Sew what’s new

Patterns have been sold under the brand name Simplicity since 1927. (They’re still active today.) This 1974 advertisement, aimed at the teenage market, plays up the value of separates: why, you could come up with nine different looks with but a single top!

Simplicity ad 1974

Forty-odd years later, I wonder if anyone made all nine of those skirts. And I admit, 6789 (wrap skirt with patch pockets) reminds me of someone.

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Pinch hitter

The fact that singer Bat for Lashes is of Pashtun descent and British and Pakistani ancestry doesn’t tell you anything about, well, for one thing, why she goes by “Bat for Lashes.” (It says “Natasha Khan” on her birth certificate.) Her second album, Two Suns (2009) yielded up her largest-selling single to date, “Daniel,” which she described at the time as “the most straightforward, naive and purposely simple song I’ve ever done.”

This video drew a nomination for Best Breakthrough Video at the 2009 VMAs, which may or may not say something about MTV.

Bat for Lashes in 2012

Bat for Lashes wears a cap

Bat for Lashes in 2015

In 2015, she started a side project with the band TOY and producer Dan Carey, under the name “Sexwitch”; they released an EP with tracks like “Helelyos,” which turns out to be, um, Iranian funk.

In 2016, she has an album called The Bride, a narrative by a young woman whose fiancé was killed in a car crash on the way to their wedding. “Joe’s Dream,” track two, was the third single.

I’m not quite sure what musical niche might easily accommodate Bat for Lashes, though my first thought was “a more subdued Siouxsie Sioux.”

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Still with the band

From Wikipedia’s article on Negativland: “On July 22, 2015, former lead vocalist Don Joyce died of heart failure at the age of 71.”

This past week, segments from the band’s radio show were released as Over the Edge Vol. 9: The Chopping Channel, with a special appearance, so to speak, by Don Joyce:

In keeping with the album’s theme, and while supplies last, each mail order copy of this new project comes with two very unique extra items: two grams of the actual cremains, or ashes, of deceased Negativland member Don Joyce, and one of Don’s handmade audio tape loop “carts” used in the creation of Over The Edge and Negativland live performances between 1981 and 2015.

This is not a hoax. We’ve decided to take the Chopping Channel concept to its logical conclusion by “productizing” an actual band member. It is also a celebration of the degree to which no idea in art was ever off-limits to Don, and offers a literal piece of him, and of his audio art, for the listener to repurpose and reuse. We are pretty sure he would have wanted it this way.

I am compelled to admit that Don Joyce, so far as I can tell, does not appear on my single favorite Negativland release, U2, which combines a cover of “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” with a profane rant by the late Casey Kasem in apparent forgot-the-mic-was-hot mode. (Link is pretty well NSFW, as I found out one day.)

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A Colossus lost

I got the word this afternoon from Brickmuppet:

Steven Den Beste has passed away.

I just received word from Steven’s brother, graciously thanking me for making the welfare call to the police and confirming that what many of us feared had indeed come to pass. I did not inquire as to specifics, but Steven had been in very poor health of late, having had a stroke just under four years ago.

SdB was one of the pillars of the blogosphere, almost from Day One:

Steven was brilliant, a former engineer with a crackerjack mind. His old blog, U.S.S. Clueless was tremendously important in the early days of the blogosphere. It is hard to overstate the importance of U.S.S. Clueless and the brilliance of his analysis. Sadly, that site went down this past week as well, when Steven’s server failed. That site was immensely influential to many of us, and I am far from the only person he inspired to blog or helped along.

Worse, he was about my age, which reminds me — as though I needed reminding — of my own fragility.

Something to remember him by? How about this, from 11 September 2012?

I always thought that attacking an embassy was considered an act of war. But 1980 seems to have established a new precedent: if a Democrat is President, then Muslim mobs may despoil American embassies as much as they wish. Once a Republican gets elected, then they lay off.

Our hostages in Tehran were released a few hours before Reagan was sworn in. If Romney manages to defeat Obama in November, will we see something of the same happen next January?

Well, even if it does, it won’t bring that man back to life. Not even The One, for all his assumed divinity, can do that. (Stopping the rise of the oceans is easy by comparison.)

If only we could bring that man back to life.

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Awe, shucks

Remember when “awe” was, well, awesome? Not anymore:

Matched up against all the torrent and cascade of moments though, this genuine awe was rare; it was one of the pearls beyond price, the shining instant of “Ah ha, so that’s what it’s all about.”

Not so today. Today awe is as common as clay. Today all things of man possesses the awe of someness. The movie is awesome. The SmartCar is awesome. The candy bar is awesome. The cheeseburger is awesome. Today it would seem that every slice of tripe spun out of the crap factories of pop culture is awesome even though one note of the 9th Symphony would crush the entire oeuvre of Aerosmith. My morning latte was described by the barista as “awesome” when, like all our cornucopia of crapulous things described as such, it was quite mediocre, thank you.

I wonder if this was a byproduct of lowered expectations: if everything is mediocre or worse, yet we need something to extol, it seems almost inevitable that we’d experience some sort of word inflation of this sort.

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Hyperoverextended

Yahoo! Answers is good for at least half a dozen of these a week:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: If I am stuck in a car loan and can't afford the payments how can I get out of the loan early?

The gory details:

I have a 2014 mustang and the payments are 400 a month. I owe around 19000 on it. I need help finding a way to get rid of it as soon as possible. Thanks

If he’s lucky, he might get $14,000 for it, in which case he needs to scrape up $5000, sell the ‘Stang, and turn over the proceeds to the lender. Problem solved. It’s not the solution he wants, but it’s the solution that actually works.

Of course, there’s always Chapter 7, which has, shall we say, certain disadvantages.

But what bothers me is the blithe assumption that there’s some way to “get out of the loan early” without serious consequences. Life doesn’t work quite that way. (At least, it never has for me, and I admit to occasional bouts of presumptuousness.) Unfortunately, a substantial sector of automotive retailing is reliant upon luring people with no money into the showrooms.

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You’d be doing us all a favor

“Travis County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty,” says the YouTube video description, “is a proven fighter for better roads, lower taxes, and responsible county spending.” But there are other reasons to vote for him:

“Quite possibly the best ad of this political season,” says Pejman Yousefzadeh.

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Strange search-engine queries (560)

Welcome to Monday. Please fasten your seat belt, and prepare yourself from a highly unscientific sampling of actual search strings by which Web surfers actually managed to encounter this very site. (No wagering.)

J has an accidental death and dismemberment policy with a principal sum of $50,000. While trimming:  I think we’re going to trim this story right here before it gets gory.

home depot jury duty policy:  If someone is killed by a power tool, you’re excused.

don’t you give me no dirty looks:  Has the dog been brought in and the cat put out?

yuja wang upskirt:  Not on your life. For one thing, there’s no room to hide a camera among the pedals.

jaded amaranthus range:  Matching fridge and washer/dryer combo sold separately.

i want to go to jail yahoo answers:  You keep coming up with questions like this and you will.

in a televised “social experiment” by the local television network, 12 people — 6 white and 6 african american — were asked to live together for one week. they varied in their level of prejudice; however, those with low levels of prejudice became less prejudiced, while those with high levels became more:  Annoying, to the surprise of no one.

jenny lawson net worth:  Shut up and give her money. She’s The Bloggess, after all.

a woman, alone in a house, ignores the creaking sounds she hears and experiences no stress. another woman hears the same sounds, suspects an intruder, and becomes alarmed. these different reactions illustrate which of the following?  Almost every TV advertisement for home security systems.

hostile groove fly routine:  We don’t need this hostile groove fly.

take me to steak n shake:  Well, that settles the question of where we’re going to eat.

a beelzebub; he spake as bigly and fiercely as a soaken yeoman at an election feast, this obedient and conducible youth!  Sounds to me like it’s rigged.

phlagm:  Phlegm’s younger brother, seldom seen.

monty python thermostat:  And the Lord spake, saying, “First shalt thou set the temperature to 73. No more. No less. Seventy-three shalt be the number thou shalt set, and the number of the setting shall be 73. Seventy-four shalt thou not set, neither set thou 72, excepting that thou then proceed to 73. Seventy-five is right out.”

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Entropy takes it on the chin

“Lisa,” Homer said in his sternest voice, “in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics.”

But maybe Lisa was a little bit ahead of the game:

For more than a century and a half of physics, the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which states that entropy always increases, has been as close to inviolable as any law we know. In this universe, chaos reigns supreme.

But researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory announced recently that they may have discovered a little loophole in this famous maxim.

Their research, published in Scientific Reports, lays out a possible avenue to a situation where the Second Law is violated on the microscopic level.

Still, the violation was actually anticipated, yes, a century and a half ago:

As far back as 1867, physicist James Clerk Maxwell described a hypothetical way to violate the Second Law: if a small theoretical being sat at the door between the hot and cold rooms and only let through particles traveling at a certain speed. This theoretical imp is called “Maxwell’s demon.”

And you can’t get much more impish than quantum effects, am I right?

Citation: Lesovik, G. B. et al. H-theorem in quantum physics. Sci. Rep. 6, 32815; doi: 10.1038/srep32815 (2016).

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So buy a vowel

My little tiny music player has 5,088 songs on it, and probably half of them have album-cover art attached; I don’t feel compelled to fetch the rest of them, since the player only holds 36 GB (up from 4 when it was new) and the picture you can barely make out on the teensy screen takes up a surprisingly large amount of storage space.

Then again, one of those tracks has this for cover art:

Pinkard and Bowden Live in Front of a Bunch of Dickheads

Warner Bros. actually released that album in 1989, including this track:

Okay, it isn’t Bad Brains, but it will mess with your head just the same.

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A cascade of fumbles

Remember when I was a detail-oriented worker, perhaps not the fastest, but guaranteed to get to the end of the project with as few problems as possible?

Gawd, I miss those days.

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We were warned

Two Sundays ago, there was an email from the Oklahoman apologizing for late delivery: “You may be aware that as of Monday our production and manufacturing of the newspaper is now being completed in Tulsa.”

Inevitably, this additional hour or so of processing time — I assume the content is delivered to Tulsa electronically, but the actual papers have to come back down the Turner Turnpike — leads to this sort of thing:

Editor's note from the Oklahoman 10-22-16

So this might have been predictable:

And likewise this, the following morning:

But hey, they saved some money, so it’s all good.

Oh, OU beat Texas Tech, 66-59, which sounds for all the world like a basketball score.

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Deep, dark coincidence

I mean, who would have ever thought so?

Elsevier will sell you this paper for $35.95, or about a buck and a quarter per howler.

(Via Michelle Catlin.)

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To be the King

We don’t have royalty in this country, the best efforts of some people who think themselves throneworthy notwithstanding, but we do have a great deal of internecine warfare, which may be the one thing we have in common with kingdoms of the past:

[P]eers maneuvering to ruin each other was the national sport of every court in the Middle Ages, in their brief breaks between trying to kill each other on the battlefield. Very few kings got shanked, even when it was in everyone’s obvious best interest (e.g. the Hundred Years’ War, which would’ve been about 75 years shorter if someone had just slipped Jean II some tainted snails).

This is a lesson our wannabe-aristocrats in the political elite should ponder. As the Z Man points out re: Hillary Clinton, she’s not in it for the ego-stroke; she’s in it for the money. But the Clintons are arrivistes, the 21st century equivalent of hustling rubes from the sticks who bought their patents of nobility from an addled old monarch who found them almost as useful as they were amusing. While being a titled court jester suits Bill just fine — he’s a poonhound who only cares about droit de seigneur — Hillary’s got a hole in her soul that no amount of money will ever fill. She certainly thinks she’s in it for the money, as she has understandably confused money with security and above all prestige … but she’s wrong, as she will find out to her great dismay should she win the Presidency. Even if the King is a drooling halfwit, he’s still the King, and she’s not, and never will be. We can only hope she doesn’t set the world ablaze trying to avoid that lesson.

Then again, our purposes are not well served by electing a drooling halfwit and expecting him to behave in kingly fashion.

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Though she’s not mad about me

For your consideration: Saffron Burrows, 44 today, briefly a model, then a working actress, currently in Amazon’s series Mozart in the Jungle, season three of which begins airing in December.

Saffron Burrows from about 10 years ago

Saffron Burrows from about 1 year ago

Saffron Burrows strikes a pose

“Incandescently lovely,” said Craig Ferguson, and of course he was correct:

Her most recent feature film, Quitters, was released this past summer after debuting at SXSW in 2015.

Burrows, an American citizen since 2009, is married to Alison Balian, a writer for Ellen DeGeneres’ daily talk show; they have one son.

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Front of the line

It is de rigueur in some circles to complain about early voting, usually with dark, mumbled references to “vote fraud.” I suppose it could be a fraud vector — just one among many — but it’s still a defensible practice:

In principle, early voting is described as a bad thing because it encourages people to vote before having the chance to learn all there is to know about a candidate or ballot question. In practice, it dissipates the impact of “October Surprise” gotcha revelations about a candidate or ballot question — which in my mind isn’t a bad thing. Eliminating the incentive to play endgame gotcha tricks on the electorate changes the tenor and rhythm of campaigns, and really the only ones with reason to complain are those who rely on such tricks.

And in this particular year, where both major campaigns are decidedly, even desperately, gotcha-oriented, there’s a lot to be said for being able to tune that stuff out.

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