Tiny roadkill

If I didn’t know better — and who says I do? — I’d swear that the guy who came up with this site is writing ads for Mothers car-care products. In the most recent, pictured is a Monarch butterfly, or maybe it’s a Viceroy, “of the insect order Ignoramus”:

You little technicolored nuisance. You flap around aimlessly doing your stupid butterfly stuff. Until you flutter right into our path, unleashing your splattery, yellow fury on our windshields, bumpers and grilles. Is the reality of being the go-to lower-back tattoo of sorority girls everywhere just too much to handle?

And you’ve only heard the half of it. Mothers has been running this series of ads for about a year now. Remember that guy who used to cringe if you leaned up against his door because your belt might scrape the paint? It’s that level of paranoia, writ large enough to fill a page of Motor Trend.

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To our children’s children

A small part of Steve Sailer’s data-collection routine:

I’ve noticed that when I read the obituaries of prominent people in the New York Times, I always check the last paragraph to see how many grandchildren they have. The replacement rate would be four, and lots of high-achieving people die without getting to that number.

I’ve noticed that I’ve gotten to the point where I’m making a conscious effort to avoid the obituaries altogether, lest I find my name therein.

Actually, I’m trying not to see the ages of the deceased. This, I suspect, is a form of denial: I know I’m living on borrowed time — who among us isn’t? — and I’d just as soon not spend any of that time in contemplation of the payback period, as it were.

Disclosure: I have five grandchildren. I leave to them and their peers the question of my, um, achievement level.

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Not in the middle of nowhere

But I suspect they can see it from there.

Once in a while, a photo utterly bereft of context comes sailing in over the transom. This was one such:

Taylor Swift and Shania Twain with handguns

Eventually I traced it back to the opening segment of this year’s CMT Music Awards. I leave to the more experienced gun owners the question of whether Taylor and Shania are handling these weapons properly, since at the moment I seem to be somewhat distracted.

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Strange search-engine queries (281)

What we do here is simple enough: we go through the logs and scissor out any search string that might garner a few cheap laffs, and then we publish what’s left — or something like that. (We have to keep changing the rules as we go along, lest someone complain that we’re not in compliance with the Blog Powers Resolution.)

embrace the many colored beast:  Does it, perchance, have two backs?

porn-w.org unsubtle:  Were it subtle, no one would recognize it, and there goes the business model.

shoes not available in half sizes:  It’s a plot to get you to buy two pair.

safe friendly “stalker service”:  Because the best way to get close to someone is to keep your distance.

rack and opinion:  For instance: “Nice rack.”

“white trash” “shoes without socks”:  Not necessarily. Then again, I trashed some white socks once by failing to wear shoes.

nothing cameltoe:  Finally, an advantage to the burqa.

what is that sade song with the duh duh duh duhs:  Remember when people used to Google for lyrics?

train leaves NY at 60 mph at 8 am to chicago. another train leaves dallas bound for atlanta at 45 mph at 9 am. What time and where do they intersect?  Right in front of you, on your way home from work.

expensive sedans:  One recommended method of avoiding having to take that dog-ass-slow 45-mph Dallas-to-Atlanta train.

Bonus: One person requested from Babel Fish (remember it?) a German translation of one of the articles here. BF duly translated everything on the page, including the seemingly self-contradictory motto in the sidebar, which it rendered as follows: „Ich könnte nicht mit Ihnen weniger anderer Meinung sein vielleicht nicht können.“

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In case you’re over a barrel

According to MarketWatch, the most affordable homes in the US are to be found in Niagara Falls, New York, where the average four-bedroom, two-bathroom house lists for $60,820.

The 4/2 nearest to me that’s actually on sale at the moment, in the tiny (one block, more or less) Macon’s Place addition, has recently been reduced to $139,900.

Of course, if you are fortunate enough to have Big Bucks, you can step up to Newport Beach, California, where a 4/2 will run you $2.5 million.

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Cop shocks?

With Ford’s Crown Victoria, long the police car of choice, fading away, law enforcement is faced with some difficult choices. The Oklahoma County Sheriff has gone in a direction I might not have anticipated, though.

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Garnish with larks’ tongues

Imagine Martin Balsam saying this: “Well, if it doesn’t jell, it isn’t aspic, and this ain’t jellin’!”

Which, incidentally, he did, as the private dick in Hitchcock’s Psycho. At the time, I wasn’t quite sure what aspic was, and I wasn’t particularly thrilled when I found out. If you’re still vague on the subject, cue Julie & Julia:

An aspic is sort of a beef-flavored Jell-O mold. Doesn’t that sound delicious? I can’t imagine why no one makes them anymore. You begin with a calf’s foot, which I am in possession of thanks to my sainted husband, and you boil it until your kitchen smells like a tannery.

The whole process goes something like this.

Note: “Aspic” is not to be confused with anything sent by Anthony Weiner.

(Via this Carly Rose Jackson tweet. Vaguely Pythonesque title actually swiped from King Crimson.)

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Songs without words (the follow-up)

A few weeks ago, I mentioned an upcoming three-CD set, to contain every single instrumental track that made the Billboard charts in 1960. That set has now crossed my threshold, and here’s what you need to know.

Complete Pop Instrumental Hits of the Sixties 1960Said Billboard charts contained 100 songs, plus a handful “bubbling under”; more than a dozen of these 81 recordings never made it out of the 90s, and one of them — “Beachcomber,” a jazzy little piano tune (with strings attached) by Bobby Darin — peaked at #100. It is therefore reasonable to assume that you haven’t heard all of these. I hadn’t. I did, however, notice that two tracks are switched on the first disc: “Summer Set” (Monty Kelly) and “Chattanooga Choo Choo” (Ernie Fields). Then again, surely you’d recognize that Choo Choo. (Gracenote, feeding Winamp the titles, has it correct.)

Your next question, perhaps, is “Do I know any of these?” Well, yes. The Ventures’ first hit, a version of Johnny Smith’s “Walk — Don’t Run” that made #2, is here, as is Floyd Cramer’s “Last Date” (also #2), and the biggest record of the year, Percy Faith’s take on Max Steiner’s theme from A Summer Place, which sat at Number One for nine whole weeks. Some lower charters have had great influence, most notably Duane Eddy’s version of Henry Mancini’s theme for Peter Gunn, which you’ll instantly recall long before the third measure.

There was still in 1960 a tendency for cover versions to appear almost simultaneously with originals, so there are, for instance, two versions of “Smokie Part II” (Bill Black’s original, Bill Doggett’s remake — “Part I” never charted), two versions of “La Montana” (which, with English lyrics, became “If She Should Come to You”), and three versions of “Midnight Lace,” the theme from a Doris Day film. (None of the “Lace” versions made it past #84, even Ray Conniff’s, which spilled into a Part 2 on the B-side; interestingly, they sound nothing alike except for that melody line.)

As it turns out, seventy-one instrumentals charted in 1960, so to fill out that third disc, there are ten bonus tracks: late-1959 items, or things which might have too many words to be considered instrumentals — for instance, Al Brown’s “The Madison,” a song about a dance which requires the steps to be called off in sequence. Then again, Ray Bryant’s “Madison Time” is here, and it’s not banished to the back of disc three either.

The sound, breathed upon by the wizards of Eric Records, is generally quite good: most of these tracks are very clean, and none of them sound particularly overcleaned.

I suspect this set will appeal mostly to completists, which explains why I have it in its first month of release. The compilers plan a volume for each decade of the 1960s: next year’s 1961 set, which might fit on two discs — I’m counting 52 tracks that would qualify — should have nifty stuff like “Wonderland by Night,” “Calcutta” and “Apache” (Jørgen Ingmann’s imported-from-Denmark take, not the Shadows’ rowdier English version). About this time next year I expect to be reporting on it.

(Complete track list.)

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When I was fab

My one surviving brother has occasionally used this photo for his Facebook profile, and while he’s not actually in the photo, hey, it’s his dad too.

My father and I circa 1955

The short one with the bad hair? C’est moi. Either this photo has seen better days, or the termites were really bad that year.

I was not quite this bald at twenty-seven, but I was working on it. Dear Old Dad, somewhere around 1999, was told he had at most twelve months to live; he made it almost to the end of 2006, which probably explains much about my own attitudes, if not my hairline. He was seventy-nine, a number I’ll consider myself fortunate to match.

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Full Philment

David Letterman once had a Top Ten list of Ways The World Would Be Different If Everyone Was Named “Phil.” (Personal favorite: “Bond. Phil Bond.”)

Then there’s Phil Campbell, Alabama, named after, um, Phil Campbell:

Campbell was born in Liverpool in 1848. By 1880, he was employed as a railroad construction superintendent in Evansville, Ind. A few years later, he moved to Sheffield, Ala. to supervise the construction of the Birmingham, Sheffield and Tennessee River Railroad.

Campbell eventually became mayor of Sheffield, but he was still workin’ on the railroad:

Mel Allen, a prominent Franklin County merchant, wanted to establish a town in the vicinity of his general store. He informed Campbell that if he would bring the railroad by the new town, it would be named in his honor.

Phil Campbell died in 1932. The town of Phil Campbell took a not-quite-mortal hit in 2011: an EF-5 tornado that devastated the town in late April. So far, nineteen Phil Campbells from across the globe are pitching in on a relief effort, though you don’t have to be named Phil Campbell to help out.

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Well, zxcvbnm to you too

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Hot guys throughout history

At least, through the section of history where some form of semi-instant portraiture existed. It’s called “My Daguerreotype Boyfriend: where early photography meets extreme hotness”.

Gael at Pop Culture Junk Mail pointed me to this shot of Almanzo Wilder, whom the young Laura Ingalls called “Manly.” They were married in 1885.

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Last night’s downtime

It was unusually geographically-specific: a lot of local folks — myself included — could not get through, while traffic kept coming in from the coasts and points beyond. I couldn’t figure it out.

Several similarly-afflicted individuals were already hitting up the host’s Designated Tweeter, and I joined in. Eventually we arrived at the truth of the matter: almost everyone whose sites appeared to be “down” happened to be using the same ISP, which apparently had forgotten how to get to those sites.

I wonder if this had anything to do with the “computer glitch” that grounded United Airlines last night. Probably not; but everything somehow ends up being connected to everything else.

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Cover girl, kinda sorta

Ostensibly, this is Zooey with her Self cover, but truth be told, the cover photo really doesn’t look like her. It’s like they flattened her cheekbones out or something:

Zooey Deschanel on the cover of Self Magazine

That, at least, can be blamed on Photoshop. This, maybe not so much:

I’m calling it right now: bun in the oven. Don’t laugh, WE’VE BEEN RIGHT BEFORE.

The dress? Like the print, wish it had straps or something. And the dark tights really don’t work here, though I’m starting to believe she had them tattooed on.

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One of the eternal verities

Camaro vs. Mustang. It was a battle royal in the late 1960s, and it’s the same today. (Dodge was number three then, and they’re number three now.) For the moment, the Chevy has pulled ahead:

Ford narrowly lost the crown in 2010 after a 24-year run, and the gap widened this year, with General Motors Co.’s revived Camaro outselling Mustang by 33 percent through May.

The problem for the blue-oval boys, apparently, is that the real profit center is down the road in the truck department:

This year, Mustang sales have suffered because of a short supply of a new V-6 engine that gets 31 miles per gallon on the highway while generating 305 horsepower, [Mustang marketing manager Steve] Ling said. The Mustang shares that engine with the F-150 pickup, the centerpiece of Ford’s top-selling truck line.

As rising fuel prices have driven up demand for the V-6 engine, Ling said Ford has chosen to apportion more supply to the F-150, among its most profitable models.

Meanwhile, the secretary’s ‘Stang starts under $23k, down there among cars with half as much horsepower. You try wangling an F-150 for that kind of money. Then again, the Lincoln MKX — whichever MK that is, no one seems to know — also gets that same Duratec 37, though it can’t possibly be selling enough to disturb Mustang.

Still, this is as the world has always been: Ford or Chevy. One day I was fumbling with a vapor-locked, or something, ’84 Mercury when a couple of yobbos in a farging Monte Carlo, of all things, pulled alongside to remind me that they’d rather push a Chevy than drive a Ford. I can only hope that they one day got their opportunities.

Among the cars I have counted as my own were one Chevrolet, one Ford Mercury, and two Mazdas, which were conceived under the auspices of Ford’s Japanese protectorate, but were actually assembled in Flat Rock, Michigan, alongside various Fords. That same plant today builds the Mustang, and shortly will stop building the Mazda6, which is moving back to Japan, putting Flat Rock’s single shift in jeopardy.

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“Duke Nukem not CoTVing very well,” notes Andrew Ian Dodge in this week’s Carnival of the Vanities, the 426th in the series.

I was going to say something about the 426 years of development hell through which Duke Nukem Forever has recently completed, but this is obviously an exaggeration — couldn’t have been more than three hundred or so — so I’ll confine myself to pointing out that there’s been a mobile version of Duke Nukem, allegedly in 3D, which is downloadable from various sources as a .jar file, and that downloading that file will eat up 426k of your bandwidth allotment.

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