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.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Empire State Building: Seasonal Time Lapse

Taken from 5th Avenue, the following iPhone images were captured at various times of the day and year.  They were never meant to be a proper time-lapse series, so they're not centered perfectly.  The multi-colored lighting brings the masonry facade to life every night, the transition in lighting gives the building character. As you may already know, the Empire States Building (EBS) changes its lighting every so often depending on the day.  The Lighting Schedule describes who or what the lights are dedicated to.  Protected under the Landmarks Preservation Commision, the EBS is a steel reinforced masonry skyscraper 1,454 feet tall at the spire.  This building is truly the ultimate landmark. This series will be updated every season.  Click on the Flickr Stream below to view all the iPhone images at full size.

Driving Culture: Steering Wheel Hand Positions- Manual Ed.

My Favorite.
Behold, a mostly pictorial commentary on steering wheel hand positions.  This commentary will focus on manual transmission cars.  I will also define some steering position rules while driving a manual car. Manual transmissions have been referred to as "standard", "stick shift", "MT", "4spd", "5spd" or "6spd" in popular driving culture. Since i drive a manual, the "o'clock" orientations will refer to my left hand (since the right hand is usually changing gears).

"9 o'clock" - My steering wheel hand position of choice. This one is relaxed, not out to prove anything. It also gives you a perfect view of the instrument gauge. I like to keep my finger on the indicator switch for quick access. You also have access to steering mounted controls (if available). In my car the armrest is positioned perfectly to provide support. Ahhh... this is the way to cruise.

"10 and 2" - Unless you're driving past cops, this position is not preferred while driving stick shift. I have a rule: the "10 and 2" steering positions is not allowed in the M3 or any other race inspired vehicles.  For me, the 2 hand version of this in a manual car would be "11 and 5"... By the way, '10 and 2" always works when driving past cops. The perception is that you're behaving.

"12 o'clock" - "12" says "I'm in control here" or "outta my way!".  According to my observations, this is a popular choice for males.  Depending on how you actually hold the steering wheel and how straight your arm is, it can come off as aggressive. As with all of these steering wheel positions, this one has many variations.  And yes, this one is macho, very macho... perhaps too macho for me. 

"7 o'clock" - Lazy. Depending on the design of the armrest in your vehicle, this can also be optimal position for cruising (typically in SUVs).  "7 o'clock" is my bumper-to-bumper traffic position for when i'm bored or feel lazy.  Some people even use their knees O_o (not recommended).

"2 o'clock" - This is my own modified version of "12 o'clock", but to the side. It doesn't come off as aggressive and also gives a good view of the instrument panel. This position keeps you ready to turn either way.  I have adopted this wheel position as my "active" steering wheel position, used during "spirited driving".  Works well in the BMW M3.

Position used for "spirited driving"

"1 o'clock" - GANGSTA. Must tilt your frame to the side alittle (or a lot depending on the effect you want).  You can also tilt your seat all the way back for dramatic effect, almost as if you're lying down and ready for a nap.  If you have black limo tints, windows must be rolled down all the way.  This is not an optimal steering wheel position for a manual car at all.

"The Horn" - I understand the concept of the horn, to alert a distracted driver of his/her mistake.  But i'll tell you one thing, I've avoided several accidents at low and high speeds by not wasting my time with the horn.  In my mind, getting out of the idiot's way is priority.  If I survive the incident, I'll consider beeping my horn after my heart rate becomes normal.  Sometimes a horn exaccerbates the situation and throws the unattentive driver off even further.  Of course, each situation differs, the horn can be very useful in some situations....

Steering wheel hand positions above
are assumed to be in this "Normal" seating position
(unless otherwise noted)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Futurama iPhone App Review: Head-in-a-Jar-Creator

Nerds of the World unite! MTV Networks just released your dream app. Now you too can teleport yourself to the year 3000.  With its easy to use interface, the app allowed me to make jars of my entire family in less than 5 minutes.  My 3 year old even made herself a head in a jar, which proves how easy this app is to use.  Search "Futurama" in the iTunes App Store and the results have been dismal, up until now.... I've had the 99 cent Hypnotoad app for a year now, although i love it and it does its job well, the replay/re-use value blows.  Click here to download the Futurama Head-in-a-Jar App while you read the rest of this article.

It's me! @WrenDaWise
As an artist, i absolutely love the creative aspect of this app and the ease at which it lets me share my creations. I'm not limited by license restrictions as the folks at Futurama cleverly (yet tastefully) advertised on the final rendering head images the timing of the show and Matt Groening's signature.  The interfaces and menu screens are true to the Futurama universe, the focal point being the Head Museum. I love the fact that i don't have to register on yet another stupid website just to be able to print and share the images created from within the app. Links to email, Facebook and Twitter are well placed. Kudos MTV! No annoying level of connectivity either, the privacy of my Head Museum is kept safe from Earth (i think, LOL). I see a lot of potential here and look forward to downloading the next iteration or update of this app.

Pros: Aesthetic is true to Futurama Universe, Ease of use/sharing, Nerdy, Great Potential.

Maybe the people i know are too weird looking, yeah even for the Futurama universe, but I wish there was a little more variation in the features they offer while designing your head. As my own Head Museum grows, I'm beginning to see some duplicates. Don't get me wrong, there are tons of options, but maybe my background as an artist makes me yearn to tweak to the umteenth degree. For instance, i had to photoshop the mustache off my head in the pic above.  Also, I tried making Zoidberg, found his "nose" but couldnt recreate him :( I Made Leela, Bender and Kiff so far.  Wouldn't it be great if you could recreate them all? How about making them spit out a few animated quotes: "Bite my shiny metal ass".  A nerd can dream, but with this app you don't have to dream much.

Cons: More variations of head features would be appreciated.

A green, one-eyed Fry! Looks like one of my coworkers ;) jk.

Check out my collection of Heads in The "Custom" Head Museum.
There you have it. Support Futurama, Comedy Central and the makers of the app, MTV Networks.  We look forward to your next creation.  Don't forget to clean your jar water! ;D

Y3K: The 'Custom' Head Museum

MTV's Head in a Jar App
Welcome to the year 3000.  What is The Head Museum? A fictitious institution from Futurama, the museum was Matt Groening's clever way of bringing contemporary figures into the Futurama universe.  Located in the heart of New New York, the museum featured many different heads including: Leonardo DiCaprio, Pamela Anderson, and Al Gore (just to name a few).  The heads are mysteriously preserved in a liquid that provides them sustenance.  They must be fed every so often, like fish in a fish tank.  My dream is to one day have my head featured in a Futurama episode, even if i'm just an extra that doesnt talk. 

See Flickr stream below.  These are the heads i've accumulated through requests in a short period of time.  Want your head to be customized in a Futurama jar? Are you already featured in this Museum, but want your head edited with features the iPhone app is not capable of? For instance, i deleted the mustache available within the app because i don't have one.  Also, if i've made a head that you're not happy with, want multiple versions of your head or just want a different background, you can make a request in the comments section below (which is open to anyone). I'll even email you the original image file.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Photoshoot: BMW M3 at the Pier

Took the M3 to the Pier after a hand wash, click on the Flickr Stream below for more pics at high quality.

"Yo Leela Leela": Futurama Season 8, Episode 6

Where Leela goes to be inspired
for her new kids show.
I write this review as both a diehard Futurama fan and a Parent who is painfully aware of the uninspired childrens' TV shows out there.  My daughter is not allowed to watch dumb shows like Barney or Yo Gabba Gabba (see episode title).  Even I could do a better job writing some of these kids shows, and during my lunch break! Quick summary---> Leela pays a visit to the Orphanarium for story time and eventually gets the kids to love her strange but cute-ish stories. She signs on to cable TV with a major kids network and becomes rich.  At the end of the episode, we find out that she really had no talent or creativity, but that she copied her work from watching cute little beings ("humplings") live out their daily lives on some other planet.

I get it Futurama, but your references to pop culture were too obvious for my liking. Like i said before, Futurama fans have a high tolerance for weirdness, have some faith.  A parody is one thing, but the uncleverly obvious and oh-so repetetive jabs to Nickelodeon were too much. "Tickelodeon Kids Network"? "Popular Slut Club", "Spongebob Squrebolts" and "Dora the Destroyer"? In my last review i called Futurama a cleverly disguised satire on contemporary society, but i'm a little disappointed that Futurama had to resort to just some petty play on words.  We can do better than this. I'm reminded of last TV season's "Attack of the Killer App" episode, which also had too many literal references to pop culture ("Eye-Phone"?). And don't get me wrong, the jokes are funny and i agree +1000% with the view on crappy kids shows... call me strange but i felt like i was watching The Simpsons. Dislike me all you want but i'm a strange one: LOVE Futurama, but The Simpsons never worked for me... :( In my short encounters with The Simpsons, i feel that it's geared more toward mainstream America as evidenced by its success on Fox.  The Simpsons uses many literal references while poking fun at pop-culture.  Perhaps Comedy Central is trying to get a wider audience?  That understandable. I noticed non-Futurama people loved "Attack of the Killer App", but me, not so much.  I'll take a less obvious or literal approach to making fun of society anytime. I love you Futurama, but sometimes I have to give you tough love....  aside from everything i just said, I thought the episode was decent and had some good ideas.

Other thoughts and observations.... Did anyone notice how Leela pulled out of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle transport module? Guess all Mutants use transports, LOL :) The scene at the Orphanarium with Tickelodeon's Double Deal reminded me of South Park's Chinpokomon episode, particularly the scene where the kids were subjected to commercials like Alabama Man and Wild Wacky Action Bike. Also, how could anyone not notice the spoof on Aqua Teen Hunger Force? A lot of Inter-network grudges being played out in this episode.... Leela's Slurm award and the Slurm Queen's slime was meant to mimic Nickelodeon's Kids Choice Award. Reminds me of Double Dare with Mark Summers (remember that?!), but Calculon is a much better host!

Leela Mutant Ninja Turtle, reference to an older
Futurama episode? (and TMNT of course.)

Favorite quotes from "Yo Leela Leela":

Albert: Ms. Leela, I have a question.
Leela: Yes Albert
Albert: That story was a bad story.
Leela: That's not really a question
Albert: That wasn't really a story.

Leela: I don't know... don't i need a degree to write gibberish for toddlers?

Bender: So play a high school student who's also secretly a rockstar who's also secretly a massage chair?
Blonde Robot: No, I play high school student who's also secretly a rockstar, but in real life i'm a massage chair.
Bender: Ohhh, you ever made out with a tug boat?

Leela: Guys, I didn't have time to mention it up there, but I want each of you to know what an honor it is to work with me
Hermes: Sweet ego of Montego, somebody build a wind farm in front of her mouth!

I'll leave you with this video clip of "Yo Gabba Gabba", it was too painful for me to finish watching! :(

Sunday, July 17, 2011

"The Silence of the Clamps" - Futurama Season 8, Episode 5

Opinion on last week's new episode (Spoilers galore everyone).

Long Long Island, New New York... Nerdy nomenclature trends to come for the tristate area (btw, Long Island is very, very long).  To quickly summarize the episode, Bender crashes a Robot Mafia wedding, doing and seeing things that get The Donbot wanting him dead. The Earth Bureau of Investigation offers Bender a witness relocation protection program after testifying in court, on the Moon! Yeah, "We're Whalers on the Moon" :) Clamps is sent to find Bender and kill him, only to be stopped by Zoidberg!

This episode is riddled with social and political commentary.  We find out that the Robot Mafia lives on (Long) Long Island. Is this where the real Mafia lives? We also find the Mayor of NNY at the Robot Mafia wedding, is this a jab at Mayor Bloomberg? This time Judge Whitey, the WASPie aristocratic judge who wrongly convicts defendants wasn't around, but a robot judge who stood up for justice immediately gets shot in court and gets replaced with the next robot judge in line.  Futurama is making a bold statement here. Futurama is a cleverly disguised satire on today's society, but in the form of quirky robot characters, humanoid lobsters and rooster lawyers all flying around somewhere in outer space... To most of America much of this goes unnoticed because they're thrown off by all the weirdness, can you blame the average Joe? But for those of us with a high tolerance for weirdness ::sigh...:: Futurama never dissappoints....

Other observations and impressions: The Clamps' real name is "Francis". The tough mobster with the scary nickname has a harmless sounding real name. Oh yeah, Calculon makes an appearance, sings a song for us. I would have liked to see him featured in an "All My Circuits" episode-short. Bender's "Rodriguez Crime Concepts Inc." got me LOLing. One slapstic motif i noticed this episode, also in other episodes, the use of repetition. In my opinion this is hilarious. Calculon says "Noo!!!" and then Bender repeats the whole story and says "no" about 10 times, LOL. This repetition was found in episode 5 of last season's "The Duh-Vinci Code". In that episode the characters repeat "My God" an insane number of times... In other entertainment, Clamps and Zoidberg have a snipping vs. clamping battle and general competition through the episode. Zoidberg rules. Lastly, did anyone catch Bender & Crushinator's little daughter??? See image below.

Favorite Quotes from "Silence of the Clamps":

Calculon: "Donbot, please, I'll pay you back as soon as you lend me some more money".

Bender: Ooo, Oo, Oo and then Calculon said, No, NO!, NOOooo! and then i ate some excellent meat balls. Can i have my 50 bucks now?
Earth Bureau Investigator: I enjoyed your story, especially the tasteful love scene, but it's not enough to convict the Donbot. You'll have to to testify in open court"
Bender: No, NO!!! Can i have another 50 dollars?
Inv: No
Bender: No?
Inv: NO!
Bender: Noooo!

Rooster Lawyer: Your Honor, the Prosecution roosts, Buckock!!!

Francis (Clamps): That guy can bite my shiney metal clamps.

Fry (to Bender/Billy): You sure you don't wanna "Kill all humans?"
Billy: Pfft, I love all humans!
Fry: He really is gone.

Can't wait until next episode...until then.  Feel free to leave comments or spread the word. Thanks :)

Abstract Art

electric city 300dpi

This is how i got through much of High School, sitting in College level classes drifting off into outer space. Yes, few classes ever sparked my interest.  My artwork is my outlet.  I do many types, but this abstract form is theraputic to me.  This highly evolved doodling originates from the strokes and techniques that my hands have learned through the years. Like instruments my fingers sketch out shading and hatch patterns with very little mind power. I add a little vision at certain key points, but mostly let my fingers go. In the end i have come to realize that these pieces of art truly tell the story in my mind and soul. To tell you the truth sometimes even i don't know how to describe the end result (but most of the time i do) ;)

I love showing my art to people. 99% write me off as crazy, and that's fine. But that 1% that sees something i don't or has their interpretation to tell... that 1% is worth all the effort to get my art out there.  That is why i'm posting it up here. Let me know what you think! What you see, or if you have any idea of what was going on in my head, please explain. This one can't really be interpreted, but in other pieces you will see what i mean.

This is the introductory post to all my artwork. I'll be posting up old and new artwork every now and then. Also check the "Art" page, which has a link to my Flickr stream. Enjoy.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

"Law and Oracle" - Futurama Season 8, Episode 4

Delivery for....
This is less of a "review" and more opinion.

The episode begins by paying hommage to the first Futurama episode ever, Space Pilot 3000. However, instead of making a delivery to "I.C. Wiener" Fry makes a delivers to a "D. Frosted Wang" at Applied Cryogenics. A Chinese guy happens to work at Applied Cyrogenics... you see, even the most apparently dumb joke ever in this show has such depth. This is the reason i love Futurama. Defrosted Wang at a cryogenics lab, intelligently demented! (also very juvenile) ;) 

Futurama is meant for those of us who watch normal people movies or shows and laugh at the stuff no one else laughs at. We are not normal. When i meet other Futurama fans i feel at home knowing "this is my kinda person". In short, this episode is better than most of the Comedy Central Futurama revival batch. It's got wit, references to pop sci-fi that other reviews love to point out and it's damn intelligently nerdy humor (the best kind). 

In this episode, Fry joins the New New York Police Department (NNYPD) because he's fed up of not being promoted from being a delivery guy his entire life.  People in New York City have tons of opinions of the NYPD, but one thing's for sure: common cadets don't drive "hot rods" like the one shown in this new episode. Fry gets his promotions, but eventally realizes that he has to turn Bender in. Fry loses his new awesome job as a result and then comes back to Planet Express.
The NNYPD Hot Rod

Some thoughts: Roberto makes a cameo appearance (the crazy robot from "Insane in the Mainframe" Season 3, episode 12). God, I just love that episode so much that seeing him puts me in a good mood; Hedonism Bot is at the end of the episode, I LOL everytime he pops up because the concept and design of this robot intrigues me as an artist! Oh yeah, why is Zoidberg treated so badly? Fry takes him for a walk every day apparently? They made fun of 3D movies (Thank you). As person who grew up playing 8-bit 3D games on Sega Master System, 3D is not a novelty, it's more of an annoyance.  That's just my opinion. Onward...

Favorite Quotes from "Law and Oracle":

Fry: "Ive been a delivery boy for a thousand years, isnt there any room for promotion around here?"

NNYPD Recruiter: "You think you can nust waltz in here without pants and become a cop?"
Fry: "That's the plan."
Recruiter: "I like you kid, i got no pants on either"
Fry: "I can see that, you're quite a bit taller than me"
Recruiter: "Welcome to Police Academy".
Spoofing Tron (apparently)
Leela: (Referring to their new mission on Pandora) "That dangerous 3D planet? Can't we just send our avatars?"

Bender asks Pickles "Why?"....
Pickles: "So i can kill my human brain cells. Do you have any idea what a burden it is to know everything that will ever happen, to never be surprised, to know the punchilne of every joke....hours in advance?"

Would love your comments. Please checkout the following Futurama websites if you haven't already:

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Wren the Android

Phantasy Star VI, 1994 
No, not Google Android! Definition: noun \ˈan-ˌdrid\: a mobile robot usually with a human form. 

The origin of Wrendawise is not so deep.  Wren is a video game character from Sega's RPG, Phantasy Star IV (one of my all time favorite games). He was a hip 998 year old robot that was designed to control the climate systems of the Algol Star System.  A cool looking android, Wren always had the answers and made exploring look easy.

I was setting up my email with a good friend of mine on that fateful day. "Name your favorite videogame character" my friend asked me. At the time Wren was on the top of the list, and I had just beaten PS4 a few weeks back.  Wren da wise was born... Since then I've been using it for various email accounts. When social media became popular, the association to me was already so strong. It made sense to use wrendawise for Twitter.

So here i am, this blog is meant to be an extension of my social media accounts. I'm experimenting for now, I'll be posting as often as i can, nothing too streneous as I barely have any time to myself these days.  Let's see where it goes.  Enjoy these pics of Wren from Sega's Phantasy Star 4. Would love to hear your comments on my posts (this one's retarded so i don't expect any comments ;). 

Wow Blogger, adding images to my post is really a pain.... Wren's stats when from when he first joins your team (image to the right).  As you can see, PS4 was blessed with anime style artwork...being Japanese and all.

Oh yeah, welcome to my blog.