Thursday, June 24, 2010

Thursday Traffic | 24 June

Reader, I apologize for skipping last week's Thursday traffic. If it makes you feel better, there was a lot of traffic last Thursday. Anyway, this Thursday wasn't too much better and the tourists have started to invade public transportation. But if it weren't for the tourists, DC would be so boring. Here are a few funny things that tourists do when traveling to the nation's capital. Maybe you can learn from their mistakes?

Directions: Oh me, oh my! Whenever tourists come to DC, they always need directions. First of all, know the name of the landmark/museum/location you are trying to reach. Descriptions will only get you so far. If you are looking for the White House, then being on the National Mall won't help you. (Yeah, I know that the Capitol Building might look like it should be the White House, but it isn't.)

Segway tours: Nothing quite like a good old-fashioned tour of the capitol while riding a Segway. Be careful there.

Metro: No, this is not the subway. This is the Metro—it's run by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. It has five lines—red, orange, yellow, green and blue (apparently, a purple line might be in the works in the future)—and each line goes in two directions and ends. Try asking where you should go before getting on a train. It'll save you time and wasted effort.

Attire: The matching colors are helpful for many tourists traveling with kids. So if one child is lost, you have another child to compare with. If you only have one child, bring a picture. I'm joking, I don't want people losing their children. Keep your eye on your kids. Dress weather appropriate and the weather has been weird lately. You never know what you should bring. It gets hot and humid in DC though, so stay hydrated.

Walking: Even if you have no idea where you are going, walk with purpose. Don't wander aimlessly down sidewalks. Keep your eye on those street signs. You'll probably run into numbers, states or words like "constitution" and "independence". Backtracking doesn't hurt and you can ask for directions if all else fails. I recommend having a GPS device—then you'll always have an idea of where you need to go. Many phones support GPS now, so see if yours does.

I'm not going to talk about driving in DC. Do you not get the whole meaning of the traffic posts, reader? Seriously, I would avoid it because of the hassles and cost of parking. If you must drive, I recommend that you do a bit of research about the location so you are prepared. Valet parking helps out as does Metro parking. Look forward to more tourist antics throughout the summer.

Image via quick internet search

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Cartoon Chatter | Spongebob Squarepants

Sooner or later, readers, I would have to bring SpongeBob into my weekly chatter. Like Ren & Stimpy, SpongeBob SquarePants is a cartoon you either love or hate. There if often very little middle-ground. I know that there are those of you who are not attracted to yellow, porous, driver's test failing, square pants wearing, snail owning, karate practicing sponges that live in pineapples under the sea, but the cartoon is quite entertaining and very imaginative. Even I must admit that some sketches do not appeal to me (Mermaid Man & Barnacle Boy, you won't find me watching you), but overall SpongeBob is a diverse and hilarious distraction from the ordinary.

Spongebob even has a cast of well-developed and diverse characters. Many minor characters, like Mr. Krab's daughter Pearl, make reappearances in later episodes. Of course, the yellow sponge for whom the show is named always makes a great entrance and continues to astound you with his random behaviors.

There are several recurring themes throughout the series such as SpongeBob's obsession with jellyfishing. The show almost makes them look so cute, but then they electrocute a character and they lose that cuddly feel. Perhaps it is the storytelling that I enjoy most in SpongeBob. If it weren't for the storytelling, I'm pretty certain that the cartoon wouldn't last for more than 10 years like it has. I'm not certain how much longer it will continue, but SpongeBob will always be a favorite of mine.

Image belongs to Viacom and Stephen Hillenburg

Monday, June 21, 2010

It's my fault

I often get addicted to Nitrome's little casual games. If you ever have time, you should check out their full library. However, I wanted to give Fault Line a little spotlight today. I played through all 30 levels and did fairly terribly, but it was fun to figure out how to proceed. Basically, you have to fold the level at certain points to proceed through the games. Overall, controls aren't bad. There are moments when you'll become upset when you can't reach a fold section, but that happened to me towards the end. It's a good game, so give it a try if you're bored.

Film Review | Toy Story 3

I was very excited about DisneyPixar's latest release. If you are unaware, Pixar is a 3D animation studio known for coming out with one film at least every year or so. However, over ten years ago, Toy Story was the movie that started it all. A few years later, Pixar brought Andy's toys back to life for Toy Story 2. Now, Toy Story 3 debuted over this past weekend and it was just as well-executed as I could have hoped. I've got a grade below and the full review (with spoilers) after the jump.

Grade: A

Image via The Washington Post

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Design Studio | Mike and Maaike

Often, I look to other blogs and sources to find out what other designers are making. Share Some Candy is a great way to see work from various industries from graphic design to textiles. While I did not study industrial design, I am often quite attracted to the results created. Mike & Maaike is a San Francisco-based industrial design studio that creates many innovative works. Please, visit their website and read more about them. I am very taken by the execution of their projects. You will recognize many of their clients, including: Google, Belkin, XBOX, and BlankBlank. If you are looking for some inspiration, you might find it at Mike & Maaike.

All images belong to Mike&Maaike

Imagine seeing this...

Battle of Branchage from seeper on Vimeo.

Up above

The Yann Arthus-Bertrand Gallery has several beautiful photographs to capture the eye. I thought I would share the image above with you. The first image was shot in Argentina. You can view more information about it here. The second image is a view from gardens in France. For more about that image, read here.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Cartoon Chatter | The Weekenders

I'm jumping back to Disney for yet another installment of Cartoon Chatter. This time, I would like to draw your attention to The Weekenders. The cartoon debuted back at the start of the millennium and ran for four years. The show's theme is derived from its title. The Weekenders follows the strange lives of four tweenage friends—Carver, Lor, Tino and Tish—living in California. Usually, something happens on the beginning of the weekend (or something has happened during the week) that becomes the focal point of the episode.

The Weekenders is a show that can easily be overlooked. The animation is okay and the theme song (written and performed by Wayne Brady) is quite catchy. However, there is a heavy moral-of-the-story factor in this show and that can be a big downer for many older cartoon viewers. There are some pretty great ongoing gags throughout the show. My favorite is that the pizza place where the main characters often eat constantly changes styles. This kind of attention adds some flair to an otherwise heavily formulated show. If you have some time, you can watch many episodes of The Weekenders online or you can purchase the DVDs.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Film Review | The Karate Kid

Anyone that has ever watched the original Karate Kid series might have been a little wary of a millennium remake. Not only is the iconic Mr. Miyagi now deceased, it seems that there is not much that could be done by Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith for The Karate Kid. Luckily for you, readers, I bring good news about a remake—amazing! Hit the jump for the full review.

Grade: B-

Image via a quick internet search

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Thursday Traffic | 10 June

Today marks yet another Thursday filled with its usual traffic. As the bus crawled through traffic and I was packed like a sardine on the Metro, I wondered about a commercial I watched yesterday. According to, approximately 1 of every 5 relationships begins online. This made me think about "virtual friends"—you know, people you've never met before, but you get along with really well on screen.

The idea of meeting someone "virtually" is actually not new. Back in the olden days, this occurred often through a dying form—written letters. A traveling family member or friend would send word of a contact in excruciating detail—clothing worn, eye color, hair color, shoes, fabrics, height, etc. When the receivers of these letters went into a new town in search of this person, they would meet someone they had never seen before, but heard about through another person. In other cultures, many brides and grooms would meet the day of their wedding.

Even better than those options was the invention of the pen pal. The idea of the pen pal system was to increase the literacy of foreign students. However, many pen pals met one another in later life after having written each other for years. You see, there is something instinctively fun about speaking with a person you have never seen before. Without any photos or illustrations of the person to cloud judgment, being able to just talk to someone is satisfying, and you can speak freely without worries of looks, biases or apprehension.

For some, connection alone is enough. Hence the growth of messages in bottles. They can be used to get information to the world or to find someone—or be found. It is fairly obvious that humans require interaction with other life. Some people go mad on their own. Other people will shirk human interaction in favor of a life in the wild with nature. Either way, I have to say that it is not crazy that people have resorted to meeting others online. It's something that has been occurring for many centuries, just in a different form.

Image via a very quick internet search

Way to make life interesting

Image via Fork Party

Artist Spotlight | Will Varner

Thanks to StumbleUpon, I now have another illustrator to admire and that inspires me. It is always a treat when an artist tells a great story between their work and the title of their piece. Will Varner does it with style and pizazz. He describes his work best:
By blending elements of my adult angst and childhood fantasies I seek unique visions, bizarre creatures, and warped cityscapes. By looking through the eyes of society's outsiders I see that we are unified by those very feelings of isolation. An empty field. The blue glow of a computer monitor. The cold of outer space. I draw from a lonely place but find connection in the making process and humor along the lonely road.
Hopefully, you are inspired by his work as well. He also has a rather nice sketchbook on his site. Please, let me know what your opinion of his work is in the comments. Hit the jump for a few more of his works that caught my eye.

Images are copyright of Will Varner

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Augmented Shadow

Augmented Shadow_document from Joon Y Moon on Vimeo.

No longer words on a page

For the past few years, kinetic typography has become more and more popular. I will always remember my graphic design teacher being adamant about moving type. He explained that many logotypes (and logos) lend themselves well to motion. Ford used kinetic typography for their truck commercials and it was a well-executed campaign. You see, artists nowadays have benefited from this animated world that we live in. Enter the kinetic typography video—a bite-sized morsel for the eyes. There are so very many, but I will highlight only a few here on my blog.

The video below has some bad language. Not recommended for young children.

Cartoon Chatter | Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends

There are several reasons why Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends (Foster's) is one of my favorite cartoons. It premiered on my birthday back in 2004, it showcases the imagination, it has fun animation and music, and it had an excellent storyline. Minus the premiere on my birthday, these are qualities that I prefer in my cartoon.

Creator Craig McCracken brings an interesting concept to the show. What does happen to imaginary friends when kids outgrow them? Well, contrary to popular belief, they are not so imaginary—everyone can see them—and they have a difficult time fending for themselves. Luckily, Madame Foster provides a home for abandoned friends and never outgrew her imaginary friend Mr. Herriman, a large, butler-like bunny. The episodes are extremely entertaining and imaginative (shocker!).

By far, the best thing about Foster's is the group of characters that the show revolves around. They are so well developed that you can't help but to like them. Cheese, Goo and Coco are personal favorites of mine, but you should watch the show and decide who you like. Although the series ended last fall, you can still purchase DVDs or watch episodes online.

Image via a quick internet search

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Edible Castle

I happened upon Edible Castle and I decided that I must share it with you, reader. If you are familiar with—and like—Homestarrunner, you will probably enjoy this as well. The site has several short cartoons and a very fun game (with more games in the works). Now, before you get upset with me, I must warn you that Edible Castle is not appropriate for young children. There is some bad language and graphic violence. You will need the Flash player to watch the toons and play the games (Flash 10 recommended, but everything still works with Flash 9 if you cannot upgrade for some reason).

Image via Edible Castle

New York, New York

These vintage photos and illustrations of New York are a nice blast to the past. You can check out Christian Montone's Vintage Times Square set on flickr for more.

(via Designers Couch)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Thursday Traffic | 3 June

This is the first Thursday Traffic entry of June, and I must say that I am starting to see vacation traffic. That's right, readers. It is tourist season in the city. Cue family trips, foreign visitors, screaming babies, sweaty people and completely clueless venturers—voila! you have DC in the summer. However, that's not the point of my post for today.

When you go out in your own car, you can carry as much as you'd like. You could bring the kitchen sink with you if you really needed to do so. When you ride the bus or metro, the same isn't necessarily true. Carrying items on your commute can be annoying, but here are a few tips to help you out:

Backpacks/book bags: As helpful as they are, you need to keep your eye on book bags. When metros get busy, your bag can be in the way (or get stuck in the train doors). Try not to over-stuff it. Don't put important items in there—they might be stolen on a crowded train.

Laptop bags (non-rolling): Most of these have a handle that you can carry your laptop with comfortably or a strap that goes over your shoulder. This is a great way to keep your important items nearby without taking up much space. You can find some really stylish ones in stores and online.

Rolling bags: The epitome of evil. These helpful items cause users to forget that there is a distance between themselves and others. When using these, remember that it does not turn the moment you do.

Messenger bags: One of my favorite materials to carry around. These stay close to the body and are space savers.

Tote bags: Compact when out of use. Good to have handy in case you stop into a store or something. You can store your materials in it, and it can be stylish and sustainable.

Purses: Women, be certain that you keep your purse near you. Larger purses could be a hazard to other guests if you are running and allow it to slap everyone along the path. Keep your eye on it—nothing sucks more than a lost purse.

Fanny packs: An absolute fashion faux pas. Don't even think about it. Leave them in the 80s where they belong!

Strollers: No matter how cute your kid is, strollers are bulky and dangerous. Always be mindful of other passengers and remember to set your breaks on the metro. You might be able to collapse it for bus rides.

Luggage: Since it takes up a lot of space, try to avoid overcrowding doors with your luggage. Attempt to stand near the center of train cars or sit at a completely empty seat to remove your materials from the walkways.

Cake trays and containers: Since you've put some work into making your confection, hold it carefully. Try to find a seat so you can minimize the chances of dropping said sweet (or savory treat).

Loose items: Books, newspapers, jackets and other objects should be held close to the body. You don't want it to be knocked away or damaged during a crowded ride.

Instruments: Best carried in a case. Try to keep your instrument close to you. Avoid playing music on metro trains in DC as it is not allowed. Do so in NY or Paris or something instead.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Cartoon Chatter | The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack

I'm skipping away from Nickelodeon today to talk about a cartoon that airs on Cartoon Network. The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack (Flapjack) is a hilarious creation from Thurop Van-Orman.

What's not to like about Flapjack? Flapjack, the protagonist, wears a red and white striped shirt and a little hat. There are pirates. There is romance. There is swashbuckling. There are peg legs and hook arms. Plus, if that is not enough, there is CANDY! An entire island of it. In fact, Candied Island is the goal of our young adventurer Flapjack.

The characters are amusing, the stories and creative, and the voices are extremely well done. The animation even switches to claymation at times. It adds extra emphasis—and extra silliness—to the show. My best comparison would be to say that Flapjack is to Cartoon Network what Spongebob is to Nickelodeon. It provides that seemingly random but expertly planned hilarity that makes you laugh and possibly quote the show later. It just manages to do it in a bit of a deeper way. Like the Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, Flapjack is a little edgy in some of its sketches, but I enjoy the show enough to bring it up on my Cartoon Chatter.

Now, my advice to you is to check your local listings for airings of Flapjack. It's a great show and it should still be running (it's on its second season). You can also purchase the first season on DVD—your choice.

Image via a quick internet search

Animal Fever

Not only do I have some eye candy for you today, but it is eye candy that can keep on giving. While perusing the internet today, I tumbled across The Animal Blog. It's "a whole blog dedicated to all things animal." Hope you enjoy!