Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Oh Yeaahh!

Just a quick note to let everybody know that the God-fearing, red-blooded patriots at Los Angeles Metblogs finally made the right decision and asked me to join their team of writers.

I have two posts up thus far, and I'm not out of ideas yet.

I'd highly recommend you visit the site on a daily basis and read the musings of all the talented scribes there. But if you're a glutton for punishment, here's where all of my posts will be collected.

See you in the blogosphere.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Goo, The Bad, and The Ugly

As a way of welcoming my beautiful daughter, Caitlin, to the world, I decided to write a story on San Francisco-based apparel company GAMA-GO's latest line of baby clothing, GAMA-GOO. The piece ran in Los Angeles CityBeat on August 30th. Cate arrived on September 5th at 12:44 p.m. (7 pounds, 1 ounce; 19 inches). Hence the two week delay in my posting this article.

For this story, I interviewed two of GAMA-GO's co-founders, including Tim Biskup, the Southern California artist whose characters and designs are featured in both clothing lines. During the interview, Biskup said his original concept for GAMA-GO was to take Japanese imagery and filter it through mid-century modern design. He drew particular inspiration from the intriguing balance of ugliness and beauty inherent in Japanese vinyl toys.

Here's a taste:

[Biskup] was first introduced to Japanese vinyl toys while working at Cartoon Network from 2000 to 2002. "I walked into [Powerpuff Girls creator] Craig McCracken's office on day, and he had these two War of the Gargantuas toys," says Biskup. "They were the ugliest things, and they were just great."

To read the whole article, click here.

Photo courtesy GAMA-GOO.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Me on Me: FishbowlLA's 20 questions

Only the Shadow knows why the good folks at FishbowlLA chose me for today's 20 questions! I answered their "inane" questionnaire, which covers topics as far-ranging as car washes, the future of newspapers, and satellite radio. Read it here.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Byte Me

I have an article in this week's special summer dining issue of Los Angeles CityBeat on uWink, the latest restaurant venture by Atari and Chuck E. Cheese Pizza Time Theater founder Nolan Bushnell.

At uWink, customers place their orders on touch-screen terminals and play casual video games while they wait for their food and drinks to arrive. But why eliminate a traditional waiter in an environment that's been designed to foster human interaction?

The article also touches on the growing casual gaming movement.

Here's a sample:

“We feel many people haven’t played a videogame in 20 years, or maybe they’ve never played one in their life,” Bushnell says. “They’ve determined in their mind, ‘I’m not a game player.’ We feel like we have an ability to change that. [I]n that sense we’re being somewhat evangelistic.”

Read the whole thing here.

Image: Nolan Bushnell at his uWink restaurant in Woodland Hills.
Photo: Maura Lanahan

Thursday, May 24, 2007

You Down with MCP?

Greetings, programs!

I have an article in today's Summer Film Preview issue of Los Angeles CityBeat on Disney's sci-fi classic "Tron," which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.

The article includes a discussion with Richard Taylor, one of "Tron's" visual effects supervisors on the film's groundbreaking effects, as well as director Steven Lisberger, on how the narrative incorporates the Jungian concept of "individuation."

Here's a sample:

Visual Effects Society member Gene Kozicki, of the L.A.-based visual effects house Rhythm & Hues, believes "Tron's" legacy was in moving computer-generated visuals into the realm of storytelling. "Research into this type of imagery had been going on for over 15 years, but it was more scientific in nature," Kozicki says, "Once artists began to share their ideas and treat the computer as a tool, it moved away from strict research and towards an art form."

Read the whole story here.

Image: Cindy Morgan (Yori) and Bruce Boxleitner (Tron) in Disney's "Tron."
© Disney Enterprises, Inc.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Gort, the Walrus, and Gadgets Galore

I have an article in today's "Design 2007" issue of Los Angeles CityBeat on Fry's Electronics' offbeat store decor. I go to Fry's nearly every weekend, so writing a story about their science fiction and "Alice in Wonderland" themed stores in the San Fernando Valley felt like the only sensible thing to do.

Here's a sample:

"The store's centerpiece is Gort, the silver humanoid robot from the 1951 anti-nuclear cult classic The Day the Earth Stood Still. Ironically, in that film, as a way of warning humanity not to continue down a dangerous technological path, the menacing robot momentarily switches off all electric equipment throughout the world. (Time to pick up a surge protector?)"

I've been thinking about this piece for a long time, so I'm thrilled CityBeat gave me the opportunity to bring it to life.

Read the whole story here.

Photo: Eric Gunrud

Friday, September 29, 2006

Say it Ain't So, Al

This latest article is a bittersweet one.

As you'll see, I had the opportunity to do a tongue-in-cheek interview with "Weird Al" Yankovic about his fantastic new album Straight Outta Lynwood. It's no exaggeration to say that Al is one of my childhood heroes. His sense of humor and his spot-on parodies were a major influence during my tween years. If you haven't heard "White & Nerdy," his hilarious take on Chamillionaire's "Ridin' Dirty," do yourself a favor and view it on YouTube. You won't be dissapointed.

Here's a taste of the article:

"Yes, both [Virus Alert and Don't Download This Song] are paranoid rants about digital technology, but again--jokes." Al said, "I have nothing against technology. I may look like the Unabomber, but I'm not him--I promise."

That's the sweet part.

The bitter part is that this article appeared in the very last print issue of LA Alternative. Though the publication is going to continue as an online entity, I haven't heard yet what form it will take. I'm not sure even LA Alternative knows what they're going to morph into. All I know is not being able to pick up the paper at a coffee shop, inside the library, outside the movie theater, or at an art gallery is a big loss for the city.

LA Alternative, we speak your name.

Editors Lesley Bargar, Lucinda Michele Knapp, and Evan George are a talented, classy group of individuals, and I'm very grateful for the opportunity they gave me to spread my silly ruminations on pop culture. I hope we continue to work together in the future.

Image: Fluent in Javascript and Klingon, "Weird Al" Yankovic explores his roots, pancreas, and the drive-thru in Straight Outta Lynwood.