Strange search-engine queries (394)

And how is your Monday going? Perhaps these finds from the search log will help — or perhaps not, being as how it’s a Monday and all.

www.real a:  I’ve known one or two people who could be described as a real A.

half past midnight Missouri:  Ten-thirty Pacific.

the fab four vs the drab four:  You’ll notice that the Fat Boys were never called the Flab Four. (Then again, there were only three of them.)

Since I am a frequent flightier:  I couldn’t care less about the TSA.

Wanker, Secretly Gay, Prima Donna, Racist, Herpes, Alcoholic, Compulsive Liar, Gambling Addict, Thug, Tatooed Thug, Galoot:  Well, that pretty much covers the entirety of Parliament, I’d say.

closet communist post-menopausal hag:  Probably teaching Gender Studies at Generic State U., even as we speak.

girl who has read up on her syntax:  Would love me even less.

write a intructions to make an antidote for the majic potion:  But first, read up on your syntax.

“lyrics” “sausalito is the place to be”:  “Bay living is the life for me / Green spreading out both far and near / Keep Budweiser, just gimme imported beer.”

no is required either:  (1) Should I stay or (2) should I go?

“kings of industry”:  More like the queen. Or the jack. Or the ten of diamonds.

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Light on the subject

Here’s a solar-energy program in Ontario that varies markedly from the usual schemes proposed in the States:

I covered my roof with panels under the Ontario MicroFIT (Feed-in Tariff) program that ends next year. So far I think it’s only in Ontario, but some other provinces are thinking about it. The power I generate from the panels goes directly back to the grid, and I’m paid about 55 cents a kWh and will continue to be for the duration of my 20 year contract. So far this summer, even with all the rain, it translates to about $300-400/month. So the cost of the panels is paid for in about 6-8 years. After that, the money I make in the following 12 years is mine to keep!

Note that she’s not using any of the panel-produced power: it all goes back to the grid, and they pay her above-market rates for it. How does that work out?

Currently I pay about 10 cents a kWh when I use electricity, and that rate will likely go up. If it hits 55 cents in the next 20 years, then I’m better off using the solar power in my own home to decrease my reliance on the grid. BUT that means I need one of those backwards spinning meters, that read energy being used AND being generated, which aren’t yet allowed in my neck of the woods. Hopefully they’ll be able to implement them before I need them. As soon as that contract is up, I have to wire it into my home directly.

Since such meters exist elsewhere, it should be no trick to make Canadian versions available.

In the States, we get tax credits for installing such things. I’m not sure whether that’s an improvement.

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I hear you knocking

You may recall this from Vent #832 last week, about a recently-purchased download of “The Hair on My Chinny Chin Chin” by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs:

Both versions [45 and LP] open with four drum beats, intended to be a knock at the door. (We know it’s intended to be a knock at the door because the chorus chimes in, “Who’s there?”) For some reason known but to God, or to one or several little pigs, three of those beats have been trimmed away, thus making the whole opening sequence incomprehensible. This is a failure only a massive corporation — say, Universal Music, who owns these tracks of late and presumably provided copies to the download stores — could possibly pull off.

I could either wait for a reissue producer to knock on Universal’s door, or I could fix this myself. And so it was that last night, I ripped just the four beats from the stereo LP, and then pasted them into the purchased file at the appropriate point. I’m sure this violates someone’s perverse idea of current copyright law, which is pretty perverse in its own right, but hey: they messed up.

Incidentally, I didn’t bother to correct the stereo spread, so the knocks appear to be coming from the left side, then the rest of the song shifts to mono. I’d argue that it makes sense that way.

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Fark blurb of the week

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The unhappy picture

Worth1000, home of hundreds of thousands of Photoshopped images and much, much more, is going to close:

My current plan is to end our last submissions on the midnight changeover of September 29th/30th, with the actual site changing to the museum layout a week later, at which point I would turn Worth1000’s library of amazing content into a static browsable museum. I think from here on out we can throw some fun finale contests leading up to that point. 7 weeks is not a lot of time, but it is enough to prepare, mourn together and celebrate worth’s amazing history and run right up until the very end.

Please know that this was a difficult, thought-out decision and I made it over the course of several agonizing months, after more than a year of looking for the right new owner. But I know in my heart it’s the right one: It’s time.

An eleven-year run, in this era of short attention spans, is pretty darn remarkable. And they did their best to, um, monetize the joint; I actually bought someone’s Shopped-up image in the form of a refrigerator magnet.

(Via Fark.)

Addendum: What image, you ask? This major malfunction in the Buffyverse:

Read the rest of this entry »

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All golden selections

I started following Van Dyke Parks on Twitter because, well, hell, he’s Van Dyke Parks, genius a few degrees off plumb but no less a genius for all that. I did not expect Twitter to send me suggestions based on someone so sui generis, but they did, and they make a surprising amount of sense:

Two influential (as distinguished from “large”) record labels, two off-center singers, and a famed alt-radio station. Good show, Twitter. See if you can maintain that standard.

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This calls for a Hmmmm…

I’ve owned two Mazdas, both piston-powered, but I’d always sort of coveted the company’s rotary machines during fits of rev-happiness. (Sandy, the later 626, always seemed a bit more fun when she was working hard.) Then they quit making the RX-8, and that was it for Felix Wankel’s crazy machine.

Or was it?

What we were told by a Mazda USA insider (while we are all here together at the festivities in Monterey) is that the first application of the new 16X engine will be happening in two years’ time in an as yet undisclosed new model.

And how will it differ from its predecessor?

“The key to both higher torque and better fuel consumption,” said the insider, “is creating a longer stroke engine.” But we’re talking a rotary engine with the fat-triangle rotor and toroidal cam, so how does one determine the way to call this long-stroke or not? “By the path of travel within the combustion space dictated by the engineers,” says Mr. Insider.

And maybe screwing with the timing cycle, which is a Mazda specialty: the old Millenia featured a Miller-cycle supercharged V6, and that was last century. (Literally: Ralph Miller’s patent was dated 1957.)

As to where this engine will be used, I’m guessing a rotary version of the MX-5/Miata, presumably to be called RX-5, perhaps to further distinguish it from the Alfa Romeo roadster being built on the same platform.

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She could not be expected to pillage

Rachel Hurd-Wood turns twenty-three today, and mostly, what I wanted here was to post something that didn’t remind me of Peter Pam, since her first film role was Wendy Darling in a 2003 film based on the J. M. Barrie story. (She’d have been 13 then, which fits.) I’ve seen too many hair colors on her to believe that this is the default, but it looks so good on her:

Rachel Hurd-Wood

This is not, so far as I know, a shot of Hurd-Wood as Sibyl Vane in Oliver Parker’s adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray — but the timing is right, and the look is just as right.

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Does anybody really know what year it is?

Advice from Eric Siegmund on keeping a band alive for almost 50 years:

If you seek longevity as a musician, acquire some skill on an instrument other than your voice. Inevitably, the old guys lose the upper registers (or in the case of Gary Lewis, all the registers), but the horn players can rock it until the day they pass to that Great Spit Valve in the Sky. Chicago has done a good job of finding younger replacement vocalists (who are also great instrumentalists) while keeping a core group of four original members.

From what I’m told, Robert Lamm, who wrote a lot of early Chicago tracks, is still singing them — with the exception of “25 or 6 to 4,” which he wrote but didn’t sing. (Perfect opportunity for Jason Scheff, who replaced Peter Cetera, who did sing on it.)

As for Gary Lewis, he sings more now than he used to. (Producer Snuff Garrett’s modus operandi back then: have Ron Hicklin do the basic vocal track, add Lewis double-tracked, sweeten with more Hicklin and/or other Playboys.) And there’s always, um, Auto-Tune.

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Every story tells a picture

This is reported to be Rod Stewart’s first solo recording, from late 1964, a cover of a Sonny Boy Williamson (the first one) song from 1937, and closer to Williamson’s than this early Yardbirds version. Whether this badly-damaged bit of film is at all related to the record, I don’t know.

Stewart would invert this premise seven years later: “It’s late September,” he said to Maggie, “and I really should get back to school.”

(Prompted by a discussion on Spectropop.)

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Insincered into my memory

Pulled out of the spam trap last night:

I’ve been browsing on-line more than three hours lately, yet I never found any fascinating article like yours. It is pretty worth enough for me. In my opinion, if all webmasters and bloggers made good content as you probably did, the web might be a lot more helpful than ever before.

And right next to it:

Awesome blog. I enjoyed reading your articles. This is truly a great read for me. I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles. Keep up the good work.

Same IP, same fake email address, less than one minute apart.

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No bowl, please

In this bit of silliness, we learn that Rebecca Black wears a 7½ shoe — and that she hates cereal. How is that even possible?

(And there’s a companion piece.)

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Perhaps not for standing

We haven’t had a shoe on display in a while, so I jumped at the chance to show you this one, even though it’s pricey — it’s at Neiman-Marcus, after all — and it’s pointy, which sometimes is a turnoff.

Just the same, here we go with Reed Krakoff’s “Academy”:

Academy Colorblock Point-Toe Pump by Reid Krakoff

The pitch on this collection:

The Reed Krakoff collection juxtaposes utility with femininity; it’s both functional and poetic — a new look of sophistication, but one with an unequivocal American ease and confidence.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I love the idea of a blending of functional and poetic. And I’m keen on this colorblock stuff: it gives you more ways to coordinate. (Or, if you prefer, miscoordinate.) That little bit of padding around the (4¼-inch) heel looks like it might actually help.

Neiman’s will charge you $595 for these, which is presumably what they charged known sneaker-wearer Wendy Davis for the pair she wore in this month’s gargantuan-sized issue of Vogue.

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You don’t watch this

“Lucy Goes to the Hospital,” the 1953 episode of I Love Lucy during which Little Ricky was born, drew 44 million viewers, a remarkable achievement considering there were barely 61 million viewers at the time. Of course, there were only three and a half networks in those days. (DuMont wasn’t dead, but it was coughing up blood, and it would go on the cart in 1956.) Today, there are more networks than you can count, or would care to count anyway, and really big audiences are not so big:

Read online entertainment news or even print entertainment magazines and you might think that HBO’s Game of Thrones and Girls were shows that most of the country was watching. But Thrones’ rating highs during season three were between 5.5 and 6 million viewers. The May 14th episode of NCIS (spoiler: Gibbs wins) racked up more than 18 million watchers. That same night, the shows Grimm, Body of Proof and Golden Boy all had as many or more people watching them as the Thrones high, and the latter two of those have been cancelled. Girls is even more of a niche item, with its high-water viewer mark around a million and usual audience about the size of Oklahoma City.

Consider, if you will, According to Jim, which ran eight seasons on ABC despite never getting mentioned by Big Media except in the context of “Is that still on?” At the end, it was drawing about three million.

Of course, HBO is happy to charge you a monthly fee for its services: the best ABC can do is make you pay through the nose for ESPN.

As for Girls and its OKC-sized audience, well, let it be known that the series in which I have the greatest interest — hint: largely female cast — pulls in Wichita-sized numbers most of the time.

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Inn conceivable

I am normally not too fussy about lodging, so long as the room is clean and the Wi-Fi works. I figure this is a reasonable expectation at my preferred price point, which is around $100 or so before taxes, fees, and charges for accidentally breathing in the general vicinity of the mini-fridge. Then again, I generally don’t do reviews:

[L]ots of folks who review hotels online have this expectation that all hotels should be 4 star, have free breakfast with endless options for all lifestyles / palates / diets / health concerns and be as quiet as the grave for less than $100/night.

Probably the worst room I ever stayed in was in some nameless horror in Albuquerque, built in the Fifties and perhaps cleaned once or twice in the Seventies. On the upside, the bathroom floor tile was this amazing shade of cyan that made it ridiculously easy to see something that had just crawled in — and there was always something that just crawled in. (Price was $40ish, but then this was 1988.)

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Also decidedly unclear on the concept

I mean, it’s not like he pre-ordered this from Amazon or anything:

If there is a price reduction after you purchased something such as car, how do you get that rebate? I just bought a 2013 Chevy Volt on July 3. Now, the manufacturer has dropped the price by $5000. How do I get the same deal as everyone is getting now?

The first two words I thought of were “As if,” though two different words may have occurred to you.

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