Start here

Andrea Harris runs down that list of 100 best opening lines from novels, and decides that maybe they aren’t the best. (Okay, some of them are downright terrible and/or embarrassing.)

I was, however, gratified to see my Favorite Novel Ever in the #82 slot. (Yes, it’s worth reading.) And I thought I’d throw in a few others that I’ve found compelling — which doesn’t necessarily imply “beautiful” — over the past few years:

  • “There are houses in London that keep to themselves and say nothing when strangers walk by.” — F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre, The Woman Between the Worlds (1994)
  • “I knew we were unfit for one another the night we were watching Casablanca.” — James Lileks, Mr. Obvious (1995)
  • “Bad monkey wammerjammer.” — Penn Jillette, Sock (2004)
  • “I searched for sleep curled up in my quilt — the one made for me at my birth by my paternal grandmother’s own hands.” — Dorothea Benton Frank, Sullivan’s Island (1999)
  • “It started with a book.” — Frank Portman, King Dork (2006)
  • “If his life—along with those of so many agents faithful to the Cause—didn’t hang in the balance, James Locke knew he would turn and escape Lord Pembroke’s study as silently as he had entered.” — Donna MacMeans, The Trouble with Moonlight (2008)

About the only thing these books have in common is that I paid to own copies thereof, and I saw reason to go to the second line and beyond. As the phrase goes, your mileage may vary.

Comments (9)

Doing the Wiig walk

The Fug Girls, unlike some individuals I could name, don’t mind orange at all, and were delighted to see five orange gowns at the Met Ball. (Right about now, Lynn should start feeling vindicated.) And I like this one, a Stella McCartney job sported by Kristen Wiig:

Kristen Wiig in Stella McCartney

The shoes (also Stella’s) are somewhat meh, but otherwise this is pretty spiffy, not unlike Wiig herself.

Comments (6)

A calculated move

Denver beat the Lakers in Los Angeles Tuesday night, forcing a sixth game in that first-round series, but this is the weird aspect of it:

The Lakers were privately seething after seeing the Nuggets use a laptop computer in their huddle during a 20-second timeout with 19.9 seconds left to play.

The computer apparently belonged to an assistant coach sitting behind the bench with it. NBA rules forbid the use of such devices in the huddle, which won’t change the final score but can carry a hefty fine of up to $250,000.

Anyone know if the Staples Center has free Wi-Fi?

Comments off

When the spirit moves you

From the Things I Never Knew file, courtesy of Dave Schuler:

The keynote speaker, apparently a last minute replacement for the chap who was scheduled to be the keynote speaker, was the senior senator from New York, Charles Schumer. He was a confident and reasonably entertaining speaker. Mostly he talked about himself, not terribly surprising for a US senator.

He told us that his first job was operating a mimeograph machine in a very small, closed room. I think this may explain a lot. If you’re old enough to remember mimeographs, you probably know what I mean.

I am, and I do, though I had more space available. One of my Army duties was schlepping recently-cut orders, many of which I’d had to type myself, up to the Forms Room, a metal building about the size of a two-car garage which held at least one copy of every DA form from 1 to 2496 and maybe some others, where resided an offset press and a mimeograph. The mimeo was a lot less messy, but the offset produced better copy, and on cold days generated almost enough heat to take the chill off the place.

However, I must point out that the mimeograph didn’t produce much in the way of mind-altering fumes, unlike its cousin the Ditto machine, which was revered in places like, say, Ridgemont High; which means that there must be some other explanation for Chuck Schumer.

Comments (1)

Playing the percentages

The blogger known as Bookworm, who lives in gorgeous Marin County, California, spotted this rolling contradiction in a local parking lot (emphasis presumably added):

Lexus SC allegedly owned by a member of the 99 percent

She assures us, though, that the owner of said vehicle is very likely to be a pleasant, agreeable person.

Comments (2)

Knew Ned Ludd personally

Earlier this week, I was bewailing my inability to keep up with the latest technology. (For the record, I have since discovered that the phone in question likes MP4s, but not in 1280 x anything resolution.) Still, I got nothing on this guy:

My 84 year old neighbor bought a 2011 SRX. When he bought it, he said to me, “You know, I think Cadillac is going backward. My old Cadillac (2009 CTS) had the standard radio that included a multi-disc CD changer in the dash. This new car has the standard radio, but only a single disc CD player.” At that, I pointed to the USB port in the SRX. Geezer was like, “What?” “That”, said I. “Whats that?”, asked the geezer. “It’s a USB port”, says I. “A US-what port?”, asks the geezer. I proceeded to help him rip over 30 CD’s to .mp3, and loaded them onto a USB stick. I plugged the stick into the USB port and turned on the radio. The old dude sat there with his mouth hanging open like a member of some lost Amazonian tribe that had just seen a cigarette lighter for the first time in his life.

U! S! B!

Gwendolyn, per the switch panel, is set up for a six-disc changer, but apparently this was an option for which her previous owner did not opt.

Comments (5)

Special added detraction

Now playing on Screen Number Two: Jeffro vs. Ted Rall!

Before you ask: yes, Ted did show up.

Comments (3)

Outside the purview

This is prime facepalm material, for sure:

A relative of mine who teaches high school once tried to correct students’ grammar in their lab reports … at which point, several students collectively protested. They actually said, to her face, “this is a biology class, not English class; spelling and grammar don’t count.”

This is the kind of sweet little snowflake who makes you want to bring out the blowtorch.

Comments (13)

Just like Miami (farking Miami)

As the phrase goes, I didn’t see this coming:

Tom Gabel, the lead singer of punk rock band Against Me!, says he’s becoming a woman.

The 31-year-old tells Rolling Stone that as a kid he felt disconnected from his body and has a condition called gender dysphoria. He plans to take hormones and undergo electrolysis. He also is considering gender reassignment surgery.

Gabel hereafter will be known as Laura Jane Grace. He’s married and has one child; he will be leaving neither behind, he says. If he has the surgery, I do hope he manages to avoid massive hemorrhaging and major farking complications.

(Title not quite explained here.)

Comments (6)

Quote of the week

It’s only Wednesday, but I don’t see anyone beating this one in the next day or two. Roberta X, on Richard Lugar’s long-overdue departure from the Senate:

Oh, he made a gracious-enough concession speech, but he’s also said the victorious Richard Mourdock has embraced a partisan attitude that makes it difficult to get things done.

That was the point, Senator. See, the more Congress “gets things done,” the smaller my paycheck, either directly through taxes or indirectly by inflation. And just what are those “things,” anyway? Mostly taking money from person or entity A (who earned it) and giving it to person or entity B (who did not), usually for the benefit of the bozos in Congress and the rebozos they run with. Other than declaring and (more or less) funding wars — an endeavor of which I am deeply skeptical — just what is Congress good for any more? To pass new laws? The Code of Federal Regulation alone, in a tiny font, occupies over four fathoms of shelf space already! Nope, they need to stop playing Lawgiver and start repealin’. Dick Lugar wasn’t willing to even consider that.

McGehee once proposed a Constitutional amendment which began “Congress shall make no law” — and which ended there. It looks better every day.

Comments (2)

Fewer like this, please

Roger gets the treatment from a lackey at an Allegedly Major Magazine:

I go to the log-in menu, and do what I’m asked to do, then try to get to the online article, but — nothing. I play with the system, and it asks for the confirmation number, but I haven’t a clue as to what that is. So I call customer service. The woman on the phone asks me what my confirmation number was and I assured her I had no idea what she was talking about.

As it turned out, the confirmation number had gone into my spam folder, which she blamed on GMail. But I wasn’t supposed to retry to register, which I was doing while I was on the phone with her, because that action generated ANOTHER, different confirmation. I was supposed to go to the e-mail and click on something. But she was so clearly impatient — “I TOLD you that you need to click on the link on the e-mail” — even while maintaining that faux professional calm, that it took me a minute to figure out that I first had to move the e-mail from the spam folder, because otherwise, the link she wanted me to click on would not work.

I don’t even use Gmail, yet now I’m tempted to blame stuff on it.

And I admit to being really inept at faux professional calm, which is why I haven’t worked a customer-service position in twenty years or so.

Comments (5)

What’s his beef?

Nancy Friedman happens upon a brand of jerky that seems, well, hostile: their tagline is “Our jerky punches gas station jerky IN THE FACE.”

This strikes me as rather a low bar to surmount, but whatever. Amusingly, the purveyor of said jerky, one “Saul Bunyan” (brother to Paul, it appears), left her a comment nearly as long as her original article, at least partially to defend the marketing claim that “Real men eat jerky, and as legend has it, those who don’t turn into fanciful woodland pixies.” I, of course, figure that any woodland pixie that isn’t fanciful is barely worth bothering with. (Now if they turned into Pixies — well, we’ll see what Black Francis thinks about that.) Bunyan continued to hang around the comment section until Friedman decided that he’d worn out his welcome, which historically is not the sign of a True Marketing Genius.

Comments (6)

Caddy remarks

What does Jack Baruth want from Cadillac? Some actual Cadillacs, dammit:

Since the last real Eldorado died in 1985, you’ve built spacious cars, fast cars, plastichrome Tahoes, economical cars, and even somewhat reliable cars. You just haven’t bothered to build any Cadillacs. What is a Cadillac? It is, simply, a vehicle that is exemplary and desirable.

Now we have the ATS. Aren’t you ashamed of yourselves? Do you really think anybody wants this car? Do you really think anybody is willing to pay more for it than they would for an equivalently-powered BMW? Is this vehicle exemplary and desirable? The answer to these questions: Of course not. This car, along with every other vehicle you sell, should be summarily discontinued and replaced with actual Cadillacs. You’d be better off buying the tooling for the 2003 LS430, welding fins on said LS430, and selling that. It would be closer to the idea of “Cadillac” than anything you have now.

Then again, Lincoln these days can scarcely be bothered to come up with anything that couldn’t just as easily have been done as a Mercury. Maybe we can talk Sergio Marchionne into building a few Imperials for Chrysler Group.

Comments (4)

Music from the hearts of ponies

I tend to be somewhat fidgety by nature, but it’s by no means necessary that I sync my music to my nervous system: there are times when what I want most is a slow, and I mean barely moving, ambient background for what I’m doing, or sometimes for what I’m not doing. (Hearts of Space? Yes, please.) I’m not especially familiar with the genre, so I take it more or less as I find it.

Where I did not expect to find it: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Some smart guy came up with the idea of taking “Love Is In Bloom,” the upbeat closer to the two-part Canterlot Wedding story arc, and slowing it to about one-eighth speed while retaining pitch. This is not particularly tricky, technologically speaking, but it never, ever would have occurred to me. The video is similarly slowed, but you don’t need the visuals: it’s bouncy and appealing at a minute and three quarters, but at fourteen minutes and three quarters, it’s weirdly — but beautifully — atmospheric. I have no idea what composer Daniel Ingram thinks about this sort of thing, but I’d like to thank him just the same.

(Found in a nightly roundup at Equestria Daily.)

Comments off

More summer shorts

Who writes short shorts? I write short shorts.

Comments (2)

Fly the friendlier skies

And those would be, um, the skies of Hello Kitty:

Eva Air Hello Kitty jet

This isn’t the first time Taiwan’s EVA Air has paired with Sanrio — they had two such jets in 2005 — but they’ve ordered up new Airbus A330-300s to celebrate their 20th anniversary, and who better to invite to the party?

If travel with Kitty appeals to you, start here.

(From Buzzfeed via Girls of a Certain Age.)

Comments (2)