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.
Wisconsin DoT cameras caught this four-minute festival of uncontrollable momentum.
Pay attention at 1:05 or so, right lane. Over the median and through the woods. Ask yourself: would you stay in your car and hope no one hit you, or get out and hope no one hit you?
ARCHITORTURE To the surprise of no one, the demolition of the Strib building moves one step closer to wrecking day. This piece on bringmethenews.com mentions something odd:
Besides being a sound example of Art Moderne architecture after its 1940s renovation, advocates of preserving the building say half-a-dozen architectural tributes to Minnesota’s industrial heritage are noteworthy features. The carvings are part of the stone facade on either side of the main entrance that depict mining, milling, lumber, fishing, farming, and dairy.
However, some say the carvings, aren’t valuable enough to merit preservation.
Who? There’s a quote from the head of the Architecture department at the U, but he refers to the interior, which has little historical value. The staircases date from the 1947 overhaul, but good luck saving a building for its staircases; we lost much better ones in the Metropolitan building, or the long-gone New York Insurance Building:
That’s one of the most magical spaces downtown ever had. Poof! Anyway: the medallions are significant, and the idea that they’re not valuable is preposterous. I understand they’re eager to claw the Strib down, but if they can’t take a few days to pry the Cow and the rest off the front for later placement in the park, then they’re vandals.
People simply aren’t willing to pay very much for recorded music anymore. If you’re an artist, and especially if you’re a record label, that’s very bad news. Naturally, some artists want to shoot the messenger, blaming Spotify for their paltry payments. But Spotify is not the problem. The market is the problem. Spotify is just the messenger telling them what the market is now willing to pay for their songs.
True - but Spotify and other services undermine music sales by letting the customer know in advance that an album isn’t any good. In olden times of vinyl you bought a record because a critic you respected had given you permission, or it was a favorite band. Then you took it home, pierced the plastic with knife or thumbnail or guitar pick, slid it out of the crackly envelope, and sat back to absorb this important cultural message.
Then came that sinking sensation, the slow, steady realization that the songs are hookless blobs. The band, exhausted from touring, is creatively spent. Surely they knew this was boring. Surely the producer knew it wasn’t anything close to their previous work. The people who designed the album knew. The executive who signed off on the publicity campaign listened, shrugged, and thought “We’ll sell enough before they figure it out.” Everyone knew it was bad but agreed to pretend it wasn’t - until the critic spoke up. There were only a few you trusted, but they’d save you from a bad purchase.
If you listened to them, which you didn’t, because hey, you liked that artist. Usually took two more flops to make you pass on the new one, and that always felt odd, Like you'd broken up with the band somehow, months before, and now here they are again. Awkward.
VoTD You know what’s going to happenn the first 2 seconds you see the situation.
So it’s not a matter of what, but when. Wait for the narrator’s reaction - if you can call it that.
SUPERVILLAIN LAIR STYLE There’s rich, and there’s car-elevator-to-your-59th-floor-garage rich:
The units are being snapped up by billionares, as you might imagine. This is Tony Stark territory, anyone wth the money would simply have to have a pied-a-terre in this structure. Yes, it's real; more here.
SQUIRREL! Everyone loves them. Inquisitive little scampering public pets. Do you know why the parks are full of the creatures? Because we put them there. Don’t know why this story is on Gizmodo, but I’m glad they did it. Give it a read.
A handy reminder: people make things up on the internet. Tip-stiffed because the judgmental patrons disapproved of her “lifestyle”? Well, now we have the catchy and euphonious term “tip hoax probe.” That “Viral” essay about “poverty lessson?” Well, er, hmm. That “epic” twitter exchange between some guy and Pace Picante’s account? Fake. That equally “epic” series of tweets about a loud complaining lady on a Thanksgiving flight? Why, that was performance art. Here’s how the Telegraph put it:
Inadequate young men have a new hero and his name is Elan Gale. He's a TV producer. He has been regaling Twitter with the tale of his Great Victory over A Middle-Aged Woman, and a depressing number of his peers seem to be punching the air and making those "doof doof doof" noises you hear at wrestling matches. You can follow Elan’s triumphalist account of his odyssey in its full glory here, but the potted history is, basically, this: mildly inconvenienced by the presence of a talkative woman in his earshot, Elan threw a teenage girl's hissy fit.
The Huffington Post Canada has reached out to both U.S. Airways and Gale to clarify the matter. Neither have responded to an interview request at the time of publication.
Have Gale's recent admissions changed the way you felt during the fight? Let us know in the comments below.
Hard to believe that U.S. Airways hasn’t gotten back to Huffington Post Canada yet.
JUST SAY NO TO HOBO This would tax the senses of anyone who has a passing interest in good fonts. Alan writes:
I was sitting in traffic the other day and it occurred to me that you need to know that New Mexico issued license plates for government-owned vehicles use the Hobo font. It's surreal.
He’s right. Oy.
We have a ridiculous number of valid plates; there's even one with Mistral on it (a personal hate-font of mine.) I haven't seen one with Papyrus yet, but it seems inevitable.
Daughter came home from school the other day and said they’d studied Egypt. Guess what the font was in the book? Of course: Papyrus. Also overused by yoga-class fliers and anything relating to aromatherapy. Here’s Mistral:
It’s not a bad font; for the time, 1953, it was pretty cool - but it was overused in the 80s, which is why the 2011 movie “Drive” used it to get that “Miami Vice” vibe. As much as I hate Hobo, you have to respect its longevity: It goes back to 1910, when it was created by the great American fontographer Morris Benton. If you strip away all your preconceptions, try to forget the bad signs and newsletters, you can see it as it was originally intended: an art-nouveau-inspired font that wouldn’t look out of place on a Mucha ad from Paris. But it’s not only overused today, it’s not particularly Southwestern, so I don’t know what they’re thinking.
MYSTERY Dearcabbie.com's text says:
"I don't know you and you don't know me but we're sharing this time together as we go through life." As such, cab drivers gain a lot of experience learning answers to life's many questions. Call it mind reading, call it a physic ability, call it fortune telling, or call it just being helpful; guiding people on their way just seems to be a part of many cabbie's everyday life. So go ahead; ask the cabbie what you wish!
Why you’d ask a cabbie about your innermost doubts and questions, I can’t imagine. Especially if the cabbie can’t find 35W without TomTom.
The text comes from dearcabbie.com,a site that popped up in a google ad box. Someone paid for it. I can’t figure out why. Eventually the cab moves, and that’s rather cool, except for the unmoving mouth and eyeless face and the looping video and the sense that you’ve died and gone to hell.
Is that the case? I typed “Am I in hell? into the “ask the cabbie” field. No answer. Reloaded the page. The lips in the rearview mirror parted slightly. Tried one of the “most frequently asked questions.” Nothing. Maybe you’ll have better luck. Or, if you just want to experience what it’s like to be driven in circles by an enigmatic driver who refuses to answer your repeated demands to be released, give it a shot.
ART HISTORY I’m not saying it’s good, but it is historical: a collection of cassette tape inserts. (Via Coudal.) Things like these rarely get saved; no one pays them any mind. Same thing happened with 45 RPM sleeves. Everything needs someone who’s interested in preserving the commonplace and quotidian, if only to scan it and provide a record of what the ordinary items of everyday life looked like.
Like postcards, for example. Today’s Strib has a story on the Soo Line building’s rebirth as an apartment building. Someone was sent a postcard of the building almost 90 years ago; someone put it in a drawer; someone took it out decades later and it ended up in my hands. This is what they removed from the second floor when the building was renovated in the 60s.
Finally: Block E is going to be overhauled. Not knocked down and replaced with the old Shinders-to-Shinders low-strung streetscape with an interior courtyard, but it's a start. BizJournal:
The owners of the Block E entertainment and retail complex in downtown Minneapolis are expected to announce on Monday a significant renovation plan for the facility as they look to update it for new tenants.
Good. First, take off that silly gimcrack cartoon facade and replace it with something that doesn't look like a rejected Disneyland theme park addition. Second, rent it out as cheaply as possible to as many small local merchants as you can find. Or just hollow it out and hang some trapezes and fill it with monkeys; I don't care.
Remember: the first picture is Blight; the second is Destination Entertainment.
The reason people take those shots, and will continue to take them despite the pleas of a TV meteorologist, is simple: snow-covered patio sets give an instant view of the amount of accumulation. It there's a circular table, the snow forms a perfect cake with rounded edges; it's lovely. This morning I wondered if we'd see much snow before Christmas; you hope so. That's why we're here. The White Christmas Guarantee.
MYSTERIES This article has an intriguing premise: "Man of Steel Isn't About Superman, and it Never Was." You'd think that a movie that concerns itself entirely with Superman might be partly about Superman, right? Let's see what the author says:
Nearly two and a half years ago I wrote an article called “The Green Lantern Franchise Isn’t About Green Lantern.” I made several assertions in the article, and while I may have been a bit ahead of myself, I still maintain that the core idea is true. However, with the financial and critical failing of that film forced WB to try again with the plan. Since it seems like they are more organized this time around, I thought I would revisit the idea of my original article and apply it to the latest contender. You see, I don’t think that last summer’s “Man of Steel” is about Superman at all.
At this point, you expect to read "Toy Story Wasn't Really About the Secret Life of Toys, Leading to a Heartbreaking Farewell to Childhood," but was really about . . . what? The geopolitical impact of petroleum products and marketing, coupled with the competing narratives of the Old West and the New Frontier?
Turns out the movie's really about setting up some larger DC movie universe. Okay. You want a real mystery? Try this, from the Telegraph:
Eriksson didn’t realise it then, but he was embarking on one of the internet’s most enduring puzzles; a scavenger hunt that has led thousands of competitors across the web, down telephone lines, out to several physical locations around the globe, and into unchartered areas of the "darknet”. So far, the hunt has required a knowledge of number theory, philosophy and classical music. An interest in both cyberpunk literature and the Victorian occult has also come in handy as has an understanding of Mayan numerology.
One long, cautionary diatribe, left anonymously on the website Pastebin, claimed to be from an ex-Cicada member – a non-English military officer recruited to the organisation "by a superior”. Cicada, he said, "was a Left-Hand Path religion disguised as a progressive scientific organisation” – comprising of "military officers, diplomats, and academics who were dissatisfied with the direction of the world”. Their plan, the writer claimed, was to transform humanity into the Nietzschen Übermensch. "This is a dangerous organisation,” he concluded, "their ways are nefarious."We'll probably never know. It could be a way to find the smartest cryptographers on the planet . . . and eliminate the threat they pose. ANIMATIONI stopped watching the Simpsons years ago, because I loved it too much. It turned into a parade of celebrity cameos dropped in while Homer does something stupid, again; the heart had gone out of the show. But the couch gag for Sunday was incredible, and I pity any reefer fiend who had lit up before this aired: It's an homage to the Silly Symphony cartoon, "Music Land.
One of the comments on YouTube - yes, yes, I know - says the two warring leaders are based on Laurel and Hardy, but I think the King's supposed to remind everyone of Paul Whiteman, the King of Jazz. The girth, the moustache. Audiences would have nabbed the reference right away.
(Via Cartoon Brew.)DASHCAM Today we have this silent film from the inexhaustible store of Russian street mayhem.
A local preservation group is asking the city not to demolish the Star Tribune's building on Portland Avenue ahead of a Tuesday night meeting on the topic.
In a letter to the heritage preservation commission, a citizen board focused on historic buildings, Preservation Minneapolis wrote that the building could be reused rather than torn down. The non-profit group is made up of architects, architectural historians and others in the development community.
May have something to say about it in a column later this week, although perhaps I should wait until the inevitable destruction. At best they’ll save the medallions, and place them in the park, just like the eagles from the old Convention Center. Such as:
I’d love to see the old building saved, of course; I like to joke that it’s the only example left downtown of Italian Fascist architecture. But it has a stern, clean beauty, and the new towers could take their cues from its stone and black brick. Pigs could also, given sufficient genetic modification, fly.
As the day towards demolition draws near, I'll run a few photos from the archives. I found this old slide in an envelope in a filing cabinet in the morgue; don't know if it's ever been seen before.
MST3K As you may have heard, the old tradition of a Thanksgiving MST3K Marathon returns this year. As they say, I went to the comments at io9 ooking for Classic Krankor Laugh, and was not disappointed:
In related news, here’s a movie for the Rifftrax crew to eviscerate in 2016. Variety reports:
Star Partners and Hummingbird Prods. are collaborating on production of a sequel to Frank Capra’s iconic 1946 movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” which starred Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed.
Karolyn Grimes, who played George Bailey’s daughter “Zuzu” in the original, will return for the “Wonderful Life” sequel as an angel who shows Bailey’s unlikeable grandson (also named George Bailey) how much better off the world would have been had he never been born.
Well, that’s a switch. And then he jumps off the bridge and dies? While I’m not going to judge it without seeing it - for once in my life - it does darken the story of the first one, doesn’t it? George and Mary’s descendent ruins lives. Sigh.
HOW NOT TO QUIT The Daily Dot copy says this is an "epic" note that "throws shade." Oooh, shade-throwing. Something tells me it was greeted by management with great relief.
ART For years people had been painting pictures on the walls of a building they didn’t own, without the owner’s permission. Naturally, they were indignant when the owner painted over their work.
The building, which is owned by developer David Wolkoff of G&M Realty, is slated to be replaced by a pair of luxury high-rises, in a controversial move that sparked outrage in the artists' community.
If there’s anything that will derail a massive real-estate deal, it’s controversial outrage in the artists’ community. Sorry: this has nothing to do with the quality of the work, or whether spray-can painting on someone else’s wall is art. It is. Some of it is quite brilliant. But if you’re doing it on someone else’s property the art lives at the whims of the owner.
Wolkoff and his father, Jerry Wolkoff, have pledged to include the local art community in their future plans for the site, and have promised to provide artists' studios, as well as "art walls" where taggers can continue to do their work.
I suspect this won’t be the same. It’ll be a petting zoo. There won’t be the same thrill of painting where you’re not supposed to paint. Here’s the takeaway quote:
”In 10 years from now, when the art form is fully accepted, [they] won't be remembered for any individual real estate property [they] built. [They'll] be remembered for the greatest art murder in history. That will be [their] legacy," Five Pointz curator Jonathan Cohen, whose tag name is Meres One, said at the building Tuesday morning.
Oh, please. A pre-whitewash tour of the work can be seen here. Some great pieces, and if you don’t think that’s art, well, what else would it be?
PURPLE SNOW That’s what the archivists call the Minneapolis music scene pre-Prince:
In the late 1970s, a peculiar sound began bubbling up from the land of 10,000 lakes. Buried beneath 50 solid inches of annual snow, Minneapolis made a Sound quite different than what the pop world foresaw. It issued forth as a slick, black, technologically advanced fusion, poised to storm the charts.
You can hear excerpts of the album here.
That's it for today - there would be a video, but it's not embedding. Well, let's try again . . . Hey! It works.
As they say: wait for it.
Sometimes I’m just plain mystified by the TV Q&A column in the paper. From today’s edition:
Q: I heard a while back that a biography on the musical group the Cowsills was in the works. I haven’t heard anything about it recently. What is that movie’s status?
A: “Family Band: The Cowsills Story,” a documentary about the group known for recordings of “Indian Lake,” “Hair” and “The Rain, The Park and Other Things,” has been released and has aired on Showtime. It also has been released on DVD.
Who are these people? Picture a couple at home - he’s in the living room, she’s in the kitchen.
Man: Hey hon, do you remember hearing about that Cowsills documentary?
Wife: The what now?
Man: The documentary on the Cowsills.
Wife: The Council’s what?
Man: The singing group the Cowsills.
Wife: Oh, right. I remember hearing something.
Man: But have you heard anything lately?
Wife: I haven’t been paying attention.
Man: It seems they were talking about it and then I didn’t hear anything else. Wonder if it ever came out.
Wife: I think we would have heard something.
Man: If only there was a way to know.
Wife: Well, why don’t you look it up on the internet?
Man: no, I think I’ll write a letter to a newspaper in the hopes they choose my query out of the dozens received, and wait for the answer to appear on the TV page.
For heaven’s sake, it’s right there under COWSILLS in Wikipedia. The other question has to do with a show that went off the air years ago; the writer wants to know if it might come back. Sure. Low-rated shows that ran for a season and a half are ripe for a reboot.
FUN Hey, kids, looks like we’re snowed in and school’s canceled. Who’s up for a game of CHEMICAL WAR?
Yes. Chemical War. From Riowang, a brief look at Soviet board games.
SCIENCE! The Fast Company headline says that Coke has “Designed Its New Can Around Problem No One Has.” Got that? No one.. So it has to be something like, oh, hundred-dollar bills keep landing in your yard and you have to rake them up and you get thirsty, so there’s a special Coke for that. Right?
There are two types of problems that designers try to solve: problems people have, and problems designers delude themselves into thinking people have. Venerable sugar tonic maker Coca-Cola has just released a new can design firmly in the latter camp: a chill-activated can to visually tell people whether their Coke is cold or not. First released as a 7-Eleven promotion six months ago, the chill-activated can is now available to everyone.
Last week my wife opened the fridge to get a soda, felt the first can, and realized I’d just restocked. There was one can that was colder than the others, having been in a few days. A chill-activated can would have stood out. While I’m not ready to call this a problem, it’s not something I’m going to give the old Blogger’s Sniff of Disdain For People Who Do Things Whose Utility Is Not Immediately Apparent to Me, either.
It should be obvious, but for the most part, no one needs to be visually told when something is cold or hot. There are exceptions, of course
So no one needs it, mostly, except when they do. But no one needs it. Because:
a lukewarm can of pop is not going to kill anyone--a can that shows you when it is cold is like a siren that goes off when it's bright out. It's self-evidently absurd.
If you’re covering marketing and product design, I’d suggest leaving the “X won’t kill anyone” argument alone, unless you’re discussing self-aware nanobot-infused ginsu knives.
ARCHITORTURE This is not from Bizarro World; this is a building proposed . . . for Syria. The only possible tenant for this building would be the German Expressionist Silent Film Association.
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