Archive for February 2016

Perhaps not for browsers

If you tend to spend hours upon hours in the bookstore, this is probably not for you:

September 2014: Yoshiyuki Morioka, a bookseller who had been running a store in Tokyo, Japan for 10 years, had a curious thought. Lots of customers, it seemed, dropped in during book launches and other events to buy the same title; others often appeared overwhelmed by all the extra variety. So why not start a bookstore that only sold one book at a time?

Now, Morioka Shoten — Morioka’s new venture that threw open its doors in Tokyo’s trendy Ginza shopping district in May 2015 — operates around that very principle. The store stocks multiple copies of only one carefully selected tome each week, aiming to maximize the joy and intimacy of book-buying for enthusiastic readers. Morioka Shoten has been dubbed both an “anti-Amazon” and a “minimalist solution” to the crippling indecision that customers tend to face when standing among the teetering shelves of traditional bookstores.

Among Morioka’s previously-stocked items:

Books that have been displayed so far include Swedish-Finnish author Tove Jansson’s The True Deceiver, Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales, and works from well-known Japanese writers like Mimei Ogawa and Akito Akagi. Each title is displayed for six days in a row — Tuesday to Sunday — and then swapped out for a new book.

Sales so far: about 2,000 books. It isn’t Amazon, but it’s not bad for fewer than 50 titles.

(Via Fark.)

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Semi-solar flares

Freeze-frame: two and a half minutes, give or take, left in the first half. It’s Thunder 52, Suns 49, and both sides are shooting about 57 percent from the floor. Difference: OKC has made eight of 14 treys, Phoenix none of five. But the Suns have 16 of 20 free throws, and the Thunder haven’t even been to the line yet.

That’s the kind of night it was. The Suns, with a new interim coach (Earl Watson) and four bodies lost to injuries, rang up 38 points in the second quarter to wipe out the nine-point deficit they faced after the first: it was 57-all at the half. Phoenix cranked it up in the third, but the Thunder settled that — temporarily — with a 15-0 run. But the Suns kept coming back, and OKC wasn’t really out of the woods until a patented Kevin Durant mug shot with 90 seconds left put the Thunder up by fourteen. 122-106 was the final, 3-0 is the season series, and 1-1 is the road trip.

The Suns may have faded at the end, but they put up a heck of a fight. P. J. Tucker logged a remarkable 45:58: he played the entire game with no rest until he fouled out with 2:02 left. Short on personnel, interim Phoenix coach Earl Watson ran through nine players, and got seven of them to score, five in double figures. The ever-feisty Markieff Morris, who always seems to come to life against OKC, knocked down a team-high 23. But only one three-point ball would fall for the Suns tonight, while the Thunder somehow dropped 15 of them, which doesn’t quite explain KD’s 32 points or Russell Westbrook’s 29. And that free-throw disparity gradually diminished: the Suns finished 31-39 from the stripe, the Thunder 23-30.

The Pelicans will be in OKC Thursday, followed by the All-Star break. Will this be the Thunder’s 40th win? Who is knowing? Not I, you may be sure.

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A hell of an arrangement

“Two words,” said the not-entirely-cryptic email from McGehee. “Lauren German.”

I drew a blank on the name, then did the usual Binging about. After stints in Hawaii Five-O v2.0 and Chicago Fire, she’s just started Lucifer, the title character of which is the one-time Prince of Darkness, graduated to the next logical plane of existence: running a nightclub in Los Angeles. Lauren plays an LAPD detective, homicide division, who occasionally works with ol’ Scratch to solve crimes. This is not, I am assured, a reality show.

Lauren German, of course, is quite real:

Lauren German sort of taking it easy

Lauren German still sort of taking it easy

Her Wikipedia bio states: “In 2001, German was selected as the world’s 47th-sexiest woman in Maxim.” I never have been able to figure out how they quantify these things. But after looking at some of the pictures from that era, I’d say she hasn’t exactly deteriorated in the interim. Deal with the devil? I report, you deride.

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Temptation acknowledged

This is not the nearest library to me, but it’s in the system, and hey, I’ve done worse things in my life:

January 4, 2016, is the first day to submit entries to the Southern Oaks Library Fan-Fiction Fan-Art contest. Fan art may be any medium and contain original characters, but must contain copyrighted characters as the main theme. Similar rules apply to fan fiction. The last day to submit your work is Sunday, March 20 at 6:00pm, 2016. The announcement party is at Southern Oaks Library, 6900 S Walker Ave. OKC 73139 on Saturday, March 26, 2016 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.

These are the fanfic rules:

  • Only one entry per contestant in the Fan Fiction category.
  • Fan Fiction may include original characters, but Fan Fiction must contain a copyrighted character in the main plot. If you have questions contact Southern Oaks Library.
  • Fan Fiction cannot be longer than 3,000 words.
  • Fan Fiction is not restricted to any age category or genre.
  • Entries can be submitted at Southern Oaks Library or through email to jhilbert – at – metrolibrary.org.
  • Use only your own work. You will be disqualified if you are found plagiarizing.
  • Fan Fiction must include a disclaimer. For a disclaimer form ask at the Southern Oaks information desk.

Hmmmm. Dead Pony Flying checks in at 2,071 words. And hey, I can disclaim with the best of them.

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There will be chocolate

For some reason, this made me laugh:

Just for the sake of completeness:

You already know what Kelis had to say on the subject.

(Via Paris Berelc.)

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Unexpectedly weak

I have fairly decent Wi-Fi at the palatial estate at Surlywood. Then again, it’s a fairly small perimeter. A house that takes up a whole block — let’s say, oh, the 1600 block of Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest in Washington — well, that’s a different story:

Barack Obama moaned about the White House’s Wi-Fi coverage in an interview with CBS’s Super Bowl pre-game show. “This is an old building so there’s a lot of dead spots where the Wi-Fi doesn’t work … no, actually it’s an issue,” Obama explains.

See? You thought the President was going out of town to go loaf somewhere and/or play golf. He’s actually looking for a better signal.

Michelle Obama agreed, adding that their two daughters, Sasha and Malia, get “frustrated sometimes.” Obama hopes to fix the “whole tech thing” for “the next group of folks” who will move in.

I just hope there aren’t any mail servers in the bathrooms.

(Via Fark.)

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Lower forms of automotive life

There’s a 23rd Street on the south side, but it pales into relative insignificance next to its northside counterpart, which runs for many miles through neighborhoods of several ethnicities. None of it is particularly picturesque, even the stretch that runs past the Capitol, but the northeast segment has some fairly woeful motor vehicles along its length:

I spend a lot of time driving on 23rd. I can’t stand people “acting casual” to avoid attention from police by doing 5 under the already low and mostly unenforced/disregarded limit of 30. **NEWS FLASH** you’re doing 25 on a 4-6 lane avenue in a hoopty with rusted off mufflers, 3 missing hub caps, and threads of weathered duct tape holding bits of smashed car parts onto the chassis. If a cop wants to shake you down for the substance you might be carrying: he’s just going to point out that you’ve hot glued a maybelline compact in the gaping hole where side mirror used to be. OR just say you were swerving.

I admit here to having once duct-taped an exhaust manifold into place, but it wasn’t an offense to the eyeballs unless you were actually looking under the hood.

With gas prices in decline, though, there are now considerably fewer cars that can double their value just by filling the tank.

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Take the M-Train

Meghan Trainor print ad for Skechers shoesJust when I might have thought that Meghan Trainor — aw, come on, you remember her — had reached the end of her Warhol-approved fifteen minutes, she shows up in a shoe ad in the current issue (March ’16) of InStyle, and presumably elsewhere. Just Jared Jr. (well, she’s only 22, and her target audience might not be that old) quotes a statement presumably from her management:

“I’m very excited to work with Skechers! I’m proud to get behind a company that celebrates style and being true to yourself! The shoes are SO comfortable and stylish too. I know my fans will love this campaign.”

Still: “comfy & adorzies”?

In that same issue of InStyle, there’s a beauty how-to on foundation makeup, which inevitably is titled “All About That Base.” I really should have seen that coming.

(Oh, in case you were wondering, she wears a size 9. Or so I’m told.)

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One step up from litter

Call it “time confetti,” as the cool kids are doing now:

I saw that phrase in an article — it was about “Time is a Feminist Issue” though I would argue that time is really a human issue, and it seems as many of the men I know as the women have their free time “contaminated” by various concerns ranging from caretaking to having to be “more available” at work. The idea of “time confetti” is that for a lot of us, our free time has been effectively put through a shredder and we get 10 or 20 minutes here and there rather than big blocks, and I can really feel that on weeks with evening meetings: I come home but can’t fully relax because I will have to go back out, and moreover, I will have to be sure my preparatory needs for the next day are done before I go out…

I work diligently to have as much uninterrupted leisure time as I can get, and sometimes — not always — I succeed. Fortunately, the office has (mostly) figured out that once I’m outside visual range, there’s no point in trying to talk to me until I return, whenever that may be.

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He can dig it

I have always suspected that some of the best archaeological finds were purely accidental:

A Bronze Age cremation burial has been discovered near Stonehenge after being accidentally dug up by a badger.

Objects found in a burial mound at Netheravon, Wiltshire, include a bronze saw, an archer’s wrist guard, a copper chisel and cremated human remains.

Experts believe the burial may have been that of an archer or a person who made archery equipment.

The artefacts date back to 2,200-2,000BC, senior archaeologist Richard Osgood, of the MOD, said.

In other news, the Ministry of Defence has a senior archaeologist.

Mr Osgood said the badger had dug out the cremation urn and sherds of pottery were lying on the surface when they were spotted.

A full archaeological dig was then carried out on the site.

Mr Osgood said: “There are badger setts in quite a few scheduled monuments — the actions of burrowing animals is one of the biggest risks to archaeology in Britain — but to bring out items of this quality from one hole is unusual.”

(Via Fark, and if you get a chance, look at that URL.)

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A Blossoming controversy

So Susan Sarandon showed a bit of flesh, and British toothache Piers Morgan took exception to it — not for the flesh itself, he insisted, but for the context in which it was revealed.

Mayim Bialik wasn’t buying it.

On the upside, it’s about time The Late Late Show with James Corden attracted some kind of attention.

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Way back in 286

In 1988, Dell had only just retired the PC’s Limited name, and this was a bid they put in on a complete 80286-based system:

Seven hundred American dollars for a 40-meg hard drive! Then again, this was quite a deal, considering what was on offer not that long before.

Now, which was worse? Windows 2.0, or MS-DOS 4? (I suspect the answer is Yes.)

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Department of Motivational Beverages

Just when I’ve decided that this state has the most irredeemably absurd liquor laws in all the 57 fifty, this materializes:

Went next door to Edina Liquors, the Sad Municipal Hooch Vendor — sad not for its character or decor, because it’s quite nice. It’s an upscale wine store with fine spirits. Everyone was content to shop there until Total Wine and Spirits, aka Infinite Central Nervous System Fluid Dispensary, opened up a mile away, and revealed that the prices at Edina Liquors could be undercut by five dollars, and the Republic would not fall. The municipal store countered that its revenue helped keep property taxes down, and paid for parks. That’s great but I don’t live in Edina. If you have to sell liquor to keep your taxes low then maybe you should cut spending or increase taxes.

I’d say the same about lotteries, but I’d be treading upon dreams even more fervid than the DTs.

And one should not expect marketing brilliance from the state under any conditions:

This time I noticed new signage, with phrases touting how the money went back into the community. If that’s your main selling point, rethink your plan. I was there because I had a coupon for 10% off anything — as long as it didn’t end in “5.” They’d discounted some things, and these prices ended in 5, and they were all the same price as Infinite. I walked out, and the clerk at the counter didn’t even take his eyes away from the TV on the wall.

The DMV, writ smaller and thirstier.

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Out from behind the desk

Earlier this month, a brief (1:15) video surfaced, featuring Tulsa news reporter Lori Fullbright mostly from here down, and scores of shoes she’s worn over her many years in T-Town media. The Lost Ogle happened upon it, and, as TLO will do, made fun of it. And it was, I think, a bit on the silly side.

The video, posted to Vimeo, was gone by the following morning, but its deletion apparently wasn’t because TLO had made anyone uncomfortable. Fullbright herself sent a note to the site:

Just so you know, News on 6 did not create or release that shoe video as a promotional tool.

I was asked to emcee the Pinnacle Awards/Women of the Year banquet and those putting on the event, the YWCA Tulsa and the Mayor’s Commission on the status of Women, asked me to create a fun video that was light hearted to show at the event. They suggested something to do with the shoes I wear and sometimes post, as a break from all the serious, tragic and heartbreaking news I cover on a daily basis on the crime beat. Our team created that video at the request of those agencies to show at their fundraising event, which it did, last Friday night. It was not something that aired on News on 6 or was put out there to market me to a larger audience in any way. I take my role as a journalist seriously and believe my reputation for excellence, fighting for victims and teaching people how to stay safe from crime speaks for itself.

“Light hearted?” Were it any lighter, it would be approaching escape velocity.

That said, there is precedent for this sort of thing. Jeanine Pirro, host of Judge Jeanine on Fox News, often posts shoefies to Twitter and Instagram before the show airs, and I suspect she has a higher wardrobe budget than anyone on Tulsa television.

And that said, whoever picks out Fullbright’s shoes is at least charmingly eccentric, though I did actually like these, courtesy of that now-deleted video:

Lori Fullbright's metallic T-strap sandals

The delta between these shoes and “wretched excess” is vanishingly small, but this is one of those cases in which I don’t care.

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Catch a wave

A sysadmin posted this tale of Wi-Fi woe to reddit:

I have a user, who also happens to be high up in the org chart, who claims hypersensitivity to radio waves. This person has requested that I disable or otherwise limit the performance of the access point located near their workstation to alleviate their symptoms of dizziness, fogginess, etc.

My research shows me that RF hypersensitivity is not a diagnosable condition. Studies apparently have show that people who claim to suffer from this cannot reliably identify when they are in an area of high RF activity or not.

Im curious to know if any of you have encountered this kind of complaint? Have I not done enough research and this is in fact a real thing? Is this entirely an HR issue? The complaint isnt going to go away and im not sure what else to say other than: Thats not a real thing so stop whining.

Any comments or feedback are welcome.

Wonder if that user has a cell phone.

The very first comment, I believe, was spot on:

Just tell them you did it and see what happens. Chances are they’ll believe you and their symptoms will go away.

(Via @SwiftOnSecurity.)

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More snippy, less Clippy

One need not have seen Her to realize that some guys are inclined to come on to anything they recognize as female, even if she’s — um, it’s — only an algorithm. Microsoft’s new digital assistant is disinclined to take crap from said guys:

Microsoft’s Deborah Harrison told CNN that when the company launched their own assistant Cortana in 2014, a lot of the questions she was asked related to her sex life. Seriously, it turns out you just have to be coded to sound female for people to feel entitled to you sexually.

According to Harrison, though, Cortana is not going to accept this kind of behaviour. As one of the writers behind Cortana’s dialogue in the US, Harrison is responsible for the jokes and responses users hear when they talk to the assistant. And that includes the responses they hear when they decide to be inappropriate. At the ReWork Virtual Assistant Summit in San Francisco Harrison said “If you say things that are particularly assholeish to Cortana, she will get mad. That’s not the kind of interaction we want to encourage.”

How mad is she?

If you ask “Will you date me?” she’ll respond “I know you know this, but I’m saying it anyway: I’m in a phone.” If you tell her to kiss you, she’ll reply “Hold up, chief. Let’s not go there.”

And fergoshsakes, don’t ask her what she’s wearing.

I dunno. This sounds — well, “testy” is clearly the wrong word — less than thoroughly pissed off. Still, the same theory that says you don’t want to date someone who treats a restaurant’s wait staff like crap would indicate that you don’t want to date someone who treats Cortana like crap.

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Moments of silence

Things were solemn before tipoff. Ingrid Williams, wife of Thunder assistant coach Monty Williams, was killed in a traffic accident, and both sides were sorrowful: Williams, after all, was the Pelicans’ head coach last season.

After that, Loud City had things to be loud about, but the atmosphere was slightly muted, perhaps because the outcome wasn’t in doubt for very long: New Orleans, still racked by injuries (Eric Gordon, Tyreke Evans and Quincy Pondexter were out) somehow stayed close through the first half (62-53), but the Thunder shut them down in the third quarter and never let them back into the game. The final was an almost anticlimactic 121-95.

The number that stood out tonight was twenty-three. Pels starter Anthony Davis and reserve Jrue Holiday each scored 23 points; Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook each scored 23 points. If you’d told me that the Williamses had been married for 23 years, I’d believe it. (She was 44; they have five children, the oldest 17, and the Oklahoman reports that “they started dating more than 25 years ago.”) Westbrook, incidentally, was 23-9-10, one rebound short of a triple-double, though Billy Donovan was not interested in running up the score and Westbrook played only 28 minutes and change. The usual statistics generally favored Oklahoma City, though there was one area where New Orleans stood out: taking care of the rock. The Pelicans gave up only seven turnovers all night; the Thunder had their usual indifferent 18.

We are now officially on the All-Star break. OKC is 40-14, on pace for 60 wins. Still, if there’s anyone I feel sorry for right about now, it’s the San Antonio Spurs, who have to perform superhuman feats just to remain three and a half games behind Golden State. (And over in the East, Cleveland has been the big dawg most of the season, but they have the fourth-best record in the league, behind the Warriors, the Spurs and, um, the Thunder.) After all that All-Starring, the Thunder are at home next Friday against Indiana, and then Sunday afternoon against Cleveland.

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Changing with the times

I really don’t have much of a counterargument for this:

I have a similar annual spend. Then again, I probably have more posts than most.

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B-minus rations

When I was one of Uncle Sam’s grunts, the MRE — technically “Meal, Ready to Eat” but often disparaged as “Meal Rejected by Ethiopians” or worse — did not exist; we were still on the legendary (and not in a particularly good way) C-rations. I rather vividly remember a bivouac breakfast consisting of “Ham, Water Added, and Eggs, Chopped, Canned.” I am told the MRE is a decided improvement. Still, the MRE is expected to last for three years in storage, which would seem to limit the fare to Mickey D’s Happy Meals with the occasional Twinkie.

But now: pizza. Really:

“It’s a fully assembled and baked piece of pizza in one package,” Lauren Oleksyk, a food technologist at the US Army’s Natick Soldier Research, Development, and Engineering Center, told Tech Insider.

So what does it taste like? Think cafeteria pizza, or as Oleksyk describes it, like “day after pizza.” And while its square shape and bready crust can’t rival a New York slice, Olesky said soldiers give it the thumbs up.

I don’t know anyone who objects to day-old leftover pizza: it’s the delicious part of a marginally healthful breakfast.

Still, putting pizza into an MRE required some serious technology:

One hurdle to overcome was figuring out how to prevent mold from growing. For the dough, they used something called Hurdle technology that creates layers of protection from preventing bacteria forming. The tomato sauce has a higher pH and is more acidic to keep the critters away.

Well, technically there’s no one specific hurdle method: you use whatever’s appropriate for the contents to be stored. But I’m pretty sure this sort of thing didn’t exist in the days of the C-ration.

Meanwhile, Francis W. Porretto gets at the tactical details:

[C]an this fabled pizza survive a point-blank round from a Vulcan cannon? How about a Kalashnikov?

Most certainly, I’m not the guy to test this.

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Mustard out

These items were next to each other in my tweetstream last night, around a quarter to nine:

TweetDeck screenshot featuring mustard references

“Yeah, they were all yellow” — Coldplay

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Amazon thinks ahead

It’s new, it’s spiffy, and it’s yet another step toward World Domination:

As the huge online retailer Amazon launches its first ever piece of development software, they made an unusual condition in their terms of service. They state that while the software is free for anyone to use, there are certain environments that should be avoided at all costs.

The new software is targeted at video game developers wishing to build titles for PCs, mobile phones, and consoles such as the PS4 or Xbox One. Titled Lumberyard, the software is on offer free of charge for a very good reason. It turns out the game engine offers support for Twitch, a game streaming service that Amazon owns.

As usual, the Terms of Service impose certain restrictions on users of Lumberyard. From the pertinent paragraph (Amazon Web Services Terms, paragraph 57.10):

Your use of the Lumberyard Materials must comply with the AWS Acceptable Use Policy. The Lumberyard Materials are not intended for use with life-critical or safety-critical systems, such as use in operation of medical equipment, automated transportation systems, autonomous vehicles, aircraft or air traffic control, nuclear facilities, manned spacecraft, or military use in connection with live combat.

None of these are exactly unusual. But there’s one notable exception:

However, this restriction will not apply in the event of the occurrence (certified by the United States Centers for Disease Control or successor body) of a widespread viral infection transmitted via bites or contact with bodily fluids that causes human corpses to reanimate and seek to consume living human flesh, blood, brain or nerve tissue and is likely to result in the fall of organized civilization.

Zombie Apocalypse? Amazon’s got you covered.

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None of that wind-chill stuff

It’s weirdly warm in the Los Angeles area these days, prompting this outburst from an 18-year resident:

Members of the fan base in colder areas — this is freaking February, after all — sent their own, much chillier, screenshots in response.

Addendum: The coldest day ever recorded in this town was the 12th of February — in 1899, when the mercury hid in the bulb of the thermometer, unable to face 17 degrees below zero (-27°C).

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Bubbly breakup

“It’s not you, it’s me.” What does that mean, exactly?

Just what I needed on this Worst Possible Weekend.

Almost semi-personal note: Taylor Brogan, composer of the lovely “I Hate Lavender Brown” — her own version has been taken down — directed this.

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We’re gonna rock down to a greedy avenue

Apparently it is not wise to cross the President of the Borough of Staten Island:

A state Supreme Court judge has granted permission for Staten Island Borough President James Oddo to bestow unflattering street names spelling out greed and deceit on a private development he fought on the former Mt. Manresa site.

In a decision issued Thursday, Judge Philip Minardo ruled Oddo has the authority to pick street names of his choosing, despite a complaint from the developer, Savo Brothers, that the three he chose — Cupidity Drive, Fourberie Lane and Avidity Place — are “derogatory,” according to court papers.

Oddo didn’t like any of the nine names suggested by Savo, either, especially Timber Lane:

In December, DNAinfo quoted Oddo as having written on his Facebook page, “That’s right, ‘Timber’ Lane, as in the word of warning that is popularly known to be yelled out to warn folks that a tree is being cut down.”

The Mount Manresa property, home of a Jesuit retreat house dating to 1911, was sold by the Society of Jesus to Savo Brothers for $15 million in 2013.

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Quote of the week

Once upon a time, we had contrarians, advocates for the Devil, the sort of people who would laboriously research a matter just to remind us that the conventional wisdom need not be either conventional or wise.

But that was then, when entrance into the common discourse required a measure of competency. Today we have trolls:

I posit that if there’s a story about a firefighter saving a cat from a tree, it’ll be attacked by trolls. Some will think government money shouldn’t be spent on such minor activity, someone else will suggest the tree was harmed, some dog owner will suggest preferential treatment for felines, a person will note that it was a white cat and ask whether a black cat would have gotten equal treatment, and yet another person will declare that there must have been a payoff by the evil cat lobby.

While all these, um, individuals differ in their pronouncements, they all suffer from the same ailment: they think themselves far more clever than they actually are.

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The opposite of unplugged

Two years ago, Sabrina Lentini decided to crowdsource a new EP:

I released my first independent EP “No Price For Love” in 2012. It has a very stripped down, intimate sound — just me and my guitar.

This time, I want to breathe even more life into my songs. I’m ready to be “AMPLIFIED!” I’m so excited to add amazing musicians, producers, and creativity. I have so many songs that I’ve written since the last EP, and I just cannot wait to share them with you all! I’m asking you all to please help me with this new project of mine. I need your help every step of the way.

Cover art for second EP by Sabrina LentiniShe asked for $7500, and raised a little more than that in 60 days. Those of us who actually signed up as backers — I’d bought that first EP and liked it enough to keep following her around — were (mostly) patient. But the five new tracks showed up this week, and I’m here to tell you it was worth the wait.

Sabrina is seventeen now, and her voice is ever so slightly lower; the songs, however, are just as catchy as ever, to the extent that I can’t pick an actual favorite. The songs hewing most closely to the Nashville-lite style she’d been honing are the opener, “Amplified,” and the closer, “Boy Next Door,” which sound kind of like bonus tracks from an early Taylor Swift album. But between those two, there’s pure pop for now people, somewhere on the continuum between Colbie Caillat and Skeeter Davis. The arrangements are clean and uncluttered, and the vocals, however many tracks she feels like taking at any given moment, sound utterly sweet. “Duo,” track two — it would have to be, wouldn’t it? — is the song I’d pick for a single, were she so inclined. And Miranda Lambert needs to cover “Bullseye,” pronto.

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Bluntly speaking

British-American actress Emily Blunt — she was born in London, but took US citizenship last year — turns 33 next week, and she’s been working almost constantly for over a decade, though I didn’t catch her until 2006, in The Devil Wears Prada. (Stanley Tucci, also in Devil, is in Real Life™ married to Emily’s sister Felicia.)

Emily Blunt on the red carpet

In 2010, she married John Krasinski; they have a daughter and are expecting a second child this year.

Emily Blunt on the floor

And this family stuff may have suggested to her a side career as a voice actress: she voiced Juliet in Gnomeo & Juliet (2010), she’ll be heard this year in something called Animal Crackers, no relation to the Marx brothers’ original, and next year we (at least I) will hear her as an as-yet-unidentified character, presumably equine, in an actual My Little Pony movie.

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Undeliverable as addressed

There are, to be sure, certain expectations one must meet on the feast of St Valentine. And as always, I have failed to do so.

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The blank period

Picasa, born 14 years ago and adopted by Google as a toddler, is about to be taken behind the woodshed and shot:

It hasn’t made sense for Google to continue to invest in two separate photo storage and sharing applications, as it has been doing with the newer Google Photos and the dated software Picasa. And now the company is finally going to do something about that: Google announced [Friday] morning that it will no longer support the Picasa desktop application as of March 16, 2016. In addition, it will be archiving Picasa Web Albums data at a later date while encouraging those users to convert to Google Photos instead.

This does not necessarily mean that the Picasa application will no longer work; it does mean, however, that Google isn’t going to put any effort into maintaining it.

The app itself, though, may not be the problem for some users:

[T]here’s likely more concern from users about the data collected on Picasa Web Albums, which includes very specific metadata about their photos. Specifically, users may have tagged their photos for organizational purposes, as well as added captions. Friends and family may have commented on some photos, as well. It doesn’t sound like that metadata has made the transition to Google Photos, however.

I plan to use this event as my excuse for continuing to use Flickr, with the justification that Yahoo!, Flickr’s current owner, is in no position to develop a replacement for it.

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In perpetuity

Despite 170 percent of normal rainfall last year, my town remains under alternate-day watering restrictions, which are considered permanent. And since so far this year we’re running about 20 percent of normal, I’m not complaining. This stance, however, is anything but universal:

We can no longer burn yard debris in our backyard. Never mind that before THEY passed the new rule you couldn’t burn in the summertime because it was too dry and you were liable to burn the whole town to the ground, and it’s too wet the rest of year to start a fire. Now you cannot do it at all. Ever. Stupid rule. Really chafes my hide, I tell you. Never mind that I haven’t tried to burn anything for the last ten or fifteen years.

We seldom have formal burn bans, but the National Weather Service routinely posts Red Flag Alerts when it deems the risk of wildfires to be substantially greater than normal: all it takes is a combination of high winds and low humidity. We’ve had days of 20-mph winds and 15-degree dew points this month, in fact.

I just hope they don’t find something common in area back yards that contributes to earthquakes, or the whole state will go ballistic.

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DTs on aisle six

Somehow I have a feeling that this will not end well:

An expanding southeast Michigan grocery chain is looking to start a new concept in its stores by turning to by-the-glass beer and wine sales so that customers can drink during a shopping trip.

Busch’s Fresh Food Market is seeking a Class C liquor license for the store it plans to open in Canton Township, west of Detroit.

That store would mark Busch’s first foray into setting up an in-store ‘bistro’ with beer and wine sales for customers.

“It will allow guests to walk through the store and let them drink alcohol while they’re shopping,” said John Hunter, director of marketing for the Ann Arbor-based, 15-store chain.

The idea is not entirely unheard of — stores of the Whole Foods ilk occasionally have things like wine bars, though of course not here in sanitary Soonerland — but we’ve all seen shoppers who seemed like they were out on a day pass from the Home for the Bewildered, and somehow I don’t think their mien will be improved by on-site access to Michigan craft beers.

(Via Interested-Participant.)

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Sounds of agitation

A new Matmos album is coming this week, and I can’t describe it any better than this Wikipedia stub:

Ultimate Care II will consist entirely of sounds produced by the musicians’ Whirlpool Ultimate Care II washing machine, recorded in their basement. It will feature guest contributors Dan Deacon, Jason Willett from Half Japanese, Max Eilbacher and Sam Haberman from Horse Lords, and Duncan Moore from Needle Gun. The album will consist of one 38-minute-long track, described in a press release as depicting “an exploded view of the machine, hearing it in normal operation, but also as an object being rubbed and stroked and drummed upon and prodded and sampled and sequenced and processed by the duo.”

One excerpt, about four minutes long, has been posted to Soundcloud, and it’s, um, more musical than you might think.

The only other washing machine-oriented music I know of is this track by Bonzo Dog/Rutles prankster Neil Innes, originally recorded for The Rutland Weekend Songbook in the middle Seventies and revived for this video:

Fortunately, I have a dryer sense of humor than most.

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Strange search-engine queries (524)

Valentine’s Day, or as I call it “Five Dozen Years of Solitude,” is finally over with, so now it’s time to get back to work on these search strings.

fiorina sucks:  Well, that explains that whole happy-marriage thing.

feminine pulchritude:  As does that.

newton’s second law of motion is expressed as f = ma. a lawn mower is pushed over a length of grass. if the pushing force suddenly doubles what will happen to the lawn mower’s rate of acceleration?  It will decrease markedly once you get to that thick patch of weeds over there where the sewer line is leaking.

alexis has multiple personality disorder. when one of her personalities: Comes up with the idea to destroy all the others, which can be hard on a person.

in kelo v. city of new london, conn., where the city forced people to sell their houses so there could be a new large project build, the supreme court held that the forced sale:  Would utterly delight Donald Trump.

“ways to” “persuasively” towel:  I don’t think I’ve ever been persuasively toweled, but I’m certainly willing to give it a chance.

reluctant naked:  Perhaps this towel will persuade you.

sultry normally:  This describes Lauren Bacall, and hardly anyone else.

quadruple anal:  Oh, like we didn’t have enough assholes around here already.

windows couldn’t finish installing updates:  Also known as “Tuesday.”

ted nugent cookbook:  Probably not your first choice for stir-fried veggies.

does mrs butterworth syrup go bad:  There was that one weekend in the Log Cabin, but she will not speak of it.

is dreamhost down:  If it is, how are you reading this?

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The pre-post-Hef era

I have now seen the first issue of Playboy 2.0 — technically, Volume 63, Number 2 — and there are three conclusions to be drawn:

  1. Looks a lot like Maxim.
  2. Looks a whole lot like Maxim.
  3. Looks so much like Maxim that I wouldn’t be surprised if Maxim sued.

Seriously. Not only has Playboy installed the larger page size Maxim implemented last year, the House That Hef Built has also shifted the emphasis, Maxim-like, toward more guy gadgets and stuff and away from female bits: more AT&T, less TT&A. Most of the magazine’s most enduring, if occasionally least endearing, columns have been swept away: I won’t miss the Party Jokes, and the opposing “Men” and “Women” pages have been declining for years, though I did enjoy “Raw Data” and I truly regret the passing of the Playboy Advisor. (The Advisor, at least, seems to be available on the Web.)

On an almost-positive note, the Playmate Data Sheet is no longer called that, and is no longer rendered in the young lady’s handwriting, but it does offer some social-media contacts. (Follow Miss March 2016 on Twitter at @dreelovechild.) And photo director Rebecca H. Black, who has presided over recent improvements in the product imaging, remains.

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The bad-news Rs

No coffee for the GOP:

The people who find a way to pick the worst option among the many good ones are always the ones complaining about their bad luck. The classic example is the salesman that is not good at his job and never has a deal just fall in his lap, like the guys who are closing deals every day. The bad salesman swears he is just unlucky.

The Stupid Party makes this point regularly and we now have a great example of why the stupid are unlucky. For decades they have been hosing their voters, mostly because they can’t run a competent political party. Some portion of what they do is just a grift. They tell the voters one thing and then take a bribe to do the opposite. That’s just corruption.

Most of the GOP’s problems, however, are the result of incompetence. When presented with three options, all good, they find a fourth that is self-defeating. The political ineptitude is so breathtaking that many of their voters have concluded it must be deliberate. No one can be this dumb this often by accident. It’s why they have a revolt brewing in their primary.

One aspect of that revolt is the question of whether this candidate or that is sufficiently “electable.” I’m not convinced any of them are electable until one of them is actually, you know, elected. And regardless of the positioning of the Jaws of Victory, the GOP can find a way to snatch defeat therefrom.

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Favorable winds

I seem to have reached the point where actual musical acts will attempt to get my attention via Twitter. Occasionally they succeed. The band Ships Have Sailed rang in yesterday, and as is my usual practice with new followers, I do try to see what they’re all about. The first thing I found was this 2013 single:

“Midnight” proved interesting enough to continue the search. They have a more recent album called Moodswings, from which this is the lead track:

The most popular song from Moodswings, judging by iTunes sales, is “If Only,” for which there is a lyric video.

Definitely neo-romanticists, without the underlying desperate smarm of Train or the technological obsessions of OK Go — and I like those two acts. I will continue to keep an eye out for these Ships.

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The stuff of nightmares

I’ve already gone into entirely too much detail regarding my Valentine’s Day-connected trauma, and it’s comparatively trivial compared to some. In fact, I’d say that if you dream of things like this, at the very least you should probably lay off the early-evening cocktails:

The octopus at the Seattle Aquarium won’t be getting any love this Valentine’s Day.

Each Valentine’s Day the Aquarium invites people to watch the sea creatures mate, but this year the chance to watch some 8-armed nooky has been called off.

Aquarium staff say they’re afraid that their male octopus — a 70-pound cephalopod named Kong — is too big for the females who are 30 to 40 pounds, and he may eat them.

And so Kong, faced with rejection by forces beyond his control, will return to Puget Sound, where his life will dissolve into bitterness and/or loneliness:

Octopuses only live about three or four years and mate once at the end of their lives.

Then they die.

Just in case you thought your life was depressing. And no, the Pacific Northwest tree octopus cannot serve as a substitute.

(Via Neal Stephenson.)

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The pony you wanted to be

Let’s imagine, for example, that it was Rarity:

Rarity kimono dress by Darling Army

Also offered, once production resumes: Derpy, Celestia, Luna, Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, and perhaps Fluttershy, generally in the $150-175 range. My inner 9-year-old girl is in Full Squee.

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For when you have to pour it on

Presenting new, or not so new, Liquid Trump:

Advertisement for Liquid Trump

The “EL” logo in the corner represents Economics Laboratory, Inc., which also produced a home dishwasher product called Electrasol. (Electrasol was eventually renamed “Finish”; after several mergers, Finish is now part of the giant Reckitt Benckiser group.)

Choice comment comes from Gerard Van der Leun, who ran this picture with the caption: “For when you’re out of Solid Trump.” Well done, sir.

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Swiftly played

Several kind folks live-tweet red-carpet events, so I got several looks at this slightly strange garb worn by Taylor Swift at the Grammys yesterday:

Taylor Swift at the 2016 Grammy awards

The dress, such as it is, comes from Atelier Versace, and those are Stuart Weitzman heels affording her a four-inch lift she hardly needs. Add to that the Sia-sideways bob, and TS is giving us the full WTF. Said the ever-bristly Quinn Cummings: “Why is Taylor Swift wearing a fluorescent censor bar?”

So I moved in for a closer look, but by then she was guarded by squad members. In this particular case, it’s Selena Gomez:

Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez at the 2016 Grammy awards

You might want to keep these pictures in mind, just in case Vogue’s Anna Wintour ever becomes a zombie: she’s gonna look exactly like Taylor, give or take several grams of makeup.

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