Category Archives: Pop Culture

Why is NBC dimming 30 Rock?

I cannot be the only person who has noticed this: For some reason, 30 Rock’s scenes are being aired at approximately half the brightness of other programming, or even the shows own title sequences. The issue can be seen clearly in every episode of Season 5 on Hulu.com as well as NBC.com, but is not present on Season 4 or any other show on Hulu.

Here is a screenshot from last week’s episode of 30 Rock – ‘Plan B’:

Compare that to a screenshot from last week’s episode of The Office – ‘Garage Sale’:

30 Rock looks very dark and lacks contrast.

Now here are the histograms for each image:

30 Rock – ‘Plan B’

The Office – ‘Garage Sale’

If you’re not familiar, a luminance histogram measures tone in an image from pure black (on the left) to pure white (on the right). The mountains and valleys you see in the meter represent the concentration of that tone. As you can see, the histogram from The Office has bits of data from end to end, but the one from 30 Rock is solely concentrated from the black point to the middle, meaning there is no brightness data in the second half of the spectrum.

Now here is what the picture looks like when we fix the histogram.

Better, right?

The thing is, it appears to be intentional because, as I mentioned before, the issue is not present in the shows title sequences (and select cut-away sequences).

So, why is NBC doing this? It’s already well established that the show does its best to shoot on Tina’s right side to not showcase her facial scar (which is oddly mirrored in the show’s title sequence) and many TV shows used to use soft focus lenses to hide the blemishes of its actors or actresses.

Is this dimming of the footage an attempt to hide the looks of aging stars Fey and Baldwin? Is it just a very weird, but completely consistent, mistake? Or is there some other less obvious reason I’m missing?

Bob Sheppard

I speak often of Yankee Stadium being my one true home but there was a presence there that to me epitomized baseball. It was the voice of Bob Sheppard.

To me the defining moment of a Yankee world series game always came down to one moment, one moment of bottled up intensity that sent the crowd into a fever, it was excitement exemplified and it came at the bottom 8th inning…

—-

Enter Sandman hits on the PA, and the crowd rises to their feet as Metallica’s anthem begins to pump through their veins like the fuel injection of a car.

“Now pitching for the New York Yankees… number forty two Mariano Rivera.”

—-

It was Bob Sheppard’s voice.

Bob’s presence is the perfect contrast to Metallica’s it reminds the fans that this is class, this is prestige, this is the New York Yankees, the greatest sports franchise of all time.

Bob’s voice is that brand, it is the Yankees. Thank you for all the memories Bob, may you sleep soundly.

One True Home – 102.3MP Yankee Stadium Wide Angle Panorama

Of all the places I’ve spent my time. No place has as many fond memories for me as Yankee Stadium.

I shot this image almost exactly two years ago at the 2008 MLB All Star Home Run Derby. This would be the second to last game I would spend with her.

I only just now finally getting the chance to assemble it in Photoshop and Aperture. This is my tribute to the most important stadium in all of baseball and my one true home.

May she rest in piece.

4 Hours in Malaysia / 26 Hours in Tokyo – Part 1

After leaving Bangkok I landed in Kuala Lumpur for a 4 hour layover. Just long enough to get bored to tears in an airport but not long enough to leave said airport.

I wandered around they duty free shops for a bit and decided to get a bite to eat at the Malaysian noodle place called Nööödles. I got the “beef balls and herbs soup” and a coke for what equated to around $7, not half bad. After that I stumbled onto the airport Starbucks which had a free open WiFi connection… Sweet! Only problem though? No way to charge my devices.. Kuala Lumpur is the only stop on my trip that doesn’t use the standard US two prong wall socket and I didn’t bring my adaptor kit with me. Luckily enough there was an electronics store right below where I was able to pick up one of those little adaptor switch boxes for around $10.

I did have a momentary nerd out moment in there however. They had TONS of Japanese video games for sale and all sorts of bizarre bootleg devices. This was the kind of stuff that 10 year old me dreamed of. I got really really excited at the idea of buying something to bring home and play… Then I remembered that this isn’t the days of old where you could get a cartridge adaptor for your NES and just play Japanese games, the whole industry has switched to optical media which simply won’t play without modding your systems, which thanks to the DMCA is illegal in the USA and with companies like Microsoft blocks you from getting online. Damn. Stupid regions. Stupid DMCA. Stupid Microsoft.

After I got over my heartbreak on this I went back to Starbucks, plugged in and I was off and running! (Note: the iPad’s battery would have no doubt made it fine through my flight to Tokyo, but I knew I was going to use it heavily in the next day so I wanted to start off with a fresh full charge.

I arrived at the Narita airport and wandered around a bit, taking a moment to use the bathroom, clean myself up and change into jeans. It’s 84 degrees here, a huge break compared to the sweltering heat and humidity of Thailand, I’m excited to be wearing jeans again.

I took a bus to the downtown Tokyo Train station which took about an hour but I figured would be a good starting point. From there I began to wander some more, I immediately was able to figure out which direction I was walking from the placement of the sun and when I noticed that I laughed out loud. The boy scouts would be proud. I’m extremely grateful for my iPhone right now as none of the streets are obviously labeled, that said I think I’d be doing okay as there are a lot of maps placed throughout the city which denote where you are. Navigation is all based on neighborhoods and landmarks, and it’s surprisingly clear for someone who doesn’t read a word of Japanese.

First thing on my agenda: find the Apple store. I accomplished this very quickly. Now I know you probably laughed at that and might have even muttered “nerd” but there is a method to my madness. Apple is very selective in the placement of their stores, they are usually in upscale, popular/trendy areas so they can immediately give you an idea of a good place to check out, on top of that they offer free wifi, accessible power outlets, clean bathrooms and friendly multi-lingual staff.

That choice paid off big time immediately I was able to find a guy who had moved here from Estonia who was able to give me a brief run-through of Tokyo basics. First thing he told me, enjoy the free WiFi because I won’t find much of it elsewhere. Not even Starbucks offers it apparently and McDonald’s does but only to Nintendo DS users… great. I also found out the post office here doesn’t sell stamps… weird. I’ve yet to mail out my postcards so that is priority #2.

Christine’s father was able to get me a great hotel rate for tonight so I’ll be staying at the Sheraton, this goes against my usual traveling rules, but I could use a clean bed and shower. Unfortunately I can’t check in until 2 so it I’ve got some time to kill.

I’ve heard a few suggestions / requests of things to do for tonight which I’m excited to start tackling as soon as I’ve put my bags down. I’m still open for more though so hit me up in the comments or on Twitter. More later!

It’s A Party in The USA – Thailand Part 7

Yesterday we arrived in Ayutthaya and set up camp in a hostel called Tony’s Place. While there are some minor flaws (zero water pressure in the shower) this is hands down the coolest place I have ever stayed at while abroad. The whole front of the building is a giant deck / restaurant which is swarming with a mix of traveling folk and it’s directly across the street from Christine’s favorite bar, Chang House.

There is WiFi and decent food in the terrace as well as a tourist information desk, it very much blurs the line between hotel and hostel. Everyone here is super friendly and I’m typing this while eating a delicious BLT breakfast (I got a little tired of chicken and rice).

Our room has cable tv so we settled in and relaxed for a bit and flipped through stations before settling on MTV Africa (an odd thing to broadcast since Thailand is not in Africa). I haven’t watched MTV in years, in fact I’ve been pretty actively boycotting it since around 1997, so whenever I do catch it for a while I’m always blown away by what I see. 8 videos in a row and 7 of them (including Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus) clearly used and overused auto-tune. I’m sickened, is there any musical talent required anymore? Geez. Anyway this frightened me worse when I realized I was watching MTV Africa, not MTV US, these pop stars and the ads for Jersey Shore are representing America to a lot of people and they look up to it, that is really scary.

After that we went to Chang house and hung out with Christine’s friend Earth. Awesome guy, we split a bottle of “Blend” whiskey (Distilled by Red Bull, cheap and not half bad, considering) and attempted to overcome language barriers and had a good laugh doing so. From there we went to another bar where Earth’s band was playing and found some French guys and Christine’s coworker Dan from the UK. We had a really good time talking about cultural differences and I wound up telling the one gentleman from Paris my trick to getting a Parisian to speak English, he had a really good laugh and admitted he had no doubt it would work.

From there we went to a nightclub where there was a Thai rock band playing. I was exhausted but it was a lot of fun. It seems a lot of Thai rock is set on a reggae beat so it’s very, very similar to the ska punk I grew up with on Long Island which is very strange but very comforting. Eventually the band busted into a Thai Punk cover of Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance which turned out to be surprisingly good.

Thai covers of American music are actually really huge over here in the touristy areas but they are quite amusing to those of us who natively speak English because most, not all, of the singers don’t understand the words to what they’re singing. The singers will butcher the lyrics but hit the notes, tones and timing near perfectly. It’s an amazing phenomenon and very entertaining nonetheless. From there it was time for bed, but as a whole the day turned out to be really enlightening and fun.

Today we’re catching a boat tour around the city and checking outcome old ruins, I can’t wait to take pictures and to share them with y’all. Cheers!