Mrs. Paul was never this finicky

Having once — way back in, oh, the 1980s — demonstrated my ability to produce a pie crust that didn’t end up with the general texture of a bicycle inner tube, I decided I would rely on simpler means thereafter. (There’s a reason for that word “once.”) Usually this requires a trip to the local market or to a separate bakery, but for some reason (I’m guessing a sale price) I plucked one of Mrs. Smith’s frozen concoctions out of the supermarket and schlepped it home.

The instructions on these, it seems to me, have gotten somewhat anal. Six steps now, of which the first, not unreasonably, is “Place oven rack into center position. Preheat oven to 400°.”

The second is a little snippier: “Remove frozen pie from box, and remove plastic overwrap from pie. Do not remove pie from original foil pan. Leave pan on counter while oven is preheating. After 10 minutes on counter, cut 4-6 slits in top crust.”

Emphasis added. Apparently Mrs. Smith, or one of her lackeys, believes that it takes 11 minutes or more to preheat an oven to 400°. I am here to tell you that my own 11-year-old Kenmore can do the job in 8:25. Moral: Render unto Sears the things that are Sears’.

The rest is fairly typical, though the juxtaposition of KEEP FROZEN and BAKE BEFORE SERVING on the front of the box suggests the potential for cognitive dissonance for the buyer who doesn’t quite understand the dynamics of frozen pie, and for the lawyer who’ll take his case after an unsatisfactory experience therewith.

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Hey, at least they asked

Apple delivered iTunes 11.1.3 this past week, and as usual, the Standard Sources kicked up all manner of information about what’s new in the Mac OS version, most of which doesn’t apply to us poor Windows heathen.

That said, while the install was as tedious as ever, I caught one little bit of phraseology whipping by above the status bar: “Checking to see if system restart is necessary.”

Would that actual Windows applications had that much courtesy.

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Hardly ineffable

It’s always F-bomb time somewhere:

The site maps in real time whenever the F-word is dropped on Twitter. America and Britain are leaders in cursing online, according to the interactive map, with New Yorkers tagged as the biggest offenders.

Thanks to its creator Martin Gingras, a junior at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, the map not only tracks the F-bombs as they happen, but also features pins that can be clicked to see a tweet and who tweeted it. On Twitter, @FBomb_co retweets random tweets that make up the map.

There are days when I suspect it’s retweeting my entire timeline.

In the time it took me to type this and paste that, about 40 effers were lofted into the Twittersphere. While the tweets are not identified by specific location — all you get is the map — they do include the entire text (with links, if present, though not directly clickable) and the username.

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It’s okay to shoot the moon

It seems that ninety-something percent of photographs of singer/guitarist Susan Tedeschi, forty-three today, show her in Intense Musician Mode, concentrating on the flow as it goes. Then there’s this one, from the 2010 Crossroads Guitar Festival:

Susan Tedeschi in blue

Still, this is an anomaly, as such things go.

In 2010, both Tedeschi and husband Derek Trucks — he’s the nephew of original Allman Brothers Band drummer Butch Trucks — put their individual touring bands aside and formed the Tedeschi Trucks Band. Watch her face, and watch his fingers. Better yet, just listen:

It’s a familiar theme: A goes on the road, B remains behind and cries into the night sky. It’s perhaps the most morose song John Sebastian ever wrote; there’s something almost reassuring about seeing an actual married couple pulling it off.

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Go this way and that way

Everything you always wanted to know about labyrinths:

The labyrinth talk was interesting. It was mainly about how they are becoming increasingly used in the US, both as a spiritual exercise (lots of churches, especially, it seems, Episcopal churches, have them) and as a relaxation technique (some hospitals have them available both for staff and patients/relatives of patients). But he also touched on the history a bit and made the assertion that the general form of the labyrinth, like the famous one at Chartres, is more or less common across cultures, even cultures that might not have had contact for thousands of years at the time they were building them. So either it’s an idea far, far older than the 4000 years or so (his claim, I don’t know that for sure) that the oldest ones known date back to, or else it’s a common idea “in the air” that multiple cultures came up with. (Or, I suppose: there was a lot more cultural contact than what we know about. There are legends, for example, of the “lost years” of Jesus (between age 12 and age 30 or so) including time spent in what is now India.)

He also noted that in some Hopi and Navajo art, a similar form shows up and sometimes it is called “maze” or something similar.

He also noted that they were set up so that there was no “wrong” way to do them. Heh. That struck me because I am always excessively worried, I think, about doing things the “correct” way. (Of course, labyrinth design is simple enough that you don’t have to think to follow it — that’s kind of the point). But he observes there’s no set speed you’re “supposed” to go (though the idea is to do it slowly) and no set time you’re supposed to spend at the center.

I have added a couple of links to the original.

As I understand things, if it’s one continuous, albeit torturous-looking, path, it’s properly a labyrinth; if there are several dead ends scattered within, it’s a maze. (The convoluted structure outside Canterlot Castle is a maze.) There is, therefore, no “wrong” way to navigate a labyrinth; there are several wrong ways to navigate a maze.

And the popular Labyrinth game turns out, on closer inspection, to be more of a maze.

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All they have to do is dream

Originally — we’re talking 1856 here — it was Coal Creek, after the stream that runs through the town. You might even remember the Coal Creek War, which kicked off in 1891 when owners of area coal mines got the idea of replacing their paid labor, which might at any moment unionize, with convicts leased from Tennessee prisons. The conflict lasted over a year; the memories persisted a bit longer, and in 1936 the town was renamed Lake City, there being a new lake not too far up the road, thanks to the TVA’s Norris Dam.

Now comes the possibility of a third name, this one courtesy of Felice and Boudleaux Bryant:

Seriously. Lake City wants to be Rocky Top:

[I]n Lake City, supporters hope a name change would have them tuning in newfound prosperity.

Development plans include a Disney-style interactive, 3-D animated theater; a Branson, Mo.-style live music venue; an indoor-outdoor waterpark and a 500-seat paddleboat restaurant on an as yet-to-be-constructed artificial lake, according to Anderson County Commissioner Tim Isbel.

Of course, it’s not just for the bling:

At city hall Thursday night, a standing-room-only crowd broke into loud applause after the council took the first step toward making the change, voting to ask the state legislature for authorization. State Rep. John Ragan was at the meeting and said he thought it would pass easily in Nashville.

One of those in attendance was Gordon Cox, a long-time Lake City resident whose grandfather served several terms as mayor. Cox said the city has lost so many businesses in recent years that it is in danger of becoming unincorporated and losing its police force.

“Only good can happen from this name change,” he said.

The Bryants, who supposedly wrote “Rocky Top” in ten minutes, weren’t available for comment, having long since passed on; however, BMI, I’m pretty sure, wouldn’t have any complaint.

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Oh, we’re taking away your soapbox, too:

A suburban Philadelphia woman has been banned from using Twitter as part of her sentence for a stalking conviction.

Montgomery County Judge William Carpenter barred 34-year-old Sadiyyah Young of Pottstown from tweeting for at least five years.

Authorities say Young used derogatory and harassing tweets against people involved in a custody case regarding her children, including a judge who ruled against her, lawyers, social workers and foster parents.

And this didn’t get her suspended?

Young pleaded guilty Wednesday to misdemeanor charges of stalking, forgery, and identity theft. She also was sentenced to 11½ months to 23 months in jail and three years’ probation.

Oh. Identity theft. She probably got suspended and appropriated someone else’s username. There is, I regret to say, precedent for this sort of thing.

(Via Robert Stacy McCain.)

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Spamming email, vain consultant

Young whippersnapper aspires to give advice to the old pro; the old pro declines, most ungraciously.

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A short-reach excavator

On the off-chance that there’s someone out there who really, truly liked the song “Wrecking Ball,” but wanted to hear someone else — anyone else — sing it, we have here the second Rebecca Black variation on a Miley Cyrus theme:

The first, of course, was her duet with Jon D on “We Can’t Stop,” which you may remember from July.

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Lowered compression

I was looking forward tonight to seeing good ol’ Chauncey Billups in a Pistons uniform, the way I’ve always thought he was supposed to look. I did not anticipate, though, that he’d be part of a Telltale Statistic: Billups, on the plus/minus scale, was a team-high +13 — but he didn’t score a point in his first 25 minutes, missing five shots, four of them from outside. Still, Detroit has to be better now that he’s back, and if the Thunder seemed to be disposing of them handily — well, you didn’t see how fiercely physical these Pistons can be. (Josh Smith actually drew a technical after fouling out, which is an accomplishment; Billups got called for delay of game, and then got T’d up for not liking the call.) And then Billups and his point guard, Brandon Jennings, put on a nice little shooting display in the waning moments, cutting a 13-point Thunder lead to five, but Thabo Sefolosha and Kevin Durant sank four free throws to put it away, 119-110.

What was fun, though, was that while KD was rolling up another 37-point game, Steven Adams, the de facto reserve center, came up with a double-double, his first ever in the league: 17 points, 10 rebounds. The Big Kiwi, in fact, played 31 minutes, more than Kendrick Perkins, more than anyone else on the team except Durant. And you have to figure that any night the Thunder bench comes up with 42 is a good night indeed.

Josh Smith, before fouling out, had knocked down 25 points; Detroit big man Greg Monroe had a stellar 20-point/15-rebound night. (Monroe played 39 minutes, but he’s one of those guys who’ll play 53 if you’ll let him.) The three-ball, which wasn’t working for the Pistons in the first three quarters, started falling in the fourth, mostly by Jennings (22 points), though Billups got one; they finished 11-31. (OKC was 6-17.) And Rodney Stuckey, playing sixth man, led the Detroit bench with 17.

Radio guy Matt Pinto noted that the Pistons were under .500 for the moment, but could be expected to fight for one of the last playoff spots. Of course, they’re in the East, where .500 is usually the 7-seed; .500 in the West generally means you’re in the lottery.

Sunday night, the Thunder are at home against the Wizards; after that, it’s off to the Left Coast to face the Clippers and the Warriors on successive nights, and then up to Milwaukee. It’s going to be a long week.

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The clouds never got in her way

Joni Mitchell turned 70 this week. Her voice has darkened over the years, but her vision has always been clear.

Roger’s listed his twenty Joni favorites, with links to most; you probably know them all by now. But I wanted to mention her reinvention (in 2000, when she was a mere fifty-seven) of one song of hers that’s been covered six hundred times, enough to make you sick of it — until you hear this arrangement, which will make you fall in love with it all over again.

Just for the record, this is my favorite Joni song. I’d love to hear her sing it again as a contralto.

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Are you kidneying me?

There are times when I fear for the sanity of the 149 members of the legislature, some more than others:

Ordinarily, if one wants a dumb legislative idea regarding crime and punishment in my fair state, one must rely on the Grand Old Party. They’ve got a flap-brained contingent that’s always willing to take a look at doing something to criminals that makes Theodoric of York, medieval judge, say, “Dial it down a bit, eh?”

But we are bi-partisan in our silliness, and comes now the latest proof, state representative Joe Dorman of Rush Springs, home of the Rush Springs Watermelon Festival. Rep. Dorman, one of the few Democrats surviving in state government these days, wants to introduce legislation that will allow death row inmates to donate their organs when their sentences are carried out.

Well, actually, this depends on what the meaning of the word “when” is:

[C]urrent acceptable methods of execution wreck several of the body’s major organs at once and degrade their viability for transfer. That’s where Rep. Dorman borrows from [Larry] Niven, as instead of being killed by lethal injection an inmate being executed would instead be anesthetized and the needed pieces removed before brain death occurred. So technically, Rep. Dorman, you’re suggesting organs be harvested from living people. That sound you heard was Christian Szell saying, “Ew.”

I’d suggest harvesting organs from legislators, but that brain-death issue would still be a factor.

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This is surprising the first time, perhaps, but eventually you don’t notice it anymore:

During a short telephone conversation yesterday, the person on the other end didn’t say “oh my God”, they said OMG. I was amazed.

The time to worry is when they start spelling out OMGWTFBBQ.

Oh, and on the middle three of that no-no nonet:

“WTF” takes five whole syllables to say what the phrase it represents says in three.

Then again, you may be in a location where one of those letters represents something forbidden. I’m guessing it’s not the T.

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Perhaps a sad tale

Her Majesty’s preferred breed may be going down the tubes it resembles:

The Queen of England’s favorite breed of dog was placed on Britain’s Kennel Club’s “at watch” list — and could soon become endangered, the organization warns.

Only 241 Pembroke Welsh corgis are registered with the club this year and, unless that number spikes to 300 by January, the pups will be placed on a “vulnerable native breeds” list, the club claims.

One possible reason may be at the little guy’s far end:

The cuteness shortage may be linked to the country’s 2007 ban on tail-docking, which breeders say make corgis less desirable show dogs, London’s Daily Telegraph reported.

No such ban exists in the States, where the American Kennel Club adheres to the following standard:

Docked as short as possible without being indented. Occasionally a puppy is born with a natural dock, which if sufficiently short, is acceptable. A tail up to two inches in length is allowed, but if carried high tends to spoil the contour of the topline.

The Pembroke’s long-lost cousin, the Cardigan — they’ve been separate breeds for the better part of a century — can have as much tail as he wants, so long as he doesn’t carry it high.

Who is gaining at the Pembroke’s expense? Perhaps the French bulldog:

The French Bulldog (owned by the likes of Jonathan Ross, Reese Witherspoon and Hugh Jackman) is the breed with the biggest increase in popularity, with the Kennel Club seeing a 1232 percent rise from 2003 to 2012. The popularity of the breed shows no sign of diminishing, with new statistics revealing that registrations with the Kennel Club have risen by 50 percent in the first three quarters of 2013, compared to the same period in 2012. There have been 4,843 registrations so far this year, making it the seventh most popular breed in the UK.

The AKC reports that in 2012, the Pembroke ranked 24th out of 175 breeds; the Cardigan, 75th; the Frenchie, 14th. (A decade ago, the Frenchie was 58th.)

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Who are grandparents?

I’m not entirely sure what The Last Thing I Ever Expected might be, but there’s at least a reasonable chance that it might be a solo album from a former member of the Shaggs.

Oh, it gets better. Ready! Get! Go! by the Dot Wiggin Band was released by Alternative Tentacles, the California-based label owned by Jello Biafra.

The lead-off track is called “Banana Bike,” and it’s right up/down there with “That Little Sports Car.”

I might get this just for the cover of “The End of the World.” Skeeter Davis will cry.

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This way to the grindstone

I understand this complaint better than I’d like to admit:

… sometimes I get a little tired of who I am: rule-bound, attentive to deadlines, fearful that without a Plan B things will go very wrong and I will be left stranded and no one will be able to help me. And, I don’t know, I’d like to be more spontaneous and “fun” but I don’t quite know how. (I don’t know how much of this is “brought to you by” the meme that men like the manic-pixie-dreamgirl type who is fun but a little flakey, but are mostly bored by the woman whose pumps are firmly planted on the ground and who gets her checkbook to balance every month)

I have long suspected — and it’s purely a suspicion, because I have no actual experience to support this premise — that no man can stand more than one MPDG, because the first one he meets will lay waste to his heart, and perhaps other parts as well.

Then again, I was married, for a while, to someone far more sensible than I. Which is perhaps one reason why it didn’t work out: all the maturity in the household was hers.

This hits me in the heart, though:

I’m not spontaneous and not good at being spontaneous.

I suppose I have it worse; I can be spontaneous, occasionally have been — but I’m not particularly good at being spontaneous. After a while, one learns to keep those jets cooled.

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