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.
My weather app says it's 22, but it feels like Nine. Unless you're naked, in which case it's considerably colder. How do they calculate wind chill, anyway? Do they presume a certain amount of exposed skin - face, hands - and go from there? No one who's outside right now and starkers would think "oh, nine sounds about right." There's just three settings, really. Coat and no hat, coat hat gloves, and ABSOLUTE ZERO.
MYSTERIES "He was also instrumental in catching Captain Midnight and the Playboy TV hacker, experiences he remembers with equal doses of relish and disgust." This account of the history of TV intrusions brings back the tale of the Max Headroom Takeover, which remains unsolved. Never mind the the technical obstacles to hijacking a broadcast signal - it's the fact that the interlopers built a set, figured out how to hide their identity in a perfectly zetgeisty way, then didn't bother to come up with a script.
It's still creepy.
Max Headroom was a quintessential high-80s cultural product, a pre-internet look at the computerized dystopia towards which we might be heading. People thought at the time he was computer generated. No: lots of latex. He made an appearance in a music video called "Paranomia" by the Art of Noise, which was remarkable for using all the interesting developments in musical technology and video and coming up with something rather empty. (Godley and Creme's video for Herbie Hancock's "Rock It" was a similar experiment. You see something new being born, and it's just . . . not . . . right.)
MOVIES There's a Kojak sequel in the works. Who's up for the role? Well, Hollywood isn't exactly overabundantly endowed with bald tough-guys at the moment, so naturally it's this guy. Could be good; Ang Lee is set to direct, supposedly, so it could be a "reimagining" of the character that "reboots" the character into today's gritty New York, etc etc. Better to set it in the 70s, complete with bad cars and burned-out neighborhoods and sweaty desperate junkies. A reminder for those who think the 70s was happy shiny disco time where everyone had fun and wore bell-bottoms.
I met Telly Savalas once, in Los Angeles. Poolside at the Sheraton Universal, where he had a suite. (The hotel's bar was called "Telly's," and had a caricature of him over the door. Guests who dropped in for a beer were often surprised to find the Man Himself sitting around, relaxing.) I was working on a laptop, which was not a common sight in 1994. He waved me over and said he wanted to take a look at that thing. I ran him through the paces, showed him what it could do - not much, in retrospect, although it could "log on" to a BBS and "interface" with "modemers." Elementary programming in Hypercard. He seemed interested and thanked me and that was that. Nice guy. Gave off an air of substantial contentment, which is a good thing to have. More on his bar - which wasn't his at all, it seems - right here in this LAT piece.
ART If the word "Stunning" wasn't used on the internet to describe anything that's not "awesome," I'd say these are stunning, but that's not quite right. You will not lose your sense or spatial orientation as though you had been struck with a claw hammer. How's this: You may be impressed by these photos inspired by Hopper paintings.
I read somewhere - the standard phrase one uses to mean "won't Google, for fear I will be proven wrong, negating my entire position" - that the unsettling quality of a Hopper painting was due in part to perspective lines that never made sense. Of course it's the scenes themselves, silent moments of tenebrous unease and melancholy, but also the lines. Here's one of the Hopper-inspired photos:
For what it's worth. Anyway, it's a great series - one is NSFW, but it's art! so it might pass scrutiny. Not sure whether Hopper put giant cats in his work, though. If he did, it explains why he quit the city and just did seaside landscapes.
DCVotD Or, Video of the Day. If you have a big monitor, put this on full screen and get about 16 inches from the screen. Yikes.
There were two choices. He chose wisely.
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.
Not secret at all, but that’s how you write headlines these days.
How modern Halloween began, according to Fast Company:
Every Halloween, millions of surrogate zombies, vampires, and goblins take to the streets, looking to fill the fluorescent orange brainpans of their plastic pumpkins with individually wrapped, fun-sized candies. It seems like a custom immemorial, but trick-or-treating wasn't always an inseparable part of Halloween: in fact, little more than 60 years ago, many Americans had never even seen a trick-or-treater.
Indeed. Look at the old ads, and you won’t see Trick-or-Treaters rise until the 50s, but they’re not getting Halloween-specific candy. Cracker Jack in ordinary boxes. I don’t know how they coped.
While going door-to-door for candy may be a relatively new phenomenon, Halloween has always been about the things trick-or-treating represent: sugar and fear.
In the ritual of trick-or-treating itself, though, U.S. candy makers have discovered countless ways to make money marketing both sweets and terror, to the tune of over $2.3 billion a year in 2011 alone.Whether you're a kid who loves monsters and gore, or a parent terrified of being egged for running out of caramels (or worse, seeing your child poisoned), U.S. candy makers have always been quick to respond with a candy that is custom-tailored to both your cravings and your anxieties.
Meh. “Fear” and “anxiety” seem a bit overstated. But the article notes that “Brachs, for example, was advertising seasonal Halloween candy with jack o'lanterns and trick-or-treaters on the boxes as early as 1962,” and that’s about right. I found an example in Life:
Here’s what gave away before, in the 50s: CEREAL.
CHICAWGO Popped in at Pleasant Family Shopping, a site devoted to old grocery stores, and watched a rather discursive commercial from the 70s. It’s notable now because no one seems to have regional accents in commercials very much anymore:
The post went on to note that the chain is being phased our by its parent company. YouTube comment: “Mom & Pop stores are a thing of the past. All we have left are the big box stores. I wonder what went wrong ? Bad capitalism?” Well, we have lower prices, better quality, and wider selection, so there’s that. Never underestimate the power of grocery store nostalgia, though; if you tagged along with mom to a particular store when you were a kid, the brands have a powerful pull. The account of Dominick’s is here, with some fantastic pictures of old stores. Even the grainy video grabs bring back the 70s in a flash:
Smoked-glass red gourd-globes. Ah yes. By which I mean no, thanks, if anyone’s planning on bringing that 70s aesthetic back, but it’s nice to be reminded.
NOW THIS IS SCARY England had some wind this week. A landing at the Birmingham airport:
This is why you’d best not look out the window during a windy landing. The runway will line up eventually, but when you’re coming down and you see the runway pointing at 2 o’clock, you fear you’ll be in the terminal quicker than expected.
FORGOTTEN NO MORE Another favorite blog: “Daily Inspiration,” which looks at all the great illustrators of the 20th century. The latest entry concerns Ben Denison. There were so many of these artists, and it’s a shame they’re constantly eclipsed by modern painters whose fashionable abstraction is far less engaging. For some, anyway.
Have a fun and non-anxious Halloween.
None of this has anything to do with the bomb threats, so never mind.
Although it does bring up the eternal question: does Walgreens have a brand identity, or is it just . . . something you use because it’s close and has stuff? Brand Autopsy wants to know. It’s an old post, written before Walgreens came up with new store brands (Nice! for foods and dry goods) and a new slogan, “At the intersection of Happy and Healthy.” I suppose that’s a nice thought, but I think of the number of times I walked back to the pharmacy last winter to get antibiotics and painkillers. At the intersection of Miserable and Sick is just as apt.
HEY YOU Today’s irritating YOU headlines come from the Gawker empire, of course. Gizmodo has this:
Why, How, and Where You Should Start Eating Bugs
One of these days a writer for these sites will be chatting with someone at a party and mention where he works and what he does, and he’ll gt popped right on the nose. “Dude! What was that about?”
”You told me I should eat bugs. Should, as if there’s a moral imperative. Well, I don’t want to. Stop telling me what to eat. Last week you told me I was killing the earth by eating hot dogs. I haven’t eaten a hot dog since 2002. Make another overgeneralization in the second person and I’ll paste you another one.”
”You wouldn’t dare.”
”Okay, You Won't Believe What It'll Take to Free the Costa Concordia - Owwww!”
”Seriously dude I warned you.”
By the way, I’m reasonably certain I will believe what it takes to raise the ship. It involves machinery and cranes and does not require Superman. You’re better off reading the story at the Atlantic, which is run by adults.
GEEK Yes, the cast of ST: TNG does look pretty good in TOS uniforms.
ARCHITECTURE I’m assuming it’s nowhere near a flight path: Permit granted for World’s First Invisible Skyscraper.
TECH The NYT article title is “When Tech Turns Nouns into Verbs.” The story begins:
We’re remaking the world so quickly that our language is breaking down.
Think about the phone you carry. You talk with people on it, but you can also open apps and transform it into a camera or chess board. As much as you talk on it, you use its Internet browser. In total daily usage, your phone is mostly pinging cellphone towers and Wi-Fi antennas, informing phone service providers, digital map makers and retailers of where you are.Whatever this object is, it isn’t a phone in any conventional sense. And that may be a clue to a whole new way of thinking about the world around us.
First of all, it is a phone in the new sense, which will become the conventional sense, and this does not require a new way of thinking about the world. Let alone the one around us. As for turning nouns into verbs, the piece doesn’t appear to be about that at all, and even if it is, that’s hardly new. Let me think of an old noun that became a verb . . . hold on . . . oh! “Phone.”
(The smartphone) is made to be contingent, changing with every download and update. That focus on the needs-driven experience means it behaves less like a static noun and more like an active verb.
I have no idea what that means.
This is becoming a commonplace across our connected world. Google’s Internet-connected Chromebook laptops are checked for possible updates to the machine every time their browsers hook into the cloud. Google has also announced more powerful apps for the Chrome browser, so normal laptops will have syncing and updates just as phones do.
Okay, checking to see if this is from 2001. No. Checking comments to see if everyone else is as confused as I am . . . Yes.
Someone notes that he thought it would be about, say, turning nouns into verbs. As in “PDF that, would you?” Or “Instagram that lunch.” This is probably regarded with horror by linguistic purists, but it’s natural. I do wonder if people say “telegram him the news” - never heard anything like that in an old movie. “Send him a telegram,” yes.
Today’s viral thing is a note posted on a Texas restaurant door. It's here. It contains bad language, so you’ll have to choose to look at it. It’s a going-out-of-business sign that says, in essence, you stupid rednecks have no appreciation of good food.
In somewhat saltier sentiments.
This site says “don’t know if it’s real, but here it is,” and then people debate whether it’s Photoshopped. Proof: it’s behind glass! Paper isn’t reflective! Yes, kids, remember: when trying to decide if something is Photoshopped, take advice from people who have never spent more than ten minutes with Photoshop.
Gawker seems to think it’s real, and again: it’s behind the glass, people! They point to the restaurant’s Facebook page, where the owners posted an update this morning: “Don’t believe all you see and hear folks!” That’s not exactly a strong denial.
But. Let’s take a look at the restaurant’s location on Google Street View:
Let’s turn around 180 degrees.
Does that match the reflection? Sort of. But the second view is on the other side of an interstate. Turn the first view around 180 degrees to see what you’d get if you stood by the restaurant door and turned around. I don’t know; isn’t conclusive one way or the other.
As for Photoshopping something so it looks like it’s behind glass:
That took me five minutes.Take the original, copy it, put the letter on top of it, paste the original over that, and set the transparency low.
Not photoshopped: the restaurant’s own pictures of their food.
Some photoshopping might have helped.
ARCHITORTURE The next thing about which you should worry and be outraged and adopt an air of cynical contempt: skyscrapers aren’t telling the truth about their height.
Supertall skyscrapers aren't necessarily built to fit as many people inside as possible--sometimes they're just aiming to be, well, really tall. Large portions of these buildings are designed to increase height, but remain unoccupied. Wasteful!
The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, a not-for-profit organization that tracks the world's skyscrapers, just released some data on that subject. Surprise! Some really tall buildings don't need to be so tall.
The CTBUH uses the term "vanity spires" to describe tops of buildings where a ton of extra height is added, even though that space isn't used for people. By unused height, here are the 10 buildings with the most ridiculous spires:
And it goes on to call out the worst offenders; the Burj Khalifa in Dubai has almost 30% of its space devoted to non-useful sky-poking floors. No one will ever live or work up there.
The author notes that the early 20th century skyscraper competitions in the US produced some “vanity” space in the Empire State Building and the Chrysler. These buildings are now - what’s the word, class? Everyone together - ICONIC, so no one’s complaining. But these recent buildings are wasteful! and deserve to be chided. In related news: there’s a non-profit that tracks skyscrapers? Yes - and they’re the ones who say how tall something is, no matter what someone else might say. The site had some pictures of recent award-winning buildings, and I was struck by these enormous slabs of butter holding up a boomerang laden with salad:
GREEK YOGURT UPDATE They haven’t made Motor oil with Greek Yogurt or Round-up Herbicide with Greek Yogurt, but give them time. Meanwhile:
Chobani says it's recalling some of its Greek yogurt cups that were affected by mold, a move prompted by reports of illnesses by some customers.
The recall comes about a week after the company first started asking retailers to pull the products from shelves, saying some cups were "swelling and bloating." Chobani had previously said it wasn't issuing a formal recall.
Be sure to hit the comments, where people get mad at total strangers over their food choices. Stop liking what you like if I don’t like it! Just stop!
In related news, the Wall Street Journal notes the effect Greek Yogurt is having on customer choice:
These are dark days for fans of regular yogurt.
The creamy snack is being edged out on grocery store shelves by its thicker, tarter, higher-protein sibling, Greek yogurt.
Over a third of the yogurt in a typical grocery store is now Greek, in varieties from low-fat to fruit-on-the-bottom to tubes for kids. Because shelf space is limited, the Greek squeeze means consumers have had to say goodbye to some varieties of traditional-style yogurt and more obscure flavors. (R.I.P. Stonyfield Farm's Whole Milk White Chocolate Raspberry and Strawberry Acai flavors.) Pudding cups, margarine and other products with the misfortune of usually sitting near yogurt also are harder to find.
It'll pass. Meanwhile, expect more. Is it in shampoo yet? Not yet. But soon.
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