The 401st Blow :: Thoughts On Media


Posted in Content by Noah Harlan on September 21, 2011

Human flight. Awe.


The Earth From The Sky In 60 Seconds

Posted in Content by Noah Harlan on September 19, 2011


The President And The Macguffin

Posted in Content, Humor, Theory by Noah Harlan on July 15, 2011

Today, the President apparently discovered a Macguffin.

The Macguffin is a plot device that moves the story forward and everyone is focussed on. The term was popularized by Alfred Hitchcock who described its origin to François Truffaut as:

It might be a Scottish name, taken from a story about two men in a train. One man says “What’s that package up there in the baggage rack?”, and the other answers “Oh, that’s a McGuffin”. The first one asks “What’s a McGuffin?”. “Well”, the other man says, “It’s an apparatus for trapping lions in the Scottish Highlands“. The first man says “But there are no lions in the Scottish Highlands”, and the other one answers “Well, then that’s no McGuffin!”. So you see, a McGuffin is nothing at all.

Take a look at the President in the above picture. See the below. What do you think was in the case?

Pulp Fiction

Pulp Fiction

Kiss Me Deadly


2001: A Space Odyssey

In actual fact, the President was visiting an LED factory. It is highly unlikely that it was Marcellus Wallace’s soul he was looking at.

When Government Makes Me Proud: The Smithsonian

Posted in Content, Humor, Politics by Noah Harlan on April 3, 2011

You have to love whoever at the Smithsonian had the balls to approve this campaign. It’s awesome. Great message. Great design. Great typography. Great humor. Just an all around win.

Update: As noted below in the comments below. This was a design experiment not affiliated with the Smithsonian. Serves me right for quick posting something on a Sunday evening that I knew was too good to be government…

Time Immemorial: Pine Point

Posted in Content by Noah Harlan on March 7, 2011

The National Film Board of Canada has produced an amazing documentary project called Pine Point. It was created by The Goggles, from AdBusters magazine and is a hypnotic, entrancing portrait of a vanished town in Canada called Pine Point. It was a town created out of thin air, occupied for a generation, and now exists ensconced in the memories of its one-time residents. Haunting, beautiful, sad, and tender I cannot recommend taking 20 minutes and exploring this work. While it retains a linear quality to its structure, the piece blends media formats and techniques and allows you to navigate at your own pace without ever feeling gimmicky.

The project is available here.

“Charlie Sheen’s Got Tiger Blood, Man” by Apollo Run

Posted in Content, Humor by Noah Harlan on March 2, 2011

One of the great bands my future sister-in-law reps is Apollo Run. This is total awesomeness. #WINNING!

A Picture Tells A Thousand Words: Mugshots Before & After Meth

Posted in Content, Policy by Noah Harlan on February 27, 2011

MSNBC has an astonishing gallery of before and after photos of people’s mugshots from the Multnomah County Sherrif’s office that shows the devastating effects of drugs over time. It’s terrifying and probably a thousand times more powerful than any “Just Say No” type campaign:

She was so pretty.

In just six months.

Seven months. She looks terrified.

He clearly has lost his teeth. Just three years...

He looks like a completely different person.

Just scary and sad.

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What is “Internet”?

Posted in Content, Humor, Technology, Television by Noah Harlan on February 20, 2011

This is great. Let’s hop back to 1994 when people were just hearing about this thing called “internet” for the first time. Bryant Gumble, Katie Couric, and another host (who I don’t know off the top of my head) are left totally befuddled as to how to pronounce the @ symbol in an email address and then spend a few minutes trying to understand this new invention.

To make myself seem rather old, I remember when I had visited every site on the World Wide Web circa 1992/1993. It was such a rush not to be dealing with Archie any more. That, and you could do it all on a 28k modem…

Enjoy (via my friends over at ConductHQ)

Life… At 2,564 Frames Per Second

Posted in Content, Technology by Noah Harlan on February 17, 2011

Tom Guilmette got to spend a night in a hotel room with a brand new Phantom Flex high speed camera that shoots 2,564 FPS at full 1080P in what is clearly not extraordinary lighting conditions. The result? Awesomeness:

A Small World = Spam

Posted in Content, Technology by Noah Harlan on November 5, 2010

I’ve felt for a while that the ‘social networking’ site A Small World is really nothing but opt-in spam for nouveau riche wannabees. Today I changed some preferences so I would receive less daily junk mail from them promoting cheap Euro-Trash-esque products. Then I saw this confirmation screen:

Take a closer look at that highlighted section:

I’m sorry. An auto-unsubscribe button that takes 10 days? That’s a site that is desperately trying to cling to a failing business model by saying ‘fuck you’ to their audience.