Archive for Almost Yogurt

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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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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Teetering on the brink of reality

Last fall, you possibly might recall, I ponied up for a Kickstarter to build an all-romance-novel bookstore in Los Angeles, because guilty pleasures are as least as worthy of support as any other kind.

And voilà:

Grand opening of the Ripped Bodice in Culver City, California

Well, they could have done it without me — there were 598 other backers — but I wanted to be a part of it, so to speak.

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The crumbum’s rush

Severian on The Catcher in the Rye:

Since it’s one of those books certain people can’t help bringing up, it’s great for helping me avoid human toothaches. If you liked Catcher, I hate you. If you consider yourself “the Holden Caulfield of ____,” I want to strangle you with your school tie. I thought Holden Caulfield was a pretentious little shit who needed nothing more in this world than a good beating, back when I myself was a pretentious little shit in desperate need of a good beating. Luckily, I got mine; the folks who like Catcher never did.

For all you Catcher-haters, I recommend the antidote: Frank Portman’s King Dork, in which you’ll be pleased to see that teenage protagonist Tom Henderson (also known as King Dork, Hender-fag, Chi-mo and Sheepie) is filled with loathing at the very thought of Catcher.

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Ununiquely unstyled

New Title 1Unmage of Bridge by Daniel PenwellThe James Joyce-on-Quaaludes title of this new Daniel Penwell novel is almost enough to justify reading the damned thing. Repeat: almost. Bill Peschel, I assure you, is not recommending it:

While cruising Amazon looking for new thrillers, I came across a series of books by “Daniel Penwell” that suggest the coming robot overlords need to tweak their writing algorithm a tad.

Eight books were published by “Penwell” during the last week of January, with titles evocative (The Flame’s Runelord; The Mayfair Cavern) and odd (Annal of School; Abyss of File) which sounds like it came from the same list that gave us Quantum of Solace.

Amazon is asking $6.99 for its Kindleized version, and while it’s true that I’ve paid more for arguably less — I own a copy of the highly dubious Atlanta Nights by Travis Tea — I’m not sure I want to know more than what’s in the blurb:

Not so long ago, a regular high-school woman was handed a wood cat figurine by her deceased grandma just who really was into miracle. Whoops, she just dropped they, but oh we-why did a tremendously good looking and nearly nude man just emerge from that figurine? And just why do he meow?

I frankly am not that much into miracle.

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Netflix and chafe

(Note: This ran in the Chicago Tribune in late December. The Oklahoman picked it up yesterday.)

It’s almost 8 p.m. on a Sunday as you pour a glass of wine and settle into the couch to watch The Good Wife. It’s your weekly ritual.

Your significant other, meanwhile, is in the basement watching Homeland, which airs at the same time.

Couples are bound to have varied tastes in television, but what if it starts to pull the two of you apart? One of you keeps binge-watching Grey’s Anatomy in the living room while the other lies in bed watching Sons of Anarchy.

“When couples spend what little time they have to hang out together in separate rooms watching their own programs, they often lose their sense of intimacy and connection,” said John Sovec, a psychotherapist in Pasadena, Calif.

This apparently has been going on for about as long as multiple TV sets have been a thing; the only reason it never affected me was simply that we — for those few years when I was part of a couple — had only the one set.

Still, doesn’t at least part of the definition of “couple” imply doing things together?

Dr Sovec says a single set should suffice:

“One TV is enough,” Sovec said, recommending that couples who can’t agree on what to watch should consider using a DVR. Decide which shows you must watch in real time, plan accordingly and record the rest. Watch Scandal one week and Thursday Night Football the next. (Although, admittedly, recording sporting events to watch later might be a tough sell.)

Then again, if both are on Twitter or even Facebook, the chance of seeing SPOILERS! is probably quadrupled.

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Too much monkey business

A proposed replacement for Curious George:

If I had art talent, I’d do a series of children’s stories called Chuy the Chupacabra. It would be a lot like Curious George, except that it would treat children about the intricacies of interaction with the government. Instead of an episode where George goes to the pancake supper and starts making pancakes when he shouldn’t but everything ends happily and he’s invited to make pancakes again next year, Chuy will make tacos and someone is going to call the Health Department and the Taco Festival will be canceled and lawsuits will cause the organization throwing the benefit to have to shutter its doors.

Might as well get the youngsters prepared for Harsh Reality.

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To my everlasting horror

Trump Temptation by Elijah DanielThe following statements should have been obvious, but I admit to having given the matter no thought up to now:

  1. There exists Donald Trump fanfiction.
  2. There exists sexually explicit Donald Trump fanfiction.

As Dave Barry is wont to say, I am not making this up:

He was a billionaire, I was a bellboy, can I make it anymore obvious?

It all started one fateful afternoon in summer of 2012. I was working as a bellboy at the Trump Hotel in Hong Kong on an internship program. This was my first time in a big city. It was all I could have ever dreamed of, and more. But little did I know, it was all about to change.

I think I’d have bought it just for the Avril Lavigne reference.

At a buck ninety-nine for ten pages, it’s a rather pricey sort of prank, but what the hell. This is my Amazon review:

Amazingly scurrilous and vulgar, and therefore perfect for the subject matter at hand. And it’s short enough to enjoy in between — um, never mind, let’s not get too specific here. Suffice it to say that Trump fanfiction was inevitable, even (especially?) from nonfans, and this one delivers a cohesive story in full compliance with the infamous Rule 34.

At the time I submitted that review, the average was 4.7 stars out of five. We are truly doomed.

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Quote of the week

Columnist Cal Thomas would like you to watch Finding Your Roots (PBS: check local listings), which is, he says, “the best and most compelling television you will ever see:”

The greatest contribution of this show is that it helps viewers see beyond externals — such as race and politics — and into the hearts and minds of the guests where their real selves reside. My personal favorite in the opening program is Donna Brazile, a longtime liberal Democratic activist and an African-American, with whom I am acquainted. I wanted to measure my reaction to someone who holds political views opposite my own.

In addition to revealing to Brazile the source of her unusual name, Gates also discovered a female ancestor who, at age 14, was sold as a slave to a white man. Brazile shakes her head in sadness and begins to cry. At that moment she turns herself inside out and we realize Brazile’s depth of character has nothing to do with the political views she holds. Most importantly it reminds her and viewers that her ancestor’s value as a human being had nothing to do with the price put on her by a slave auctioneer.

And he quotes series creator Henry Louis Gates Jr.:

In a press release, Gates says, “We can’t truly know ourselves until we know something of our origins.” His goal is to “inspire people to find out more about their own personal family stories, and spark an interest among young people in genetics, anthropology, history and the pursuit of science.”

We may not be sure where we’re going; but it’s important to know where we came from.

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Grown pains

“It’s never too late,” said Tom Robbins somewhere in the novel Still Life with Woodpecker, “to have a happy childhood.” Robert Stacy McCain, following up to a piece called “Marriage Matters,” notes that some people reject the very idea:

Since the phrase “dysfunctional family” become popular about 25 years ago, it has been used to condemn nearly all families. Basically, it gives young people an excuse for not becoming responsible adults: “I was raised in a dysfunctional family.” It leads to the belief that if your parents were less than ideal, or if your childhood was not perfect, you are a victim of society and entitled to whine and complain about your failures, for which you are not responsible. And this is bullshit. Your parents don’t have to be perfect to be good parents, and your childhood doesn’t have to be perfect to qualify as a happy childhood.

Parents, as a rule, are not perfect, and they’ll tell you so — eventually. Most of the ones I’ve met have basically felt that child-raising, at least at first, is like being thrown into the deep end of the pool and having someone yell “Swim, dammit!” at you. Certainly that was my reaction.

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The obvious goes ungrasped

No other explanation makes any sense:

The whole point of fanfiction is to infringe on the intellectual-property rights of people who can’t see that this is the One True Pairing. Maybe they’re a Second Party rather than a Third.

Time for this again:

The Shipping Department is taking notes.

(Via @SpinsterAndCat.)

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With which to frighten the children

Perhaps the most perverse collection of nursery rhymes ever is Mots d’Heures: Gousses, Rames: The D’Antin Manuscript (1967), and if you read the French-ish part of the title, you get a clue as to how these verses were created.

In case that’s not enough of a clue, and it probably isn’t, here’s how it works:

  1. Choose an English nursery rhyme
  2. Speak said nursery rhyme in an incredibly thick, Monty Python-esque French accent
  3. Write down this homophonic translation, so the words mean something in French, but not the context (forming a nonsense poem in French)
  4. Back translate the French into English (forming a nonsense poem in English)

The example provided is “Humpty Dumpty,” which goes something like this:

Humpty Dumpty
Sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty
Had a great fall.
All the king’s horses
And all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty
Together again.

Which sounds vaguely like this French verse, if you hold your jaw just right:

Un petit d’un petit
S’étonne aux Halles
Un petit d’un petit
Ah! degrés te fallent
Indolent qui ne sort cesse
Indolent qui ne se mène
Qu’importe un petit
Tout gai de Reguennes.

Now translate this French back into English:

A little one of a little one
Was surprised at the Market
A little one of a little one
Oh, degrees you needed!
Lazy is he who never goes out
Lazy is he who is not led
Who cares about a little one
All happy with Reguennes.

Now I’m wondering how well this would work as a wartime cipher. Surely it wasn’t the intention of author Luis d’Antin van Rooten, who published this book in 1967.

(Via Marion Grace Woolley.)

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Before they see anything else

Last month, I read a perfectly sweet little romantic comedy called Strangely, Incredibly Good by Canadian author Heather Grace Stewart. (Review here.) This is the cover art:

Original cover art of Strangely, Incredibly Good

Um, scratch that. As of the New Year, this is the cover art:

Current cover art of Strangely, Incredibly Good

I am not one to complain about this sort of thing — nice, if impractical, shoes, after all — but I did drop a note to the author, since we’re on speaking terms in the Twitter sense: “I wonder if maybe there’s a small core of models who pose for all those body parts on chicklit covers.”

Said she: “bet they make a better living than I do,” followed by a string of emojis.

Now Stewart has a publisher, so presumably this was their idea. If you’re publishing your own book, and you’re loath to contribute to the 20 percent (I’m guessing) of all genre fiction aimed at women that’s decorated with pictures from Here Down — well, you can always go prefab:

Premade cover art for an ebook

The details:

With a beautiful woman staring out over a body of water toward a distant city skyline, this cover had an adventurous, anticipatory feel to it. The touch of vintage sophistication adds an air of mystery and makes this a great cover for your next romance or chick lit novel.

This was offered for $89. The manufacturer says that they will sell each template only once, so there aren’t going to be fifteen identical-looking covers in the Kindle Store. And some of their offerings are decidedly less, um, conservative than this one.

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Oh, like you’ve ever been bobulated

A theme bar about nothing? Could this work?

George Costanza once said if he owned a company he would be so loved by his employees they would “have huge pictures of me up the walls and in their home, like Lenin.” Well, George never got around to owning that company, but a bar has opened in Melbourne that pays tribute to him in a way that even the Soviet leader would have envied.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that “George’s Bar” opened in the hip Fitzroy area of Australia’s second city on New Year’s eve, and as the name suggests it is inspired by the iconic Seinfeld character played so memorably by Jason Alexander. The owners told SMH that the idea for the bar came as they “really like Seinfeld.”

“George Costanza suits a bar in a lot of ways. The humor around George works,” said co-owner and operator Dave Barrett. The bar is decorated with pictures of Costanza and some of his nuggets of wisdom are emblazoned on the wall including classic lines like “It’s not a lie if you believe it” and “Everyone must like me, I must be liked.”

Yawn. Call me when there’s a Jason Alexander-inspired bar dedicated to Duckman.

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To stab, or not to stab

If you were thinking that things were awfully gory on TV and in the movies these days, well, you may be assured that this is Not News in any sense of the word: William Shakespeare was wont to include a bit of the old ultra-violence now and then, and he’s been gone for 400 years. And he had all sorts of ways of killing people off:

Distribution of deaths in the plays of William Shakespeare

At the link, an interactive version of this chart, with numbers of iterations for each death. And there’s this:

As accustomed as we are to thinking of contemporary entertainments like Game of Thrones as especially gratuitous, the whole of Shakespeare’s corpus, writes Alice Vincent at The Telegraph, is “more gory” than even HBO’s squirm-worthy fantasy epic, featuring a total of 74 deaths in 37 plays to Game of Thrones’ 61 in 50 episodes.

Not that George R. R. Martin is keeping count. (At least, I don’t think he is.)

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I learned it from you

The bar defining parenthood has been set so low in recent years it might as well be sitting on the ground:

The present generation of American parents commits innumerable sins against its children. Many of them are sins of omission. We fail to teach them about right and wrong, and how to know them. We fail to talk with them about values: where they originate, why they matter, and what one must do to preserve and defend them. We don’t bother to explain the seven virtues — for those who were poorly reared: faith, hope, charity, prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude — and why they’re good, or the seven capital sins — lust, vanity, gluttony, envy, wrath, greed, and sloth — and why they’re terribly dangerous. We retreat from discussions about the natures of mass appeal, popularity, peer pressure, obsession, and the worship of persons and things. Don’t bother us now, Junior; we have to respond to these important text messages, right after we finish our game of Bejeweled.

Some of this, I assume, derives from our own failures to meet the highest standards. (And we do fail, make no mistake about it.) But “maybe they won’t do this if we don’t mention it to them” has worked in a handful of fictional works, and nowhere else on the planet.

Worse, it’s easy to induct Junior into the same isolation bubble:

As bad as all that is, it can easily be made worse. Just give Junior a smartphone. Initiate him into the mysteries of “absent presence,” and what makes it so much more comfortable than attending to the persons and things around him. Especially the most annoying of those persons, the ones clustered most closely around him, the ones who constrain him from moment to moment, whom he can’t wait to disown: his family.

Which you won’t think about when the wireless company offers a multiline deal for a seemingly great rate.

Still, the worst sin we commit against the youngsters is to assume that the public schools, for which we pay rather a lot of money, will take care of those Basic Education Needs. They will do nothing of the sort, and it will become necessary to un-teach some of the more heinous things that they’re taught.

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Just another number

Asks the person in shadows: “My IQ is 131. Can I get into MIT?”

Ten answers on Quora so far, but this is the one that resonates with me, from Doc Searls:

You don’t have an IQ. Nobody does, because intelligence isn’t a quotient. It is the most personal of all human characteristics, and is as different in all of us as our faces and voices.

For the nothing it’s worth, my known IQ scores have an eighty point range. (Got most of ’em from my Mom, who taught in the same school system.) All they measured, if anything, was how tired or awake I was, and how much I enjoyed or hated being tested at some point in time. And none of them mattered, except to those attempting to classify me — and all of them failed.

Remember, that’s what IQ tests are for: classifying people.

There are pundits who will take issue with Doc’s explanation, arguing that classification of this sort is exactly the tool they’re looking for, but for the nothing it’s worth, I spread several scores over a 60-point range, and I couldn’t tell you which one, if any, was “accurate.” It certainly didn’t seem to have much bearing on subsequent education or employment.

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Reading by the pound

Says the Guardian:

A study of more than 2,500 books appearing on New York Times bestseller and notable books lists and Google’s annual survey of the most discussed books reveals that the average length has increased from 320 pages in 1999 to 400 pages in 2014.

Now this may be because people want to get lost in books and stay there longer, or it may be that nobody notices the length while an e-book is downloading. Or it may be something else entirely:

Publishers can charge more money for longer books. Tell someone they’ve got to part with $35 for the 336-page suspense novel The Girl on the Train and they cast a disbelieving glance upon you. But note that’s the suggested price for Stephen King’s thousand-page Under the Dome and you can see the buyer think, “Well, that’s steep but look at how long the thing is! That’s like, less than four cents a page, and it doubles as body armor and battle mace in case of home invasion!”

Then again, “suggested prices” might be as fictional as the novels themselves: both Walmart and Target, shortly after the late-2009 publication of Under the Dome, were offering the book in hardback for around $9. And it’s not like Stephen King is worried about it.

More obscure stuff is going to be priced higher, simply because it’s never going to show up in a big-box store. I have at least half a dozen titles that routinely sell for $100 and up, and surprisingly, none of them are college textbooks.

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Less domesticated

Before she set off for the Frozen North, Fillyjonk posted a list of gifts suitable for a specific type:

I will say that there are some Useful Things that if a person (a homeowner, a grown-up person who takes care of themselves) doesn’t have or doesn’t have good versions of, they would make a good gift.

At number four, I started to get ever so slightly paranoid:

A decent set of large bath towels. I finally broke down a couple years ago and bought a set of these (merely “decent,” not luxurious — mine came from, IIRC, Target). Most long term singles (that’s what I’m thinking about here) tend to limp along on the same cruddy towels they’ve had for years, because who wants to spend their disposable income on TOWELS?

I am, after all, the guy whose Twitter profile of late ends with “I have towels older than you.”

And yes, I do have some towels in their thirties. I have, however, seven worthy bath towels, five of which are in regular rotation, and which were acquired with matching hand towels, mostly from, um, JCPenney.

Then I got to number twelve:

Or, heck, a decent but not expensive set of everyday china. I keep thinking I want to replace the 15+ year old Corelle I have — I’ve broken a few of the pieces and I would like a change. But again, it’s one of those, “Meh, I really don’t want to spend my ‘book money’ on this.”

Within not too many minutes of reading this, I broke a dinner plate, the second in this set, which might be old enough to be made of Melmac; at the very least, it predated ALF. And besides:

I also know some long term singles still using the melamine they snagged from Granny’s house when Granny passed on.

This woman knows me far too well.

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Not a bird, kind of plain

What’s the dullest aspect of the ongoing Superman mythos? The guy at the center of it:

I tend to think that Superman himself is the least interesting thing about Superman. Metropolis is interesting, the Daily Planet is interesting, and even Clark Kent is interesting. Superman himself is pretty inherently dull. This is why Superman is best used as an ancillary character in someone else’s story.

I’m disappointed that not once in any of the several zillion DC universes has Superman bothered to beat the crap out of Friedrich Nietzsche. (Suing him for trademark infringement obviously won’t work, unless Supes does that spin-the-earth-backward routine for fifty years, and we’d be sick of it long before that.)

Then again, I’ve long suspected that Lois Lane had the goods on Clark Kent years ago, but chose to say nothing, because issues.

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Stirring the alphabet soup

A couple of new programs coming to UCO:

Students at the University of Central Oklahoma will return to campus in January to find two new programs designed to supplement gender and sexuality studies on campus.

The Women’s Research Center will focus on the research, study, scholarly and activity programming that supports and supplements the intellectual growth and social development of women while the BGLTQ+ Student Center will supplement activities that enhance the campus and community life of bisexual, gay, lesbian, transgender and queer students. The “+” represents letters not listed including questioning, intersexual, asexual and allies.

I admit to being slightly baffled by this string of initials: it’s not that I object to the subject matter or to the inclusion of all the variants, but I’d never seen them in that particular order before. (Harvard arranges them that way, minus the plus sign for now, but several pages of Bing results yielded up no other BGLTQ.)

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It’s all in the name

Hmmm. A “big philosophical hole in the Ponyverse”:

How do parents ponies pre-know the talent of their newborns? In many cases, the name seems to be very reflective of the talent, or of their eventual mark. I think if I were making up the universe I’d have the ponies be given one name at birth, and then take on another — kind of like how some Christian groups do baptismal names or confirmation names — when they do figure out their talent.

I, for one, would like to know Mrs Cake’s maiden name.

Actually, I’ve wrestled with this question before, outside the context of pony — how, exactly, did Thomas Crapper end up in the toilet business? — and there’s enough of this sort of thing to justify a philosophical discussion:

Also referred to as “aptronyms”, New Scientist journalist John Hoyland coined the term “nominative determinism” for these strange cases of people who seem inexorably drawn to their profession by virtue of their name.

He was led to the subject after a being alerted to a scientific paper by authors JW Splatt and D Weedon on the subject of incontinence, on the same day as seeing a book on the Arctic by a Mr Snowman.

The idea has something of a history, with psychologist Karl Jung suggesting in his 1952 book, Synchronicity, that there was a “sometimes quite grotesque coincidence between a man’s name and his peculiarities”.

And there exists an entire wiki of persons with aptronymic names.

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Strong as a horse, so to speak

Daniel Ingram, who writes all those daffily infectious (or infectiously daffy) songs for My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, has opened many career doors, and maybe blocked one:

I’ve been approached by some really unexpected clients as a result of MLP’s wide-reaching success. From large companies like Cirque du Soleil and Netflix to just unexpected people like Frank Zappa’s son, Ahmet, reaching out to congratulate me. I just finished a song for a hotel chain in Brazil because their marketing guy is a brony. MLP has opened up doors to write for some pretty cool celebrities too including “Weird Al” Yankovic and 2014 Tony Award winner Lena Hall. But the marketability is both a blessing and a curse. I’ve had a lot of success getting work writing music for children’s television, but I’ve struggled to find an agent that will take me seriously. I believe that will change in the next year or two. Anyone know a good songwriting agent?

By then, of course, he should have finished the MLP feature film, due fall 2017, which I suspect will mean the end of the TV series as well. In the meantime, though, he’s put some utterly fab stuff on his CV, including this Season Two delight that’s clearly not kid stuff:

Nonpareil, as the pony says. (Sam Vincent, who voiced either Flim or Flam — who can tell?¹ — was thinking of another animal: the song, he said, was an absolute bear to learn.)

¹ Just kidding. He was Flim. In some of the foreign versions, though, the same VA sang both Flim and Flam.

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Almost criminally vulgar

The winner of the Literary Review’s 2015 Bad Sex in Fiction award is Morrissey — yes, that Morrissey — for this unpersuasive bit of farkery from his debut novel List of the Lost:

Eliza and Ezra rolled together into the one giggling snowball of full-figured copulation, screaming and shouting as they playfully bit and pulled at each other in a dangerous and clamorous rollercoaster coil of sexually violent rotation with Eliza’s breasts barrel-rolled across Ezra’s howling mouth and the pained frenzy of his bulbous salutation extenuating his excitement as it whacked and smacked its way into every muscle of Eliza’s body except for the otherwise central zone.

This from the man who gave us “How Soon Is Now?” I think a light has gone out somewhere.

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Apparently it takes two

Twenty sixteen is so doggone special Pantone’s Color of the Year is actually two colors:

Says the company:

Pantone, an X-Rite company and the global authority on color and provider of professional color standards for the design industries, today announced PANTONE 15-3919 Serenity and PANTONE 13-1520 Rose Quartz, as the PANTONE® Color of the Year selection for 2016; a harmonious pairing of inviting shades that embody a mindset of tranquility and inner peace.

As consumers seek mindfulness and well-being as an antidote to the stress of modern day lives, welcoming colors that psychologically fulfill the yearning for reassurance and security are becoming more prominent. Weightless and airy, like the expanse of the blue sky above us, Serenity comforts with a calming effect, bringing feelings of respite and relaxation even in turbulent times. Rose Quartz is a persuasive yet gentle tone that conveys compassion and a sense of composure.

Far be it from me to complain about reassurance and security. But these seem awfully, um, gender-specific, in a nursery-oriented sort of way, don’t they?

“In many parts of the world we are experiencing a gender blur as it relates to fashion, which has in turn impacted color trends throughout all other areas of design,” said [Pantone executive director Leatrice] Eiseman. “This more unilateral approach to color is coinciding with societal movements toward gender equality and fluidity, the consumers’ increased comfort with using color as a form of expression which includes a generation that has less concern about being typecast or judged, and an open exchange of digital information that has opened our eyes to different approaches to color usage.”

Um, okay, if you say so. Let me know if someone comes out with an ensemble that makes the most of this combo.

But hey, color is not always a function of fabric. From sundown yesterday:

And you know, it really was.

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Protecting our native fabric

I mean, I guess that’s what all this is about, right?

There are three Lowndes Counties in the States: in Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi. All three are named for William Jones Lowndes (1782-1822), who represented a South Carolina district in Congress. The Alabama county has a particularly prickly history with regard to civil rights. Lowndes himself is perhaps best known for suggesting an alternate method of apportioning seats in the House of Representatives, which would have assigned more seats to smaller states; it did not catch on.

But perhaps this isn’t political at all. Maybe, just maybe, it’s the baneful influence of — dare we say it? — Satin?

(Via Dan Lovejoy.)

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I blame snakes

So apparently Medusa, Sony’s version of the tale of a woman with looks that would kill and hair that would infuriate Samuel L. Jackson, will go on without director Lauren Faust:

Last weekend at the CTN Animation Expo, Lauren Faust revealed publicly that she was no longer working at Sony Pictures Animation on the feature film project Medusa.

Announced in summer 2014, Medusa was to have been the theatrical directorial debut of Faust, a 20-year industry veteran who gained widespread acclaim for her 2010 reboot of the My Little Pony franchise.

The ever-unpopular creative differences were cited:

“I very much enjoyed my time at Sony Pictures Animation and was extremely excited about the progress our amazing team was making on Medusa,” Faust told Cartoon Brew [yesterday]. “But, as it happens at so many studios with so many projects, we ultimately ran into creative differences on the direction of the project. I do not know if Medusa has been shelved, but I am no longer working on it or at Sony.”

Sony, for its part, says only that Medusa is still on.

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Isolation play

There are times when you simply have to get away from it all:

[A] lot has been made of the whole “safe spaces” thing on college campuses. And yeah, I see the ridicule for people wanting the entire world to be a safe space, because there’s no way that that’s possible. And yet, at the same time: don’t we all have places or things we retreat to for a while, when the world gets to be too much? I mean, Camp David exists. There was a “Fortress of Solitude” for Superman (at least in the movies). One of my circles of friends jokes a lot about “blanket forts” even as we recognize we do have to go out into the world and be adults and do the hard things. I’m not sure there’s anything so awful about once in a while retreating to a blanket fort (or the equivalent). The problem comes when you want to be there all the time.

Yea, verily. You can’t hide from Possibly Upsetting Things all your life, though God knows some people try awfully hard.

Regarding the Fortress:

The concept and name “Fortress of Solitude” first appeared in the Doc Savage pulps in the 1930s and 1940s. Doc Savage built his Fortress of Solitude in the Arctic and retreated to it alone in order to make new scientific or medical breakthroughs, and to store dangerous technology and other secrets. Superman’s original Silver Age Fortress, as it appeared in 1958, was also located in the Arctic and served similar purposes. Built into the side of a steep cliff, the Fortress was accessible through a large gold-colored door with a giant keyhole, which required an enormous key to open it. The arrow-shaped key was so large that only Superman (or another Kryptonian such as Supergirl) could lift it; when not in use, the key sat on a perch outside of the Fortress, where it appeared to be an aircraft path marker. This was until a helicopter pilot followed the direction of the arrow straight to the entrance of the Fortress, forcing Superman to develop a cloak to camouflage the entrance and key (which now hung on brackets on its side beside the door) and to ensure the Fortress’s secrecy.

Perhaps not as nifty, or as photogenic, as the Fortress in the first Superman film, which rises from a single crystal carried by Clark Kent to an ice field for no reason he could comprehend at the time, but it’s a premise I have to respect.

Twilight Sparkle, of course, has a Book Fort.

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Latest snooze

I am not a morning person, in the sense that Death Valley is not a water park. Not that I’m claiming any of these characteristics, mind you:

When you’re getting up at 6 am, you’re usually passing out by nine, which means you’re already tired by five. You may start your day with a burst of energy, but by mid-afternoon you’re already checked out.

Early risers are, in fact, screwing themselves over for the second part of the day.

Researchers at the University of Liege in Belgium examined 15 “extreme early risers” and 15 “extreme night owls.” They measured the participants’ brain activity after they first woke up and then once again 10.5 hours later.

Both the night owls and the early birds had the same level of productivity when they first woke up. Ten hours later, however, early birds had “lower activity in brain regions linked to attention and the circadian master clock, compared to night owls.”

Weekdays, I get up a hair before six, and I can sustain pretty well until nine. By ten-thirty, though, I’m pretty much inert, and it takes lunch to revive me.

Weekends, I sleep as late as I dare, which is usually somewhere between 10:30 and noon. So the pattern is fixed, no matter how much I actually seem to deviate from it.

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You call this an ending?

It’s probably hopelessly uncool of me, but I’ve pretty much always been uncool to greater or lesser extent, and I admit to a certain amount of sympathy for this viewpoint:

I don’t like some of the modern novels that kind of trail off where everyone has kind of broken everything (people have cheated on devoted and good spouses, or been unkind to their children, or done something wrong that they haven’t atoned for). And while I get that “real life” is probably more like the second way (lots of brokenness) than the first, I want to believe that there will be that denouement where the real killer is found out and the innocent man goes free. And the people in the town who were shocked that the innocent man “could have” committed a murder, when he goes free, nod to themselves and say, “I was right; he was too good a man to have done that” instead of them suspecting him for the rest of his life … I want to believe that things can be made “right” again even in the absence of objective evidence that they can.

I don’t know. I admit it’s childish to want a world order where the guilty are punished and the good prosper, but there are some very specific ways in which I am childish.

Frankly, I’ve had enough scowling antiheroes to last a lifetime or three. Is it too much to ask to have an occasional happy ending?

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