Employee of the month?

Probably not. This is Jennifer Love Hewitt at the Hollywood premiere of Horrible Bosses, just barely on the red carpet at Grauman’s Chinese:

Jennifer Love Hewitt almost off the red carpet

Perhaps she thought someone might remember Blake Lively in this same Herve Leger bandage dress, circa 2009.

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I’ll take Brand Positioning for $1000, Alex

Joe Sherlock (scroll to Friday, July 8, until the archive links go into effect) relates this bit of automotive potpourri from Jeopardy!:

Host Alex Trebek asked a contestant the identity of the luxury auto brand whose logo depicts a stylized calipers. She didn’t know the answer.

When told it was Acura, the contestant replied incredulously, “Acura’s a luxury brand!?”

If there was a graphic, I hope it was right side up.

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Quote of the week

From Car Guys vs. Bean Counters: The Battle for the Soul of American Business by Bob Lutz (Portfolio Penguin, 2011), a snapshot of the Old GM, featuring a piece of voice-recognition technology that was mercifully euthanized before it was inflicted on Buick buyers:

I will never forget that drive through downtown Milford, Michigan, and the engineer sitting next to me probably won’t forget it either. At his urging, I asked for “more cold air.” “No, no!” he said. “You have to scroll verbally. First say ‘climate control.’ When the car says ‘climate control,’ you say ‘blower.’ When the car repeats ‘blower,’ you say ‘up one.’ Same with temperature.” Of course, it wasn’t that easy, and a comedy of errors ensued. I did the best I could, trying to remember the sequence. So fixated did I become with the marvels of voice-input technology that I casually cruised through two red lights, nearly causing an accident each time.”

“Scroll verbally”? Screw that. The only way this could be worse would be if you had to text the car to get it to do something.

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Sitting in the back for the moment

Not a whole lot going on in Rebecca Black Land; she’s back from vacationing in Cabo San Lucas, and while everyone waits on that EP, she’s set up her own YouTube channel (which, “Friday” being still in dispute, is quite empty for now), and she’s taking questions at a Buzznet blog.

Meanwhile, I scooped this out of her Facebook fan page:

“Going into the studio has been amazing. I just want to prove to everyone I can do it. I’m not some rich kid whose parents paid for her to have success. That’s not me. I want to be a real artist with a real career. The record is coming out so cool. I’m doing a ballad, a dance song with a little bit of a Latin flair to it. And, the lyrics will be a little more challenging. It’ll sound completely different from ‘Friday’ because there’s not a crap load of auto tune in my voice,” laughs Rebecca.

Of course, there were a few people — enough to get it to #58 in Billboard, anyway — who actually liked “Friday.”

And there’s James Lileks, who here discusses with his daughter what might happen if the cereal RB’s gotta have somehow failed to materialize:

“What would befall her if she doesn’t have cereal? She says she has to have it, but that suggests consequences if she doesn’t. Why not a PopTart?”

“It doesn’t fit the lyrics.”

“Anything fits. ‘Bagel, bagel, gotta have my cream cheese.'”

Don’t ask what the young lady formerly known as Gnat had for breakfast.

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Points off the curve

Arrows of Desire by Emma BlairThe blurb for Emma Blair’s 2008 romance Arrows of Desire:

When Steve is killed during enemy action, Beth is devastated. They were due to elope to Gretna Green the following week, and their happiness was complete with the news that Beth is pregnant. But now, alone and unmarried and with a baby on the way, Beth must survive by herself in war-torn Glasgow. When Beth meets handsome Canadian Gene, a friendship begins; for the first time since Steve’s death Beth finds happiness. When Gene asks her to marry him and live with him on his farm in Canada, Beth seizes the opportunity of a better life for her and her child. But it doesn’t take Beth long to realise that Gene hasn’t told her the whole truth and that the farm doesn’t belong to just him — his sister Loretta lives there too. And Loretta makes it very clear that Beth isn’t welcome and that she will stop at nothing — even murder — to get rid of her.

Blair’s first romance, Where No Man Cries, appeared in 1982. Sixteen years later, Emma Blair was (more or less voluntarily) unmasked as Iain Blair, a large, burly Scotsman who’d had no luck in the mystery market and decided to try a different genre altogether. He died Sunday at the age of sixty-nine.

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Fake insincerity

Real insincerity is amusing enough, but the version being fabricated for comment spam is simply way over the top. An example, snagged by Akismet this week:

You can certainly see your expertise in the work you write. The world hopes for even more passionate writers like you who aren’t afraid to say how they believe. Always go after your heart.

How stupid? He, by whom I mean “cheap air jordan 13,” presumably a unit of a botnet, hung this on a post about Packard automatic transmissions. I wouldn’t mind going after his heart — with a crossbow.

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We don’t talk about such things

The line immediately before that, of course, was “What is the crime rate in this neighborhood?”

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This week, Andrew Ian Dodge is proud to present a “Rumbling” Carnival of the Vanities, the 429th in the series.

Speaking of rumbling, this car did its share:

Ford Mustang Boss 429

This is, of course, the semi-legendary Boss Mustang 429, which wasn’t as gosh-darn fast as everyone believed, mainly because Ford built this engine for NASCAR and had to sell at least 500 copies of it to get it approved, but the darn thing wouldn’t fit very well in the ‘Stang’s nose, meaning the intake and exhaust it got were unduly restrictive. Damn laws of physics. (Picture borrowed from TopSpeed.com.)

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Not quite e-nough

Some of the real-world financial aspects of publishing for the Kindle, from Rob O’Hara:

Amazon advertises that authors keep 70% of the proceeds from each eBook sale, but that only applies to books priced at $2.99 and above. For us 99-cent bottom feeders, it’s 35%. That means for each $0.99 electronic copy of Commodork I sell through Amazon, I only make 34 cents. Combine that with the fact that Paypal charges .35 per transaction, and you can quickly see I’m not exactly rolling in the dough on this endeavor. All I can do is “pray Lord Vader doesn’t alter the deal further.”

Accordingly, he’s raising the price of the Kindle version to $2.99, while simultaneously, he’s cutting the price of a non-DRMed PDF version from his Web site from $4.99 to $2.99, which leads to some musing on how to deal with aggrieved buyers who paid the higher price:

Option #4: Contact all the people that just bought Commodork for $0.99 on Amazon and ask them to Paypal $2 to the people that paid me $4.99 for the book.

For the record, I have Commodork in its actual dead-tree edition. Cost me something like $20.

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Barely Maricoping

While Clark Matthews, whose A/C has been on the fritz, can easily justify referring to this place as “The Gates of Hell,” I must point out here that we got nothing on the PHX:

Years ago, I had to stay in Phoenix for a week during July. The good news was that they were practically giving hotel rooms away. The bad news was that there was a reason for that: no one who wasn’t forced to be there at that time of year would ever willingly choose to go.

When I made the reservation, I asked the clerk what time the weather cooled off somewhat. His answer was, “Around Thanksgiving.”

This week in Phoenix: highs around 105-110, lows in the upper 80s. Last Thanksgiving in Oklahoma City: high 43, low 28, a trace of snowfall.

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Stuck in the governmental maize

Rather a lot of automakers — conspicuous by its absence was General Motors — have written to Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-WI, vice chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, supporting his plan to block the sale of E15, which EPA has approved only for vehicles 2001 and newer; the manufacturers say they may void warranties on cars using E15.

Unsurprisingly, corn-belt legislators are miffed by this sort of thing, with, for instance, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) grumbling about “overwhelming scientific evidence,” no small amount of which is deposited to his account each and every year.

Dumbest comment, however, emanated from easily-bought — just ask the President — Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE), who advised against buying a car from one of these automakers: “I’d just buy a different car.”

Sure, Ben. Wait a few weeks and Archer Daniels Midland will buy one for you. Until they offer to buy one for me, though, you can take your precious ethanol and give yourself a Scientific Duodenal Cleansing. I’m sure you can get Chuck Grassley to hold the nozzle.

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Downright color-chippy

When I was a kid, I never quite understood all 64 colors in the big Crayola box: what the hell was “sienna,” and why was it burnt? I eventually figured all that stuff out. I finally learned how to do those pesky RGB color codes that screw up the Web for us. (In case you were wondering, the color bars off to the sides are #330000.) Six times out of ten, I can even comprehend an OPI nail color.

But these new paints throw me for a loop:

In a redoubled effort to capture consumers’ attention in the sputtering economic recovery, some paint companies are hoping to distinguish their brands with names that tell a story, summon a memory or evoke an emotion — even a dark one — as long as they result in a sale.

What they do not do is reveal the color.

For instance:

Valspar, which once featured Apricot 1 (all the way up to Apricot 6), now offers Weekend in the Country, a name that might put you in mind of an idyllic getaway or a Stephen Sondheim tune but that will not convey a specific hue. (For the record, it is the color of mud; perhaps not such a great weekend after all.)

On the other hand, mud rooms are trendy these days.

Farrow & Ball’s “Dead Salmon” — “dead” apparently means something like “matte” — has its own modest charm.

Not that I should talk, of course, since my own walls, unrepainted these eight years, are now something like Free Clinic White.

(Via Pop Culture Junk Mail.)

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Honestly, miss, I was only reading

Like there’s a chance I’d get away with that line:

Bookbinder Heels by Anthropologie

“A well-read pair of pumps,” says Anthropologie of these “Bookbinder Heels,” which practically demand that you check out the detailing on the, um, spine. It says, incidentally, “VOL XII,” which is no indication of size. (Doesn’t come in a twelve. Eleven, yes.) Which means that if you really wanted your shoe size emblazoned on your heel, you’d still have to wear your bowling shoes, which almost certainly don’t have a 3¾-inch heel or any sort of platform, and probably don’t cost $168 either.

(Via this Nancy Friedman tweet.)

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What so Dowdly we hailed

It’s been a long time since we had any Maureen Dowd-related material here, but fortunately for me and my need to fill this space, the blogger known as Half Sigma, who has been reviewing the life stories of New York Times scribes of late, kicked off a discussion with this observation:

Yet despite her success, I sense in her a lack of happiness with her life that doesn’t occur with the daughters of more elite parents. The daughters of the elite somehow manage to get married and have children despite pursuing their careers. In contrast, Maureen’s writings seem to reek of bitterness about being an old maid. So even though she appears to be successful, she compares herself to the children of the elite whom she works with and somehow she feels they have something she’s missing. But instead of blaming the elites or her prole parents for her unhappiness, she blames men.

In case you missed it, I offered some thoughts on Are Men Necessary? here.

Half Sigma’s commenter “blah” suggests:

She probably played the field too long in her youth and she was most likely holding out for a rich alpha male. Unfortunately, that didn’t pan out. So she complains about men who are intimidated by her (i.e. make less than her) and she snickers about the extra-marital affairs of rich alpha males in her columns. While she hates conservatives, I would wager she probably hates rich alpha males even more. This is where I disagree with HS. MoDo isn’t unhappy because she’s a striver but rather because she made some really foolish decisions in her dating life when she was at her peak in attractiveness. This woman was so unrealistic in her outlook that she thought she could land someone like Don Draper before she was a household name. And of course, when she became a household name, she was too old.

The trouble with landing someone like Don Draper, of course, is the risk of landing Don Draper.

I could say something here like “She’s only fifty-nine,” but that might seem somewhat self-serving.

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I’m surprised I didn’t think of this

Especially since my antipathy toward DST is on the record and all:

Newspaper clipping containing DST rant

Or, as the lovely Goldie Hawn once said on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, “I wish they’d move Christmas to July, when the stores aren’t so crowded.”

(Poached from Rand Simberg.)

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3.2: not a good beer, either

So I did the WordPress 3.2 installs yesterday, and for some reason I probably don’t want to know, the All! New! Dashboard! informed me that my browser (Firefox 3.6.18, if you must know) was in desperate need of being upgraded.

The coders were at least prescient enough to sneak a small “Dismiss” link into the box, though they could have saved three bytes by simply calling it “FOAD.” It was a closer match to my attitude, anyway.

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