Intern Paul’s ChatRoulette Social Experiment

With the ever growing number of weirdo offerings,  the Internet now boasts ChatRoulette (CR), a totally anonymous way to chat face-to-face with total strangers.  It is basically the evolved form of Omegle, which would throw you into anonymous chats with said total strangers.  However, with the addition of ChatRoulette’s video function, the potential for creepiness is raised exponentially .

I used Omegle a few times when it was new and had an interesting discussion with someone claiming to be in France. We talked about all sorts of things and I started to form a bond with them… until suddenly they disconnected in mid-sentence.  Whether by accident or on purpose is unknown, but I felt a tinge of sadness as they were cast back into the emptiness of cyberspace, taking the mystery with them.  A real illustration on the nebulous nature of our Internet age, no?

Background: When I learned about ChatRoulette today in an article on my favorite blog Gawker,  it posted screenshots of the people they encountered during a quick jaunt through the site to form a collage of what they aptly describe as an Alexander Payne-esque reminder of the tedium of life.  Ahh yes, just like Gawker’s Richard Lawson to pull such a poignant line from this glorified trolling outlet.  This inspired me to make one too.

My Findings: Since I was typically nexted with great speed by my newfound companions for having my camera off,  I only had a few seconds to grab a screen shot of Internet mundanity at its best. Like Gawker, what I found was an interesting cross-section of people all looking genuinely bored, which spoke volumes on the state of today’s Internet world. Unlike Gawker, I also ran into, not one, but 3.5 separate instances of a guy jerking off into the camera in that brief time, so viewer discretion is advised to all you budding social psychologists.

My collage of the Lonely Faces of Five Minutes on Chat Roulette (click to enlarge, of course):

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Today on SEPTA….

Thursday, February 4, 1010 – Someone urinated on the bus.  I’m not sure exactly where. I just hope I wasn’t sitting in it.

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The Movie Goat Reviews: The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus

In my return to posting on this site, many would expect that the first review I write would be for Avatar, the James Cameron 3D extravaganza which recently raked in its two billionth dollar after only 48 days in theaters.  To give you an idea, that figure is higher than the estimated total output of Afghanistan during that same period, and more than the entire population of Greenland produces in a year.

But while I saw Avatar, and enjoyed it, I’m not going to write about it because chances are you’ve all already seen it anyway.  Instead, I’m going to write about the latest Terry Gilliam movie, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.

For those of you unfamiliar with Gilliam, he got his start making the strange paper-cutout cartoons for Monty Python’s Flying Circus back in the 70s.  As the sole American on the team, he had limited time in front of the camera, instead splitting his time between writing sketches and producing the animations that linked them together.  After the Pythons split up, he went on to make a bunch of very strange movies that got high critical acclaim.  From Time Bandits to Brazil to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, he has always marched to the beat of his own drummer, and most of the time that drummer is on a unicycle wearing a ridiculous hat and beating the drum with a stale baguette and a lake trout instead of drumsticks.

But enough with analogies.

Parnassus is a movie about good and evil, possibly about God and Satan, a line the movie intentionally walks along instead of choosing one side or the other.  The two immortals are fighting for people’s souls, whom they either liberate (in the case of Parnassus) or tempt into enslavement (in the case of “Mr. Nick”).  Parnassus and Nick are old golfing buddies or something, and over the centuries, Nick has conned Parnassus into a variety of wagers, the most recent one for Parnassus’s own daughter.  Things get more interesting when the doctor finds Heath Ledger’s character, Tony, hanging from a noose tied off the middle of a bridge (he swallowed a small metal pipe prior to being hanged so as to keep himself alive)

Parnassus was Ledger’s last movie; he died during production and was replaced in several scenes by Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell.  I was wary of this swap-out at first, but it turns out they tweaked the story a little to make it actually work.  Ledger’s performance is great, as are the performances of all the actors brought on to play him in other scenes.

Out now in obscure theaters sort of near you

The movie sets a new standard for visual impressiveness in Gilliam’s movies, with Parnassus’s “Imaginarium” showing off some snazzy special effects and computer animation.  If Gilliam had this idea for years, I’m glad he waited until now to make it.  Time Bandits was great and all, but you wouldn’t be able to do the kinds of things he did here with the technology available in the 80s and 90s.

The story takes one strange turn after another, finally ending with a sequence as hopeful as it is confusing.  Oh, and Verne Troyer is in it too, turning in a great performance that takes him another step further from Austin Powers’ Mini-Me.

Now, for one reason or another, I forgot that this was a Gilliam movie before I went to see it.  I was very confused and ready to tell people that it was a movie with good acting and great special effects but a very strange plot.  Then I saw Terry Gilliam’s name flash up in the credits and it all clicked together.  Yes, it’s strange, but it’s Gilliam strange, and if you liked his other movies you will also love this one.

Bottom Line: There are so many reasons to see this movie.  It’s Gilliam’s first noteworthy movie since 1998’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.  It’s Heath Ledger’s last movie ever, providing another glimpse into the disturbing roles that led him down his tragic path of self-destruction.  It’s got Christopher Plummer dressed like a homeless man, Verne Troyer dressed like a Monkey, and it’s probably got the best CGI special effects of any movie this year not considered science fiction.  You might need to look around a little to find a theater showing it, but it will be worth the trip.

Blizzard-Like Conditions Coming Your Way?

Alright Debbie Downer, turn that frown upside down and embrace the 20″ of snow coming your way this weekend.  Follow the steps below to have the best adult snow day ever:

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  1. Dig up and change into your favorite beat up sweats you sported pretty much every day back in college. (ew! but you know you did it).
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  2. Heat yourself a cup of hot chocolate (with a kiss of bourbon in it).
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  3. Curl up on the couch and con your significant other into watching something completely ridiculous, like Love Actually or Phantom of the Opera.aa
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  4. Call up your local Chinese take-out because you know they’re going to be the only assholes willing to deliver on this shiteous of all days.a
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If all else fails:

Stay warm and toasted with all your friends by throwing a Pigs-in-a-Blanket and Spiked Apple Cider Party!

THG Endorsed T-Shirt

We haven’t heard from our resident squirrel in quite some time now.  That just goes to show you that journalistic integrity means nothing for these furry little nut jobs! That said, THG has decided to endorse the following t-shirt:

Pick up your very own anti-squirrel paraphernalia by visiting: http://shop.froobi.com/Squirrel-t-shirt_p_40898.html#

You messed with the wrong goat, squirrel.

Today at the SSA…(in the SEPTA Building…)

Wednesday, February 2, 2010 – Today at the Social Security Administration office, which is located coincidentally in the SEPTA building (so it would be just as ghetto as being on the bus), a woman was rattling off to her friend and a gun toting imbecile security officer about Al Qaeda.  Her profound insight on life, sex and black men led her to the conclusion that the man who attempted to blow up Northwest Flight 253 on Christmas Day, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was strong armed by Al Qaeda.

A black man would never stuff a bomb near his junk.  Maybe in his back pocket or his shoe.  Not near his stuff…it’s too precious with it goin’ all the way to east jabib and shi’.  I tell ya, he was set up by Al Qaeda…

Punxsutawney FAIL; Philadelphia Phil Gives Hope

Earlier today, all eyes were on America’s most frightened groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, who saw his shadow for the 99th time and scurried back into his hole — leaving us with another six more weeks of  winter ahead.

As a time honored tradition here at THG, we also look to our very own Philz for his thoughts on when we’ll be seeing warmer days:

Well, it’s cloudy today, so I walked outside and didn’t see my shadow, but I forgot my cell phone, so I went back inside.
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So we’ll call it an even split and say 4 more weeks of winter with a decent early March in the high 50s.

Furry and not so furry predictors of weather, Punxsutawny Phil (L) and THG staff member, PhilZ (R).