Frontal assault

Sometimes I imagine it’s just this difficult:

Triumph – Find the One from ChezEddy on Vimeo.

(Via Cartoon Brew.)

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The flow of imaginary cash

Tribune Publishing isn’t exactly rolling in dough these days:

Tribune Publishing’s earnings fell about 75% in the first quarter as advertising revenues at the owner of the Los Angeles Times continued to decline, the company said Wednesday.

The company posted net income of $3 million, or 10 cents per share, down from $12 million during the same quarter last year.

Revenues dropped nearly 5% to $396 million. Gains in circulation revenue did not offset continue declines in advertising revenue, which was down nearly 6% to $220 million.

“The first quarter of 2015 represents our second full quarter as a publicly traded company,” Tribune Publishing’s CEO Jack Griffin said in a statement. “Our results were in line with expectations and reflect the early initiatives of our five-point transformation.”

Griffin may be right: it might be too early to tell how Tribune Publishing is doing. (It was spun off from Tribune Media last summer.) Market cap, for now, is a modest $400 million or so.

However, TribPub is somehow coming up with $85 million to buy out the major San Diego daily:

The parent company of the Los Angeles Times has agreed to buy the U-T San Diego, uniting the newspapers of California’s two largest cities under common ownership.

Tribune Publishing, owner of The Times, the Chicago Tribune and other daily newspapers, announced Thursday that it will pay $85 million in a cash-and-stock deal for the U-T, eight community weeklies and related websites.

The acquisition will extend the company’s reach into the country’s eighth-largest city and give it a dominant position over a wide swath of Southern California.

Tribune will place both the Times and the U-T under the California News Group umbrella, suggesting they may be open to buying other Golden State news properties. The deal is for $73 million in cash, the rest in TribPub stock.

The AP story on this transaction is a little blunter than the story in the Times, at least in one regard:

Douglas Manchester, who bought the San Diego newspaper in 2011 for about $110 million, will remain owner of the U-T’s headquarters in the city’s Mission Valley area. He is seeking permission to build 200 luxury apartments there.

So Manchester’s down $25 million in four years, and — is he going to tear down U-T HQ? Is the Times going to take over production entirely?

(Via Georganna Hancock. Note: Tribune Media holdings include KFOR-TV and KAUT in Oklahoma City.)

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Harder to believe in miracles

Errol Brown, MBE, of the musical group Hot Chocolate, has died at his home in the Bahamas, no thanks to liver cancer. He was 71.

Brown, I think, was just slightly ahead of his time. He got his band signed (briefly) to Apple Records after recording an unauthorized version of “Give Peace a Chance”; John Lennon thought enough of it to send them a contract, but things got buggered while the Beatles were breaking up, and Hot Chocolate went to work for megaproducer Mickie Most (Donovan, Herman’s Hermits).

The HC hit that got least notice in the States, I think, was “Brother Louie,” eclipsed by a cover by the American band Stories, founded by Left Banke genius Michael Brown, who left before “Louie” was recorded. The song got yet another lease on life with the arrival of Louie, the TV series starring comic Louis C. K.; the TV version sounds more like Errol Brown than like Ian Lloyd of Stories.

Of course, you know this song:

Brown left Hot Chocolate in 1985 to go solo; he staged a farewell tour in 2009.

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Hang the fees

Another one of my lingering questions, answered while I wasn’t looking: “Is there an automatic teller machine in Antarctica?” There is:

Despite the frigid temperatures, ornery elephant seals, and months of perpetual darkness, Antarctica is still a place where money matters. That’s where Wells Fargo comes in.

The banking conglomerate installed an automatic teller machine (ATM) back in 1998 at McMurdo Station, the largest science hub on the continent. Depending on the season, McMurdo’s population ranges from 250 to more than 1000. And like any small community, commerce is crucial. In order to patronize the coffee shops, general stores, bars, or post office, money is exchanged in what amounts to a closed economy. Some places only accept cash; others have a credit card minimum that’s hard to meet when you need just a couple of items.

And who fixes it when it’s broken?

According to Wells Fargo spokesperson Kristopher Dahl, the company trains McMurdo staff to make simple repairs; more importantly, there’s a second ATM that can be cannibalized for parts. “Every two years, both machines are serviced and brought up to speed on the latest technology,” he says. The vendors chosen for that job undergo a psychological exam and a physical to make sure they’re equipped to deal with the Antarctic climate in case they get held over.

“Latest technology” tells me that they’re not running Windows XP, anyway.

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Looking after my tunes

That’s the pitch I got in email from an outfit called AdRev:

We are reaching out to copyright owners about protecting and monetizing their music in YouTube’s Content ID system. AdRev administers your tracks and finds all unauthorized uses of your music on YouTube. We then monetize any video using your music and point the revenue to you. Our service is free to use. We do not charge any sign up fees, and there are no out of pocket costs. We pay you 80% of the revenue generated, and our admin fee is only 20%.

Seems legit, as the phrase goes. The fact that I don’t have any videos on YouTube, however, would definitely keep me from signing up.

Then again, at some point during the attempt to integrate YouTube with Google+, I found myself with an actual, if unused, YouTube channel. Inexplicably, it has three subscribers; I can only conclude that they’re looking to see what I like.


Plagues upon us

You name it, we got it yesterday: torrential rain — normal May rainfall is 4.65 inches, which we got in a couple of hours — randomly-appearing tornadoes, mostly, as usual, on the southside; and tigers.

Wait, what?

The tigers were rounded up before midnight — they say.

Pharaoh was not available for comment.

(Here be tigers.)

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I don’t think that’s snow

The National Weather Service will be deploying new icons later this year, which is a Good Thing if this one strikes you as absurd:

Screenshot from NWS Norman 8 pm 6 May 2015 showing snow/ice

Then again, what is a May in Oklahoma without Mother Nature throwing one (or in this case, several) of her hissy fits?

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Quick-ish study

Carly Fiorina’s campaign team whiffed early on, failing to secure the domain; it now belongs to a troll who’s using it to remind people of the massive layoffs during Fiorina’s tenure at Hewlett-Packard.

Apparently, however, she learns fast. The other night on Late Night with Seth Meyers:

When Meyers pointed out Fiorina’s mistake, she asked the host: “Do you know who owns”

“I do,” Fiorina said after Meyers noted he did not know. “I just bought it in the green room, actually.”

Watch the sequence here.

And of course, she’s making hay with it:

I am not quite awed, but certainly amused. (And I must point out that a dot-org domain from my host is only $9.95.)

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Cruelest song ever

Says Wikipedia: “OK Go also contributed a song to the 2015 movie Hot Tub Time Machine 2.”

I think they were probably happy to be rid of it. Still, it’s awfully damned catchy, as all OK Go songs seem to be. I’m not going to embed it here, but I will give you the appropriate YouTube link, with the caution that you shouldn’t even think about playing it at work.

Pedantic notes: Wilt Chamberlain played for the Warriors and the 76ers before landing in Los Angeles. And I really wonder about that self-described tigriphile.

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Winging it

Subject of a spam received yesterday: “Infinite legroom in a private jet charter.”

Infinite? Even if you’re outside sitting on the wing, it’s still finite. I don’t think you could pull this off even in a TARDIS.

Of the four proffered links, only two go to the alleged vendor: a third link goes to a PDF on (!) and the fourth to the Internal Revenue Service. Oddly, those two links are not visible in HTML mode, so I assume they’re provided to sneak past context filters.

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Meanwhile in Texas

James Lileks, on the Texas Cartoon Flap:

Today brought out the HATE in innumerable tweets about the Garland TX shooting, intent on letting everyone know that the authors weigh intentions over freedom when it comes to speech. The percentage that said “I am in favor of free speech BUT the event was provocative” exceeded the reverse formulation by 200%, it seemed, because A) the target was on the wrong side, and B) the victims — being the people who were offended — belong to a group that must be protected lest the roiling waters of hatred boil over had flood the land, which they’re due to do any time now. Shootings like this are inconvenient, inasmuch as they seem to conform to a general preconception about young men of a particular doctrine, and inasmuch as that idea interferes with the daily elevation of all the really important things we have to hate on cue, like Joss Whedon, it must be explained away.

The most pathetic excuse I keep reading attacks the event for being provocative. Not just because it turns the objects of its muted sympathy into bulls who cannot resist the fluttering flag, but because it pretends that the entire point of the last 100 years in art hasn’t been provocation. It’s been the safest kind, of course; the arts have been poking beehives for years with the confidence of someone who knows they are vacant or otherwise occupied. For decades a thing has been judged less on its artistic merits than its intention, and if its intention is pure — that is, a handful of mud in the face of those who use the word “pure” without the requisite ironic inflection — then its demerits are waved away in favor of an enthusiastic endorsement of its transgressive nature, or how much rubble of the old paradigm it produced.

Giving offense has been a badge of courage and truth since the frickin’ Yippies, and now I’m supposed to believe that comity is prized above the foundation of the Bill of Rights.

The answer to speech, as always, is More Speech. For instance:

By now we’ve had enough “transgessive” art to put almost anyone to sleep.

But some people will continue prattling on about “hate speech” and other arbitrary subsets of speech, because their values are sacred — and yours are not. Not that I have any particular desire to shoot them or anything.

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At last, may I?

Before SK Waller knew me, she knew lots of people:

I began writing music in 1965 when I was 14 and by the time I graduated high school, I had a large body of songs and played an array of musical instruments. I also had a voice and had already struck out on a performing career, singing at coffeehouses, clubs, parties, rallies … any place that would let me do it! By 1972 I was living in Laurel Canyon and performing on television and radio, at concerts all over LA, and opening for artists like the Doobie Brothers, Peter Gallway, and Leon Russell. In 1978 I went to England where I continued performing and in 1981 I got the attention of Paul McCartney, who gave me some serious consideration. I thought I’d finally get to make an album! Well, that fell through, but undaunted, I continued performing in my home state of California and across the southwestern states, all while being a single mom of a beautiful son with high-functioning autism.

Then in 1992 real life happened. My father was diagnosed with cancer and we moved to Denver so that I could take care of him through his last year. My music fell behind; I couldn’t bring myself to touch my guitars. Shortly after Dad’s death my mother had a stroke and I brought her from Denver to live with me, where I was her caretaker for four years until she passed. All of this while raising a large second family. All of the stress of being a caretaker took its toll on my own body and I fell to an auto-immune disease that kept me in bed for two years with chronic pain, fatigue, and depression.

But now she’s back, and she needs some of the tools of the recording trade:

I need to record an album, which, these days is no big deal. The only problem is, I can’t afford to buy the basic gear I need to do this. Having recording studio experience, I’m prepared to record at home — I’ve already designed the jewel case inserts and covers!

The funds will go toward the purchase of the following items:

  • A good microphone, boom stand, and cables
  • Professional headphones
  • A recorder/mixer
  • Jewel cases & inserts
  • Printing & manufacturing

I’m asking you to help me make my one and only dream come true. I’ve gladly taken care of everyone else and now I need help to do this one thing before I get too old and decrepit… ;) Will you help?

I will.

Her Indiegogo page is titled “May I Finally Please Make An Album?” I’m thinking it’s about darn time. I tossed $20 into the kitty to start; let’s see how far we can make it go.

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No, those aren’t Transformers

Joss Whedon departs Twitter in, well, not exactly a huff, but he does set up Robert Stacy McCain for a Future Film Projection:

The era of white cis male heteropatriarchal movie-making is over! Henceforth, every script will be created by a committee of Women’s Studies majors under the supervision of Judith Butler, Sally Kohn and Anita Sarkeesian, and all characters must be either lesbian, genderqueer or oppressed minorities from the Third World, preferably disabled or, at least, neuroatypical.

Your next super-hero blockbuster will be about an undocumented Guatemalan paraplegic bisexual with a harelip and chronic depression.

And the 12-year-olds are going to like it, or else.

What? He left out the Bechdel Test?

Actually, I could imagine a film about an undocumented Guatemalan paraplegic bisexual with a harelip and chronic depression; the poor shlub would have far more than usual difficulty breaching the porous-by-design border, and I’m pretty sure that had I all those obstacles in my path, I’d be pretty depressed too. What I can’t imagine is Michael Bay directing it.

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No longer standing by

Kellie Pickler’s 2012 album 100 Proof leads off with a rhetorical question: “Where’s Tammy Wynette” when you need her? She’s in Nashville’s Woodlawn Memorial Park, in a space which has sometimes been labeled “Tammy Wynette” and sometimes “Virginia W. Richardson,” her last married name. (She was born Virginia Wynette Pugh on this day in 1942.) But she never seems far away, even in the face of such anomalies as Lyle Lovett’s version of “Stand By Your Man” that played over the credits of The Crying Game. (Lovett is still singing it to this day.)

Tammy Wynette on stage

Actually, I missed “Stand” when it came out, having cemented my loyalty to Top 40; but when the Top 40 station played the heck out of the follow-up, “Singing My Song,” I went back and dug into her catalog. Of course, I could have just waited for this CD:

Tammy Wynette: The Definitive Collection

The last track on that CD is the hardest one to explain: “Justified and Ancient,” with The KLF, released in 1991.

Never made the country chart, but it checked in at #11 on Billboard’s Hot 100 pop chart, higher even than “Stand By Your Man,” which made #19 pop. (“Stand” was, of course, Number One country, her fourth in a row.)

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Ludicrous non-speed

I haven’t decided if this is fiendishly clever or utterly pitiful, so it’s up to you guys:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: How to REDUCE USB transfer speed Temporarily ?

Explanation for this query:

I want to reduce the USB transfer speed. I use windows 8.1 and I get a transfer speed of 17.5 MB per second through USB. I want to slow it down temporarily. Here is the Story for those who are curious, I met an awesome girl on a trip, we found out that we both are from the same city so she asked if i can take pics of her as she forgot her cam. So i took many pics of her which comes around 400 mb totally. Tomorrow she told me she would meet me to get those pics, I told her transferring pics would take an hour or so, I know it will get over in few min but this is like the only valid reason I have to meet her. So i just wanna slow down the transfer speed temporarily so I ll have little time to get to know her even better. Please help me guy. I dont wanna reduce it forever. I hate slow speed USB transfer. I just wanna make sure it takes at least 40 min. How to do it?

Note: The punctuation in the original was sufficiently random, in my judgment, to warrant some minor corrections.

The underlying assumption here is that The Girl won’t realize that he’s screwed around with the mechanism. I have a gut feeling that about six minutes into this scamlet, she’s going to ask why it’s taking so long, it never takes this long with her USB sticks.

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At least he didn’t share it

File this under “Unclear on the concept”:

A Montana man was arrested last month after he apparently “liked” his most wanted poster on a Crimestoppers Facebook page.

Levi Charles Reardon was arrested April 24 after he liked his photo on the Cascade County Crimestoppers Facebook page, according to the Great Falls Tribune. The newspaper reportedly captured a screenshot of it before Reardon revoked the like.

Something like this, in fact:

Cascade County Crimestoppers screenshot

Reardon, 23, who is accused of felony forgery after he allegedly stole a wallet and cashed forged checks, was then apprehended by police without incident, the newspaper reported.

I’m just trying to imagine the facepalm he did after realizing he’d just Liked his own mug shot.

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