A good night’s cheap

Back in the spring, I noted that Ryanair, the no-frills airline based in Ireland, was about to install pay toilets in their aircraft. If you’re headed to London on Ryanair, this is the hotel for you:

At the Tune Hotel — an ugly concrete thing that overlooks an even uglier empty office block and a Costcutter shop — you pay for the room, and the bed inside it, and then everything else — towels, television — will cost you extra.

It is the hotel equivalent of Ryanair, without the general contempt towards customers from staff. Then again, it’s only been open a week. Give it time.

For now, rooms start at a mere £9, though the fees mount up pretty quickly: a clean towel and a bar of soap will set you back £1.50, and the television runs £3. Wireless Internet service? £3. Room service? Not going to happen.

Tune, which has operated profitably in Malaysia and Indonesia, expects to open 15 locations in the U.K. Who will be their best customers in Greater London?

It would be as good a place as any to go for a lunch break with the secretary you are having an affair with, but you probably wouldn’t want to take your wife there for a romantic weekend (now I think about it, I’m not even sure that you could fit two people in the room).

But its perfect customer? The politicians, 10 minutes across the river, who are currently moaning about having to sleep under their desks due to the “abortion” that is IPSA. Nine quid a night for a comfortable bed and a short walk to work should soon shut them up.

Right. Like MPs are going to walk to work.

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Rated F

One of the trickier aspects of writing about Cee Lo Green’s new single is avoiding the F-bomb in the title: after a while it gets tedious, except in the hands (or mouths) of the expert, which I am not.

That said, or unsaid, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen it in its undiluted form in a song title. Return with us to those halcyon days of 1978 and Alberto y Lost [sic] Trios Paranoias, who followed up their modest UK hit “Heads Down No Nonsense Mindless Boogie” with a pogoing thumper that, they must have reasoned, couldn’t possibly be as annoying as the Pistols’ “God Save the Queen.” This is not related to the Canadian punk anthem recorded by the Stiffs that same year.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is Lily Allen’s bouncy little pop number from 2008, which actually made the lower reaches of the Billboard Hot 100, and Anna David’s 2006 dismissal of a former lover.

Other songs with the F-word in the title include the 1981 Dead Kennedys track which the British charts listed as “Too Drunk To”, which the DKs obligingly followed up with a denunciation of Nazi punks, and Jenny Owen Youngs’ evocative waltz, whose title makes no sense until you hear the chorus.

All this and we haven’t even mentioned Nilsson’s “You’re Breakin’ My Heart,” from 1972, which my mother refused to allow to be played in the house.

(I need hardly point out that these will likely not be appreciated by your boss.)

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Allan Sherman, circa 1965:

My fastback has Wide-Track and Autronic Eye
Which winks when a cute little Volvo goes by

As usual, Mr Sherman proved to be prescient:

Car Lashes

CarLashes don’t appear to be movable, alas, but whaddya want for twenty-five bucks? (It’s $45 if you order the optional Crystal Eyeliner.)

Anyone who complains about “chick cars” should be required to install a set of these for the duration.

(Via Autoblog.)

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One-way tubes

“Does your site really need comments?” asked Joe Clark last fall:

Web-site owners generally do not have a clue what they’re in for when they open up comments, despite years of evidence and experience that should have given them a pretty good idea. It is a matter of settled fact that if you open up comments, people will show up to shit in the pool.

This isn’t the 20th century and there’s no excuse for acting surprised. You’re supposed to have a plan.

The fact is, though, there’s no single all-inclusive 99-percent-reliable plan. I have been fortunate in that what audience I have is top-drawer, and even the ones who are occasionally inclined to think I’m about three-quarters full of it — this varies from time to time, depending on how preposterous was my argument of the moment — are still unfailingly polite, even while they’re letting me have it with both barrels. Trolling is practically unheard of in these parts. This may be because I have a following just small enough to stay below whatever radar is being used to select victims; it helps that most trolls tend to stay on one or two blogs, where they can focus their Utter Crap Rays to greatest effect. (I have opined elsewhere that the Sorosphere, for instance, actually hands out individual assignments to its army of trolls.)

It helps, I think, that good sets of automated tools to keep out the bots and the splogs and the wackjobs begging for link swaps are becoming more widely used.

Still, this statement of Clark’s stands out:

A claimed commitment to freedom of speech is often indistinguishable from a nihilistic indifference to the suffering of others.

At $100-odd a year to run this site, I can’t afford a whole lot of nihilism, if you know what I mean.

(Tweeted Sunday by Andrea Harris.)

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Meanwhile, the teacher has a ’93 Accord

When automotive reality needs a front-end alignment, it’s time for the Booth Babe, who this time weighs in on teenage wheels:

You’re f-ing stupid for buying this car for your kid. Seriously. I know you have the cash. Good for you. I know you taught your kid to drive all by yourself. That’s actually part of the problem. Just because you spent a weekend at Skip Barber doesn’t mean your 16-year-old has any clue what to do with this obscenely powerful car you bought him in an extremely ill-advised attempt to prove to your hedge fund office mates that you’re a better provider than them. You know what your kid should be driving? A golf cart. Driver education in the US is piss-poor, and with rare exceptions they should not be in the weapons of vehicles they are driving.

There are times when I think it would make more sense to let Skip Barber or one of the other racing schools train the kids; they know how to make money off this sort of thing, and the students get a first-hand look at how close they are to being turned into teenoplasm every time they head up the on-ramp.

Besides, there aren’t any slow cars anymore, except for the ones that are really nothing more than road-legal golf carts. (I learned to drive in a VW Microbus, but that was forty-odd years ago.) I’d argue that driving the living whee out of a not-so-fast car is a lot more fun than having to poke along in a speedster at freeway-congestion velocity, but the adolescents who show up on the message boards wondering if they’ll void their warranties if they add a cold-air intake aren’t going to buy that premise for a second.

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Strange search-engine queries (239)

Some people have made the mistake of seeing this feature as a load of rubbish dumped out of the server logs, but clever people like me who talk loudly in restaurants see this as a deliberate ambiguity, a plea for understanding in a mechanized world. The points are frozen, the beast is dead. What is the difference? What indeed is the point? The point is frozen, the beast is late out of Paddington. The point is taken. If La Fontaine’s elk would spurn Tom Jones the engine must be our head, the dining car our esophagus, the guard’s van our left lung, the cattle truck our shins, the first-class compartment the piece of skin at the nape of the neck and the level crossing an electric elk called Simon. The clarity is devastating. But where is the ambiguity? It’s over there in a box.

37″ base spoiler:  Pay no attention to those characters who insist that if your base reaches 37″ you are already spoiled.

georgia nude places:  I saw a few bare trees down around Swainsboro.

montgomery al blowjob august 2010 you tube:  Wasn’t my tube. I haven’t been in Montgomery for three years.

barry switzer toby keith installment loans:  Hence the phrase “I love this promissory note.”

you can never please anybody in this world:  Sure you can. All you have to do is tell thousands of lies and spend lots of money. You’re guaranteed at least 40 percent of the vote right there.

speaking of boobs:  Okay, maybe 38 percent. But my point stands.

transmission failure no rebuild:  No movement, either.

f/x terriers nudity: As terriers go, the Smooth Fox looks nuder than the Wire Fox, but both of them actually have substantial coats.

kathie lee gifford/short legs?  Let’s see:

Kathie Lee Gifford on a stool

Okay, she’s not going to be doing the pole vault anytime soon, but I see no reason to complain.

“Nobody can judge me” – Jim Pique:  This haughty declaration is now known worldwide as the Fit of Pique.

how would you know if mazda 626 have transmission problems:  Failure to back out of the driveway is usually a pretty good sign.

(With thanks to Mr Neville Shunt and his critics.)

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Such nice, bright colors

The Kodachrome era has ended — no more film is being produced, and the last lab still processing it will discontinue the service at the end of the year — so it’s a good time to see how it was near the beginning.

The first available Kodachrome film was 16mm, introduced in 1935. Eastman Kodak had been selling black-and-white 16mm film only since 1923, so it’s a bit startling to see that they were experimenting with color before that:

Three of the four women have been identified: Mae Murray, Mary Eaton and Hope Hampton. (The mother and child are not known.)

Apparently this was a two-color variation: red and blue/green in a subtractive process. (Three-color motion-picture film was still a decade away.) Movies were still silent in this era, so it’s not surprising that some of the movements seem exaggerated and overwrought; on the other hand, the almost-pastel colors seem to soften the hard edges I tend to associate with the fashions and foibles of the flapper era, mostly because of, yes, black and white film.

(Via Fark.)

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Mr. Wonderful

I always thought of the late George David Weiss, who died last week at 89, as the go-to guy for musical projects: you wanted something done and it wasn’t going anywhere, you rang up Weiss. An example (or two) from the early Sixties:

The Tokens worked up a vocal arrangement of what they’d heard the Weavers sing; Hugo Peretti and Luigi Creatore, staff producers at RCA, were impressed, but noted that it was all chorus and no verse. To take care of this issue, George David Weiss, a songwriter who knew his way around places far beyond Tin Pan Alley — his next project with Hugo & Luigi was the revamping of Giovanni Martini’s “Plaisir d’amour” into an Elvis hit — was brought in to gin up some English narrative.

What the Weavers were singing had been titled “Wimoweh,” an adaptation of Solomon Linda’s 1939 Zulu recording “Mbube.” When Weiss got through with it, it bore the title “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” and the rest is history — and lawsuits, once Linda’s heirs decided that they really ought to get paid. Not that this was Weiss’s fault.

That Elvis hit, incidentally, was “Can’t Help Falling in Love with You.”

It was Weiss, writing as “B. Y. Forster” for legal reasons, who came up with the lyrics to George Shearing’s “Lullaby of Birdland”; it was Weiss who was thinking of Louis Armstrong when he put down words to the modest little ballad “What a Wonderful World” (music and production by Bob Thiele), an enormous British hit that went mostly unheard in the States for twenty years; it was Weiss, this time writing with Joe Sherman, who came up with the official song of summer love, “That Summer, That Sunday,” a hit for Nat King Cole in 1963.

So I have good reason to remember George David Weiss. And so do you.

(Title: one of three Broadway musicals to which Weiss contributed.)

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Unreliable heat sensors

A Twitter discussion Friday night yielded up a list, compiled by women, of women whose looks are underrated — and of women whose looks are overrated — by men. Dan Collins, who spearheaded the discussion, has posted the list, and of course it’s arguable, but what such list isn’t?

Grainne SeoigeIf you pushed me on the matter, I’d tell you that almost anyone’s criteria for such things are debatable at best, and their justifications are worse. Exhibit A:
an Irish TV executive, knocking a former employee:

Gráinne Seoige’s former boss at TV3, Ben Frow, thinks the presenter’s new job with ITV’s Daybreak could be an unmitigated disaster.

The TV executive and former GMTV boss believes the presence of Gráinne could seriously harm the programme because of her stunning good looks.

Warning that the average housewife could find the Co. Galway woman’s perfection “very off-putting” — especially first thing in the morning — the TV3 boss added that as women rushed about the house in the morning trying to get the kids ready for school “they may not be feeling their thinnest or their prettiest or their sexiest”.

This, he argued, would only be underlined by Gráinne’s “fashion icon status”.

I could be wrong on this, I suppose, but I’m inclined to believe that women who find themselves “rushed about the house in the morning” might be listening to the show, but they don’t have time to sit down and pass judgment on Ms Seoige’s appearance or presumed designer duds. Besides, I know of no television network in the world, except maybe Al Jazeera, which doesn’t have some built-in bias toward better-looking female presenters.

(Then again, to show how arguable my own judgment is, here’s Shirley Manson of Garbage, who made the “underrated” list, in an unusually self-effacing mode. Besides, I think the song is great.)

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A culture of corrugation

[The last scene from the most recent nightmare. — CGH]

Four of us lived on the top row: my bride and I, Kevin, and the Other Guy, each in our own box. The Other Guy seemed content with his existence; Kevin was kinda grumpy, and I was wondering why, instead of being blissfully happy with this beautiful young lady, I had this nagging sensation that something was wrong.

Still, there were things to do, and one of them was to maximize available space. Kevin had noticed that the very back of the grouping was uninhabited; we had no box knives to cut our way in, but they did allow us duct tape, so we figured we could punch our way through and clean up the mess later. I decided to inform the Other Guy, who didn’t even look up from his book; he just nodded and kept on reading.

My bride liked the idea. “So much space,” she said. “It might almost be like living in a real house.”

“Say that again?”

“Like living in a real house?”

I remembered that word. “House.” I used to live in a house, before the government built all these “temporary” shelters. In fact, somewhere over that ridge — it was all coming back to me now — I had a house of my own.

We piled onto our cycle and headed out the one road in the village. A gendarme on a better machine stopped us near the exit and informed us that we could go no further.

“Is that a fact?” said I, and decked the gendarme.

And we took that better machine out of the village, confident that somewhere en route I’d remember the location of that house. Up to this point, we hadn’t considered the possibility of squatters.

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Before even Tuna Helper

Matthew 14:19-21 (King James version):

And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.

And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full.

And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children.

I don’t know about you, but when I was being taught these things, the room was just smack-dab full of kids (like, well, me) who had the temerity to ask: “What kind of fish?”

Too many years later, I stumble across an answer. The Week this week publishes excerpts from What the Great Ate, by Matthew and Mark Jacob (New York: Three Rivers Press, 2010), including this, um, revelation:

The type of fish is not identified in the Bible, but scholars believe it probably was tilapia, which has been eaten in the Middle East for millennia but has become popular in the United States only in recent decades.

I’ve always thought that a little tilapia went a long way, but I had no idea it was this long.

Now I’m wondering about Matthew 17:27:

Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.

And thus, Caesar was rendered unto, so to speak. To this day they call it “St Peter’s Fish,” though few of them arrive bearing shekels.

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More or less dry

Brian J. Noggle contemplates what clothes dryers have come to:

I’m no expert on nuance, so in my black-and-white world, dry is an absolute value. Therefore, the dial that offers me more dry or less dry is probably offering me either dry or damp. Sandwiched between the two poles on the spectrum, the dial offers me the energy preferred option.

It’s all just greenmongering. My own dryer, now seven years old, has the same dial calibration — except where the Noggle machine says “Energy Preferred,” mine is inscribed “Normal Dry.”

In my experience, “Less Dry” means “Your towels will still be dripping at the end of the cycle,” and “More Dry” means “You know those burn marks on your shorts? Those are really burn marks.”

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Urban fabric in asphalt black

There’s a brand-spanking-new surface parking lot in downtown Austin at 5th and Colorado, and already it’s having an impact:

It’s conveniently located in the very heart of the Warehouse District. The parking lot will save patrons of the restaurants and bars along 4th and 5th a trudge from one of the many surface parking lots a full block or two away. Better, it breaks up the monotonous row of restaurants and offices stretching from Congress to Lavaca, provides some badly needed open space, and gives passersby an unobstructed view of the towers on 2nd street — a view that they could enjoy before only by standing at the corner of the block.

In fact, the only way they could improve on this sort of thing is by slapping a plaza on it.

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None more blue

Just happened to catch this near the back of my iTunes shuffle list (500 songs out of 5,680):

Whole lotta blue

There are in fact sixteen tracks whose titles begin with the word “Blue” — not counting “Blues” or “Blueberry” — so I suppose this isn’t all that amazing, but it still looks pretty damned weird, considering the list was sorted by artist.

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The Germans and your Wall

Under a proposed German law, employers, while permitted to check out job-networking sites for new hires, would be barred from reviewing their Facebook pages:

The bill would allow managers to search for publicly accessible information about prospective employees on the Web and to view their pages on job networking sites, like LinkedIn or Xing. But it would draw the line at purely social networking sites like Facebook.

It’s not like the Germans have suddenly discovered privacy, either:

Concerns have been heightened in recent years by scandals involving companies’ secret videotaping of employees, as well as intercepting their e-mail and bank data. The explosion of Web-based information tools has added to the unease.

The German authorities are investigating Google for having collected private Internet information while doing research for its Street View mapping service, and they have asked Apple to explain its data-collection policies for the iPhone.

Researcher danah boyd is pleased by this development:

I’m delighted by the German move, if for no other reason than to highlight that we need to rethink our regulatory approaches. I strongly believe that we need to spend more time talking about how information is being used and less time talking about how stupid people are for sharing it in the first place.

It should be noted that trolling Facebook for information in this way could be considered a violation of Facebook’s EULA, though the likelihood that Catbert will be busted for it seems fairly low.

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Romance is undead

Presenting ZombieHarmony, “because the apocalypse doesn’t have to be lonely.”

(Seen at the Facebook page of the very-much-alive Julie R. Neidlinger.)

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