Posted by: Nar Williams | January 12, 2009

Achieve Nerdvana Has Moved!

The Achieve Nerdvana blog has moved to my personal website, www.NarWilliams.com.

If you are subscribed to my RSS, please update your feed: http://feeds.feedburner.com/narwilliams

Soon, the Achieve Nerdvana url will re-direct… but until then:

CLICK HERE!

Posted by: Nar Williams | January 9, 2009

Picture of the Week: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Poodle

TMNT Dog

Yeah. That’s a poodle groomed and dyed to look like Leonardo, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. As if that’s not enough, Sandy Paws Grooming Shop has a website dedicated to all the crazy ways you can groom a poodle. Really.

Looks pretty miserable to me. Must be more of a Raphael fan. I wonder if the dog hates the word “Cowabunga”… Would you blame her?

via Neatorama

Posted by: Nar Williams | January 8, 2009

Greatest Commercial Ever: Evolution Through Robots

This is a Saturn commercial created by Scholz & Friends, an advertising agency in Berlin, Germany. I’ve watched it 18 times already (I highly recommend you watch it in HD!) It’s a brief summary of evolution, using robots — from a robotic bee, to a steampunk T-Rex, to a female humanoid cyborg (I don’t know what she’s selling, but I’m buying).

My kudos to Oliver Handlos (Creative Director), James Cruickshank and Michael Hess (Art Directors), Carl Erik Rinsch (Director) and the rest of the team responsible for this. Congrats, you’ve catapulted yourselves into my Nerd Worship Hall of Fame.

…Purely Awesome. Any plans on a feature film?

via Loving the Machine

Posted by: Nar Williams | January 5, 2009

Super Mario Bros Theme Performed by Tesla Coils!

… ‘Nuff said!

via Neatorama

Posted by: Nar Williams | January 5, 2009

THE NERDVANA AWARDS: Best TV Show of 2008

Introducing the first annual Nerdvana Awards! For the first week of 2009, I decided to look back at all the things that helped me Achieve Nerdvana in 2008. There was no voting or complicated algorithms involved. These are simply the things I geeked out over the year: movies, tv, music, technology, books, and people included. Today’s category: Television!

2008 TV NERDVANA: TRUE BLOOD

trueblood

There’s been some great sci-fi television the last few years. This year, Lost rebounded from a weak season 3 with a much more interesting and dramatic season 4. Battlestar Galactica lost some major points by dragging out lame storylines, weakening the cylons, and altogether delivering an underwhelming first half of a final season (although my kudos for finally killing Cally — though this should of happened two seasons ago). And Heroes… well, if you really want to hear me rant about that  listen to my Nerdbunker podcasts

My favorite show this year was True Blood. Since this is a vampire show on HBO, all the blood and sex was expected. What really surprised me was how funny it is — a lot of really smart writing and some good acting made me laugh out loud pretty much every episode.

As a setting for sci-fi/fantasy, The American South is underused — but lends itself perfectly to gothic storytelling. In this case, it’s a rural Louisiana town. My favorite episode featured Bill the Vampire’s flashbacks to his time in the Confederacy during the American Civil War.

There’s a lot of complex character relationships and nuanced writing happening in this show, thanks to the fact that it’s from “Six Feet Under” creator Alan Ball and is based on Charlaine Harris’ books. If you missed it on HBO, make sure you rent this series when it hits DVD.

And btw, I don’t just like this show because I’m a vampire by night:

nar-vampire

Here’s the trailer for the show:

Posted by: Nar Williams | January 3, 2009

THE NERDVANA AWARDS: Best Book of 2008

 

Introducing the first annual Nerdvana Awards! For the first week of 2009, I decided to look back at all the things that helped me Achieve Nerdvana in 2008. There was no voting or complicated algorithms involved. These are simply the things I geeked out over the year: movies, tv, music, technology, books, and people included. Today’s category: Books!

2008 BOOK NERDVANA: HOT, FLAT, AND CROWDED by Thomas Friedman

hotflat

In Hot, Flat, and Crowded, Thomas Friedman argues that the countries, governments, and companies that take the lead in energy technologywill no doubt create the single most valuable competitive advantage of our time. He is pragmatic enough to recognize that there is only one force more powerful than Mother Nature and that is “Father Profit”.

He therefore calls for a systematic approach to the climate, energy, and economic crises — create a motivated, coordinated approach from the White House to corporations to consumers. Friedman argues that America needs a energy technology bubble like the information technology bubble, and proposes that we set our minds to “outgreening” China and other countries, the same way we raced the Soviets to the moon. 

“We need 100,000 people in 100,000 garages trying 100,000 things — in the hope that five of them break through.” I hope this book is on President Obama’s reading list.

Here’s an interview with Thomas Friedman discussing the book on Larry King:

Posted by: Nar Williams | January 2, 2009

THE NERDVANA AWARDS: Best Music of 2008

Introducing the first annual Nerdvana Awards! For the first week of 2009, I decided to look back at all the things that helped me Achieve Nerdvana in 2008. There was no voting or complicated algorithms involved. These are simply the things I geeked out over the year: movies, tv, music, technology, books, and people included. Today’s category: Music!

2008 MUSIC NERDVANA: BECK and FLEET FOXES

This is the only Nerdvana Award category that I had to settle on a tie…. 

Modern Guilt by Beck

modern-guilt

First up is my Godfather of hip/cerebral/geeky/electronic/folk/rock: Beck.  Modern Guilt is his best record since Mutations, and that’s saying a lot, considering his work over the last ten years has all been great. Co-produced by Danger Mouse, Modern Guilt features Beck’s signature psychedelic sound coupled with some pretty apocalyptic lyrics  (“If I could hold hold out for now/ With these icecaps melting down”).

My favorite cut on the record is “Chemtrails”, a mesmerizing song unlike any I’ve ever heard before. If a spaceship landed tomorrow and an alien dressed like Klaatu came out holding a guitar, I’m pretty sure this is what it’s song would sound like. From Rolling Stone: 

 Beck imagines jets flying above a sea full of dead people. The song title comes from a conspiracy theory that holds that some jet trails are actually chemical sprays engineered by the government for secret purposes. But you don’t have to know the reference to feel the dread. Staring at the corpses, Beck sings, “So many people, where do they go?”

Fleet Foxes by Fleet Foxes

fleet-foxes

An instant classic of indie/folk rock, Fleet Foxes was the record I played on repeat the most this year. Gloriously retro in sound, the band sings the kind of harmonies not heard since Crosby, Stills, and Nash, and soaks them in reverb for an album that is only missing the hiss of an old vinyl LP.

The Seattle five-piece delivers 11 songs that are pastoral, Celtic, Americana, classic rock, hippie, and pop. But most impressively, it transports you to another place — a place with lots of grass, trees, and birds. The lyrics and music are so steeped in nature I’m surprised they didn’t record it in a cabin in the woods. 

My favorite song on the album is “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song”, an eeire ballad that sounds like it could of been written and performed by a traveling bard from a George R.R. Martin book. It’s a beautiful record and a dazzling debut for undoubtedly the most exciting new band of 2008.

Here’s a live video of “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song”:

Posted by: Nar Williams | January 1, 2009

THE NERDVANA AWARDS: Best Movie of 2008

Introducing the first annual Nerdvana Awards! For the first week of 2009, I decided to look back at all the things that helped me Achieve Nerdvana in 2008. There was no voting or complicated algorithms involved. These are simply the things I geeked out over the year: movies, tv, music, technology, books, and people included. Today’s category: Movies!

2008 MOVIE NERDVANA: IRON MAN

 

Iron Man

Until I saw Iron Man, the only superhero movie that had ever blown me away was Batman Begins. It’s that feeling when you walk out of the theater and want to immediately buy another ticket and go back in.

2008 was a huge year for great sci-fi/action/superhero movies — the geeks are invading the cineplex, and that’s a very good thing. The Dark Knight, Wanted, Quantum of Solace, Indiana Jones, Incredible Hulk, X-Files, Hellboy 2 — that’s the strongest list of genre flicks I’ve seen in a long time. But Iron Man topped them all.

Jon Favreau and Robert Downey, Jr. proved to be the perfect pairing to lead this film adaptation of the beloved comic book character, and they were supported by a great cast and awesome fx. It was also brilliantly paced with a nice balance of character development, action sequences, and humor. And last but not least, Jeff Bridges made for one hell of a good villian. 

But that’s not what made it Nerdvana inducing — on top of all that good filmmaking, we got to watch a movie that celebrated technology and viewed science as an answer to problems, not just a creator of problems. Tony Stark makes a choice to use his brain not to make weapons, but to save lives; the film features robots that aren’t just hell-bent on destroying mankind; and the hero is a scientist… 

Finally, a Hollywood film that doesn’t fearmonger and create a bunch of sci-tech luddites!  Bring on Iron Man 2.

Posted by: Nar Williams | December 31, 2008

2008’s Top 5 Photos from Space!

catseye_chandra

1. Oh yeah — this definitely makes the best screen saver of the year. It’s planetary nebula NGC 6543, aka The Cat’s Eye nebula. And seeing as I love cats and space photos, this is a natural pick for my astro pic of the year. This composite picture combines Hubble false-color optical images with x-ray data from Chandra Observatory. The beautiful swirls are gas expelled from a dying star. It is believed that our sun is destined for the same planetary nebula fate — in about 5 billion years. This photo makes me want to start a rock band called Cat’s Eye so I could use it for the album cover. 

marathon8_abolfath800

2. This is an image from a northern hemisphere Messier Marathon, a term describing an attempt to find as many Messier objects as possible in one night (French astronomer Charles Messier had 110 objects in his 18th century catalog). The perfectly formed circles of this photo are totally hypnotic. Careful, you might find yourself staring for hours.

m104b_peris800

3. 28 million light-years away, spiral galaxy M104 lies at the southern edge of the Virgo Galaxy Cluster. This is image data from the Hubble Space Telescope reprocessed to improve visibility of details usually lost to glare. Because of it’s shape, M104 is also called The Sombrero Galaxy. It’s very large — 50,000 light years across. That’s a big frakin’ hat.

sn1006_hst

4. This space ribbon is actually a remnant from a powerful supernova, expanding outwardly like ripples on water.

Back in the year 1006 AD, light reached Earth from a stellar explosion in the constellation of the Wolf (Lupus), creating a “guest star” in the sky that appeared brighter than Venus and lasted for over two years. The supernova, now cataloged at SN 1006, occurred about 7,000 light years away and has left a large remnant that continues to expand and fade today.

tse2008_luethen800

5. This is not your usual solar eclipse photo. A composite of 28 digital images ranging in exposure from the August 1st total solar eclipse, it looks almost as if the moon is taking a nap on a nice feather pillow. I love how you can just make out features on the moon (due to reflection from the Earth).

Itv News via Intersection

Posted by: Nar Williams | December 30, 2008

R2-D2 Robot Dance Party

Yeah, I know. This video’s a couple years old (it’s from the annual gathering of the R2 Builders Club in Los Angeles, called R2LA), but as anyone who reads my blog knows: I like dancing robot videos, as evidenced here. Plus, this video has some internet traction lately thanks to the Star Wars Blog and Gizmodo

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