Oddities and Awesome abound!
:: Roger Ebert linked this on Facebook, and it's pretty great, actually: the 50 greatest matte paintings of all time. For non-film geeks in the audience, a matte painting is how filmmakers used to create vistas onscreen that were too expensive or fantastic to actually build as sets. One of the most iconic ones -- and featured in the article -- is the crate-filled warehouse at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Matte painting -- the actual painting of a sheet of glass for superimposition of the filmed images -- has largely gone the wayside in the era of digital composition, and while I've never been one to lament the passing of special-effects-by-hand in favor of CGI (having seen lots of bad FX-by-hand in my day), but there is something nifty about knowing that an artist was literally painting a piece of glass to make the movie magic happen.
:: This is an amazing video comprising all of the launches of the space shuttle. Yes, including that one -- but you can't really show them all and leave off the one that ended poorly. And once again, I'm reminded that while the shuttle's day was overdue to end, it's a sad thing that it ended with no new ship to have its day afterward....
:: As of this writing, the Pittsburgh Pirates are ten games over .500, in first place in the NL Central, and they are assured of entering the All-Star Break with at least a share of first place. Their record right now is 47-37, and after a really slow start at the plate, their hitters have produced nicely the last month or so (not that they couldn't add another bat for the stretch run, and given how they've stocked the farm system that last few years, they could do so without mortgaging their future the way they did in 1990 when they traded Moises Alou for Zane Smith). Go Bucs!
More next week!