Sunday, June 18, 2017

The rise of grindhouse TV: ‘Blood Drive’ and more

The movie “Grindhouse,” an homage to exploitation double features of the 1970s, is 10 years old this year. The film by directors Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez has had a big impact on movies since its release and now the gonzo cinematic qualities it celebrated are showing up in television shows.
Rodriguez helped kick off the grindhouse TV trend with “From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series,” an adaptation of his cult movie about Mexican snake vampires. The series ran for three seasons (2014-2016) on cable channel El Rey and is now available on Netflix.
Like its cinematic grindhouse predecessors, “From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series” features nudity, graphic violence and a dark sense of humor.
The Syfy channel’s bonkers zombie apocalypse series “Z Nation” (2014-present) is another example of the genre. It’s the grindhouse answer to AMC’s prestige zombie apocalypse show “The Walking Dead.”
Other recent series that could be classified as grindhouse for their B-movie feel and genre subject matter include “Van Helsing” (2016-present) on Syfy, “The Strain” (2014-2017) on FX, and “Zoo” (2015-present) on CBS.
The latest series that falls squarely into the grindhouse category is “Blood Drive,” which premiered June 14 on Syfy. It takes place in a dystopian future and involves a death race where the cars run on human blood.
Depending on how schlocky it is, “The Mist,” based on the Stephen King horror story, could fall into the grindhouse category. It premieres June 22 on Spike.
Another grindhouse TV series in the works is “Wyrmwood: Chronicles of the Dead,” a sequel to the cult hit Australian zombie flick “Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead” (2014). A teaser for the under-development series is nuts.

Related reading:

Video Explores the Unexpected Legacy of Grindhouse (Geektyrant; June 2017)

Summer Means Time for Television to Go Bonkers (Reason; June 9, 2017)

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Spring cleaning: Removing link rot

Every year I run a program to scan for broken links on Tech-media-tainment. The result is always the same – numerous weblinks on my blog that no longer work. This is a problem called link rot.
Usually I see mostly broken links to news articles, but this year I saw a lot of broken links related to canceled social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere.
I used the Online Broken Link Checker and found 198 broken links this year. When I ran the online program last year, I found 161 broken links. So the problem is getting worse from my perspective.
The situation shows how there is no permanence on the internet.
Plus, it's a real pain in the butt to remove all those dead links.

Related articles:

Link rot, a problem with no end in sight (June 28, 2016)

Link rot scourge continues (March 7, 2015)

The scourge of link rot (June 29, 2014)

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

President Trump a hero in parts of America, based on T-shirts

Whenever I visit the beach communities of Delmarva (Delaware, Maryland, Virginia), I like to check out the T-shirts popular with tourists in those vacation towns.
The last time I did this was in early October 2016 when I noticed a lot of T-shirts supporting Republican Donald Trump for president.
On my latest trip, over the weekend, I saw even more pro-Trump T-shirts now that he’s the president of these United States. There was also the usual assortment of T-shirts supporting gun ownership and the Second Amendment, along with pop culture riffs and off-color humor.

Here are some photos of T-shirts I saw for sale at souvenir shops in Rehoboth Beach, Del., on Saturday, June 10.
One T-shirt depicted Trump as Superman. (See photo at top.)
Another showed him riding a tank emblazoned with Trump signs and a giant U.S. flag. The barrel of the tank was inscribed with Trump’s Apprentice catchphrase “You’re fired!” The over-the-top artwork showed Trump posing with an assault rival, an eagle with a machine gun, and fireworks and explosions in the background.

Yet another T-shirt read “Trump: Finally someone with balls!”

One T-shirt referenced the 2020 election with a picture of rapper Kanye West and the slogan “Yeezy #Kanye2020.”
Surprisingly there were no T-shirts supporting Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson for president in 2020 yet.


T-shirts show continued interest in Donald Trump presidency (Oct. 12, 2016)

T-shirts tell a story (Oct. 10, 2015)

Monday, June 5, 2017

IRobot Discontinues Looj Gutter-Cleaning Robot

For the last two years or so, robot maker iRobot has been paring its product lineup to focus on its best-selling consumer devices.
IRobot quietly stopped selling its Looj gutter-cleaning robot in February, a company official told me last week. The Bedford, Mass.-based company is putting its focus on the Roomba vacuuming robots, Braava mopping robots and Mirra pool cleaning robot.
Customers can still purchase Looj through select retail partners online while supplies last. IRobot will continue to support Looj customers with online resources, including product manuals, parts, and support. And iRobot will continue to sell Looj accessories at for the time being.
IRobot introduced Looj in September 2007. It is a portable remote-controlled robot with a long, narrow body and tank treads designed to power through rain gutters. A spinning auger with flexible flaps at the front of the device throws leaves and other debris out of the gutter as it moves.
The Looj joins the Scooba floor-washing robot in the gone-but-not-forgotten department at iRobot. IRobot stopped selling Scooba in early 2016 to focus on its Braava line.

Photos: iRobot's Looj gutter-cleaning robot.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Contender for worst popular song of 2017

Hands down the worst popular song on Top 40 radio right now is “Say You Won’t Let Go” by James Arthur. I hate it and have to change the channel when it comes on.
Some might say this song is a romantic ballad. I say it’s a creepy song about a super clingy, embarrassingly needy guy who will do whatever it takes to get one woman’s love.
He demonstrated his love for her after they first met in a bar and drank too much. “I held your hair back when you were throwing up,” he reminds her. Yuck! And please no.
He pleads and pleads with her, saying he’ll do whatever it takes. “I'll wake you up with some breakfast in bed. I'll bring you coffee with a kiss on your head. And I'll take the kids to school.” Etc., etc.
He tells her not just “I wanna stay with you until we’re grey and old,” but “I wanna live with you, even when we’re ghosts.” What the hell? Lady, stay away from this guy. He’s a freak.
The summer of 2017 is still young and there’s still lots of time for more bad popular songs to emerge. But “Say You Won’t Let Go” has to be a top contender for worst popular song of the year.
It is now ranked No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 list, down from No. 11 when it peaked last week. Thank God it’s fading.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Overseas magazines trash President Trump

As President Trump tries to settle into the Oval Office, he continues to get blasted on magazine covers, especially overseas.
But even foreign magazine covers about Trump have settled down a bit. (No more Trump in the cross hairs or cutting off the head of Lady Liberty.) They’re still depicting him as a baby and a buffoon though.
What follows are the latest magazine covers featuring Donald Trump, the 45th president of the United States.

Spain’s Tapas magazine made artwork of Trump using baloney and bananas for its May issue.

Le Nouvel Observateur (France) pictured a blue-faced Trump with the cover line “Trump Wants To Destroy Europe?”

The Nikkei Asian Review (Japan) showed Trump as Uncle Sam with the caption “I don’t want you.” The subhead was: “Trump’s anti-immigrant message hits home for Asians.”

Back in the U.S., Willamette Week in Portland, Oregon, illustrated Trump as a crying baby for its cover story titled “Two Congressmen and a Baby.”

The May 28 issue of Bloomberg Businessweek carried a tiny head shot of Trump with the cover line “If America were a company … Would you keep this CEO?”

Crain’s InvestmentNews used a photo of Trump with a bunch of tweets from Twitter about his tax plan.

The May 21 issue of the Washington Post Magazine juxtaposed photos of JFK on black-and-white television with Trump on a smartphone. It compared the two presidents as communicators using new media.

Previous articles about Trump magazine covers: 

The best Donald Trump magazine covers of the 2016 election (Oct. 16, 2016)

Media reaction to Trump’s election based on magazine covers (Nov. 20, 2016)

Magazines go over the top with President Trump covers (Feb. 25, 2017)

Trump magazine covers update: Three months on the job (April 22, 2017)

Friday, May 19, 2017

Lying clickbait: Photoshop fails

Clickbait promoters use lots of dirty tricks to get people to click on sponsored articles. They’ll use photos that aren’t related to the articles. They’ll try to pass off movie stills as historical photos. And they’ll present Photoshopped images as though they were the real deal.
What follows are some examples of crazy Photoshopped images that have appeared with lying clickbait articles.

A recent Revcontent article titled “He never mentions his son – Here is why” used a photo of rapper Snoop Dogg alongside a photo of man who looks like he’s from “The Island of Dr. Moreau.”
With a little detective work, it turns out that the photo is an altered picture of singer-songwriter Allen Makere from the series “Faces of New York” by Simon Hoegsberg. Below are unaltered photos of Makere, who is not Snoop’s son.

Clickbait promoters have a fascination with large snakes, especially ginormous Photoshopped creatures. Here are two recent examples.
Revcontent ran an article titled “Final photos taken seconds before tragedy struck” with a picture of a woman being stalked by a giant black snake. But guess what? It’s completely fake. The woman is an attractive lady who catches small snakes in rice fields in Cambodia in a YouTube video by Reaksa Daily.
Reaksa Daily has a bunch of videos that use badly Photoshopped still images to promote their videos. This is but one.

A Taboola video titled “Why you never play with wild animals in Australia” includes a Photoshopped picture of a young boy and a monstrously large snake. Once again … fake news! Check out the original photo and the Photoshopped version below.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Lying clickbait: Crazy celebrity transformations, geography fails, porn fantasies

For a few weeks, it seemed like lying clickbait had crawled back under the rock from which it came. I didn’t see many examples of it in my web surfing. But then the use of deceptive pictures with clickbait articles came roaring back.
Here are some of the latest examples.

I’ve noted previously that dishonest clickbait creators will pair a photo of a celebrity with the mugshot of a hideous criminal or drug addict and imply the two are the same person or are related.
Revcontent recently ran a sponsored article titled “‘Cosby Show’ star looks hideous today” that paired a photo of child star Keshia Knight Pulliam with the mugshot of some unidentified suspect who is not Knight Pulliam.

Revcontent posted an article titled “Once a star, now totally broke” that paired an image of actress Jasmine Guy with a picture of a Bronx heroin addict named J Lo by Chris Arnade.

A Revcontent article titled “30 hot celebrities who married ugly spouses” paired a photo of actor Emilio Estevez with an unattractive mystery woman. Estevez was previously married to singer-choreographer Paula Abdul and had children with model Carey Salley.

Clickbait creators must be pretty stupid when it comes to geography.
A Taboola article titled “Untold history of the Korean War looks beyond what is known” used a photo of actress Raquel Welch visiting U.S. troops in Vietnam in 1968.

A Revcontent article titled “30 secrets North Korea doesn’t want anyone to know” used a still from the South Korean period movie “The Treacherous” (2015).

Clickbait creators also don’t know the difference between a dangerous animal and an endangered animal.
A Taboola article titled “30 most dangerous species found on the planet” used a photo of a hooded seal. The conservation status of the hooded seal is listed as “vulnerable.”

Clickbait creators love to pass off modern photos as historical. They’ll often convert color photos to black and white or sepia tone for this purpose.
A recent Taboola sponsored link titled “15 most beautiful historical photos ever captured” used a photo of model Billie Darling taken by photographer Mark Cafiero in 2006.

Clickbait purveyors also like to misrepresent what photos depict.
A Taboola article titled “23 unreal photos taken before tragic moments” used a photo of a woman who looks like she’s falling down. The photo’s subject, Australian pro surfer Ellie-Jean Coffey, is actually riding a skateboard and just leaning into a turn.

And finally a Yahoo-sponsored clickbait article titled “What you thought teachers do during class is true” used a provocative photo of a curvaceous woman with a low cut dress talking to a young man. The photo is actually from a porn movie by Naughty America, based on my reverse image search.
I almost never click on these articles, but did in this case to see if it had any references to teachers having sex with students. It did not.

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