Fark blurb of the week

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You’re supposed to be taking notes

Maxim generally isn’t my first choice for academic reference, but once in a while they drop something into an article (as distinguished from a pictorial) that grabs my attention.

This was part of an ostensible back-to-school (September, after all) piece:

The hottest female professor: According to ratemyprofessor.com, Jean-Marie Dauplaise, associate professor of English at University of Wisconsin-Stout.

I made a perfunctory search for pictures, vowing not to hit her Facebook or LinkedIn pages, but really, what was more interesting was UW-Stout. I’ve never lived in Wisconsin, but surely by now I’d have heard of a town called Stout.

Um, no. The school, established in 1891 in Menomonie, is named in honor of founder James Huff Stout. It is the only school in the UW system named for a person.

Dr Dauplaise, incidentally, also serves on the faculty of the Hong Kong campus of the Savannah College of Art and Design. (Something else I wasn’t aware of.)

If nothing else, this little exercise demonstrates that I apparently don’t have the patience to do more than perfunctory girl-watching, Rule 5 and similar goofiness notwithstanding.

And now I’m sorry I missed this event:

Plum Brandy by Manet“Intoxicating Images of Feminine Ambiguity: Zola, Manet and the Brandy Plum” is the title of a Women’s History session to be held from 12:15-1:15 p.m., Friday, April 30 in the White Pine Room of the Memorial Student Center. Jean-Marie Dauplaise, of UW-Stout’s English and philosophy department, will discuss how Manet uses 19th century Parisian ideas concerning feminine identity, sexuality and liquor consumption to engage the viewer/reader of his painting, titled “Plum Brandy,” in playing “narrative games” similar to those found in realist/naturalist fiction of the era.

Keep in mind that my major accomplishment in visual arts was to be able to distinguish between Manet and Monet at least fifty-one percent of the time.

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Not just an Uther name

There’s a letter to Vanity Fair this month taking James Wolcott to task for trotting out the old, deprecated “nudist colony” nomenclature:

The word “colony” is perhaps just a little too bacterial and leprous.

I might not have noticed this — usually the sight of the name “Wolcott” causeth mine eyes to glaze over — but it was signed by someone named Vixii Pendragon, and I have to admit, there’s something to love about a world where someone can be named Vixii Pendragon. (And by the way, Jimbo, it’s “resorts” and/or “communities.”)

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All for gnawed

Oh, damn, the Internet is down again. Is it a denial-of-service attack? A failure of the grid? Did somebody find out Justin Bieber’s secret Twitter account?

Actually, there’s a one-in-six chance that the problem is squirrel-related, says the guy from backbone provider Level 3:

While we can try to reason with humans and publicize our underground cable, there is nothing we can do about our next biggest pain in the rear, and that’s squirrels! Of all the animals in the whole world, almost all of our animal damage comes from this furry little nut eater. Squirrel chews account for a whopping 17% of our damages so far this year! But let me add that it is down from 28% just last year and it continues to decrease since we added cable guards to our plant. Honestly, I don’t understand what the big attraction is or why they feel compelled to gnaw through cables. Our guys in the field have given this some thought and jokingly suspect the cable manufacturers of using peanut oil in the sheathing.

I suspect a squirrel, if hungry enough, will chew on anything up to and including a steel-belted radial.

(Via the Consumerist.)

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And someday comes afterwards

Just when you think you’ve seen Andy Warhol over in the corner peering at his stopwatch, you discover that Rebecca Black has managed to prolong, yet again, her moment.

Rebecca Black at the 2011 Teen Choice AwardsLadies and gentlemen — ladies and gentlemen between the ages of 13 and 19 inclusive, anyway — meet your Choice Web Star for 2011. Now one can argue about the machinery behind the Teen Choice Awards — I’m inclined to agree with author Jennifer Donnelly that they really need a category for books — but I figure that this proves, once and for all, that Rebecca Black has a fan base. She also has someone fairly astute picking out her wardrobe: that little chiffon-y number in cobalt blue, while apparently not from a big-name couture house, is decidedly slick without being even slightly outré, although I must quote from this Tumblr: “The dress she was wearing is almost identical to the dress I have to wear to my sister’s wedding (bridesmaids dress) minus the design on her shoulder.” And you know, there are worse things in life than buying off the rack at Bloomingdale’s.

That was Sunday. This is what came afterwards: a shot on NBC’s America’s Got Talent on Wednesday night, followed by a few minutes on a primetime version of ABC’s Nightline, in which it was revealed that she’s now being homeschooled. (You can see both appearances on EW’s PopWatch.) The Teen Choice Awards were on Fox. Well, CBS, what do you have to say for yourself?


Nothing from the Eyeball. How about you, Katy Perry?

That’s the spirit. (Recorded Friday, 5 August.)

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Quote of the week

Jennifer and family have had to make a few adjustments:

As you all know, my husband was laid off from the regular workforce last year. Rather than join the hordes of ambling zombies unemployed, he started his own business making the finest custom leather holsters that money can buy. That made our household budget … err … complicated for a while. So we switched to a cheap bourbon and ate a lot more chicken instead of fresh fish and steaks. We changed date night from a nice dinner out to a rented movie and take-out. It’s what normal households do when faced with a budget shortfall, you make cuts and sacrifices. We’re about to pay off our car, then 2 small credit card balances, and the loan for the sewing machine (CD secured), and then all we will be left with will be the mortgage. Rather than attempt to spend and borrow our way into prosperity, we buckled down and made some tough choices. What is so wrong with expecting our government to do the same?

It’s a concept utterly beyond their comprehension: you’d have better luck getting a couple of ducks to dance the pas de deux from La fille mal gardée.

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Faster than the speed of dark

The thing you have to remember is that arriving at work at 6:30 in the morning (which, this time of year, is 17 minutes before sunrise, no thanks to DST), as I often do, does not automatically give me my choice of parking spaces: at best, I’m the fourth or fifth person to arrive, and I’m too far down the org chart to rate a reserved spot. (That said, nobody’s fighting me for the spot I usually take, which is the one closest to the septic tank.)

There was a crowd of about eight this morning, and most of them were sitting outside. It didn’t take long to figure out why: the place was deader than a Tim Pawlenty joke book. No electricity in the entire plant. I sent up a tweet to that effect via text message and then called the sysadmin, who was aware of the problem: he’d actually been there before me, taken down the Big Boxen, and gone home to take care of what that same four o’clock thunderstorm had done to his place, whatever that may have been. (It is not like me to press for details at a time like this.) At least one UPS was hors de combat, although it had probably turned to crap some time before and this was its first opportunity to exhibit its crapularity.

I did a brief calculation and decided that the day wouldn’t be a total loss if the juice were restored by nine. At 8:59, up come the lights. Where was this pinpoint accuracy when I was betting on the ponies at Suffolk Downs?

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I shocked the sheriff

Well, actually, that’s a stretch. Mostly, this chap seems to have annoyed the deputies, and before them, one clergyman:

David Ford, a 50-year-old Tennessee man was jailed Tuesday after he was allegedly found naked in a storm drain, hiding from police.

According to the Knox County Sheriff’s Office, deputies were dispatched after a pastor reported seeing a naked man run across a parking lot and then hide in a storm drain — completely naked.

In Ford’s defense, not everyone can inspire a writer to use the word “naked” three times in two sentences.

Still, he was apparently only charged with burglary, and will likely be extended the sort of leniency that this bonehead won’t get once he’s caught:

My boyfriend of two years isn’t overtly weird; he’s actually a really nice, normal guy, but he has this “hobby” of going for walks totally naked. We live in Vermont, where this is actually legal. I tell him that women find this upsetting, but he is really turned on by being seen naked by them and has no intention of stopping.

Actually, that’s not the problem. (Were it legal here, I’d be tempted to do a couple of laps around the block in my birthday suit, were this not the hottest summer this side of Mercury.) This is:

He says that when he doesn’t have a girlfriend, he masturbates while walking.

I’d say that tilts him way into the “overtly weird” classification; I’m pretty sure those Vermont women have no desire to see him strumming his sitar. Couldn’t he try something a bit less aggressive while walking, like, say, chewing gum?

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Burch bark

Wednesday morning, Nancy Friedman tweeted: “Hey, who’re you calling a loafer?” A link followed, and I wound up here:

Nancy by Tory BurchThis is “Nancy,” a traditional loafer by Tory Burch, in a nifty Bordeaux color. (There’s also a black.) The hardware is a little more elaborate than usual, but not what I’d call obtrusive, and the heel is stacked to a moderate ¾ inch. Does this loafer fit with Burch’s bohemian-chic image? I’m thinking it’s maybe a little on the conservative side, but not so much to make you think she’s been drinking from the Brooks Brothers cup. For the sake of something or other, I’ll pretend not to have seen the $250 price tag. (Feel free to click to embiggen.)

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Little douche coupe

Remember when Brian Wilson’s songs were devoted to the likes of “Tach it up, buddy, gonna shut you down”?

Volkswagen has a different idea:

But damn, you can’t beat that German engineering.

(Via Autoblog Green. See also “Blue is the new green” from June.)

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Oh, that magic feeling

One should always know where to go. Back in February, I pointed you towards Abbey Road, and noted that in addition to the canonical English thoroughfare with the zebra crossing, there were streets of this name in The Village, about three miles from me, and in Syracuse, New York.

Be advised that there is also an Abbey Road in Fort Collins, Colorado.

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Meanwhile in Ward 9

Oh, wait: we don’t have a Ward 9. However, Oklahoma City has redrawn the existing eight wards to correspond to population growth and shifts, and a public meeting was held yesterday to gauge input.

Ward 4’s Pete White, as always, thinks we should be going to a 10-ward system, and he brought it up at the meeting. Brittany Novotny sent up a snapshot of White’s current thinking on the matter, which actually doesn’t look that much unlike the actual eight-ward map being proposed. Then again, it really couldn’t, given the shape of the city’s corporate limits, which suggests the sort of creature that might pester Beowulf — once.

Me, I think we’d be better served by twelve wards. That’s still nearly 50,000 people per ward. (Tulsa, with two-thirds the population of Oklahoma City, has nine wards.) Then again, you may remember what happened when I tossed this topic to former Ward 2 councilman Sam Bowman, five years ago:

Bowman pointed out, as [Pete] White had, that the existing arrangement was perhaps insufficiently diverse, and suggested that it might be possible to redraw the lines to produce something resembling a majority-Hispanic ward and take some of the sheer vastness out of White’s Ward 4. There is, though, said Bowman, not much support for expanding the Council right now. If it’s going to happen, I suspect it will be in 2011, after the new Census figures come out and they have to redraw the boundaries anyway.

Would you believe 2021?

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I, motor-noter

For 2012, Honda drops “Accord” from the name of its gilded-turd Crosstour. Had they been wise, they’d have dropped “Honda” also, and tried to pass off this misshapen monstrosity as the spawn of some lesser automaker. (I hear SsangYong is looking for product.) In the meantime, there are two new colors, neither of which will help, and some new buttons on the dash allegedly integrated into the existing fecalcomania. There’s also an optional rear-view camera, positioned in such a way that you’ll never see the look on your face as you realize that you just peeled off thirty-five large for the Pontiac Aztek’s kid brother.

(Actually, I have no particular axe to grind with this model; I’m just trying my hand at this little pastime.)

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Teenage != wasteland

In case you think I’ve been expending far too much time and space on modestly-talented adolescent singers of late, please allow me to (perhaps) introduce you to Jasmine van den Bogaerde, fifteen as of last May, who performs under the unassuming name “Birdy.” She’s put out a total of two singles so far, both covers, both lovely. This is the second:

For comparison, here’s the original by the xx.

Incidentally, you’ve heard of one other person with this surname: Derek Jules Gaspard Ulric Niven van den Bogaerde, better known as Dirk Bogarde, great-uncle to Birdy.

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Let us now unpraise famous men

Last month, playing off a New York Times obituary, I did a sendoff for designer Alex Steinweiss, credited as the inventor of the record-album cover.

Said credit may have been a tad premature. Appended to the JazzTimes obituary for Steinweiss:

According to two emails received by JazzTimes following the publication of this news item, from Cary Ginell and Michael Biel, Steinweiss did not actually invent the album cover. Wrote Biel, “There were some notable artistic jazz album covers prior to Steinweiss. Two albums by Lee Wiley, Willie the Lion Smith, Bessie Smith, Blackbirds revival cast, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Symposium of Swing, are just a few of the jazz albums with illustrated covers that came out before Steinweiss, let alone over a hundred others of all types.”

Biel declined to toot his own horn, but Ginell reported that Biel had made a presentation at last year’s Association for Recorded Sound Collections conference in New Orleans, in which he exhibited actual photographs of pre-Steinweiss cover art. (The conference abstract [pdf] contains Biel’s own executive summary.) Said Biel:

Record collectors and archivists know that this isn’t true, but the writers who are promoting these tales and elevating Steinweiss to mythical proportions are exclusively noncollectors or are limited to CDs and LPs.

Or, in my case, perhaps too willing to believe The New York Times.

(Shout-out to old CompuServe pal Jeff Tamarkin, who wrote — and then updated — the JazzTimes version of the Steinweiss obit.)

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Verbal phish

Someone claiming to be representing the US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network — and how sweet it is to know that financial crimes are actually being enforced these days — sent out a laugher of an email. Sum allegedly being held: $3.5 million. Means of acquisition: call their 800 number.

Yes, really:

The number to call is 1-8009359935 (if you are outside United States dial +1 follow with the 10 digits). Listen to the instructions carefully and proceed with caution by pressing at every request button 1,# until you reach to the point where you are requested to punch in the Account Number punch in 001042940, this is the federation’s consolidated account accommodating your payment funds at the moment, the loans and grants balances (L&G.B). After this, you would be requested to punch in the access code number and lastly punch in carefully (access code: 00334000) by way of a voice reconfirmation of your account particulars. This simply means confirming you as the beneficiary of the said account that will permit us to complete payment to you accordingly.

And where is this account, exactly?

The aforementioned fund above is currently deposited with our United States Federation accounts with JP Morgan Chase Bank for security measures in order to secure fund from lost and avert any future transfer/payment delays such as those urgly experience you got your self-involved in the past years with representatives and some ghost bank officials in Africa.

Urgly, indeed.

This might have been slightly less implausible had it not clearly stated in the header that it was sent from test@zjvcc.edu.cn, an address that’s all over the Web as a source of Dubious Stuff.

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