Saturday, March 30, 2013

Florida mancation: Spring training baseball, Everglades, good food and beer

Every year or so, I like to take a man vacation, or mancation.
In March 2010, my brother Bill and I went to Arizona for Cactus League spring training baseball, the Big Sandy Shoot, a tour of the Bagdad copper mine and to walk in the desert.
In September 2011, Bill and my young son, Christopher, traveled to South Dakota for the annual Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup and to visit national parks and monuments like Mount Rushmore, the Badlands and Devil’s Tower.
This year, Bill, Christopher (now 9) and I traveled to Florida for Grapefruit League spring training baseball and to see the Everglades. It was a quick trip (March 23-27), but we packed a lot of things in it.

Day one: Nationals home game

We arrived in Orlando, Fla., on Saturday night March 23.
The next day we attended Palm Sunday mass at a Catholic church in Orlando. Afterward, we drove an hour east to Space Coast Stadium, the spring home of the Washington Nationals, in Viera, Fla.
We watched the Nationals take on the visiting Atlanta Braves. It was a sold-out game, with a lot of fans visiting from Georgia. Traffic was bad getting into the parking lots. Good thing we arrived early. A wind and rain storm ended the game in the eighth inning. The Nationals beat the Braves 11-2, with Ryan Zimmerman hitting three home runs and Wilson Ramos hitting two. (See articles by Associated Press and SB Nation.) That night, we had dinner at Brick House Tavern and Tap in Orlando. The place has great decor and specializes in meatballs, steaks and other manly eats. The words “Man Cave” are painted on the inside front wall. It also has an extensive beer selection. We sampled a couple of brews and then ordered a mini-tap at the table to dispense Hurricane Reef Caribbean, an American lager from Melbourne, Fla. The waiter called the tap a beer bong.

Day two: Disney Hollywood Studios and Nationals away game

On Monday March 25, we spent the day at Disney Hollywood Studios. I had visited the park years earlier when it was called Disney-MGM Studios. This excursion was primarily for my son, but I enjoyed the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, the Toy Story Midway Mania and the Star Wars ride.
In the evening, we attended our second Major League Baseball spring training game of the trip.
We watched the visiting Washington Nationals vs. the Houston Astros at Osceola County Stadium in Kissimmee, Fla. Twenty-year-old phenom Bryce Harper batted three-for-three in the game. But the Nats lost 6-4 after they replaced most of their starters. (See articles by the Associated Press and SB Nation.) I almost caught a foul ball, but I couldn’t make a clean, bare-handed grab.

Day three: Everglades

On Tuesday March 26, we drove three hours south to the Everglades.
We stopped at the Everglades Holiday Park near Weston, Fla. It’s a tourist trap with long wait lines. We took an airboat ride through the swamp and then watched Chris Gillette from the Animal Planet show “Gator Boys” wrestle an alligator.
Next we drove an hour south to Everglades National Park. We stopped at the Ernest Coe Visitor Center near Homestead, Fla. and then walked the Anhinga Trail, where we saw a couple dozen alligators basking in the sun. We also saw a lot of water birds such as anhinga and heron. One heron caught a big fish close to shore while we were there.
It was a beautiful spring day and we enjoyed the weather and the wildlife.
At night, we had dinner in Miami at a cozy hole-in-the-wall bar and restaurant called the Filling Station. The eatery has great burgers and a large beer menu. I had the Hamborghini, a burger topped with fried Genoa salami, provolone cheese and pesto mayo. I washed it down with a Radeberger Pilsner (Radeberg, Germany) and an Orange Blossom Pilsner (Orlando, Fla.). We spent the night in Miami and flew home the next day.

It was fun to see the Washington Nationals play in spring training. Sports Illustrated and ESPN the Magazine both have picked the Nationals to win the World Series this year, so expectations are high.
But as the Washington Post notes, beware “the curse of high expectations.”

Photos: Everglades alligator and Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper. (March 2013 photos.)


Previous mancations posts: 

Arizona ‘mancation’: Part 1 – Desert drive and the Bagdad copper mine (March 2010)

The Big Sandy Shoot: Arizona ‘mancation’ (March 2010)

Baseball spring training: Arizona ‘mancation’ (March 2010)

Exploring Phoenix: Arizona ‘mancation’ Part 4 (March 2010)

South Dakota mancation: National parks and the great buffalo roundup (Sept. 2011)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Society loses part of its history and culture when websites go off line


When websites go off line and their content is no longer available, our society loses part of its culture and history.
Occasionally I like to shine a spotlight on interesting websites. Inevitably some of those websites go off line and their weblinks no longer work. Many more go inactive, but at least their content stays up for all to see.
I recently reviewed the first 125 websites I listed as favorites of Tech-media-tainment. Of those, eight are now closed.
Mine is but a small sample of websites, but I’m certain this is a microcosm of a larger problem of websites and online information disappearing. If this information were in book form, a physical copy likely would remain. But when the information is stored digitally, it is easily erased.
The now-closed websites include Asian Poses, which documented the cute poses and hand signs Asian girls and young women do in snapshots. A blog dedicated to photos of students sleeping in libraries called Asians Sleeping in the Library also is no longer available. Same thing goes for a humorous art blog called CAPTCHArt.
A website called My Kid Is Gifted, which documented the funny things kids do, is gone, too. Listicles, a website devoted to top 10 lists, and AngryJournalist, a website for journalists to vent about their profession, are kaput. As is Copper Counter, a photo blog that chronicled miscellaneous items found in Coinstar machines.
The website for my favorite movie review program, “At the Movies” with film critics Michael Phillips and A.O. Scott, went dark when the show was cancelled.

Photo: Preserved image from Asian Poses. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

With Liz Gorman on board, the L.A. Temptation is LFL’s front-runner

The Los Angeles Temptation is to the Legends Football League what the Green Bay Packers were in the early years of the modern NFL. They’re a championship team year after year.
Since the LFL, formerly the Lingerie Football League, kicked off its inaugural season in 2009, the Temptation has won three straight championships.
Now after signing defensive star Liz Gorman, who previously played for the Tampa Breeze, the Temptation look like a lock for this year’s championship as well. LFL 360 calls her “the most dominant player in the history of the LFL.”
Gorman is one of the stars of the LFL. She’s a four-time all-star safety and three-time defensive player of the year. Plus, she’s drop-dead gorgeous, which makes her marketing gold.

Related story:
LA Temptation Lingerie Football 2013 Photoshoot (Busted Coverage; March 14, 2013).

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Favorite websites in review, part 5

These websites have been featured on Tech-media-tainment and bear the TMT stamp of approval.
This is the fifth set of 25 favorite websites.

101. The Huffington Post’s 7 Sites You Should Be Wasting Time On Right Now (www.huffingtonpost.com/news/7-sites-you-should-be-wasting-time-on-right-now)
102. Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street (hotchicksofoccupywallstreet.tumblr.com)
103. Shit That Siri Says (shitthatsirisays.tumblr.com)
104. [sic] Humor (sichumor.tumblr.com)
105. CAPTCHArt (www.captchart.com)
106. New Condoms (newcondoms.tumblr.com)
107. Letterheady (www.letterheady.com)
108. Scandybars (scandybars.tumblr.com)
109. Presidential Pickup Lines (presidentialpickuplines.tumblr.com)
110. Reasoning with Vampires (reasoningwithvampires.tumblr.com)
111. Replaceface (replaceface.tumblr.com)
112. Animals Being Dicks (animalsbeingdicks.com)
113. Starbucks Spelling (starbucksspelling.tumblr.com)
114. The Lisa Simpson Book Club (lisasimpsonbookclub.tumblr.com)
115. Posing With Friends (www.posingwithfriends.com)
116. Unnecessary Journalism Phrases (unnecessaryjournalismphrases.tumblr.com)
117. Google Images (www.google.com/imghp)
118. VSholic (vsholic.com/vsfs)
119. VS All Access (vsallaccess.victoriassecret.com/news-events)
120. Steve McGhee (stevemcghee.com)
121. Everything Is A Remix (everythingisaremix.info)
122. Museum of Endangered Sounds (savethesounds.info)
123. Fake Follower Check (fakers.statuspeople.com)
124. Reflections of a Newsosaur (newsosaur.blogspot.com)
125. NewspaperAlum (newspaperalum.com)

Photo: Victoria’s Secret Angels Candice Swanepoel, Karlie Kloss and Alessandra Ambrosio showcase the latest styles of the Victoria’s Secret swim collection in Los Angeles. Photo from VSholic. 

Note: I profiled CAPTCHArt in October 2011, but the website has since gone off-line.

Update (Feb. 17, 2014): [sic] Humor has not been updated since Oct. 4, 2011.

Update (June 15, 2014): Posing with Friends is offline.

Update (Feb. 28, 2015): New Condoms is offline.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The end of newspapers threatens paperboys and kidnapper props

When printed newspapers eventually disappear, a host of related things will vanish as well.
Many people will look back at newspapers as a quaint notion from a simpler time. As news moves online, our society will lose some of our traditions and cultural touch points.
What follows is a list of some of those things going the way of the buggy whip along with print newspapers.

10 things that will disappear with print newspapers

1. Paperboys

Years ago, delivering newspapers was a good first job for boys and girls. Trucks would drop off bundles of newspapers in neighborhoods and young people willing to work hard for a little money would deliver the papers door-to-door.
An old newspaper joke was that multimillion-dollar corporations were putting their fate in the hands of 9-year-old boys.
Adult professional deliverers in cars have all but replaced the jobs for young paper boys and girls though.
But recently the New York Times profiled the world’s oldest paperboy, 93-year-old Newt Wallace. Since 1947, he’s walked the same paper route every week, delivering copies of the Winters Express to the residents of Winters, Calif. He’s truly among the last of a dying breed.

2. Newspaper boxes

Newspaper vending machines on city street corners will go to the scrap heap once print newspapers disappear.
But frankly with rising newspaper prices, those boxes haven’t been practical for a while, unless you’re a person who carries around a lot of change.

3. Newspapers as kidnapper props

The Onion, a satirical news website, ran an article a few years back with the headline, “Report: Majority Of Newspapers Now Purchased By Kidnappers To Prove Date.” The joke being, of course, that regular people don’t buy newspapers any more.
But newspapers are still being used by kidnappers for “proof of life” props in photos. In January, an Islamic terrorist group in the Philippines released a photo of an Australian man, Warren Rodwell, they had kidnapped more than a year earlier, and he was holding a newspaper to prove the date, according to the Australian newspaper.
Less common today are ransom notes using letters cut out of the newspaper.


4. Newspapers as movie props

Kidnappers in the movies also use newspapers as props. (See photo of actor David Morse in the 2000 movie “Proof of Life.”) What are they going to do when print newspapers go away?
Newspapers also are used in many ways to advance the plot in movies. My favorite is when time travelers check the year on newspapers, such as in “Back to the Future 2” (1998) where Marty McFly checks out a futuristic USA Today in October 2015. Let’s hope it’s still around in two years.




5. Newspapers for bird cages, catching paint, etc.

Newspapers have many uses beyond delivering the news. They’re handy for art projects, such as making paper mache, and are a great substitute for painting drop clothes. You can use them to line bird cages and hamster homes. Plus, they’re great for starting fires in the fireplace or fire pit. And they’re useful for packing fragile items. Try doing that with digital news.

6. Comic strips

Comic strips are disappearing one by one from the nation’s newspapers as budgets get cut because of shrinking circulation. Online comics have cropped up, but will never be as big as newspaper comic strips were in their heyday with “Peanuts,” “Doonesbury,” “The Far Side,” “Calvin and Hobbes” and others.
Long-time comics that have ended their runs in recent years include “Annie”, “Cathy” and “Brenda Starr.”
A documentary about the dire state of the comic strip, called “Stripped,” is currently in production. It was funded in part by a Kickstarter campaign.

7. Coupons

If newspapers go away, there won’t be any more paper coupons to clip. That’s going to be a big disappointment to those people into extreme couponing.
But just as newspaper articles and ads have moved online, so have coupons. Now people print them or save them to their smartphones to use.

8. One fun use for Silly Putty

Lifting newspaper images with Silly Putty is something practically all kids do. It’s one of the cool uses for Silly Putty. Once copied, you can stretch the putty and distort the image. After a while the pink Silly Putty turns gray from all the newspaper ink. Fun, but yucky.

9. Getting readers to pay for news

Print newspapers have two revenue streams: advertising and circulation. Online news largely has one revenue stream: advertising. That’s not likely to change for most news organizations.
Larger newspapers like the Wall Street Journal and New York Times can get away with charging heavy users for their content. But pay walls aren’t going to work for the majority of online newspapers. There are simply too many free alternatives on the Web.
So the extinction of print newspapers could mean the end of most readers paying for news.

10. Print journalists

Old-school journalists refer to themselves as ink-stained wretches and say they bleed ink. But the number of newspaper reporters is shrinking. Newsroom employment is at its lowest level since at least 1978, according to the American Society of News Editors. Many journalists have left newspapers to work in PR or as research analysts or have gone back to school for a business or law degree or found employment in some other profession.
One former newspaper reporter, Jon Campbell, recently started brewing beer. He calls his alcoholic beverage Unemployed Reporter Porter. The label is hilarious, but painfully so. (See articles by Jim Romenesko and SF Weekly.)
There’s even a website devoted to what former newspaper reporters are doing now called NewspaperAlum.


Photo credits: 
Retired newspaper vending machines (Flickr Vending Machines pool); screenshot from “Paperboy” video game; Washington, D.C., newspaper vending machines (photo by Elvert Barnes); kidnap victim Warren Rodwell; Ransom note card from Zazzle; Still from “Proof of Life”; “Back to the Future 2” newspapers from Pop Culture Geek and Not Right About Anything; coupon photo by Flickr user sdc2027; Silly Putty from ThinkGeek; Newroom jobs graphic from Reflections of a Newsosaur; and Unemployed Reporter Porter beer by Jon Campbell.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Porn-inspired art

Last fall, I wrote about how some artists are using pornographic photos as the starting point for their works. The new works push the boundaries of taste with their stylized depictions of sex or use of sexual imagery.
To that earlier article, “The intersection of art and porn,” let me add another example in the Internet meme called Safe for Work Porn or SFW Porn.
In this meme, artists disguise sex acts with cartoonish imagery. Porn actors look like they’re playing musical instruments, riding horses, playing pinball and doing activities other than having sex. College Humor has a funny feature called “Safe for Work Porn.”
Gizmodo and Incredible Things have written about PornSWF.com, a website that posts similar censored porn images. The artwork is crude and only a few of the samples are very clever or funny.
But even bad art is protected speech under the First Amendment.



Friday, March 8, 2013

Fun art inspired by ‘The Wizard of Oz’

Artists of all stripes have been playing with “The Wizard of Oz” story and characters for years.
Photographer Annie Leibovitz paid homage to “The Wizard of Oz” in a photo series for Vogue magazine in December 2005. It featured actress Keira Knightley as Dorothy. See the entire series at Fairytales & Dreams.


Artist Billy Nunez transported L. Frank Baum’s original story, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” from Kansas to China with wonderful results. Check out “The Wizard of Oz in China” on his website.


Artist Galen Dara provided some terrific illustrations of the popular story for the book “Oz Reimagined: New Tales from the Emerald City and Beyond.” Read more about the project at io9.


Designer Jordan Roland illustrated versions of classic Oz characters with a modern-day spin. The collection at Shutterstock is called “The Hipsters of Oz.” (See first photo above and directly below.)


Sebastian Giacobino created a playful version of Oz with a youthful Dorothy.


Michal Szyksznian put a dark spin on the classic tale.


Comic-book artist Todd McFarlane made a bizarro world Oz with his toy line called “Twisted Land of Oz.” Check out the photo of the Dorothy with Munchkins figures below.



Comic book artist J. Scott Campbell put his trademark sexy spin on the story.


Cartoonists have taken a humorous approach to the material. For instance, check out this strip from Cyanide and Happiness.


Or this one from Mike Jacobsen.


The origin of the following LOL is unknown.


And finally, here’s a funny newspaper summary of the movie by Rick Polito.


For more “Wizard of Oz” art, check out Vietnam Visa, the Design Inspiration and Unreality Magazine.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

‘Wizard of Oz’ alive and well thanks to the public domain

A big reason why new commercial works based on “The Wizard of Oz” are so popular is because the original work is in the public domain. Since it’s no longer covered by copyright, it is free to adapt by any artist.
Artists like filmmakers, illustrators and authors can sell their own interpretations of the classic story without having to get permission from rights holders. Disney’s “Oz the Great and Powerful” opens Friday and is a prequel to the original story. The big-budget movie stars James Franco, Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz and Mila Kunis.
As I’ve written previously, other Oz works are either in limited release or in production. They include the live-action film “Dorothy and the Witches of Oz” and the animated movie “Dorothy of Oz.”
Also in development is a movie musical based on the Broadway musical “Wicked,” which tells the story of witches Glinda and Elphaba. It’s based on the best-selling book of the same name, which in turn is based on the public domain “Wizard of Oz.”
Last April, E! ordered a pilot for a scripted drama called “Dorothy” from writer Natalie Krinsky (“Gossip Girl” and “Grey’s Anatomy”) and Warner Horizon Television. In the Oz-inspired show, “a girl from Kansas City falls for a man and moves with him to the Emerald City to work at his Emerald Hotel,” according to EW.
Even a porn studio has caught the Oz bug. Last month, X-Play wrapped principal production on the porn parody “Not the Wizard of Oz XXX,” starring Maddy O’Reilly as Dorothy, according to AVN. The adult video is due for release in April.
Photographers, illustrators and other artists also have been riffing on “The Wizard of Oz” for years. I’ll discuss that in a follow-up article.

Photos: Poster from Disney’s “Oz the Great and Powerful” (top) and photo of Maddy O’Reilly as Dorothy in “Not the Wizard of Oz XXX.”

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Newspaper death watch

Predicting when newspapers will cease to exist in paper form has become practically a sport among pundits in recent years.
Futurist and entrepreneur Ross Dawson of Sydney, Australia, predicted in August 2010 that newspapers in the U.S. will be the first to go. He forecast that U.S. newspapers in their print form will become “insignificant” in 2017.
The prediction was part of Dawson’s “Newspaper extinction timeline.” Mobile reading devices will become the primary news interfaces of the future, Dawson said. He also predicted that journalism will be largely “crowdsourced.”
Veteran media executive Alan Mutter blogged in January 2010 that increasing production costs could force many newspapers to stop printing within five years in a worst case scenario.
A January 2012 report by the USC Annenberg Center for the Digital Future predicted that “most print newspapers will be gone in five years.”
“The only newspapers in America that will survive in print form will be at the extremes of the medium – the largest and the smallest,” wrote Jeffrey Cole, director of the Center for the Digital Future. “It’s likely that only four major daily newspapers with global reach will continue in print: The New York Times, USA Today, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal. At the other extreme, local weekly newspapers may still survive.”
The trends are clear and they aren’t good for print newspapers.
Young people don’t read newspapers. They prefer to get their news online. Classified ads, real estate listings, employment ads, movie show times and other advertisements have been picked up by Internet services. Google is taking the local advertising market with search-based ads. And national advertisers are moving to digital media.
In 2011, advertising revenues at newspapers fell to 1984 levels, according to the Newspaper Association of America. (Figures for 2012 should be out within two weeks.)
Adjusted for inflation, newspaper print ad revenues fell to a 60-year low in 2011, according to Mark Perry, a professor of economics and finance at the University of Michigan.
Business Insider editor-in-chief Henry Blodget put it succinctly: “Newspapers are screwed.”
And the number of journalists working at U.S. newspapers last year fell to its lowest point since the American Society of News Editors began its annual newsroom census in 1978, Mutter wrote.
Newspapers are struggling to adapt to the digital landscape.
The New York Times Co. is preparing to hold a fire sale for the Boston Globe and the Tribune Co. is looking to sell off its newspaper properties, including the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, to concentrate on its broadcast business.
Some newspapers are finding more value in their real estate than their operations. A big trend has been newspapers selling their storied headquarters. (The Miami Herald, Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Fort Worth Star-Telegram are among the newspapers that have unloaded their HQs in recent years, Poynter reports.) Even the Washington Post is interested in selling its primo digs.
Humor website the Onion did a funny take on the dire situation newspapers are in with its article “Economically Healthy ‘Daily Planet’ Now Most Unrealistic Part Of Superman Universe.”

Related resources:
Photos: Funny “newspaper fail” photos from Fail Blog (top) and DudeLOL.


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Goodbye, Yahoo avatars, you won’t be missed

Yahoo is killing off a bunch more services to focus on the ones that matter. The struggling Web portal has routinely killed off services in recent years that haven’t caught on or died from neglect.
I understand why Yahoo is doing this. It needs to devote its resources to the areas where it can have the most impact and generate the greatest returns. I hope those areas include Yahoo Mail, My Yahoo, Yahoo Finance and Flickr, all services that I use and enjoy.
But when Yahoo terminates a service, it needs to give users good options to preserve their data. Too much information is lost when Internet services die.
I had a lot of photos and information on GeoCities when Yahoo pulled the plug on the blogging service in 2009. At the time, I downloaded the photos and HTML data to a folder, which sits untouched in my PC. I would have preferred a way to transfer that data to another blogging service and keep it online.
On April 1, Yahoo is killing seven more services. They include Yahoo Avatars, Yahoo Clues, Yahoo App Search, Yahoo Sports IQ, the Yahoo Message Boards website, Yahoo Updates API and the Yahoo app for BlackBerry.
I won’t miss those services, since I didn’t use them. I did create a Yahoo avatar at one time, but I found it to be pretty stupid. My Yahoo avatar didn’t look much like me, was very cartoony and had creepy blinking eyes.
Yahoo is letting users download their avatars, but only as tiny JPG or PNG image files. WTF?
Like I was saying, Yahoo needs to give users good options to save their personal data. Why can’t users download images of their Yahoo avatars that are larger than a postage stamp? Come on, Yahoo.
I created the image above by stitching together eight close-up shots of my Yahoo avatar.

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