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Barrel rolls, inside Walter White’s house and more in this week’s Staff Picks

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caleb-denisonCaleb Denison: Meet the lady who lives at Walter White’s house

For fans of the show, Breaking Bad, these next couple of days are going to be tough. Frankly, the anticipation is killing me. I joined the Breaking Bad fan club late and intentionally scheduled my binge viewing session so that I would catch up just in time to join up with season six as it began airing, but my plans were dashed when the season premiere was pushed back. I seriously considered suing AMC for emotional damages – for like a couple of seconds, anyway.

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In the meantime, I’ve done what I could to keep myself from weaning off of the crack-like addiction that is this TV show. I’ve revisited old episodes, joined nerdy forums and practiced my Jesse Pinkman impression in the mirror (it’s getting really, really good). Then today I discovered this video in which a team from Machinima visits with the lady that actually lives at the “White House.” Seriously, it’s an actual house in Albuquerque, New Mexico – not just a studio stage mock-up – and the lady that lives there is the most patient sweetheart of a woman I’ve seen in a long time. Especially considering she probably deals with way more pizza-throwing assholes in the space of one month than most folks do in an entire week. Please enjoy.

Les ShuLes Shu: With Street View you can pretend you’re a wealthy Emirati

Despite the privacy concerns, Google’s Street View is a pretty neat tool for the armchair traveler. How else can you plop yourself down on the Champs-Élysées and then fly over to faux Paris in Las Vegas the next minute? Google has been enhancing Street View where you can now explore really exotic locales like forests and abandoned places, but the latest virtual tour, I think, is one of the best yet: inside an airplane. But not just any plane, mind you, an Airbus A380.

The double-decker is part of the fleet belonging to Dubai-based Emirates, the largest operator of this mega plane. Not only is it big, but it’s also one of the most luxurious, filled with wondrous amenities – that is, if you’re sitting in one of the premium cabins. For those of us who can’t afford the $10,000-plus ticket for a first-class suite (yeah, suite, not seat), we can now explore this part of the plane via Street View. You can also “walk” through the coach cabin, but why bother?


jeff-van-campJeff Van Camp: Keep your damn cell phone out of my theater

You know what really grinds my gears?! This article. Molly sent it to me earlier today. It’s by a guest author named Chris Davison at The Wrap. He thinks that because he’s seen some people texting at the movies, then hey, we should just accept that it’s how things work and give in. The era of distraction-free movies is over. The kids like to text and tweet, so let’s let them text! Davison then suggests that all theaters should have designated “texting” and “non-texting” screens because, gosh darnit, it worked for smoking in restaurants, so it could work here, too.

Here’s the problem, Davison. That comparison is idiotic. If you want to compare using your phone in a theater to smoking, then we’d be going backward on the issue entirely. Texting and using your phone in the middle of a dark movie theater is a lot like smoking. No, it’s not giving anyone cancer and it doesn’t smell bad, but it’s ruining everyone else’s enjoyment of the movie! It’s like second-hand smoke to my movie-going experience.

Just like we don’t need every restaurant turning back into a smoke-filled hell, we don’t need to give up on a distraction-free moviegoing experience because a few dumb kids can’t learn how to keep their phones in their pants. That’s like saying we need a texting-while-driving lane on the highway. It’s stupid.

Chris Davison, I do not like your idea, and I am not looking forward to going to the movies with you if you’re going to shine your bright smartphone screen all around and tweet how much you love the popcorn. There’s one screen in every movie theater. I think it’s big enough for everyone to enjoy. If you want to use your smartphone, sit in the back row with the couples who make out constantly and the creepers. Maybe they’ll join you.


Adam RosenbergAdam Rosenberg: Just add animation

Remember how awesome it was when Patton Oswalt drew applause on the set of Parks and Recreation for his faux-filibuster speech-slash-pitch for Star Wars: Episode VII? Wouldn’t that have been more awesome with some creative animation set behind it? Don’t think so? Well you’re wrong. Here’s proof.

bill-robersonBill Roberson: Let’s see what this thing can do

The footage is grainy, but the moment is infamous.

Back in 1955, at the dawn of the Jet Age, Boeing was testing the “Dash 80,” its revolutionary (and big) new four-engine passenger jet, over Seattle where Boeing was based. Typically, test pilots were hot-shot fighter pilots and bomber jockeys still fresh from World War II. Keeping a relatively lumbering jumbo-jet straight and level for its 50th test flight probably bored them out of their minds. Only one thing to do then, Iceman: barrel roll that big daddy.

At the direction of publicity-seeking superiors, test pilot Tex Johnston (is there a better name for a test pilot? I don’t think so) took off and hit the gas on the Dash 80 (aka the Boeing 707) at a most opportune time: during Sea Fair week, right over the boat races while a convention of top aviation folks from the world over were also in town – and watching. Except no one but Tex knew the barrel roll was coming.

Johnson flipped the big jet over not once, but twice, and lest you think it’s an urban myth, there’s both film and still photos to prove it. Did Tex get fired? Are you kidding? But he did have a chat with the big boss who said he should probably lay off the jumbo jet stunt flying in the future. As far as we know, no one has ever barrel-rolled a big passenger jet since (outside of the movies).

Of course, Boeing went on to sell thousands of the legendary planes, no doubt helped by the amazing demonstration of its strength and agility by test pilot Tex Johnston.

Andrew CoutsAndrew Couts: How to remove any stain

I have one giant dog, three cats, and four nephews between the ages of 8 and 15. So to say that my small house can quickly transform into a disgusting cesspool would be an understatement. It’s so bad sometimes, it almost makes me wish for the days before having a live-in girlfriend, who taught me that cleaning the house was not simply a social construct I could willfully ignore.

Armed with a newfound sensitivity to filth, I have had to scour the Web to deal with various stains from various bodily functions of various species of mammal on my various carpets, cars, clothing, and rugs. But no longer – I have found the absolute most amazing collection of stain removal instructions in the existence of humankind.

Created by educator Susan Taylor for the University of Illinois Extension, Stain Solutions clearly and concisely covers how to remove damn near every stain in the universe. Vomit? No problem. Tree sap? Got it. Butter and margarine? Yep, those too. Ol’ Susan even cover how to remove zucchini stains. I didn’t even know zucchini could stain. The list, quite literally, goes on and on – not to mention that the site has a surprisingly good design, and the instructions for not how to kill yourself with bleach and ammonia are key.

One word of caution: After clicking through stain solutions for two hours, you may find yourself questioning your manhood. You’ve been warned.


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A human harp, terrifying sinkholes and more in this week’s Staff Picks
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Andrew Couts: Trolling Congress
Global warming is real, and is caused or exacerbated by the inconceivable amount of crap we've pumped into the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution. Don't take my word for it, take NASA's. "The current warming trend is of particular significance because most of it is very likely human-induced and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented in the past 1,300 years," writes the U.S. space agency on its website. Despite the overwhelming evidence in support the phenomena of global warming, a shocking number of people in Congress – the people with power to curb some of the destruction – deny that we humans have anything to do with the spike in the Earth's temperature.
Which is why the latest campaign from environmental group is so freakin' brilliant. Dubbed "The Climate Name Change," the campaign seeks to name hurricanes after "climate change deniers," like House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) or Republican Minnesota Representative Michele "Crazy Eyes" Bachmann. The video the group produced to exemplify its idea is pro-level trolling. Even if you don't "believe in" global warming, you have to admit that the new naming scheme is hilarious. So sign the petition – support it for the lulz.

Amir Iliaifar: One way to ruin a party
What you see here is not a summer sci-fi blockbuster filmed on hand-held camera. No, it’s Mechnikovo beach, near Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea.
It appears these sunray-seeking Ruskies were busy enjoying their day out when a 500-ton Zubr-class military hovercraft landed on the beach, unloaded a cadre of Russian troops, and promptly asked people to scram- crapping in everyone’s proverbial cereal.
I mean, how would you feel if a massive hovercraft capable of carrying 400 armed troops, missile launchers, and God only knows what else, stormed the beach while you were in your speedo and asked you to split? And you know they would be the revealing kind because hey – it’s Europe!
Apparently, Russian authorities were more than a little surprised that the hovercraft incident pissed off so many people. According to the Russian authorities, Mechnikovo beach is government property and the Zubr landing was merely a tactical exercise. And, according to Russia’s Defense Ministry, people shouldn’t have been on the beach to begin with.
But you wanna know what I think, comrade? Somehow Miley Cyrus snuck aboard and couldn’t stop twerking and sticking out her tongue, forcing an emergency landing and everyone to GTFO. Yeah, that must have been it.

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Perfect coffee through science, emoji mosaics and more in this week’s Staff Picks
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Molly McHugh: Game of Hoops
Obviously you like Games of Thrones, because you are reading this and that means you're a human with an Internet connection. So again, obviously you like Games of Thrones. And if you don't we can't be friends anymore.
But since you obviously like Games of Thrones, your favorite character is obviously Tyrion Lannister. OBVIOUSLY. He is everyone's favorite character and if he's not then again, we can't be friends anymore.
Well turns out our favorite character - er, the actor Peter Dinklage who plays him - partook in some fun extracurriculars, i.e. hula hoop dancing at a gay bar. And not just any hula hoop, an electric one! I'd venture to say that if anything in your life is going wrong, one look at this and you'll feel many times better.
Dear reader, it only gets better: There's video.
In these dark times, this is what we need more of.

Caleb Denison: Please don’t judge me
Every week I’m tasked with the responsibility of finding something cool on the Internet, then writing up some sort of witty blurb introducing it for this, our Staff Picks column. It sounds like the easiest thing ever, doesn’t it? And maybe it should be. But it turns out that I’ve gotten really good at taking what should be the easiest part of my week and making it extremely difficult. I will sometimes spend an hour searching for something I really like because – and I realize this is a major hang-up – I have this crazy idea in my head that what I pick says something about me, and I just can’t have the Internet thinking I’m a dork.
Dammit, I’m too late, aren’t I?
Well, then, since I’m pretty sure the six of you who read this already think I’m a goob or just really don’t care, I’m rolling with a comedian doing Diva impressions to a tune made famous in the 1980’s (oh, he’s an old dork! Nice!) by Bonnie Tyler called “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” Yes. My middle-aged nerd status is now complete. Check out Christina Bianco doing some impressive impressions of Divas young and old, including Adelle, Cher, Christina Aguilera (my personal favorite) and, of course, Barbara Streisand. She’s pretty damn good at it.

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The perks of delinquency, 80s dashboards and more in this week’s Staff Picks
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Jeff Van Camp: Stephen Colbert confronts the ‘Gay Mafia’
I cover iPhones and Galaxy phones all day long, but when I get home from work, I usually unwind with some Daily Show or Colbert. This is one of the best segments I've seen on the show. Apparently there are parts of the south where a small town can have an openly gay mayor and pass an ordinance banning discrimination of those in the LGBT community. Colbert is, naturally, extremely disappointed in the progress of this "Gay Mafia."
Hopefully we're getting to the point where more people around the country think like this, finally.

Andrew Couts: Everything that's wrong with YouTube
It has been a long time since I last went on a YouTube binge. For whatever reason, my habit of clicking through an endless array of videos, each more odd and obscure than the next, seems to have dwindled away with my fondness for MySpace. In other words, I'm now just busy and old.
Fortunately, YouTube user JelloApocalypse, a self-described "writer and voice actor," has released a brilliant new animated video that makes me appreciate all the time I've not wasted on the world's largest video-sharing site. From the poor design to the wretched comments, the video (above) gives you a sense of all that's wrong with YouTube. The damning summation almost makes it seem as though Google, YouTube's parent company, has given up on improving one of its most popular properties, just to screw with us. Perhaps YouTube's saving grace is that this video is itself hosted on YouTube.

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