Monday, May 30, 2016

Sexy Alice in Wonderland illustrations

For some time now I’ve been chronicling how pop culture artists like to sexualize fairy tale characters. In the case of Alice in Wonderland, that’s pretty creepy considering that Alice in the 1865 book “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” is widely assumed to be 7 years old.
However, most depictions of Alice in movies and TV shows present her as a teenager, which also can be pervy.
For the sake of the artwork shown here, I am assuming they show Alice as above the age of consent.
The best sexy depictions of Alice in Wonderland are by comic book artist extraordinaire J. Scott Campbell. He has produced several Alice illustrations for his Fairytale Fantasies calendars.


The Grimm Fairy Tales comic book series has created an extensive portfolio of sexy Alice in Wonderland drawings. Examples here include works by Eric Basaldua, Greg Horn and Nei Ruffino.




Artist Elias Chatzoudis is another fan favorite for producing sexy fairytale princesses, heroines and femme fatales.


Some artists just focus on Alice for their depictions and may toss in a rabbit or “Eat me” cake reference from the story. Others like Chris Ehnot illustrate full scenes from the story that feature a sexy Alice.


Same goes for this elaborate scene by artist Joel Santana who depicts Alice as a tattoo artist.


Thursday, May 26, 2016

A Single Flower

Here’s an eerie story.
The memorial mass for my mother-in-law, Moira (Conway) Eisele, was held today in Washington, D.C. It was a lovely service with a well-attended reception.
My wife tells me the Conways passed down some Irish folklore that said when someone died a single flower would bloom in an unusual location to let the survivors know that their loved one was looking out for them from heaven.
Well, today, in our overgrown, forested backyard a single large pink peony bloomed. We have peonies in the front yard, but they came and went three weeks ago.
We have never grown flowers out back. That area only has ground cover plants and weeds. We let it grow wild.
The pink flower stands out dramatically in a landscape of green. There are no other flowers there.
Oh, and one more thing, peonies were Moira’s favorite flower.


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Time travel TV series: a complete list

Time travel television shows don’t have a great track record. Most last no more than a season. But the major networks still regularly give them a try.
There have been 45 time travel-themed TV shows so far. Four more will premiere this fall.
The most successful time travel show was “Quantum Leap,” which ran for 97 episodes over five seasons on NBC. Coming in second is “Seven Days,” which ran for 66 episodes over three seasons on UPN.
I’ve compiled a list of English-language, live-action, time travel-themed TV series.
I tried to make a clean list. So I excluded science-fiction and fantasy shows where time travel wasn’t the central theme. I also nixed shows where characters get messages from the future or predictions of future events, but don’t travel in time themselves. I also left out shows where characters were frozen and woke up in the future.

Live-action time travel TV series

11.22.63 (Hulu, 2016)
12 Monkeys (Syfy, 2015-present)
Ashes to Ashes (BBC, 2008-2010)
Back to Sherwood (CBC, 1998)
Being Erica (CBC, 2009-2011)
Best Friends Whenever (Disney Channel, 2015-present)
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventures (Fox, 1992)
Continuum (Showcase, 2012-2015)
Crime Traveller (BBC, 1997)
Day Break (ABC, 2006)
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (CW, 2016-present)
Do Over (WB, 2002)
The Girl from Tomorrow (Nine Network, 1990-1991)
Goodnight Sweetheart (BBC, 1993-1999)
Hindsight (VH1, 2015)
It’s About Time (CBS, 1966-1967)
Journeyman (NBC, 2007)
Life on Mars (BBC, 2006-2007)
Lost in Austen (ITV, 2008)
The Lost Saucer (ABC, 1975-1976)
Mirror, Mirror (Network Ten, 1995-1998)
Odyssey 5 (Space, 2002)
Outlander (Starz, 2014-present)
Outlaws (CBS, 1986-1987)
Phil of the Future (Disney Channel, 2004-2006)
Planet of the Apes (CBS, 1974)
Primeval (ITV, 2007-2011)
Primeval: New World (Space, 2012-2013)
Quantum Leap (NBC, 1989-1993)
The Refugees (BBC, 2015)
Sapphire & Steel (ITV, 1979-1982)
Seven Days (UPN, 1998-2001)
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (Fox, 2008-2009)
Terra Nova (Fox, 2011)
That Was Then (ABC, 2002)
Time Express (CBS, 1979)
Time Riders (CITV, 1991)
Time Trackers (Seven Network, 2008)
Time Traveling Bong (Comedy Central, 2016)
Time Trax (PTEN, 1993-1994)
The Time Tunnel (ABC, 1966-1967)
Timecop (ABC, 1997-1998)
Timeslip (ITV, 1970-1971)
Tru Calling (Fox, 2003-2005)
Voyagers! (NBC, 1982-1983)


Monday, May 23, 2016

Time travel shows are all the rage, with 4 new shows coming

Post-apocalyptic TV shows appear to have peaked with 13 now airing on cable and broadcast TV. (See the full list here.) The hot new trend among broadcasters is time travel shows.
Four shows with time travel as a central theme are currently airing: “12 Monkeys” (Syfy), “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” (CW), “Outlander” (Starz) and “Best Friends Whenever” (Disney Channel).
Four more shows are premiering this fall on the broadcast networks: “Time After Time” on ABC, “Making History” on Fox, “Timeless” on NBC, and “Frequency” on the CW.

Time After Time

Based on the 1979 novel and movie “Time After Time,” this drama chronicles the adventures of young H.G. Wells and his time machine. When Jack the Ripper uses the machine to travel to present day New York City, Wells must follow in order to stop him.

Making History

This comedy is produced by Phil Lord and Chris Miller (“Lego Movie,” “21 Jump Street”). “Making History” follows two college professors who balance the thrill of time travel with the mundane concerns of their present-day lives. Also, their meddling in the past, messes with history.

Timeless

“Timeless” is described as a high-octane drama that follows an unlikely trio who travel through time to battle a master criminal intent on altering the fabric of human history with potentially catastrophic results. It’s the latest show from Eric Kripke (“Supernatural” and “Revolution.”)

Frequency

“Frequency” is a reimagining of the 2000 movie. In this version, a female police detective in 2016 discovers she is able to speak via a ham radio with her estranged father (also a detective) who died in 1996. They forge a new relationship while working together on an unresolved murder case, but unintended consequences of the “butterfly effect” wreak havoc in the present day.

Related article:

Time travel TV series: a complete list

Saturday, May 21, 2016

My favorite TV shows on right now: The 100, iZombie and more

My list of favorite TV shows changes every season due to cancellations and my evolving tastes.
I gravitate to genre shows like science-fiction, fantasy and horror because I want to be surprised. I don’t get that from most police and lawyer shows.
I also prefer dramas to sitcoms. Even when sitcoms are good, I tend to get tired of them after one season. (Most recent example: “The Last Man on Earth.”)
Among the shows I dropped from my viewing list this year are “Fear the Walking Dead” (season one was mediocre; season two is unwatchable), “Lucifer” (I expect the devil to be more formidable than this guy) and “Mr. Robot” (I binge-watched season one on DVD. It was one of the best shows I’ve seen in recent years for the first 7 episodes then turns to complete crap with the big reveal that one key character is imaginary. What a tired plot twist.). I enjoyed season two of “Marvel’s Agent Carter,” but ABC canceled the show.
So with the 2015-16 TV season at its end, here are my favorite TV shows on right now.

The 100

After three seasons, this post-apocalyptic drama continues to excite, surprise and challenge me. “The 100” is brutal and uncompromising, much like HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” I can’t wait for season four on the CW.

iZombie

The most fun show on TV right now, thanks to the brilliant writing and terrific acting, especially by Rose McIver as zombie/medical examiner Liv Moore. Looking forward to season three of “iZombie” on the CW.

Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD

This comic-book action show has gotten better with age. Season three featured the show’s most frightening villain yet in Hive. “Agents of SHIELD” has been renewed for a fourth season on ABC.

Adventure Time

The Cartoon Network’s “Adventure Time” is one of those shows that is written for adults but kids can enjoy on a simpler level. Seven seasons in, this animated adventure show about a human boy and his magical dog in the strange Land of Ooo is super entertaining.

The Walking Dead

AMC’s zombie apocalypse drama “The Walking Dead” just concluded its sixth season. And it was a nail-biter. Season seven will feature the villain Negan from the comic book as the big bad.

This summer I’m looking forward to the return of “The Last Ship” and “The Strain,” both in their third seasons.

Newest hall of fame museum opens, honors professional wrestlers

The newest hall of fame museum in North America opened this week in Wichita Falls, Texas. The Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum is dedicated to the business of pro wrestling.
By my count, there are now 309 hall of fames you can visit in North America, devoted to sports, aviation, music and other passions.
This year’s inductees into the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame include Stone Cold Steve Austin and Sgt. Slaughter.
Here are some other halls of fame due to open this year:

Wonders of Wildlife Museum & Aquarium

Scheduled to open sometime this year in Springfield, Missouri, Wonders of Wildlife is a dream project of Johnny Morris, founder of Bass Pro Shops and a leading conservationist. Among its many exhibits will be two halls of fame: the International Game Fish Association Fishing Hall of Fame and the National Archery Hall of Fame.
(See Springfield News-Leader article, Bass Pro Shops press release, and Wikipedia entry.)

Basketball Museum of Illinois

Set to open in June, the Basketball Museum of Illinois will be collocated with the Route 66 Transportation Museum in Pontiac, Ill. The Basketball Museum will include the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
(See Bloomington Pantagraph article.)

Trapshooting Hall of Fame and Museum

The Trapshooting Hall Of Fame and Museum is moving to a new home at the Illinois Department of Natural Resources World Shooting and Recreational Complex in Sparta, Illinois. The grand opening of the Hall and Museum will be held in August, according to KFVS 12 in Southern Illinois.)

National Lacrosse Hall of Fame and Museum

The National Lacrosse Hall of Fame and Museum is planning a grand re-opening on Sept. 10-11 at its new location in Sparks, Maryland. It was previously based in Baltimore.

Hip Hop Hall of Fame Museum & Entertainment Complex

The Hip Hop Hall of Fame Museum & Entertainment Complex is expected to open later this year in Midtown Manhattan in the heart of New York City.
(See article by the New York Post.)

Photo: Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum computer mouse pad.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

10 commonplace things that are disappearing

A year ago, I wrote about “10 things doomed to go the way of the dinosaur.”
That list included pennies, business cards, phone books, newspapers and the U.S. Postal Service, among other things.
As I said at the time, some of these things will be stubbornly persistent but the future is clear. It may take many years, but they are destined to fade away. Seriously, why does the U.S. still have pennies and phone books?
Comedian John Oliver joined the movement to eliminate the penny in a funny segment on his HBO show “Last Week Tonight” in November.
What follows is a list of 10 commonplace things that are disappearing.

1. Music CDs

Rapper Kanye West recently announced that he no longer plans to put out music on CDs.
Music sales on physical media, including CDs, have been on a long decline. First, digital downloads (Apple iTunes) took a bite out of physical media sales. Now streaming services (Spotify, Apple Music, etc.) are causing declines in both physical media and digital downloads.
You need look no further than the shrinking CD section at Best Buy stores to see what’s happening to music sales.

2. Autographs

Years ago when people met a celebrity, they’d want to get his or her autograph. Today, selfies are the memento of choice.
Singer Taylor Swift noted in 2014 that autographs became “obsolete” after Apple came out with the first iPhone with a front-facing camera. That was the iPhone 4, released in June 2010.

3. Journalism schools

The declining newspaper industry and resulting job losses have spurred many universities to morph their journalism schools into media and marketing schools. Some universities (such as Emory and the University of Colorado) have dropped their journalism programs.

4. Alarm clocks

In the smartphone age, who needs an alarm clock anymore? It’s certainly a heck of a lot easier to set an alarm on a smartphone than a clock radio.
Smartphones also have replaced separate cameras, GPS navigation devices and other gadgets.

5. Cursive handwriting

Kids aren’t taught cursive handwriting in school anymore. So they have a tough time reading cards and letters sent by their grandparents. Typing is much more important. About the only thing they’ll write in cursive is their signature.

6. Postcards

Postcards are fading away along with letters sent via the U.S. Postal Service. Why send a postcard on vacation when you can instantly send a photo via text or post it on social media?
Meanwhile, the U.S. Postal Service continues to decline in relevance. (See “The Postal Service Is Delivering Itself Into Bankruptcy, Audit Shows.”)

7. Payphones

The rise of cellphones has done away with the need for payphones and phone booths. New York City is replacing phone booths with free Wi-Fi stations and information kiosks.

8. Appointment books

I’m stubbornly holding on to my weekly at-a-glance schedule book. But a lot of people have switched to online schedules using Microsoft Outlook and other programs. I just like using paper schedule books for writing work and personal notes and appointments. But the tide has clearly turned in favor of electronic calendars.

9. TV Guide magazine

How is TV Guide magazine still around? TV Guide was created at a time when television shows were scheduled. In the on-demand video streaming world, you don’t need a grid schedule of what’s on. Also, with program information available online, a weekly printed magazine seems archaic.

10. Keys

Many cars already have replaced keys with keyless ignition systems. These wireless push-to-start systems use small battery-powered fobs you can leave in your pocket. Smartphones with near-field communication (NFC) technology are starting to replace hotel room keys and cards and could one day be used with cars and home door locks as well.

Photo: Music compact discs. (Photo by Flickr user m01229)

Monday, May 16, 2016

The rise of lying click-bait photos with promoted articles

A recent trend in online news has me pissed off. It’s what I call lying click-bait photos.
Unscrupulous content-sharing services are promoting articles on their sites using deceitful photos. Rather than attract traffic with just an interesting headline these services are attaching photos that don’t represent the articles. The combination of the interesting headline and a head-scratcher of a photo probably increases the likelihood that someone will click on the weblink.
This is wrong and websites that use such promoted articles need to hold the service providers accountable. If they are caught using such tactics, the services should be banned. Plain and simple.
Let me provide some examples.
I’ve seen a host of articles about dead celebrities that use a photo of a live celebrity as click bait. (Sample headlines: “These Celebrities Committed Suicide In 2016,” “30 Child Actors Who Didn’t Make It To 30” and “23 Hollywood Stars Who Died Tragically Young.”)


Live celebrities alleged to be deceased in the photos include Angus T. Jones, star of “Two and a Half Men”; Erik Per Sullivan, star of “Malcolm in the Middle”; and Macaulay Culkin, star of the “Home Alone” movies.


These promoted articles probably use photos of live celebrities to spur clicks because a reader will think “I didn’t know so-and-so was dead.” Well, it turns out, they’re aren’t.
Photos with promoted articles on transgender celebrities have wrongly implicated celebrities who are not transgender, such as singer Pink.
One frequent click-bait article includes side-by-side photos of actress Julia Stiles and actor Ansel Elgort. The pairing implies that Stiles is now Elgort post-op.
Other times the creators of these promoted stories will throw in a miscellaneous celebrity photo and hope for curiosity clicks.
For instance, a story titled “Megyn Kelly Was Afraid To Face Donald Trump During Feud” uses a photo of sports broadcaster Erin Andrews instead.


One bad thing about these photos being erroneously used with articles is that it perpetuates falsehoods online. If you do a reverse photo search on Google for the photos they use, you’ll get links to those stories that they shouldn’t be associated with.
So, the Julia Stiles photo is linked with transgender celebrity articles and the Erin Andrews photo is linked to a bunch of Megyn Kelly stories.
Then there are promoted stories about historical photos that are anything but.
One such article, “Rarely Seen Historical Photos Are Very Unnerving,” uses a black-and-white photo that appears to show President John F. Kennedy slumped over after being shot in Dallas.
This is not an historic photo but a picture from a reenactment for a TV movie. (See articles by UPI and Snopes.)


Another promoted article, “23 Unreal Photos Taken Before Most Tragic Moments In History,” uses a sepia-toned photo of a sexy lady with big boobs. Actually, it’s not very historic, unless you’re documenting epic side boob exposure.
An uncropped, color version of the photo appears in pictorials of sexy women on websites like the Chive. (A reverse image search on TinEye found that one.)


Saturday, May 14, 2016

Yahoo needs to get its act together and fix its core services

Yahoo is up for sale and executives there are probably distracted right now. But the old-school Internet company needs to buckle down and fix its core web services.
As I’ve stated on multiple occasions, I’m a longtime Yahoo user, particular Yahoo Finance and Yahoo Mail. But they have been glitchy for some time now. (I’ve hammered Yahoo on its glitchy web services several times before, most recently last November.)
I like to keep multiple web browser tabs open and lately the one that seems to crash my browser a lot is Yahoo Finance. My browser (Firefox) will lock up and eventually I’ll eventually have to restart the application.
Perhaps it’s because Yahoo has so many apps running in the background of its webpages. Recently my Ghostery app recorded 74 advertising and analytics trackers running on a Yahoo Finance page. That’s at least double what I usually see on news websites.
The glitches I’ve encountered on Yahoo webpages include articles, stock tables and emails not loading. Sometimes the ads don’t load, but that’s just embarrassing for Yahoo.

Earlier posts on the subject:

Note to Yahoo: Keep your eye on the ball (Nov. 22, 2015)

Yahoo fails continue (Feb. 17, 2015)


Yahoo Finance portfolio failing to load.


Yahoo advertising fail.

Photos: Screenshots of recent Yahoo fails.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Video game arcades making a limited comeback

As someone who spent a lot of time in video game arcades as a teenager, I am pleased to see a few such entertainment joints making a comeback.
At a time when people can play sophisticated games on home consoles and even mobile devices, it is surprising that folks would still want to go to an arcade to play.
But as I mentioned in my article “Digital culture means less public culture,” there are fewer places for people to just hang out today. People naturally want to socialize in a fun public space.
Many of the new arcades, such as Barcade in New York City, serve alcohol and cater to the Generation X crowd. They are an update on the old pool halls of yesteryear.
Not all of the new arcades have been successful, but enough have to keep the dream alive.

Related articles:

The Arcade Is Back, Now With Beer (Bloomberg Businessweek; April 1, 2015)

Why Arcades Are Making A Comeback (Geektyrant; May 2015)

This is How the Arcade Survives in 2015 (Playboy; Sept. 14, 2015)

Photo: Video games at 16-Bit Bar + Arcade in downtown Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Flickr user Sam Howzit.)

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Repurposed urban structures: phone booths and newsstands

Creative destruction caused by changing times has led to some interesting new uses for old urban structures.
Phone booths and newsstands are being given new life as their old uses disappear.
In New York City, phone booths are being converted into free Wi-Fi kiosks.
In January, the city began its plan to replace about 7,500 payphones with Wi-Fi hotspots.
“The hot spots will sit atop a 9.5-foot tall box with electronic screens on each side to display advertising,” the Wall Street Journal reported. “Sandwiched between the sidewalk ads will be an Android tablet that can be used to place free phone calls and surf the Web.”
Payphones in the age of low-cost mobile phones have become something of a joke.
CollegeHumor posted a photo of some payphones with the title “Endangered Species Huddling Together for Survival.”
The New York Times not so long ago had to explain what a phone booth is for one of its articles.
Phone booths are such curiosities that the Times recently ran an article about one neighborhood saving its phone booths.
Newsstands also face extinction as more readers skip newspapers and magazines to read online.
In Chicago, old newsstands have been turned into healthy food kiosks. (See article by the Chicago Tribune.)

Photo: A free Wi-Fi phone booth in New York City. (Photo by Flickr user Mike.)

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