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Perfect coffee through science, emoji mosaics and more in this week’s Staff Picks

Staff Picks 8_23_2013 header

molly mchughMolly 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-denisonCaleb 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.

Andrew CoutsAndrew Couts: Make perfect coffee, with science!

Until I lived with a woman whose addiction to coffee surpassed my addictions to everything else, I wasn’t a big Joe drinker. Nowadays, however, coffee is perhaps the most important substance in my house. If we’re out of coffee, everyone suffers. Not only do I now have a caffeine addiction, but I am now an amateur coffee snob. The brew needs to be strong, and it needs to be flavorful. Whatever the hell it is that Starbucks secretes out of its machines just ain’t gonna cut it. So I’m always on the lookout for ways to improve the coffee we have at home. And now I have the perfect guide.

The Atlantic this week published a thorough explainer piece on “How to make perfect coffee.” Authors Micahel Haft and Harrison Suarez take a deep dive into the science of coffee making, from what makes a good coffee bean to the precise temperature your water needs to be to produce a superior brew. Thanks to this, I’ll move up to intermediate coffee snob in no time.

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natt garunNatt Garun: Disney has nothing on Cinderonce

The secret to every good weekend is to start it with a little bit of Beyonce. I mean, come on, how can you hate Beyonce? She’s basically the real American first lady. Except this time, Beyonce comes with a twist in this magical little video where YouTube comedy director Todrick Hall tells the fairytale story of Cinderella… using only Beyonce songs. It’s the kind of thing you’d totally pay good money to see on Broadway, but why do all that when it’s free on the Internet? Cinderonce is a genius piece of work. Thanks, Internet, for delivering yet another piece of totally weird, random, but adorably amazing content. Disney should take some notes.

jennifer-bergenJen Bergen: Emojify turns your photos into an emoji mosaic

Let’s face it; we all love emojis. They’re there for us when we don’t know how to use words to describe that we want ice cream, they’re there when we have no other way to translate how excited we are about something (a string of 10 different smilies and hand clap emojis usually does the trick), and they’re there when we’re just too lazy to respond with words (a simple heart can take the place of “I love you, too”). So when we heard about the Emojify app, which takes the ASCII art days of yore and puts a contemporary spin on it, we were instantly searching for an appropriate emoji to relay our excitement.

Emojify lets iPhone users transform the pixels of a photo into emojis, creating a mosaic made up entirely of emojis. VoidWorks, maker of Emojify, suggests that your photo be a single subject matter with a clear contrast of light and shadows. The app can export up to 16 megapixels, so you can even print your Emojified as posters and hang them up at home.

The app is only available for iOS at the moment. Until it’s released on other platforms, the rest of us will just have to find the appropriate crying emoji to portray our sadness.

Emoji-imageryan-fleming-6-94x94Ryan Fleming: Preseason NFL is still better than mid-season baseball

Look, I like baseball as much as the next guy (assuming the next guy also doesn’t like baseball), but it’s time we re-examine this whole “National Pastime” business. You had a good run, baseball, but it’s time to hand over the crown to the true American sport of choice: football. Baseball has its moments, especially the playoffs, but as it enters week 614 of the regular season, it’s nice to know this weekend, sports fans will have options.

Sure, it’s still pre-season, but week three is traditionally where the NFL starters play the majority of the game rather than then 9th string kicker/QB. It’s also getting to be crunch time for the unfortunate few who are on the bubble and may not make the team, so you may see some real potential unleashed. The games this week won’t come close to matching the intensity of the regular season that debuts on September 5, but with baseball in it pre-exciting phase leading up to the playoff push next month, sports fans can rejoice.


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