Funhouse Die Hard
Time to celebrate one of the best Christmas movies around – Die Hard.
Funhouse Lounge here in Portland has done a Die Hard musical parody show for several years now. This year is no different and all the shows almost immediately sold out. However, given the COVID situation, they also graciously provided a streaming option. I gave it a watch, and recommend you do too – but hurry – there are only a few streaming opportunities left.
Halloween at Newfields
Newfields (location for Indianapolis Museum of Art) held a really cool Halloween festival with projection mapping, hundreds of pumpkins, and even a ghost train.
Ancient Ethiopian Transformation Magic
Magic was outlawed in Ethiopia in the 15th century. Presented here and stored in the British Library, is an ancient Ethiopian manuscript with prayers to perform magical transformations (such as turning into a lion or other creatures). Curator Eyob Derillo describes what is in the text and how historians study it to understand ancient African magic beliefs.
Just looking at the text, it appears to be beautifully illustrated. I wonder if you can get downloaded scans…
Flappy bird on the SNES – inside Super Mario World??
Code injection into Super Mario World has become a favorite of the speedrunning and the Mario hacking community. Usually this is done programmatically via automated controller input while exploiting overflow bugs. SethBling used the injection technique to enter a version of the game Flappy Bird – by hand.
Super Nintendo programming series
Retro Game Mechanics Explained is a great series on retro game console programming. If you ever wanted to know how the cake is baked, this is a great channel.
One of the best series up so far is how to program the SNES system. His 16 part series talks about background effects, lag & blanking, DMA and HDMA, memory mapping, color math, hardware registers, background modes 0-6, and the infamous mode 7. It is one of the better explanations of mode 7 that I have seen (though folks with a more formal background in graphics might explain it with with affine transforms alone)
He also covers individual games and topics such as how the Atari 2600 ‘Raced the beam’, Atari quadrascan, pokemon sprite decompression, Pac-Man arcade’s famous kill screen, Mario’s wrong warp, and many other fun topics.
Realism in today’s games
The “Clean House” mission in 2019’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is probably one of the most realistic gameplay sequences out there today. It’s not a cinematic, it’s a fully playable session. Read more about it here.
Wizard of Christchurch’s map
I ran into the Wizard of Christchurch (who later became the Wizard of New Zealand) in the early 2000’s. He is a former academic that would often bring a ladder to the central square and spoke on all kinds of different topics. Using ancient Greek-like rhetorical methods, he would often give both comical and controversial speeches, synthesising modern topics with the ideas/philosophical techniques of famous philosophers in farcical ways.
One of the things he used to talk about was how the world’s maps were created upside-down. Why should north be up? What if you made a map the ‘right’ way up – with New Zealand up top?
Enter Mapworld New Zealand. It turns out, they have one of his maps. A map of ‘the wizard’s interpretation of the upside down world, and the inside out universe.’ Not only is New Zealand up top, but the other countries also have more…creative interpretations.
You can read about his storied past, and how he became something of a tourist attraction in his own right. His criticisms of right-leaning politicians/agendas in the 80’s nearly got him arrested, but had the opposite effect of pushing him into fame. He started speaking openly in the city square for decades, criticizing politicians, company greed, cultural norms, and generally being a ‘free thinker’. Unfortunately, it appears the final straw was recently offending sensibilities of the left enough that he’s been removed from the city payroll as a tourism promoter. Fame is fickle, and it’s interesting to see how political tides and ruling party techniques have changed (or not changed).
Parker solar probe touches Sun’s Corona
What a fascinating time of space exploration we live in. Pluto, Saturn, Jupiter, and now the sun. Over the last few years, the Parker Solar Probe has been making its way towards the sun and taking observations. Setting numerous speed records while doing so. Most recently, however, it entered the Sun’s corona and found fascinating streams of plasma.
There is even video footage from the craft traveling through the corona and being surrounded by these oscillating streams at 3:00 in this video. Give it a watch and learn about the astounding structures and complex discoveries it is making.
Spinning circle optical illusion
Believe it or not, but the field of optical illusions is still quite active. Here’s one of the newest ones by an digital artist jagarikin. The circles are spinning in place, but not moving or changing sizes. The arrows inside the circles is what makes it appear to be moving.
Here’s a good write-up of the effect called the Phi phenomenon.
Here are some more phi phenomenon effects he created that use color cycling: