Not in Constantinople

When someone says “telenovela,” I start thinking in terms of the TV dramas popular in Latin America, sort of like soap operas but with an actual fixed conclusion. I don’t remember seeing any such in Turkey, but they apparently do exist: Yaprak Dökümü (The Fall of Leaves), the saga of a family newly arrived in Istanbul, ran for 174 episodes.

Fahriye Evcen, born on this date in 1986 in North Rhine-Westphalia, not the first place I think of when contemplating Turkish actresses, played the next-to-youngest daughter, Necla, who swipes a boyfriend from Leyla, a couple of years her senior, and winds up in a classic downward spiral after they split.

Fahriye Evcen in Marie Claire

The series ended in 2010, and Evcen has since done film work. The above photo comes from a December feature in Marie Claire. Who knew that Marie Claire had a Turkish edition? Probably the same person who knew that there were telenovelas in Turkey.

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Thou shalt take heed

Something perhaps lost in translation over the millennia (well, two of them, anyway):

[J]ust about any time I teach from the Scriptures I have to point out a place where the English Bible says “you,” but the original Hebrew or Greek indicates you plural rather than you singular. This means the original author was addressing to a group of people, but a modern English reader can’t detect this because in common English we use “you” for both singular (“you are awesome”) and plural (“you are a team”). This often leads modern readers to think “you” refers to him or her as an individual, when in fact it refers to the community of faith.

Here in Texas (and in the Southern US more generally), I tell my audience that we have a perfect equivalent to the original Greek/Hebrew second person plural: “y’all” the contraction of “you all.”

In some particularly Suthun climes, it’s even more subtle than that: there is Singular (“you”), Specific Plural (“y’all”), More Generalized Plural (“all y’all”). This inevitably baffles New Yorkers and such, who are used to constructions like “youse.” However, with a little practice, anypony can get used to a new set of pronouns.

(Via Finestkind Clinic and fish market.)

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Curtains drawn

A harrowing, yet sort of happy, tale of being thirteen and confronted with “Someone Saved My Life Tonight”:

I didn’t even know what despair was at that age. It was just a feeling I had no words for, a weighing down of my soul that kept me from being truly happy. And here was Elton, so obviously unhappy with things in his life. Was he fleeing from the thing that made him unhappy or was he fleeing from his unhappiness in general? I dug deep into the words, trying to decipher them. The thought of him walking head on into the deep end of the river filled me with dread yet at the same time I thought about how freeing that would be, to just slip into the water and let it take me.

It’s facile to say that there’s no existential dread like teenage existential dread. Which doesn’t make it any less true.

And really, who was expecting something like this so soon after “The Bitch Is Back” or “Philadelphia Freedom”? Yeah, there was “I Think I’m Going To Kill Myself” way back on Honky Château, but we all knew this was just temporary discomfort; at worst, he had a busted wing and a hornet sting.

Still, the river would not be claiming her:

I knew I’d never have the guts to kill myself. But I also knew my first time thinking about it would not be my last. And there was some small comfort in the fact that this musician I idolized shared what felt like a sacred moment with me; that moment when you think maybe enough is enough. I thought about how many other people in the world have felt like ending it all and how many actually did it. It was a sobering thought and I pushed myself into thinking that it could get better, it would get better. After all, Elton John walked away from that river and freed himself from his unhappiness. If he could do it, so could I.

From a point closer to the end than to the beginning, let me assure you: this isn’t a sentiment you have to be an adolescent to appreciate.

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Returning to that foreign-transaction business

Mr. Peabody says we have to turn the clock back to 2007 for this one:

Subject to final Court approval, a settlement has been reached in In re Foreign Currency Conversion Fee Antitrust Litigation (MDL 1409).

I filed an original claim, with the expectation of scoring a refund, or at least a card credit, of $25 or so. In late 2011, this happened:

[A] check for $18.04 arrived. Says the fine print: “All refund amounts are reduced because the full amount of all the claims exceeds the amount in the settlement fund.”

Okay, fine. I’m not going to sneeze at eighteen bucks. Then this past Monday a check for $8.23 showed up, per this instruction:

On April 16, 2013, the Court approved a second distribution of checks for monies remaining in the Currency Conversion Fee settlement fund. This second, “residual” distribution will be coordinated with the distribution of funds in connection with the settlement in the related matter, Ross, et al. v. American Express Co., et al.

Apparently no actual Amex cardmembers were charged dubious fees; however, the plaintiffs in this matter argued that Amex had nonetheless conspired with all the other defendants. And despite the original statement that the settlement fund was insufficient to pay all the claims in full, evidently they had something left. I attribute this to the fold-over post-card format in which the checks were issued; how many recipients looked at it, deemed it junk mail, and tossed it into the can with the potato peelings?

Needless to say, I’m not going to sneeze at eight bucks. (Which now gives me $26.27, actually in excess of the $25 projected. Go figure.)

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A possibly discouraging lead

Vice, apparently concerned for your safety, bills it as The Worst Music Video Ever Starring The World’s Biggest Dickhead. I’m not bringing it over here, though I will concede that I can imagine something worse.

Not much worse, though. I did note that comments are disabled on the YouTube page, and thumbs are about evenly split between up and down.

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We’re having leftovers

Actual Nissan ad from, screencapped on Sunday, 2 June 2013 at just after 11 pm:

2012 Nissan Frontier for lease

Hope they can unload some of these before the ’14s start showing up.

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The career path not taken

Reader Mark Eveleigh sent this along, and asked if by chance I might be going into the banking business:

JPMorgan Chase Bank sign

This is the branch at 6303 North Portland, which is supposedly important enough to house an actual JPMorgan facility, for the one-percenters who’d rather not deal with the peasants in the lobby.

But no, I don’t see myself as a banker, not even for a game of Monopoly®.

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And you are…?

Jack Baruth recalls his early days doing that Social Media thing:

Once upon a time, by which I mean the year 2010, I accepted every Facebook friend request I got and I kept my Twitter feed public. Then I was part of three separate incidents in which my social media “friends” pulled various details of my employment, my family life, and my most embarrassing photos (which is to say most of them, really) in a couple of attempts to get me fired from my job, affect my personal life, and/or incite people in my general neighborhood to vandalize my cars/house/already-questionable lawn.

And he did what you’d probably do: backed off and went private. But this, too, has its disadvantages:

It frustrates me to no end that I can’t use social media to connect with the people who legitimately enjoy my writing — or even the people who legitimately dislike it and want to share their concerns and/or criticisms. I’ve been told to convert my Facebook page to a “fan page”, which seems repugnant. I cannot imagine that I have any “fans”. By the same token, I’d like to make a comment on a movie on Twitter without being the target of a sack full of shrill invective from somebody who’s still angry about something I may or may not have done with the wife of somebody he doesn’t even really like. You get the idea. What’s the point of being on FB and Twitter if you’re just building the proverbial walled garden?

Emphasis added.

I am able to deal with this only because I lead a relatively uninteresting life and have accumulated few detractors. (Who was it who said “Friends come and friends go, but enemies accumulate”?)¹ And I’m still, I think, fairly compartmentalized: I tend to treat Twitter as general distribution and Facebook as friends only, though inevitably there is some overlap on both ends of the line.

¹ I’ve seen this quotation, or an approximation thereof, attributed to Thomas Jones, to Arthur Bloch, and to Jayne Ann Krentz.

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Some of the Turks’ business

I can personally vouch for this opening statement:

Spread across some of the most beautiful land in Europe and the Middle East, Turkey is a huge country with a jaw-dropping number of incredible sights. Visiting all its highlights would be a project that takes a lot longer than 91 days.

I admit I didn’t see even a third of them, and I was there for a whole year. Then again, I was, um, working.

And they hadn’t quite gotten around to this yet:

Opened in 2003, Miniaturk is a bizarre theme park that reproduces the wonders of Turkey in miniature. And it’s exactly as kitschy and fun as you might expect. Found at the end of the Golden Horn, across from Eyüp, the park is worth a visit if you’re in the mood for something totally different.

Miniaturk is split roughly half between the sights of Istanbul and the rest of Turkey. It was fun looking at detailed recreations of the mosques and monuments we’d spent the last couple months exploring. Even in miniature, the Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque are impressive, and Miniaturk allows you to see them from a bird’s eye view. You can walk across a miniature version of the Bosphorus Bridge, listen to football chants at Atatürk Stadium, and even pay a lira to steer a model ferry across a mini-Golden Horn. Inside a darkened room, there’s a “Crystal Collection”, with holographic carvings of Istanbul’s monuments in big glass bricks. Weird? Yes. Cheesy? Maybe a little. Awesome? Definitely.

Lots of pictures at the link, of which I’m going to borrow just one: this sort-of-HO-scale version of the Sultan Ahmed (“Blue”) Mosque.

Replica of Blue Mosque in Miniaturk

(Photo by Juergen Horn of Istanbul for 91 Days; link via the Presurfer.)

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Exclusive of taste considerations

A friend of mine lost her dad over the weekend, which more than meets the criteria for “upsetting.” A thread grew on Facebook, to which we all added our condolences and such, and FB responded to mine — and, I assume to those written by others — with “Send [name redacted] a gift.”

Recommended gift: a pair of tickets to see Fast & Furious 6.

I suppose it could have been worse: the guy could have perished in a car wreck. But this is what happens when corporate philosophy boils down to “Monetize All The Things.”

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Water no longer standing

While the rivers east of here are gradually cresting, it appears that somebody got busy over the weekend and Shop-Vacced away whatever flood waters invaded 42nd and Treadmill: things are high and dry, though my rubber mat is out on the fence drying and one of the brace of dehumidifiers has a broken wheel. There is, of course, a pervasive scent of Stuff That’s Not Supposed To Get Wet. Then again, it could be worse. And I can easily recall several instances when it was.

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Strange search-engine queries (383)

Neither rain nor snow nor dark of night can forestall this Monday-morning feature, in which the weirdest search strings that landed at this site are detected, inspected, neglected, and eventually selected. (EF3 tornado? Maybe.)

“craft blogs” written “by men”:  Does that include craft beer?

transmission only works on hold:  Think of all the poor people whose transmissions don’t work at all. (And if they’re not poor yet, they’re about to be.)

Mazda Protege 5 transmission freezing between neutral and drive:  The Lord must love poor people; He makes so many of them.

dodge stratus sxt wont go faster than 20 mph why:  You can’t fix this on your own. Drive to a mechanic — slowly.

World penis lenth oil or creem by in pakistan with home delivery:  Because you wouldn’t want to be seen buying this in the public marketplace, would you?

large lint baskets:  Even small lint is discouraging, really.

how do you get the spark plugs out of a 2006 grand marques with 105,000 miles:  Very carefully. And next time don’t wait so long.

galactic graft:  What, has Zaphod Beeblebrox been hiring staffers from Chicago?

very very sexcy smooching lips ass video:  I can’t vouch for the sexiness, but every Sunday morning you can see politicians on TV planting a big wet one on the President’s hiney.

Your reputation for being a wound-tighter-than-a-chronometer neat freak utterly undersells your obsession:  Could you repeat that? I was in the middle of cleaning house.

rap song about welding:  Rollin down the street, smokin tailpipe, needin a brand new muff, weld in (my mind on my Caddy and my Caddy on my mind).

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One hole per pigeon

Robert Stacy McCain retells an old joke:

There is an old joke that all people can be divided into two broad categories, the largest of which is “Arrogant Assholes Who Think All People Can Be Divided Into Two Broad Categories.”

Actually, we’re happy to divide them into as many categories as we can: see, for instance, the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory (sixteen) or classical astrology (twelve). Regarding the latter:

“Hey, baby — let me guess: Scorpio, right?”

You’ve got about an 8% chance of being right on a hustle like that and if she says, “No, I’m a Leo,” your next line is obvious: “Really? But I’m guessing you’ve probably got a Scorpio moon, right?” Given that most people have never done a full chart, she’s got no idea, but if she is into astrology — and back in the ’70s, it was a big thing — she’s going to be intrigued by your pretended insight.

Of course, the whole point of that line is to find out if she’s into astrology, because chicks who are into astrology are easy.

For the record, I have had a full chart done, but being a Sagittarius with a Leo moon, I of course don’t believe a word of it.

Actually, that’s not quite true. Some of the gobbledygook presented is dead-on accurate. But the volume of it is so vast — there are so many angles and signs to be accounted for — that something in there pretty much has to be dead-on accurate. (This works well for our putatively professional prognosticational types, who issue scores and scores of predictions, and you end up remembering the three or four that were indeed spot on, and forget the eighty or ninety that missed by a mile.)

And then there’s that whole Uranus in Cancer thing, which just sounds painful.

Speaking of MBTI, I am, as should surprise no one, INTJ, just like Princess Celestia.

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A wrenching dilemma

Something to contemplate:

Do you think it's too ratchet if I painted a car all pink, very light pink or normal pink? border=0

Well, let’s see. I have a vague idea about “ratchet,” and it’s not the kind in my socket set.

Urban Dictionary for the definition:

A diva, mostly from urban cities and ghettos, that has reason to believe she is every mans eye candy. Unfortunately, she’s wrong.

See also this possibly apocryphal PS3 game.

And you know, I don’t have a problem with pink cars. (My whole house is sorta pink.) Although I’d be leery of, say, an ’02 Impala with 22-inch wheels and subwoofers capable of generating seismic readings, no matter what color it was.

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Weather as a spectator sport

One particularly telling graphic from Friday’s tornado outbreak, from

Graphic from 31 May 2013

Each of those little red dots represents a storm chaser. US 81 (the big vertical line) was just crawling with them.

Now in terms of sheer traffic levels, 81 south of I-40 doesn’t compare to regular rush-hour parking lots like the Broadway Distention; but if every third or fourth car is stopped to shoot video, things aren’t moving. Meanwhile, the sky closes in on you.

The first sign that things were getting dangerous was when a chaser vehicle from the Weather Channel was picked up by the wind, carried a couple hundred yards, and then unceremoniously dumped. They survived that one. Not so lucky: the crew from the former TV series Storm Chasers, all three of whom were tossed away.

Then again, the Storm Chasers guys, headed by Tim Samaras, were doing serious weather research, as they had been all along. And you can’t really complain about the TWC team; corporate, over the years, has done everything short of parachuting Jim Cantore onto an ice floe in the Arctic. But the volume of chasers this time around suggests a high volume of people who just want their footage on YouTube to go viral. I’m not sure I’d risk my butt for that.

It did not help matters in the least that one of the local television weather gods made noises to the effect that it might be possible to outrun the damned thing. (See the last 90 seconds or so.)

I definitely wouldn’t risk my butt for that.

(This takes place after the storm had turned away from my general direction. On the extended map, you can see the big bend in I-44 south of Nichols Hills and east of Warr Acres; I live just west of the middle of that curve. A lot of red and purple up there, but nothing actually rotating.)

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Behind the curves

E. Catherine Tobler, writer — and, since 2006, editor of Shimmer magazinebids farewell to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America:

It began with issue #200 of the [SFWA] Bulletin — all right, #199 if we want to get technical. It began with the Resnick and Malzberg Dialogues, a long-time feature of the publication. It began when two men sat down to have a dialogue about editors and writers of the female gender. How fantastic, I thought, because I, being a writer and an editor and female, had a keen interest in such things. I love reading anthologies such as Women of Wonder (and its sequel) and seeing how women impacted and contributed to this forward-looking and -thinking genre I love. I hoped they might include the women who inspired me and introduce me to many I hadn’t yet discovered.

That’s not what I found. I found a dialogue that seemed more focused on how these “lady editors” and “lady writers” looked in bathing suits, and that they were “beauty pageant beautiful” or a “knock out.” I am certain no condescension was intended with the use of “lady,” but as the dialogues went on, I felt the word carried a certain tone — perhaps that was a fiction of my own making. As I listened to these two men talk about lady editors and writers they had known, I grew uneasy. Something wasn’t right.

“Now mere appreciation of someone’s appearance does not imply anything,” said a guy who puts up two Rule 5 posts every week. I have reference to me.


Because we ask to be called “editors” and “writers” and not be singled out, determined, judged, praised, looked down on, or slighted because of what sexual characteristics our bodies may display does not mean we hate what we are. We are writers. Period.

This is one of several discussions that ensued outside SFWA, and Tobler herself commented on Reznick and Malzberg on her Twitter account. It was quite a bit later, though, that I came up with the one line that I thought summed up the whole semi-debacle: “James Tiptree, Jr. was unavailable for comment.”

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