Stringed theory

From the Old Musician Jokes file:

Q: What’s the difference between a washing machine and a cellist?
A: Vibrato.

In partial atonement for that, here is cellist Alisa Weilerstein, who in no way resembles anything Whirlpool ever made:

Alisa Weilerstein

There is, I think, a hint of just-this-side-of-scary intensity to her, and in this rehearsal video, you get to see it turned On and Off.

Born in 1982, she graduated from Columbia in 2004 with a BA in Russian history. By then, she’d been playing the cello for eighteen years already, and how she got to this industrial-strength instrument at that age demands an explanation:

There was one time when my father was in Europe playing concerts with the [Cleveland] Quartet, and my mother was about to leave town to play concerts with other colleagues. The night before she left, I got chicken pox. My grandmother, who was coming to take care of me in any case, felt so sorry for me that she brought me a string quartet of instruments that she had made herself — out of cardboard cereal boxes. The cello, made out of a Rice Krispies box with an old toothbrush for the endpin, was the instrument I immediately fell in love with. I ignored the others completely.

Intensity even then.

(Rejected original title: “All my bass are belong to her.”)

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Just a little southeast of Nome

If they can make a movie out of Battleship, they can certainly make this film:

Called Solitaire, it will feature one man’s struggle with the elements as he tries to reach a camp during the Yukon gold rush of the 19th century.

I’m guessing this is not actually a remake of North to Alaska, based on this further remark:

Also, zombies.

Should keep it from getting mushy, anyway.

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Remind me not to call her “cute”

A project on Kathy Shaidle’s back burner:

I want to write a book called The Consolations of Ugliness, which would be a (cough!) meditation on the pros and cons of being a non-beautiful woman; the concept of the jolie laide; how ideals of female beauty have evolved.

I’d buy that, simply because it’s Kathy Shaidle — see Acoustic Ladyland reference here — but I would find it hard to believe that it’s in any way based on her own personal experience.

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No, not Hurst

There was a quote from William Randolph Hearst over the letters section of Car and Driver, and apparently I missed the reason for it:

Hearst has closed the U.S. portion of its $913 million acquisition of Lagardère SCA’s non-French magazines.

That’s Elle, Elle Decor, Car and Driver, Cycle World, Road & Track and Woman’s Day, which make up Lagardère’s Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S.

This happened right after Memorial Day, and I obviously wasn’t paying attention. I blame the summer heat.

The quote from Mr Hearst actually seems appropriate to C/D’s perceived mission:

“All work and no play may make Jim a dull boy, but no work and all play makes Jim all kinds of a jackass.”

Sure would have been cool had it been Hurst, though.

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Desert topping

Bill Quick’s corner of San Francisco, he says, can be fairly described as a “food desert”:

No chain supermarkets anywhere to be found. And very little of anything else, either. First, San Francisco fights all national chains, trying to hold any new construction hostage to a host of extra fees, charges, and commitments to things like “affordable housing.” And second, in my specific (ghetto) nabe, any national chain probably needs to tack an extra 10% onto the cost of doing business above and beyond the bribes to the city to cover theft, violence, liability insurance, and security. Why? Because the people in my neighborhood amount to less than fifteen percent of the population, but commit more than fifty percent of the crime.

Meanwhile, midtown Detroit will be getting a Whole Foods Market, though not a large one, and 48201 is hardly the worst part of the Motor City. What’s more, the fellow who owns the Whole Foods site is apparently getting some big-time incentives.

Still: almost any desert can be irrigated, if you can make enough of a splash. Whether it can be made to pay off or not — that’s another story.

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The further adventures of Buck Floomberg

Mike Bloomberg: pushy chestless runt of a man? Well, not just that, says KingShamus:

He’s not just the latest in a long line of secular puritans that are at odds with America’s founding leave-me-alone spirit. He’s also just as closed-minded as any stereotypical Bible-thumping creationist strawman found in a Richard Dawkins atheist pud-wack essay. He’s got it in his head that sodium is a killer — and that his laws are the best way to get people to follow his idea of a ‘proper’ diet — so it’s only natural that he’d pump the food police legislation despite the facts being against him. The only difference between Bloomberg’s lifestyle diktats and any religious teaching is … well, nothing … if you really think about it.

What the world needs now is a photograph of Bloomberg with a bag of pork rinds in one hand — and a pistol in the other.

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Day of the diesels

The first order of business for any satirical piece is that it be, in at least one sense of the word, funny. So Jessica Roake scores poorly for her send-up of Thomas the Tank Engine as an apologia for British imperialism, though I have to give her points for effort:

I’m overeducated and understimulated, with shelves full of long-ignored critical-theory books, trained in the reading of “texts” through Marxist, feminist, and postmodern perspectives. It’s no wonder that the dormant critical theorist within me awakens when faced with the coded wonderland of children’s programming. Hitchcock is well-covered territory, but Thomas and Friends presents a minefield of untapped deconstructing opportunities!

The smartest thing she ever did, arguably, was to ignore those critical-theory books, but you know, some memories simply refuse to be erased.

(Via Zilla of the Resistance.)

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I assume they’ll wear running shoes

But probably not anything else:

Vita Nuda, a nationwide group of college nudists, is hosting southern Florida’s first-ever clothing-optional run at Sunsport Gardens Family Naturist Resort in Loxahatchee.

Northern Florida has had such a run already: SunnyStreak 5K, in Pierson in June.

The Streak Sunsport 5K, on August 27, also incorporates a clothing drive. Darned ingenious, those nudists.

(Via this nudiarist tweet.)

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Meanwhile at 88 mph

I have to admit, this gave me a 1.21-gigawatt smile, even as I realized there had to be something wrong with it:

Tweaked De Lorean speedometer

Legal matters, as it happens: the De Lorean went into production in 1981, which meant that stateside vehicles were cursed with the Joan Claybrook Memorial Speedometer, topping out at a meager 85 and highlighting the much-derided 55-mph speed limit. (For every good automotive idea the government gets, there are at least a dozen bad ones, and this was egregiously stupid.) Here’s a stock De Lorean instrument panel, as seen at Ask a Mechanic:

De Lorean instrument cluster

It gets more complicated. The speedo used for instrument-panel scenes in Back to the Future had a 95-mph scale.

And apparently the handful of right-hand-drive cars made did have proper 140-mph speedometers; in fact, the present-day De Lorean Motor Company will happily sell you a 140-mph speedo from presumed old stock for a mere $199. So the most likely explanation is that this is a real 140-mph De Lorean speedo with a bit of Photoshoppery, or possibly a new face for the old speedo, which can be had at retail, presumably altered slightly before installation. I can absolutely assure you that if I owned a De Lorean, I would have this done to my dash.

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Credo the Second

Another installment of things I believe, a decade after the first.

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Strange search-engine queries (287)

I’ve been working all week on a plan to raise the national snark ceiling. Did I succeed? You’ll have to read the post to see what’s in it.

pfizer meth purity jail documentary:  Because if anyone’s concerned about the quality of methamphetamine, it’s gotta be a drug company.

bollywood hot pechar:  Like their Western counterpart, the industry shies away from showing pechars.

women nice legs michele bachmann:  We may never know for sure, so long as there’s a podium in the way.

honda rtfm 190:  You meet the nicest people on a Honda, with the possible exception of tech support.

Hello Kitty ice packhello kitty ice pack:  What’s frustrating about this is not so much that someone was actually looking for a Hello Kitty ice pack, but that it was apparently necessary to go through eighty results to get here. That’s dedication — or obsession. Take your pick.

“romantic soles” crossdresser:  It’s possible, I suppose, though I admittedly find it a bit difficult to imagine a women getting worked up over a guy wearing Louboutins.

people who have no business breeding:  At the very least, you have to include the parents who have never, ever shown up at a PTA meeting.

story of united states pows held captive in laos:  By all accounts, they had a Laosy time.

what state is when the sun doesn’t go down:  The State of Air Conditioning Repair, a staggeringly-unpopular place of late.

shed eye sore:  I have seen no indication that ABC plans to fire Joy Behar from The View.

patriarchy wins again:  I have seen no indication that ABC plans to fire Joy Behar from The View.

ventriloquist in islam:  No reason why you couldn’t, and besides there are places where you wouldn’t want to be seen opening your mouth, missy.

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There’s something third-class about this

Not that you couldn’t anticipate such a thing, but still:

Not long ago we told you about Ryan Bradford, a mailman and writer in sunny San Diego, California who photographed and blogged about all the snarling, chompy-ass dogs on his delivery route. Yes, well, he won’t have to worry about those dogs anymore.

Bradford’s received a hand-delivered letter from the U.S. Postal service charging him with “unacceptable conduct/failure to follow instructions.”

One of those “instructions,” apparently, was “Do not give interviews to the local alt-weekly.” Bradford defended the San Diego Citybeat piece, which he said he sat for on his lunch hour:

I actually thought it was a very well-written, flattering article that raised awareness of the mailman/dog relationship while highlighting some of the hardships that comes with the job—a true human interest story. I thought, at the very at least it put carriers in a good light for a change, rather than showing them as lawn-defecating, sexual offenders.

This seems innocuous enough. There’s got to be something more, and Bradford suggests what it might be:

But here’s the thing that really got me in trouble, explained by Area Manager Victor Martinez, who I know is enraged because he didn’t respond to my friend request. His “main problem” with me is the statement I said about “no incentive to deliver mail faster,” according to the investigative interview (conducted one week after I was let go).

Apparently, what reeeally ground their gourd, what reeeally ruffled their tail feathers, what reeeally burned their britches (and the main reason I was removed from my job, my livelihood) was a case of hurt feelings. Martinez’ “main problem” with me does not appear on the official NOTICE OF REMOVAL. He even went on to call me — and I kid you not — an “injustice to the postal service” … which is going on the cover of every book I write from now on.

Imagine his next job application. On the line for Reason For Leaving previous position: “Managerial butthurt.” Not quite as swift as mine — “mutual illness” — but very much on point.

As is this:

[Y]ou could hire me. But only if you’re not an insecure baby prone to going off the handles while defending your dying industry. In that case, don’t bother.

Determining the percentage of positions that will not be open to him on the basis of that statement is left as an exercise for the student.

And as a matter of policy, I accept no friend requests from co-workers; I ignored one, in fact, until the week after she quit.

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Logan’s Stroll

There are plenty of reasons for avoiding this sniffy Robert J. Samuelson piece in the WaPo, which blames Those Old Folks for the nation’s budget woes. Since Samuelson is sixty-five, I assume he means Those Folks Older Than He Is.

The piece drew some 1200 comments, none weirder than this one, written by “MarkMcDonald”:

Thank you Mr. Samuelson for stating flatly what I have believed for many years: seniors are eating the seed corn of the future and there is no end in sight. I am 54 years old and have made a commitment not to live longer than 70. I will work as long as I can and have no desire to retire at all. We all know that the elderly are by far the wealthiest group of Americans and yet their demands on current and future generations are insatiable: they want to retire earlier and the[y] expect more assistance. Medicare currently subsidizes the purchase of Viagra and the natural decline of the sex drive is not described as a medical condition. The nonsense goes on and on.

I tell you what, I don’t want to be hanging around this guy’s house the day before his 71st birthday, especially in view of the likelihood that he’s spent sixteen years going from blue balls to indigo to ultraviolet. Impending death has a way of, um, temporarily restoring the reproductive urge. And anyway, Viagra will go off-patent next year, meaning that the Medicare subsidy, on a per-patient basis, will diminish.

And just how is he going to make sure he dies at 70? Is he leaving that up to the Death Panels™? Or is he going to just bite through a CFL and inhale a dose of mercury?

Dr. Helen, trying to be generous, says:

It’s easy to say you will do something rash like this when you are not actually 70 but I wonder when the time comes what his thought process will be? And why should anyone else want such a depressing end? I know people who are 70 who can run circles around younger people, why should they be the target of such blatant prejudice and hate?

Because you have to blame someone. It’s required by Federal whining standards enacted late in the second Bush administration and stepped up during the Obama years.

I’m a lot closer to 70 than “Mark” is. I hate to hold myself up as some exemplar of rational behavior, but I want nothing to do with this sort of low-suds martyrdom.

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Around 45 kg

It’s only fifty years old, surely you remember it:

He took a hundred pounds of clay
And then He said, “Hey, listen;
I’m gonna fix this world today
Because I know what’s missin’…”

From early 1961, this was the first we heard from Gene McDaniels, who made it to a solid #3 in Billboard with “A Hundred Pounds of Clay”; he’d continue to chart for the next couple of years with similarly-energetic pop tunes.

His aspirations were higher than that, though, and he resurfaced in the early Seventies with his full first name (yes, it’s Eugene) and the tag “The Left Rev. McD.,” recording two albums that made Black Power Awakened tracks by the likes of Marvin Gaye sound like the Jackson 5. Meanwhile, he was writing soulful jazz, or jazzy soul, on the side: Roberta Flack got a hit out of his “Feel Like Makin’ Love” (not to be confused with the Bad Company song), and Les McCann and Eddie Harris collaborated on a version of McD’s satirical “Compared to What.”

He cut two more albums, thirty years apart, and disappeared into the Maine woods, appearing occasionally on YouTube to let us know what he was thinking.

And, if the spirit moved him, to sing.

McD died Friday at seventy-six, returning to the clay whence he came.

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Paging Major Payne-Diaz

An item for the “Wish I’d Said That” files, from NoOneOfAnyImport:

[I]f my posts have given the impression that I’m a pleasant person, well there’s some serious misrepresentation right there. I’m a major pain in the you-know-what, and I can be more disagreeable than a plague of locusts riding in on a half-mile-wide tornado.

Sheesh. She says that like it’s a bad thing.

(Title swiped from Click and Clack, who have evidently hired many of the Payne-Diaz clan.)

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And the prophet Carrier spake

If you’ve suspected me before of Freonist tendencies, this will ice the deal, so to speak:

Air Conditioning should be a Religion. A violent one, if its existence becomes threatened. We all worship at its altar anyway; we moan with breathless thrill upon entering any room to escape the soul-sucking heat. “Ahhhhhh……” we intone, like monks in an ecstatic trance. And we are saved.

The tenets of our faith are found in the longer working hours and productivity that Air Conditioning provides. Capitalism is our outreach ministry. Come to AC, all you who are sweaty and would find dry, cool pillows on which to rest, and AC will give you sleep. Blessed, restful sleep without the sheets sticking to you.

As you might expect from a religion, there is a designated devil:

Al Gore has built his religion on the side of all that is evil and wrong and hot. He is apostate and must be shunned. SHUN the unbeliever! Shunnnn! Let AC arise and its enemies be scattered!

Even the devil can quote Scripture, so I think we can assume Big Gray Al isn’t sweating in the Tennessee sun.

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