Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Specialization is for Insects

If anyone wants the PDF, I GoogleDocs'd it HERE.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


I officially fail at social media. Told myself I was going to liveblog the bejesus out of this year's Society for Neuroscience conference but of course I chose the road more easy to travel by: a path paved with 140 characters and mobile connectivity. In my defense I was pretty busy during the daytime wandering around the convention center, stalking awesome professors and refueling on Starbucks grande chai lattes. But anyway, so that the nerdtastic excitement and general awesomeness of everything don't wither away in my terrible-excuse-for-LTM storage, I've decided to extrapolate my memories from posts to the twitterverse and hope this compiles a somewhat coherent narration of experiences.

It really was though. Airports are usually such depersonalized spaces: you're surrounded by thousands of people shuffling brusquely along in their own worlds, too worried about their own travel plans and schedule to waste time interacting with others. Understandable. Still, it was nice to look around and be able to connect with these complete strangers without saying a word: I knew why they were here and where they were going. It felt like we were all part of some secret club except instead of a complicated handshake, membership is demonstrated with long, awkwardly shaped luggage (even though technically I didn't have one. Boo. Joined my lab too late to be included in the abstract submission. But hey, I could still appreciate the unspoken bond.)

Touched down on Golden ground and had our spirits instantly lifted. How can you not smile at such a gorgeous state? We took shuttles provided by the conference to our hotel and were welcomed by this view. Immediately made a pact with my roommate to miss our returning flight and become bums on some, any, street corner of this beautiful city. But enough about our plans for umbrella tent shelters- IT'S TIME FOR #CONFERENCEBANTER.

View from our hotel room. Rockstar.
I really wish I could have taken pictures to capture the enormity of this convention. It was just... mindblowing. Humbling, even. Here are 30,000ish people that have come together to learn and share and explore research in a fantastically broad field. I was surrounded by molecular biologists, geneticists, computer scientists, engineers; people who work with worms, rats, clinical populations, controls; studies that utilize  psychopharmacology, neuroimaging, behavioral psych measures... the list goes on. Yet we're all here on the same mission: to understand the brain (or waste our lives away trying). Gets me all warm and tingly.
Poster of the day: "An fMRI Study of Two Brain Interaction Using a Novel Dual-Head MRI Coil System" That's right, you heard (/read) correctly- a dual head coil.  The ability to scan two people's brains simultaneously opens up a new dimension of social neuroscience research. Assuming you have two verrrry small people that are comfortable hanging out in an enclosed space for the duration of the study and you're not particularly interested in the visual cortex- the possibilities are endless!

How about instead of asking me what I'm supposed to do with a handful of eppendorf tubes you ask yourself what CAN'T you do? eh?
Poster of the Day: "Atypical Thalamocortical Connectivity in ADHD Youth" Theoretically, when we're not actively engaged in a particular task, our brain runs on a functionally connected network of brain regions, nominally, the default mode network. Looking at differences in activation between ADHD youth and control youth can help us understand what is going on when people's minds wander. Which, if the way I write is any indication, is something I'm INTENSELY interested in.

No offense to Science, Cell, Interdisciplinary Reviews in Cognitive Science, Nature, Nature Reviews Neuroscience or NIDA brochures. Just saying, you'd be a lot cooler if you were color-in-able.
That is all.

So this reminds me of a good point about social media: not everyone uses this platform to have narcissistic conversations with total strangers about the everyday minutiae of their lives: sometimes Twitter is actually useful. Case in point, if @BrainCatalog hadn't started following my account, the chances of me seeing their booth in the sea of vendors would have slim to none. And that would have been tragic. In a nutshell, they're creating a GoogleEarth-esque application that allows you to browse through mouse brain terrain. The exciting potential of this technology is tangible- can't wait to see where it takes us in the next few years. You can read more in the NYTimes or watch their intro video:

Poster of the day: Uhm, that one. "A Remarkable Increase of Visual and Mental imagery Following Ayahuasca Ingestion: An fMRI study" While I'm still very curious how they're explaining away the fact that an MRI machine overwhelms even the most sober of participants with booming, unsettling sounds and overloading the senses of someone on psychedelics is INFINITELY different than using the same environment with a control subject... this still wins the My Favorite Poster Ever Award (prestigious, I know). They interpreted their results to mean that more activation in areas typically associated with memory, vision and intention shows that using hallucinogenics affects our perception and separation of real life and our internal mental environment. A small step toward exploring reality perception and consciousness but a friggin' LEAP toward making psychedelic research a respected branch of neuroscience.
And it's about time.
(Randall Munroe, you're not helping. Even if we were all thinking it.)

(Almost) last but (certainly) not least:
Check out my lab buddies' sweet posters!
B. KING-CASAS et. al. The neurobiology of diffusion of responsibility in social dilemmas
S. BOUCHER et. al. Affective phenotypes exhibit distinct neural response magnitude and duration to emotional sounds
J. EISEMAN et. al. Neural substrates of interpersonal function in post-traumatic stress disorder
G. CHRISTOPOULOS et. al. Behavioral and neuronal mechanisms underlying reinforcement learning of social stimuli
L. LINDSEY et. al. Neural substrates of drug use, craving, and executive control in cocaine users
K. MCCURRY et. al. Neural correlates of aggression in cocaine dependent individuals
D. TANKERSLEY et. al. Reward and punishment learning associated with differential response to positive and negative prediction errors in stimulant-dependent subjects
** I actually need to go through and fix the links so they redirect to the SFN website, but for now this'll do**

Much love for the CKC Lab :)

Some parting thoughts: In the end, I'm very grateful for having the opportunity to attend this year's conference. It was a learning experience on many different levels and definitely makes me appreciate academia just that much more. Thanks to everyone who came to present their research and share their positive energy with the rest of us. Also, a special 'thank you' goes out to for access to the abstracts and entertaining us with their super creative Lady GABA- Posterface parody.

"When it's cor-ti-cal / If it isn't rough it isn't fun" ...Truth.

See everyone next year!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

It always had to go this way.

I was asleep in a hammock
I was dreaming that I was a web
I was a dream-catcher hanging in the window of a minivan
parked along the water's edge.

Finally got around to listening to Wolf Parade's album Expo 86 and of course, am left absolutely infatuated. I know it's trite to say shit like "they've really matured as a band over the years and it's been a privilege to tag along for the ride" but there, I said it. Not because Expo is better than Apologies (blasphemy!) or Mt Zoomer (not-quite-as-blasphemous!), just that it demonstrates progression, exploring and conquering new territories of sound. There's something mesmerizing about their particular brand of synthpop -- the songs feel optimistic despite intense melancholy overtones and electric harmonies that pierce your soul.

Case in point: In the Direction of the Moon.

Also see:  What Did My Lover Say (It Always Had to Go This Way)

Maybe I'm too vulnerable to cover-art influence, but listening to the album straight up overwhelms me with nostalgia. The kind that gnaws at you until you stop whatever you're doing to go roll around in the grass or build a couch-cushion fort.

Well, that or channel the flood o' feelings into a Wikipedia binge...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Science is art, art science

—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know

I'm going through another one of those phases where I obsess over the people I want to be when I grow up instead of working on the steps to become them (like tracking down their address and social security information). Actually that's not quite fair, I have been trying to work on a fun side-project animation for about a month now but keep getting distracted by my job, responsibilities to my future, and fantastic animators who blow my mind open with their science-art.

First up: Candaş Şişman dives into the artistic side of math with F L U X.
Dedicated to the sculptor İlhan Koman, this animation explores new perspectives on his works "Pi, 3D Moebius, Whirlpool and To Infinity" with hypontic audio-visual textures. Remember Peripetics? Similar animation style, but overall F L U X is more fluid and less... strange.

Next: David Bolinksy's 2007 TED talk, The Inner Life of a Cell. He chats about truth, beauty and the exciting field of medical animation. You can can check out more of his studio's work on their website. Seriously Jeremiah, your dad is a bamf.

Now, I know I've been saying this a lot lately but how has someone not made a live action remake of the Magic School Bus series yet?! WE HAVE THE TECHNOLOGY. I'm looking at you, Spike Jonze, for apparently not having any qualms rewriting our generation's collective childhood memories anyway. Wait, I take that back. The only person I would completely trust with my favorite book series is Michel Gondry. So you guys should to work on it together. Mmkay, good talk.

Last but not certainly not least, I present to you one of my all-time favorite animations: Procrastination, an unassuming masterpiece that perfectly captures how it feels to resist productivity at all costs. This is Johnny Kelly's graduation film from the Royal College of Art in 2007 and while it might not have anything to do with the science-of-art or art-of-science, I trust in your abilities to figure out how it's relevant.

Aaaaaand that's my cue.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ozzy Osbourne Gets His Genetic Code Sequenced

"I was curious. Given the swimming pools of booze I've guzzled over the years—not to mention all of the cocaine, morphine, sleeping pills, cough syrup, LSD, Rohypnol…you name it—there's really no plausible medical reason why I should still be alive. Maybe my DNA could say why."

Looks like pretty flawless logic to me.
Thank you Ozzy, for your dedicated contributions to science and mankind.

You can read the full article on Scientific American where they interview one of the co-founders of the company in charge of genetic analysis. They talk dopamine, metabolism and the presence of "rare genetic variants." The interviewee actually does a pretty solid job of answering questions clearly intended for the CSI generation. FYI kids: Analyzing genetics is friggin' hard-- you can't just dump someone's DNA into a machine and have it spit out all predispositions for illnesses, character traits and the "secrets" to their existence. YAKAWOW!

Friday, October 15, 2010


Observation number one: It is surprisingly easy to get from Oakland airport to the Haight-Ashbury district. Yes, I went from bus to train to another bus and walked a total of about 2 miles but it was ridiculously easy to do so. I didn't realize public transportation could be so available, useful, and tourist-friendly. Weird.

Observation number two (brought to you by Mr. Timothy Faust, Master Fusion Food Finder): You can shove literally anything into a flour tortilla and call it a burrito. Don't think I'm complaining about these flexible semantics though, I'm devouring them. We started with a spicy Korean bbq kimchi&pork burrito and ended the night with a Curry Up Now Green Monster delight. MulticultralWIN.

Observation number three: This has absolutely nothing to do with San Francisco and everything to do with what goes through my head when I'm alone for too long. So let's just say, studying for the GRESubject psych test has left a fair amount of buzzwords swirling around my working memory. I first noticed this when I brought up Kandel's experiments on the sea-slug aplysia in the middle of a conversation because I genuinely thought it was relevant. It wasn't. But anyhow, as I sit here sippin' my second cafe au lait of the day, I'm imagining what a coffeeshop conversation with John B. Watson would be like were he around. He'd probably point out that drinking coffee is part of a multi-reinforcement model with both primary positive (the energy, euphoria and overall warm tastiness) and primary negative (the headaches, ohtheheadaches!) reinforcement. Add in the common traits of free wifi and a chill place to sit around and you've even got some variable-schedule secondary positive reinforcements. Word. And now you know! (and knowing is half the battle)

Observation number four: Wandering around alone outside is officially my most favorite pastime ever. But who am I kidding, we all already knew this. There's just something so awesomely meaningful about journeys powered solely by your rhythmic footfalls- uphills, downhills, aroundabaout hills, through parks, under trees. Suddenly everything becomes a great purposeful metaphor for life in general and as Mr. Tom Wolfe would say "it's phony goddamnit it... but mysto..."

Observation number five: It is fucking GORGEOUS outside. And that's all I've got, folks.

Now back to working on my grad school apps. Spoiler alert: Berkeley's statement of purpose begins: "I would like to be a part of your program so that please don't make me ever leave here ever"

Thursday, October 14, 2010

It's phony goddamnit...but mysto...

"They mean it. Everything in everybody's life is...significant. And everybody is alert, watching for meanings. And the vibrations. There is no end of vibrations. But anyway, this talk just flows. Everyone is picking up on the most minute incident as if they are metaphors for life itself. Everybody's life becomes more fabulous, every minute, than the most fabulous book. It's phony goddamn it...but mysto...and after awhile it starts to infect you, like an itch, roseola.

There is also a lot about games. The straight world outside, it seems, is made up of millions of people involved, trapped in games they aren't even aware of."

"...Now I'm doing it again, ah, that amiable itch, I just extracted a metaphor, a piece of transcendental bullshit from this freaking toothbrush case."

-Tom Wolfe
Electric Koolaid Acid Test

I think I'm going to start posting awesome quotes here as a way to keep them all in one spot without *heaven forbid* overloading my Facebook info.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Diagnosis: Chronic Infomania

So, this thought-train started up earlier this afternoon when I was trying to get some serious work-stuffs done. I need to study for the GRE, get headway on three different tasks for work, and dedicate time to paintings I promised to people months ago. (And here I thought being stressed during weekends ended with receiving that ol' diploma tube in the mail. False.) But before getting started on any of these projects, I have to stop and think about how I'm going to spend my day. This requires mentally organizing tasks into functional categories: does this one require computer/internet? Can I do it at the same time as something that doesn't? Can I do it outside? How can I mix-match-multitask my way into the most efficient use of my time?

For example:
Painting (+1) while watching Java tutorial on computer(+1).
Painting requires that I stay inside at home -> Home means I don't have to wear clothes (+1) but I don't get stable internet (-1).

Making GRE flashcards (+1) while downloading abstracts of relevant experiments (+1) at Coffeegroundz (internet (=chat + email + PubMed) + being outside= +4)

Maybe it was the more-than-decent amount of coffee in my system, but for the first time in quite a while I actually started listening in on myself ticking through iterations. Making these pro/con lists of combinations isn't something you do consciously; years of practice (and probably procrastination) have made the process automatic. So I paused a minute... when did this happen? All we've ever been taught about attention and memory is that focus and critical thinking are the best ways to absorb information. So when did I start equating multitasking with productivity?

Oddly enough, I do remember the first time I thought about it. The first time I became aware of how technology has affected our ability to focus on work. It was sometime late middle school and I was doing homework on our family computer- probably writing an essay of some kind- when my mom walked in to check up on my progress. She asked how I was doing. I said fine. Then she starting laughing and asked how I could possibly be getting anything done. This caught me off guard... I was just doing work as usual. A Microsoft Word document was open in one corner of the screen with snippets of paragraphs scattered across an otherwise empty page and three or four IE windows were haphazardly sized and stacked in the remaining desktop space. The taskbar was lit up by intermittent blinks from a handful of minimized AIM windows and the physical desktop of our office workspace was littered with looseleaf notes and open binders. I cupped my hand over the base of our landline phone (I had been chatting with a friend from New York) and answered "I dunno, I just do." Which is the truth. I'd never really questioned a workflow that came so naturally...but when you see it from an observer's perspective it makes absolutely no sense.

Somewhere along the way, this ability to do-lotsa-things-at-once turned into an compulsion to do-lotsa-things-at-once. Otherwise, you get bored or feel like you're wasting time. Go ahead, try to focus. Before you know it, a thought reminds you of that other thing you're supposed to do so you look it up on Google or Wikipedia which reminds you to check that one thing on Facebook or Gmail and then you're drowning in a sea of tabs and programs and uncompleted thoughts.

We're a bunch of infomaniacs and it's sort of a problem ('cause I wasted my afternoon writing about this instead of whateverthehell else I was supposed to be doing. Meh.)

I wish I had some fun conclusive moral to this rambling. But I don't. Of course. and that's the whole point. Here, have some relevant links:

Chuck & Beans comic: Life Before Google.

Other countries say ADHD is very culture-bound: at best, overdiagnosed in the US. At worst, a phenomenon we made up to describe flighty state of mind.

And of course, the kickass Currrent Show: InfoMania

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Just thinking out loud.

Listening to good music in the car is the only way to prevent road rage. Turn it up, sing along and prepare to be pleasantly surprised at how much easier it is to endure stop lights, cut-offs, and old people.

I had a dream the other night that my neuroimaging lab at Baylor decided to start running memory-altering experiments a la Eternal Sunshine. My subconscious wasn't able to put together a coherent procedure, but it had something to do with birdseed and cryogenic freezing. On that note, people who assign symbolic significance to dreams make me giggle.

For the first time in almost 20 years, August is just another month. No last minute shopping for school supplies, no rambling soliloquies whining about the subjective passage of time, no anxious stomach-butterflies warning me of impending responsibility. It's just... August. Huh.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Crystal Head Cult

When I left my job at the Business School this past January, one of my Coworkers gave me a Crystal Head Skull full of vodka. Easily the best going-away gift ever. However, while I can't yet attest to the quality of the vodka (I'm waiting for the right occasion! It's too beautiful!) I do have a few things to say about the company. Like WOW DAN AKROYD HAS GONE BATSHIT INSANE.

"Connect to the message of the crystal heads here on earth- the enlightenment of human kind and the spiritual awakening which can occur in all of us and the acceptance that there is more to life than mere material reality."

Uh... what?
Go ahead, go to the website (if you dare). He's completely serious. I watched the entire introductory video waiting desperately for some sort of punchline.

"We chose Newfoundland for the purity of their land and water...We [quadruple distill the vodka] through carbon... and then triple filter it through 500 million year old crystals known as Herkamer diamonds."

Oh. my. god.

Do these people not realize that the novelty of buying liquor in a skull is enough to make this a marketable product? Are there actually customers out there that only prefer this brand because of its "purity of spirit" and ethereal connection to other planes of existence? Either this website is one huge flawless joke on pretentiousness in general or they're a just few steps away from moving to Guyana and mixing up some Koolaid, Cyanide & Vodka cocktails. Yeah, I went there. (OHHHHHH YEAAA.)

Speaking of cults, the whole POINT of this post was to bring up an awesome thought I had the other day: why does Crystal Head co. limit themselves to skulls? Animator David O'Reilly allows people to download a free version of his 3D model Walt Disney Head from his internet website. You might remember it from his remarkably adorable (/absurd) animation ?????:

????? from David OReilly on Vimeo.
I don't think I'm alone when I say I'd LOVE to do shots out of a Disney head I keep in the freezer. I mean come on, that's like a million cryogenic preservation jokes just waiting to happen. Am I right, guys? Guys?

Saturday, July 3, 2010


Get money, get paid, you know what I'm sayin'?

I have officially survived one week of being a Research Technician in the Computational Psychiatry Unit of the Human Neuroimaging Lab of Baylor College of Medicine (because I'm pretty sure the more prepositional phrases I tag on, the cooler I sound.) I'll be running subjects through giant supermagnets to get both structural images and time-sensitive maps of blood-flow during specific tasks. I could explain it in slightly less layman's terms, but that's really as far as my comprehension of the matter goes: these machines are ridiculously awesome and complicated and I've only scratched the surface of the iceberg that is 'working knowledge of functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging.' I know I've had lots of fun drunk conversations with my Electrical Engineering buds about how fMRI works on a more fundamental level, but for some reason, I never seem to retain much of the information from these discussions.

I can't even describe how excited I am about this position. Call it the 'honeymoon phase' if you will (but let's just say, I'd be getting A LOT more out of it if this were a honeymoon...) but so far the lab perfectly balances my need for empirical methods and interaction with people. Smash together qualitative Sociology, CogSci, and Neurobiology to find Social Neuroscience nested right in the middle. There is so much I can learn from working here, and the best part is, they're willing to teach! My goals for the end of the year (/semester) will be to operate the scanner solo, pick up some MatLab and get a better grasp on what neuro-niche I'll pursue for grad school. Last but not least... OMGBRAINZ!!! Um and also, I have hand-print access to get into certain rooms. So I'm basically a secret agent now.

Post script: Just so it's out there: If you don't know what the quote from my image macro is from, you really should catch up on your Juggalo-culture references. By watching this Insane Clown Posse vid (circa 1:50). Oh yeah, I went there.

Post-post script: I just realized I never posted my Psych animation presentation here, but it's on my folio-blog. I taught myself Flash for this digital short, so be kind.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Historical Justification for my Obsession with Scion

or It's Hip To Be Square.

If there's one thing Scion does well, it's stand out. On the highway, in their advertising, and even from the traditional definition of a car. Sounds like I'm exaggerating but honestly, the more I research their marketing strategies and campaigns, the more infatuated I become with their revolutionary take on branding. Sure, I'm biased--I fall smack dab in the focal point of their target market but that doesn't make this company any less groOovy, maaan.


This subset of Toyota was founded in 2002 with a very specific market segment in mind: Generation Y of the United States. (You heard right, this brand isn't sold anywhere else in the world. Yet. September 2010 marks its release in Canada.) Given such a limited target, they were allowed certain freedoms in marketing strategies that wouldn't have been feasible on a massive scale. Honestly, the company's promotions resemble the evolution of a cultural trend than product-pushing which is either awesomely authentic or brilliantly engineered. Either way, remarkable. Observe:
  • The first year of sales were contained to California.
  • Advertising started at the ground level- local events, concerts, art shows. TV ads didn't come til later.
  • When TV ads did appear, they were alt as shit
Unsurprisingly, the Scion has been heralded as "one of the auto industry's most extraordinary marketing success stories" for empowering consumers and creating a market for (what used to be) a new car at a used car price (Ad Age). I think the keys to Scion’s success are sincerity, consistency, and customizability. After all, marketing to Gen Y doesn’t just mean throwing around recycled buzzwords to catch consumer attention, it means creating an experience that is reflected on every level of interaction with the brand.

In doing this, Scion created more than a marque of cars, it paved the way for a new kind of relationship with your car. Because, let’s face it, anyone can make a square car: Pontiac has the Aztek (2001), Chrysler has the PT Cruiser (1999) and Nissan has the Cube (1998), Honda has the Element (2003). No big. What Scion offers, on the other hand, is literally and figuratively a vechicle for your creativity. Back in 2008, the company estimated that on average, Scion owners spent as much on accessories and customizations for their car in the first 36 months of ownership as they did on the car itself. That's anything but normal. Did you know that Scion prices are nonnegotiable? If a Toyota dealership charges you more or less than the listed MSRP, their license to sell Scions is revoked. So no matter where you live or where you go, you pay the same price. This creates an easy, open environment for car buying and completely removes the frustration of playing cat and mouse with the pushy salesmen. Why? Because Gen Y is fucking tired of games.

Backing up the no-nonsense Pure Price policy is the (perceived) sincerity of their advertising. Scion continues to sponsor and support local-level musicians and artists. They even have their own music festival in Oregon (of course). Browsing through the website, you get the distinct impression that they selling you the community as much as a car. Call me a sucker, but this is a nice change from every other brand listing endless specs.Anyhow, enough of my soapbox, now for the fun part:


Divided into my three favorite campaigns: United by Individuality, What Moves You, and Want2BSquare.

The is the commercial that caught my eye and started the ball rolling on my obsession. One of many reasons to stay up late watching adult swim on a large HD screen. The ad pairs visually stunning graphics of the infinite creative possibilities with custom-made sample-based mashups to represent the remix potential of the car’s (and the owner’s) identity.



Just in case consumers start wondering "How can I be unique if we're all buying the same cars?" They throw in some catchy (/cheesy) taglines: “Stand with us by Standing out,” “Become one of us by becoming none of us,” “Create a following by never following.” etc


This is my least favorite of the series. It seems a little cheesy. But it definitely ties the room together. Baseline of the campaign: The car is a blank canvas of expression that is as alternative and eccentric as the individual behind the wheel.


Any company trying to embrace counter-culture advertising is forced to walk a fine line between garnering support and scorning mass appeal. In a sense, the Scion cars were the perfect product for this balancing act. Consumers can immediately appreciate the quality, as each is essentially a Corolla, which is one of, if not the, best-selling car in its class. At the same time, the aesthetics of each model almost guarantee limited popularity. I’ll admit it, the first time I saw an XB I thought it was horrible. Scion takes advantage of this guttural reaction and markets it as a strength. And THAT’s good advertising.


I love the creepy little kid's voice, it definitely adds to the overall eeriness of the commercial.

Or Not

We know some of you think it's ugly. But we don't care what you think.

What Moves You

This one fits more into the customizing theme of the other campaign, but I'm categorizing it by tagline. Yup.


This was one of their most successful guerilla marketing campaigns because it took advantage of the internet back when viral marketing was still ramping up. The websites associated with the campaign featured games, interactive activities and a quirky online atmosphere to draw users in. Nowadays, we expect this from a website. Then again, nowadays we’re all overstimulated, attention-deficit brats spoiled by information overload. So the context is a little different. But I think these commercials transcend context and will remain awesome forever and ever amen.
Plus, the “Being Square” pun is pretty clever (cuz the cars are square, get it?)
Oh and back to the idea of supporting local—all three of these ads were created by individuals that ATTIK found by scouring youtube for quirky aspiring animators/filmmakers. Pretty sweet, if you ask me.


Reminiscent of Saw this ad follows mad-scientist Christopher-Walken-lookalike in his exploits.

Round to be Square

Delightfully whimsical for such a morbid cartoon.

H’okay. That’s enough for today. Eventually I want tackle the crazy topic that is SCION CONCEPT CARS, PAST PRESENT, FUTURE. But mehh this post is TL;DR enough as it is. Am I right? I'm pretty sure I already mentioned something about information overload but I’m too lazy to scroll back up...well whatever nevermind.

IN THE END, I believe the marketing department of Scion (and those cool cats at ATTIK) are fucking geniuses. They’ve pumped out 8 years of solid, smart eye candy all the while remaining true to their original target and goal. That said, I think the brand is at a cross-roads. Whether Scion sticks with the young-hip-cultural vibe or decides to age along with Gen Y, they’ll have to reassess their strategies and values.

Parting thoughts-- Sadly, no matter how much I love and admire the company on an abstract level, I couldn't bring myself to buy one of their new cars. I miss the First Generation of XBs.Maybe this is a sad sign I'm slipping out of their target demographic.

Well THAT is a sentence I never thought I would utter.

Ceci n'est pas une blog post

This is, instead, a mere future reflection of posts to come. An intentional and hopeful self-fulfilling prophecy. And so I present to you Things I Have Been Meaning To Write About But Haven't So I Am Posting Them As A List Both To Encourage Writing and Pass The Time:

- Historical Justification for my obsession with Scion commercials
- Why David Lynch is a such a baller
- Understanding hallucination perception
- Bonnaroo memories (Completely unrelated to previous item. I think.)
- I FINALLY GOT A CAR and all is well in the world.
- General World Cup enthusiasm
- Postmodern analysis of some Adult Swim programs

I know part of the point of blogging is spurting out information in a well-paced, timely manner but I only have limited access to caffeine and (more importantly) a stable internet connection so this is no longer an option. Plus I am lazy. Very very very lazy.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Hope Springs Eternal

Don't worry Alexander Pope, you couldn't have the cerebral cortex.
But that's harder to rhyme with.

I am THISCLOSE to being done with school, graduating and becoming a real person. Definitely feeling overwhelmed and overworked, but it's nothing I can't drown in a few cups of caffeine juice. More serious is the lingering anxiety about closing off an entire life-phase...eek!

In the end, I've decided that the best way to get through this inordinately stressful time is to just stop focusing on it. We all know it sucks. So let's pretend it doesn't. There are so many positive opportunities awaiting our release from the hedges of Rice U. Obviously, thinking happy thoughts won't make schoolwork go away...but it's helpful to remind yourself there's (quite a bit) more to life than these awe-inspiring todo lists. Like flying. Happy thoughts make you fly, right?

Last of all, beware: the ides of May will be upon us sooner than we think. Except, if we're lucky we'll just graduate and not get stabbed to death. (The power of optimism!)

Today's Playlist: Optimism! featuring ELO, The Icicles, Ben Kweller, M83 etc.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Sound of Surrealism

Isn't it fascinating how our brains have trained themselves to interpret reality? All we're doing is inputting vibrations from the environment. Somehow this assault of stimuli is translated into electrochemical signals and sorted into networks, popping out the other end as sound, color, and meaning. (It's magic! ...fucking magnets...)

After awhile we get pretty used to how things are supposed to sound, look and feel. I mean, we've built up a lifetime of experience to tell us what is or is not physically possible. And that is why surrealism rocks so hard. I like to think of it as the art of stomping on your expectations. Ironic, absurd, subconsciously extracted- call it what you will. Sometimes it means transcending reality by drawing inspiration from internal reservoirs (ex: dreams). Sometimes it means messing with the fundamental laws of nature (ex: melting clocks). Sometimes it means disturbing you on a fundamental level, forcing you to question what exactly it is that you've been experiencing all along.

So, here to wake you up from this perceptual operating system we call reality, I present Zeitguised, a 3D motion-design group, self-described as "the strange, obscure twin of contemporary zeitgeist imagineering." I found their videos browsing through Vimeo staffer's favorites (a very redeeming way to waste time, for sure).

This audio-visual candy comes from a six-act (but only three-minute) exhibit they aired for the opening of the Zirkel Gallery. It presents a hyperrealistic fusion of plants, human bodies, textures, sounds and architecture. Watch it fullscreen. With headphones. Relax let yourself travel to a reality controlled by sound waves and fueled with lysergic acid diethylamide. Delicious.

First up, the original Peripetics. And because I so love the way they describe themselves, this is an "installation of an irreversible axis on a dynamic timeline."

Don't worry, there's more : Peripetics Ex Machina features scenes, outtakes, and iterations of the exhibition that didn't make it into the final cut.

(and that is why I want to learn 3D modeling)

Other gems among their work include Room Zoo, commercials for the Toyota Aygo & Yaris TVC and Untitled Geometries: Booleay. They remind me a lot of ATTIK's work on the new Scion ad campaign, but that's a whole different can of worms (/blog post).

Honestly, I'm curious how watching these videos makes other people feel. After all, that's the best part about perception, maaaaaaan. Even when presented with the same stimuli, we all walk away with our own personal gut-feelings. Brilliant or nonsensical, you decide!

: : : : : Want MORE Zeitguised? Visit their portfolio, blog, or videos

And I've decided to make playlists again.Partly because it's fun to think of songs that are conceptually linked to posts and partly because I like documenting what I'm listening to. Unfortunately, seeqpod is dead and buried and took all of my previous playlists with it. So it goes. Cristina-from-the-future, this is for you.

Alan Parsons, Beyond the Wizard's Sleeve, Chemical Bros, Lemon Jelly, MM MMM GOOD.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Some things to look forward to

We're out of Federal Holidays for the school year and I'm tired of counting down til Graduation. Time to set some new markers to cross off your calendar for the next few months.

EEEEEEEE! Listen to the singles: Bloodbuzz Ohio and The Runaway

Get ready for 8 tracks and 8 accompanying psychedelic short films. Listen to the single: Escape Velocity

NEW WOLF PARADE! (~July 2010)
Album name: Expo 86.

NEW DOES IT OFFEND YOU, YEAH?! (um, either March or Summer 2010)
NOT the album name, I just like the word: Interrobang.

NEW JUSTICE! (Projected: early 2010)

NEW INTERPOL! (Projected: early 2010)
Confirmed by an interview from Nov. 2009 and three million rumors spread by rabid fans.

: : : : : EDIT! FOUND SOME MORE! : : : : :

Play songs, preorder the album -> here. This is happening!

NEW OF MONTREAL! (September-ish?)
False Priest. (thanks for the tip, Dean)

NEW THE AVALANCHES! (October. Maybe.)
I certainly hope so...

Drink! Watch Short Films! Be Merry!

Okay so-

a) There's going to be a viewing of of some short films made by Rice students at the Media Center (the one by the Police Station) this Wednesday, April 14th.

2) I think we should go to Valhalla, drink a lot, and THEN go watch them.

iii) I won't ask you to vote for my video, but I will say this: the video voted the "audience favorite" at the screening wins a prize. So that's cool.

If you like beer and want to support Rice students making short films- JOIN US!

: : : : : The Official Rice-Sponsored and Tragically Beer-less Facebook Event

Oh Rauschenberg, You Elusive Beast

Visiting the Menil Collection always brings back good memories. Houston in the Summertime. Wandering the surrounding neighborhoods back when I didn't recognize the street names... Good times.


Which leads me to this post's

Bad News:
That big Rauschenberg from the back room has been replaced. (I know, I know, it's really embarrassing that I don't even know the name of my favorite. All I remember was that it was hard to remember and I to write it down somewhere after every visit. Yea, a lot of good that did). Honestly I'm a lot more torn up about this than I thought I would be, and I blame this on the fact that I CAN'T FIND IT ANYWHERE ONLINE. Seriously, anywhere. (It'd probably help a bit if I knew the name but that's not the point). I've been looking through artcyclopedia archives for about an hour, which in internet time is like fucking YEARS. Zipped through the first three stages of grief like nobody's business, getting hopelessly stuck on the fourth which I assume will stick around until I either FIND THE GODDAMNED PIECE or realize I've wasted an entire afternoon pining instead of writing up that Research Methods paper. I should go do that at some point.

Good news:
My desperate searching hasn't necessarily been in vain. Apparently by browsing through every. single. art. archive. ever. you turn up some pretty obscure works (whodathunk) So I present to you: Rauschenberg on Dante's Inferno.
Specifically, this one is Canto VIII: Walking around in the fifth circle of hell and Virgil getting denied entry into Lower Hell (a-thank you, Sparknotes). There's an entire gallery if 12th-century-literature-you-read-in-high-school-but-don't-remember-too-well is your thing.

Also, I found that there are a lot of places nearby-ish that have Rauschenberg pieces on permanent exhibition. Fieldtrip, friends?
Downtown Houston MFAH, R-berg count: 3
Obviously, Menil Collection, R-berg count: LESS THAN IT SHOULD BE.
The Modern in Fort Worth, R-berg count: 2

And last but not least, Save the Date!
Sunday, June 6, 2010, 3:00 p.m local artist Nathaniel Donnett will be speaking on Robert Rauschenberg in The Menil.

: : : : : More Menil Programs

I have the best friends in the universe! Charlotte found it!! The piece is called "Holiday Ruse (Nightshade)" and the only picture I can find of it is on this artblog. (Which does a great job of describing the museums and neighborhood in the area, by the way)

Now I just need it back.
plz k thx

Heligoland: Splitting the Album

First impression: Heligoland makes me want to take these Senneheisers into a sensory deprivation chamber and let phosphenes work their magic.

Second impression: Too entranced to move, so this computer-on-the-kitchen-table setup will have to do.

But seriously, if you haven't picked up Heligoland yet, you're missing out. Especially if you're into their brand of dark, calm, trip-hop (perfect for spring-cram-study-sessions if I may saysomyself). The album is seamless incorporation of various fun people and minor chords. If there was an English word seated directly between ominous and optimistic (semantically, not alphabetically) it would probably be the most appropriate. This is why I can't write nice things.

For whatever reason, we tend to be pretty harsh critics when Bands We Love release A New Album: sometimes you have to listen to music a few times before you can truly appreciate it. Yet Heligoland sucked me in on contact. The layers of sound are woven flawlessly, allowing you to deconstruct the levels of instrumentation or just let it hit you all at once. Back to first impressions, I was genuinely moved. Inspired, even. Closing my eyes, letting the audio flow over my consciousness, I swear I was one sensory deprivation chamber short of conjuring up an accompanying visual trip a la Interstella 555 (Hm note to self: get on that). Luckily for us chamberless folk, there have been five professional visual interpretations of songs from the album. All are absolutely phenomenal and I highly recommend this screening be your next break from productivity:

Splitting the Atom - directed by Edouard Salier Beyond being a miraculous work of CGI rendering, this pretty much exemplifies the "darkly sensual" tone of their sound in general and this album in particular. Cherry on top of the delicious video? You're hearing reggae-singer/songwriter Horace Andy (see: awesome voice from MA's Angel) and creepy keyboardings of Damon Albarn (aka Gorillaz...and 25% of Blur). Fantastique!

Paradise Circus - directed by Toby Dye (classy, but NSFW) This microdocumentary accentuates the song's underlying eroticism overlaying Georgina Spelvin's insight on the surreality of film, the narrative of sex, and the Devil Inside of us (allusion alert!) over vintage clips of her most famous work.

Flat of the Blade - directed by Ewen Spencer A day-in-the-life glimpse of black youth sifting through memories and experiences and music. Ambiguous, yet implicitly haunting.

Saturday Come Slow - Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin Exploring the physical effects of sound, resonance and vibration on the human body. Former Guantanamo Bay detainee Ruhal Ahmed reflects on his experiences, like high-volume music interrogations. Stunning, eerie visuals.

Splitting the Atom (Round Two) Except this time it's about Bullfighting. Proof that you can affix this music to essentially any image and leave the audience residually unsettled (and that's why we love them so!)

Last but not least: Atlas Air Live from Russia with love.
Apparently the song is named after an airline company that sold out to the US military after going bankrupt by transporting supplies to war zones. My only source is some dude on YouTube, so take it with a grain or two.
Then again, in all honesty I don't even care what the song is about. The music this band produces transcends meaning. I'll bother with the allusive (/elusive) meanings of lyrics after I can comprehend the pure audio so uh... this might be a while.

: : : : : Buy the digital download, check out their tour listings, or find similar music
: : : : : Official Website:

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Internette

Remember when Microsoft Word used to spell-check-correct the word "internet"? I don't just mean recommending the approved AP style guide version (The Internet), I mean a time when it would underline it with those cute red squigglies and suggest "net" or "intern." Those were the good ol' dial-up days.

(image via timanderic)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Never stop being fascinated by life.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Happy day after Pi day!



for now.
I'll keep uploading things, but am ready to unveil it to the world!

Drumroll please...

MY WEBSITE (/portfolio)!

Go ahead: click it.


If this song doesn't raise your spirits, nothing will.
Also, I love the psychedelic entry scene, this video is just full of surprises!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

One day our cerebral cortex will be USB compatible.

Found this in my unpublished archives: May 2008. Hooray digging through the past!

My roommate wrote an insightful post about the YouTube Generation on her blog that really got me thinking (in other words, blogging). She pointed out how lost we would be without our precious internet not only because it's entertaining (can I just say that RSS feeds are comp-nerd crack? Because they are.) but also because it gives us immediate access to information beyond our wildest dreams. The world is quite literally at our fingertips. It's easy to forget this as we type our cute little emails, browse our cute little webcomics, or stalk our cute little e-friends, but when you step back and think about it, it's mind-boggling. It's no wonder the older generations are scared of technology... If I didn't know better, I'd just as well assume this series of tubes is witchcraft.

Sometimes I think that being exposed to all of this information is evolutionarily counter-productive. Our brains begin to rely completely on what the computer provides. In the novel Shampoo Planet, when one character forgets where a country in Africa is located, the main character replies:

“Fairs fair. I mean if we are supposed to learn all the new information people are inventing, we have to throw old information out to make way for the new stuff. I guess history and geography are what’s being thrown away. What is geography to anyone who speaks to people all over the planet every day all at once on their computer nets and modems?”

He has a good point though, when we have Wikipedia,, facebook to tell us everything that’s going on, (or basically anything that’s EVER HAPPENED) we don’t need it in our heads anymore. Who really NEEDS to know when the Civil War was or who invented the helicopter (even though I OWN one). Did I mention I’m thinking of getting metal legs?

Then again, that's exactly what the internet would want me to say...

…c0mput3rs ar3 t4k1ng 0v3r 0ur m1nds!

Moral of the story: We rely a lot on computers. It's kinda neat. It's also kinda scary. Now go read a Douglas Coupland novel and watch Grandma's Boy.

Endnote: The idea for this post came from my roommate's blog , and my comment on it. I figured writing up an entirely new post would be a) stealing her intellectual property and II) harder than Ctrl+P. In other words, I'm thoughtful but lazy.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Work, Fear, & Waking up that voice in my head.

While my friends went off on an exotic cruise bouncing along the pan-american coastline, I decided to spend this week doing work. Catching up on homework, going to a workshop, applying for post-grad work, and using force to move things a certain distance (multiply them, btiches! it counts!) I'm doing this, not because I am the most responsible of my friends, but because I am driven by the most powerful emotion in the whole wide world: fear. Fear that I won't find a job, fear that I've tinkered with my brain chemicals beyond repair, fear that if I don't learn marketable skills NOW I'll be useless once released to the real world, and the ever-present haunting fear that if I leave my desk for ONE SECOND I'll lose momentum, fall into an abyss of apathy and never graduate.

But enough of that. Let's talk about stories.

My first SB10t task at hand is to prepare for a Digital Storytelling Workshop that starts in eh... approximately 12 hours. By class time tomorrow I need to have created storyboard for a memory or event that will form the frame of the production. This is what brings me back to the wonderful world of xanga: it holds about 4+ years of posts spanning the most tUmUlTuOuS years of my life. Surely something buried among these archives is worthy of visual digitization? Probably. But that's not what has caught my attention as I peruse through high school/early college content (surprise! I got distracted again!). It's the presence of the online narrative itself. Reading over my old posts has made it abundantly clear that somewhere along the way I seem to have lost my ability to tell stories! Back in the day (circa 2004) I could weave an entire xanga entry from a mere song-lyric, an observation, or a funny thought. Symptoms of overanalysis? Most definitely. But at least there was something there, some narrative process in which I convert thoughts streams to metaphors or morality tales.

As excited as I am about learning a new computer program (Final Cut Pro) and developing my skills as a filmographer, I think the best part of this workshop will be that it forces me to reexamine my role as a narrative being. I will make a story and I will make it coherent. I will make it longer than 140 characters. I will complete a sentence without referencing hyperlinks. I can do this.

This post was directly copy-pasta'd from my xanga weblog... which brings up another goal for this spring break: CONSOLIDATE. There is no need to have five different blogs. I could either move them all here, start up a Wordpress, or buy a domain name and set up shop there. Maybe writing down this goal ON my blog will force me to take action... maybe.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Hasn't anyone in the Pentagon read Jurassic Park?

You know something's up when a project's goal is to "[eliminate] the randomness of natural evolutionary advancement." And that something is awesome.
Darpa's Biodesign research is looking into producing organisms that can live forever, be loyal (read: un-hackable) and be shut-off by a "genetically-coded kill switch." You know, just in case something goes horribly, horribly wrong.

The project is getting $6 million outright, but will probably benefit from the $20 mil they're pushing for a new synthetic biology program and $7.5 mil put towards improving methods of analyzing cellular genomes.

This kinda reminds me of the time in high school when we extracted the DNA out of a strawberry. Not because we did anything scientifically irresponsible groundbreaking with it, but just seeing the proteins swirling around in our little plastic tubes and knowing that that fluffy substance was the secret to the biochemical processes of life was mind-blowing.
Yeah, I don't get out much.

Full article and image credit: Wired Danger Room

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Specifically, freshly ground Southern Pecan.

I want to start reviewing things.
Coffee. Movies. Music. Cloud-computing applications.
I want Bettie Page bangs.
Assuming my hair will allow it.
I wanna learn how to work the linux-counterparts of my favorite adobe cs software.
Probably start off with GIMP, Xara, and Scribus.
I wanna finish reading those three books I started over Christmas break.
David Lynch, Acid Dreams, Everything is illuminated! Your bookmarked pages taunt me so!
I want to organize my music library, delete shit I don't like and free up hd space.
Never been one to listen to artists ironically anyway.
I want to figure out how to connect to a wireless network while running my ubuntu partition.
Hmm, and buy an external DVD drive so I can fiiiiiinally install Win7.
I want more boots.
Especially if this cold-rainy-weather keeps up.

Coffee makes me want to do many many things- even write a post on my godforsaken blog! Basically, anything but homework.
This might be a problem.

59 at night. Because a non sequitur post deserves a non sequitur picture.