumblr blog.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Find the No. 1 song on the day you were born

After covering some interesting websites related to movies and TV shows, let’s turn to some fun websites related to pop music.

No. 1 Song on Your Birthday

The website Playback.fm has an app that can tell you the No. 1 song in the country on the day you were born and also for the week you were likely conceived.
For instance, on the day I was born the No. 1 song was “Soldier Boy” (1962) by the Shirelles. The week I was likely conceived the No. 1 song was “Tossin’ and Turnin”” (1961) by Bobby Lewis.
I wish someone would put together a similar website for the top movie at the box office on your birthday and maybe the top-rated TV show.
On a similar note, another website can tell you: What Ridiculous Food Day Is Your Birthday?

Everyone Gets Sad Sometimes, Even Kanye

The Sad Kanye blog on Tumblr shows how sullen pop music artist Kanye West is about life.
The blog – officially called Everyone Gets Sad Sometimes, Even Kanye – shows what a glum, miserable person West is. (See article by the Huffington Post.)

This Charming Charlie

The Tumblr blog This Charming Charlie mashes Peanuts comic strips with song lyrics from Morrissey and the Smiths.
The blog is the work of graphic designer Lauren LoPrete. (See article by the Huffington Post.)
The blog successfully fended off copyright takedown notices from record label Universal Music, which doesn’t understand the concept of fair use. (See article by Techdirt.)

Inspirational Rap Lyrics

The Tumblr blog Inspirational Rap Lyrics combines uplifting images with raunchy rap lyrics. The results are comical.

Photos from Sad Kanye, This Charming Charlie and Inspirational Rap Lyrics.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

‘Cinderella’ opening shows that Disney shouldn’t fear the public domain

For years, the Walt Disney Co. has fought to extend copyright terms to prevent Mickey Mouse from falling into the public domain. But the irony is that Disney got its start thanks to cartoon adaptations of fairy tales that had long been in the public domain.
Disney’s 2015 live-action feature film “Cinderella” opened Friday to positive reviews and stellar box office receipts. While the film has impeccable talent, led by director Kenneth Branagh, what likely sold it for audiences was the Disney brand name.
So if Mickey Mouse does fall into the public domain, there will still be Disney’s Mickey Mouse and everybody else’s versions. And as long as it continues to make a superior family product, Disney has nothing to worry about from its rivals.
After all, anybody can make a Cinderella movie because that fairytale has long been in the public domain. (Check out “16 strange, fascinating, lesser-known onscreen Cinderella stories.”) But the Disney name has cachet in the category.
Last year, Disney did a live-action Sleeping Beauty movie in “Maleficent.” Up next is a live-action retelling of “Beauty and the Beast.”

Photo: Disney’s “Cinderella” (2015)

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Sherlock Holmes and the case of the public domain

The general public and the arts benefit greatly from creative works in the public domain. Those works include books, music, movies and other art whose limited period of copyright protection has expired.
No one would argue that patented inventions should be owned in perpetuity by the inventors, their families or corporations.
Generic drugs and other low-cost products are made possible by inventions coming off patent protection. Plus, inventors have an incentive to create new, better products as the patents on older inventions expire.
But when it comes to literature, songs and other creative works, people are more tolerant of prolonged periods of protection. They don’t understand that society benefits greatly when works come off copyright protection.
Copyright protection was never meant to be a way to enrich descendants of creators or corporations for generations.
But here we are in an age when patents in the U.S. expire after 17 years, but copyrights can easily last for 100 years or more thanks to numerous extensions. Patents and copyrights used to be on equal footing.
U.S. copyright protection currently lasts for the life of the author plus an additional 70 years. For works created for hire (such as for a movie studio), the copyright endures for a term of 95 years from the year of its first publication.
Critics of the U.S. government say it serves the interests of corporate political campaign donors and their lobbyists more than the general public. No place is this clearer than with the entertainment industry, which has bought more influence than just about any other industry.
Every time Mickey Mouse approaches the end of copyright protection, the Walt Disney Co. returns to Capitol Hill and persuades lawmakers to extend the terms. Expect to see Disney’s lobbyists press Washington, D.C., soon for another extension as “Steamboat Willy” (1928), the first Mickey Mouse cartoon, is set to enter the public domain in 2023.
The bastardization of copyright and trademark laws can be seen all around us.
One recent example is the adult children of the late Marvin Gaye suing pop music artists Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams for mimicking Gaye’s musical style on “Blurred Lines.”
Another is pop singer Taylor Swift trademarking such phrases as “This sick beat” and “Nice to meet you. How you been?” from her songs.
Bad copyright precedents include the family of Martin Luther King Jr. copyrighting the late civil rights leader’s “I Have a Dream” speech, so news organizations and others have to pay for its use even though it was a public speech, not a commercial performance.
Or how about the song “Happy Birthday To You,” which was first published in 1912? The copyright holders continue to collect fees for its use in movies, TV shows, radio and elsewhere when it arguably should be in the public domain.
Then there’s the case of Sherlock Holmes.
Even though the first Sherlock Holmes detective story was published in 1887, the estate of author Arthur Conan Doyle, continued to push for copyright protection. The Doyle estate exhausted its legal appeals in the U.S. in 2014 and Holmes is now definitively in the public domain, free for all to use.
Being in the public domain allows artists of all stripes to adapt the character and stories into new works without having to get permission or pay licensing fees. High schools can perform Sherlock Holmes plays, comic book artists can make Sherlock Holmes graphic novels, filmmakers can make Sherlock Holmes movies and TV shows.
Sherlock Holmes joins other public domain characters as Hercules, Snow White, Cinderella, Robin Hood, Dracula, Frankenstein, Tarzan, Pinocchio, the Wizard of Oz, Tom Sawyer and many more.
Being in the public domain provides increased exposure for works that have been locked up by copyright restrictions. Consider all the Sherlock Holmes adaptations in production.
The BBC has “Sherlock,” a TV series starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. CBS has “Elementary” starring Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu.
Warner Bros. is developing a third “Sherlock Holmes” movie starring Robert Downey Jr. as the famed detective. Paramount Pictures is doing “Young Sherlock Holmes,” which depicts Holmes and buddy Watson as teenagers.
A recent comic book by Karl Bollers and Rick Leonardi called “Watson and Holmes” reimagines Sherlock Holmes and John Watson as African Americans in New York City’s Harlem district.
Soon we’ll see Ian McKellan as an elderly Sherlock Holmes in the movie “Mr. Holmes,” directed by Bill Condon. It’s based on the book “A Slight Trick of the Mind” (2005).

Art: Infographic of Sherlock Holmes film and TV adaptations from the Blackmoods blog.

Related reading:

Years Of Brainwashing The Public Into Thinking Everything Creative Must Be 'Owned' Has Led To This New Mess (Techdirt; March 13, 2015)

Why you should care about the public domain (Tech-media-tainment; Feb. 22, 2012)

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