Sandwiched into the schedule

I’ve always seen Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy as one of the Good Guys, but I was still just slightly shocked to find this in the old inbox this week:

Wars spring up every day across the globe. Disasters rock our homeland with each season. Corruption infiltrates our economy as millions lose heart. Leaders fall.

Will these circumstances guide our leadership journey?

In our struggle to rise above it all we wish a light would shine, leading us somewhere else. To a brighter place. That light has come. It’s the light of a new day. And each new day begins with you.

Will you allow your circumstances to define you? Or will you seize each day as a new chance to make a difference — to lead when no one else will?

Goodness, can Chick-fil-A do all that? Apparently they can do anything, with the exception of taking care of a case of the Sunday munchies, and you already knew that. The Chick-fil-A Leader Tour kicks off in OKC on, yes, the 20th, and it’s an all-day affair: four sessions, with two short breaks and Guess What? for lunch. Here’s the list of speakers. The local panel, I am told, will be addressing the issue of foster care in Oklahoma.

I won’t be able to pry myself away from work to attend this — it’s at the Lifechurch.TV facility at 178th and Penn — but I’d like to hear from anyone who does, just on general principle.

(Disclosure: Yes, they offered to comp me a pair of tickets, which I am not accepting.)

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Oyl on troubled waters

Last time we took a look at Kobi Levi shoes, we saw what appeared to be a semi-conventional oxford with a wad of bubble gum for the heel. At the time, I warned that this was not the weirdest shoe Kobi Levi had ever come up with.

Donna sent me pictures of about a dozen of his styles, mostly due to my presumed status as Curator of the Weird Shoe Museum. (Actually, I thought these guys were doing that.) After staring in disbelief for several minutes, I decided that this one was the least incomprehensible:

Olive Oyl shoes by Kobi Levi

Asked for comment, Popeye quipped, “It’s proven through history / That woman’s a mystery.”

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Badassed and bushy-tailed

We are told, generally, that members of the family Sciuridae are meek, harmless, and no threat to anyone. The old Norse beg to differ:

In Norse mythology, Ratatosk (“Sharptooth”) is a squirrel, running up and down with messages in the giant tree Yggdrasil, and spreading gossip. In particular, Ratatosk ferried insults between the eagle at the top of Yggdrasil, and the dragon Nidhogg beneath its roots.

Not a task assigned to the meek and/or harmless, though not what you’d call a high-status job either. And apparently it’s in character:

Richard W. Thorington Jr. and Katie Ferrell theorize [in Squirrels: The Animal Answer Guide (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006] that “the role of Ratatosk probably derived from the habit of European tree squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris) to give a scolding alarm call in response to danger. It takes little imagination for you to think that the squirrel is saying nasty things about you.”

Well, nuts to you, pal.

(Prompted by this tweet from Jon G.)

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Getting social

Oklahomans for the Arts, Inc. is a brand-spanking new (about a hundred days) advocacy organization that pretty much gives away its premise in its title, which is fine with me.

Like any start-up, they’d like to get some traction in social media, and the best way to do that, they reckon, is to give something away. So they’re giving away an iPad 2 to some diligent follower:

Just follow us on Facebook, Twitter and in the Blogosphere as well as sign up to receive our e-newsletter, The Arts Advocate, and you’ll have four chances to win. You must be 13+ to enter and you MUST be a resident of the State of Oklahoma, which means you live here 12 months out of the year.

Normally I’d hand out a bunch of links here, but they’re using some new tool called Rafflecopter to do the heavy lifting for them, so you need only go to this one link and follow the directions.

Oh, and while the organization seeks to secure public (read: “taxpayer”) funding for the arts in various and sundry ways, this effort is entirely self-financed.

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Weed rather he waited

It is an unfortunate fact that this summer, about the only time it’s been below 80 degrees (27°C) is around four-thirty in the morning, if then.

But I still can’t work up much sympathy for this guy:

An Oklahoma City man said he was doing a good deed when he was arrested and cited for mowing his yard and a neighbor’s yard Friday morning.

Phil Ray Gage, 40, was arrested on a complaint of disturbing the peace after a neighbor called police to report him for mowing a lawn at [address redacted, but at least out of earshot] at 4:30 a.m., Oklahoma City police said. He was released by police at the scene after he signed a citation for disturbing the peace.

But Gage said he’s been mowing in the early morning hours for 10 years, and nobody has complained before.

There’s a reference elsewhere in the article to turning off the mower, so presumably this isn’t one of those non-motorized reel-type mowers that makes next to no noise.

On my block, there seems to be an unwritten code: nothing before 8:30 or so. I don’t ever start until 9, and 9:30 is more likely.

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Minor irritants

Actually, it’s been several decades since I was a minor, but these things still cheese me off.

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For instance, there were no hovercraft

I wouldn’t say I’m unduly disturbed by obvious anachronisms in a work of fiction, but once in a while I’ll stumble across one that exacerbates my tendency toward bruxism. I must say, therefore, that I find this writer’s approach most admirable:

Glamour in Glass is set in 1815 and I wanted to have the language fairly clean of anachronisms. The challenge came in trying to figure out what words didn’t exist yet. So I decided to create a Jane Austen word list, from the complete works of Jane Austen, and use that as my spellcheck dictionary. It flagged any word that she didn’t use, which allowed me to look it up to see if it existed…

Once the word was flagged, I looked it up in the OED to double-check the meaning and the earliest citation. If the word didn’t work, then I used the OED’s historical thesaurus to find a period-appropriate synonym.

Glamour in Glass appears to be the follow-up to Shades of Milk and Honey, a Regency romance with a touch of sorcery. I can see my To Read list getting larger even as I type.

(Once again, via a Nancy Friedman tweet.)

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Justice in the abstract

Of all the pictures that flew out of the MTV Video Music Awards last week, only two I deemed worth adding to the collection, and only one is going to be put up for Rule 5. And this is it:

Victoria Justice at 2011 VMA

What I know about Victoria Justice is not much: she’s 18, she’s built a career from various Nickelodeon series, she’s a passable singer, and she apparently looks good in tiny dresses.

Oh, and her YouTube ID is “victoriajustice4all,” which is why I didn’t use that in the title.

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Not sold as a bacon alternative

Soylent Green crackersThen again, the reason it’s being mentioned here is simply that it’s being sold at all:

The Parallax Corp. introduces the officially licensed Soylent Green, a high-energy plankton food. The all-natural crackers, which contain real high-energy plankton, are made in the U.S. at a small-batch gourmet food manufacturing plant.

Plankton. Sure. That’s what they told us in the commercials. And if it has such high energy, how did you ever catch it in the first place?

“We worked to create a collectible box that looks just the way Soylent Green would have been packaged,” says Parallax president David Garth, “and the box design recreates the utopian propaganda of an evil mega-corporation with the feelings of despair and hunger depicted in the movie.”

May we suggest a lovely beverage — perhaps a vintage Agent Orange?

(Via Tim Blair.)

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But it took him years to write

The Beatles’ “Paperback Writer” viewed as a proper query letter, and the response thereto:

All I could glean from it was that you’ve written a somewhat smutty story about an ill-groomed, unkempt man whose wife won’t give him space and doesn’t appreciate him (or his ambitions, I couldn’t tell which). This unnamed man has a son (also unnamed) who works at a newspaper, but (like you) harbors an ambition to write paperbacks.

It’s too vague. Give me a reason to care. Give me a reason to ask for more.

A man named Lear was not available for comment.

(Via Pop Culture Junk Mail.)

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Thank heaven it wasn’t Brussels sprouts

In the days of Ronald Reagan, we learned that ketchup is a vegetable. Broccoli, on the other hand, is a lethal weapon:

A federal appellate court ruled Friday that the pepper spraying and beating of a black motorist who did not wear his seat belt constituted excessive force. Mark Anthony Young, 46, was driving to the gym in February 2007 when Los Angeles County, California Sheriff’s Deputy Richard Wells stopped him so he could issue a ticket for failing to buckle up. Wells’ problems began when he was unable to produce his vehicle registration.

While Wells was writing up the ticket, Young got out of his truck and walked over to hand the deputy the vehicle’s paperwork. Wells ordered Young back into his truck, but Young did not feel like doing so. He sat on the curb, eating broccoli. In his legal filing, Wells claimed the broccoli was dangerous and that he “believed that [Young] was about to throw the broccoli at [him] in order to cause a distraction before assaulting him.”

A district-court judge had ruled that Wells was de jure immune from claims of excessive force. Judge Stephen Roy Reinhardt, for the Ninth Circuit US Court of Appeals, said otherwise:

“Whether Wells’s claim that he feared a broccoli-based assault is credible and reasonable presents a genuine question of material fact that must be resolved not by a court ruling on a motion for summary judgment but by a jury in its capacity as the trier of fact.”

The lower court ruling was reversed and remanded for further proceedings.

(Via The Truth About Cars.)

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The height of the spiritual

Alex_Pasternack — that’s the way it’s spelled on the page — notes that audio and video of the “I Have a Dream” speech, given by Martin Luther King, Jr. this week 48 years ago, is not so easy to come by on the Web:

The single unabridged video that had been floating around YouTube is now unplayable, thanks to a copyright claim by EMI.

Excerpts from the speech can still be used under “fair use,” of course, like in this analysis of King’s rhetoric and various remixes. (My favorite MLK remix is not of the “I have a dream” speech but of the “I’ve been to the mountaintop” speech. But no one knows what the limits of “fair use” are, at least not until they receive a letter from the King family’s lawyers.

Return with us now to those thrilling days of 1992, when a pair of ambient-plus-dance wiseguys named (Grant) Showbiz and (J. F. T.) Hood, under the name “Moodswings,” unleashed something called Moodfood, a 73-minute tour de force in which the overture comes second and the ending is eight minutes of “Hairy Piano.” Somewhere in the second half of the program is a three-part piece called “Spiritual High,” which springs from a 1981 Jon and Vangelis original called “State of Independence”. Part I is straightforward but catchy; Part II features Chrissie Hynde singing Jon Anderson’s original words; Part III incorporates bits of the “I Have a Dream” speech. All three parts have demonstrated the ability to choke me up, but the 15:24 whole is just this side of overwhelming.

This recording has major historical resonance with me, and not just for the obvious reason: its release marked the very last time I dashed up to the counter of a record store and demanded, “What the hell is that?” Still have it today, in fact.

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Disguised as a favor

I’ve gone to paperless billing for wireless, and I hardly ever look at it, so I suppose it’s a good thing T-Mo sent me this notice:

Using the Web just got easier. Starting on September 30, all T-Mobile customers who don’t currently have data plans will be able to use data for $1.99 per MB. Browse the Internet & use other data services as much or as little as you like, and get charged only for the data you use. At the end of each billing cycle, we’ll round up your total data usage to the nearest megabyte.

My Not-As-Dumb Phone can actually do some limited Web stuff, so I find myself wondering whether this might actually be a boon to me, or whether it’s a scheme to extract two bucks from me every time I hit the wrong button.

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I think this takes more than spliced genes

Then again, I’m not the Brain around here:

I admit it, I LOLed.

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Oops, missed one

There are 2,430 major-league baseball games every season, and each and every one of them requires a minimum of 51 outs. I’d tend to expect that some of those hundred thousand calls will be blown: we’re only human, after all.

So I can see the point being made here:

[I]s instant replay still an absolute, unavoidable, must-have-immediately necessity for baseball to maintain any integrity for its fans? I still question that, and would resist it deeply, if I were in any position to influence it. I bow to the fact that a whole lot of my (me, being baseball) fans are addicted to the 21st century electronic crack of Twitter and Facebook, and these people probably spend a decent amount of money to support my league and its teams.

But do we need to change the fabric of the game, just to satisfy a few shrieking maniacs, who are generally watching at home on a 46″ HD-capable flat-screen with six different camera angles beamed at super-slow-mo right into their laps? I said no, and I still say no.

This is, I suspect, more of an issue at the actual ball park, where you have one angle, based on where you sit, and they may or may not put up the replay on the Jumbotron or whatever.

Still, they’ve been messing with the fabric ever since American League pitchers were told they didn’t have to bat anymore, and I can’t imagine them stopping now.

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Ballsier than thou

Alas, she came in second in that primary:

Judy Schmirler campaign ad 2004

After all, some of the best decisions involve the nads.

(Via Criggo.)

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