Feb 01 2009

Contest #31: Winner

Category: Uncategorized @ 6:37 pm

The winner of contest #31 is Etmoose.  He takes down his second contest and joins our fast growing group of 2x winners.  The entry that did it:

Isolate yourself from what you love in life by connecting to your job 24/7 with Blackberry.

He wins his choice of a gift certificate to Amazon.com or the Mental Magma Store.

Contest #31 may be a turning point in MM history, not for anything related to its subject matter, but because of its timing. Next week MM is going to be featured in the school paper of the University of Georgia (where I currently work and attend classes).

A large influx of users is likely to shake things up a bit.  If we gain a significant number of persistant users, the number of entries, the average quality of the finalists, and number of people reading/rating entries will all head north.  These are probably all positive changes, but we may have to make some changes to MM structures (most likely upgrades to our contest entry/upload systems).  We’ll be looking to our long time users for help and guidance on issues of change in the coming weeks and months.


Jan 30 2009

Contest #31: Finalists

Category: Uncategorized @ 6:09 pm

If only MM’s users could make the Superbowl’s ads this weekend, things would be a lot more interesting.

Let’s talk about the entries that despite not making the finals, were either fan or staff favorites.  These included Diggy K’s Think Pretentious, Barnaby Hayes’ Burly Fat Guys, fuzz on the concept’s bottled water, Iaoai’s Playboy, Soleil’s Fox “News”, Bunny Slipper’s Oscar Meyer, SesameStreetgang’s Food Network, Spumoni’s WOW, Ocean26′s King of Theme Parks, Greg’s Quaker Oats Challenge, jlbsauces’ HoverroundMike Fo’ Sho’s Oreo Cakesters, Naterator Fried’s food, and cjb14′s Snuggie.

The five finalists this week are Etmoose, Alex, Jayrad, Jakutz, and Zee.



[poll id="39"]

Zee’s entry was a picture, here is a slightly smaller version of it for easy reference:


Jan 26 2009

Contest #31: Truth in Advertising

Category: Uncategorized @ 1:46 am

The inspiration for this contest, aside from the picture on the left, was the movie Dumb and Dumber. In the movie, the guys want to start a pet store that specializes in worms. They tentatively name the store “I got worms.” In addition to being a double entendre (nobody likes single entendres), it is a refreshingly straightforward name.

This week’s contest is to revamp the advertising for the company of your choice. You can rename the company, come up with new slogans, or draw a new logo. The goal is to have the new advertising be frank and honest.

Standard contest timeline and contest rules apply this week. By leaving an entry you are agreeing to those rules. The entry voted the favorite by MM users will earn its author their choice of a $30 Amazon.com gift certificate OR a $60 gift certificate to the MM Online Store.

Contest Summary
Assignment
: Redesign some of the advertising for the business of your choice.
How to enter: Write your entry in the Contest Entries section.
Deadline: Friday, January 30th at 5pm EST
Prize: Your choice of a $30 Amazon.com gift certificate OR a $60 gift certificate to the MM Online Store.

photo by flickr user andyi


Jan 25 2009

Contest #30: Winner

Category: Uncategorized @ 7:42 pm

We’re going to have some interesting decisions this week regarding which designs to select for our merch creations.

Rising to the top of this week’s creations was Drewbert’s winning entry:

Obama's inaugural boxers:
Red, White and Blue
On the front they read: "Stimulus Package"

Drewbert has been submitting quality entries for a while now and we’re glad to see him bag a contest. For his win he wins his choice of a $40 Amazon.com gift certificate or a $80 MM Store gift certificate.


Jan 23 2009

Contest #30: Finalists

Category: Uncategorized @ 6:30 pm

I don’t know if you guys noticed it or not, but a lot of this week’s entries had double meanings.

Let’s take a minute to recognize the users that, despite not making the finals, were user or staff favorites:  Greg’s don’t ask don’t tell, Alex’s President Erect, Jakutz’s Freedom, nmrboy’s Nixon, Bunny Slipper’s Other Big “O”, Hazel’s Watergate, Vlad’s Change, Spumoni’s Nuts, Trent’s Lewinsky, and SesameStreetgang’s Washington Monument.

The five finalists are Iaoai, Jayrad, Mike Fo’ Sho’, drewbert, and kjw2009.  The poll will be open until Sunday 5pm EST.  Remember that, as always, we’ll make our merch selections from the entire pool of entries, not just the finalists.  So, even if you didn’t make the finals, you may have your entry chosen to be made into real underwear.

[poll id="38"]



Jan 23 2009

User-submitted contest prize

Category: Uncategorized @ 12:38 am

A few weeks ago, on the forum, we discussed the idea of prizes for users-submitted contest ideas.  Well, we’ve worked something out that works for us and fits in well with themes of MM.  After every 5 user-submitted contests we run, we’ll put them in a poll for users to vote on the best one.  The prize for winning will be at least $75 to Amazon (or $125 to the MM Store).  I have to give credit to SesameStreetgang for the genesis of this excellent idea.  

This won’t happen very often, because it takes a while to run 5 user contests, but the longer it takes, the more money we’ll add to the prize pool.  Any user can submit a contest.  If we decide to run yours, or a slightly modified version of it, you’ll have your chance to be in the poll.

I can give you a few tips on creating a contest that we’ll likely run.  The first is to see our past contests to get a sense of the kinds of challenges we run.  You can skip this one if you’re a long-time user.

The second is to make your contest something that most people could enter if they wanted to.  It’s okay if the contest requires a little explanation.  For example, having a haiku contest in which you describe how to write one is acceptable, but a contest that requires users to write a computer program that passes the Turing Test is probably too tough.  

Lastly, the contest must have enough creative space to allow many entries.  If your contest is to name the worst film from the Matrix trilogy, the users only have 3 choices (and clearly the answer is the 3rd).

If you have an idea you think we’d like, submit it via the contact us tab or by email at mentalmagma (at) gmail (dot) com.


Jan 22 2009

Sale: MM Hoodies

Category: Uncategorized @ 1:31 am

It’s cold where I am.  Being in the South, I never have to deal with really cold temperatures, but suffering is relative to your baseline.  My quest for heat gave me the idea to put all hoodies on sale in the MM Store.  

If you buy and then wear one of our hoodies, I can guarantee you’ll feel warmer (provided you don’t have to take off something warmer to fit the hoodie on).

I’m discounting all hoodies by $5 for the rest of the week.  In addition to that, you can get another $5 off your order by entering the code: BECALMDREAMS when you’re checking out (code is valid only on orders of $50 or more).


Jan 21 2009

Game: URL Prospecting

Category: Uncategorized @ 1:17 am

When I’m bored and I don’t wind up on Wikipedia, I often find myself URL Prospecting (a URL is basically a website address).  I’ve blogged before about the fact that nearly all website names are taken.  While frustrating for someone attempting to register a new website, it does make entering in random URLs quite interesting.  I’ll just come up with some website name that seems like it shouldn’t exist, like Mousepants.com, and see what’s there.

So, for URL prospecting you just need to come up with a website name that seems improbable and try it out. Compound words, like Monkeypants.com are usually a good start (I do try websites that don’t have the word “Pants” in them…sometimes).  You can come up with the words yourself, or use some random process for the prospecting.  That latter method is how I happened upon Lemonface.com (and read the ridiculous amount the owner wants for the name).

Do be careful with the random word combinations though.  After using a random word generator, I ended up at FatTube.com, which is apparently a pornographic site for lovers obese people.

So, do some prospecting and post your interesting finds.  It can be tough, many websites are “parked” with boring ads and some sites don’t even have anything there, but every once and a while you’ll find a centeroftheweb.com and it will all be worth it.

Note: All of the above websites were found, by me, via URL Prospecting.


Jan 19 2009

Contest #30: Knickergate

Category: Uncategorized @ 1:05 am

Remember when you were a kid and you wanted to be an underwear designer?

You: Mom, can I be an underwear designer when I grow up?

Your Mom: No, sorry, only the children of the extremely wealthy and powerful can be underwear designers.

Well, no offense, but your Mom was wrong.  For Contest #30, an underwear designer is exactly what you’re going to get to be.

The challenge this week is to design some underwear based around the theme of American Presidents.  The two types of underwear for which you can design are boxers and thongs.  You can simply describe the underwear, upload images of it (images must include only non-copyrighted art), or a combination.  When we say “around the theme of American Presidents”, we mean the undies could have Presidential quotes, images, involve iconic objects (like the Oval Office), etc.; this is probably the most open design contest we’ve had.  Just take the theme and design some awesome underwear.

Standard contest timeline and contest rules apply this week. By leaving an entry you are agreeing to those rules. The entry voted the favorite by MM users will earn its author their choice of a $40 Amazon.com gift certificate OR a $80 gift certificate to the MM Online Store.

Contest Summary
Assignment
: Design boxers or thongs with a Presidential theme.
How to enter: Write your entry in the Contest Entries section.
Deadline: Friday, January 23rd at 5pm EST
Prize: Your choice of a $40 Amazon.com gift certificate OR a $80 gift certificate to the MM Online Store.

Announcement: This contest is closed. Feel free to continue to leave your answers here, but you'll be doing so strictly for our edification. Why don't you see what's going on in the forum or check out the latest update or contest?


Jan 18 2009

Contest #29: Winner

Category: Uncategorized @ 6:04 pm

As mentioned by some of our users, this week’s winner, Alex, really seemed suited for generating ideas for this contest.  No doubt he’ll find employment in subpar superhero creation soon.  The entry that won the contest was:

The Human Bee (villain). He can sting you once, but he'll die. He also makes honey.

Alex becomes our 3rd user to earn the title of 2x champion.  Congratulations to him, he wins his choice of gift certificate.

Really, so many of the entries were good this week.  I don’t know if we’d want to use them for merch, but we really should use these ideas for something.  Maybe we’ll make some short comics or something.


Jan 16 2009

Contest #29: Finalists

Category: Uncategorized @ 6:27 pm

We asked for lame superheroes and you gave generously.  I’ve gotten about 50 ideas for my next Halloween costume.  Nice work people.

Let’s talk about the people who didn’t make the finals but were fan or staff favorites.  There were Dana’s vampiress, SesameStreetgang’s Sleeper Cell, Jlbsauce’s Conflict Resolution Man, Mark Sierra’s Professor Poindexter, Brandon’s Misdemeanor, and Naterater’s Pilates Man.

The five finalists this week are Alex, IaoaiShurotchka, Greg, and Mike Fo’ Sho‘.

The poll will be up until 5pm EST on Sunday.

[poll id="37"]


Jan 15 2009

Tweets, Feeds, and Friends

Category: Uncategorized @ 7:01 pm

I’m just old enough that social networks aren’t really part of the central fiber of my being.  I think I had more of a Friendster presence than on myspace or facebook.  This probably explains why I’ve taken so long to get MM connected to social networks. 

However, as soon as I started to embrace things like facebook, I saw their utilty and fun (except for when that one person from your past finds you).  So, Mental Magma has taken the plunge and is ready to join you in this world of tweets, virtual pokes, and self portraits taken holding a camera at arms length.

You can use the following links to see us at facebook, myspace, tumblr, and twitter.  We’ve also put up a permanent link to these pages over to your right on the sidebar.

If you like Mental Magma and want to support us, drop by the social network site of your choice and friend/follow us there.  It helps us out and will probably make you more popular with your friends.  Also, when we get REALLY popular, you can say “Yeah, I used to be in tight with MM…before they sold out.”


Jan 13 2009

Video: Laughing without smiling

Category: Uncategorized @ 11:40 pm

I recently read an article in the New York Times that mentioned an open contest Netflix has to improve their recommendation algorithm.  The whole thing was interesting, but the one point I’ll highlight was all of the algorithms’ difficulty in predicting who would like the movie Napoleon Dynamite.  Apparently it’s a very divisive movie.  People either love it or hate it and it’s hard to guess which based on their likes/dislikes of other movies.

I mention all of this because I recently came across the following short video in which a man laughs without smiling (sort of). This video is similarly polarizing. Everyone I’ve showed it to either loved it or hated it. For the record, I loved it. Here it is:



Jan 12 2009

Contest #29: Subpar Superhero

Category: Uncategorized @ 1:12 am

When I was a kid I collected Marvel Comics trading cards. They were pretty fun; they showed pictures of the superheroes and villains and listed their physical stats along with other interesting information (like win/loss record in fights). I had a card for a character named Power Man. He was not a very impressive superhero. As far as I could tell, he was just a tough black guy that worked out a lot and wore chains around his waist. He was also the only good guy that had a win percentage of less than 50% (on the cover shown on the left, he’s losing to Mr. Fish of all people). I’m sure if you’re a villain, you’re praying that Power Man is the one who shows up to try and stop you.

This week’s contest is to invent the funniest lame superhero or villain. The character must have at least one special ability. Don’t give us more than a few sentences, but you might mention the person’s name, power(s), origin, team-affiliation, or any other information you feel is relevant. Again, very long entries are discouraged, just give us the flavor.

Standard contest timeline and contest rules apply this week. By leaving an entry you are agreeing to those rules. The entry voted the favorite by MM users will earn its author their choice of a $20 Amazon.com gift certificate OR a $40 gift certificate to the MM Online Store.

Contest Summary
Assignment
: Invent the funniest lame superhero or villain.
How to enter: Write your entry in the Contest Entries section.
Deadline: Friday, January 16th at 5pm EST
Prize: Your choice of a $20 Amazon.com gift certificate OR a $40 gift certificate to the MM Online Store.

Announcement: This contest is closed. Feel free to continue to leave your answers here, but you'll be doing so strictly for our edification. Why don't you see what's going on in the forum or check out the latest update or contest?


Jan 11 2009

Contest #28: Winner

Category: Uncategorized @ 6:51 pm

There’s a lot of parity between our best entries these days and the vote totals reflected that. The user that ended up on top was erumpeltin. The entry that did it is shown below.

Erumpeltin joins Jakutz in the uber-exclusive repeat champion club. Actually, it could be argued that erumeltin is in a different category since he is the first person to win two regular MM contests (Jakutz won a photo contest). Well, I’ll let you guys hash that out, should you care.

Like I mentioned before, there’s no MM participation reward this week. We aren’t doing away with it entirely, we’re just going to use it periodically instead of every contest. We’re going to reallocate the funds that would normally go to the weekly participation prize to a new prize we’re setting up based on rewarding the best user-submitted contest ideas. More details about this new prize will follow soon.

Here’s erumpeltin’s prize-winning diagram: