This blog covers everything except sports and gardening, unless we find a really good link about using dead professional bowlers for mulch. The author is a StarTribune columnist, has been passing off fiction and hyperbole as insight since 1997, has run his own website since the Jurassic era of AOL, and was online when today’s college sophomores were a year away from being born. So get off his lawn.

Selfie teen gets the boot

Posted by: James Lileks under Photos Updated: April 16, 2014 - 12:03 PM

Literally. Guy stands too close to train to take a selfie. Conductor warns him with the horn, then gives him a workshoe in the brainpan.

The internet is doing what it naturally does: first, there’s the excruciatingly long 9 seconds edited down to its pith in GIF form:

And then the frame grabs for detailed study. Before everything went south, he’s preparing for a selfie - a Vine, I’m guessing.

The Boot of Doom enters the frame:

Contact, with some chin-rippling:

An almost contemplative moment:

Sudden transformation into an aging British rocker:

And brief stint as an Edward Norton impersonator:

The GIF and the grab are mine, which I mention in case anyone thinks I stole them without credit. Comment#1:

And WHY did you want to share this on social media? It's something potential employers, future in-laws, and most people that see it... after the sensationalism wears-off... will think shows poor judgement. 

If getting kicked in the head doesn't wake you up this fact, what will? 

He won’t wake up until he’s hit by a train. No - wait, that’s not right.

SCIENCE! A moon is being born in the rings of Saturn, right before our eyes.

“We have not seen anything like this before,” said Carl Murray of Queen Mary University in London, lead author of the paper. “We may be looking at the act of birth, where this object is just leaving the rings and heading off to be a moon in its own right.”

I'm just waiting for BuzzFeed to run the news with the headline "Saturn is having a moon and it is ADORABLE." 

Off to figure out a column; see you around. 

Poor Wally, Taco Lover

Posted by: James Lileks under Outstate, Technology Updated: April 15, 2014 - 12:24 PM

This day in Minnesota History:

The schoolchildren of St. Paul select the city's official flower, the sweet pea, in an election sponsored by the city's women's clubs. Other choices included the coreopsis, marigold, petunia, and aster. News of their selection is overshadowed by reports of the Titanic's sinking

Astor corpse vs aster corepsis, I guess.


COMICS This has been bothering me since Sunday. Last panel of the “Stone Soup” comic:

What do they need to talk about? His infidelity? The cache of Boeing 777 pr0n she found on his laptop? The fact that he takes her car and never fills it up, not once, ever? Something gave her pause.

Here’s the strip. She says they need to talk because his willingness to go to the hardware store is a result of the taco cart parked nearby. He has not been honest about the taco cart. He has not mentioned the taco cart. Keep in mind that she’s sent him to the hardware store three times over the weekend, because she can’t fix anything herself. He’s still in trouble. They need to have a talk. After which he drives towards the hardware store and considers driving past and just driving as far as he can until he can sort out how his life came to be like this.

TECH The Time mag article says that the cover “explains why we’re so bad at tech predictions.”

We tend to think that new products will be a lot like the ones we know. We shoehorn existing concepts where they don’t belong. Oftentimes, we don’t dream big enough.

Well, speak for yourself. I wrote a book 20 years ago that had Google Glass, more or less, with the controls embedded in contact lens sensors. It seemed both obvious and currently impossible, and hence futuristic. Anyway:

Here we are in the 21st century. The tech industry has lately made progress on this smartwatch idea, but it’s still not a problem that anyone’s completely solved, which is why it still isn’t part of everyday life.

That’s because it isn’t a problem at all. There’s nothing to solve. There’s no gaping watch-sized hole in our lives, and there won’t be until someone invents something that seems completely new and utterly indispensable. A watch that vibrates when you have a text isn’t it.

Related: Google Glass Will Never Become a Thing. Four reasons, which can be summed up as “kludgy and useless.” Plus, people who aren’t wearing them will hate you for wearing one, because they don’t know if you’re filming them, and because just wearing them makes you That Guy. Who says phrases like "this is a thing." Of COURSE IT'S A THING. 

THE BURDEN OF FAME Harrison Ford had a Shatneresque “Get a Life” moment the other day, when asked about Greedo and the Catina scene:

One Redditor thought Reddit’s “Ask Me Anything” with Ford this past Sunday was the perfect chance to get a straight answer about who shot first, but, unfortunately, Ford wasn’t willing to give a stance on it. “I don’t know and I don’t care,” he wrote. Thanks for the helpful input, Ford!

Even if you don’t care a whit about old roles that made you a star, and even if you’re sick to death of being connected with major pop-cultural franchises that stretch across decades and every imaginable media platform, would it kill you to play along? Would it just kill you? (via EW.)

Votd He never went outside again without his “lucky umbrella.”

REMINDER: tonight.

I like the Hamms-Beer vibe on that. Neil Justin's review is here, if you missed it. 

"Mad Men" returns

Posted by: James Lileks under Praise, Technology Updated: April 14, 2014 - 2:07 PM

They're always underwhelming. They're like the last episodes of the "Soprano" seasons, which never lived up to what you expected. The episode had one great visual sequence: the airport. I thought BuzzFeed would have sliced that up into 10 GIFs by now, but it doesn’t have anything on the show. Which is telling. A the show leaves behind the Jet-era midcentury swank, those who came for cocktails and interior decor may have peeled off.

It felt as if the enthusiasm and spirit was leaking out of everything, a deliberately weary show that’s setting us up for . . . oh, I don’t lnow. I don’t think the show is leading to anything except January First, 1970 and a slow fade, leaving everyone to carry on. Life only has one conclusion.

The best recap, as usual, is Matt Zoller Seitz’ at Vulture.

VotD A reminder that you’re either delighted by the sound of shouting massed children’s voices, or not:

Odd they can’t figure it out.

I don’t lament the end of cassette tapes, and a slender iPod is superior to hauling around those brick-heavy Walkmen. (By comparison, anyway.) But there were moving parts, and those are instructive. There were the spindles, which transported the tape, and there was the magnetic-head reader assembly, or whatever it was called. Even if you didn’t understand how sound was stored on tape, you could see the relationship between the parts and the result. Now everything just happens when you touch a point on a piece of glass.

The less we understand how things work, the dumber we get. 

Ugliest house in Canada

Posted by: James Lileks under Outstate, Technology Updated: April 11, 2014 - 12:32 PM

Or not; depends on your attitude towards smothering everything with crawly wallpaper. I bring this up because "Mad Men" returns this weekend, and mid-century enthusiasts may be disappointed; the show has moved beyond the narrow-tie-and-lapel era of swank into the pestilence of purple shag. Which brings us to this time-capsule home described thus:

A gem like you've never seen! A 96-year-old Toronto resident is selling what we at could only call a tour de force: her home of 72 years, lovingly and impeccably decorated wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling, in the 1950s and '60s. For the record, we wouldn't change a thing!

Hardly any 50s. Mostly it’s this:

This is better.

Tiny house with zero curb appeal; $700K Canadian. The whole tour is here. Yikes.

CURRENT AFFAIRS You may have heard that Hillary Clinton had a shoe thrown at her, providing material for innumerable GIFs:

Buzzfeed put it like this:

Security officials later ushered the woman who said she threw the shoe out of the event.

She was then arrested, but it remains unclear why she targeted the former first lady.

Research is hard! AP yesterday said the woman was carrying a “classified” document about the “Cynthia” project in Bolivia. Google that, and you’ll find references to the CIA’s presence in Bolivia in 1967, and how they assisted the government’s hunt for Che Guevara. The shoe-thrower is probably hears voices, alas.

GEEK CULTURE You are suffering from a moral panic. A healer will prescribe time and perspective. BBC:

Egbert later died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound in 1980. Despite the evidence regarding his mental health problems, some activists believed Egbert's suicide was caused by D&D.

In 1982, high school student Irving Lee Pulling died after shooting himself in the chest. Despite an article in the Washington Post at the time commenting "how [Pulling] had trouble 'fitting in'", mother Patricia Pulling believed her son's suicide was caused by him playing D&D.

The piece concerns the Dungeons & Dragons freakout which almost included worries that kids would choke on the oddly-shaped dice. The 80s had other strange panics, such as the destructive nonsense about ritual Satanic child abuse. I’m sure in 30 years they’ll say it was misplaced anxiety over something else, just as the giant-bug movies were sublimated anxiety about the atom bomb. Perhaps they were really about scaring people with enormous ants.

SCIENCE! The other day I said that apocalyptic predictions based on planetary alignment seems to have subsided. Wrong.

There has been a lot of interest recently in an upcoming series of lunar eclipses that begins April 15. These are usually described as "four blood moons" and taken by some to prophesy upcoming disasters.

The total lunar eclipse of April 15 will begin a so-called tetrad series of eclipses that is making the rounds online as a potential harbinger of doom, due in part to a recent book on the four blood moons that makes the dubious claim.

Book? Books. Search for “four blood moons” on Amazaon, and you get several returns, including one by that old doomsday author, Hal Lindsey, who wrote about the moons in 1996 in novel form.No one ever reissues the books with a correction on the first page. “NOTE: The events predicted in this book did not come to pass.” They just move on to the next prediction.

VotD Inflection: lives depend on it.

Spanking in Minnesota

Posted by: James Lileks under Photos, Praise Updated: April 9, 2014 - 12:39 PM

I'm tempted to drive to Calhoun to see if anyone's on the beach today. It's only 57 now, but we're promised 70. Then it's back in the 40s next week, because life is cruel. Is this worse than last year? Well: last year, April 15: high of 37. April 15, 2012: High of 61. 2011: 43 at noon. 2010: 66. As you see, it goes back and forth with big swings. Let’s check 1986: 45 at noon. 1985: 62 at noon.

All this data comes from the Time Machine feature of Plug in any date. You’ll see wide variances, but a mean emerges. Imagine that.

DISENGAGE Captain Janeway says she was tricked into voicing the geocentricism documentary. AVClub:

Seeming to offer explanation for why the vessel of Star Trek: Voyager became so irrevocably stranded, Kate Mulgrew—best known as that show’s Captain Janeway—has lent her familiar voice to The Principle, an upcoming documentary about the belief that the Earth is the center of the universe. The film has been in the works for a while, though it’s mostly been as ignored as those who have propagated the theory of Geocentrism past the 17th century.

But that’s all changed with the release of a trailer that finds Mulgrew’s familiar voice intoning, “Everything we think we know about our universe is wrong,” before a montage of physicists offers vaguely articulated assessments of how unique our planet is, seemingly in support of the idea that everything must therefore revolve around it. Some of them stand before whiteboards with calculations written on them. The evidence is compelling.

She says - well, read the article; they did the heavy lifting, I didn’t. I figured she was just taking a paycheck. Just because Orson Welles did the voiceover for frozen peas didn’t mean he ate them.

WEB CULTURE You never know which gaping hole in our culture exists until someone plugs it. This is one of those: man recreates bathroom fight from “World’s End” in Minecraft. Whew.

Via AV Club.

ART Beautiful cinemagraphs by Rebecca Mock.

They’re all available at one page, and I could point you there - but then they’d get the traffic instead of the artist, and you wouldn’t see the rest of her portfolio. I know, I know, who appointed me Link Cop today.

BAD ROBOT Let’s check in with our favorite gibberish blog, automatically compiled to snag search results. It’s written by “Leonard,” and it’s called “Minnesota / A blog about minnesota from a graduate student.” Today’s title: “Spanking in Minnesota.”

Under Minnesota state and local law enforcement agencies have implemented an aggressive approach to curbing driving under the spanking in minnesota a great place to move. There are also fun family activities and various cultural showcases held in this state should spend a night at the spanking in minnesota an old historical landmark which has both a park and an area of a home in the spanking in minnesota that takes cruises in this modern arena. The large and beautiful state with a criminal offense. In fact, the spanking in minnesota, which is nice. There are several people who visit the spanking in minnesota during the spanking in minnesota can go on kayaking or canoeing trips.

No link, because that’s what they want. SAYS I, LINK COP.

VotD From Blastr, a story about the original design for the Predator.

Before it landed on the iconic beast we all know and love, the 1980s action hit Predator featured a very different look for its namesake hunter -- and Van Damme, was it terrible.

Before the studio mercifully turned to FX legend Stan Winston to redesign the creature, they originally hired Jean Claude Van Damme to play the Predator, wearing a weird red suit that would be changed in post-production as part of the cloaking effects.

The recollection of Van Damme’s fury is priceless.

Wait a minute, says Link Cop. What’s this in the comments?

I love how you idiots are always stealing headlines from Bloody-Disgusting. Don't think I don't notice. This site should be taken down

Well, let’s see how Bloody-Disgusting titled the piece: “Hilarious Story About Jean-Claude Van Damme In ‘Predator’!! Okay. Blastr: “Awesome, long-lost 1980s footage of Van Damme's hilariously bad Predator.” No, different headline. And better. And they link back to as the original story.

So Link Cop will let them go on their way, and detain the commenter for a while to issue a warning against making spurious accusations.

Finally: yesterday's discussion of Archie dying - and by that we mean "dying in an alternate timeline to goose sales" led to someone tweeting out the cover of Life with Archie #37 by comics legend Alex Ross. Oy:

Can you possibly imagine a situation where this would be your perspective, and something really awful wasn't about to happen? There are actually many different covers, and you can see the whole batch here. You may not care a whit about Archie, but the comic is an American archetype, and it's interesting to see what different artists do with the concept of Riverdale's redhead taking the big sleep.



Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters