Tuesday, February 26, 2008

TECHHYPE: Rise Robots Rise

They're coming, folks, ready or not. In all shapes and sizes, including ours, the robots are rising to inevitably take over the world. No doubt they will enslave us all. Thanks a lot, Honda, Toyota, Sanrio and the rest of you maniacs.

From Kokoro Company Ltd, a division of Sanrio Group, comes "Actroid":

This robot has developed to recreate the human-like natural yet charming expressions with high functionalities retained. Emphasizes on its own realistic presence with smooth gestures. It has news hooks and high eye-catching effects. It can be utilized to play active part for many occasions as a chairperson with fluent narrations and booth bunny.

Actroid DER page at Kokoro (includes movies)
Available for rent!

Humanoid Robot HRP2 "Promet" at Kawada Industries (with videos)

The external appearance of HRP-2 was designed by Mr. Yutaka Izubuchi, a mechanical animation designer famous for his robots that appear in Japanese anime, including the well-known "PATLABOR." Mr. Izubuchi also named HRP-2 "Promet."

HRP-2 will be used for experiments to further develop robotic technologies in the areas of "walking on uneven surfaces," "tipping-over control," "getting up from a fallen position," and "human-interactive operations in open spaces."

HRP-2's height is 154 cm and mass is 58 kg including batteries. It has 30 degrees of freedom (DOF) including two DOF for its hip. The cantilevered crotch joint allows for walking in a confined area. Its highly compact electrical system packaging allows it to forgo the commonly used "backpack" used on other humanoid robots.

Toyota Partner Robot

CB2 the creepy "child-bot"

Dancing RoboCats

Aaaahhh!!! They're attacking!

This robot, thankfully, is still in development.

Monday, February 25, 2008

WEBHYPE: Beyond Wikipedia

Information you may need to find:

Bartleby -- Famous quotes and full poetry texts

Citizendium -- More “professional” Wikipedia, although usually not as detailed

Answers.com -- Makes use of the information on Wikipedia and many other reference sites to become a one stop shop

ePodunk -- Information about cities and places

Encyclopedia Britannica -- An excellent source of information, and much more authoritative than Wikipedia.

Scholarpedia -- A step up from both Wikipedia and Citizendium in terms of scholarly respectability; the articles are all written by experts with peer review

JSTOR (limited access; talk to your school or library) -- All those stuffy journals around your professor’s office, and articles in your course packets

Oxford English Dictionary (limited access; talk to your school or library) -- The definitive resource when it comes to the English language

Wikiseek -- Wikipedia with a better search engine

Online Education Database -- Over 100 specific search and research tools, often relevant to specific subjects

MathWorld -- Everything mathematics from Geometry to Calculus is covered in great detail

GeoHive and Fedstats -- Public access to public agency statistics

Theoi and Encyclopedia of Mythology -- Excellent resources on the subject of mythology and ancient religions

Glossary of Poetic Forms -- You too can know the difference between a Canto and a Cento

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and Foldop -- Excellent sources on just about anything philosophy related

Religion Online -- An excellent, excellent resource filled with many primary texts

I got it at Mercola.com

TRAVELHYPE: Inside The A380 Cockpit

If you want to know what it's like to fly the largest jet airliner in the world, but you really don't wanna get off the couch right now, and besides, that microwave popcorn is almost ready -- check out this Quicktime VR 360 degree view from inside the cockpit of the Airbus A380.

Quick! Where's the DVD player?

A380 Cockpit Panorama

Saturday, February 23, 2008


Fascinating blog examining the "almost-religious" fervor of the Obama campaign --

I gotta say, I haven't even been paying much attention, having long since given up hope on American politics. The voters are just too willfully damn stupid to ever make a reasonable decision about anything, and are thus easy prey for scumbags with Freudian mind-control schemes who push them left and right and wherever the f*ck they want 'em to go. But in the words of Crosby, Stills, Nash, or Young: "There's something happening here..."

And it is the hype.

Is Barack Obama The Messiah blog
"Delusional Hope: The Obama Rapture" thread at Rigorous Intuition

Friday, February 22, 2008

MOVIEHYPE: Speed Racer

"Adventure's waiting just ahead..."

On May 9, to be precise. That's when Speed Racer hits theaters. The Wachowski Brothers' first film since the Matrix movies looks like it will be as amazing as those were. Perfect casting and eye-popping image-making will make for an over-the-top cinematic experience. I love the original anime, and this is the way to bring it into the 21st Century. Check out the trailer below and prepare to have your synapses blown wide open.

From writer/directors Larry and Andy Wachowski, the creators of the groundbreaking “The Matrix” trilogy, and producer Joel Silver comes the live-action, high-octane family adventure “Speed Racer.”

Hurtling down the track, careening around, over and through the competition, Speed Racer (Emile Hirsch) is a natural behind the wheel. Born to race cars, Speed is aggressive, instinctive and, most of all, fearless. His only real competition is the memory of the brother he idolized—the legendary Rex Racer—whose death in a race has left behind a legacy that Speed is driven to fulfill.

Speed is loyal to the family racing business, led by his father, Pops Racer (John Goodman), the designer of Speed’s thundering Mach 5. When Speed turns down a lucrative and tempting offer from Royalton Industries, he not only infuriates the company’s maniacal owner (Roger Allam) but uncovers a terrible secret—some of the biggest races are being fixed by a handful of ruthless moguls who manipulate the top drivers to boost profits. If Speed won’t drive for Royalton, Royalton will see to it that the Mach 5 never crosses another finish line.

The only way for Speed to save his family’s business and the sport he loves is to beat Royalton at his own game. With the support of his family and his loyal girlfriend, Trixie (Christina Ricci), Speed teams with his one-time rival—the mysterious Racer X (Matthew Fox)—to win the race that had taken his brother’s life: the death-defying, cross-country rally known as The Crucible.

Slated for release on May 9, 2008, “Speed Racer” marks the Wachowski brothers’ first writing/directing collaboration since “The Matrix” movies. Joel Silver, who previously worked with the Wachowskis on “The Matrix” movies and “V For Vendetta,” is producing the film under his Silver Pictures banner.

The film stars Emile Hirsch (“Alpha Dog”) as Speed, Christina Ricci (“Black Snake Moan”) as Trixie, Matthew Fox (TV’s “Lost”) as Racer X, and Oscar winner Susan Sarandon (“Dead Man Walking”) and John Goodman (“Evan Almighty”) as Mom and Pops Racer. Rounding out the main cast are Australian actor Kick Gurry (“Spartan”) as Sparky; Paulie Litt (TV’s “Hope & Faith”) as Spritle; Roger Allam (“The Queen,” “V For Vendetta”) as Royalton; and Asian music star Ji Hoon Jung (popularly known as Rain), making his major feature film debut as a rival driver.

Based on the classic series created by anime pioneer Tatsuo Yoshida, the live-action “Speed Racer” will showcase the kind of revolutionary visual effects and cutting-edge storytelling that have become the benchmarks of the Wachowski brothers’ films.

“Speed Racer” is a Warner Bros. Pictures presentation, in association with Village Roadshow Pictures, of a Silver Pictures Production.

Speed Racer Trailer page at Movie-List
Speed Racer Official Site

VICEHYPE: Nat Sherman Classics

Yes, it's true: those who smoke are going to die. Unfortunately, so is everybody else. I hate to break it to you, but life leads inevitably to death. Your only choice is how you're going out. I'm going out after a smooth smoke of all-natural tobacco with no additives offered by Nat Sherman, America's leading cigarette maker. Marlboro was the first brand I smoked. After smoking Classics for a while, I happened to smoke a Marlboro again and was shocked by the cat-piss taste. Then I found out about this:

They called it "the secret of Marlboro."

R.J. Reynolds was desperate in the mid-1970s to learn why its leading brand, Winston, was losing market share to Philip Morris' Marlboro. So were other tobacco companies that were losing out in a ruthlessly competitive business.

"We couldn't figure out what the success of Marlboro was," said David Bernick, an attorney for Brown & Williamson. "We couldn't figure out why it was that Marlboro was taking off in sales."

The reason, as it turned out, was ammonia, a chemical that boosted Marlboro's nicotine "kick" and improved the taste at the same time, according to documents and testimony emerging from Minnesota's lawsuit against the tobacco industry.

"The secret of Marlboro is ammonia," according to a 1989 Brown & Williamson document. "Ammonia does many good things."

To me, ammonia tastes like cat-piss. And I prefer my vice nice and clean, as God intended.

Nat Sherman Official Site

WEBHYPE: Rigorous Intuition

"People are crazy and times are strange."
Bob Dylan

And if you want to go down the rabbit hole to find out just how crazy and just how strange, the best place to start is with Jeff Wells, the "cautiously pessimistic Canadian author and satirist" responsible for Rigorous Intuition, and his gang of crazy posters: et in Arcadia ego, chiggerbit, Sepka the Space Weasel, JackRiddler, 8bitagent, and Hugh Manatee Wins, to name a few.

These guys live down the rabbit hole, and they will be glad to explain in excruciating detail just how wrong everything you know is. From classic paranoia like the JFK assassination and Roswell to modern hits like 9/11 and the 2012 Apocalypse, they've got the details, they've got the links, and they've got this sneaking suspicion that nothing is what it seems to be.

It's at the Discussion Board that the subject matter wheels most freely, with threads like "Was Giant UFO From Another Dimension?", "Elmo Doll Threatens To Kill 2-year-old", and "Federal Reserve Losing Control", but on the blog, Jeff himself takes over, and he's a wonderful writer with a deep and far-reaching interest in "our predicament".

From a recent post:

It could have been another inside joke of the archly ironic universal mind that found Arlen Specter in Rawalpindi when Benazir Bhutto was struck down by her own magic bullet. If nothing else it does have good comic timing, but we've all seen its routine before and heard all the punchlines. Ever since the Roman Republic cut down the Gracchi brothers you'd think the assassination of another patrician reformer should cease to astonish, and perhaps at last it has. We've been living this hell long enough we should expect it, as Bhutto herself almost certainly did. Our dying oceans incubate slime and bloom strange with jellyfish, North America's birds are disappearing on the order of tens of millions, and amphibians the world over are tumbling to extinction. It's 2008, the "Year of the Frog" to "generate public awareness and understanding of the amphibian extinction crisis which represents the greatest species conservation challenge in the history of humanity." But to too many, 2008 will be a triumph of sorts simply because Bush and Cheney will be out of office by its end. "Change" and "Hope" are great vote multipliers, but to imagine that merely outlasting a term limit could be something like a victory is to misunderstand the meaning of public office in a deep criminal state, and to misapprehend our intractable circumstance whose closest analogy may be damnation.

If you check it out, try not to read too much at a time. Too much truth can make you crazy. But if you don't check it out, like the masthead says: "What you don't know can't hurt them."

Rigorous Intuition Blog
Rigorous Intuition Discussion Board

Thursday, February 21, 2008


"The Host", or "Gwoemul" ("monster" in Korean), stands as one of the finest examples of horror-fantasy cinema to emerge in the last several years. It is simultaneously beautiful, terrifying, and heart-wrenching. It is also the biggest South Korean movie of all time, deservedly so. The cutting-edge special effects are primarily by Weta Workshop, the same New Zealanders behind the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. But it is the human aspect of the movie that has the biggest impact. These are characters you will always remember.


  • The Han River: The River has flown with us and around us. A fearsome Creature makes a sudden appearance from the depths of this river, so familiar and comfortable for us Seoulites. The riverbanks are instantly plunged into a bloody chaos. The film begins at the precise moment, in which a space familiar and intimate to us, is suddenly transformed into the stage of an unthinkable disaster and tragedy.
  • The Family: Park Gang-du and his family have led ordinary, repetitive lives, never really extending beyond the confines of their small food stand on the banks of the Han River. They are devastated by the emergence of the Creature. Robbed of their peaceful daily routines, Gang-du and his family nonetheless throw themselves into a life-and-death struggle against the Creature. The film shows how these exceedingly normal people, no different from our everyday neighbors, are transformed into monster-fighting warriors.
  • A Fight to the Death: The Creature is not the only adversary they have to fight. For Gang-du and his family, impoverished, powerless “little people,” the whole world around them is revealed to be a true monster. They have to fight against it tooth and nail. In the end, the film is a record of their fight to the death against the indifferent, calculating and manipulative Monster known as the world.

-Director Bong Joon-ho

The Host - Monstrous Political Satire (An Interview with Bong Joon-ho)

The Host Trailer page at Movie-List

The Host DVD at Amazon

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


In response to the viral success of Obama's music video (see "Barack and the Black-Eyed Pea", below):

John McCain - No We Can't

Monday, February 18, 2008

ADVERTISINGHYPE: Ads That Are Better Than The Show You're Watching

Especially when you consider the low quality of many of the shows on cable these days, sometimes it seems like you're putting up with the silly program just waiting for the commercial break, when you might see a 30-second shot of pure genius. Of course, most commercials are trash, and unless you're watching the Super Bowl, the great ones are few and far between. Broadcasters and advertisers alike should realize that it would benefit everyone if the show or sporting event or movie was shown uninterrupted, and then followed by a well-thought-out compilation of advertising. I personally know several avid shoppers and fans of short-form cinema who would be more interested in the ads.

Several of these come to us courtesy of NoFatClips!!!, and represent a tiny fraction of what's available at that great site.

Bridgestone Tire - Scream

Spike Jonze for Ikea

Coke: It's Mine from NoFatClips!!!

Centraal Beheer - Acupuncture from NoFatClips!!!

Shell - The Circuit
from NoFatClips!!!

Sony Bravia - Balls (Extended Version)
from NoFatClips!!!

Ads of the World

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

SPORTSHYPE: Oaktown Revolution

Baron Davis leads the most exciting team in the NBA

To be a champion requires the heart of a Warrior. Baron's got it. It's how he dominates the game. It's how he scores at will when it matters most. How he never surrenders. Baron has tough-minded character and crazy skills and his Golden State Warriors are making a mad dash for the playoffs, and points beyond. They're hip, they're hype, they're happening. They're unpredictable, but guaranteed to thrill.

Even in the Wild West, where everyone's going for their big guns, where the Warriors' gaudy numbers are barely good enough for an eighth seed in the playoffs, nobody wants a part of this team.

So far this year, the Suns (twice), the Lakers, and the champion Spurs (twice), among many other teams, have fallen at the hands of Baron's merry band of streetballin' downtown-shootin', steal-you-blind, fastbreakin' cold-blooded assassins. Of the Western elite, only the Jazz have yet to be beaten by the speed demons of Nelson's Flying Circus. All of these teams know: when the Warriors start hitting on all cylinders, you can't catch them. No one can!

"Old School"
Monta Ellis

One of the main reasons why is the emergence of Mississippi's own "Money" Monta Ellis, the "Mississippi Bullet", "Kid Flash"! In high school, Monta scored 80 points one night. Now, in his third year with Golden State he emerges as perhaps the fastest man in the league, with an astonishing array of finishing moves. With a 15-foot jumper becoming automatic, Monta leaves defenders with two bad choices: take the jumper in your face, or watch the kid go right by you and to the rim.

Monta Ellis in 2007 Rookie-Sophomore Game

As important as the raw speed and youthful energy of Ellis is, let us not forget the (apocryphal?) quote of Giants pitcher Gaylord Perry, following his victory over a younger pitcher: "Age and corruption will beat youth and beauty every time!"

Captain Jack shows the way

Not that he's corrupt or anything, but soon-to-be 30-year-old Stephen Jackson is certainly a cold-blooded assassin. Time after time this year, in desperate situations, injured, in the fourth quarter and overtime, under pressure, the three-pointers of Jack would blot out the sun. He was suspended for the first seven games of the season as punishment for firing a gun in the air outside a strip club. He arrived in camp showing off his new tattoo to the press:

Praying hands holding a gun. It meant, he said, "I pray I never have to use a gun again."

And must give props to Dre! Goose! Beans! Whatever they're calling the big man this week. The Latvian giant has held down the front-court for Nellie's undersized and overspeed lineups all year, and he has not only survived, he has prospered -- remember him tying Shaq's record for most games in a row with over 60% shooting, or his monstrous 26-rebound night against the Knicks? Finally a center with excellent hands and feet, hard-working, never-complaining, Warrior fans give it up for Andris Biedrins!

If only his beautiful girlfriend could fatten him up on Aukstais galds back in the homeland in the offseason. Twenty more pounds, and he'll play like Ivan Drago boxes!

Golden State Warriors
Golden State of Mind - Warrior Fan Blog
Fast Break - Warrior Fan Blog

Golden State Warriors - Here I Come
Golden State Warriors - Baron At War

Recent blockbuster trades (see "Big Men Go West", below) have the experts writing the Dubs' obituary all over again, but this is a team that thrives on adversity, often at their best with their backs against the wall -- in the last thirty games of this 2007-08 regular season, they will fight to achieve greatness.

Go Warriors!
We believe... the Hype.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Is it Just Me
or is this the strangest advertising gimmick ever?  
Maybe it is because I was raised in the 60's and my first reaction was caution and suspicion.  It occurred that this could be a vehicle for drugging the masses.  This ad was in a very popular weekly tabloid magazine with millions of readers.

Read more about Peel & Taste Marketing.

Nope, not me, no way....I have a better idea.

Monday, February 11, 2008

FINANCEHYPE: Vice Is Nice - Gambling Beats Green

No, that's not a misspelling of a college football game result.

There's been a lot of hype over the past few years about socially responsible investing (SRI). Basically, this means that one would only choose to invest one's money in companies with socially acceptable practices. If this sounds silly already, it's because you might have realized that there are many different standards of acceptable behavior - and who's to say whose is the right standard?

For example, SocialFunds.com, with its self-proclaimed "over 10,000 pages of information on SRI mutual funds, community investments, corporate research, shareowner actions, and daily social investment news," doesn't appear to have an explanation of the SRI philosophy (perhaps manifesto is a better word) anywhere on its site. Interesting.

Domini Social Investments is one of the SRI mutual fund firms out there, and does a decent job of explaining its criteria for considering a potential investment to be socially responsible. For example, their Social Equity Fund (DSEFX) "seeks to hold the stocks of corporations that, on balance, contribute positively to the creation of a wealthy and healthy society" (more specific info is provided on their site).

Some of the things that SRI-minded funds (and people) find abhorrent:
  • Tobacco, alcohol, and gambling
  • Nuclear power and related services
  • Defense (i.e., companies that make bombs, missiles, tanks, military equipment, etc.)
Let's take the risk of being politically incorrect, and look at the flip side of this coin - investing in companies engaged in socially irresponsible practices. Unfortunately, there aren't many options out there. Private Media, a well-known Swedish porn company, went public a while back and trades on the NASDAQ market (PRVT). For different reasons, it's not doing so well. Besides, it's not wise to invest in a single company if one is looking for exposure to a whole sector (due to unsystematic risk). It's wiser to diversify one's assets over a broader range of companies if possible, and one easy way to do this for individual investors is via mutual funds.

Enter the Vice Fund (VICEX) - something that discards all pretensions of political correctness, and goes straight for the dark side of the corporate world: Alcohol, Tobacco, Gambling, and Defense stocks. Their top 5 holdings at the end of 2007 were Altria, Loews, Diageo, MGM Mirage, and British American Tobacco. All well-known companies engaged in some form(s) of what could be called vice, to be sure.

Now, one might wonder what's to be gained by focusing strictly on these types of companies. There must be some free publicity, to begin with. There is probably also some degree of protest (from the people that might choose to invest in accordance with the SRI philosophy). But the most important thing in the mutual fund business is delivering performance for the shareholders, and at this the Vice Fund beats the above-mentioned Social Equity Fund quite nicely (not to mention the S&P 500):

What you see above is the most recent five-year performance of VICEX, compared to DSEFX and the S&P 500 (^GSPC; a widely-used proxy for the US stock market). It speaks for itself. Don't take our word for it, though - check for yourself at Yahoo! Finance (click on the chart, although it should update automatically every day).

The choice of where to invest your hard-earned dollars, then, boils down to this: capitalist or commie? Are principles more important than money? If you're after increased wealth, buy the bombs, booze, butts, and blackjack. If you'd rather feel good about yourself (and maybe eat ramen noodles in retirement), go ahead and be socially responsible.

But before you make your choice, keep in mind that this is the real world - people are going to keep getting hammered, addicted to smoking, and gambling away Junior's college fund. And that's before we take the American politician into account. After all, there are apparently a lot of people in this world that still need to be bombed!

TRAVELHYPE: Airbus A380 Evacuation

When they built the A380, also known as the Super Jumbo, Airbus had to prove that it was possible to get everyone off the plane within a reasonable amount of time during an emergency.

I don't know what that standard is specifically, but here's a demonstration of how fast it can be done: 873 passengers evacuated the aircraft in 77 seconds. That's 11.34 people per second - pretty impressive, even considering the number of doors on this double-decker airplane (16).

Notwithstanding the fact that this test was carried out under controlled conditions - meaning that nothing was on fire, nobody was injured, and so on - this stunt earned Airbus some respect, as well as checked one of the metaphorical boxes on the list of items needed for certification.

You'll notice that nobody stops to grab their oh-so-precious carry-on bag. That might not happen in real life! Also, the video is in German, but even if you don't speak the language, the action and directions are pretty clear. The music is great too... it brings to mind a horror movie where some kid has disturbed a nest of fire ants, and they're coming out for the attack.

Here's another interesting test of this airplane: deliberately dragging the tail along the runway before lifting off. This accomplishes two objectives: it determines the lowest speed at which the aircraft will leave the ground, and verifies that the tail anti-strike device is working. This sort of thing, done accidentally, generally won't result in catastrophic damage to the airframe - although it's apparently loud as hell if you're onboard!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

FOODHYPE: Moules, Frites en Bier, Belgian Style

I had always been impressed by the great brewers of Europe: the English, the Germans, and others to the East, but the more I look into it, the more it seems that the true masters of the art are the Belgians. When I realized these Flemish madmen (and women, no doubt) had also originated the crispy golden fried potato dish we all refer to as French fries, I realized the Belgians had not gotten their fair share of Hype over the years, despite getting more than their share of a couple of World Wars.

Truth be told, they even get a little freaky for me with the chocolate and caramel beers, but props: Belgian beer, fries, and mussels is perhaps the greatest beer-related dietary innovation known to man, narrowly beating out the brilliant Japanese contribution of beer, sake, and sushi. I recommend a cool Delerium Tremens Triple Trappist Ale.

From the experts at BeerAdvocate.com

Poured from a 12oz bottle from behind the bar into a Delirium Tremens tulip. I wish they had let me pour it for it was served to me with not much head. This is my first belgian strong pale ale so I'm learning here. A - beutiful hazy gold color with champaign bubbles. Great lacing. S - fruity essence of orange and maybe some raspberry. I actually smell some wheat presence T - Much like the smell, which I think is always good. It's like your nose and mouth are in harmony. I really taste some orange going on here with a hint of raspberry. This tastes very much like champaigne with grand marnier mixed in... but so much better. Dry like champaigne but not as dry. Crisp, refreshing. I don't taste the alcohol much at all. Gets less dry as it warms and the fruitiness mellows out. M - feels like champaign with mouth-tingling carbonation. A great sipper. Dry, yet quenches. This is a very interesting beer for me as it is my first Belgian strong Pale Ale. I really like it. Others around me at the bar thought it was wierd, but I'll definitely drink again.

You can tell by the spelling, it's a great Strong Pale Ale.

No doubt, if you're in Brussels, you can get some excellent Moules, Frites en Bier at this place:

Since over 30 years the tavern-restaurant the « Frederiksborg », facing the imposing Koekelberg church

welcomes you in its charming and warm atmosphere.

The tavern and its cuisine are open MO - TH from 7h - 2h and FR - SU from 7h - 3h. We still offer you the quality service and efficiency for which we are known since the opening in 1975.

But if you're stuck in Oakland, you can always check out Luka's:

Luka's the dog...

Check out Luka's FAQ

I can testify that it's a very pleasant environment, and the authentic Belgian beer and fries are excellent... but it is downtown Oaktown, and it is a hip-hop club late in the evening, so if you just want to chill at a window seat with some fries, get there before 9. Flat-screen Samsungs over the bar provide a great view of the Warriors in HD. Luka's... I'm getting hungry just writing this review.

More than you ever wanted to know about Belgian beer
from Wikipedia

An example:

Distinct from Trappist beers (see below), Abbey beers (Bières d’Abbaye or Abdijbier) are brewed by commercial brewers, and license their name from abbeys, some defunct, some still operating. The most internationally well-known brand of Abbey beer is Inbev's Leffe. Others include Grimbergen, Tripel Karmeliet, Maredsous, Watou, Saint-Feuillien, Floreffe, and Val-Dieu.

Abbey beers mainly came into being following World War II when Trappist beers experienced a new popularity. The Abbey beers were developed to take advantage of the public's interest in the Trappist beers. This is why the single key component of an Abbey beer is its name: there is always the name of a monastery (either real or fictious). Like the Trappist beers, Abbey beers do not connote a beer style, but rather a general type of beer.


Friday, February 8, 2008


If you follow the NBA, you know the West is where it's at. The biggest, baddest, best basketball teams in the World come from the Western territories of the United States. In dusty towns with names like San Antonio and Phoenix, giants roam the land, dunking at will, smothering the pathetic drives of Eastern Conference foes, forever frustrating the King-In-Waiting...

Three of the East's biggest headed West this week --

Shaq was traded from a disintegrating Miami Heat team for fed-up-with-Phoenix Shawn Marion (The Matrix). He is certainly still a veritable mountain under the rim, but is age catching up to the Big Aristotle and will the heat of the Suns force him out of the kitchen he has dominated for years?

Shaquille O'Neal to the Phoenix Suns

In the trade expected to have the biggest impact, Memphis Grizzly Pau Gasol was picked up by the Los Angeles Lakers for a bus transfer and a pocketful of lint (actually Kwame Brown and some draft picks, or ball-racks or something). He will join Lamar Odom and recovering-from-injury Andrew Bynum to make a formidable front line for DFish and Ebok (you must say his name backwards) to operate behind. Lakers: Title contenders?

Pau Gasol to the LA Lakers

He may not be considered on the same level as Gasol (age'll do that to you) or Shaq (still one of the top pitchmen in the ad industry), but his story might be even more fascinating. Chris Webber, in his 14th (?) year in the league, returns to play with the same coach, on the same team, where in his sophomore year he rebelled against said coach, demanded a trade, and some say, destroyed the team for years... The Prodigal Son? A Quest For Redemption? Or just more crazy entertainment from the City on the Other Side of the Bay?

Chris Webber to the Golden State Warriors

Phoenix Suns Introduce Shaquille O'Neal

Getting to be NBA Hype Time, baby!

ANIMALHYPE: Plexiglass Shark Cage

This seems to be about the state-of-the-art in shark cage dives offered to tourists - from a company called Hawaii Shark Encounters (check out the Shark Cage) --
Sure enough, only a plexiglass window, completely transparent, stands between the adventurous tourist and these evil beasts (or "wonders of nature", depending on your political party).

From HSE's "Questions" page:

Can the cage sink?
No! Floats surround the cage on all sides and they keep it level in the water. The top of the cage is actually 2 feet above the surface. The cage is also tied to the boat with several lines.

Is the cage closed at the top?
There is no lid on the cage. You are not locked in and you can come up and enjoy the view from the surface and communicate with the crew at any time.

Can the sharks jump in?
No! The sides of the cage extend 2 feet above the surface of the water. The sharks would have to jump three feet clear out of the water with a forward trajectory and aim they simply don't have. They will occasionally lift their heads out of the water, but these sharks are not capable of leaving the water. Even if they wanted to. (and they really don't).

How do I get in the cage? Do I have to swim to it?
Of course not! You would have to pay us a lot extra to be allowed to swim even one moment outside the cage, with the sharks. The cage gets pulled right next to the boat and you step down a very solid ladder directly inside the cage.

How secure will I be inside the cage?
There are handrails to hold on to all around the cage. You can stabilize yourself while you float on the surface or you can pull yourself a little lower for a different view. None of your body parts will ever have to extend outside the bars.

Will the sharks attack the cage?
No! The sharks will come very close to the cage to investigate but they do not charge at the cage or try to bite the people inside. Human beings are not on the natural menu of these sharks, as is the case with most sharks.

Do I get an unobstructed view of the sharks?
Yes! There are two large (and very strong) pieces of Plexiglas installed on each short side of the cage. In the water they are almost invisible.

Hawaii Shark Encounters
Rates: US Dollars
Adult: $ 105.00
Children (under 12) 70.00
Kama'aina and Military (Adult): 90.00
Kama'aina and Military (Child): 65.00

Sam Jackson and the Shark (from "Deep Blue Sea")

MUSICHYPE: Curse Ov Dialect

"Righteous, informed and totally bugged-out"
says XLR8R

Rap like you've never heard rap -- these Aussie maniacs redefine the music from the outback ground up. Twisted, psychedelic, not for the faint of mind. The new stuff on Myspace is rad -- "Speeding Ticket In Colorado" is the Curse experience extraordinaire -

Curse Ov Dialect - Bury Me Slowly

Curse Ov Dialect - Baby How

Curse Ov Dialect at Myspace
Love to see more web-presence, Curse.. a proper page with some high-res non-Google video and complementary mp3 downloads, maybe? It's all about getting the name out! Hype!

COMEDYHYPE: Train Horns on a Truck

"Terror on the streets"... That's what the people at HornBlasters use to promote their product - train locomotive air horns, but installed on your own truck. It can't be legal, but watching the reactions of people on the streets sure is hilarious!

HornBlasters.com - Train Horns For Your Ride!©

Below are a couple of videos of the action. You may think you wouldn't react to this if it happened to you, but normally if you're American and you hear this sound coming at you, you're about to get hit by a train - so you'd probably dirty your drawers too.

These guys posted several more videos, but most of the rest have crappy music and promo text in them.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

SPORTSHYPE: The New Yankee Stadium

There is a rule of combat that goes something like this: "To those that have shall be given; from those that have not shall be taken even what little they have."

In that spirit, I give you the New Yankee Stadium:

Designed by the masters of modern ball park design, HOK Sport (also responsible for Coors Field and AT&T Park, among many others, this sounds like just the place for the undisputed spending champions of the baseball world:

The new Yankee Stadium will have party suites, a members-only restaurant, a martini bar and a price tag to match all the luxury — $1.3 billion, up from the original estimate of $1 billion.

"We tried to reflect a five-star hotel and put a ballfield in the middle," said Yankees chief operating officer Lonn Trost, who hosted a media tour Thursday.

There will be a conference area with video conferencing so that a corporate group could have a daylong meeting and then stay for a game. A concierge will be available to procure theater tickets or restaurant reservations.

There will be 51 luxury suites, two large outdoor suites and eight party suites with seating for up to 410 people in total.

The 58-by-103-foot center field television screen will be six times the size of the video screen at the current stadium.

Yep, those smug Yankee bastiches will have the state-of-the-art yard. Well, just remember: it's more fun to try and beat the Yankees than it is to be the Yankees.

The New Yankee Stadium at newyorkyankees.com

FOODHYPE: Chile Spiced Mango

Trader Joe's has something unusual in the dried fruit section: Chile Spiced Mango.

The mangoes are cut into strips, dried and coated with a blend of spices and chile powders. Personally, I would change the blend, but it's still pretty tasty. Plus the ingredients are all-natural: mango, paprika, sugar, salt, citric acid, and cayenne pepper.

They're great as a snack, and also go well in a curry... simply chop them into small pieces and toss them in the pot halfway through (along with some sliced almonds) and they'll impart a great flavor to the dish.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

MOVIEHYPE: Asian Action

Dragon Tiger Gate (2006)

Crying Freeman (1995)

Maybe you think all I care about is movies based on comic books -- you would be so wrong. These two action extravaganzas from the Far East are, in fact, based on manga. So there...

From LoveHKFilm.com:

If there is one Hong Kong movie people are looking to this year, it's probably this one: Dragon Tiger Gate. Based on the long-running comic book from creator Tony Wong Luk-Wong, Dragon Tiger Gate has elements that propel it beyond your average local production into something designed to induce Pavlovian responses from action-starved international audiences. Dragon Tiger Gate has it all: copious martial arts, hot young idols, righteous posturing, noble comic book concepts, and above all, Donnie Yen.

龙虎门 Dragon Tiger Gate: Donnie Yen Restaurant Brawl

From imdb.com:

A lethal assassin for a secret Chinese organisation, who sheds tears of regret each time he kills, is seen swiftly and mercilessly executing three Yakuza gangsters by a beautiful artist. She is captivated by the grace of his kill and later falls in love with him. An intense power struggle for the leadership of the Yakuza Clans ensues as they seek vengeance for the death of their leader. They soon realise the fatal mistake of underestimating the deadly skills of the Crying Freeman.

Dragon Tiger Gate trailer at YouTube
Crying Freeman teaser at Movie-List


From imdb.com:

Wanted tells the tale of one apathetic nobody's transformation into an unparalleled enforcer of justice. In 2008, the world will be introduced to a hero for a new generation: Wesley Gibson. 25-year-old Wes was the most disaffected, cube-dwelling drone the planet had ever known. His boss chewed him out hourly, his girlfriend ignored him routinely and his life plodded on interminably. Everyone was certain this disengaged slacker would amount to nothing. There was little else for Wes to do but wile away the days and die in his slow, clock-punching rut. Until he met a woman named Fox. After his estranged father is murdered, the deadly sexy Fox recruits him into the Fraternity, a secret society that trains Wes to avenge his father's death by unlocking his dormant powers. As she teaches him how to develop lightning-quick reflexes and phenomenal agility, Wes discovers this team lives by an ancient, unbreakable code: carry out the death orders given by fate itself. With wickedly brilliant tutor - including the fraternity's enigmatic leader, Sloan - Wes grows to enjoy all the strength he ever wanted. But slowly, he begins to realize there is more to his dangerous associates than meets the eye. And as he wavers between newfound heroism and vengeance, Wes will come to learn what no one can ever teach him: he alone controls his destiny.

Based on a very popular comic book, and sporting a strong cast (Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman, and James Mcavoy for starters), this looks like it will take Matrix-style action scenes to new levels. How about a double-feature with either of the two in the next post above? Guaranteed action satisfaction.

MUSICHYPE: Music For One Apartment And Six Drummers

Music For One Apartment And Six Drummers
through NoFatClips!!!

I could tell you that six mysterious drummers lurk outside a Swedish apartment block until certain mysterious residents leave to walk their mysterious dog... and then, with military precision the drummers set about their strange task... but description only goes so far, and in the case of these wacky Swedes, one beat is worth a thousand words.


Just so you don't confuse them with the Women's National Team, that's what they're called now: the MNT. Like "US Mint".

Kyle Beckerman

US Continues Domination Over Mexico
By Dave Lifton at BlogCritics Magazine (written after 2-0 win in Phoenix in Februray 2007)

U.S. Men vs. Mexico
02/06/2008 8:00 PM CT
Reliant Stadium; Houston, Texas

Broadcast on ESPN2 in most areas

Barely getting in under the hype deadline with this one, but look for more minty hype to come!