In which life almost imitates a beer commercial

Roberta X has, if not specifically fond, certainly specific memories of One of the Most Interesting Men in the World:

A ruggedly handsome, supremely self-confident man who’d done fascinating, challenging things and kept right on doing them as he years rolled by. He owned the garage where my MGB got the difficult work done; he’d show up sometimes with a book, an antique range (or something), an unusual car, a stack of photos from vacations in exotic places with fascinating people. He spoke several languages. A terribly interesting man and he was kind of sweet on me. Oh, my blushes!

Which doesn’t sound too different from the character played by Jonathan Goldsmith in those Dos Equis ads:

“He’s a man that has had life experience, and has been there, and done that, and beyond… If you’re not interested, you will not be interesting. If you don’t experience life, you won’t be a participant — you’ll just be a voyeur; you’ll watch it go by like a parade you’re not involved in.”

I briefly tried pitching myself as the Least Interesting Man in the World, until someone helpfully pointed out that being the Least Interesting was itself a distinction, and therefore, well, Interesting. Things wound up in an infinite loop shortly thereafter. Perhaps I should try to send bricks to sleep by hypnosis.

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Hoopla up to one’s knees

“We Built This City” the worst song of the Eighties? Hardly. In fact, Brian J. will argue that it wasn’t even Starship’s worst song of the Eighties.

As for their best song of the Eighties, I have to beg off, since my favorite of the bunch came out in 1979, which, barring unsuspected neutrino activity, was technically before the Eighties, not to mention before the ritual deJeffersonization of the band.

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Patriarchy Cola

Oh, sorry. It’s not a cola, or a root beer. It’s Dr Pepper Ten, and no girls allowed:

[T]hat’s the idea behind Dr Pepper Ten, a 10-calorie soft drink Dr Pepper Snapple Group is rolling out on Monday with a macho ad campaign that proclaims “It’s not for women.” The soft drink was developed after the company’s research found that men shy away from diet drinks that aren’t perceived as “manly” enough.

This promotion can’t lose, says Lynn:

The only women seriously offended will be those in the Perpetually Pissed Off At Men Brigade. The rest of us will either roll our eyes at the silliness of it all or be enticed to try it because we’re told it’s for men only.

Me, I’d use it to wash down a Yorkie bar.

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We don’t care if you want fries with that

“France must be an example to the world in the quality of its food, starting with its children,” said Bruno Le Maire, the agriculture and food minister for the French Republic, which has now issued a partial ban on ketchup in school cafeterias.

By “partial,” they mean it’s allowed only on, um, French fries, and only once a week. In general:

The rules call for school officials to cut down on fatty foods and introduce more vegetables, fruit and dairy products. Four or five dishes must be offered each day with a serving of cooked or raw vegetables, preferably seasonal. Pupils can have unlimited amounts of bread and water.

Ah, yes, bread and water. Won’t that be comforting?

(Via Interested-Participant.)

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Meanwhile under the smogberry trees

Well, Dementians and Dementites, it’s actually happened: Dr. Demento has started a blog.

I can, of course, sympathize with this:

I never used to enjoy writing. I used to put it off and put it off, until it couldn’t wait any longer, and then I’d rush something out, which I’d invariably have to revise and re-write. Plus, I’m not an accurate typist (I do it mostly with four fingers) so I went through Liquid Paper by the quart.

I can work up to six fingers if I have to, but usually I don’t have to.

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High weirdness again

There is no official WordPress file with the name main.css in the wp-includes directory.

I mention this because I found one in my wp-includes directory, and it looks highly suspicious. (It has, of course, been removed.)

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Kristi Harrison at (what, them again?) apparently suffers from Why Do Guys Fall For This Type When I’m Right Here? Syndrome.

And by This Type, she means, well, this type:

Zooey Deschanel getting out of her car

The plaint:

If “cute” was a commodity Zooey would be the Federal Reserve. Scratch that. She’d be China and the rest of us girls would be used food stamps that once doubled as Clue scorecards. THANK GOD cute is not a commodity is what I’m saying.

Do you remember back when Friends was big, and every girl you knew had Rachel’s haircut? (AC)ZD is the Rachel of girl people right now. If you’re of the female persuasion and you don’t want to dress like syphilis in a tube top, this is who you’re probably getting some fashion cues from. And if you’re a guy, a reasonable facsimile of this girl is who you’re trying to meet, not to have dirty, filthy sex with, but to marry and make babies and dirty, filthy noodle casseroles with.

But you never, ever will. Everevereverever. You have a better chance of meeting a meatball lady and making SpaghettiO babies with her. Here’s why.

There follow various minor issues, but the real one seems to be this:

What made the nerds of the world ever think she was one of them?

At what point did ordinary guys who were maaaaaybe a little too into video games or anime or not-sports look at a girl with perfect skin, a tiny little figure, a face that’s pretty by every measurable standard we’ve got and say, “Yeah, that’s attainable.”

Ben GibbardNow answer me this: What is the color of the sky on that hitherto-undetected planet on which Ben Gibbard, front man of the indie band Death Cab for Cutie, who grew up in the midst of the Pacific Northwest grunge explosion in the Nineties, who has a college degree in Environmental Chemistry fercrissake, is not a nerd? And we know what the Z-girl thinks of him: she married him. For all I know, they’re making filthy casseroles together at this very moment, while Kristin drops another $7 at Panera and sobs into her tea.

(Not surprisingly, a lot of people sent me this link, though Dave was first.)

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Boyle’s law of musical choices

The one thing about Susan Boyle I absolutely adore is that she covered a Lou Reed song. As Track One. For a Christmas album.

Okay, it was “Perfect Day.” She obviously wasn’t going to do, say, “Lady Godiva’s Operation.” Still, she’s never cared a whole lot for genre barriers: her first album contained several hymns, “Daydream Believer” and “Wild Horses.” (I bought both those albums, of course.)

Now (well, the first of November) comes Someone to Watch Over Me, and yes, that Gershwin tune is on it. But the eclecticism continues: covers of Joni Mitchell, Tears for Fears and Depeche Mode. (There exists an authorized audio-only version of “Enjoy the Silence” on YouTube, though the single isn’t out for download yet.)

Incidentally, during the 2010 Grammys, Stephen Colbert reminded the audience: “This year your industry was saved by a 48-year-old Scottish cat lady in sensible shoes.” What Joni once called “the star-making machinery behind the popular song” is now way past its design life, I’m starting to think.

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Also, that’s not a knife

If you’re an aspiring tourist, you’re curious about your intended destination: that’s a given.

A Web site promoting Australian tourism apparently took questions from would-be visitors to Down Under, and then gave them wonderfully-snarky answers. A sample:

Q: Does it ever get windy in Australia? I have never seen it rain on TV. How do the plants grow? (UK)

A: We import all plants fully grown and then just sit around watching them die.

Q: Which direction is North in Australia? (USA)

A: Face south and then turn 180 degrees. Contact us when you get here and we’ll send the rest of the directions.

This gets a stronger-than-usual Read The Whole Thing recommendation, not least for the map of special attractions.

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That mule won’t work

Celine, the Shoe Girl, discovers that one of her idols may have, you should pardon the expression, feet of clay:

EVERY DAY I’ve been checking to see if the latest Miu Miu runway collection had been posted yet. Miu Miu is my current favorite as far as shoes go and I haven’t been disappointed… until… today.

Mule by Miu MiuThere follow pictures of new shoes in the (presumably spring/summer ’12) collection, each one just a little more ghastly than the one before, until finally she just can’t take it anymore:

I’m sorry and I HATE saying negative things about a designer I respect SO much and look up to immensely but I just don’t have any positives here. I don’t like the shape, the colors, the details… I’m so confused!

These ones are the worst! Putty/tan/beige??? A MULE??? Oh say it isn’t so!

Her commenters weren’t particularly impressed either, which suggested that mine would be utterly revolted — or maybe not. We’re an eclectic bunch around here.

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Where ice seems redundant

Now and then things just jump out at you, or at least at me. The opening paragraph here is definitely a grabber:

397 km (247 mi) off the north coast of Norway and 235 km (146 mi) south of Svalbard lies an isolated, lonely 178 km² (68.7 sq mi) chunk of land known in English as Bear Island and in Norwegian as Bjørnøya (we’ll use both terms in this article, as the names are interchangeable in most parlance). Why is such a randomly isolated chunk of land present in this part of the Arctic Ocean and, perhaps more importantly, why is this remote island with a population of nine home to the world’s most northerly skinny-dippers association (one with over 2000 members, at that)?

I looked at a map, and came up with the dubious notion that “Maybe it’s not that cold.” Wikipedia bears me out, so to speak:

A branch of the North Atlantic current carries warm water to Svalbard, creating a climate much warmer than that of other regions at similar latitude. Bear Island’s climate is maritime-polar with relatively mild temperatures during the winter. January is the coldest month, with a mean temperature of -8.1°C (17.4°F) (base period 1961-1990). July and August are the warmest months, with mean temperatures of 4.4°C (39.9°F).

So it’s not exactly ice-cold, but certainly cold enough. About those skinny-dippers:

It wasn’t until 1947 that a radio meteorological station was at Herlighanna. It is this 20-building post that hosts the nine permanent residents of the island; a crew that changes over twice per year (and which maintains an entertaining blog). It is these brave (and occasionally bored) souls who inaugurated the Bjørnøya nakenbadeforening — the Bear Island Naked Beach Club. The only way to enter the club and obtain your membership diploma is to take it all off (in the presence of a member of the opposite gender, they’ll remind you) and brave a dip in the cold Arctic water. Thanks to the twice-per-year staff turnover, visits from the occasional Arctic cruise ship en route to Svalbard, and visits from Norwegian cabinet ministers and government personnel, the membership is well over 2100 people at this point. Even at this latitude, water temperatures can reach 10°C (50°F), but that’s only sometimes; when Minster of Justice and Police Knut Storberget was inducted into the club, his dip was taken at a bonechilling 3.8°C (39°F), which is likely more typical. Keep in mind, this was in August at the height of summer.

Go ahead and shiver. I certainly will.

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Non sum dingleberry

There are times in these pages when I sound like I think of myself as lower than a fish fart in a flash flood, and readers have occasionally (gently) chastised me for saying so. I assure them, though, that I’ve got nothing on Robert Stacy McCain:

When I publicly blame myself for my failures, when I advertise to the world my inglorious humiliation, it is not in a bid for anyone’s pity, nor is it evidence of a “chemical imbalance,” but simply because to do the opposite — to give in to the temptation to seek scapegoats for my own failures — would be more harmful to me than any unfair dishonor that others might heap upon my name.

Not that anyone’s seeking to heap dishonor upon my name of late, but I figure that if anyone is going to mock me, it might as well be me, since I’m demonstrably good at it, even if I flout a law of grammar in so doing.

Given the opportunities I’ve had, and mindful of the unmerited blessings bestowed upon me, if I fall short of achieving any goal within my boundless ambition, no one else is to blame but me. If others do not recommend or praise me, this is my fault and not theirs, and it would be great folly indeed to think that I deserve any more praise — or any less criticism — than I get. Others more praiseworthy have been ignored, and others less blameworthy have been rejected and condemned.

Here is where we diverge. I chose to impose an upper boundary on my ambition, a far-simpler task: it earns about the same number of difficulty points as, say, trying to teach a dog to appreciate steak.

Everyone thinks they deserve more praise, and no one is so truly modest as to mean it when they dismiss as undeserved such praise as they get.

In my own case, it’s not so much modesty as it is suspicion: why would somebody say a thing like that?

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Dyslexia without being dissed

Over the years, the existence of dyslexia has given us much confusion, several bad jokes, and at least one typeface. What we have not been getting is a compelling reason to prevent ourselves, patronizing as we often are, from looking down on those who suffer from it. Yet they have advantages over the rest of us:

Dyslexic brains are organized in a way that maximizes strength in making big picture connections at the expense of weaknesses in processing fine details.

It’s a huge mistake to regard a dyslexic child as if his or her brain is trying to follow the same pathway of development as all the other kids but is simply doing a bad job of it. In reality, the brains of kids with dyslexic processing styles are actually developing in a very different way. They establish a different pattern of connections and circuitry, creating a different kind of problem-solving apparatus. The difference is global, not just in certain areas of the brain.

As Steve Jobs might have said in a non-necessarily-unrelated context: “Think different.”

Most dyslexics tend to remember facts as experiences, examples or stories, rather than abstractions… These kids have a very strong ability to learn from experience. It’s very common for their families to describe these kids as the family elephant. They’ll be the go-to person when someone wants to remember who gave what to sister for her birthday two years ago. They might be the family historian, but they can’t remember the times tables or which direction the three goes.

These individuals excel in fields where telling and understanding stories are important, like sales, counseling, trial law or even teaching. In addition, a large number of professional writers are dyslexic.

This assumes, of course, that we don’t allow them to get trapped on the short bus on the way to those fields. There are times when I wonder if that’s too much to assume.

(Via I Speak of Dreams.)

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Most. Overused. Ever.

Whiny McWhinerson Gladstone complains at about seeing the same old rhetorical devices all over the Interwebz. Um, thanks for sharing, Gladdy.

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Strange search-engine queries (297)

Sweet dreams are made of this
Who am I to disagree
Travel the world and the seven seas
Everybody’s looking for something…

“Danish Drivers Association”:  Their task is made more difficult by the fact that a lot of the places you’ll stop for your morning coffee don’t have really good Danish.

bud bundy with a tail:  Apparently Al was the first in a series of atavistic genetic throwbacks.

“Strategic leveragability”:  Contemporary synonym for “We have no farging clue what we’re doing, but we’re doing it just the same.”

marginal enhancement:  Contemporary synonym for “totally new.”

carly foulkes “not pretty”:  None so blind as those who will not see.

proper way to wild open twoddle:  I suspect a twoddle that’s open enough is pretty wild already.

exactly the same but totally different shirt:  Congratulations, you’ve decoded the American Apparel business model.

help valleybrook suspended my license because they say i didn’t pay:  Didn’t pay whom? The cop on the beat? The girl at the titty bar? (Come to think of it, that’s all there is in Valley Brook.)

how expensive was your trench coat:  I had to crawl through two trenches in driving rain to get it.

what does the 1 2 3 by the shifter mean in my car:  It means that you’re probably too dumb to own a car.

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Mighty morphing

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