Wake Up With Disney and a Dyspeptic Duck

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Read my review of the Disney iOS alarm clock app, Wake Up With Disney.

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A loving tribute to Fitzcarraldo in cardboard. But wait! There’s more.

A an additional tribute to Les Blank’s documentary, Burden of Dreams, which is essential to the Fitzcarraldo story:

via Laughing Squid.

Of course, I am also planning a Fitzcarraldo tribute in the form of a ship in a bottle, midway up the hill. I’m fairly happy with my ship that I designed in Autodesk 123D Design, but I haven’t considered the disassembly/reassembly aspect of getting in the bottle once printed.

I’m considering making a tiny version in a Bulleit bourbon bottle, which has quite a nice shape (and taste, if you’re into that). Bulleit Fitzcarraldo would just be the miniscule Micro Machine version though, with the ship being maybe 2in long and less than 1in tall.

Tales of the Gold Monkey

Tales of the Gold Monkey is a pulp television series with the sensibility of a Saturday morning cartoon, following a cargo pilot’s adventures set in the 1930s South Pacific. If this sounds like the Disney show TaleSpin, that’s because Gold Monkey was a major influence upon the creator of TaleSpin, Jymn Magon.

There are Nazis! Volcanos! Spies! Samurais! A dog with an eye patch! It must have been an expensive show to produce, and indeed it’s quite striking how much show there is. There are real vintage airplanes, aerial dogfights, large sets, and much of the series appears to be shot in Hawaii. In terms of production scale, this is the Game of Thrones of 1982. The series is the brainchild of Magnum PI creator Donald P. Bellisario.vlcsnap-2013-05-10-20h30m58s209

Many television shows that lasted one season or less have come and gone, but the most similar show that comes to mind is The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. Young Indy was undoubtedly better produced, directed, and written, but also ten years later. Contemporaneous to Gold Monkey was Bring ‘Em Back Alive, another WWII-era adventure series set in Singapore. Both were criticized as Raiders of the Lost Ark knockoffs, but it would be more accurate to say that the popularity of Raiders is what allowed Gold Monkey and Bring ‘Em Back Alive to be greenlit during that television season. Bellisario was apparently working on the idea before Raiders was released.

It’s great to see distributors like Netflix giving a second life to the many brief but wonderful television series that have hooked our sense of romance and adventure over the years. If you can still maintain your childlike sense of wonder, you’ll probably enjoy Tales of the Gold Monkey. It’s only available by disc over Netflix, or you can just buy whole the 21-episode run on Amazon for thirty bucks.

The Underwater Japanese Aircraft Carrier

Here’s an interesting bit of history: during World War II, the Japanese made several large submarines that were able to carry and launch small planes. The I-400-class submarines literally were underwater aircraft carriers. The idea being, of course, that the Japanese could launch sneak attacks with planes that seemingly appeared out of nowhere.

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A small hangar contained up to three airplanes with collapsible wings that would be launched from a catapult track (much like modern air craft carriers). Of course, the submarine had to surface first.

I-400 Diagram Bvia

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They were the largest submarines made until the nuclear subs of the 60s. Reminds of me the anime Space Battleship Yamato.

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Thanks, Wikipedia. That gives me another idea for a ship in a bottle: a submarine in a jug literally filled with murky water.

PS. And oh how the times have changed. Or haven’t changed? I don’t know. X-47B stealth drone successfully launches from an aircraft carrier.

Space Shuttle Launch With Skywalker-Designed Sound

You may have seen footage like this before, but what really matters here is the sound. It was purportedly mixed by sound engineers at Skywalker Sound from the camera microphone audio. It literally sounds too good to be true (how can those parachutes at the end not be foley sound?) but I’ll take their word for it. Because it’s amazing.

Off to the Air Races

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I made a 3D-printable model of a 1930s racing aircraft called the Gee Bee Model R in 3DS Max. I love this odd, bulbous plane, which was featured in The Rocketeer because of its unique retro futuristic appearance. And I created the model so that when printed, the wheels and the propeller are articulated; that is, they are on axes and can move. Here’s a tiny 2in version.

I started with a tutorial from Autodesk on how to model a P-47 Thunderbolt (also with an articulated prop when printed).p47render

What’s the appeal of investing my time in this? I don’t know, just whittling with 1s and 0s, vertices and polygons. Maybe I’ll try a P-38 Lightning next, with its three nacelle design.

The “Dear American Voter” Project

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After a few months of interning at a small, independent television station called Link TV, which broadcasts internationally-minded documentaries, news reports, and films, I was hired as a new media assistant to work on an interesting project. It was called Dear American Voter. The idea was that the 2008 American presidential election would have a wide-ranging impact on global politics, and Executive Producer David Michaelis wanted to give people from other countries, or folks who are simply globally-minded, a platform to discuss American political issues. Of course, Americans would also participate in the discussion. Dear American Voter became an online video discussion website in which you could submit a video of yourself talking to your webcam, and people could then respond.

Mind you, this was in 2008, when the original iPhone didn’t even have video recording capabilities and Facetime was still years away. Our emphasis was completely on webcams or simple FlipCam-esque “good enough” quality videos.

Help Bring Peace to Africa

At the start of the project, we had a difficult time finding people who were willing to appear on camera to express their opinions. For people who aren’t actors or television presenters, it’s a very intimate and potentially embarrassing thing to appear on camera, with the added pressure of presenting an articulate opinion about a complicated political issue. And with a webcam, you are often inviting the viewer into your home. It’s entirely understandable that people were self-conscious and hesitant. Of course, there are about 1000 times more video bloggers online nowadays than there were in 2008.

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