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Updated: 2016-02-10T14:22:28.095-08:00

 



Zombies vs. Vampires in English Culture

2010-12-19T09:54:21.998-08:00

Playing with Google's cool new Book Ngram Viewer is fun. The data set is some 500 billion words culled from nearly 5.2 million digitized books in multiple languages starting in 1500. Read more about the project on the NYTimes.

I of course ran a quick diagnostic to see the relative frequency of zombies versus vampires. See graph below.
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Vampires have enjoyed a longer history with a huge upswing in recent years but appear to have peaked. Meanwhile, zombies, true to form, are slowly but surely gaining ground, shambling upwards and onwards.



Crank's Zombie Newsletter Issue #02

2010-10-27T23:03:52.221-07:00

It's a big weekend for zombie enthusiasts. With Halloween comes hordes of shambling corpses, moving from door to door, bar to bar, and brain to brain.

The Walking Dead premieres on AMC Sunday 10p/9c

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The acclaimed, NYTimes-bestselling graphic novel The Walking Dead finally comes to the small screen this Sunday night. Written and directed by Frank Darabont (Shawshank Redemption) the show looks amazing. If you're in SF, join me at Isotope Comics this Sunday for a special early screening Sunday night at 8pm.

Plants vs. Zombies ON SALE! 99 cents!
Game-maker PopCap is celebrating its tenth anniversary and Halloween with a sale on all its games, including the immensely popular Plants vs. Zombies, now available on iOS (iPhone & iPod) for just 99 cents. Get it now cause the sale won't last.


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Left4Dead 1 & 2 $9.99 each
Meanwhile Steam, the iTunes of PC (and Mac) gaming, is offering half off on Left4Dead 1 & 2, making each zombie first person shooter just ten bucks. If you're on Steam, my username is crankarms.

Down the road...
  • The film adaptation of Max Brooks's World War Z continues on schedule. Brad Pitt's production company Plan B optioned the book back in 2007 and it was recently reported that Pitt himself would be starring in the oral history of the zombie war slated for a 2012 release. I'm curious to see how they adapt WWZ's case study-style to the big screen, with Marc Forster directing (Finding Neverland, Quantum of Solace) it's got an A-list production and talent team.
  • Natalie Portman has left the film adaption of Pride and Predjudice and Zombies. Still attached as a producer, the project looks to be in limbo.



Lay it out

2010-05-04T17:06:55.701-07:00

I've been missing playing ultimate on real grass. Check out my not-so-triumphant return to grassy fields with these great photos. I almost had the d.

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Photo credits:
Left photo by Jasper Weinberg
Right photo by David Wolf



A Very "This American Life" Christmas

2009-12-19T17:58:10.140-08:00

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.



13 Great "This American Life" 1-Acters

2009-12-19T13:49:20.976-08:00

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.#84: Harold - A story of Chicago's first black mayor, Harold Washington.#121 Twentieth Century Man - Perhaps MY favorite episode, it's like Mad Men, all crammed into on man's life and shattered across his many families and every cultural shift that occurred in the US from the 50s to the 80s.#168: The Fix Is In - The basis for the new Soderberg movie The Informant, starring Matt Damon#199: House on Loon Lake - (awesome story about finding an abandoned house)#204: 81 Words - The story of how the American Psychiatric Association decided in 1973 that homosexuality was no longer a mental illness.#206: Somewhere in the Arabian Sea - The War on Terror - A Personal Comedy (missing from download folder)#218 Act V - High-security prisoners perform Hamlet#292: Arms Trader - The War on Terror - The Failed War on Terror#355: The Giant Pool of Money - Perhaps their best show ever. It's got everything.#360: Switched at Birth - A true story.#365: Another Frightening Show About the Economy - Economics 101.1!#367: Ground Game - Stories (separate but tied together) from the 2008 Pennsylvania primary (not really one story, but they are interwoven well)#390: Return to the Giant Pool of Money - skip the first half, but the second half tells you where the folks from the original episode are one year later[...]



Crank's Zombie Newsletter Issue #01

2010-05-08T12:51:57.527-07:00


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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?



"...Normally for Killing"

2009-07-30T13:07:05.668-07:00

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Get Your Cyborg Name


Other times...for kuddling...deadly kuddling.



crankphone53

2009-07-08T01:14:15.259-07:00

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"tiny tin toys"



Zombie iPhone

2009-07-05T20:47:03.920-07:00

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.

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



6 (Sorta Free) Zombie iPhone Games

2009-07-05T03:37:44.447-07:00

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.[...]



crankphone52

2009-07-01T04:26:03.891-07:00

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"muggles"



crankphone51

2009-06-27T03:19:19.855-07:00

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"high wire high rise act"



crankphone50

2009-06-25T02:17:46.818-07:00

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"to to to to Totoro"



crankphone49

2009-06-24T04:43:31.769-07:00

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"quack attack"



crankphone48

2009-06-21T23:27:54.398-07:00

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"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!



crankphone47

2009-05-30T09:32:47.844-07:00

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"i ain't afraid of no ghost"



crankphone46

2009-05-29T00:03:07.878-07:00

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"portal and wall"



crankphone45

2009-05-25T22:02:33.601-07:00

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"terminator toys"



crankphone44

2009-05-18T04:43:14.721-07:00

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"adventure requires a sidecar"



crankphone43

2009-05-15T21:00:24.796-07:00

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"quack quack quack"

ze frank would like this.



crankphone42

2009-05-07T04:54:12.964-07:00

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"can you hear me now?"



crankphone41

2009-05-04T22:58:02.624-07:00

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"here fishy fishy fishy"



crankphone40

2009-05-01T20:18:56.014-07:00

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"thermos fort"



crankphone39

2009-04-27T23:49:26.706-07:00

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"high as a... part II"

see part I here.



crankphone38

2009-04-24T03:26:48.024-07:00

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"warning!"