The personal website of Chris Coyier

Archive for October, 2009

Things I Found Interesting Around October 29th

Friday, October 30th, 2009

Things I Found Interesting Around October 27th

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

10 Years of Simutronics

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

It’s 19951, and my friend Jeff was showing me a cool game he found while logged in (via our telephone modems) to AOL. It was called Gemstone III, a text-based adventure/roleplaying game by a company called Simutronics. It was what came to be called today as a MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Game).

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Things I Found Interesting Around October 26th

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

Grooveshark on the iPhone

Monday, October 26th, 2009

I met some of the guys from Grooveshark earlier this year (whatup Vishal and John!) when I was down in Florida for the Front End Design Conference. We had had a good time. We hung out and talked shop at the conference, ate alligator tacos, and saw Black Moth Super Rainbow.

Never heard of Grooveshark? Well you should, it’s amazing. You can listen to any song in the world for free from your computer. With a free account, you can make playlists, favorite songs, upload your own songs, and be friends with other Grooveshark users. It’s like iTunes, except your library is about 1,000 times bigger and it’s free. Annnnd, it has radio mode which learns your likes and dislikes so it’s got the Pandora angle covered.

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Things I Found Interesting Around October 24th

Monday, October 26th, 2009

List of Post Apocalyptic Movies

Sunday, October 25th, 2009

I’ve always been into post apocalyptic stuff. I said in my recent review of The Road that I think it’s because it’s such an interesting thing to fantasize about. Kind of like how you can daydream forever about what you would do if you won the lottery.

I thought it would be fun to put a list together of real post apocalyptic movies. This isn’t going to be a comprehensive list. There are going to be some rules as well as somewhat arbitrary moderation by me for what makes the list. This is what I’m thinking:

Categories: Technological, Disease/Biological, Biblical, Nuclear/War, Meteor/Comet

Things to Come 1938
Five 1951
Invasion U.S.A 1952
Captive Women 1952
The Day the World Ended 1955
World Without End 1956
On the Beach 1959
The Day the Earth Caught Fire 1961
Panic in Year Zero! 1962
The Earth Dies Screaming 1962
The Last Man on Earth 1964
Omega Man
Charlton Heston has this badass shelter where he keeps out the night dwelling vampire zombies (“The Family”). He meets some resistance type folks, hooks up with a hot black chick, and ultimately develops the cure, which he delivers to save humanity before dying in a fountain posed as Jesus. Disease – 3/5
1971
A Boy and His Dog
Easily the most fucked up in the genre I have ever seen. It starts weird, and just gets weirder and weirder and weirder. The dog can talk telepathically, and that is the least weird thing that happens. Nuclear – 3/5
1975
Logan’s Run 1976
Wizards
Bizarre half-realized cartoon. The drawn/ilustrated interludes are cool but don’t jive with the movie. But hey, it was 1977.
1977
Mad Max
Mel Gibson
1979
Zombie 1979
Stalker 1979
The Road Warrior 1981
Bladerunner
Dust is killing people on Earth, and they are being encouraged to leave to other colonies, which are no picnic.
1982
The Day After
I watched this whole thing and barely remember it. It was mostly inside and focused on character struggles rather than post apocalyptic stuff. It was originally made for TV so don’t expect much.
1983
Terminator
The first in this series. Also has Arnold but was far less popular. Sets the stage pretty well and a decent movie in its own right. – Technological -3/5
1984
The Quiet Earth
This old balding dude has some classic isolation freakout scenes. Then ends up meeing this chick and dude and there is some love triangle stuff going on. Turns out they lived because they actually were dying at the time of the apocalypse. Plus, a super weird ending. Technological? 4/5
1985
Epidemic 1987
Miracle Mile 1988
Hell Comes to Frogtown
Most people on earth have gone steril. Mr. Hell has not. He is a criminal, captured by the government and coerced into signing a contract to do their bidding. He gets sent out with two smoking hot chicks on a journey to Frogtown, to free even more hot chicks and impregnate them. It’s even better than I can describe, but for a movie all about fucking there isn’t a whole lot of it going on though. Boobs though. Disease – 4/5
1988
Cyborg
Jean-Claude Van Damme 1) has a scene where he’s nailed to the cross like Jesus 2) does the splits thing like in every other movie he’s ever done and 3) totally rules in this movie like in every other movie he’s ever done. It qualifies as post-apoc because it’s a virus that has destroyed most of mankind. Biological – 3.5/5
1989
Delicatessen 1991
Terminator 2
Arnold is sent from the future to protect a boy who is to become the leader of the resistance against the machines. Other terminators have the opposite idea. Technological – 5/5
1991
The Stand
Steven King’s book adapted into a one-million hour movie.
1994
Tank Girl
A couple of hot chicks battle against mega-corp with a tank and a jet with hot lesbian overtones and girl power. It’s either based on or spawned a series of comics that has as many or more fans than the movie.
1995
Waterworld
Kevin Kostner is “The Mariner” who sails around on his cadamaran doing whatever he wants with his webbed feet. He meets this chick and his daugher, who has this crazy tattoo which points to dry land on her back. He tries to keep them from the Smokers and get there themselves.
1995
12 Monkeys
Bruce Willis is some crazy prisoner sent to the past to investigate a disease that wiped out much of the human race. Super weird and good. Brad Pitt is involved.
1995
The Postman
Kevin Costner is captured and escapes from an evil army. He finds some old mail in a truck and pretends to be a postal worker from a restored government to get into a nearby town. He swears in this kid who wants to be a postman too, which inadvertently begins a social revolution which is ultimately mobilized to destroy the evil army. Disease – 5/5
1997
Apocalypse 1998
Tycus 1998
Last Night 1998
The Matrix
I hope everyone has seen this. It’s kind of amazing. Machines have taken over the world and people are used as human batteries. Their minds are kept occupied by a digital virtual reality (the matrix). Some humans have escaped are are battling the machines. Neo is a badass who can control the matrix. Technological – 5/5
1999
Virus 1999
Ever Since the World Ended 2001
28 Days Later
Disease from chimps turns people into sweet zombies that can run in quarantined London. Disease – 5/5
2002
The Last Man 2002
Numb 2003
Terminator 3
Another terminator is sent back to kill John Conner, and another terminator is sent back to protect him. John is in his 20’s but still rocking some teen angst. We get to see the real beginnings of “the machines”. – Technological 3/5

2003
Dawn of the Dead 2004
Resident Evil: Apocalypse 2004
Post Impact
A comet hits earth after a bizarre half-hearted laser beam effort to stop it. The laser beam continues to play a role as some weirdos try and use it for evil after the apocalypse, but honestly I had to stop watching it because it was so bad even I couldn’t take it. One star just for subject matter. – 1/5
2004
Lost: Black Earth 2004
The Day After Tomorrow
Scientists learn that due to climate change the world is going to go into an ice age in two days. Natural – 3/5
2004
Puzzlehead
A guy creates an android and puts all his memories into it. They both get involved with the same chick. It was kind of an interesting post-apocalyptic world, but the story would have stood alone without that aspect.
2005
Children of Men
Woman lose the ability to have children. Disease – 5/5
2006
The Signal
Signals that come across TV and Radio turn most people into murderers, who retain their rationality. Not a whole lot of the outside world is shown, focusing instead on smaller groups of people. Technological – 2/5
2006
Resident Evil: Extinction 2007
20 Years After 2007
28 Weeks Later
Best zombie killing scene of all time, when a helicopter tilts forward and runs through a tribe of zombies in a field.Disease – 5/5
2007
I am Legend
Will Smith and his dog are among the last on Earth. There are crazy vampire/zombie things that can only come out at night. They are just trying to survive. They met some chick who kinda joins the gang. This is based on a book and has various film adaptions with different endings. Disease – 5/5
2007
Tooth & Nail 2008
City of Ember
An underground city is built to save humanity since the surface is ruined. Hundreds of years underground. People get weird. The cities systems are failing (power, water). A kid stumbles upon to some lore. Ultimately escapes and saves everyone. Underutilizes Bill Murray and Tim Robbins, but still fun. – Nuclear? 4/5
2008
Terminator Salvation
Christian Bale is John Conner in the first in the series to actually take place post-apocalypse. I thought it was the weakest of the series. Technological – 5/5
2009
Knowing
Nicolas Cage gets obsessed with this sheet full of numbers that turn out to be a message from the future fortelling major disastrous events. The biggest disaster of all though, is apparently a solar flare which will incinerate Earth. Plus, aliens.
Natural / Aliens – 4/5
2009
2012
Some kind of sun activity heats up the Earths core and destabilizes the crust. The government has known about it for a few years and builds futuristic Arcs to save rich people. Littered with ridiculous plot holes and non-nonsensical scenes, but visually incredible. – Natural 3/5
2009
Zombieland
Woody Harrelson and that kid who looks like the kid from Arrested Development traveling around killing zombies. Hilarious, and does a good job of capturing the apocalyptic feeling. – Disease – 4/5
2009
The Road
Very well done and accurate translation of the Cormac McCarthy novel. The Man and the Boy are traveling South toward the coast in the extremely bleak ash-ridden post-apocalypse. – Nuclear? – 5/5
2009
The Book of Eli
Denzel is a blind (you find that out later) vagabond badass carrying around the Bible. Gary Oldman wants it to control the world. He eventually gets it but it’s in brail. Plus Jackie from that 70’s show is there. Then he receites the entire Bible to some dude on Alcatraz.
2010

There are surely many more I’m missing, so feel free to leave links to others. I’d like to make this as comprehensive as I can (within the stipulations above).

The Road (Book Review)

Saturday, October 24th, 2009


Thanks, Chicago Public Library

I just finished the book The Road, a fantastic post-apocalyptic novel by Cormac McCarthy.

Wikipedia | Amazon

I’m a fan of the entire genre post-apocalyptic, from books to video games (Fallout) to movies (Children of Men) to TV shows (Jericho). Not because I’m looking forward to it, but because it’s such an interesting angle to Sci-Fi. Thinking of how it is going to happen and what it is going to be like is one of those questions that can roll around your head for hours, like thinking about what you would do if you won a million dollars in the lottery.

For a taste, here is a paragraph toward the end of the book that would have fit just as well in the beginning or middle:

The days sloughed past uncounted and uncalendared. Along the interstate in the distance long lines of charred and rusting cars. The raw rims of wheels sitting in a stiff gray sludge of melted rubber, in blackened rings of wire. The incinerate corpses shrunk to the size of a child and propped on the bare springs of seats. Ten thousand dreams ensepulchered within their crozzled hearts. They went on. Treading the dead world under like rats on a wheel. The nights dead still and deader black. So cold. They talked hardly at all. He coughed all the time and the boy watched him spitting blood. Slumping along. Filthy, ragged, hopeless. He’d stop to lean on the cart and the boy would go on and then stop and look back and would raise his weeping eyes and see him standing there in the road looking back at him from some unimaginable future, glowing in that waste like a tabernacle.

Characters

The Road has two main characters: The Man and The Boy. They remain unnamed the entire book, although in one brief moment at the end of the book it eludes to them having real names although they are not revealed. This strange unnamed-main-characters approach sets the stage. Some things, most things, are just not important after the apocalypse, even names.

The man and the boy run into various other folks while traveling the road. They range from really scary to gut-wrenching I’d-look-away-if-this-was-a-movie scary. But they weren’t just evil for the sake of evil types. Death was knocking at the door for everyone at all times, so killing others and taking their things meant a lot better chance for self survival.

The man was the boys caretaker and only chance at survival, as the other humans left alive in this world were anything but kind. Beyond caretaker, the man was the boys tutor – teaching him survival tactics. But the book didn’t stoop to a cliche in that regard. The man just did things and the boy watched, it wasn’t drilled into our heads that this was so the boy would have the skills he needed later like some old Western movie.

Dialog

I read the book A Million Little Pieces by James Frey a while back. Despite all the controversy, I loved it. It had a very unique dialog style (how it was printed to the page, not what the characters said) that helped the book flow better. This dialog in this book was handled similarly:

Yeah, but stories are supposed to be happy.
They don’t have to be.
You always tell happy stories.
You don’t have any happy ones?
They’re more like real life.
But my stories are not.
Your stories are not. No.
The man watched him. Real life is pretty bad?

In other words, there isn’t any quotation marks, or “the man said” “they boy said” business to distract us. It’s only two characters here, it’s easy enough to know who is talking. It’s also easy enough to know when the words describe something rather than being spoken words like “The man watched him” above.

The Movie

There is a movie coming out with Viggo Mortensen as the man. I have high hopes and low expectations. The official trailer doesn’t allow embedding, but this is the same exact thing elsewhere on YouTube. I don’t expect it to last long.

There were some other clips I found around the interwebs, but they actually were very spoiler-y to me and I’m choosing not to embed them.

The book doesn’t deal with the how of apocalypse at all, and the trailer focuses on that right away, making it seem like a natural-disaster thriller. Perhaps Hollywood thinks people won’t like a film with an unexplained wasteland. I thought the book was far better for it. If there was some big explanation about why the world was the way it was, it would have served as a big distraction instead of having us focus on the characters and their situation.

I also feel like Charlize Theron is going to be shoehorned in a little awkwardly, so the audience can have little hot-chick breaks.

Typography

The last page of the book:

A NOTE ON THE TYPE

This book was set in a typeface called Bulmer. This distinquished letter is a replica of a type long famous in the history of English printing which was designed and cut by William Martin about 1790 for William Bulmer of the Shakespeare Press. In design, it is all but a modern face, with vertical stress and nearly flat serifs. The decorative italic shows the influence of Baskerville, as Martin was a pupil of John Baskerville’s.

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