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.
No. More? Okay.
Reading the comments here and there about the stadium-area development, you almost get the sense that people have pre-existing ideas about the world they can plug into anything that happens anywhere, and be proven right. This proposal to replace one structure with an expanse of green and some office buildings proves the validity of the political perspective I also offered in the story about zebra mussels. My work here in the comments section is done, at least until there is a story about the TSA or genetically-modified organisms. We’re all impressed, and thanks for playing.
Some have complained that the buildings are bland . . .
.... but I don’t agree. I think they’re perfect for the site. It needs a wall, and that’s what it gets. It has symmetry, which balances the other messy elements it can’t do anything about. In a way, the buildings recall the great 20s and 30s apartment buildings around Central Park, and their conservative design enhances the modern style of the stadium by contrast. Of all the big BIG plans we’ve seen for downtown, this one might be the best.
FOOLED YOU It’s called The Coyote Illusion.Warner Brothers drew blurred lines to indicate speed and activity - also because it was more suggestive than a literal depiction of limbs moving quickly. Mainly because it was easier. As it turns out, “motion blur increases apparent speed.” The proof:
Since I mentioned animation, barely-related good news: there’s a new Toy Story short coming. And it’ll be 30 minutes.
IT’S ALL ABOUT YOU There’s been a sudden drought of irritating headlines that use the YOU format - you know, ’36 things you’re doing wrong, Best Solar Flare You’ll See today, etc. I thought the trend was dying, but no. Today’s thing YOU are supposedly doing, from the Daily Dot: “Not Only Are You a Criminal, You’re Bragging About it on Facebook.” The editors must have loved that one! People can’t help but click on that.
It’s an Amnesty International site that analyzes your pictures and contacts and figures out whether you’d be beaten to death in Nigeria for drinking alcohol and associating with unrelated persons of the opposite sex, and so on. There’s a surprise.
FOLLOW-UP The link yesterday about the restaurant owners who took to Facebook to demolish their brand in front of the entire internet? It was all Teh H@XORZ.
Obviously our Facebook, YELP, Twitter and Website have been hacked. We are working with the local authorities as well as the FBI computer crimes unit to ensure this does not happen again. We did not post those horrible things. Thank You Amy &Samy
By all means, read the comments, which include all sorts of speculation about what’s really going on at the restaurant. Forbes piles on some more.
This does seem to suggest someone guessed her password, though. She’s not capable of coming up with lulz-related text like that.
BTW, does it bother anyone that the Facebook comments link says “View Next Comments”? Shouldn’t it be “view more,” or “view additional comments”?
ADS Tweet what’s boring and they’ll make it brilliant! It’s an ad campaign you may have missed with a rather innovative site. By which I mean almost incomprehensibe. Of course, this is fake:
You can tell it’s fake because no one in the waiting room is looking at a phone or other type of glowing rectangle.
This morning was gorgeous, and promised just the day we’ve been waiting for, no? Sun! Heat! How hot? A few days ago my Yahoo weather app said it would be 97 today. This was downgraded to 91 a day later. Still one might hope. Then the clouds drew a clammy hand over the sun, and you felt a fool for having believed. But now it’s sunny (hold on; checking . . . yes) and we’re back on track for the first day of the year when people complain about the heat.
Please don’t do that.
ARCHITECTURE I like the stadium. But will it wear well? The Metrodome achieved a sort of timeless banality, after all, so devoid of style it almost became a style on its own. The problem with building something that fits the contemporary standards is always the verdict of the fickle future, which rolls its eyes at the things the past thought hip. Well, we’re never going to build one of these again . . .
. . . and probably just as well. The form may be old and familiar, but it feels too collegiate, and too big for the style. That’s just a barn. The new design avoids the curvy forms of the past few years, the fluffy puffy style that made sporting arenas look like confections; it’s not a jumble of off-putting shapes piled at random to disguise the function. It’s simple. It almost has the posture of a bear hunkered down and ready to spring. And then there’s that awesome maw:
Intimidating more than welcoming, perhaps - but then you walk in and see the field below, and suddenly you’re king of the world.
ART! It’s called the Frieze Art Fair. A HuffPo piece says:
In the wake of the Frieze Art Fair in New York, we tried to make sense of the overwhelming amount of mirrored objects, food sculptures and shelving units masquerading as art. We don't know about you, dear readers, but we find the emperor's new clothes effect to be highly troubling.
Really? Oh, come on. It can’t be that bad. Let’s take a look.
Okay, it’s that bad. In related art news, from Cartoon Brew:
In last weekend’s NY Times Sunday Magazine, the paper published a profile of artist Paul McCarthy in connection with his new show WS (which stands for “White Snow”). The epic performance piece, which opens June 19 at Manhattan’s Park Avenue Armory, will consist of “a massive, fantastical forest with towering trees, two off-scale houses, equipment and props from classic film-sets, and layers of film and sound.” During the piece, McCarthy—as Walt Disney—will participate in an orgy with Snow White and the seven dwarfs.
All that is well and good,
No. No, it’s not. But we continue:
what alarmed me about the piece is why Times writer Randy Kennedy compared McCarthy’s portrayal of Disney to Hitler in the article’s second paragraph.
More at the link. Of course Disney is compared to Hitler! The Jewish thing, you know - which has been debunked, but never mind. Also the hatred of “degenerate” culture, perhaps; Walt wasn’t one of those transgressive types who liked to break down barriers and shock the bourgeoise. So, sure, Hitler.
The picture from the Times shows the artist looking like Walt Disney, grinning, with his pants down. This is a reminder that we live in a mucb more vital culture than the one where Walt was shown with his pants on.
CAPSLOCK AND LOAD Fans of Gordon Ramsay probably remember the meltdown at Amy’s Bakery Baking Company; fans of Buzzfeed have noted the “Most Epic Brand Meltdown on Facebook Ever.” If you don’t mind reading streams of profanity in all caps, then by all means check out the restaurant owners going up against . . . reddit, which is like 4chan with a few atoms of remnant conscience. If all this is new, then watch the excerpt for backstory. Also, I drove past that place just a few weeks ago. If only I’d known!
TIMEWASTER You may enjoy this. Via ABC news:
It’s the 37th birthday of the classic Atari game Breakout, and if you type “Atari Breakout” as a Google image search query, you can play the 1970s brick game right inside your browser.
That you can. Enjoy! I lasted for 45 seconds before I was bored and flitted off to something else, but that's the internet for you. I''m surprised I have the attention span to get to the end of this, because there's always another page to OH LOOK PUGS IN KNIT CAPS THEY'RE ADORABLE
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s business ledger has been scanned and put online. Now you can see what he wrote and how much he got paid for it. These things mattered to him a lot.
During a recent visit to the library's below-ground rare-book vault, Sudduth took the original 200-page book out of its clamshell protective cover. The ledger's yellowed pages — with Fitzgerald's elegant, measured cursive strokes — are a throwback to life before computer spreadsheets. The ledger shows Fitzgerald's tally of earnings from his works, the most famous of which is the novel "The Great Gatsby." The ledger lists his many short stories, books, and adaptations for stage and screen.
With the May 10 release of a new "Gatsby" movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Sudduth says library officials expect an upswing in interest in its Fitzgerald collection.
The project, in difficult-to-browse format can be found here. A couple of points come to mind:
A) Will there really be an upsurge in Fitzgerald-fascination after the Gatsby movie comes out? Or will the target audience think ew a book and run in the other direction?
B) This is amusing: geneological information is crossed out and replaced with, well, HER.
C) This manufacturer's note.
Who was Brown Blodgett Sperry? I don’t know. Was it the forerunner of Brown and Bigelow, the famous local pin-up calendar / playing card / promotion company? Doesn’t seem so, although I admit I’m no expert in local stationery supply lore. However, the American Stationer trade publication had this to say:
Brazilian consumer protection agency Procon fined McDonald's $1.6 million for targeting children with advertising and Happy Meal toys.
"This is not an isolated case," urged Renan Ferraciolli, Procon's top lawyer. "There's no need to appeal as they do to children without the maturity or the rationality to enter the market as consumers.
They tried this in America, and will try again.
"McDonald's must stop exploiting children at some point," said Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. The Center, along with a mother of two young children, filed the anti-Happy Meal lawsuit.
Eventually, Jacobson believes, McDonald's strategy "will seem as inappropriate and anachronistic as lead paint, child labor, and asbestos."
So if children are working in an asbestos-laden factory making lead paint, that’s the equivalent of eating a Happy Meal and getting a small plastic toy.
Mr. J is not immune to exaggeration - one of his articles on soda is titled "Amputation, Impotence, Painful Dentistry: Soda Equals Sadness."
When it comes to making people feel good about a brand, no one does it more skillfully than Coca-Cola. Picture a perfectly multicultural, sun-dappled chorus wanting to teach the world to sing. Or "Mean Joe Green" tossing his jersey to a young boy who offered him a Coke. The company circulates videos of its vending machines "dispensing happiness" in the form of balloon animals and free pizza in one instance and by soliciting hugs in another. The message is that Coke equals happiness.
Of course this is nonsense, and if you drink Coke you will die of misery. In related news:
The Danish government is abandoning a beverage tax that it says is costing the country millions of euros as consumers cross the border to shop in Germany instead.
The tax on soft drinks is to be halved by July and completely abolished by next year, making a 1.5-liter bottle of soda three kroner (€0.40) cheaper in the end. The lesser tax on beer is to be cut by 15 percent by July.
Spiegel Online’s headline is “Health Be Damned: Denmark Hopes Cheaper Soda Will Boost Economy.” It gets worse, or better, depending on your perspective:
The decision comes months after the government in Copenhagen repealed a similar tax on foods with high concentrations of saturated fats -- dubbed the world's first "fat tax." The measure was introduced with the intent to incentivize healthier eating, but authorities said it ultimately just drove up food prices and put jobs in jeopardy.
The soda tax repeal is part of a broader plan by the center-left government of Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt to make the Danish economy more competitive.
WEB Heads up: reporter takes a “selfie” at the best or worst possible moment, depending on what happened a second later. Look here.
TV As usual, I probably enjoyed “Mad Men” more than those poring over every frame, because my expectations are low. Don’s fatherhood confessions were touching, even though he was hammered, and what followed was almost heartbreaking. But it did remind me of something that always bothered me about “The Planet of the Apes.” When Charlton Heston sees - oh, right, SPOILERS - the Statue of Liberty buried up to its sternum, it’s a shocking moment of course - but what are the chances the arm would still be attached? I mean, talking apes and time travel I can buy, but that sort of long-term structural integrity, given the metal working of the time, just strains credulity.
I expect the rain to turn to snow, something the meteorologists call a “reverse Fogelberg.” This isn’t that unusual. When did Spring ever arrive with the calendar’s definition? Besides last year. And that other year you remember. I’m always happy if the ice is gone on the sidewalk by tax time. After that, we’re owed.
Speaking of which:
MONEY Generational split: some people read this story . . . .
The words on his robbery note were spelled incorrectly, authorities said, and he was unable to articulate his demands. So the confused teller at the downtown Washington bank turned the man away, saying she couldn’t help.
The FBI says the man didn’t fare much better at a second bank three blocks away. There, authorities said, it took the teller a few moments to realize that the man standing at her window April 1 was not a customer.
. . . and instantly thought “I have a gub.”
Do I have to explain? No? Good. Anyway, the foiled robber t went to a computer at the library after that, stuck the pistol against a USB port and asked for all its Bitcoins.
Do I have to explain that? I suppose so. If you're unclear on the meaning, use, and origin of Bitcoins, this should help. No, seriously, it will. Hot off the presses, too.
Will anyone take a Bitcoin and sell you a cup of coffee? No. “Here, good fellow! Please take this is non-corporeal concept. It’s worth seventy dollars.”
"Sorry, pal, I prefer the non-corporeal concept associated with a rectangular plastic card, embossed with numbers and stamped with a recognizable logos. Semiotically speaking, those signifiers provide a reasonable reassurance I will be reimbursed in non-corporeal sums that nevertheless have been imbued with value, thanks to our shared assumptions about the current economic structure. Bitcoins may some day fill that role, but not now. So no, I won’t give you a cup of coffee for that Bitcoin."
"Yeah, well, I see why you’re going out of business."
BTW: when I read that “Caribou Shuts 80 Stores” I think “I hope they let everyone out first.” I read the story, thinking “Well, they’re closing one Minneapolis location - can ‘t be the one I go to.”
And it was. But that’s my Friday’s column.
MEMORIES Misty water-colored , etc. A look at some abandoned video stores. Why? Because the site has a guy who rounds up pictures of abandoned things, and these pictures Say Something About Us.
Once as common as the VHS and Betamax tapes they rented out, video stores these days are fading away faster than the images on a well-worn cassette someone forgot to rewind. These 10 abandoned video stores are caught between the night they closed and the day a more relevant tenant takes over the lease.
Well, Betamax tapes weren’t too common. In the early days of video-rental joints, the mix was probably 10 VHS for every Betamax. The images didn’t fade - they accumulated static and lost their crispness, so colors bloomed everywhere. And the bottom of the picture jiggled up and down. This is why I don’t lament the end of the video-rental store - now we see tape as a stop-gap technology, something we endured between vinyl and digital. Tape broke. Tape got loose. Tape got stuck. Good riddance.
A few examples in the list were big chains that went to DVDs, as if that might keep them relevant. Blockbuster and Hollywood were the big ones; there was . . .Help me out here, internet. What else? Movie Gallery, that was one. Rogers, that was another. Rogers? you ask. Yes, it surprised me, too. Rogers had something called Rogers Video Direct. They would mail you DVDs, like Netflix. It failed, because A) there was Netflix, and B) it was named Rogers.
IIRC, Rogers ran cable TV when that life-changing innovation rolled out through the Twin Cities. This is what you’d get when you ordered a movie:
Kids today have no idea how modern this felt.
I don’t miss them. I miss the trips to the video store with toldder daughter, looking for something pastel and cheerful, but otherwise, no. They were out of that movie you wanted. The carpet smelled. Likewise, some people have no warm feelings for the small motels that lined the roads before the interstate. Hard water, cold shower, cheap soap, scratchy sheets, thin towels. But those who grew up in the era of the interstate miss the old motels: signage and modern style. As in:
BUSINESS Aaannnd he’s gone:
According to a report by CNBC former Apple Retail head Ron Johnson has been fired from his position as CEO of JC Penny, a job he had taken after leaving Apple in late 2011.
Readers might remember that Ron Johnson joined Apple from Target and helped build the retail giant that Apple is today, he introduced the Genius bar and other brilliant features during his ten years with Apple.
Penney’s shares dropped 51% during his tenure. The market cap was almost halved. So it’s not as if it came as a surprise, really. Too bad: he tried to do something new in retailing, which is stop fooling people with sales. But people want to be fooled. You can’t stand in the way of herds of people who are angry that they’re not being fooled. FOOL US LIKE YOU DID BEFORE! MARK EVERYTHING DOWN 23%! Expect the stores to be retooled accordingly.
The only question is where he'll work next; no doubt he'll land on his feet.
Unless Caribou already hired him, which would explain a few things.
If you read the comments on websites - and yes, I know, there’s a prescription for misery and woe right there - you will discover that youth all over the world, particularly those in countries where job prospects are scant, and the future holds only a small flat with a hotplate for cooking, hate America because we are fat and stupid. Other countries are awesome, like Russia, because Putin is a tough guy, and other countries are awesome because they build really big things, like China. But the only thing Americans do is eat and drive around on scooters at Wal-Mart. They are very certain of this. They have heard it said on the internet.
Well: here’s what McDonald’s is serving in China.
Via Brand Eating, which has all sorts of other foods in other counties. They’re maddening, because we can’t eat these things. This is Subway in Japan:
Keep reloading and replaying. There are dozens of scenarios. Warning: there's some of this.
COMICS Who drew “Peanuts”? You know who. Everyone knows that one f the most famous and beloved strips in comic history was the work of Al Plastino.
MEANWHILE, AT 30,000 FEET This story from the Guardian contains this paragraph:
We arrived in Frankfurt, 27 hours late. "Thank you for choosing Lufthansa," said the captain. "I hope we'll see you on another Lufthansa flight some time, and that you have enjoyed your flight with us."
“Enjoyed” is an odd word to use when there was smoke in the cabin and the flight attendants were crying. Nice punchline on the story, and it makes you wonder why they don’t lay down a no-crying rule for the crew.
SCIENCE! They’ve discovered a galaxy so big it has its own new class: Giant Radio Galaxy. It’s actually a “triple galaxy system,” which gives you something else whose incomprehensible dimensions make you wonder what’s going on there. Surely at least one star has a warm wet globe where they're looking at us.