Saturday, December 18, 2010

Zombies vs. Vampires in English Culture

Playing with Google's cool new Book Ngram Viewer is fun. The data set is some 500 billion words culled from nearly 5.2 million digitized books in multiple languages starting in 1500. Read more about the project on the NYTimes.

I of course ran a quick diagnostic to see the relative frequency of zombies versus vampires. See graph below.
Vampires have enjoyed a longer history with a huge upswing in recent years but appear to have peaked. Meanwhile, zombies, true to form, are slowly but surely gaining ground, shambling upwards and onwards.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Crank's Zombie Newsletter Issue #02

It's a big weekend for zombie enthusiasts. With Halloween comes hordes of shambling corpses, moving from door to door, bar to bar, and brain to brain.

The Walking Dead premieres on AMC Sunday 10p/9c

The acclaimed, NYTimes-bestselling graphic novel The Walking Dead finally comes to the small screen this Sunday night. Written and directed by Frank Darabont (Shawshank Redemption) the show looks amazing. If you're in SF, join me at Isotope Comics this Sunday for a special early screening Sunday night at 8pm.

Plants vs. Zombies ON SALE! 99 cents!
Game-maker PopCap is celebrating its tenth anniversary and Halloween with a sale on all its games, including the immensely popular Plants vs. Zombies, now available on iOS (iPhone & iPod) for just 99 cents. Get it now cause the sale won't last.

Left4Dead 1 & 2 $9.99 each
Meanwhile Steam, the iTunes of PC (and Mac) gaming, is offering half off on Left4Dead 1 & 2, making each zombie first person shooter just ten bucks. If you're on Steam, my username is crankarms.

Down the road...
  • The film adaptation of Max Brooks's World War Z continues on schedule. Brad Pitt's production company Plan B optioned the book back in 2007 and it was recently reported that Pitt himself would be starring in the oral history of the zombie war slated for a 2012 release. I'm curious to see how they adapt WWZ's case study-style to the big screen, with Marc Forster directing (Finding Neverland, Quantum of Solace) it's got an A-list production and talent team.
  • Natalie Portman has left the film adaption of Pride and Predjudice and Zombies. Still attached as a producer, the project looks to be in limbo.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Lay it out

I've been missing playing ultimate on real grass. Check out my not-so-triumphant return to grassy fields with these great photos. I almost had the d.

Photo credits:
Left photo by Jasper Weinberg
Right photo by David Wolf

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Very "This American Life" Christmas

In the next few weeks many will likely be sitting in trains, planes and automobiles as we travel back to celebrate the holidays with family and friends. Make sure you load your iPod with holiday cheer to put you in the mood.

Here are 6 great holiday episodes of the always entertaining NPR show "This American Life." All six can be downloaded in a .zip file here or they can be streamed off the TAL website from the links below.
  • #6 Christmas - With fantastic music from the Faith Tabernacle Baptist Church choir throughout, this episode features Sedaris's comedy troupe, the Pinetree Gang, as well as stories from juvie and Christmas time at Faith Tabernacle.
  • #47 Christmas and Commerce - The extended version of the radio broadcast that made David Sedaris famous, Santaland Diaries, his tale as a Macy's elf, easily makes this one of the best episodes out there.
  • #87 A Very Special Sedaris Christmas - After writing the Santaland Diaries, Sedaris would be asked to do more Christmas stories every year for various publications and shows, making him "that Christmas writer" for the beginning of his career. Here are three of his best, read by Sedaris, Julia Sweeney and Matt Malloy.
  • #201 Them - Only the second act is Christmas-specific, and in it David Sedaris compares and contrasts the jolly, gift-bearing American Santa with the slaver, kidnapping-prone Dutch Santa.
  • #255 Holiday Gift-giving Guide - Proof that buying gifts for your parents will forever be hard. Plus a 1959 recording of Truman Capote reading his "A Christmas Story" and a story of a chain of events, starting at a Christmas tree farm in Maine, "the Pine Tree State."
  • #305 This American Life Holiday Spectacular - It truly is a TAL all-star line up with stories from David Sedaris, John Hodgman, Sarah Vowell and several others.
And if you need more TAL to fill your traveling hours, check out this list of 13 Great "This American Life 1-Acters" complete with links for downloading.

I hope these shows help you pass the time as you head to your destinations this holiday season.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

13 Great "This American Life" 1-Acters

Steph and her sister Alexis were at one point discussing great single act episodes of the great radio program This American Life. An uninterrupted hour of radio programming is increasingly rare, and not just any topic can withstand 60 minutes of dissection by microphone. These are sprawling and in-depth masterpieces of radio reportage.

Here are some of our favorites. See here for details on how to download each episode or click the name of each episode to stream is from TAL's site. Donate to TAL here.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Crank's Zombie Newsletter Issue #01

The haunting trailer ends with a montage of mayhem as the soundtrack lilts with Michael Andrews/Gary Jules cover of Tears for Fears' "Mad World" (attached here for your enjoyment). Popularized in Donnie Darko and the award-winnging Gears of War ad, that cover is quickly becoming the next "Lux Aeterna." Related, I'm sure Clint Mansell could score an amazing zombie film soundtrack.

The progression of symptoms of infection here provide an interesting twist to the genre. The resulting "zombies" seem to be a cross between Firefly's "reavers" and 28 Days Later's "infected." The main character, played but the always great Timothy OIyphant (Dead Wood, Live Free or Die Hard), has this awesome "Walking Dead" Officer Rick Grimes thing going on (in that they both similarly harken back to that older trope of "small town sheriff"). Also, the locale in a rural town allows for the possibility of an awesome corn field scene. "The Crazies" is playing in San Francisco at the Red Vic Theater May 20 -22. Who wants to come?

Friday, July 10, 2009

"...Normally for Killing"

Cybernetic Robotic Android Normally for Killing
Get Your Cyborg Name

Other times...for kuddling...deadly kuddling.