Monday, August 8, 2011

"Mobius Dick" (S08E08): Futurama Episode Review

Dr. Zoidberg has hair!
Readings were high on the weirdness scale this week in Futurama's latest episode. It had many of the elements typical to Futurama, a "space adventure" some might say. Here's a quick summary of the plot: Professor Farnsworth holds a vigil for his first crew that never returned from making a dangerous delivery. The current Planet Express crew is sent on a mission to pickup a statue dedicated to the first crew, they are sent through the "Bermuda Tetrahedron". Leela becomes obsessed when she meets Möbius dick, a space whale whose bowels are shaped like a mobius strip. Leela & crew get eaten and somehow make it back alive, bringing back the original crew to New New York.

Sure, there are lots of cultural references and tidbits in this episode that have already been pointed out in abundance, but I didn't feel a whole lot of magic here. Futurama has done some really good spoofs before (S02E01: "A Flight to Remember"). Spoofing classic literature doesn't guarantee a successfully nerdy episode.  Aside from cracking some really good jokes and some great Zoidberg character development, the episode was an empty remake of Moby Dick played by the cast of Planet Express. In "A Flight to Remember", it was the characters that told the story of Futurama's spoof of "The Titanic", and not the other way around.

Although there might have been some lack of originality, the rest of the episode did a great job holding itself up as a proper Futurama episode. This is the reason I cannot call this a "bad episode".  There were plenty of redeeming qualities and a lot of things that made me laugh.  Leela's grammatical prowess over contractions made me LOL quite literally.  We had yet another deranged meeting full of dubious dialogue at Planet Express. Example- Fry: "...I knew you had other crews, but you never told us you had a 'first' crew".  You have to pay attention and listen to the profound stupidity in that line, classic Futurama! And of course, like in every episode the slapstick of repetition was used ("or die trying" and "Bermuda Tetrahedron"). And who doesn't like Zoidberg character development? See quotes below for quotes describing Zoidberg's hip and cool youth. In the end, although it didn't amaze me, I think the episode held its own weight.

Favorite and Notable Quotes from "Mobious Dick":
Opening Line: "Featuring Sparky, the Invisible Ele"

Professor Farnsworth: I was out on the widow's walk keeping a hopeless vigil for the return of my first delivery crew. It's been 50 years since they disappeared.
Fry: Huh? I knew you had other crews, but you never told us you had a 'first' crew.
Professor: ...I remember it like it was interesting.

After Flashback:
Hermes: Zoidberg was popular!?
Amy: Zoidberg had hair!?
Professor: I never said he had hair, if you chose to imagine him that way that's your business.

Lando's Woman:: crying:: Lando, don't forget about me and junior.
Lando: I won't honey, or die trying.

Hermes: Incredible, Zoidberg had friends??!
Zoidberg: It was a different time.

Amy: I thought you said he didn't have any hair?
Professor: Yes, but something he saw on that mission traumatized him so severely he grew hair, just so it could turn white.

Leela: You can count on us Professor, we'll get that monument here on time...or die trying.

Bender: Supposing we're not stupid, what kinda stupid mission is this?

Alien: Here you go, in memory of the first Planet Express ship and its crew.
Leela: Hang on, "it's" shouldn't have an apostrophe. This means "and it is crew", what the Hell is wrong with you?!
Alien: It's a minor error lady, i mean we're space aliens, it's a miracle we can even speak English.
Leela: The miracle is that I'm not kicking your ass. I insist you recarve the entire statue correctly.
Alien: Okay okay. Hey Charlie! Hack over another block of ivory!

Leela: Brace yourselves, it's tickle me Elmo's fire.

Hermes: Space walk people, space walk for your lives!!

Leela: Raise the solar sails, i'm going after that mobius dick.

Amy: Leela, we need to talk, you've gone from crazy like a Fox to crazy like Fox news!

Hermes: She's diving into the 4th dimension.
Amy: We have to cut the rope!
Leela: Negative Sailor Moon, we're going for a sleigh ride.

Leela: What's going on?
Lando: It's very simple. Well, actually it's very complicated, luckily I'm here to explain it.

Professor: Welcome everyone, what a pleasure it is to see so many miserable faces.

Zoidberg weirdness.

There you have it. Would love to discuss what i meant about how to execute a proper spoof in the comments section below, or just your thoughts on the episode and if you can relate with me.  Here is a link to download the episode from iTunes:

iPhone 4 Bumper Review: 1 Year Later

Why do we buy covers for our cell phones? The answer should be obvious, but not for the makers of the Apple Bumper.  After having the bumper on for 6 months, i was surprised to notice scratches on the finish of my beautiful glass & brushed metal finish iPhone 4.  Had i known that my phone would be damaged in this way, i would have chosen better protection.

I've dropped my iPhone a few times, not too far from the ground mind you, but enough for the bumper to actually protect it. It's not a complete waste of money.  I chose the bumper initially for the following reasons: 1) I trusted Apple in its own design, that it would make bumpers fully capable of protecting their own products. 2) Aesthetics: i loved the clean look of the bumper which didn't hide the sleek design i oh-so love. 3) Ease: it was easy enough not to search a bazillion websites (which i had already done) to look for the perfect cover for my ~$700 MSRP investment.

One thing i have discovered and tested for myself: the iPhone 4 without the bumper gets better cell & data connection than with the bumper on. Without the cover i notice significant improvement of battery life and connectivity, so much that i leave it off all the time.  Sure, i was initially paranoid of exposing such beauty to damage, but after a year now i leave the bumper off.  Without the mostly useless bumper, I get to show off the design and do not have to deal with performance issues anymore.  If you have a bumper, take it off.  The iPhone 4 is best when it is bare.

iPhone 4 bumper review- Summary:

Pros: Aesthetics

Cons: Scratches brushed metal antenna, hinders connectivity, strains battery life.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Futurama: The Dung Beetle Phenomenon

"What's with the 17 dung beetles?" Fry asks in this season's episode All The Presidents' Heads.  Due to apparently popular demand, I have decided to dedicate this post in an attempt to de-mystify the Dung Beetle Phenomenon.  What is the Dung Beetle Phenomenon?... Well, you see i've got word from Google that the phrase "futurama 17 dung beetles" has brought flocks of viewers onto my blog. Thank you for visiting by the way.  Amazed, I looked into the Dung Beetle Phenomenon (DBP) myself and did some of my own research and analysis: 

What is a dung beetle? According to Wikipedia, in Ancient Egypt Mythology, dung beetles (known as "scarabs") were linked to Khepri, the Sun "God".  And i quote:

"The ancients believed that the dung beetle was only male in gender, and reproduced by depositing semen into a dung ball. The supposed self-creation of the beetle resembles that of Khepri, who creates himself out of nothing. Moreover, the dung ball rolled by a dung beetle resembles the sun."

...Yeah. So back to Futurama.  Thanks to the comments section below, we have figured out that Fry in "Roswell that Ends Well" is also a supposed self-creation (like Khepri), being his own Grand Pa and all.  The dung beetles or scarabs perhaps make a reference to that quality of his.  See also Season 1, episode 7 "My Three Suns" where Fry became the emperor of Trisol, the planet of the three suns.  In essence, Fry was a Sun "God", just like Khepri... profound! The dung beetles in Professor Farnsworth's family tree were in fact refer to Fry's pseudo-divinity.  Why were there seventeen dung beetles? Could it be that Fry is 17 generations away from Professor Farnsworth???  Let's find out.  If you take the time difference from Fry's origin and divide it by 17 (minus the Professor's age) it looks something like this:
Fry as Emperor of Trisol

3000 yrs - 2000 yrs = 1000 years - 170 years = 830 years (divided 17 beetles) =
48.823 yr/beetles

This doesn't make any sense. I'll be honest, i don't know where i'm going with this.  If any of you want to turn this into a meme or continue with this goofy analysis be my guest. My initial intention was just to post some pics of the scene and give some of my thoughts.  See the full size image below. Can YOU count the dung beetles? Turns out there are indeed seventeen of them! If you have ANY idea why all of you are so interested in searching for these dung beetles, please let me know in the comments section below.

UPDATE: Thanks to an anonymous follower and Javoec (see comment section below) we have figured out the answer to Fry's question: Like Khepri, Fry was also supposedly a self creation, he being his own Granpda and all ("Roswell that Ends Well").  The dung beetle correlation fits perfectly in this context. What's with the 17 dung beetles?  Season 1, Episode 7 or S01E07, that is 1-7 or 17, the number of beetles that fell on Fry's head. The irony of the dung beetles falling on Fry's head is actually ironic because it points to Fry's greatness as a previous Emperor ^_^. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Photoshoot: BMW E92 M3, WWII Engines

Focke-Wulf Fw 190
Post World War I: The Allied nations had given Germany a decisive defeat.  The 1920 Treaty of Versailles forced an armistice on Deutschland that prohibited production of armed aircraft, something that affected BMW originally in the company's infancy under the name "Rapp Motorenwerke" (before becoming "BMW AG"). However in 1935, Germany violated the armistice and began ramping up for WWII. During that time, BMW acquired the license to produce air-cooled radial propeller engines from American Aerospace company Pratt & Whitney and produced an improved version, the BMW 132.  Eventually BMW would go on to produce the BMW 801 which was equipped in the infamous Focke-Wulf Fw 190 (i didn't make up that name, really) aircraft used against the Allied forces.  Inspired from Karl Rapp's engine designs, BMW's inline 6 was born in this time period.

The engine featured in this photoshoot is Pratt & Whitney's R-2800 "Double Wasp" radial propellar engine, which produces between 1,800 to 2800 horsepower (experimental versions reaching ~3,600hp).  The engine mechanic also told me it was pulled off of a Vought F4U Corsair. 

Does the 4.0 Liter V8 S65 engine in under the hood of the E92 M3 have any relation to the 46 Liter, 18 cylinder R-2800 in the background? I would say they might be very distant relatives.  Would love to hear your comments and thoughts. View the photo shoot in my Flickr Stream.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

"All the Presidents' Heads" (S08E7): Futurama Episode Review

Call me an intellectual elitist, this week's episode of Futurama satisfied my brain's nerd receptors.  The episode was riddled with fake Futurama Science, references to American History and plenty of good old Futurama insanity, an instant classic.  A quick summary of the episode: While partying with the heads of the Presidents in the Head Museum, Professor Farnsworth finds out that his ancestor, David Farnsworth, was the bad apple of his family lineage.  Apparently David was a traitor to the American revolutionaries, so the Planet Express crew teleports back in time to make amends on behalf of this traitor.

"Intelligent humor" best describes "All the Presidents' Heads". A historical satire based in Pre-Independence Colonial America, the episode cracked some high-level jokes. For instance, let's take James Madison's liking for *elbows*; you had to know that the "Founding Fathers" were religiously conservative, even extreme perhaps when compared to modern day Presidents like Bill Clinton.  Several other historic references were made, but in Futurama style: The algea fish biting Abe Lincoln's trademark mole, the perversion of FDR's "We have nothing to fear but fear itself", Thomas Jefferson and Hermes bonding over growing hemp, the reference to the Alcohol Prohibition and George Washington's reputation for not telling lies, just to name a few....  I even had to look up the "Old North Church" reference on Wikipedia. At the end of the episode, the Planet Express crew via time travel tinkers with the Past yet again.  The result is an alternate World with David Farnsworth, who was deemed a traitor to the Founding Fathers, was instead portrayed as a decorated hero of the British Empire.  A profound message here- "History is written by the victors"- Winston Churchill.  Futurama teaching American History, if this isn't nerdaliscious, i don't know what is... Bravo!
Watch the episode for explanation.

Here's why i think this episode is an instant classic.  If you weren't paying attention during the Professor's explanation of his family tree, you missed some deranged logic. We are brought back to episode 4 of Season 1, "Love's Labour Lost in Space" where Professor Farnsworth debriefs the crew over Vergon 6 in a very curious meeting. If you didn't pay attention in that debriefing during the explanation of dark matter, the Professor got away with saying "...each pound of which ways over 10,000 pounds". Point being: you have to pay attention when you watch Futurama.

We also get a taste of that fake Futurama Science which I can't get enough of.  Still mostly a mystery, we discover that the "Jar Juice" that sustains the jar heads is based off of opium. I'm reminded of Gunther's electronium hat which produced "cognitive radiation" by harnessing the power of sunspots ("Mars University" Episode) or the algebra of the Futurama Globe trotters ("Time Keeps on Slipping"). Futurama Science is key when spoofing the sci-fi genre, this episode had plenty of it.

My favorite moment in this episode.
Other favorite moments and observations: Did you catch the subtle pun of using Calvin Coolidge's head jar as a cooler for beers? It was quite satisfying watching Ulysses Grant puke on George W. Bush and George Bush Senior, the highlight of the party at the Head Museum.  I thought it was clever how Comedy Central and MTV released the Head in a Jar iPhone App right before this episode. I also loved how Zapp Brannigan was featured in the advertisement of the app during commercial break.  The Andy Warhol appearance and references were sure to please the cultured fans of the Futurama crowd. And of course, the New Jersey bashing always makes the New Yorker in me happy (see quote below).

Favorite and notable episode quotes from "All the Presidents' Heads":
Opening Subtitle: "Apply Viewing Oil Now"

Professor Farnsworth: Ah yes, the Farnsworths boast a proud and distinguished lineage, no wormy fruit on this tree.
Amy: What about Fry, isn't he your distant Uncle?
Professor: Very distant! Not a true Farnsworth mind you, he's way over here on this filthy branch riddled with fungus and dung beetles.
Fry: What's with the 17 dung beetles? (Click here for further explanation)

Fry: Guess i better head over to my night job.
Leela: You have a night job?
Fry: Yup, it's exhausting, but i need the extra money to buy coffee so i can stay awake for my night job
Leela: ...but..?
Fry: Gotta go!

Warren Harding: and I want loose women, the kind that aren't afraid to show some ankle
James Madison: ::whispering::..or ELBOW!...
(Later...) James Madison: ::panting:: ..nice elbow action...

Rutherford B. Hayes to Fry: Oh boohoo, I'll lose my minimum wage job.

FDR: Listen hear young man, we have nothing to fear but running out of beer.

Fry: Where are we? Also, when are we?

Thomas Jefferson: The Yays have it, our nation's official joke state shall be New Jersey.

Professor: Where could Farnsworth have minted such a high quality fake?
Benjamin Franklin: Not here, but you know, i have a friend in Boston who's an expert silver smith, they could be connected.... there's only like 40 people who do anything around here.

Bender: You idiot, I'm not a cannon.... (BOOM!) Ah, I guess i am a cannon.

Paul Revere: One if by land, two if by sea.

Leela: (In British accent) I guess everything worked jolly all right eh gardener?
Bender: What's with your fruity accent Ducky? Buttocks, I've got it too!

Bender: (British accent) Say, how is it that we've got socialized medicine but me teeth still loo' like this?"
Bender poking fun at Socialism and Brits in general.