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.
“A bicyclist at the monthly D.C. Bike Party (an event that promotes fun and safe cycling in Washington DC) gets hit by a taxi while running a red light near Logan Circle. The bicyclist escaped with a hurt ankle and some road rash." Promoting fun and safe cycling would seem to include not running a red and heading into DC traffic, but cyclists are not bound to normal rules of the street. They get to stop. If this happens, the fault is, at best, mutual.
NOW SHOWING For reasons too boring to relate, I was looking through the Google Street View images of Fayetteville TN, and came across this charmer:
I wondered if it was still around since Bee Movie rolled through; a lot of small theaters get knocked out of business by the switch to digital projection. Well, the website says, at the very top, with somewhat cryptic pride:: ONE OF FOUR THEATERS OF THIS TYPE LEFT IN TENNESSEE THAT STILL SHOWS MOVIES
What type? Small? I guess so. The site goes on to note some details in a personal style entirely absent from the chain-theater experience we’re used to: THE BIGGEST CHANGE IN THE 61 YEAR HISTORY OF THE LINCOLN THEATRE it says in orange letters, and WE ARE NOW DIGITAL in HUGE red letters. In smaller print:
WE ARE DEEP IN DEBT FROM BUYING ALL THIS REQUIRED EQUIPMENT TO COUNTINUE TO STAY IN BUSINESS. SO IF YOU CAN AFFORD TO COME EVERY WEEK, PLEASE DO.
Makes you want to drive down to Tennessee and help out. More photos linked here, at Cinema Treasures, if you’re a fan of small-town theaters. Anyway: back to Google. You may recall that Apple got dinged for its first version of the Maps App - missing landmarks, places mislabeled. Here are some things Google thinks exist outside of StarTribune World HQ:
A school in the middle of the street? On a light rail line? Seems dangerous.
SCHOOL ABUSE ELSEWHERE Yesterday’s story about the kid who was suspended for bringing a cap gun to kindergarten was bad, but it could be worse. From the South China Morning Post:
In one case, a mother, Yong Fen, accused a Shenzhen school of mistreating her 18-year-old son who has autism. She said a doctor had found a rusty needle inside his lower arm; her son told her his teacher had pushed several needles into his arm. On Sunday, her lawsuit against the school was rejected by a court. The Longtan District People's Court has yet to provide a written explanation on what grounds the case was turned down, the Southern Metropolis Daily reported.
Just like here: no comment. Although there’s hope: a school that used to suspend kids for pointing pencils and saying “bang” or “pew pew pew” has changed its policy, and will evaluate cases individually instead of applying a stupid law without reference to the facts, the student’s intention, and the existence of common sense. “Ordinary objects will not be considered weapons.” It’s a start.
WE MISS LIONEL HUTZ TOO This is my favorite thing on the internet today. The “fake movie poster” genre is a bit played out, but these are brilliant. The movies of Troy McClure. You may remember him from such movies as “Alice Doesn’t Live Anymore,” and “Calling All Quakers.”
Via the AV Club, which had this supercut of every Troy McClure title.
The New Yorker asks: SO ARE WE LIVING IN 1984?
As the rule has it, the answer to any question posed in a headline is “no.” But since the subject came up, the answer isn’t just no, it’s “you wouldn’t ask that if you’d read the book.” It does remind you - by which I mean me - that there have been several filmed versions of the book, each with their own version of Big Brother. Let’s take a look. First of all, here’s Eddie Albert as Winston Smith, looking more farmer-like than he ever did in "Green Acres."
Oceania is where I want to be / Oligarchy is the gov for me / Meeting Julia for carnal sin / Keep Eurasia just give me that Victory Gin. This was a live TV performance, and rather spare. Big Brother was presented in an abstract style:
The BBC version - also live, and two hours long - was more literal. It showed the Ministry of Truth as a hideous pyramid emblazoned with state slogans:
The two-minute hate is quite similar to the definitive filmed version of the book, released in 1984. The director of the ’84 version quotes it directly, when Goldstein’s speech ends in film of a Eurasian soldier shooting into the camera - followed by the comforting sight of Big Brother. Any similarities to Stalins, living or dead, is purely coincidental:
When Hollywood took a whack at the story, they had to play up the love angle. I know, I know, seems preposterous! As if Edmond O’Brien isn’t enough!
The movie's Big:
The 50s paperback version had a more brutish Big Bro, and it tarted up Julia to put her sultriness at odds with her membership in the ASL:
Finally, the 1984 movie, which, like everything else in that incredible movie, nailed it:
The unblinking gaze, the hint of dispasionate menace - it's perfect. That's Bob Flag, a non-actor who just showed up for an open casting-call.
I wonder if he practiced in the mirror before he went.
Every summer has to have a story about Drive-Ins. It’s the law, apparently. Well, this year has a better reason than most: Eighty years ago yesterday, the drive-in movie theater was created.
The craze caught on — but not until the early 1940s when in-car speakers were invented, which heightened the experience. The 1950s were the heyday of the drive-in, with over 4,000 theaters across the country. Audiences primarily watched B movies, since regular theaters usually had dibs on screening first-run films. And yes, there were some X-rated features shown at drive-ins. That seems awkward, but remember that drive-ins were a mecca for public makeouts and steamier shenanigans. Still, drive-ins were largely a family venture, since babies and young children could be tended to during the film without interrupting fellow viewers. Hollingshead advertised his theater with the slogan: "The whole family is welcome, regardless of how noisy the children are."
Growing up in Fargo, we patronized the Star-Lite. (Moorhead, across the river, had the Moon-Lite.) I have a dim memory of running around in the playground, right below the screen, in footie jammies, but perhaps I just like to think I did, because it’s such a perfect example of idyllic childhood summer nights. I know I went there in college, and saw bad B-movies with friends. Heater going. Windows fogged. Crackly dialogue coming from old speakers that weighed nine pounds.You know, these things:
Want more? I have more.
Apparently you could buy a drive-in as a kit. Three levels, starting with the Poor Boy:
Anyway. The best memory of the Star-Lite: before the interstate came through, we drove home from the Sunday visits to the farm on Highway 10, and as we rounded a curve that took us into Fargo, I could see the big movie playing silently on the screen - a sight that filled a five-year-old with wonder and awe.
Some ads from the golden era of the drive-in:
GAMES From Doug TenNapel, the creator of Earthworm Jim, a “new adventure game made of Clay.” It’s a stop-motion project being funded through Kickstarter:
Minnesota’s own Mike Nelson from MST3K is doing voice-work as well. Since it’s a Kickstarter project, it relies on the fans to fund it, but many goodies are offered for those who pledge. The Kickstarter site is here.
(Obligatory disclosure: Mike’s a friend; I heard about this from Doug through Twitter, and I have no financial interest in the project. They’re just good talented guys and I’m helping to get the word out.)
TOLD YOU A few days ago I wrote about the obvious successor to Google Glass - contact lens that do the same thing, connected to some wearable computer that chats with the Great and Powerful Oz in the clouds. I figured it was a decade away, perhaps. Well:
Are you sufficiently creeped out by Google Glass? Does the possibility of face recognition, covert surveillance, or on-the-go pornography make you want to move to the middle of the woods? Well hold on to your butts, because scientists are making strides toward electronic contact lenses.
I’m not sure how grasping one’s buttocks prepares you for smart lens, but who am I to say how other people cope.
SLEEP TIGHT “The Purge,” a scary movie with people wearing masks doing horrible things, is supposed to be the next big summer hit. It cannot be as frightening as this. I post it at noon so you’ll have the rest of the day to forget it before you sleep tonight.
And good luck with that.
How’s your day going? Better than this:
SCIENCE! Space, to be specific. If you’re wondering how many pixels it takes to get a good picture of the heavens, here’s a hint:
Immler presented a 160-megapixel mosaic image of the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) and a 57-megapixel mosaic image of the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC)at the 222nd American Astronomical Society meeting in Indianapolis on Monday.
We don’t see the Magellanic Clouds in the Northern Hemisphere. Too bad:
Go here for the HD video, and some instruction about the stars. NO, you say. No, I want to laugh at someone who lacks the elemental self-awareness and parental supervision that would prevent him from making his name and face synonymous for all time with an embarrassing song. Sigh. Okay.Apparently this is going around Facebook, as people share the awfulness of the Official Music Video. It’s called “Goodbye.” Comments are closed.
Proof that autotune cannot solve everything. Warning: contains some naughty words, but it’s doubtful you’ll get that far.
FEEDBUZZ It's a parody of BuzzFeed. This I don’t get:
Despite the name, Lamagna's original intention in creating FeedBuzz was not to lacerate BuzzFeed itself. By his own admission, Lamagna had been only passingly familiar with BuzzFeed.
"If you asked me, 'What's the name of the website with bad lists?' I would probably say 'Cracked.com' before I said 'BuzzFeed,'" he told the Daily Dot via email.
Huh? Cracked is actually funny. The writers on Cracked can carry an idea longer than 14 words before erupting INTO ALL CAPS BECAUSE REASONS or something like that. The day BuzzFeed does something as detailed as “5 Places You’ll Recognize from the Background of Every Movie” is the day the editor walks through the office and fires everyone who even looks likely to write “16 Pugs Who Are Dealing with Game of Thrones Better Than You Right Now.”
O CANADA Saw this on Gawker, but why link there? You’ll get a photo full of annotations that realize your day wasn’t complete until you realized that someone on the internet wondered what that pot was doing outside when nothing was growing in it. Anyway, from the National Post:
Briar MacLean was sitting in class during a study period Tuesday, the teacher was on the other side of the room and, as Grade 7 bullies are wont to do, one kid started harassing another.
“I was in between two desks and he was poking and prodding the guy,” Briar, 13, said at the kitchen table of his Calgary home Friday.
“He put him in a headlock, and I saw that.”
He added he didn’t see the knife, but “I heard the flick, and I heard them say there was a knife.”
He got up and pushed the bully away, and of course got in trouble for participating in an altercation. The police were called and his locker was searched. Perhaps they found an empty box of doughnuts, which contains the letters you need to spell “gun.” The kid who pushed away the knife-wielding bully, of course. I’m sure the bully got in trouble too, but it’s hardly fair he be singled out, is it? You can’t have a fight without a victim, so responsibility has to be shared.
The mother asked the teacher:
‘In the time it would have taken him to go get a teacher, could that kid’s throat have been slit?’ She said yes, but that’s beside the point.
Exactly. Fighting is wrong, that’s the point.
The Calgary Board of Education did not respond to a request for comment.
Of course not! Why should they?
BREAKING NEWS: CARTOONISTS CRITICIZED SUBURBS IN 1979 I know, I know: hard to wrap your brain around that, but it gets worst. Robert Crumb was the critic! Architezer, for some reason, runs the cartoon, and notes:
Robert Crumb, the cartoonist famous for his interest in American folk art as well as his biting critiques of contemporary culture, portrays the history of America as completely subsumed in its legacy of land speculation and development. In the cartoon above, a bucolic landscape quickly turns into the strip-mall-lined and traffic-choked roadways that architects like Robert Venturi once celebrated.
Well. First of all, Crumb is famous for his interest in enormous female hindquarters, too; let’s not pretend he’s some sort of urban theorist because he drew pictures of buildings. Anyway, Crumb’s not showing a suburb, as the headline for the story asserts. It’s obviously the oldest part of a city, with a commercial node near train tracks. The last panel might not be the most lovely view. So? Change and decay make some things uglier. You can fix a spot in the sequence where things seem sensible and bucolic, and there’s a settled solidity to the culture. Also slavery and 45-year life expectancies. The article, for no reason I can imagine, goes on:
The type of urban succession that Crumb simulates in the drawing has prompted widespread reaction in the architecture community in recent years, from the neoliberal fever dream that is New Urbanism to a more generalized reinvestment in center cities. Nonetheless, the object of Crumb’s 1979 critique must still be dealt with in a comprehensive way, as the 2008-2009 foreclosure crisis—driven by suburban land speculation and succession—shows most clearly.
Here’s the edited version.
Deal with it! Comprehensively! Question: why is this The Short History of America, and the street along Central Park that includes the Metropolitan Museum of Art isn't? Because pointing out a beautiful accomplishment would be shallow; pointing out something ugly is deep.