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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Sherlocking Times Square!

A friend was impressed that I was able to notice things wrong with an advertisement supposedly showing a subway car from the 1990s.

I then told her that was nothing.... I could take a random picture of Times Square, and be able to give a general date of when the photo was taken.

I searched "Times Square" on Google Image, scrolled down until all of the pictures loaded, then scrolled halfway up, and picked the first photo that appealed to me.

[You can view the original here.  I don't want to violate the artist's rights.]

That's it up above.   Here's the link to the actual post I found.  (She swiped it from DeviantArt.)  It's a panoramic digital photo, as you can see artifacts below Buzz Lightyear and on the Amazon sign.  There is a watermark near McDonald's, but I can't read it.)

So, let's get cracking, shall we?
First, here's the Google Street map, approximately from the same vantage point.  (Note, it's from May 2009, and the Maxwell, Mama Mia!, Phantom, and Wicked ads are there!)

The easiest thing is to look for movie posters.  Long ago, movies ran forever, and there were numerous theater marquees on Broadway.  Not anymore, but there are billboards, and we can see "Inception" being advertised with a July 16 opening date, right above The Palace theatre.  Wikipedia states it was released in 2010.  So, knowing the life span of movie advertising, we've narrowed the picture down to the year 2010.

Could it be 2009?  Not likely.  Look at the clothing.  That's Summer 2009 at the earliest, and Hollywood doesn't advertise any movie that early, especially one which was hush-hush.  Oh, and look...  underneath the Coke sign...  "2011 Hyundai Sonata".  Most likely Summer 2010, but let's look closer.

Next, we look at the Broadway shows advertised.

Mama Mia!, Addams Family, Phantom of the Opera, Wicked, West Side Story, Jersey Boys...  those shows ran too long, although The Addams Family has a cartoon image, so it could be a pre-advertisement.  But let's use that as a bookmark...  Wikipedia shows it ran from March 8, 2010 (previews) until December 31, 2011.

A better clue is the Marriott Marquis marquee (sorry, couldn't resist!).  "Come Fly Away:  A New Musical" is advertised.  Wikipedia says it ran from March 1, 2010 and ran through  September 5, 2010.  It was replaced by "Donny & Marie - A Broadway Christmas", which would not be advertised until possibly October.  Again, given the clothing seen, I'm thinking September 2010 at the latest.

Note that the Disney Store has not opened yet.  The grand opening was November 9, 2010.

What about Forever 21?  Uncertain.  It's to the right of the Disney Store, not seen on the photo.  It opened June 25, 2010.  But those look like old-fashioned billboards, not the LED displays which are there now.  Also, the "Bertelsmann" signage has since been replaced with the building address, "1540 Broadway".  Google Maps' archive shows it had not been changed in August 2012.

Hmm... A Little Night Music...  November 24, 2009... BUT!
The production temporarily closed on June 20, 2010 when the contracts of Zeta-Jones and Lansbury ended and resumed on July 13, with new stars Bernadette Peters as Desiree Armfeldt and Elaine Stritch as Madame Armfeldt.
It closed on January 9, 2011.

Beneath that ad, we see the "La" from "La Cage aux Folles".  April 6, 2010 until May 1, 2011.

What's the "Huge" ad?  An ABC Family TV show.  It premiered on June 28, 2010, the last episode was August 30, and it was cancelled on October 4, 2010.  So I'm thinking May-July 2010.

Given the watermark and a Google Image search, I found the original photo:
Times Square HDR Panorama by vvmasterdrfan

His meta data?  It looks like he posted it in October 2010.
From his site:
Its truly amazing taking a picture of Time Square because the photo is like a Time Capsule because all the posters change so often.
I've posted this link to his DA page.  I wonder if the original photo has metadata?

Friday, February 6, 2015

Introducing.... Monet Comics #1 Page 1 "Haystacks"

Copyright 2015  Torsten Adair

How did I do this?
I used MS Excel for the panel borders, figuring out the halfway point between columns A and B.

Using the French Wikipedia page for the Haystacks, I copy-and-pasted the graphics onto the sheet, then meticulously scaled and positioned each painting so that it did not overlap the cell borders.  

Then I adjusted the cell height to match the paintings.  

As the paintings are not of the same dimensions or scale, I had to do a little "stretching of the canvas" to make them fit!

"Not comics!" you say?  Pishposh.  Monet painted these eight paintings sequentially, during the Summer and Fall of 1890.

For those interested, these eight paintings are W1266-W1273.  One was not found on the Wikipedia page, so I had to search online.  

Thursday, October 2, 2014

This Motley Fool Didn't Do The Math...

The Motley Fools, specifically David Hanson, states that, compared to the stock market, home appreciation values are horrible, only generating a 19% return since 1958.
Considering the amount of money Buffett is used to dealing with, one would expect Buffett to live in gaudy mansion or even his own private island. Surprisingly, that couldn't be further from the truth. Buffett still lives in the same Omaha, Nebraska home he purchased in 1958 for a measly $31,500. Now, $31,500 today doesn't buy you what it did in 1958, but even adjusted for inflation, that amount in today’s dollars is only around $260,000.
The Douglas County, Nebraska, Treasurer's website appraises the house at $660,200.

660,200 / 31,500 = 20.9587301587302
Multiply by 100, you get 2095.5%, which is comparable to the 2785% return on U.S. stocks MF graphs. (No idea what data they use for the stock returns number. Dow Jones? S&P?)

Now, of course, the Motley Fool is an investing website, and most of their money is made on reporting on the stock market.  So, yes, their reportage will be biased towards investing in the stock market, and less on other forms of investment.

But it appears that the Oracle of Omaha knew what he was doing when he bought that home.  It's in a nice neighborhood, near a major city park and university, with easy access to downtown Omaha.  It was built in 1921, has five bedrooms, and 2.5 baths.

And let's face it...  real estate can be a very lucrative investment!  Smart homeowners pay off their mortgage quickly, buy another house or property, rent that, and use the rent payments to pay off the second mortgage.  Looking to buy?  You might want to try Berkshire Hathaway Home Services.  (See, Warren knows what he's doing...)

Friday, September 12, 2014

Some Like It Cold: What If You Crossed "Some Like It Hot" With A Beach Movie?

So I was browsing this week's movie posters over at Heritage Auctions, and I discovered this:

I'm always intrigued by crazy movie titles, and this caught my eye.

So I checked the cast, and that's when my mind shifted into fifth gear!

Frankie Avalon!  Dwayne Hickman!  (Of Dobie Gillis fame, he was in a lot of these teen screeners.)  Yvonne Craig!  (Batgirl.)   And James Brown?!  Lesley Gore!  (Of course... these movies always have music built in.)

I needed to know more, so off to Wikipedia!

Quite a fun plot.  Girl trouble.  College ski trip.  Cross dressing.  An all-Black ski patrol (James Brown & the Famous Flames).  An ice-skating yodeling polar bear?!?  And, of course, Annette Funicello, as a naughty professor!

Here's a pic of Frankie and Dwayne in drag:
They're supposed to be British.
Which, coincidentally, has a long, proud tradition of men performing in drag.

Actually, they're kinda cute.  But nowhere near Page Three.

Would I watch this movie?
Heck yeah!
You had me at "yodeling polar bear" and "lederhosen-clad lodge manager"!  (And Yvonne Craig.  Come on... this is a beach movie!  Set in a ski resort!  So bikinis and turtlenecks!)

This movie was to have a sequel, titled "Cruise Party", but the meager box office of "Ski Party" nixed that idea.  But Frankie Avalon did appear on "The Love Boat" in 1978...

TCM has a great overview! (Part of a bigger feature on Beach movies!)

You might want to do a double-feature with "Hot Dog ...the Movie", filmed in 1985.  It's got an even better poster!
Phil Roberts did the art!  You can see his other work here!

Or, if you've got kids (or are a discretionary viewer), you might want to view Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine instead.  That one stars Vincent Price as the villain!  And an opening sequence animated by Art "Gumby" Clokey!  Sadly, it was to be a musical, but was edited. Oh well...

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Ice Water Challenge? PFFT.

The ALS "Ice Bucket Challenge" is a brilliant piece of viral fundraising.

It's raised awareness and money for a minor disease which doesn't earn the (monetary) interest of pharmaceutical companies.

Some have criticized the waste of water as many states suffer drought conditions.  (To which I reply: yes, you are correct.  But there are many MANY other activities which waste even more water.)

But to me... everyone is doing it wrong.

You REALLY want to show your cojones?
Take a cold shower for five minutes.
Matter of fact, why not raise money by taking pledges?  So many dollars for each minute spent in the shower!  

Or better yet, go swimming on New Years Day.

Here in New York City, that sort of thing has been going on since 1903.
The Coney Island Polar Bear Club has monthly swims from November through April.   They hold a big "everyone is invited" event on New Years Day.  (You can attend the monthly events, just send them a request via their website.)

According to Wikipedia, there's an event at Maryland's Sandy Point State Park which attracts thousands of participants who take multiple plunges for charity.

So... I challenge EVERYONE to take a polar bear plunge next New Years Day.  Almost every one is for charity, and what better way to start the new year?  

Thursday, August 14, 2014

My Train of Thought Takes a Detour: Mike Tyson and Burt Reynolds

The other day, a colleague, who is not geeky but likes cool stuff, mentioned Comic-Con.

So I casually mentioned that Mike Tyson would have a cartoon show on Adult Swim, similar to the "meddling kids" trope perfected by Scooby-Doo.

It includes Mike Tyson, a ghost, a talking pigeon, and Tyson's 18-year-old adopted daughter, who is Korean.

So, of course, I pulled up the "You Meddling Kids" trope at TV Tropes.
I clicked on the "Western Animation" folder, to see how many examples existed from Hanna-Barbera.

Quite a few, of course.  H-B exploited this design.  It's a good design: Goofball, Comic Relief, Brainiac, Regular Guy, Regular Girl.  (Here's a different analysis.)

Then I got to wondering...  did any of these "copy-dogs" ever cross-over with Scooby-Doo?

Easy enough to answer... The New Scooby-Doo Movies featured weekly guest stars.  Here's the episode guide.  

Yup.  Josey and the Pussycats.  Jeannie.  Speed Buggy.   But wait... who is Jerry Reed?  He shows up in Episode 14: "The Phantom of the Country Music Hall".

Jerry Reed was a successful songwriter and performer, best known (at least to me) as Burt Reynold's sidekick in "Smokey and the Bear".

But...  here's where it gets interesting!

He made his first movie in 1975, with Burt Reynolds:
W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings
"As of 2013, the film has not been released on DVD or any other home video format."

!!! When my family bought a VCR in 1980, the first thing I noticed upon visiting the video rental store for the first time was the sheer selection of Grade-B,C, and Z movies available!  Stuff you might see on the Late Show, maybe once a decade.  Stuff that the actors themselves have forgotten.  (No, I didn't hit a high at that point...I was a naif.  I would plotz a few years later, when Blockbuster opened their first store in Omaha, featuring complete runs of Star Trek and many other examples of eye candy.)

Burt Reynolds was HUGE back then.  "Cannonball Run" and "Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" were hits.  And here's a Reynolds movie that was never released on VHS or any other medium.

Yes, the plot isn't much...  but check out this cast!  
(Click on the names for Wikipedia articles.)

Burt Reynolds
Conny Van Dyke
Jerry Reed
Ned Beatty
James Hampton
Don Williams
Rick Hurst
Mel Tillis
Furry Lewis
Art Carney

Conny Van Dyke... she's the love interest.  Nothing much interesting about her, aside from being signed to Motown Records as a caucasian!

Jerry Reed, we already covered above.

Ned Beatty... he's one of the great character actors of the 20th Century.  Best known as "Otis", Lex Luthor's henchman in "Superman".  (And the villain in "Toy Story 3".)

James Hampton... another great character actor, mostly on television.

Don Williams... lauded country singer.

Rick Hurst... best known as "Cletus Hogg", Boss Hogg's cousin on "The Dukes of Hazzard".  (He replaced Enos.)  Another great character actor.

Mel Tillis... a giant of Country music.

Furry Lewis... noted country blues guitarist.

Art Carney...  best known as "Ed Norton" on "The Honeymooners".  

Is there a soundtrack?  You betcha!  On vinyl!
There's also a novelization, which seems to be better than the actual movie.

My theory... Reynolds owns the rights to the movie, and keeps it locked away out of embarrassment.  (It currently has a rating of 5.8/10 on IMDB.)

Of course, there are bootleg DVDs out there.  
Myself, this is the sort of movie you watch on cable TV late at night, preferably with a bottle of scotch.  

Whoa...  interesting distraction!   "Jeannie", the cartoon version of "I Dream of Jeannie".  It's not named as an example of "those meddling kids" trope, but it is similar.

Here's the interesting bit!
  • Babu seems to have been based on Bob Denver's one-shot character, Harold, from the original show, who was also a genie whom Jeannie needed to train, though he does not seem to be Haji's son. Added to that, bizarrely enough, Babu wore what appears to be a male version of the original Jeannie's pink costume.
Wait... WHAT?!
Yes...  from Wikipedia:

"My Son, the Genie"
Claudio Guzman
Bill Richmond
December 12, 1967

On the same day Jeannie is ordered to help train an inept young genie (Bob Denver), Tony finds out that U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson will be coming for dinner.

Is it me, or does his costume look like it was stolen from a flying monkey?