Archive for May 2015

There will be no new name

The OtterBox is a popular case for Apple’s iPhone. It’s waterproof, keeps out dirt and dust, and protects against scratches. However, it offers no protection against actual otters:

Visitors to the Red River Zoo in Fargo found themselves laughing at a bit of irony unfolding at the popular otter exhibit.

Someone taking a photo of the otters apparently dropped their iPhone in the exhibit. The phone, equipped with an OtterBox case, was picked up by the animal. Zoo-goers watch as the otter rips apart the OtterBox case, dropping the phone into the water. Witnesses say the otter would retrieve the phone, chew on it, and drop it back into the water several times.

I wonder if they could have bribed the animal with Otter Pops.

(Via snipe.)

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Leaving you with a blank space

Almost certainly the lawyers knew this was trouble:

This Monday, I had a chance to finally live the dream of texting using Taylor Swift lyrics in a convenient keyboard compatible with most iPhone apps like Twitter and Facebook (I have very specific dreams, okay?). TayText, an app designed by “a team of five female Swifties from Harvard Business School,” allowed users to talk like they were in a romantic fantasy or very angry about a romantic fantasy being destroyed, but in a very convenient way, using Apple’s text-suggestion functions.

The important word there is “allowed.” Past tense:

It took only two days … for the app to get pulled from the App Store.

Nobody protects a trademark like Taylor Swift.

Although it’s a bummer that the app isn’t available anymore, there are a few positive lessons we can take from this:

1. Taylor is a boss who knows how she wants to run her image.

2. Swifties are all over the world, from middle school through Harvard Business School (aka, in your face to anyone who says that only silly, immature girls like Taylor).

Darn right. Say that to me and you might see sparks fly.

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Quote of the week

There are times when reality doesn’t seem all that real:

I’m beginning to have suspicions that the universe or what we call reality is actually some kind of cosmic computer program, and it has become unstable due to lack of updates.

Some morning I fully expect to walk out of my house, look up at the sky, and see a BSOD.

Given this week’s heavy stormage, I’ll settle for almost anything blue up there.

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Where all the blights are light

Jack Baruth here is talking about Columbus, Ohio, but some of this could apply to any capital of a state beginning with O:

These people have used the force and power that comes with money to have their dirty work done for them. Via the proxies of developers and city officials, they’ve eminent-domained hundreds of acres and forcibly displaced the people who lived there. They’ve torn down hundreds of homes and businesses to re-create the “Short North” in the image of Williamsburg. (Brooklyn, of course.) They’ve paid for this dirty work to be done and they are unhappy when it’s not done to their complete satisfaction. They want their Disney World, a “downtown” filled exclusively with high-net-worth individuals and a fascinating variety of shopping opportunities staffed by people who vanish into the ether when their shifts finish, and nothing less than perfection is acceptable.

It’s easy to hate them, easy to despise the unthinking, callous way in which they assume that the mere fact of their willingness to pay $500 a square foot for downtown condo space should remove all barriers, human or otherwise, to the SoHo lifestyle. But the real problem is that there aren’t enough of them and that they aren’t parents. The existence of a large group of successful young parents in downtown Columbus would improve everything from the streets to the schools, and those improvements would be shared with the people who live there now.

Unfortunately for that plan, most people with any sense, and certainly most people with any combination of sense and children, wouldn’t move into downtown Columbus if the housing were free. You get all the inconvenience of living in Manhattan with none of the benefits. You can’t park your car anywhere but there’s also no grocery to which you can walk. It’s noisy at night but there’s not a single jazz or blues club open. Most of the shops close at seven or before.

In some regards, we’re doing better: most new downtown housing is $300 a square foot or less, there’s something of a club scene, and there’s the John Rex School. The Native Roots Market in Deep Deuce is smallish as grocery stores go, but it’s close by, and it’s open most nights until 10 pm.

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Pike that tsukahara

Nadia Comăneci is not as old as this Cadillac:

Nadia Comaneci on a 1958 Cadillac

Three years younger, in fact. But both gymnast and car enjoy Classic status today. Of course, what you remember of Nadia was this:

Nadia Comaneci victorious in 1976

The Summer Olympics, Montréal 1976; Nadia Comăneci was not yet 15. Seven times during her routines she scored a perfect 10, bringing the number of perfect 10s in the history of the modern games to, um, seven.

In 1989, while Romania was gearing up for revolution, she defected, settling in Montréal. Two years later, she met up once again with American gymnast Bart Conner, whom she’d first encountered at the Americas Cup in New York before her Olympic victory. He suggested, ever so slightly, that she might be happier in some place like Oklahoma. (Conner, you should know, graduated from the University of Oklahoma in Norman.) And he was very persuasive: in 1996, they were wed in Bucharest, and came back to settle, yes, in Oklahoma. The Bart Conner Gymnastics Academy is running strong in Norman; in June 2006, their first child, Dylan Paul Conner, was born. And Nadia really has that Mom look to her:

Nadia Comaneci settles in

Oh, a tsukahara is a half (sometimes a quarter) turn off the springboard onto the vault table, followed by a push backwards. Nadia, in the early days, would shift from there into a piked somersault.

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Fizziologically speaking

The marketing blunder to end all marketing blunders may end up on the big screen:

Paul Wernick & Rhett Reese, the scribes behind Zombieland and the X-Men spinoff Deadpool, next will craft a movie about the disastrous launch of New Coke, perhaps the worst product introduction since the Edsel. Last [month] marked the 30th anniversary of when Coca-Cola veered from the secret formula that had been around since the 1890s to unveil what the company hoped would be a new and improved drink for a younger generation. It went so flat it imperiled its venerable market-leading soft drink.

See if you can find a theater whose concession stand serves Pepsi.

(Via Laura’s Miscellaneous Musings.)

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Too old for this

In which I bewail the state of the world while quoting both Karl Marx and Danny Glover. It’s a nasty job, but somebody has to do it.

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Reasons not to vote

Several have occurred to me over the years, including the fairly compelling “Why would I vote for any of these mooks?” And in this particular instance, there’s no arguing with Tam:

This was a municipal primary election: That is, where the members of the Republican and Democrat parties go and pick their candidates for the ballot in November’s general election. I am not a member of either party, and so I have no business weighing in on either party’s candidate selection process. Further (and I checked) there were no ballot questions such as “Do you want to get milked for more dough to support some useless project?” to which I could say “No.”

So apparently Hoosierville has a closed-primary system, which is fine with me; I lack the Machiavellian tendency to want to screw around with Those Other Guys when the primary is open. And I suppose there’s something to be said for the idea that even if you can’t vote for, you can always vote against.

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Cheapskin

You didn’t think that was your real diploma, did you?

[G]rades aren’t even due until Monday, and there might be some people not-actually graduating, and there’s not enough time to prepare the diplomas anyway. And this year everyone was all jumbled up — not in alphabetical order — so it would have been a nightmare to match the right diploma to the right student. The real ones are mailed in the summer.

Okay, if that wasn’t the actual diploma, what the heck was it?

The fake diploma is a photograph of the one fairly scenic building on campus (the library). I know I once opined that a picture of Rick Astley might also work, or maybe a mushroom-person saying, “Thank you, but your diploma is in another castle.” Then again, kids today might not get either of those jokes.

And there are parental units out there who would unwrap the document and promptly go ballistic. Not having to deal with them must be included among the goals of any self-respecting college.

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Nice or else

America’s small towns, according to legend, are full of the sort of Nice People you just don’t see in the Gigametroplexes that dominate both discussion and Census figures. The legend, however, does not attempt to tell you why. Turns out, it’s a self-defense measure:

On a purely logical level, let’s say you do or say something mean to someone who you believe has wronged you in some way. It’s a guarantee that that person is somehow related, by birth or marriage, to EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON, in the county. And word gets around. You want to destroy your reputation really fast? Treat Cousin Matilda rudely in line at Wal-Mart. Your child’s math teacher is married to Matilda’s nephew. She may not take off points unnecessarily on the next math test, but you can guarantee that during the parent-teacher conference, she will regard you with suspicion.

You’ll likely never see anything like this in the expanses of BosWash.

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Vintage charm

One thing you learn from this vintage advertisement is the proper pronunciation of the brand name:

Charmed Life from Kayser

Never underestimate the promotional value of a cheesy-sounding rhyme.

Julius Kayser first sold silk gloves in New York in 1880, and diversified into hosiery in 1908; the current Kayser company was incorporated in 1911 and became Kayser-Roth after a merger in 1958. Kayser-Roth has changed hands several times since then, and is currently owned by Golden Lady Company SpA of Italy.

This is obviously a British ad, what with the prices quoted in sterling. I am of course amused by the pricing: the low-end 1-2-3s were selling for 12/11, twelve shillings and eleven pence, because it sounds so much less than 13 shillings. This practice continued until the UK switched to decimal currency in 1971, after which they started pricing things in so many pounds and 99p.

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A man of simple needs

Of all the songs in the much-mocked genre of Bro-Country, this may well be the Bro-est:

Get More:

The reviewer at Saving Country Music reckons it might be the worst country song ever:

“Girls On Bars” had 72 songwriters, 36 producers, a seven-figure budget, yet the thing just feels so hackneyed and trashy. It’s not as much sick as it is sad, like it’s a musical illustration of the onset of America’s torpid devolution. Even the video looks like it was made by a bunch of grabasstic high school stoners using 20-year-old deprecated public school media lab equipment rented from the public library as a stop gap solution to a local ISD’s budgetary shortfall. When the camera goes all POV and starts twirling round on the top of a bar, I thought I was suffering from motion sickness. Then I figured out that no, it’s just that this song really really blows to the point of causing debilitating gastrointestinal direst.

I think “72 songwriters” is probably an exaggeration.

I can’t say I’ve been paying much attention to the doings of Bret Michaels over the last few years aside from recognizing that he’s gone from someone who is famous for being a musician to someone famous for being famous. It’s a shame because laugh all you want, but when Poison was releasing singles like “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” and “Something To Believe In” it opened the door for bands like The Black Crowes to resurrect rock and roll out of its hair metal doldrums. Hell I’d take either of those tunes in trade for this abominable turd.

Me? I’ve heard worse. But not much worse.

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And stripped of his tenure, no doubt

Mr. Pibb was not available for comment, though Wikipedia has a whole category of “Dr Pepper-flavored sodas.”

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Strange search-engine queries (484)

So here we are again, sifting through the system logs in the hopes of finding something that will add a smile, or at least a bemused stare, to your Monday morning. Let’s see:

matthew riley macpherson mozilla:  This is evidently the Rule 63 version of Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout.

nudiarist tchec granny:  On the other hand, this doesn’t sound like Sarah at all.

1985 mazda f3a transmission racing upgrade:  The easiest thing to do here is to remove the bodywork and then shove an actual racing car under it.

hott pechar holye whod:  I’ll be sure to remember that at the next prayer breakfast.

tell my regrandings:  Tell them what?

a boy from coventry has become:  One of the few remaining Labour MPs.

stuart oswald a million little pieces:  Wonder if they make more sense than James Frey’s.

mark twain dog pearly gates:  Their arrivals were not greatly exaggerated.

george washington’s axe principle:  If you were wearing Axe aboard the boat crossing the Delaware, Washington would have thrown you overboard.

mazda 626 engine order of valve adjustment:  Start with the first, and continue until they’re all done.

banker ours:  You go right on thinking that, Mrs. Clinton.

4 girls clothes vanish in the library:  Did you look under 391? Or 687?

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Wednesday, Thursday, Friday?

Quoth George Witzke: “Yeah, so the marketing director for this mega church … he’s fired.”

Questionable church banners spelling out WTF

I’m not so sure. This is clearly an inspiration to prayer, given that most people are going to see that and think “Oh, my God!”

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The wrong side of something

KitsuneRisu is here talking about Singapore, but it’s almost a Universal Truth:

Everyone has a place like that in their town (or the entirety of your country if you live in Russia), where there’s a whole shopping strip which is pretty cool and suddenly there’s just this one area emitting a black cloud of fear from it, like vicious anger-breath from the lungs of an irate mongoose.

It’s as sketch as the result of a crying elderly woman’s attempt to recall her mugger to the local police district’s new profile artist who doesn’t have a degree in good sketching. It was kinda like the north part of the Strip in Las Vegas. The further up you go, the more uncomfortable things feel, and suddenly you realise you’re standing in Circus Circus and there’s 15 wrinkled slot-grannies staring at you over their cigars and liter-bottles of rum, and everything has this weird clown motif that doesn’t carry.

Especially true where I live: the character of a neighborhood can undergo half a dozen changes in a single mile.

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You didn’t teach that

And I reply, “Well, no, I assumed you would figure this out on your own.” And I was wrong:

Youth nowadays believe they don’t need to know anything, because they have what educational bureaucrats call “learning skills.” As long as they are capable of finding something with a Google search, what does it matter whether or not they ever actually do Google it? Their entire mental life is built around the idea expressed by every apathetic student taking a required course in college: “Is this going to be on the exam?”

So we have many millions of allegedly “educated” Americans, people with college degrees who haven’t opened a book since they received their diploma. They went to college in order to obtain a credential that would qualify them for an office job with a salary, benefits, paid vacation and everything else deemed necessary to middle-class life. Once they got the requisite credential, their interest in “education” ended, and so they spend their leisure watching Netflix or playing XBox or in some other amusement. Read a book? Why would anyone want to read a book?

Which explains why so many of them are upset at the fact that said credential hasn’t opened up the desired doors, leaving them, as the buzzword says, “underemployed,” serving up lattes and such to people they despise. It boils their fundaments that life might actually require work, and that their piece of sheepskin and their $73,000 in debt won’t magically produce a life of leisure.

I probably spent less time in a classroom than any post-adolescent you’re likely to meet. As a result, anything I’ve needed to know over the years, I’ve had to find out on my own. Fortunately, the one thing I did learn in those few classroom days is how to find things out. And if I’ve learned anything in non-classroom life, it’s that a test of some sort can come at any time, whether I’m prepared or not.

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Decidedly unparalleled

There are regular street grids, and there are street grids that are not so regular. An example of the latter:

Apparently 4th Street turns sharply northwestward from 6th Avenue, and eventually runs into 12th Street. Not neat, perhaps, but comprehensible from a map. Similarly, if not so dramatic, is the corner of NW 23rd Street and Meridian Avenue in Oklahoma City: crawling off to the southeast is NW 19th Street. This makes more sense in the grid context when (or if) you remember that 19th was a streetcar route back in the day.

Turn this premise several degrees, and you have the next scenario. The big blue dot represents 4900 Springdale Road, Austin, Texas:

Bing Maps segment from east Austin

This is, on first glance, perfectly sensible: were the grid extended this far east, 4900 would be about two blocks south of 51st. But Martin Luther King used to be 19th Street, and it’s practically on your doorstep: you can see segments of 16th and 12th, right where they’re supposed to be. From 4900 to 1200, it’s only a mile. But 1200 to 700 (at 7th Street, natch) is 1.8 miles, because the east Austin street grid is convoluted in such a way you almost wonder if those crazy New Yorkers had something to do with this.

For the record, I have bicycled the entire length of Springdale, which disappears into Manor Road near US 290, resumes on the far side of the freeway, and peters out into insignificance a couple miles farther north; I eventually threaded my way to Pflugerville, which in those halcyon days of 1970 had 550 people instead of its current 55,000.

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Contains 10% genuine zip

“Borrow between $100 and $15,000 by tomorrow!” says Zippy Loan, sender of this particular spam. The hidden text, visible if you turn off HTML, is as follows:

The Roman world was divided for the time between these two men, Antony receiving the government of the East, Octavian that of the West. In the year which had preceded this division Cleopatra had wavered between the two opposite factions at Rome. In so doing she had excited the suspicion of Antony, and he now demanded of her an explanation. One must have some conception of Antony himself in order to understand the events that followed. He was essentially a soldier, of excellent family, being related to Caesar himself. As a very young man he was exceedingly handsome, and bad companions led him into the pursuit of vicious pleasure. He had scarcely come of age when he found that he owed the enormous sum of two hundred and fifty talents, equivalent to half a million dollars in the money of to-day. But he was much more than a mere man of pleasure, given over to drinking and to dissipation. Men might tell of his escapades, as when he drove about the streets of Rome in a common cab, dangling his legs out of the window while he shouted forth drunken songs of revelry. This was not the whole of Antony. Joining the Roman army in Syria, he showed himself to be a soldier of great personal bravery, a clever strategist, and also humane and merciful in the hour of victory. Unlike most Romans, Antony wore a full beard. His forehead was large, and his nose was of the distinctive Roman type. His look was so bold and masculine that people likened him to Hercules. His democratic manners endeared him to the army. He wore a plain tunic covered with a large, coarse mantle, and carried a huge sword at his side, despising ostentation. Even his faults and follies added to his popularity. He would sit down at the common soldiers’ mess and drink with them, telling them stories and clapping them on the back. He spent money like water, quickly recognizing any daring deed which his legionaries performed. In this respect he was like Napoleon; and, like Napoleon, he had a vein of florid eloquence which was criticized by literary men, but which went straight to the heart of the private soldier. In a word, he was a powerful, virile, passionate, able man, rough, as were nearly all his countrymen, but strong and true.

This particular block of text was swiped from Famous Affinities of History, Volume 1 by “Lyndon Orr,” one of several pseudonyms used by scholar Harry Thurston Peck (1856-1914), who after losing his major academic gig shuffled his way to the Slough of Despond, and ended his sorrows therein.

Still, that’s a better fate than I’d wish on a spammer, even a spammer with an email address of imbecility at calmreload.info.

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And never darken my timeline again

Apart from the forty or so I dumped last week for lack of participation, I can’t imagine why anyone would unfollow anyone on Twitter, unless it was for one of these reasons:

I wouldn’t say they were “dead” accounts, but they were barely breathing. And actually, I think my self-presentation is pretty good compared to some, though I’m not about to claim that I’ve never had a typo.

I am blocked by one person that I know of, and perhaps several others. I’m not sure if I want to know why.

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Low-information drivers

I spar with such on Yahoo! Answers on a regular basis, so I know they exist. I did not know, however, that they were now writing actual ad copy. Chevrolet is running a print ad with the heading “Our Range Just Exceeded Your Expectations,” and the text contains this howler:

Cruze boasts 46 MPG highway and can take you 717 highway miles on a single tank of gas with an available diesel engine.

I’ll accept that 717 figure — Car and Driver once got 747 miles on a single tank on a Cruze — but absolutely no gas was involved, and if you dump so much as half a liter of gasoline in that diesel mill you’re going to be buying a whole lot of engine parts. I expect one of those Y!A losers to attempt to replicate these results, and then to whine about the consequences.

(Seen on the inside back cover of InStyle, 6-15, with the charming Mindy Kaling in spaghetti straps on the front.)

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Active stupidity is for real

So this showed up earlier today:

In actual English, this can mean only one of one thing. If he follows “almost all the same people” she does, and he follows no women at all, one is forced to conclude that she must not follow very many women herself — or that she’s running behind on her Bad Example quota.

One more nail sticking up, for someone who wields only a hammer.

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Clair and sunny

So I’m rolling down the message board, and here comes one of the regular contributors with something I wasn’t expecting these days:

Phylicia Rashad with her 1989 People's Choice Award

I waited for my eyeballs to slide back into my head, and then tried to match up this picture with an event. Easy enough: the People’s Choice Awards for 1989, which reminded me that Phylicia Rashād at forty-one was pretty darn unforgettable.

Add a couple of decades, and The Actress Formerly Known As Clair Huxtable still stays on your mind:

Phylicia Rashad in jewelry by David Harris Designs

She’s just finished filming Creed, the seventh Rocky movie, in which she plays Apollo Creed’s widow Mary Anne. In this one, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone, of course) takes Creed’s grandson Adonis Johnson Creed (Michael B. Jackson) under his well-worn wing.

Note: Working title for this was “Hi, Phylicia,” which I dumped after contemplating the ramifications thereof.

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Among the things I never thought of

“Do you eat smooth or crunchy peanut butter with jellyfish?”

My first thought is simply “No,” but somehow that seems inadequate.

What I should have thought of: the consequences of posting this around breakfast time.

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Commence this, pal

Okay, I’ll bite: what’s with the high-dollar commencement speakers these days?

Colleges use big-name speakers to help build brand identity, one theory goes, although it can backfire if the profile of the speaker is something that ticks off donating alums. It can also garner some negative publicity when the precious little snowflakes who make up the graduating class believe their graduation experience will be ruined because the speaker espouses causes in which they do not believe or otherwise fails to measure up to some arcane standard of university perfection. Of course, their employment experience after college will be ruined the first time they expect the world to conform to their standards, as employers frequently insist on things being the way they like them. This is if whatever micro-specialized subset of social theory in which they earned their degree allows them to secure employment, that is.

It would have been perfect, in other words, for someone like Kurt Vonnegut to come out and exhort a bunch of MIT grads to wear sunscreen — which, incidentally, he didn’t, which I know because I read the Mary Schmich essay that actually did contain such an exhortation, which somehow got attributed to Vonnegut. Baz Luhrmann, for his part, heard it as a spoken-word song:

That’s Australian voice actor Lee Perry actually speaking.

And that said, you really should wear sunscreen on certain days. If it ever stops raining for more than 48 hours this month, even I will.

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Ruse the day

Some years back, Italy enacted a mandatory seat-belt law, bringing them into compliance with European Union dicta. However, it was a grudging compliance at best:

What is now racing off the shelves however, is a fake seat belt buckle, no belt, which placates the vehicle’s alarm system. The company selling these gadgets notes on its website, “an alarm is useful because it reminds us to wear an accessory that most likely, in case of collision, will save lives. But if we care little about our lives and don’t mind flying through the windshield, we can purchase a Null Seat Belt. Once inserted, the alarm will stop bothering us and allow us to die in peace’.”

And I suggest that it’s a lot less intrusive than the horrid Automatic Belts inflicted on US customers back in the 1980s. At least modern-day airbags leave you alone when they’re not exploding in your face.

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man.)

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All about that bassoon

You remember the Boston Pops, don’t you?

Arthur Fiedler would have approved, I think. (Meghan Trainor definitely does.)

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I has a Supersad

Specifically, Lancelot Supersad Jr., not for his run-in with the law in New Hampshire, but simply for his name alone:

In March, we ran out a field of 64 names and instructed our readers to whittle that field down to one. What followed was a two-month period filled with heartwarming stories, examinations of Southeast Asian cultures, and revelations about highly-paid (and splendidly-named) public employees. Ultimately, 62 of our competitors came up short, and we are left with two accused thieves who will battle it out to see who can swipe our 2015 Name of the Year crown.

The left side of our bracket had no answer for Lancelot Supersad, Jr. Over the first five rounds, Mr. Supersad dropped his opponents with ease and picked up plenty of momentum along the way. He took down LaAdrian Waddle, did away with Dallas Ennema, dispatched Jazznique St. Junious, thundered past Dr. Electron Kebebew, and then, in a Final Four masterstroke, outlasted the plural noun attack of the Bulltron Regional’s one-seed, Cherries Waffles Tennis. With his latest and greatest victory in his rear-view mirror, Lancelot has snowballed his way into the championship match.

And from the right side of that bracket:

His final quest will require another heroic effort, because his opponent has steamrolled through her matchups as well. Amanda Miranda Panda began by thumping Shanda Licking before taking down Tunis van Peenen in round two. She continued her assault through the Chrotchtangle Regional by felling Beethoven Bong in the Sweet Sixteen and Miraculous Powers in the Elite Eight. Her Final Four showdown with Infinite Grover wasn’t particularly close; she ended the Staten Island man’s deep run by collecting nearly two-thirds of all votes.

Last I looked, about eleven hundred votes had been cast, probably not including yours. Get with it.

Update, 19 May: Amanda takes it all.

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Read faster, dammit

Okay, maybe not this fast:

Ray Kurzweil, a smart guy who talks a lot about what may (or may not) happen in the future, suggests that human beings will develop computerized personal assistants that will be able to read hundreds of millions of web pages in just a few seconds.

Twilight Sparkle is a few seconds ahead of you, Ray:

Although a computerized personal assistant probably should not be the size of a Costco.

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This guy’s shui is fenged

Or something:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Can I request a new SSN because I object to digits used?

Sorry, Bunkie, all of them use digits. And the Social Security Administration does not take requests: a reissued card will have the same number as the original.

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Stradiviolets

Every day I find out something I didn’t know, and here’s one of those somethings:

Being the most popular colored violin, purple is “in” with the younger generation. For those who are just starting to learn the violin, the colored ones are just perfect. The main reason for this is that sound quality is not a major concern for beginners. The only thing that matters is to learn how to play the violin.

And who knows? Maybe she’ll go on to bigger and better things:

Laney and her purple fiddle

“She,” in this particular instance, is granddaughter Laney, working her way into the middle-school orchestra. (Her mom took the picture.)

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In the wake of total outrage

The response to the Jem and the Holograms trailer has been mostly negative:

I mean, no Misfits? I said something on Twitter to the effect that “it’s like they took an ordinary teen movie and grafted the Jem character names onto it.”

Still, Hasbro has come up with some surprising stuff of late, and surprise is the business they’re in. And if Eric Raymond — no, not this Eric Raymond — is going to be Erica Raymond and played by Juliette Lewis, well, maybe I can adjust.

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Tell no one

Wednesday’s Question of the Day at TTAC was “What’s your automotive guilty pleasure?” Taking “guilty pleasure” to mean “Yes, I enjoyed it, and yes, I know it sucks,” I figure I can probably reveal mine, which I did rather like, and which by almost any definition sucked out loud.

Nineteen eighty-one. The last thing the world needs is an alternative Chevette, right? But in that year I got some seat time in an Isuzu I-Mark, the Japanese flavor of the global GM T-body, and it was loads more fun than my one Chevette experience a few years later. For one thing, Isuzu’s assembly seemed a tad less slipshod, and nothing felt like it was ready to fall off. Then again, the I-Mark, fitted with Isuzu’s 1.8-liter diesel four with all of 51 ponies, probably couldn’t get up enough speed to shake anything loose, although it did idle like a Keurig stuffed with Legos. As is my wont with underpowered cars, I drove the living whee out of it for the day I had it, and while there were a couple of anxious moments on the Broadway Distention, geez, when aren’t there anxious moments on the Broadway Distention? The shifter snickety-snicked nearly as well as the five-speed in my Toyota Celica, and I spent about twenty seconds in the back seat just to see if it was possible to spend twenty seconds in the back seat, which it wasn’t in the Celica unless you represented the Lollipop Guild.

Buick had been selling these cars for a couple of years as Opels, to make up for the real Opels that the General wasn’t bringing in anymore; I suspected at the time that Isuzu had been instructed to make them a bit more plush, or a bit less unplush, than the Chevys would be. Nothing came of this experience, of course, and I was still driving the Celica a dozen years later, but to this day there are times when I slide into my Large Automobile and remember what it was like behind the wheel of a smaller one.

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Expectation whirls me round

After exposure to Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida in my youth — we read it in class, because apparently nobody had produced a version of the actual play for what seemed like several decades — I decided that however terrible Cressida’s behavior might have seemed, she had one of the great names, a name which might have been passed on to my daughter had I not mentioned that Toyota made a fancy sedan by that name.

Now comes Cressida Bonas, twenty-six, who has a smallish career going as an actress and model, and who once had a brief period as tabloid fodder until she and Prince Harry broke up last spring. I was largely unaware of her existence until the Fug Girls showed her in this dress:

Cressida Bonas on the Dior Cruise

Of course, when she’s not on a boat, she might be in a car:

Cressida Bonas takes a ride

Post-Harry, she’s landed a gig with UK luxo brand Mulberry, which yielded up this curious advertisement:

Probably just as well we’re not overrun with modern-day versions of Troilus.

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139 or bust

There is this so-called Rule of Social Media which says: “Don’t use all 140 characters. Give people room to retweet with a reply.” This rule was obviously conceived before the current version of the Twitter quote function, but it’s not something I’ve ever worried about, and neither did Lynn:

Ridiculous! Sometimes 140 characters is barely enough and you expect me to limit myself to even fewer?

I have written an amazing number — amazing to me, anyway — of 141- or 142-character tweets, necessitating on-the-fly editing, preferably without lapsing into txtspk. I get perhaps more than my share of interaction, and I have yet to hear anyone complain that my tweets are too long.

While we’re at it, this Facebook “rule” and Lynn’s reply:

Don’t Like your own post. — Do people do that? Actually, I wouldn’t do it but I don’t see how it could hurt or inconvenience anyone. So someone’s post has 4 likes instead of 3, or 1 instead of none. Is this really a problem? Sure it says something about you if [you] Like your own posts but other than that…

If FB ever gets a proper Dislike function, I plan to downthumb as many of my own posts as I can.

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Wear your dog tags

And nothing else, if you’re so inclined:

[A]n outfit in Scranton, Kan., just south of Topeka, seeks to honor troops and veterans in a rather unusual way — it’s a nudist colony that is waiving all admission fees over the three-day holiday weekend to any guest who shows a military ID card or proof of military service.

Yes, the 30-acre Prairie Haven nudist colony and campground, which features tent and RV sites as well as cabins, wants to give troops and vets a free opportunity to soak up more sun than perhaps they’ve ever soaked up in their lives.

“Colony” is considered Oldspeak among nudists, but this does strike me as a heck of a deal, especially if there’s some therapeutic effect:

[A] 2013 report by WFTS, a television station in Tampa, Fla., featured former Army officer Max Sanchez, who said his regular visits to a local nudist colony in that state has helped him cope with behavioral disorders — flashbacks, nightmares, sleep problems — that he said were lingering souvenirs from a yearlong combat tour in Vietnam.

This is the second year Prairie Haven has offered this promotion, having discovered last year that some of their regulars were coming in from nearby Fort Riley.

(Via Breaking Shame.)

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Seven minutes of Wonderment

There was a time when Stevie Wonder was a “12-year-old genius,” and I remember it well: I was ten, more or less, and every Stevie single went onto my Must Buy list once I acquired enough coin of the realm actually to buy singles.

One of the oddest Wonder-related recordings came about thanks to Jaap Eggermont and his Stars on 45 operation, which on their third early-Eighties LP — different titles in the US and Europe, as it happens — cut a Stevie Wonder medley in the manner of their earlier Beatles and Abba medleys, sung by someone identified as Tony Sherman. Whoever Mr. Sherman is, he does a pretty mean Stevie. This particular video attempts to match up the recorded SO45 tracks with actual Stevie footage, which almost makes me wish Stevie himself would mash all these songs together, because, you know, he can:

(Inspired by Roger’s post for Stevie’s 65th.)

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One of those Things That Don’t Happen

The Washington Nationals-San Diego Padres game last night was delayed because of rain, an exceedingly uncommon occurrence in America’s Finest, or at least Driest, City. James Wagner, who covers the Nats beat for the Washington Post, put up this possibly incredulous tweet:

Bees? Petco Park was covered in bees? Well, not exactly:

On July 2, 2009, MLB experienced its first game to be delayed/halted by a swarm of bees at Petco Park in a game between the Padres and the Houston Astros. A small swarm of honeybees took up residence around a chair in left field, causing the game to be delayed by fifty-two minutes. A beekeeper was called in and the swarm was exterminated.

Aw, geez. You didn’t have to exterminate them, didja?

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They grow even louder

There exists a band called Eels, which has cut some nifty tracks in its day — I remember the Beautiful Freak album, nearly 20 years ago — but I never really warmed to them because of their name, which is reminiscent of a creature I will never really warm to:

Personally, I can’t think of a sea creature more horrific than the eel. It has all the negative qualities of a fish (might touch you while swimming, incapable of feeling love), plus all the negative qualities of a snake (has no limbs at all yet somehow manages to move around) — plus, in some cases, all the negative qualities of a poorly-grounded home appliance. In fact, if I were choosing something to encounter in open water, I’d rank only one fish lower than an eel: an eel that’s been marinating in cocaine. Unfortunately for me, a team of Italian scientists has been exposing European eels to low doses of cocaine to monitor the effect of the drug.

I’m hearing shrieks, and not just from the eels, either:

As it turns out, giving cocaine to eels is a bad idea for reasons beyond my phobias. Aside from the coke-exposed eels appearing “hyperactive compared to the other groups,” cocaine exposure thickened the eels’ skin and intestinal linings, reduced the amount of mucus in their skin, and increased their production of hormones like prolactin and cortisol — chemicals important for eels’ endocrine functioning…

Messing with an eel’s skin is serious stuff. Cocaine’s effects could hamper the eel’s ability to protect itself against disease and injury, recognize sexual partners, or secrete alarm pheromones.

So: not at all novocaine for the soul. Still, where’s a non-self-respecting eel supposed to find cocaine?

A 2014 study, also by Italian researchers, found 13 nanograms of cocaine per liter of water in Italy’s Sarno River, meaning that almost 15 grams of cocaine flow through the river every day.

I think I’d better leave it at that.

(Via Eric Siegmund.)

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May the Schwarz be with us again

Because we’re about to lose it, albeit temporarily:

The iconic FAO Schwarz toy store, a bastion of childhood wonder for New Yorkers of all ages, is closing.

The toy store’s owner, Toys R Us, said FAO Schwarz’ Fifth Avenue locale will close on July 15 because of the increasing expense of operating the 45,000-square-foot flagship store, the company said in a statement. The company is exiting its lease two years early.

Toys R Us swears they b back:

“The company is committed to the FAO Schwarz brand and growing its legacy. In fact, it is actively searching for another location in midtown Manhattan where FAO Schwarz can welcome shoppers from around the world,” said Toys R Us, which acquired FAO Schwarz in 2009.

Let’s hope they come back with ludicrous speed.

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