February 2nd, 2009

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And I shouldn't forget the Crescents

I was a bit tired and braindead yesterday, and it occurs to me now that I didn't mention either of the Silver Crescents that folks here might know. During the morning court, Valerian (don't know if he has an LJ) was inducted into the order for his long service to Carolingia, and in the evening court, tashabear got summoned in (and ordered to read off the assorted graffiti on her dress, which is well worth hearing the translation of if you get a chance sometime). Congrats to both of them, and my apologies to any other friends I might be forgetting.

And of course, there was the big news of the evening, which came in a re-convened Court as people were leaving: Northern Shores is planning on going Principality. Since I've long been fairly loud (and sometimes negative) on the subject of Eastern principality movements, I should note that this one does sound like a good idea to me -- it makes more sense geographically than some proposals I've heard, and the region seems to have a decently cohesive sense of identity. So good luck to them on this rather long road...
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Superbowl

So last night was the biggest event of the year: the battle to see who has the most amusing advertisement. It was long and hard-fought, and while there were a number of worthy contenders, none of them were really of the herding-cats level. But just when I thought the contest was over, in the last few minutes there was a sudden surge and a change in the lead, and the eventual winner (for my money) was the deliciously warped Hulu ad. It's memorable as the best Superbowl ads always are, and introduces a slogan that they had better like, because they're never going to lose it now. (I am further ruefully amused by the fact that you have to watch an ad in order to watch this ad -- there is something terribly appropriate about that, along with the fact that the easiest way to watch the ad is on Hulu itself.)

Honorable mention for best use of nostalgia (also coming at the end of the contest) is the Coke Zero ad, which is mildly funny if you're a long-time aficionado of the artform, and just plain strange otherwise. Honorable mention for most blatant pandering goes to GoDaddy, who clearly took the stance that it really doesn't matter how tacky the ad, so long as it drives eyeballs to your website. Honorable mention for trailer that actually makes me want to see the movie goes to Monsters vs. Aliens, which also appears likely to get the award for Best Pixar Film of the year. (Never mind that it wasn't made by Pixar.)

(Oh, and there was a football game, whose description can more or less be copied from the above. Kudos to the Cardinals for defying expectations of this being a rout, and damned near pulling it out at the end. The last half-hour of the game was a genuine nail-biter, and much better-played than the first half had been...)
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"Because we can" does not mean "should"

Thanks to TechCrunch for this delightful article on the horrors of Microsoft Songsmith.

Suffice it to say, Songsmith is one of those cool research projects at Microsoft -- you sing a song into the microphone and tell it a musical style, then Songsmith analyses the tune, rhythm and so forth to create backing tracks. Which sounds innocent enough, but it has apparently spawned a little industry of taking real pop videos, stripping them down to just the vocals, feeding them through Songsmith and then reattaching the tune to the original video.

The results are -- well, just read the article and check out the attached videos. Surely, the world didn't *need* a chirpy bluegrass version of Billy Idol singing "White Wedding", but it's scary-funny...