Monthly Archives: April 2008

If Juno Was 10 Times Shorter and 100 Times More Honest

Written by Rod Hilton This article is come from

On Saturdays, we ask some of our favorite sites on the web to fill in for
us. You get to learn about an awesome site you may not have heard
of, and we get to watch cartoons in our boxers. Today we’re bringing
you an abridged version of the screenplay for Oscar winner Juno, as
provided by Rod Hilton, creator of



ELLEN PAGE guzzles SUNNY D as some obnoxious INDIE SONG
blares in the background so that everyone knows that this is
an intellectual, independent film.

She enters a convenience store and meets RAINN WILSON.


I need to use the bathroom, as I’ve been downing delicious, high-quality Sunny Delight for the past hour.


Sunny Delight? You mean the delicious orange-flavored drink containing a full day’s supply of vitamin C in every serving?


That’s right! I found it in the fridge, behind the purple stuff! Now relinquish the bathroom key geeves, I for shizz need to spout.


I can barely understand you. Is there a reason you’re talking like what seems like a teenager designed by a committee of adults that have researched youth by watching MTV around the clock?


Yes, and you better start talking like that too or you’ll have no place in the movie, Dwight.


Oh, er, uh, I mean that’s one doodle that can’t be undid homeskillet oh my god I need a new agent.


You’re so quirky! And so am I!

ELLEN pisses on a pregnancy test and it tells her that she’s PREGNANT as well as PRECOCIOUS.


This sucks. The only thing left to do is walk home morosely while yet another obnoxious indie song blares.

ELLEN walks home, then calls her friend OLIVIA THIRLBY.


Hey Olivia. So I’m pregs for real.




Holy crap, what the hell are you saying? Did someone encrypt your copy of the script or something?




Yeah. First I need you to help me salvage the chair I lost my virginity in, which is on a lawn for some reason that is almost definitely quirky.

They take the chair, then ELLEN sets up an entire living room
set in front of MICHAEL CERA’S HOME.


Ellen, hey. I like the couch on my front sidewalk, it’s incredibly quirky of you.


Yeah, well I’m pretty quirky.


So what are you doing here? Do you need someth-


Wait, hold on. Your track team is about to come running by and I need to do a voiceover narration for no particularly reason, even though I only do it like three more times in the entire movie.


Whenever I see the track team, I can’t help but picture their penises, because doing so allows me to explain that fact in a voiceover narration that I can end with the very hip term “pork swords.”


Alright, sorry about that. What were we talking about? Oh right, I’m pregnant and it’s yours.


Rather than freak the hell out like a typical high school student, I’m going to sputter around for words awkwardly and barely finish complete sentences. It’s kind of my thing.

ELLEN calls an ABORTION CLINIC to make an appointment.


Crimson River Abortion Clinic, how may I help you?


Hi. I’d like to make an appointment for an abortion. Oh wait hang on my Hamburger Phone is acting up.

(shakes phone)

Alright, there we go.


Alright, well just come in any time and we can tak-


Whoa, whoa, whoa. I don’t think you heard me. I’m talking on a HAMBURGER PHONE. How zany is that? That’s for shizz quirky.

ELLEN goes to the CLINIC and signs in. Another INDIE SONG
blares over the scene to make sure you remember that you are
supporting INDEPENDENT CINEMA by watching this movie.


Please sign in here. Do you want a free condom? They make my boyfriend’s penis taste like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.


Wow, what a completely quirky and inappropriate thing to say to a complete stranger!


I know, right!?

ELLEN suddenly runs out of the CLINIC and visits her friend




I decided I want to keep the baby so that I can star in a wholly overrated independent film about a teenager giving her baby to a childless couple.

ELLEN sits down to talk to her father and stepmother.


So, I’m pregnant.




Dad, you’re in an indie flick, remember?


Oh right. Sorry, I didn’t mean to blow up, I meant to make a dry, sarcastic remark.


And I’d like to follow that up with a second barb.


It’s Michael Cera’s. The kid from Arrested Development.


Huh. I didn’t think he had it in him.


What, sperm?

ELLEN goes ahead with her pregnancy and the movie SAVED plays
out with fewer jokes and more pretentiousness.

ELLEN finds a couple to adopt her kid: JASON BATEMAN and
JENNIFER GARNER. ELLEN goes to meet them.


We’re so happy you’d consider us despite the fact that I starred in Elektra.


So who is the father of the little bastard?


Oh, just this awkward, typecast kid at school named Michael Cera.


No shit? He played my son on Arrested Development. I look forward to the scene in this movie that reunites us for the first time since the show was canceled, which is sure to be a real pleasure for fans.

That scene NEVER HAPPENS. ELLEN agrees to give her kid to

goes through the various scenes that movies about pregnant
people are obligated to include.



Hey Ellen. Want to watch some indie horror films and listen to some indie music together?


That sounds great! I sure hope that watching the movie isn’t interrupted by me having to go puke my guts out, sweaty and hunched over the toilet.


Just kidding, none of that crap happens in the movie. Pregnancy is easy-peasy.


Well, I have good news. I’m leaving Jennifer Garner.


Why, because your marriage to her has robbed you of your youth, which you have been reminded of since you started hanging around with me?


No, I just rented 13 Going On 30. I can’t even look at her now. Has she been in anything good?


Oh. Because if it was the other thing, then you could take notice of the fact that I remind you of your younger days despite the fact that my current predicament requires a level of maturity far beyond my years, and you could enjoy the contrast between our situations that is ironically illustrated by having us both get along so well.


How artistic!


You’re goddamn right it is! Bring on the Oscars!

GARNER. ELLEN page gives birth while some more INDIE
MUSIC plays.


Yay, now I get to raise an adopted kid in a broken home so that I can be overly protective and insane.


And I passed all of my classes and everything! Pregnancy is as unobtrusive as it is without consequence!


So now that you popped the kid out, I think we’re in love with each other. What should we do to express our love? Make out? Have sex again? Go buy seasons one through three of Arrested Development?


Have you been watching a different movie? We should play yet more indie music together.

They DO. EVERYONE convinces themselves they loved the movie
so that they don’t feel STUPID.


For more scripts that are funnier and less-time consuming than watching a movie,
head to

7 endings that completely flipped (off) the script

Written by Aaron_Koehn

Hollywood is an incredible place where modern day storytellers go to weave tales of fantasy and wonderment. This enchanting destination allows noted and gifted filmmakers to work for years perfecting very personal sagas, only to then rashly conform to the opinions of a small group of nitwits (i.e. test audiences), and force unwanted artistic compromises. However, on occasion the nitwits can be right, and below we’ve listed 7 occasions where, at the request of test audiences, alternate endings were created. Was the decision to alter these films correct? You decide, as we present 7 endings that completely flipped (off) the script.


The theatrical ending in 1408 involved John Cusak’s ghost-debunking-writer character eventually escaping from his self-induced fiery hotel room, and returning to more respected writing while reconciling with his estranged wife. Overall, it’s a fairly happy ending and it leaves us, the viewers with the thought: man 1, ghosts 0. But in the original and now alternate ending, we find that the director initially had other plans. Darker plans. Cliché plans. Remember in The Shinning when Jack Nicholson’s character eventually dies at the haunted hotel, and we later find out that his ghost is now a permanent fixture at the hotel? Well, that was how this movie was originally going to end as well. In this version, after setting his room ablaze, Mr. Cusak is unable to escape and he perishes in his hot, haunted room. This results in his addition to the place’s ever-growing ghost collection. I’d yell plagiarism if Stephen King wasn’t responsible for writing both.

6-Army of Darkness

When director Sam Raimi first shot Army of Darkness, it included a vastly different ending which to his (and star, Bruce Campell’s) dismay, was panned by test screen audiences. As a result, Universal (the production company) decided that since test audiences are generally made up of brilliant film experts, their word should probably be taken over the wishes of the filmmakers. Consequently, a new ending was ordered, shot, and then attached to this cult classic, and for years we were none the wiser. Until word broke that a new director’s cut was to be released on DVD, which included the original, uncut ending that had been removed at the request of those test screeners. This caused Evil Dead fanatics worldwide to clamor for the head’s of those audience members. And it wasn’t until the DVD was released, the new ending was viewed, and the fanatics shrugged their shoulders apathetically, that the test screeners breathed a sigh of relief.

5-I Am Legend

While the film largely doesn’t come even close to the quality of the book, there is one ending that remained more true to the spirit of the novel. And of course, that ending was the one that wasn’t attached to the theatrical release. The pro of the theatrical ending is that the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air blows himself up in an attempt to destroy an irate, agile vampire. The con of the theatrical ending is that the title, I am Legend, now stands for something that is in no way reminiscent of what it meant in the book. In fact, to even call this movie I am Legend, or claim that it’s based on the book seems pretty farfetched. Ultimately though, the alternate ending comes closer to encompassing what the story originally intended, and for that we should give it a thumbs up. Unfortunately, in this original ending, the man who was born and raised in west Philadelphia, and who spent most of his days chillin’ out, maxin’ and relaxin’ on the playground, escapes without a scratch. And that’s less entertaining.

4-The Butterfly Effect

Categorized as a thriller, the only thing that might thrill you regarding this movie is the prospect of Ashton Kutcher trying to act serious. The alternate ending, which differs greatly from the original in the fact that Mr. Kutcher commits suicide, is remarkable for one reason: the hilarious shot of an embryonic Ashton raising his umbilical cord to his throat and then strangling himself with it. After that, we are treated to the cliché Hollywood happy ending, where everyone involved in Kutcher’s life is now better off, thanks in no small part to this infant hari-kari. I certainly hope there aren’t any depressed embryos out there, who after seeing (or maybe hearing is more realistic) this alternate conclusion, think about ending their lives before they’ve really begun. Is there such a thing as prenatal Prozac?

3-The Astronaut’s Wife

The climactic final confrontation between a pregnant Charlize Theron and an alien-possessed Johnny Depp is the subject of this alternate ending. In the new conclusion (seen below), it appears that Charlize escapes from the battle with her one-time human husband unscathed — excluding the mental trauma one suffers from alien impregnation. However, that’s not the case in the theatrical release, where, after Johnny Depp cooks from Theron’s ingenious electrocution ploy, he briefly returns to alien form, a form which includes transparent tentacles. After this brief alien emergence, we then see said transparent tentacles shoot into Charlize’s eyes, leading the viewer to believe she is now the new host for this see-through Martian. And if you can tell me what’s more terrifying than an alien-possessed single mother who is pregnant with twins, then you’re probably a genius who has a very bright future ahead of you, because that is, by definition, horrifying.


The directorial debut from cult filmmaker Kevin Smith at one time had an extremely different and discordant ending. Instead of the reconciliation of the protagonist Dante with his friend Randal, Dante is murdered, the store is robbed, and then the credits roll. The humorous tone that had been so prominent throughout the movie was quickly discarded for a final shot which included a close-up of Dante’s bloody hands and his lifeless face. It’s easy to see why so many people thought this ending seemed out of character and unnecessary. And certainly, in reflection, Kevin Smith has to be glad he re-shot it, since Clerks 2, Mallrats, and Clerks the series would not have been possible with that conclusion. If there is one thing we can learn from all of these forced ending re-shoots, it’s that the public doesn’t like to walk out of movies depressed. Especially not when they thought they were seeing a comedy.

1-Terminator 2: Judgment Day

As originally envisioned, this epilogue would have followed the scene where evil terminator T-1000 gets blasted into a vat of molten lava, and a sad Arnold Schwarzenegger gives a thumbs up while being lowered into a similar vat, with the intent of adding closure to the story. Wisely, this ending was dropped since its tone felt oddly out of place compared to the prior 137 minutes of robot-on-human violence. This epilogue–which seems somewhat reminiscent of a commercial for elderly medication, a la Boniva–details Sarah Connor’s now happy future, complete with grandchildren and Michael Jackson references. In it, Ms. Connor–doing her best old-age voice impersonation–describes how humanity dodged a big bullet thanks to her and no one even knows it. To be honest, what I think this ending is really saying is that this crazy 2-hour robot war we all just watched was actually just an absurd concoction of a senile senior citizen.

5 Best DVD Ripping Tools

Written by lifehacker

Whether you want to watch a movie on your iPod or back up your too-easily-scratched DVDs, DVD ripping is a mysterious realm for many. Even those in-the-know find it difficult to keep up with the best tools for the job, especially in the face of increased copy protection. On Tuesday we asked you to share your favorite DVD ripping tools; today we’ve sifted through hundreds of comments to bring you the five most popular answers. Hit the jump for a closer look at five of the best and most popular DVD ripping tools, then cast your vote to determine the best ripper of the bunch.

DVD Shrink (Windows)

Despite the fact that the freeware DVD Shrink (download) hasn’t been in active development for years, this freeware decrypter, ripper, and compressor is still a favorite all-in-one stop for ripping and backing up DVDs. Its compression feature is what sets DVD Shrink apart, compressing 8GB dual-layer DVDs down to 4GB sizes that will fit on standard, single-layer DVD-Rs (i.e., the type of DVDs most consumers can burn to). It’s even inspired us to write our very own DVD Shrink helper application, DVD Rip, which turns the already simple DVD Shrink process into a one-click ripping affair.

HandBrake (All Platforms)

The free, cross-platform HandBrake makes ripping DVDs to a bevy of useful, playable file formats a cinch, with support for iPods, PSPs, Apple TVs, PS3s, and pretty much any other format your device requires. It’s fast, free, and takes the difficulty out of both ripping and transcoding. (original post)

DVDFab HD Decrypter

Much like DVD Shrink, DVDFab HD Decrypter cuts through copy protection and rips DVDs to your hard drive. Unlike DVD Shrink, DVDFab does not offer compression tools. DVDFab is shareware, but its trial version lets you do nearly as much as you’d ever need. That said, users who pony up for the platinum edition don’t seem to have any regrets. (original post)

MacTheRipper (Mac OS X)

mactheripper.pngFreeware application MacTheRipper breaks copy protection from DVDs and rips the contents to your hard drive-which makes it the go-to Mac version of apps like DVD Shrink or DVDFab. Like the other two, MacTheRipper doesn’t encode its rips to other formats (instead it just rips the DVD menu and all to your hard drive), but that’s what Handbrake is there for.

DVD Decrypter

The freeware DVD Decrypter works much like DVD Shrink and DVDFab, ripping DVDs to your hard drive by tearing through pesky copy protection. Like DVD Shrink, DVD Decrypter hasn’t been actively developed for a while, but it’s still doing the job for most folks without complaint.

Now that we’ve seen the five most popular, it’s time to narrow it down to choose your ultimate favorite:

Best DVD Ripping Tool?

DVDFab HD Decrypter


DVD Shrink


DVD Decrypter

skip to current results >

Gawker Media polls require Javascript; if you’re viewing this in an RSS reader, click through to view in your Javascript-enabled web browser.

Honorable Mentions

This week’s honorable mentions go out to AnyDVD (Windows, shareware) and DVD43 (freeware, Windows, original post). I want to put a special word in for both of these, particularly DVD43 since it’s freeware. Whenever popular ripping tools like DVD Shrink, HandBrake, DVDFab, or DVD Decrypter fail to break the copy protection, these lightweight tools are a must-have. They run in the background and disable copy protection as soon as the DVD is inserted, leaving any ripping tool free to grab the contents without having to deal with decryption at all.

dvdrip-shot.pngMy third honorable mention is a shameless plug for the free, Windows-only DVD Rip, Lifehacker’s very own helper application that works in conjunction with DVD Shrink to set up automated one-click rips. DVD Shrink does all the heavy lifting, but DVD Shrink makes it simple enough that the entirely tech unsavvy should have no problems ripping a DVD.

Last, if you’d like a more detailed look at how you might put these programs to use, check out our previous guide to turning your PC into a DVD ripping monster.

If your favorite didn’t make the list or you want to lavish more praise on your app of choice, let’s hear your thoughts in the comments.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Linux Users

Written by Rami TaibahPassing it on

Switching to Linux can be very daunting, most seasoned Linux users experienced that first hand. After all, at some point they were also “noobs”. However, the Linux community has excelled in making the switch for beginners as easy as possible by providing guides, howtos, tweaks, and general advocacy articles. When I first made the switch 3 years ago, I found the community welcoming me with open hands on forums, IRC channels, and E-mail, I was surprised how helpful these penguins were!

For this, I feel obliged to give back to the community that has always been there for me. To pass down the torch to newer Linux generations. Over here I compiled a list of 7 habits that I wish someone told me when I started out. I believe that getting into these habits will make the Linux experience more secure, convenient, educational, and ultimately more enjoyable.

1-Never Login Using ‘root’

If there was one habit that one should strictly abide by, it’s probably this one. Most of us come from a Windows background, and we have the notion that more power is better, so we login using our administrator accounts. Well let me tell you my friend, that this is a major reason that Windows is plagued with viruses and insecurities, half the world is currently running ‘root’ accounts!Suse on RootWith great power comes great responsibility, and with ‘root’ powers you should be aware of the consequences of EVERYTHING you’re doing, and even then, mistakes happen. I remember my beginnings with SUSE Linux, there were lot of administrative tasks I needed to do but had no idea how to go about them without the GUI, so I so innocently log out and login onto the ‘root‘ GUI. The default wallpaper of the ‘root‘ GUI on SUSE were lit fuse bombs tiled beside each other. Back then, the symbolism totally flew over my head, coming from a Windows background, I wasn’t really doing anything wrong.

But what are the dangers of logging in as root?

  1. Well imagine you’re on the trapeze without a safety net, frightening isn’t it? Well that’s effectively what you are doing when you login as root, you can inadvertently hose your whole system
  2. You are at the risk of running malware. Any program that is started under root mode will automatically be given root privileges
  3. If there is a common security hole that hasn’t been patched yet, you could be totally “pwned”
  4. It’s common Unix convention, never run anything in root mode unless absolutely necessary. If a non-admin program asks for root access, you should be suspicious

Generally, instead of logging onto your root GUI, use any of the following techniques:

  • Use “sudo” or “su” , and kill the session when your done
  • If you don’t know how to do it in the command line, use “gksu” or “kdesu”. For example, press alt+f2 and type “gksu nautilus“. Close the app as soon as you finish

2-Properly Name Your Files

In a Linux environment, you can name your files whatever you want except for, 1) the forward slash “/” which is reserved for the root directory, and 2) a null character. Anything else is technically acceptable, however there are some best practices that you should abide by in order to avoid any future complications:

  • As a rule of thumb, only use alphanumeric characters, hyphens, periods, and underscores
  • Avoid special symbols like dollar signs, brackets, and percentages. These symbols have special meanings to the shell, and could cause conflicts
  • Avoid using spaces, handling files with spaces in the terminal is kind of awkward. Replace spaces with either hyphens or underscores

I personally have grown into this habit, I find myself following these guidelines even in a Windows or Mac environment.

3-Place /home on a Different Partition

Doing this gives you extreme flexibility, a kind that you never imagined before. Having /home in a separate partition enables you to reinstall your system or even change your whole distro without losing your data and personal settings. Just keep the “/home” partition intact and reinstall whatever you want on your “/”. Now you can try out distros as much as you want, without worrying about your data and personal settings, they go with you on the go ;).

If you weren’t lucky enough to know this before installing your system, then do not despair! Carthik from Ubuntu Blog takes you in a step-by-step guide titled “Move /home to it’s own partition

4-Proper Crash Management

Learn how to avoid this!Linux is very robust and stable, however every system can come down to it’s knees every once in a while. Before you head to CTRL-ALT-DEL, the restart button, or the plug, you should know how to properly handle any crash. As opposed to another un-named operating system, you should be able to easily recover your system without actually restarting! I personally go through different levels, if one doesn’t work I elevate it to next step:


  1. I have the “force quit” applet on my taskbar, if any app starts to act up just click on the “force quit” icon and then kill the app
  2. If that doesn’t work, draw up a terminal and type “ps -A” , and take note of the Process ID (PID) of the culprit app, then kill it. “kill PID”
  3. Use the “killall” command, for example,
    “killall firefox-bin”
  4. If your whole GUI is frozen, and drawing up a terminal is impossible, then press CTRL-ALT-F1, this will take you to another terminal, and virtually a whole new session. From there kill the culprit app using step 2 and 3.
  5. If that doesn’t work, you might want to restart your GUI using the CTRL-ALT-Backspace combo. Beware, that this will kill all your GUI apps currently running
  6. Invoke CTRL-ALT-F1 and do CTRL+ALT+DEL from here. This will not instantly reset your system, merely perform a standard reboot, it’s safe. (Assuming you want to restart and CTLR-ALT-F1 works)
  7. Finally if nothing works, don’t rush to the hard reset button, try to Raise a Skinny Elephant

5-Play The Field

You were probably recruited to your current distro by a friend, it suited you, and stuck with it. That’s great, but there is probably something better for you out there. Why not harness the flexibility and richness of Linux and Open Source? Don’t be afraid to experiment around with different distros, apps, window managers, and desktops. Experiment until you find the best fit. Think of it this way, if you are currently living in the best place on earth for you, traveling around the world wouldn’t really harm right? In fact you might find a better place to live in, but if you didn’t, the time you spent traveling would not have gone to waste, you would have learned a lot about other countries, other people and traditions, different ways of thinking, and ultimately had fun!

Every new thing you try out will contribute to your incremental learning, in a year’s time you will have a good grasp on Linux and the Open Source world. I personally tried out at least 10 distros, 4 desktops, and 5 window managers. My recent article Etymology of A Distro got me interested in a couple more distros such as Zenwalk, Foresight, and Sabayon. Play the field, my friend, it will do you good.

But before you proceed, pay heed to these few hints:

  • Set up your perfect system that you feel comfortable with, you need a workable system 24/7 right? Then test around using one of the below points
  • Harness the power of virtualization! Install Vmware or Virtualbox. Use them to test out the distros
  • Alternatively, if you are not big on virtualization, you can set up a separate partition to test new distros. A partition that you couldn’t care less about
  • Ultimately, you can have a main PC and a test one. Wreak havoc on the test one
Anime image is licensed by Creative Commons BY-NC 3.0
Original Artwork by Juzo Kun, Modified by Wayne Richardson.

6-Nurture Your CLI Adoption

Now I am not going to advocate learning the command line, there are numerous articles that emphasise on it’s importance. What I am assuming here is that you already know it’s importance, and have a rudimentary understanding on how to do some simple administrative tasks. You are already hacking away, tweaking and configuring, following the different guides and howtos scattered all over the tubes, but don’t just copy and paste!! Meaning, instead of just headlessly executing commands some random guy half way across the world told you to execute, try to understand what every command does. Why did the guide ask you to do this, as opposed to something else? Understand the rationale of the steps you are asked to do. These commands are highly relevant to you, and will help you gain a better understanding than any 101 guide.

After a while you will notice that you have amassed a good deal of CLI lore.

At the end of the day it’s just a pseudo-language! Every command is probably just an acronym of something, or a cut down version of a real word. You expect your dog to understand “Spike fetch ball” so why don’t you expect to understand “sudo mv /file1 /file2??

7-Always Be Ready to Unleash The Power Within

Personally, I had numerous occasions when a friend asked me to do something on his/her computer, but found myself crippled because of his/her choice of OS. At other times I wanted to do something urgently but the only computer had another crippled OS. Spare yourself the agony, have Linux with you all the time, whether it’s on a USB pendrive, a live CD, or even a live CD business card ! There are dozens of good Linuces out there that are perfect for on-the-go computing. Knoppix, DSL, and Puppy Linux are just a few examples.

I personally don’t apply this habit, which is a shame, I really need to get my act together! :p </publishes and heads to>

16 awesome image editing tutorials

Written by Aviary

One of the most fantastic things about building a suite of tools around a community, instead of the other way around, is that users are always willing to pitch in and help out others with tutorials and forum assistance. It’s our plan to build our applications with a very deep set of community tools, built around forums, wiki-documentation, chat, user-made tutorials and sharable workspaces.

Aviary super star Meowza has already begun paving the way with more than a dozen “photo-phixing” tutorials for other users of Phoenix. Got a specific question on how to make a technique in Phoenix? Ask and ye shall receive.

Unzipping a Kitty

View the full tutorial | Full layered file

Chocolatizing a Statue

View the full tutorial | Full layered file

Cyborg Frog

View the full tutorial | Full layered file

Smoking Woman

View the full tutorial | Full layered file

Alien Overlords

View the full tutorial | Full layered file

Correct Shadow Perspective

View the full tutorial | Full layered file

Aging a Photograph

View the full tutorial | Full layered file

Making a Snow Storm

View the full tutorial | Full layered file

Popping Elements with Dodge and Burn

View the full tutorial | Full layered file

Aging a Boy (or How we Faked Dodo)

View the full tutorial | Full layered file

Genetic Cross-Breeding

View the full tutorial | Full layered file

How to Precision Select Custom Shapes

View the full tutorial | Full layered file

Another tutorial on the same topic

Masking fur by Ziaphra

View the full tutorial | Full layered file

Using Blend Modes; Having Fun with Liquify and Mating Celebrities

Read the full 3-in-one tutorial!

8 Songs Inspired By Real Women

This article was written by Maggie Koerth-Baker and originally appeared in mental_floss magazine.

Songwriters have found inspiration in all sorts of places, from transvestites to team tennis titans. Maggie Koerth-Baker has read between the liner notes to find out for whom 8 famous songs were written.

1. “Philadelphia Freedom”


Written by:
Elton John & Bernie Taupin

Written for: Billie Jean King, as a thank-you for a tracksuit she gave Elton. And what a tracksuit it must have been! The 1975 song remains one of the most popular disco hits ever, leaving thousands of Hustle enthusiasts wondering just what Billie Jean King had to do with Philadelphia, anyway.

Turns out, the song was a reference to King’s pro tennis team, The Philadelphia Freedoms. Prior to 1968, tennis players were all considered “amateurs” and weren’t eligible to receive prize money. So, if you didn’t have the wealth to support yourself, you couldn’t play. Billie Jean King fought against those constraints, ultimately founding Professional World Team Tennis in 1974 and turning tennis into a paid league sport. [Photo courtesy of]

2. “Lola”

Written by: The Kinks’ Ray Davies

Written for: A transvestite. But the question is, which one? According to Rolling Stone, “Lola” was inspired by Candy Darling, a member of Andy Warhol’s entourage, whom Ray Davies briefly (and cluelessly) dated. If that’s the case, then “Lola” is just another notch on Darling’s song belt—she’s also referred to in Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side.” (”Candy came from out on the Island/ In the backroom she was everybody’s darlin’.”)

But, in the Kinks’ official biography, Davies tells a different story. He says “Lola” was written after the band’s manager spent a very drunken night dancing with a woman whose five o’clock shadow was apparently obvious to everyone but him.

3. “867-5309/Jenny”

tutone.jpgWritten by: Jim Keller (of Tommy Tutone) and Alex Call

Written for: Unknown, as the songwriters apparently make up a different story about its inspiration every time they’re asked. While the woman continues to remain a mystery, however, the phone number is all too real. In fact, it’s been wreaking havoc ever since 1982the passage of time hasn’t quelled of the number of crank calls. In 1999, Brown University freshman roommates Nina Clemente and Jahanaz Mirza found that out the hard way, when the school adopted an 867 exchange number for its on-campus phone system. Immediately, the girls’ innocuous Room No. 5309 became a magnet for every drunk college kid with a 1980s fetish.

Other unfortunate phone customers have fought back with creative and profitable solutions, like the holder of 212-867-5309, who put his phone number up for auction on eBay in 2004. Bids approached $100,000 before eBay pulled the item at the request of Verizon, the number’s actual owner.

4. “Für Elise”

Written by: Ludwig van Beethoven

Written for: Some girl probably not named Elise. In fact, as far as most historians can tell, Beethoven didn’t even know an Elise. Instead, the song was originally titled “Bagatelle in A minor” based on some handwritten notation a Beethoven researcher claimed to have seen on a now-lost copy of the sheet music.

Further complicating things, Beethoven had hideous handwriting—to the point that some scholars speculate the song was actually written “for Therese,” as in Therese Malfatti, one of several women who turned down a marriage proposal from the notoriously lovesick maestro.

5. “Oh, Carol”

oh-carol.jpgWritten by: Neil Sedaka

Written for: Carole King, naturally. Sedaka and King actually dated briefly in high school — a romance Sedaka was able to successfully milk with “Oh, Carol,” a then top-10 (if now somewhat forgettable) 1959 pop song.

However, the real success of “Oh, Carol” came a few months later, when it inspired King to write a rebuttal entitled “Oh, Neil.” At the time, King and her husband, Gerry Goffin, were fledgling songwriters in need of a hit tune. “Oh, Neil” wasn’t that, but it did pay off. After Sedaka gave a tape of the song to his boss, King and Goffin landed jobs at the legendary Brill Building pop music factory, where the duo went on to write chart-toppers like “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” and “The Loco-Motion.”

6. “It Ain’t Me, Babe”

Written by: Bob Dylan

Written for: Joan Baez, though it clearly wasn’t the nicest gift Dylan could have given her. The two met in 1961, when Baez was an up-and-coming folk singer and Dylan was a nobody from Minnesota. Desperate to make his break in the music biz, Dylan worked like crazy to get Baez’s attention. He eventually ended up going on tour with her, which is how he first became famous, and also how the two began dating. For a while, they seemed like the golden couple, but things soon went downhill.

During a European concert tour together in early 1965, they had a huge fight and parted ways. That May, Dylan was holed up in a hotel after being hospitalized with a virus, and Baez, hoping to remain friends, decided to bring him flowers. Sadly, that’s how she found out that her ex was already dating someone else. That someone else was Sara Lownds, whom Dylan married a mere six months later.

7. “Our House”

Written by: Graham Nash (of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young)

Written for: Joni Mitchell. In December 1968, Nash and Mitchell moved into a cozy little house in the Laurel Canyon section of Los Angeles. Though commonly left out of the hippy pantheon, Laurel Canyon was sort of a commune-home away from commune-home for San Francisco society — not just CSN&Y, but also Jim Morrison, the Eagles, Frank Zappa, and more.

“Our House” was directly inspired by a lazy Sunday in the Nash/Mitchell household. The couple went out to brunch, hit an antiques store, and then returned to find the house just a bit chilly, at which point Nash literally “lit a fire,” while Mitchell “placed the flowers in the vase that she bought that day.” No, really. The whole tableau seemed so ridiculously domestic to Nash that he immediately sat down and spent the rest of the day writing about it.

8. “Dear Mama”


Written by: Tupac Shakur

Written for: Afeni Shakur, who is, obviously, Tupac’s mama. A fascinating character in her own right, Afeni Shakur was born Alice Fay Williams, but changed her name while working with the Black Panthers in the 1960s. In fact, Tupac (named after the Peruvian revolutionary leader Tupac Amaru II) was born in 1971—just a month after Afeni was acquitted of bombing conspiracy charges. (She had spent most of her pregnancy behind bars.) As the song implies, she and Tupac didn’t always get along, particularly during his adolescence, when Afeni was addicted to crack. But, by the time of Tupac’s death in 1996, she was clean and the two had patched things up long enough for Tupac to write that she “was appreciated.” Today, Afeni runs a charity in her son’s name and is (somewhat controversially) responsible for Tupac’s multiple posthumous CD releases.

12 Ways To Prepare For The Next Great Depression

Written by Charlie Jane Anders

Our economic future could be even bleaker than you expect — and last year was the moment to unleash your inner survivalist. If the financial system suffers any more crises of confidence, credit gets even tighter, and the fed falls into a liquidity trap, we could be in for several hardscrabbling dystopian years. Forget maintaining your current shiny standard of living — how will you feed and clothe yourself, in the worst case scenario? We’ve compiled a few suggestions for things you can do now to brace yourself.

Avoid debt at all costs. If anything, you’ll want to save up as much money as you can, in case you have to live off your savings. Thanks to recent changes in bankruptcy law, it’s much harder than before for an individual to declare bankruptcy. So if you’re stuck in debt with little or no income, you’ll still be working for the banks. And as this guy points out, the banks will be hurting, so the moment you miss a payment, they’ll be quick to try and liquidate your collateral for whatever they can get.

Get out of your mortgage before the housing market collapses any further. As this site says, if you paid $300,000 for your house and it sells for $200,000, you could end up not owning your house and owing the bank $100,000.

Buy some cheap land in a rural area. Build a house, or just get a used RV. Either way, make sure you own your home free and clear, so you can live rent-free and mortgage-free for as long as you need to.

Go off the grid. Get your own power generator — or, better yet, some of those solar helium balloons. Or some wind turbines. Don’t be dependent on the power company to keep all your necessities running.

Cultivate some skills that will always be in demand. Become a decent electrician, handy-person, carpenter or cook. There may not be much need for someone who understands content management systems during a total economic shutdown, but someone who can build a house will always have a place to crash.

Offshore yourself. As the dollar gets weaker and weaker, U.S. white-collar service workers will be the cheap overseas employees for Europeans and Asians, predicts Robert Scoble in his roundup of how to recession-proof yourself. So as long as someone, somewhere, is still making use of those white-collar service skills (like programming, or customer support) you may be able to offer yourself to overseas companies as a cheaper alternative.

Invest in the ultimate counter-cyclicals. Some industries will always be in growth mode — like any business that caters to the rapidly growing senior population. Also, “sin and comfort” industries, like cigarettes, gambling and booze, do well during downturns and will probably make bank this time around as well. (Too bad booze and cigs are generally part of huge diversified conglomerates these days.) Also, movie companies are quietly bragging that the movie industry had one of its biggest growth spurts ever in the 1930s, as people craved escapism.

Invest in some Euros, or some other currency that’s not the dollar. Chances are the U.S. dollar will keep getting weaker, so you’ll be better off holding a more stable currency. You could also try investing in gold or silver, but those commodities are already skyrocketing in value.

Have some liquid funds on hand. MSN Money suggests reducing your contributions to your retirement plan or 401(k) (if you have one) so you can put more money into your savings instead. And remember, the banks are still FDIC insured, so your savings are probably safe — but other investments have no such guarantee.

or take part in a community garden in your neighborhood. Try to position yourself so you can get as much of your diet as possible from food you’ve grown yourself, instead of being hooked on sushi.

Learn to hunt. These fine people claim that hungry people are already hunting small animals in the parks of San Francisco, and during the 1930s deer and squirrels were hunted almost to extinction. Learn how to trap, kill, prepare and eat a squirrel now, so you’ll be ahead of the curve.

Stockpile medications. Your biggest problem, in an economic meltdown, could be getting health care. If you’re dependent on prescription meds, try to get some extra pills now so you’ll have some on hand later. Just make sure you’re always taking the oldest meds you have, to minimize the risk of taking expired pills, these folks advise.

And hey, here’s a meeting coming up in New York on how to “prepare and profit” from the next Depression. If any of our readers are in NYC, please please go to the meeting and tell us what they said, so we can learn how to turn abject economic misery into pure lovely gravy.

5 Tips For A Green Vacation

Written by environmentalgraffiti

Ah, Summer is almost upon us, and that means most American families are plotting madly to get out of town for a week.

Image from Kaydee did on Flickr

Never mind that the economy is in the tank, or that you’ll use just under half of your vacation days at once– it’s time to go to the beach! But wait… before you slam the kids in that minivan and speed off: there’s a greener way.

5. Don’t Travel As Far

In one of those special instances where environmentalism saves you a ton of money, the simplest piece of advice is one that most Americans aren’t likely to follow, even in this hour of $4.00 gasoline: stay close to home. Heck, even stay home: if you live in a major city, there are probably loads of museums, parks, baseball games, and restaurants that you haven’t been to. But if you MUST travel– try to stay within 100-150 miles of home. Your wallet, and the planet, will thank you.

Image from Stuckincustoms on Flickr

4. Find A Green Hotel

This may seem like a monstrous task, but it’s not– check this registry of environmentally friendly hotels. They’re standing ready to assist in your eco-escape, conserving waste, and committed to reducing their toll on the planet.

Image from Flickr

3. Take the Train

Rail travel isn’t quite dead in the U.S., which is good, because it features some of the lowest carbon emissions per-traveler of any form of transport. In order of most polluting, it goes: airplanes, cars, trains, and coach buses–but I don’t know many people who think of Greyhound as a good way to get around anymore. “Boost that failing government-subsidized rail system, America!”

Image from Flickr

2. Buy Local Souveneirs

This is hard, seeing as how we’re nationally addicted to airbrushed t-shirts and plastic toys, but buy local goods when you travel. Supporting a local artist doesn’t just do more for the economy of the place that you’re visiting, it cuts the cost of transporting all of those mass-produced tourist trap souvenirs. And besides, taking home art, or cooking ingredients from a place you can’t get at home, is far more interesting.

ron jon
Image from Flickr

1. Minimize Waste

I know, that seems like a gimme– but it’s not. Turn off your thermostat when you’re not home. Take the pets to a sitter, or board them, rather than leaving them in the house with some neighbor stopping in to check on them. Pack a couple of water bottles so you don’t have to buy bottles of water everywhere you go. Common sense still applies on vacation, as odd as that seems.
Lonely Dog
Image from Flickr

7 Greatest Video Game Urban Legends

Written by

We all have heard of them, swore to have done them or know someone whose cousin has. That’s right, I’m talking about Video Game Urban Legends (VGUL). No, I’m not going to talk about the munchkin in the back of “Wizard of Oz” who supposedly hangs himself from the tree. Not also talking about how their is a ghost in the window in “3 Men and a Baby” who died in that house. Not Bigfoot or Loch Ness. I’m talking Video Games…. I’m talking Urban Legends in Video Games.

I have searched high and low to bring to you, our latest installment of these Urban Legends, and finish up with a wide known but not seen VGUL.

Tomb Raider

The Urban Legend – Lara Croft appearing Nude in Tomb Raider

The System – PSone

This story goes as far back as the game was first launched. It was almost like every video gamer wished this one to be true. I’ve heard it all from, “if you go in the water, you’ll see her nude”. Sorry to tell you folks, this one is a big fat lie.

Street Fighter II

The Urban Legend – Beat every character without losing a round or match let’s you play as the four bosses Balrog, Vega, Sagat, and M. Bison

The System – SNES

Well, this is an urban Legend that I believe all Street Fighter 2 players have tried. Now, while it isn’t that impossible, is was very hard. The rumor of playing as one of the bosses, went cross country. It always seemed that the more you went unbeaten the tougher the opponent got. I recall playing one whole day trying this one out, and after going unbeaten straight through Balrog, Vega became impossible. He would hang off the fence and “huaaahhh” with his blades onto my head. Of course, I used Ken and the timing of a shyruken was hard.

No doubt, once I completed the game unbeaten I realized it was a hoax. With people then saying “You have to perfect every round” back I went to the SNES and 15 years later…

Playstation 2

The Urban Legend – Iraq had purchased 4,000 PS2’s to launch missiles.

The System – PS2

World Net Daily claims that both the FBI and the US Customs Service are investigating the transfer of thousands of consoles to Iraq. According to a secret Defence Intelligence Agency report, 4,000 PS2s had been bought in the US and shipped to Iraq in 2000.

Some US military experts believe that several PS2s could be linked together to form a “supercomputer”, which could control a missile or an unmanned aircraft. They fear that the console, which contains a 128-bit CPU, could provide the power for Iraq to launch chemical weapons at its enemies.

It’s also very unlikely that bundling any number of PS2s together would actually work, as it would be extremely complicated to have a number of processors accessing shared memory and splitting up the computation. The complex software required would take years to develop. Sony refused to say whether it was possible to link PS2s together to form a supercomputer, explaining that it did not comment on speculative stories.

Super Mario Bros.

The Urban Legend – Jumping over the flag pole at the end of the level

The System – NES

In 5th grade, Kevin Diley once told me how he jumped over the flagpole in Super Mario Bros. I’ve called him on the telephone while I tried, he came over to try, I even asked him to video tape it on his VHS camcorder. He was never able to reproduce it. Till this day, I do not know a single person who was able to jump over the flagpole. I’ve heard of mods, and hacks that allow this. But until I see this:

  1. Cartridge being blown into the bottom
  2. Popped into an original NES
  3. Original NES controller used to jump over flagpole

This will not hold true to me and Kevin Diley will continue to be a liar!

Legend of Zelda

The Urban Legend – There is a dungeon level in the Legend of Zelda that is a swastika.

The System – NES

Now although this is not completly an urban legend, it is more of a terrible version of the game telephone. It starts off with one person saying what they say, and it gets turned and twisted into an Urban Legend. So, let me explain. The third dungeon has the shape of what appears to Western audiences as a left-facing swastika. This shape is actually a “manji”, which is a Buddhist symbol of good fortune. In Japan, where this game was initially released, swastikas and similar shapes are relatively benign, which explains why a symbol so offensive to many Western audiences could be included. In the United States, there were surprisingly few complaints about the manji, but years later, when Pokémon became popular in the United States, Nintendo was forced to alter one of the cards due to complaints regarding a manji.

So take a chill pill, it’s just some Manji – Word of the Day.

Mortal Kombat

The Urban Legend – A code that enabled the “Blood Code” instead of a grey smokey splat

The System – SNES

This one is fairly easy to explain because it never existed nor was it an Easter Egg. Nintendo was/is very censored so they never allowed blood in their Mortal Kombat game. It was said that the Genesis version of MK sold better because of the fatalities and blood. Nintendo then tried using Genesis’ decision of incorporating blood as a negative, but that never flew. So now you had those Genesis freaks soaked up to their ankles in Hawaiian Punch and it was cool.


The Urban Legend – A government run arcade cabinet was used to collect data. Once played this game would cause seizures, memory loss and people were brainwashed.

The System – Arcade

This game was out for a very short trial run of one month in small arcades in Portland Oregon in 1981. Produced by the company Sinnesloschen ( A German term meaning “sense-deleting,” or “Loss of senses.”), the game gave many players nightmares and many who played it completely swore off all video games afterwards. Others complained of having blackouts and memory loss. Employees of the manufacturer, in black coats came and collected data from the machines as part of a lease agreement. After only one month, all of the machines were removed. ROM’s of this game are rumored to be in the hands of some collectors but at this time they are not generally available. Check out more info here at Polybius Theory.

Game-play: There are two explainations for game-play.

1: Action/Puzzle game. Rumored to have a rotating 3D Puzzle, along with logic puzzles, and mazes resembling the playing style of Pac-Man.

2: You were flying through a tunnel and had to dodge things in your path. Lights flashing at rapid rates to heighten the effect. Said to resemble a pro-type for Atari’s “Tempest.” (Which was a shooter game. In an article about Tempest, it was said that the prototype caused motion sickness after a period of time.) The basis of the game was to get through a maze without being caught in a trap or a mine. Apparently, the further the levels went, to make the game more difficult, the background would start flashing much like a strobe light, and the spinning of the mazes.