Long live the King

First, an artifact which originated in the First (some claim “only”) Great Progressive Rock Era:

Now technically, this was not King Crimson, but a band of Crimson expats under the name “21st Century Schizoid Band”; however, all of them except the singer were at one time members of King Crimson, and Mellotron man Ian McDonald played on the original version in 1969. (If that’s Michael Giles on drums, and it looks like him, so did he.)

Apart from the fact that I absolutely adore this song and always have, this matters for one particular reason:

Prog magazine report that Robert Fripp has announced the reformation of King Crimson.

It will be the first time the band have been in action since 2008, and comes in contrast to a declaration made by Fripp last year that he would be retiring from the music industry.

And if you look at the new lineup, you’ll see the name of Jakko Jakszyk — and that’s who sang on that clip of “Epitaph.”

For Crimson 8.0 (I think), Fripp is deploying three drummers. Make of that what you will.

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Both sides of the news

I get enough traffic on this page to persuade me that there is lingering interest in that brief period (1964-1980) when there were competing newspapers in this town.

And to prove it:

OKCTalk has been working with the Atkinson Heritage Center and Rose State College to publish their entire library of old Oklahoma Journal newspapers. The center and college are the repository of these archives.

So far, they’ve digitized six days a week (no Sundays yet) starting with the first of October ’64, which was Volume 1, Number 41. The PDFs are not, of course, as clean as the Oklahoman’s current Print Replica, which is a model for the way these things should be done, but then nobody in 1964 was thinking that far ahead.

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Looks like breakfast

This one pretty much writes itself:

Visitors to a Surrey safari park have been asked not to wear animal print clothes after concern emerged that fake leopard print and tiger stripes might be confusing or even frightening the animals.

Zookeepers at Chessington World of Adventures noticed a change in behaviour of animals after the launch of a new attraction which allows visitors to be driven off-road through a 22-acre Serengeti-style reserve, where animals roam free.

Spokeswoman Natalie Dilloway said: “Animals are getting confused when they see what looks like zebras and giraffes driving across the terrain in a 7.5 tonne truck.”

Keepers reported that some animals had tried to communicate with visitors, while others had run away, fearing they were predators.

Although this may be the bottom line:

“Movement is also a key trigger. Big cats will start getting interested if someone limps past their enclosure because they look weak. Possibly the worst thing you could do is limp past the lion or tiger enclosure in a zebra print outfit.”

You are crunchy and go well with hummus.

(Via Fark.)

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A little something more

“Luxury,” says this vintage advertisement, “is that which completes the enjoyment of life.” Which is undoubtedly why we (for certain values of “we”) seek it out.

Advertisement for Prestige Hosiery

The manufacturers of the Prestige brand learned a hard lesson about market positioning. Prestige Ltd, based in Australia, had started up in 1922 as a manufacturer of top-quality goods; the company’s bankers and certain members of its board wanted a downmarket line for higher volume, and got it. In less than two years the company was foundering. Founder George Gotardo Foletta, who’d given up his seat on the board in protest, came back to mend their ways. The brand would survive until 1978, five years longer than Foletta did.

And once again, I contend that these old drawings have a distinct personality that fashion photography often lacks.

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And it’s after Labor Day, too

Teresa did some people-watching while on the road, and came up with a wide variety of one-liners, only one of which I’m going to quote here:

White Cotton sundress with spaghetti straps? It’s only about 50 degrees outside … you look ridiculous!

We can count on an incident like this every September or October, invariably on a day where it was about 70 that morning and the cold front that was supposed to come through that evening somehow managed to bust its way down the map before 3 pm, giving the poor woman the cold shoulder. (Or two.)

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Their number-one priority

Ed aims to please, and he’d damned well better, because he can be ticketed if he doesn’t:

Apparently, the new national character problem that’s being purged in China is men missing the toilet when urinating. This has been an issue for many years, and has usually just resulting in signs being posted above toilets reminding users to hit the mark or janitors armed with mops who clean up after each pisser who doesn’t quite get it all in the bowl. But Shenzhen just instituted a new law decreeing that any man who pisses outside the pot will be fined 100 RMB (around $16).

I followed that second link, and now I wish I hadn’t:

Chinese toilet discipline can be notoriously wayward, with pictures of people defecating in public sometimes appearing on weibo.

At the very least, they should fine someone twice as much for that.

(Via Hit Coffee.)

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No costumes

And they mean that in the old-fashioned sense of the word “literally”:

Shocktoberfest, a “haunted scream park” in Sinking Spring, Pa., has added an attraction called the “Naked and Scared Challenge.” For $20 per person, participants can experience the haunted house while being completely naked.

Now that’s a new wrinkle. But why?

“It’s the first time it’s ever been done anywhere in the world,” Shocktoberfest president and owner Patrick Konopelski told TODAY.com. “The whole idea is to create this vulnerability and get their defenses down. It can be hard to scare groups, and you usually have to get louder, more chaotic, and more tense, but now if they’re not wearing clothing, it can be more intimate. You can scare with a whisper rather than a scream because people will only huddle so close to one another.”

Would I go through this thing? Maybe. I’m squeamish about haunted houses anyway. Then again, the lighting is probably not so good, a decided advantage if you’re not used to nude venues, which I am not. (It’s one thing to chat up the neighbors in one’s back yard; it’s quite another to take on a dark room full of tan strangers.) It would be an easier decision, I suppose, if I could actually talk someone into going with me.

(As you might expect, from out of the tweetstream.)

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Early warning signs

Judy Lee Dunn has compiled a list of “11 Signs You May Be a Writer.” “Well, that lets me out,” I said to myself, but I decided I’d read the list anyway.

And I plead guilty to the following:

5. One typo, anywhere, will stop you cold.

You are so distracted by that typo that you can’t think of anything else. The secret to the universe may be revealed in that blog post or Facebook update, but you turn away, obsessing over that one misspelled word.

I’d say that friends would gleefully point them out to me, but in retrospect, they don’t seem all that gleeful; to them, it’s simply Something That Does Not Happen, like Superman kicking a dog.

Then there’s this:

9. The first thing you do with a book is turn to the author bio.

If you are a debut author, you keep comparing yourself to other authors. In the bookstore, the first place you check in a book is the inside cover section with the author’s bio and pic. You count how many books she has published. And if she is thirty years younger than you, you get all depressed, just certain that it’s too late for you and the dream is over.

Roughly half the population of the world is thirty years (or more) younger than I, so I don’t worry too much about that particular aspect.

I admit, however, that I look for people of average appearance on the flyleaf: for some reason, a really good-looking author arouses wholly unjustified suspicions in the back of my brain. How you look doesn’t really have anything to do with how you write, of course, but still, there’s the reflex.

And once in a great while, an author uses that photo to mess with my head.

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Another project to fund

I hate to see a Kickstarter I backed go up in flames, but there’s always another one, right? And this one might be a little closer to my heart, even if it doesn’t involve any copyrighted characters:

Pewter Ponies

Seven days in and 70 percent funded. I am hopeful.

(Erin Palette mentioned this on Facebook and tagged me because she knew I’d buy in. Girl knows me too well.)

Update, 27 September: Made it!

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Narrative to be established

The thing about ObamaCare is this: it’s never going to lose the name. If it’s a success, Democrats will be promoting it all the way to their graves, and if it’s a failure, Republicans will be reminding us of it all the way to theirs. (Repeal? Not a chance. The GOP is rife with invertebrates.)

Aside from that, there is the mandatory spin, and it will go something like this:

The depressing possibility is that since nobody knows for sure what’s going to happen, everyone still is actually trying to frame the narrative. While the dangers … are real (each side setting expectations where a middling result will make people feel the opposite of how each side wants them to feel), in all likelihood the results are going to be muddled. Some people will save money in even the most pessimistic scenario. Some people will have to spend more even in the most optimistic scenario.

So then it’s ultimately about thwarting the truth, whatever it is. Laying the groundwork so that if costs go down and people save money, conservatives will be vindicated by whatever minority of people finds themselves in a worse spot and suggesting that said minority is actually the typical case. Likewise, if almost everybody ends up having to spend more, the liberals will have laid the groundwork to argue that we shouldn’t believe our lying eyes and bank accounts.

And this seems like the most reasonable stance to take:

I offer no hard prediction on what is going to happen. I am preparing for the worst. Perhaps because in the end I couldn’t get on board with PPACA and so want to be vindicated. But mostly, I think, so that I will be pleasantly surprised if I am wrong and won’t be too disappointed if I am right.

Let the festivities begin.

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Like sisters

There was much gushing in the tweetstream Sunday night when Kerry Washington and Diahann Carroll emerged as presenters at the Primetime Emmys, mostly along the lines of “Dayum, girl, but you do look good for 80!”

Actually, Diahann’s only 78. And if you’d been paying attention, you’d have seen this shot of the two of them, which came out earlier in the month when they were added to the presenter list:

Diahann Carroll and Kerry Washington


I’ll happily refer you to previous shots of Kerry Washington, while I produce this oddity from the Annals of Time, or at least of Dynasty:

Read the rest of this entry »

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Hold your chuckles

Let the idea of a $70,000 Kia sink in for a moment.

Now it may be that nobody is going to shell out seventy large for a Kia, especially one with a goofy name like “K900.” (The Korean home-market version is called “K9,” which would never fly here, though it might dig under the fence.) Hyundai’s similar Equus starts at $59,250 and can surely reach 70k if you check all the boxes on the order form; they move maybe 300-400 a month. I know nobody who owns one, or I’d have begged for some seat time by now, if only to see if this Korean steed lives up to its sticker.

Still, I can see one market segment that might go for the K900: folks who identify themselves as antisnobs, the presumed antithesis of those whose self-image is largely derived from driving something with a roundel or a three-pointed star or whatever the hell that thing is on a Lexus grille. Of course, being an antisnob requires just as much attitude as being a snob, but you’re not supposed to notice that.

Maybe the thing to do is buy an older Audi, from the Peter Schreyer days, and fit it with Kia indicia and hardware, from the Peter Schreyer days. There is a precedent of sorts.

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Room to breathe

Brian J. reads a book about Hearst Castle, and opines:

For those of you who don’t know what Hearst Castle is (how can you live with yourselves?), it is a palace built by newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst in the 1920s and 1930s. It is huge, it has many buildings (what modern newspapers call a compound if they don’t like the owner), and it has lavish architectural details, antiquities, and pretty much everything I dreamed about when I thought I’d earn fabulous amounts of wealth.

My aspirations were never quite so lofty, but I have no disagreement whatever with this:

You know, when faced with opulence of this nature, some people want to firebomb it and take it away from those who have it. Perhaps I was born in a different century, but I find this inspirational. Hearst came from a wealthier background, surely, but he built a publishing empire and earned the capital to build this place that he had half in mind to make a museum — which it is now, of course. Good on ‘im. Let the rich have theirs, and let us all have a system that allows us to get rich if we can.

I’ve never been far enough north in California to see Hearst’s, um, compound, but I did drop in one day — and it takes at least a whole day, believe me — at the Biltmore Estate, one of the few houses in the nation that rivals Hearst’s, and I was similarly impressed. What’s more, while Biltmore is a National Historic Landmark, it’s not tied into any museum system: it remains privately held, and it’s worth every cent of the $59 day pass.

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Not as a renter

A fellow I follow on Twitter has set up a blog called 1845 Park Place, which is the address of the house he just bought — “Right between Chance and Luxury Tax,” he says, which grabbed my attention right there. (Technically, it’s between Kentucky and Indiana, but you don’t have to know that.)

And actually, that’s a promising location, between NW 10th — a corridor that’s been improving of late, at least in this area — and the Plaza District, which is rapidly becoming the place to be.

This subdivision — Classen’s Cream Ridge — dates back to 1916; the house in question is your basic one-story bungalow.

It’s the guy’s first house, so I imagine he’ll have lots to say as he turns it into his Dream Home.

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The view never changes

A Brit this week explained why he’d just as soon not see any more Page 3 girls, which prompted some thoughts, and admittedly unexcited thoughts at that, about the current issue of Playboy.

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Snips, snipes, Snopes

It is not true, say the Mikkelsons, that John Steinbeck’s magnum opus is known in Japan as The Angry Grapes.

However, a similar situation they covered in the same article is just a little bit off:

Titles of translated works are often chosen by publishers (rather than translators), and a publisher’s goal is more likely to be to try to come up with a short, catchy name that will appeal to the target audience rather than to provide a faithful translation of the original title. A perfect example of this phenomenon is the case of the Japanese pop song “Ue O Muite Aruko” (literally “I Look Up When I Walk”), a hit in both the UK and America in 1963 in a cover version by jazzman Kenny Ball and the original version by Japanese singer Kyu Sakamoto, respectively. Both versions were sung in Japanese, but the British record label that released Kenny Ball’s recording was concerned English-speaking audiences might find the original title too difficult to remember and pronounce, so they gave it a new title: “Sukiyaki.” (The American record label retained the British title when they released Kyu Sakamoto’s version a few months later.) Of course, sukiyaki (a sauteed beef dish) had absolutely nothing to do with the lyrics or meaning of the song; nonetheless, the word served the purpose well because it was short, catchy, recognizably Japanese, and familiar to most English speakers (very few of whom could understand the Japanese lyrics anyway) — even if, as Newsweek quipped, the re-titling was akin to issuing “Moon River” in Japan under the title “Beef Stew.”

All of which you’d know, if you’d seen my Single File piece on Sakamoto’s original, plus one other detail Snopes probably unintentionally botched: Kenny Ball’s version was not sung in Japanese, or any other spoken language. It’s purely an instrumental.

Assuming you know Sakamoto’s own recording, which was a major hit in 1963, I’m throwing in a link to the lovely post-surf version of “Sukiyaki” as performed by Big Daddy, two verses translated, one sung in the original Japanese.

(With thanks to Lauren Gilbert, who had no idea she was sending me off on one of my tangents.)

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