The original Hipster

Roger happened to mention “Who Put the Benzedrine in Mrs Murphy’s Ovaltine?” this week, which is a great song because (1) it’s funny as hell while being utterly unrespectable in 1940s culture and (2) it sold several thousand more copies in 1975 as part of a Dr. Demento compilation album. This suggested that maybe it’s time to look at Harry the Hipster Gibson himself, born Harry Raab in the Bronx in 1915:

Yes, folks, that’s a Fellow of the Juilliard School, and the graduate school at that.

The Hipster continued to make records until 1989, like this jaunty little tune about Shirley MacLaine; tormented by congestive heart failure in 1991, he got his revenge on the failing organ by shooting it and thus himself.

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There’s a Start button here somewhere

Presenting the Apple Watch running, um, Windows 95:

The chap who did it explains one of the pitfalls:

Apple’s WatchKit SDK wasn’t good enough, since it doesn’t allow you to access user touch locations directly — it only lets you use Apple’s stock controls. Long story short, it’s possible to patch certain files within a WatchKit app to load your own application code rather than Apple’s.

And there is this minor detail:

Due to the fact that it is emulated (not virtualized), it takes about an hour to boot.

This is about twice as long as it took for an old Win95 box of mine to boot after its Cyrix 5×86 CPU melted down. Of course, the miraculous thing is that it would boot at all.

(Via The Verge.)

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Beyond even death itself

In her younger days, my daughter indicated that at some point in her life she’d like to manage a death-metal band. (Without going too much into the details, allow me to stipulate that she came close once.) It is, I have since learned, more flexible a genre than I had thought: for instance, it’s possible for a death-metal band to cover Raffi’s “Bananaphone.”

I was not aware, however, that death metal could stretch to include John Cage’s greatest hit:

In 2000, Will Hermes wrote beautifully of the monumental work 4’33” that “Cage gave musicians aesthetic permission, spiritual encouragement even, to go beyond the tonalities of standard instrumentation and engage with the infinite possibilities of sound.” So here we are, 64 years after its debut performance by pianist David Tudor, and the death-metal band Dead Territory — its members clad in raver pants, or a Slipknot T-shirt, or wielding Jackson and B.C. Rich guitars — has covered the composition that sets upon the wonder of silence.

Fair warning: the drummer gets in some stick work before the formal beginning of the score.

Side note: Raffi’s cowriter on “Bananaphone” was Michael Creber, father of voice-actress Michelle Creber, known in pony circles as Apple Bloom.

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It’s all about the Tubmans

Occasional media hype notwithstanding, I have yet to encounter any serious objections to putting Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill; I certainly don’t have any. I have seen some studied indifference, though:

This makes me no never mind. I rarely use cash any more and I can’t remember the last time I had a twenty in my wallet. If the government wanted an African-American in that slot, I would have opted for Martin Luther King or even Jackie Robinson. Say what you want, both men changed this country for the better.

Do you want to keep Andrew Jackson around? Put him on the half-dollar coin which the US still insists on minting for some reason; the only reason Kennedy’s on there is because he got his brains blown out in Dallas back in ’63.

The half-dollar exists mostly, I believe, as a unit of measure for hail: it neatly splits the difference between quarter-size hail and ping-pong ball-size hail. I haven’t actually seen a half-dollar actually being used as money, such as it is, in years.

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The air up there

The demand for nice-sounding fuel-economy numbers has led automakers to the wind tunnel, wherein a mysterious voice tells them to cut the aerodynamic drag or face the wrath of the marketplace. Then again, they can’t do a thing about the times when the marketplace messes up the drag coefficient on its own:

Automakers go to great lengths to make vehicles aerodynamic, adding grille shutters and painstakingly shaving off excess weight, but drivers are just blowing away the hard work with their roof racks, a new study reports (via CNET).

The effect of roof racks on fuel consumption was studied by researchers from Berkeley Lab and the National Renewable Energy Lab, who published their findings in the journal Energy Policy.

It turns out that showing off what an active lifestyle you have via a sporty roof rack (or just being too lazy to remove it after that one trip) accounts for nearly one percent of all annual domestic fuel consumption.

The study finds that 0.8 percent of light-duty vehicle fuel consumption in 2015 can be tied to the aerodynamic drag these racks asserted on the cars carrying them. That translates into 100 million gallons of gas burned needlessly every year.

In which case, you’ll perhaps be bewildered to hear that the single best fuel-economy reading I ever got from Dymphna, a 1975 Toyota Celica GT (2.2-liter SOHC four, 5-speed manual), was 29.1 mpg, achieved with a curio cabinet lashed to her roof. I am forced to conclude that the little Celica’s aerodynamics were so undistinguished that adding about a meter or so of wooden box actually improved them.

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An unexpected dart

My first thought upon reading this was “Perfect. The first true self-driving car will be a Dodge.” Well, not necessarily, but it still fits:

Still: Google and Fiat Chrysler. This isn’t exactly like, say, an F1 racer powered by John Deere, but the dissonance is more than just cognitive.

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Now I want sherbet

First, the instrumental version:

Part of the New York state of mind, even though it originated outside the Tri-State Area:

An annual herald of summer for more than half a century, it is exquisitely Pavlovian, triggering salivation or shrieking — sometimes both at once. It is the textbook embodiment of an earworm: once heard, never forgotten.

It is the Mister Softee jingle, which for generations has sprung from ice cream trucks throughout the metropolitan area and beyond after first springing from the mind of Les Waas, a Philadelphia adman who died on April 19 at 94.

There are words [pdf]. I already knew this, though, and I am quite familiar with the power of a good jingle. About eleven years ago, rock-and-roll writer Dawn Eden — now Dr. Dawn Eden Goldstein, theologian — was here in the Okay City, and she regaled a bunch of us locals with, yes, the Mister Softee jingle. Let the record show that we defended ourselves with a spirited rendition of the B. C. Clark jingle, which is actually four years older: 1956 versus 1960.

(Via WFMU.)

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Must have been some pitch

What did KLAC (570 AM) in Los Angeles pay for the broadcast rights to Dodgers games? If you’re thinking an arm and a leg, you’re pretty close:

KLAC will be spun into Los Angeles Broadcasting Partners, a new holding company held by the two groups. iHeart [Media] will retain 51% of the ownership of the station as well as control of its day-to-day operations. The Dodgers through its LARadioCo will hold 49% of the station.

In case you weren’t paying attention, iHeartMedia is the group owner formerly known as Clear Channel.

And the Dodgers get one more chip:

As part of the deal, iHeart cannot launch another Sports station in the Los Angeles market for the next fifteen years without the written consent of the Dodgers.

Oh, KLAC is also carrying the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers.

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The turn of a friendly card

Twitter cards have been around for several years, but I couldn’t remember ever seeing one. I did, finally, get dealt one last night, as a thank-you-for-sharing response by an Alaskan fashion blogger:

I guess that’s kind of neat in its own way, and it probably doesn’t carry too much of a bandwidth payload. Then again, I’m inclined to think that the idea of an Alaskan fashion blogger is kind of neat in its own way — especially one with an umlaut.

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Scraping by

And doing it well, one would think:

Custom Dental sign in Newcastle, Oklahoma

Newcastle is the city at the north end of McClain County, Oklahoma; it has about 10,000 people.

(From Dorkly via Miss Cellania. Originally I was going to set this piece to the Bee Gees’ “New York Mining Disaster 1941” — “Have you seen my ass, Dr. Jones? Do you know what it’s like on the inside?” Taste prevailed, kinda sorta.)

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Not a shelf date

I happened to be standing at an odd angle when I replaced the roll of toilet paper — in the correct direction, you may be sure — and a stray ray of light caught the inside of the roll, where I saw some actual printing.

Curious, I looked at the empty roll, which bore the same markings; I sliced it in two and plopped it on the scanner.

Inside of a toilet-paper roll

I remember nothing about the original package other than that it was a store brand that I had picked up because my usual name-brand product seemed unduly expensive for some reason.

I think we may safely assume that when kept dry, this product remains usable for over a year.

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It’s not even walking

Remember this charming fellow?

The Zombie of Montclaire Moors

Amazingly, he’s not always welcome to the neighborhood:

If you walked up to one Nashville area family’s home, you may think it was Halloween due to a zombie statue climbing out of the ground, but now the family’s homeowner association says their zombie needs to go.

The Grinstead family has had their zombie, named “Clawed,” in their yard near Percy Priest Lake for [the] past five years.

“We could have gone with the traditional spelling, but C-L-A-W-E-D just really fit his personality and told you as much as you really needed to know about him.” Jim Grinstead said.

The nastygram arrived last week:

On Friday, Grinstead received a letter from the homeowners association that caught him off-guard.

“It had said, ‘during a recent inspection of the neighborhood, we noticed that you have a zombie in your front yard that must be removed’.”


You can still get your own zombie, assuming you don’t live down the street from the Grinsteads.

(Via Rebecca Schleicher.)

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Serious pony

There has been a great deal of flapdoodle in recent years over the Hugo Awards, and the politicization of same. I can’t be sure if politics were involved in this nomination — I’m thinking a definite maybe — but just the same, there it is, up for Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form):

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: “The Cutie Map” Parts 1 and 2 written by Scott Sonneborn, M.A. Larson, and Meghan McCarthy, directed by Jayson Thiessen and Jim Miller (DHX Media / Vancouver; Hasbro Studios)

This Season Five opener was downright jaw-dropping, and if you don’t believe me, just ask Starlight Glimmer.

(The complete list of finalists.)

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Look what just blew in

A pleasantly pointy pump from Nine West:

Tornaydo pump by Nine West

This shoe is called, um, “Tornaydo,” and here’s the pitch:

Keep your look classic in our Tornaydo pointy toe pumps. It’s an ideal choice for the office or the perfect evening go-to because it complements so many fashion choices. Ultra thin T-strap detail. Adjustable ankle strap closure.

Always did have a thing for the T-strap. (No, I have no idea why.) Heel height is 4.25 inches. Nine West is asking $89; there are a couple of solid-color versions as well.

(Via Fevrie.)

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Not wasting the pretty

The fictional “Carol Van Meter-McDougal” comes up with something with the ring of truth, or so it seems to me anyway:

[F]or generations, men objectified women by assessing value to them based on their physical appearance. During more patriarchal times, guys were the ones who determined which women were pretty. But since the feminist movement finally gave women the right to objectify ourselves according to our own standards, there are now two kinds of pretty: guy-pretty and girl-pretty.

Guy-pretty women are the kind of women whom men want to be with, and are therefore women who bear traits that men find exemplary in women, traits that are generally associated with sexuality — pouty lips, a curvy figure, and a general “come hither” look, or at least a look that doesn’t scream “I smell like cats.”

Girl-pretty women, on the other hand, are the kind of women that other women want to be like, and are therefore women bearing traits that we ladies find exemplary in ourselves, traits like a fit but not surgically enhanced body, eyes that say “confident but not arrogant,” and a general aura of “flirty but not skanky.”

On this latter scale, Jennifer Aniston is ne plus ultra, though, speaking in my capacity as a guy, I find that she doesn’t do a thing for me. (Okay, make that “she doesn’t do many things for me.”)

I concede, however, that I wouldn’t know a come-hither look if it were telegraphed, closed-captioned, and explained in Braille.

(Title from “Don’t Waste the Pretty” by Allison Iraheta. Not sure which of the two types of pretty she might be.)

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Taste the memory

You have to figure that this guy got what was coming to him:

Up-skirt photos are a form of sexual harassment plaguing subway cars, bars, and basically anywhere a woman is standing. It’s especially concerning because most of the perpetrators are never caught. Except for when they are.

People’s Daily recently posted a video that’s going viral in China, in which a woman in Nanjing confronts a man she realizes is taking up-skirt photos on the subway via a hidden camera in his garment bag. In under a minute, she exposes him to all their fellow commuters, dressing him down to the point where he takes his SD card out of his camera and chews on it to destroy the photos.

I frankly do not understand the motivation behind this sort of thing: feelthy peectures are only a few clicks away, even in China. (The Great Firewall can’t block everything.) And I wish she’d managed to stomp the guy’s camera at some point.

(Via Danielle Lisle.)

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