A book at bedtime

Books, we are told, are going the way of the vinyl LP: a specialty market at best, while the majority of sales will be digital files for electronic readers.

D. G. Myers isn’t buying that:

Children fall in love with books as physical objects long before they experience them as meaningful texts. As I have noticed before, children’s books celebrate their materiality: there are board books, touch-and-feel books, lift-the-flap books, pop-up books, musical-sound books. These are not the precursors to hypertext; they are early training in the handling of books.

And those of us who have long since left childhood behind?

Reading a book requires intense concentration, but it also leaves a physical memory. We recall a passage as falling on a left- or right-hand page, at the top or bottom or in the middle. We thumb the remaining pages and place an incident or argument in a spatial context, not just in time. The multi-sensory aspect of reading a book is an aid to memory, just as language instructors (who teach their students to write and read and speak and listen and pick up objects while translating their name) have always suspected.

More often than not, when I recall a passage from a book, I’m seeing the actual page in my mind’s eye; it makes life much easier when I actually hunt down that passage to quote online, because I know where to look: “about a third of the way through, left-hand page, about three paragraphs down.”

But the main reason I have not embraced Kindle et al. is simply that a lot of my reading gets done right before bedtime, and for me, it’s much more convenient, maybe even safer, to have the actual book on the nightstand instead of some pricey, breakable device.

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Those new news packages

Sunday, the world as we know it having ended the day before, the Oklahoman ran a six-page supplement to promote “the next generation” of the paper, with various and sundry goodies available at various levels.

The digital-only package, for those who’d just as soon not deal with the print version, runs $15 a month (which is, I note, cheaper than the actual print version on a daily basis), and it includes the Digital Replica, which duplicates, to the extent possible, the actual print version in a Web browser; the smartphone version (available for iThings and Droid so far — the Digital Replica is apparently about to be ported to the iPad); and access to the archives, all 110 years’ worth. The latter may be the best part of the deal.

This is, however, not the answer for those who subscribe via Kindle, Nook or whatever the hell that thing is that Sony has been pushing: those deals remain unchanged for now.

Interestingly, there’s a digital-plus-print deal for $12 a month; in addition to everything in the digital-only package, they throw you an actual Sunday paper. I’m guessing that the humongous number of advertising supplements involved was the deciding factor here. (And look at all the coupons!)

There’s a single-product a la carte deal for $9.99, which I assume was offered so they could say they had something under ten bucks.

Now I actually pay for the print edition, so all the digital stuff I get as a bonus, at least for now. (And frankly, I browse better in print than I do in a, um, browser.) I do think OPUBCO has learned something from watching other publishers fumble with paywalls and other clumsy constructions, and is trying to insure some revenue streams without actually ticking off the readership.

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Strange search-engine queries (277)

Once a week we dip into the server logs and clip off whatever search strings look marginally amusing. Some people may be put off by the fact that we’re making fun of their particular interests; to them I say “Get a grip. We didn’t use your name, and besides, it ain’t like it’s the end of the world or anything.”

nude midget women:  We’re a bit short on those at the moment.

petite women not treated like women:  It’s all the fault of those pervs looking for midget porn.

gps voice elmer fudd:  “Be vewy qwiet. I’m hunting Wamada Inns.”

You are a surly, disorganized loner with all the finely-honed fiscal acumen of a congressman after a three-martini lunch combined with the driving ambition of a tree sloth:  Not me. I don’t know anybody like that. Well, okay, one person.

saint that makes prayers come true:  Simon Templar, though his methods are, um, not orthodox.

cosmo ain’t got nothing to do with my selection:  Yeah, but you’re buying a car, so who cares?

are there cicadas in the san joaquin valley:  Maybe not this year.

why do mazda have crappy transmissions:  Some they made themselves, some they bought from elsewhere. Pretty much the same story with most automakers, and anyway, how come you never changed your fluid?

wildfire is a creepy song:  It’s those cold Nebraska nights that get to you.

a porpoise filled life:  It’s the goal of all manatee.

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Aghast guzzling

David Letterman used to say that he didn’t know of anyone, man, woman or child, who didn’t enjoy a lovely beverage.

I’m pretty sure he wasn’t referring to this.

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Goodbye Pussy, so to speak

Old and busted: Love Land in Chongquin.

Love Land entrance

Though they billed it as “tasteful” and “educational”, investigators conducting an emergency tour of the park after it attracted worldwide attention last week disagreed, and said that investors were “interested only in profiting from sensationalism”.

“The investigation determined the park’s content was vulgar and that it was neither healthy nor educational. It had had an evil influence on society and had to be torn down immediately,” a government official further said. A demolition team immediately dismantled the eye-catching legs that revolved above the park’s entrance.

New hotness: Hello Kitty in Zhejiang.

Harmonyland Hello Kitty theme park in Japan

With construction set to begin in July, the 150-acre theme park will focus on appealing to the obsessive nature of the popular Japanese feline’s fans, comprised mostly of preteens and young women. The theme park, which follows on the tails of the recently announced Shanghai Disneyland, will presumably attract a million visitors each year.

The Japanese company Sanrio, which created the tiny white feline, already has two Hello Kitty theme parks in Japan: Puroland, a 500,000 square foot indoor park outside of Tokyo, and Harmonyland (above photo), which rests on 60 acres in the Kyushu prefecture.

Make of this what you will.

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The 422nd Carnival of the Vanities coincides with Andrew Ian Dodge’s fourth wedding anniversary, which of course is something to celebrate.

I hope the Dodges had a wonderful day, perhaps incorporating a relaxing evening at the theatre. (Aristophanes’ The Wasps, a classic of Old Comedy, debuted at the Lenaia in 422 BC.)

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One at a time, thank you

There are singles guys, and there are album guys. Rob O’Hara is definitely the latter:

[O]nce I could financially afford it, I became an album guy. As a youngster I listened to a lot of my parents’ albums, and by the time I was in third or fourth grade I owned several of my own, including the Beach Boys’ Greatest Hits, Rick Springfield’s Working Class Dog, Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A., and the soundtrack to Smokey and the Bandit. In fifth and sixth grade (83-85) I acquired several breakdancing and early rap albums on vinyl, and by seventh grade I had definitely made the transition to cassettes, which were all albums. I had a few cassette singles, but very few; most of the ones I bought were in the late 80s, and were purchased to acquire unreleased b-sides.

Despite owning a few singles here and there, by and large (99.9%?) my music collection consists of albums — this includes vinyl records, cassette tapes, CDs, and of course mp3s.

I, twenty years older, am clearly a singles guy. While I didn’t start buying vinyl (remember vinyl?) until the Beatles era — first purchase, in fact, was a Stones single — I didn’t actually buy any albums until I got into one of those infamous mail-order record clubs.

What eventually landed me in the album camp was the rise of stereo, which I found both technically and musically fascinating, concurrent with the record industry’s realization that they could make a lot more money getting people to buy eight or ten tracks at a time instead of two. It didn’t hurt that the traditional $1 difference between mono and stereo was phased out in the late 1960s. (Did they cut the price of stereo? Of course not; they raised the price of mono.)

But stereo singles eventually became the norm, and I went back to the 45, staying there until roughly 1987, when I acquired my first CD player. Not too surprisingly, rather a lot of my CD purchases were recordings I already had on vinyl. The first download for which I paid, five years ago, was a Seventies album track that was never out as a 45, though clearly I thought of it as a single, else I’d have ponied up for the whole album.

To this day, I buy albums if I think I might like the whole thing, singles if I suspect I might not. “Tightrope” is a pretty good Janelle Monáe song, but it fits much better into the entire ArchAndroid milieu. And come to think of it, I bought Leon Russell’s Carney album to get his song called “Tight Rope,” though my favorite track turned out to be the rock hanger-on satire “If the Shoe Fits,” a phrase used nowhere in the lyrics. I’d have missed that if I’d bought the 45.

And no, there’s no Rebecca Black album. Yet.

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Shut up and enjoy your swag

Wired’s Mr. Know-It-All fields the following question (June ’11, not yet on their Web site):

What’s the etiquette for hitting on booth babes at trade shows? Is it OK to ask one out if I feel a connection, or are they always off limits?

The women who don skintight dresses in the name of brand awareness are a special breed. They earn a pittance compared with their compatriots in Vogue, yet they’re expected to work 10 times harder…

Booth babes should thus be accorded the utmost respect. That doesn’t mean you’re forbidden from politely suggesting a post-show drink… but if the model declines — presumably with the ol’ “I have a boyfriend” line — don’t force the issue. You won’t prevail, and you could well wind up in the clutches of security.

I have to assume the same applies to product specialists at auto shows.

Still, this isn’t anything that a person with a keen grasp of common courtesy couldn’t figure out. Then again, there is no shortage of individuals who lack such grasp.

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He knew his life was incomplete

I bought this record when it came out, and it still gets played on a regular basis.

Strawbs, the title track from their 1974 album Hero and Heroine, recorded live in Japan the following year:

This suggested it to me; here are the lyrics.

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Not a Western movie

“I just got hit by a great big brick,” wails the poor fellow, but his girlfriend refuses to commiserate: “She says thanks for reminding me about that Maverick.”

The Thunder got more reminders than they wanted about several Mavericks tonight, and it doesn’t help that they put up lots of bricks themselves: they managed only 12 points in the first quarter, and wound up shooting a miserable 36.5 percent. You don’t want to know about their three-point prowess. (Okay, if you’re a glutton for punishment: they missed sixteen in a row before Russell Westbrook finally dropped one through. That’s 5.9 percent. I’ve had credit cards at that rate.) Dallas won Game 3, 93-87, and the Mavs now lead the series 2-1.

It wasn’t Dirk slipping them the dagger; although Nowitzki had ten in the fourth quarter, he managed only 18 total. Shawn Marion was the better marksman tonight, getting his 18 off 9-13 shooting. The Two Jasons added thirteen each; Tyson Chandler had 15 rebounds.

Meanwhile, Batman and Robin got little help from their fellow Gothamers. Westbrook had a game-high 30, but he was 8-20 from the floor; Kevin Durant had a double-double — 24 points, 12 boards — but shot 7-22. (Take out those eight missed treys and he’s at 50 percent.) Which leaves a mere 17 points for the other starters and 16 from the bench. At least the foul shooting was up to snuff: 32 of 36. And there’s this: late in the fourth, it was possible to hear a bar or two of that infamous Cee Lo Green song playing in the background. I’m sure it was the expurgated version, but the sentiment had to be something other than “Forget you.”

Game 4 is Monday at the Roundhouse, at which time we’ll see if the Thunder have any kick left.

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Saturday spottings (vision and revision)

The first place I hit this afternoon was the Belle Isle Library, which is getting a new roof. I’m guessing that it was damaged in the same hailstorm that took out chunks of my roof last June, and they’re just now getting around to fixing it. (Metro Library, unlike too many others, is not hurting for money, but they don’t move with incredible speed either.) Various bits of equipment took up about half of the west-side parking lot, which meant that parking near the north door was at a premium.

The second place I hit this afternoon was the Homeland store at May and Britton, which is being remodeled, perhaps in response to the impending arrival of Whole Foods (four miles away) and Sunflower Farmers Market (two miles away). They’d already redone the produce section; today, much of the flooring had been de-tiled in preparation for whatever new stuff is to be put down. Truth be told, what I want most from them is a reduction in scanning sensitivity on the self-checkout machines: about once a month the robotic voice goes into a spaz about an unexpected item in the bagging area. I have occasionally cussed at the damn thing: “Well, I expected it. What the hell is wrong with you?”

From the Department of Having Seen Too Many Movie Romances: I pulled into traffic behind this Fabulous Babe on a red Vespa. (Actually, I couldn’t tell much from her face except what I could see in her rear-view mirrors, but being on a red Vespa garners Fabulous Babe points all by itself, and, well, nice legs were in evidence.) She had her purse stuffed into a saddlebag, but one of the two buckles on the saddlebag was not cinched down. I started conjuring up a story about how the purse went flying, and how I amazingly managed to retrieve it without causing a wreck, and from this highly-unlikely Meet Cute, we lived happily ever after.

And speaking of unbelievable stories, at 6 pm, to greet the end of the world, I took off my clothes — no sense littering the place — and went out back to meet the Heavenly Host. (Hey, I came into this world that way, I can jolly well leave it under those circumstances.) I got two visitors, both birds, but no other aerial activity was manifest, so I went back inside and started typing.

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We did it anyway

[Note: The Curmudgeon Emeritus forwarded me an email that had been going around, with a request for verification of the claims made therein. I figured if he'd gotten it, so have several others in proximity to blogdom, and having already sent him my reply, I'm pretty sure he wouldn't mind if I reproduced it here.]

Oklahoma law passed, 37 to 9, had a few liberals in the mix, an amendment to place the Ten Commandments on the front entrance to the state capitol. The feds in D.C., along with the ACLU, said it would be a mistake. Hey this is a conservative state, based on Christian values…! HB 1330 Guess what… Oklahoma did it anyway.

HB 1330 did indeed pass both houses, and then-Governor Brad Henry did sign it. Rep. Mike Ritze (R-Broken Arrow) and his family paid for the marker; private funding is being raised to pay for its installation north of the Capitol on the grounds. (It’s not “over the front entrance”.) This one is a qualified True, pending the final installation.

Oklahoma recently passed a law in the state to incarcerate all illegal immigrants, and ship them back to where they came from unless they want to get a green card and become an American citizen. They all scattered. HB 1804. Hope we didn’t send any of them to your state. This was against the advice of the Federal Government, and the ACLU, they said it would be a mistake.

HB 1804 was passed, and signed by Governor Henry. It is not quite so draconian, but it does forbid state services to illegals, and requires police to check the status of anyone suspected of being in the country illegally. There exists an injunction against part of the bill, which deals with the requirement of employers to verify the work-authorization status of employees and independent contractors. The rest of it remains in place. Call this one Mostly True.

Recently we passed a law to include DNA samples from any and all illegal’s to the Oklahoma database, for criminal investigative purposes. Pelosi said it was unconstitutional. SB 1102

Technically, SB 1102 only calls for the collection of DNA samples from illegal immigrants if they are arrested for any reason, and for similar collection from anyone convicted of a felony or of certain violent misdemeanors. I hesitate to give this one a True because under HB 1804, the interlopers must first be suspected before they can be busted.

Addendum: Nancy Pelosi’s Constitutional knowledge, I suggest, falls short of, say, Britney Spears’ expertise in the field of semiconductor physics.

Several weeks ago, we passed a law, declaring Oklahoma as a Sovereign state, not under the Federal Government directives. Joining Texas, Montana and Utah as the only states to do so. More states are likely to follow: Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, the Carolina’s, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Arkansas, West Virginia, Mississippi, Florida. Save your confederate money, it appears the South is about to rise up once again. HJR 1003

Author of HJR 1003, Rep. Charles Key (R-OKC), described it this way: “House Joint Resolution 1003 declares Oklahoma’s sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment in all matters not otherwise enumerated or granted to the federal government under the U.S. Constitution. The resolution also calls on the president and other agents of the federal government to ‘cease and desist’ mandates beyond the scope of ‘constitutionally delegated powers’ and repeal all compulsory federal legislation directing states to comply under threat of civil or criminal sanctions or in order to gain federal funding.”

There is, however, no real enforcement power behind it, though the state does have a record of rejecting Federal funds, most recently a $54 million handout to set up an Obamacare insurance exchange. House Speaker Kris Steele (R-Shawnee) said it shouldn’t cost that much money and that the state is better off going it alone. Make of that what you will.

The federal Government has made bold steps to take away our guns. Oklahoma, a week ago, passed a law confirming people in this state have the right to bear arms and transport them in their vehicles. I’m sure that was a set back for the criminals. The Liberals didn’t like it — But … Guess what… Oklahoma did it anyway.

Open carrying, unloaded, is legal and does not require a concealed-carry license when going to or from the person’s private residence or vehicle, to a gun shop, gun show, or for any form of hunting/sport activities. It is also legal to transport an unloaded weapon in a motor vehicle at any time. (True, mostly.)

Anything beyond that requires a concealed-carry license. New bills were
introduced this year to widen the areas where guns were permitted (vocational schools, some college campuses) and to allow open carry of loaded weapons, but none of them had made it through the Legislature before it adjourned Friday.

[Correction: The vocational-school ("CareerTech") measure, which would have allowed guns inside locked cars on those campuses, did in fact pass both Houses, though Governor Fallin has yet to sign it.]

Just this month, the state has voted and passed a law that ALL driver’s license exams will be printed in English, and only English, and no other language. They have been called racist for doing this, but the fact is that ALL of the road signs are in English only. If you want to drive in Oklahoma, you must read and write English. Really simple.

This was part of State Question 751, which makes English the official language of the state; it was passed by voters in November 2010. A Tulsa law professor, last I looked, was working up a second challenge to the measure; his first was withdrawn for a procedural matter. USDOJ sent a nastygram to the state’s attorney general, hinting that it might cost the state federal funding; the state’s Congressional delegation wrote back, suggesting that Eric Holder had better things to do with his time. For the moment, this is True.

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The other elephant in the room

No, not the baby elephant born at the OKC Zoo last month. This one’s white, and it’s going to cost $280 million.

I mean, of course, the hotly-hyped All-New Convention Center of the Future, which, says the Oklahoman, is the “crown jewel” of MAPS 3. It is to laugh. Nick Roberts has already weighed in on this, pointing out one obvious fact:

The streetcar was by far the issue that carried the ballot, whereas voters generally reacted quite unfavorably to the convention center — it alone would have failed by a huge margin if it weren’t riding the streetcar to ballot victory.

Of course, Jim Lange’s John Q. Public might have gotten some actual, physical use out of the streetcar; as Roberts notes, he’d likely have no reason ever to go to the convention center.

What everyone is overlooking, though, is this: eventually nobody will have a reason ever to go to the convention center. Convention business isn’t exactly booming, and the grisly pas de deux of government policies and energy prices insures that the nation’s once-vaunted mobility is trampled underfoot: whether by design or merely by default, travel is rapidly becoming as inconvenient and as expensive as is humanly possible. There will always be some convention business, but it’s going to be confined to the handful of top-tier cities with which we already arguably fail to compete. If it is deemed necessary to remind the rest of the nation that Oklahoma City actually exists, a quarter of a billion dollars would buy a hell of a lot of Kevin Durant backpacks.

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Sharp, and not particularly flat

Charlotte Olympia offers not quite an octave and a half:

Piano by Charlotte Olympia

This is called, sensibly enough, “Piano,” and the keys are patent calfskin, the toe suede kidskin. It’s tall — a 30-mm platform not quite offsetting a 145-mm heel — and at £650, not much cheaper than a used piano. Then again, a real piano probably wouldn’t have those two extra white keys per octave.

And now that I look at it, apart from that slightly-anomalous keyboard design it’s not all that different from “Dolly,” worn here by Sarah Jessica Parker. Not that I care; this shoe is an attention-grabber from any part of the scale. Seriously-stylish jewelry designer Wendy Brandes says: “If I owned these shoes, I’d stand around midtown hoping that someone would ask me for directions to Carnegie Hall.” I’m not so sure they’d go with this dress, though.

Also available from Charlotte Olympia: the perfect shoe to go with your Carmen Miranda hat. There’s even a flat version.

(Tweeted in my general direction by Nancy Friedman, an invaluable source for shoe lore and proper word usage.)

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Quote of the week

Peter M. De Lorenzo, the Autoextremist, on that suspiciously-timed consumer survey that said Americans really, really want the government to crank up fuel-economy standards:

If you call up consumers at night after they just paid $4.25+ for regular on the way home of course they’re going to endorse a higher future fuel economy standard to a pollster asking leading questions.

They’d also say they’d want to eat a double cheeseburger and fries at Five Guys and not gain a pound, be able to go to a pro football game for $5.00 a ticket, buy a Savile Row suit for $100, have a cell phone bill that never goes over $25 a month, have lifetime access to a gym for nothing, gift a pair of Manolo Blahniks for $50, live in a 3,000-square-foot bungalow in Malibu for $1000 a month, drive a 911 Porsche Turbo for the price of a Sonata, fly to Europe in First Class for $500, never pay over $1.00 at Starbucks no matter what the drink, etc., etc., etc. This is groundbreaking research?

In fairness, I should point out that my cell phone bill never goes over, um, $26 a month. (Okay, it did once, when I was fighting with the Evil Death Star over their failure to process a simple land-line connection properly.)

Still, I can think of a few people I’d treat to Manolos if I could wangle them for fifty bucks. Oh, and they just opened a Five Guys down in Moore.

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If I had a hammer

We have here Rene Russo at the premiere of Thor, in which she plays Thor’s mom Frigga.

Rene Russo at Thor premiere

Sorry, no shots of Asgard.

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