We can dig it

There exists a strong possibility that you’ve done an impression of Telma Hopkins at least once.

Okay, you’re shaking your head. How does a background singer best known for being part of Tony Orlando and Dawn, later turned actress, fit into your repertoire? Repeat after me: “Shut yo’ mouth.” If this in any way sounds like you’re replying to Isaac Hayes intoning “You say this cat Shaft is a bad muthah,” you’ve just done an impression of Telma Hopkins, whose voice is out front on that line in Hayes’ original Theme from Shaft.

Before working with Hayes, Hopkins was based in Detroit, where she sang for Berry Gordy at Motown and for crosstown rival Eddie Wingate. After Orlando hit with “Candida” with two studio singers, management figured out that he’d need a touring group, and hired Hopkins and Joyce Vincent Wilson.

This little orange number comes from the days of Half & Half, a successful (for UPN, anyway) comedy that didn’t get picked up when The CW was created:

Telma Hopkins at the 15th Annual Night of 100 Stars

And this is just a classic reaction shot:

Telma Hopkins on TV Land

And Telma’s still busy, with continuing gigs on Are We There Yet? (TBS), Lab Rats (Disney XD), and Partners (FX). In the latter, she plays Martin Lawrence’s mom. In real life, they’re 16 years apart. (Lawrence turned 50 this spring.)

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Common jerks

In the standard version of the Tragedy of the Commons, there are more takers than givers, and eventually the system breaks down. If this sounds like a bunch of jerks to you, the Z Man can show you more of them:

Blogs and news stories invite comments. Jerks come along and fill the comments with work at home scams and penis pill ads. That means we have to have spam filters and police the comments sections. A good chunk of the code in a WordPress site is to fend off jerks trying to mess up a blog for no other reason than they are an asshole.

Anyway, the jerks are ruining the interwebs in a different way and that’s with ads. There are some sites I don’t bother to visit because they are so bogged down with popups, scripts and the worst thing of all, auto-playing videos. The guy who came up with that idea should be burned at the stake. There’s nothing worse than having some nonsense come blaring through your PC speakers as you feverishly look for the source.

Hence: ad blockers and such. (I’ve recently had to dispose of a script I had found useful for many years because it had mutated into a tool of the jerks.)

I don’t block every ad, of course. For example: I block nothing on Equestria Daily, since (1) I really, really need the content and (2) Sethisto has gone after rogue advertisers with jerk in their genome. But there are plenty of sites pushing on my last nerve.

I don’t solicit Breitbart because it is infested with ads created by the nation’s dickhead community. Loads of viruses are spread through embedded ads as well. If a site has no choice but to go the jerk route with their ads, then they should go out of business. The world has plenty of jerks. We’re full.

Between that and clickbait — well, I’ve been to a Turkish bazaar, and it’s run with a hell of a lot more respect for its customers.


U can’t watch this

‘Cause I said so:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Hacking your own home tv show?

Since this makes no sense by itself, the follow-up:

I want to learn to hack my home tv satellite and tv so that people cannot watch certain show or program and will change the show or program based on the data that I input

There are, I suspect, exactly two possibilities here:

  • Guy’s never heard of parental controls;
  • Guy’s heard of parental controls, but the Younger Folk know more about them than he does.

The question of whether this would be a violation of the agreement with the satellite company is left as an exercise for the student.

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Does whatever a shampoo does

Because if it doesn’t, it’s just a sham, right?

The genuine article is at hand:

Shampooing shampoo by L'Occitane

You think maybe they have conditioning conditioner too?

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Winning blind

The switch to StatCounter has required me to adjust to new statistics in new forms, and this is one of those forms:

StatCounter screenshot

That #1 in the oval means that for this particular search, I was #1 in Google; however, Google now encrypts its search strings, so #1 on what? SiteMeter would have given me the Google URL, but no clues otherwise.

Fortunately, StatCounter imports actual Google Webmaster Tools search data, albeit a week and a half behind, so eventually I will know what the search string was. (Then again, Google’s own display is half a week behind; as of Sunday night they were still serving up stuff from the 28th of May.)

The article in question had to do with the proposed .eq domain for Equestria, for which the proponents had announced they would be seeking OpenNIC approval. I don’t know whatever happened to that scheme, and the exit link has apparently been wiped; nopony I know would have done such a thing.


Rise of the composer

This may well be too much to believe, but I don’t find it so:

“[O]ne gentleman came by and he just looked at me and didn’t say anything. He walked on. And he stopped 50 meters later and turned around and came back, and said, what are you doing? The guitar? Are you a busker? I said, no, no, I’m writing a symphony. Oh, you’re a composer? I said, well, sort of. He said, well, have you got school? I said, no, I can’t write music. And he went, how are you going to write a symphony then? I said because I’ve got it on tape and I can play little bits of it. He said, where are you living?

“And I said, well, I’m living rough, actually. And I’m living in a hostel for the homeless and just bumming around, really. I’m looking for the next stage in my development of this great story. He said, I’m a jazz musician. Look, why don’t you come and stay with me for a couple of hours? I’ll take you back to my house. I’ve got a piano. Let me hear your melodies and I’ll see what I can do on the piano, see if I can extemporize it for you. So I said, well, that’s really kind of you. And he took me back to his house. His wife was absolutely furious. She said to him, are you going completely crazy? This guy could be a murderer. We’ve got a child — got a baby, and you’re bringing him — well, he was not to stay long, just for a few hours. Just kindly make him a bit of soup or something. And I stayed there for six weeks. The first night, I started playing the melody, and he started feeling it on the piano.”

That was 1982. Anthony Wade, the jazzman in question, told Stuart Sharp that yes indeed, this was a worthy work, but it would take at least a million pounds to get it recorded by, say, the London Philharmonia Orchestra. So Sharp went off to earn a million pounds:

He started off by getting a job at the homeless center. Then he got various sales jobs working exclusively on commission, something for which he showed an uncanny ability. He spent years flipping houses for the local council and then, he started doing it for himself. Many houses and 15 years later, he had saved one million pounds.

Wade, who’d evidently never expected to see Sharp again, was thunderstruck.

The entire work was recorded — by, yes, the Philharmonia — and about a third of it follows:

Says Dave Schuler:

I don’t know whether Stuart Sharp is insane or a genius or a huckster or maybe a little of all three but let’s take his story at face value. If everything happened as he said it did, his story sounds familiar. He had a genuinely transcendent experience. Like Moses, Paul of Tarsus, and Mohammed. He had the experience, it overwhelmed him, and, despite a lack of any training or professional experience, he felt compelled to put that experience into a form in which it could be shared with others.

I don’t know whether he was touched by the hand of God or not but I’m not sure we have a better way to describe it.

Asked if he’d go through this again, Sharp said: “I didn’t have any choice. You have been given a gift, go and use it. So there’s no choice for me.”

One does not, after all, argue with the hand of God.

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The destructive power of kale

Look what it’s done to this poor imbecile:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Vegans, what do i do about my neighbor?

my neighbor cooks meat outside often, im a vegan and offended by the smell of cooking meat. i went over there to tell him to stop, he said ‘go f*ck yourself, this is my grill, my food, my property. go home, or i will have you arrested for trespassing. dont like it? then you can close your windows or leave the town.’ can you imagine the audacity of a person like this? im thinking of holding a peta protest outside his house. is there anything i can do? should i call the cops on him?

Whichever of these is more pertinent:

  • Quit trolling, ya knucklehead;
  • Kindly point to the section of the Constitution that gives you the right not to be offended.

Otherwise, I’d say “die in a fire,” and if it comes to that, I’ll happily contribute some kindling.

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A writer apart

Let us now tip our knit hat to Jeffrey Zeldman, who has kept the zeldman.com blog up for twenty whole years:

My Web site is 20 years old today. I’m dictating these remarks into a tiny handheld device, not to prove a point, but because, with gorgeously ironic timing, my wired internet connection has gone out. It’s the kind of wired connection, offering the kind of speed most everyone reading this takes for granted today — a far cry from the 14.4 modem with which I built and tested the first version of this site, shipping it (if you could call it that) on May 31, 1995.

Such things happen.

I launched this site twenty years ago (a year before the Wayback Machine, at least two years before Google) and it was one of the only places you could read and learn about web design. I launched at a tilde address (kids, ask your parents), and did not think to register zeldman.com until 1996, because nobody had ever done anything that crazy.

I did read, and I did learn some things. (I also picked up some tips from A List Apart, which Zeldman founded and which now stands on its own.)

To celebrate the years, here is “The Years”, a “mysterious lamentation” by Zeldman, from his album Waterbox. You may be absolutely certain that I will not have an album out by the time this site turns 20.


Until it’s time for you to go

It’s not a dream, it’s not an angel, it’s not even a good statistics tracker anymore. So out it goes.

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Strange search-engine queries (487)

The time has come to modify this format a bit. With new logs from StatCounter and the incorporation of Google’s Webmaster Tools, search data are now much more easily analzyed, but the search string and the URL which doesn’t contain it anymore — both Google and Yahoo! are routinely encrypting search data — are no longer easily associated with one another. Reasoning that no one was actually clicking on the original URL in the first place, I have decided simply to leave the links off. (Links will seem to appear, for visual continuity, but they go nowhere.)

manny has been a coffee drinker since he started college three years ago. now he realizes that anytime he smells coffee when he enters a nearby starbucks he starts to feel more alert and awake even before he takes his first sip of coffee. this is an example of:  How we are in thrall to the vendors of Things Not Necessarily Good For Us.

mongoose web server:  Apparently not written in the Cobra programming language.

if you shopped at target from november 27 through december 18:  Your personal data is now being shopped in Central Europe, and bringing less money than you think it’s worth.

taylor swift sweat:  $95 an ounce at better retailers everywhere.

overlord of flies:  Mosquitoes, though they have more immediate needs, bloodsuckers that they are.

maria bartiromo legs pantyhose pics:  What’s the matter, screenshots aren’t good enough for you?

professional umbrage taker:  There are a lot of such these days, though as always they’re outnumbered by the rank amateurs, some of whom are pretty darn rank.

why do i repel guys:  Maybe you take too doggone much umbrage. Or maybe you just don’t have legs like Maria Bartiromo.

if a blighted urban neighborhood were to suddenly develop an assortment of upscale restaurants:  Gentrification would ensue, and the poorer residents would be squeezed out.

christopher is considering breaking up with his high-school sweetheart. he spends many hours weighing the benefits and drawbacks:  And then it occurs to him that he’s 42 years old and probably shouldn’t be dating high-school girls in the first place.

poem I hope you’re not disappointed:  But if you are — hey, no refunds.

“I own a nudist”:  Then it’s a good thing that summer’s coming, am I right?

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From the “Yeah, right” files

This, ostensibly from one “Mike Kellogg,” landed in the spam trap last night:

Hi admin, i see your page needs fresh posts. Daily updates will rank your page in google higher, content is king nowadays. If you are to lazy to write unique articles everyday you should search in google for: [name redacted because why should I give you publicity, you grit-eating, scum-sucking, pencil-neck geek?].

Content may be king, “Mike,” but you don’t know jack. I’ve done more daily updates than you’ve had hot meals.

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Periodical dysfunction

Magazines, says Doc Searls, are “screwing loyal subscribers,” and singles out five to which he subscribes:

My wife, who is more mindful of money and scams than I am, urged me to stop subscribing automatically to all of them, because all their rates are lowest only for new subscribers. So I looked back through my last year’s bills to see what I was paying for each, and then at what they pitched new subscribers directly, or though Amazon.

Only Consumer Reports’ price appears (at least in my case) to be lower for existing subscribers than for new ones. All the rest offer their lowest prices only to new subscribers.

My first thought was “loss leader.” I then went out and looked at Postal Service Form 3526, which in item 6 asks for “Annual Subscription Price.” I’m guessing that the Postal Service has ruled that somebody in the customer base must actually be paying that price.

So I went to check my two oldest subscriptions: Car and Driver (since 1978) and Playboy (since 1983). Hef’s back page, devoted mostly to Coming Attractions, contains the usual magazine boilerplate, and declares an oddly specific-sounding price of $32.97. This is my renewal month, and the bill is here on my desk: $32.97.

Meanwhile C/D, in their boilerplate, is saying $13 a year; last time out, I renewed for two years for $18, so I have no current bill for them.

I seem to recall that years ago, once in a while, a tardy response might result in a reduced rate, but this doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. And I do have a current notice from Consumer Reports, which asks $29 for a year (including, while it lasts, the annual Buying Guide), with discounts for two- and five-year renewals. I have no idea what they’re asking of new subscribers, because the first thing I do when a magazine arrives is shake it until all the blow-in cards fall out.

Oh, and of the four others Searls mentioned, I get two: last time out I paid $32.95 for Vanity Fair and $20 for Wired, which if nothing else suggests that Condé Nast is not entirely monolithic.

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The moment of untruth

Were this an actual product, I would have expected to get email about it:

Alleged Oreo in Spam flavor

So far today I’ve brought up Spam and sausage. I don’t know yet if the opportunity will present itself to work in a reference to lobster thermidor aux crevettes with a Mornay sauce, served in a Provençal manner with shallots and aubergines, garnished with truffle pâté, brandy, and a fried egg on top and Spam.

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“Cheap seats” redefined

If you want to attend Game 1 of the NBA Finals in Oakland, be prepared to shell out major currency:

$596. That’s the cheapest price the Warriors were selling — or, more accurately, re-selling — a ticket to the opening game of the NBA Finals. For that money, you get a seat as far away from the basket as it is possible to get while still being, at least technically, inside the arena. It’s in the 16th row of the upper deck, back in the corner.

And that doesn’t include the “service charge” of $98.34.

You don’t want to know the most expensive ticket price.

Oh, you do?

The most expensive seat currently on the market, at courtside, is close enough for Stephen Curry’s sweat droplets to be included at no additional charge. The selling price is $32,315. Few people on planet Earth could even afford the $5,331.98 service charge for that one, let alone the actual ticket. (It was not immediately clear why it would cost 54 times more money to “service” one ticket over another.)

It’s a flat rate: 16.5 percent of the ticket price. This courtside seat costs about 54 times as much as that seat up in the Nosebleed Zone. And besides, it’s the Finals.

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As smartphones get bigger

Amazingly, so do dumb phones:

What goes around evidently comes around, especially if you have a few thousand sitting in a warehouse somewhere. (Binatone’s history goes back to 1958, so it’s not entirely impossible that they might have made this sort, or at least this shape and size, of phone before.)

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Screaming deal silenced

One of the regular items on my grocery-shopping list has been the sausage biscuit offered by Durant, Oklahoma’s J. C. Potter, a box of six — three sleeves, two to a sleeve — for, lately, $3.99.

When I ran out earlier this month, I hit up the store and found no boxes. However, there was a bag of 24 — 12 sleeves, two to a sleeve — for $7.98. Four times the product for twice the price? Shut up and take my money.

Eventually, though, those ran out, and I decided to buy more. The store, or Mr. Potter, or someone, has evidently come to its senses: the bag is now $11.98. Still thrice the product for twice the price, but not so compelling a deal, especially given the speed with which I must consume these little darbs to beat the pull date. (One can eat only so much sausage and so many biscuits without affecting one’s internal workings.)