Know Your Meme

18-Aug-10 8:49 AM by
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At last month's KansasFest, an annual convention for Apple II geeks, I gave a presentation that was followed in the schedule by a 45-minute gap. It was too little time for a technical session, which usually requires 15 minutes beforehand to set up and another 15 afterward to break down, but it was also too long to ask attendees to wait. So I volunteered to fill the time with an off-topic fluff session: Know Your Meme.

Thanks to the Internet and social media, cultural artifacts can be disseminated in a distributed fashion faster than ever before. When something attains phenomenon status via viral means, it becomes a meme. But, just like a real virus, memes can quickly die off. What's everyone talking about today that will be gone tomorrow? Ken Gagne demonstrates what a double rainbow means and who your man could smell like.

The timing was perfect, as in mid-July 2010, two different Internet phenomena were swiftly making their way into the public consciousness: Double Rainbow and Old Spice Guy. In fact, interest in the latter peaked the week of July 11–17, the week leading up to KansasFest, yet many geeks were still unfamiliar with these memes. KansasFest 2010 was a limited-time opportunity to share this hot topic before it became yesterday's news.

The first meme was "Double Rainbow", which has as its root this video of a mountain man who is overcome by the double rainbow in his backyard. The longer he records the experience, the more emotional he becomes:

The video, uploaded in January 2010, didn't achieve viral status until June, when it was tweeted by comedian and television host Jimmy Fallon. Soon, the video was everywhere, as were its spoofs — from the autotuned music video and the KFC drive-thru (both available in the above YouTube playlist) to Bill Amend's own FoxTrot strip.

I then moved on to a more voluminous meme. (more…)

On the Road Again…

21-Jul-08 3:01 PM by
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As with this time last year, I'll be AFK for a few weeks as I enjoy a summer vacation in Missouri, then Washington and Missoula. I have some Showbits content queued for the next two weeks, so there will be something to read while I'm gone.

I didn't want to leave the site in a precarious position while away, so once I'm back and available to smooth out any bugs, I'll be upgrading Showbits to WordPress 2.6 (that being the software that powers this blog). If, while I'm under the hood, there are any additional features you'd like to see implemented, please let me know!

In the meantime, I may be blogging on my journeys for my day job, so if your interests are not just cinematic but also retrocomputic, surf on over.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Apples?

14-Jan-08 12:00 PM by
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Targeting systems online.

Targeting systems online.

When David Szetela delivered his keynote speech at KansasFest 2007, he revealed a fact that is little-known to all but diehard geeks (which was, of course, exactly who he was addressing). It connected two of my favorite things: the Apple II computer and the Terminator movies.

In the Terminator films, the audience is often treated to the perspective of these cybernetic organisms sent from the future to change the past. This red-hued vision makes assessments and executes routines faster than the human eye can perceive — but if you watch a certain scene in the first movie frame-by-frame, you may spot some familiar algorithms.

Read the rest of this entry at »

Goin' to Kansas City…

17-Jul-07 10:01 AM by
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Just a brief post to indicate that Showbits updates will be scarce this week, as I am leaving in a few minutes for KansasFest, the annual Apple II expo held in Kansas City, Missouri. I'm on the convention's planning board, which is a conflict of interest that prevents me from covering the event for most publications, but I hope to blog about it elsewhere.

Also, I've added some new, minor functionality to Showbits. When reading individual posts, look near the bottom of the post (just above the comments) for a link that says "[print_link]" to get a printer-friendly version of the page, or or "[email_link]" to send the page to a friend. Voila!

Fantastic Faux

26-Dec-06 11:15 PM by
Filed under Films; 6 comments.

And now the trailer for the next Fantastic Four film is up.

I know why I watch this stuff: after watching the best parts of a bomb excerpted into trailer form, I'm saved the time and money of watching the rest of the movie. Here, we have Johnny Storm chasing the T-1000, who has some pretty nifty powers but whose motivations are unclear. I'm happy for them to stay that way.

I saw the first Fantastic Four film at KansasFest 2005 as our annual geek field trip; other such titles have included Superman Returns, Terminator 3, X-Men, Planet of the Apes, and both Bourne films. Obviously, we've had both hits and misses. But based on past experience, I think we can safely rule out this Marvel flop as a likely candidate for KFest 2007.

It's a shame that Marvel's cinematic adaptations can't be more consistent, as they have great potential. I rewatched Spider-Man 2 today, and the original X-Men last week (more on that in a future post). So far, four-fifths of these two franchises are fantastic; but the other Marvel films I've seen, such as Daredevil and Hulk, were simply painful. I'll take my Bill Bixby/Lou Ferrigno DVD sets anyday.