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.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Zombie iPhone

This is what a well-prepared zombie saftey officier's iPhone should look like. Notice the weapons, flashlight and medical information are always accessible in the dock at the bottom.

This is the result of my research on the best zombie iPhone games.

6 (Sorta Free) Zombie iPhone Games

While the iPhone has many pracitical purposes, from balacing your personal budget to staying in touch with friends, first among its crucial uses is honing one's zombie-blasting skills. There are tons of zombie games and apps out there, but how do you know which are worth forking over 99 cents for? Here are six great games you can test out for free since they all have free "lite" versions. Check them out and get your Ash on.

Zombieville USA: This straight-foward side-scroller has everything a zombie game should have - shotguns, chainsaws, gatling guns, flamethrowers and a neverending flow of zombies. Run from house to house picking up ammo and cash and upgrade your gear between levels. Keep low, keep moving and keep shooting. $1.99 or try the lite version for free.

Zombie Attack: No list of zombie games would be complete without the requisite tower defense scenario. The game is simple - build and upgrade your array of swinging axes, sentry guns, flame towers and cannons to keep the unyielding horde of unded from destroying your little shanty. The tilt controls to move about are surprisingly responsive and force you to focus for a quick jolt could send your lone survivor into a crowd of zombies. $2.99 or try the lite version for free.

Kids vs. Zombies: Playing "fort" as a kid, I always lacked the hordes of attackers to futilely through themselves on my masterfully constructed barricades. Kids vs. Zombies solves that with zombie hordes and three different juvenille defenders. You've got your sling shot (sniper), Nerf gun (machine gun) and water balloon launcher (mortar) with which to dispatch the advancing horde. With some creative tilt contorls, the 3D environment shifts so you can look downfield or straight down. Between levels spend money to upgrade your fort, weapons and even your teammate's AI. $1.99 or try the lite version for free.

iZombie: Death March: With beautiful lighting effects and a variety of level designs, iZombie is perhaps the most creative game of this bunch. Each level offers a slightly different take on zombie blasting, with different control mechanics. One level finds you using your flashlight to spot approaching baddies to blast while the finale has you steering a pickup truck through a horde of undead while a huge rancor-like like monster stomps after your Chevy. 99 cents or try the lite version for free.

Zombie Trade Wars: What's an entrepreneurial survivor to do in the midst of the zombie apocalyspe? Make a lucractive living off the anarchy-induced black market. For those of who rocked DopeWars on your TI-83 in the back of calculus class you'll be well-versed in the game's mechanics. Buy goods (shotgun shells, zombie bitekits, gas masks, etc.) low one place and sell them at a higher price elsewhere. Random zombie attacks, outbreaks and encounters will cause you to gain or loose goods and drive prices up or down. 99 cents or try the lite version for free.

Trapped: Undead Infection: This is the game the unplayable Resident Evil: Degeneration should have been. With retro low-bit graphics, the game puts the emphasis on convuluted, amnesiac storytelling and puzzle solving, evident from the weak fighting and shooting mechanics. The game has a reptive rhythm of "find X so you can open/operate Y" and it grows wearisome retracing your steps and reblugening the same zombies you just felled looking for some clue youoverlooked. But the copoious save points make it easy to jump in and out of the game, so you can quickly slip into a ghoul-infested secret science facility while you're riding a commuter-crammed public transit bus. 99 cents or try the lite version free.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sunday, June 21, 2009


"bubble seats"

This is part of a new substream of crankphone photos I am starting to publish called "pattern recognition." They make great iPhone wallpapers!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Friday, May 29, 2009

Monday, May 25, 2009

Monday, May 18, 2009

Friday, May 15, 2009


"quack quack quack"

ze frank would like this.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Monday, May 04, 2009

Friday, May 01, 2009

Monday, April 27, 2009

Friday, April 24, 2009

Monday, April 20, 2009

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Dear China, Stop Blocking YouTube

Living behind China's Great Firewall has made me appreciate the unfettered access to information we have in free countries. When I first got to China, I couldn't access any of Wordpress and many Google search results were inaccessible.

However, the important, time-wasting stuff like YouTube remained available. That is, until China decided to block all of YouTube. While China would never say why they are blocking the video-sharing site, it seems connected to videos allegedly showing PRC troops beating Tibetan monks.

It's been nearly a month since China's state-owned ISPs blacklisted YouTube and there's no sign yet that Chinese netizens will be able to watch silly cat videos any time soon. Google told the NYTimes last month that: “Our government relations people are trying to resolve it.”

In reaction to questions about Internet censors, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said: “Many people have a false impression that the Chinese government fears the Internet. In fact, it is just the opposite.” Indeed, in point of fact, the Internet fears the Chinese government.


"latchkey kid"

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Monday, April 06, 2009

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Monday, March 16, 2009

Sunday, March 15, 2009


"sits and eats. i shoots."

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Detonator at 2000 FPS

What do hard-drinking engineers do with expensive equipment? Expensive and awesome party tricks, of course!

Here we have some dear friends back at Dartmouth's Thayer Engineering School putting a $35,000 Imperx high-speed camera to good use by recording the final round of Detonator at 2000 frames per second.

Don't know what Detonator is? It's a brilliantly simple caveman drinking game whereby a circle of cavemen college kids pass a sealed can of beer around. Each one shakes the can, yells "DETONATOR" and smashes the can against his forehead. Pass and repeat until the "winner" has the can explode.

Oh, this reminds me! Don't forget to donate to the Dartmouth College fund!


"still life with spiky turds"

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


"top of the world from above"

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


"fat, round, thick-ass vessels"

Zombie Comic Book Now NYT Best-Seller

The graphic novel is finally getting its due. The Grey Lady has deigned to include graphic books on their own "best-sellers list" in the Book Review section. It's about time. The Times added a comic strip section to their own Sunday Magazine well over a year ago.

And behold! My beloved The Walking Dead graphic novel is on the list at number five. Booyah!

The Times claims that: "Comics have finally joined the mainstream." This is an interesting statement, and one that I'm not sure I entirely agree with. In an effort to save themselves from bankruptcy, comic book companies have been selling of their assets for mainstream movies and TV shows at an amazing pace. But have "comics" really joined the mainstream in that the mainstream is now consuming comics?

Also, The Beat has an interesting discussion with Times as to why the new best-seller list is called "Graphic Books" and not "Graphic Novels."

Monday, March 09, 2009


"miniature street chicken"

Dear Blog, My Old Friend

Wow, that didn't take long. I start up a new blog and then CrankCast goes unloved like a three-legged mutt. The new puppy is, for those who haven't been keeping up.

But I'm back. I've gotten wireless setup in our Beijing abode and now I have no excuse but to dump my thoughts onto the internet, right? So, CrankCast, my pulpit, my soapbox, my stump, my lectern, my dais, my rostrum, shall rant on.

There's lots more coming from crankphone, plenty of zombie-related news to dissect and wonderful Chinese things that are new to me.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


"two rides for the price of one"

Friday, January 23, 2009

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


"Seizure Tunnel"
Detroit Metro Airport

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wellmas Turducken

Wellmas Turducken from Craig Rubens on Vimeo.

It took more than five us almost a full day to debone, stuff and cook all three birds. But man, was it delicious.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Thursday, January 08, 2009