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.
Everything melts in March, right? No. I think there was a March a few years back where it all went by the end, and the snow never came back. But it’s the norm to come back from Spring Break, if you are lucky to take such a thing, and find vestigial drifts still marring the land. It all depends on a memory that gets lodged and sets the standard - filing your taxes on the 15th and seeing the last remains of winter gurgle down the gutters on their way to the drains, for example. That seems too long to bear. The idea that there will be snow around for another month - well, snap that icicle off the eave and plunge it into my heard pls thnx. You realize that our current consolation is “the probable end of subzero temps” and you realize it’s not done. It’s not done at all.
On the other hand, Oreos are now available with pastel-hued filling, which is an undeniable sign of spring. It’s the little things that keep you going.
ADVERTISING BuzzFeed has another one of those “Sexist Ads from the Past” that remind you men were brutes and women were supposed to stay home and make food and perhaps pith themselves with a hatpin in case they felt they were getting “too smart” for their own good. It’s fun to play with old ads, but it helps if you can add commentary that’s something other than OMG WTF You guys/ Anyway, I guess I have to do this again. The last time someone did the Sexist Ads piece, they used this:
It doesn’t seem to occur to the people who post this picture that the words were added. The typeface, the space between the quote mark and “Don’t” - no alarm bells go off? Granted, it’s a paraphrase of what the original ad said. This is the real thing.
Granted, the sentiment is the same, but A) it's a joke, and B) it's part of a series of Schlitz ads based on compensating for domestic strife with beer. They were all bad and Schiltz never tried this approach again. The percentage of ads that insulted women was quite low, because most ads in, say, Life magazine inthe 50s were aimed at women. They did most of the shopping. Didn't make sense to tell them they were hapless ninnies.
Please adjust your Pinterest pages accordingly.
ART A picture of a homeless man. It’s the source that makes this shot different.
It’s a screenshot from “Grand Theft Auto,” rejiggered in Photoshop. More here.
THE WEB Let it go, man, let it go:
After allegedly finding a cockroach in his sandwich at a Subway franchise in Sudbury, Ontario, Patrick Balfour took to Twitter to voice his complaints against the sandwich giant. He’s sparing no expense in the process: He even bought two anti-Subway promoted tweets for $90. His story is a testament to the power of social media to affect sweeping change—or the power of a near-obsessive-compulsive desire to shame a sandwich chain.
Twitter is good for things like this, but when you find yourself spending almost a hundred dollars to complain about a beastie in the hoagie, you might want to reconsider your life's goals. Never go full Ahab, man.
Related: This piece asks why “we” keep “buying into” the “Franchise Dream.” Have you been buying into it recently? No? Me neither. Apparently owning one isn't a guarantee of riches, and the parent company can make you do things. And here I thought the contracts people signed said "Money will be delivered in large sacks every Tuesday, and feel free to change the name of the store to 'McDilland's,' if your fancy is thus suited."
Just checked the forecast: 43 on Sunday. The melt begins. Die, winter. Die.
The term “DRM” doesn’t really fit here, but helps explain the concept. So: will the next-generation of Keurig coffee makers forbid the use of third-party pods? And is there such a thing as a second-party pod? The story appears to originate with this site, but when I tried to copy a quote I got this:
Okay, well, then we’ll just link to someone else, then. Canada Business:
One of the things that accelerated the pod-coffee craze was the 2012 expiry of Green Mountain’s patent on the “K-Cup” design. That freed up other companies to start making generic pods that would still work in Keurig-brand coffee brewers—and those clones typically sold for 15-25% less than the brand-name pods sold by Keurig directly.
It’s been a boon for the consumer, but the company no doubt wants us to buy its machines. They look nice. They cost a lot. People like having other options, though. Different blends at cheaper prices with less plastic. But the company says the new units will be so INCREDIBLE people will be happy to give up the freedom of choice, and choose a new technology that locks them into a particular product.
Because that’s worked out well so many times in the past.
Perhaps the headline made you think of the novel, then. I remember reading it when it came out, and thinking it was flat and empty. I suppose that’s the point! Flat and empty people make for flat and empty novels. Everyone was looking for another Jay McInerney, since the original item wasn’t up to the task. Anyway: perhaps the headline made you think of the Elvis Costello song from which the book takes its title. Which brings us to another bit o’ imdb “trivia”:
In a surreal twist, the sequel novel, 'Imperial Bedrooms', has the original novel's characters aware of the film version of "Less Than Zero”.
Well, now, I wouldn’t say that. Perhaps something like this would be more apt: In a surreal twist, the sequel novel, ‘Empty Donkey Melting Scream” took its name from colliding mollusks on a train that stretches to the horizon but is forever moving.” That’s surreal. Naming a sequel after another song on another album is called “continuity.”
As for Elvis Costello’s song, no doubt he played it on his first appearance in Minneapolis at the Longhorn in 1977. Where is that bar now, you ask?
It turned into Zoogie’s, then closed up, and reportedly it’s just parking-ramp maintenance storage now. The history is left behind is sparse, but a few handbills can be found here, along with recollections of the heyday; the Minnesota Historical Society has some ephemera as well.
Now, let us flashback to those innocent halcyon days of 80s. Prescient moment from Robert Downey towards the end.
ART Photog Tom Nguyen got up early to take pictures of the early hours of bone-rattling March, and we’re glad he did.
SCIENCE! Speaking of the cold, here’s great news: There was an ancient giant virus found in 30,000-year-old ice, and they brought it back to life! Resurrected viruses. I think that’s what everyone’s been clamoring for.
In what seems like a plot straight out of a low-budget science-fiction film, scientists have revived a giant virus that was buried in Siberian ice for 30,000 years — and it is still infectious. Its targets, fortunately, are amoebae, but the researchers suggest that as Earth's ice melts, this could trigger the return of other ancient viruses, with potential risks for human health.
Another researcher quoted in the piece says this is nonsense. There’s a frightening picture of the virus, which makes me think of “The Andromeda Strain” - a fine movie that still manages to terrify with the most rudimentary special effects. The moment that virus moved half the audience came out of their seats.
You have to marvel at the wy the world works: even amoebas have their own viruses. Nothing's safe from those meaningless demons. If there's something to eat, Nature will devise a way to eat it. Speaking of which: time for lunch. See you around.
On an unseasonably warm spring day in 1913, the Westfall Drugstore on Main Street received a special delivery from Kodak in Rochester, N.Y. — a brand-new “Vest Pocket Kodak” that had wowed customers since it was introduced the prior year.
They took some pictures and put them back in the camera. Then they put the camera in a time capsule.
Related, from the Guardian:
On a spring morning in 1912, a man with a tripod and a heavy camera walked out of Liverpool Street station and into the heart of London's East End, capturing the children playing with hoops and skipping ropes, the busy shoppers, the pubs, the horse-drawn delivery carts competing with lorries, the tailors promising individual garments at wholesale prices in an area famous for centuries for textile workers, a now vanished world. He then went home to his new photographic studio at Brightlingsea in Essex, and vanished from history.
Now his work is being shown for the first time in 60s years. But is it art? The article notes that he doesn’t seem interested in the people milling around; he seems to be more concerned with the buildings. Perhaps because he was a real-estate photographer. It’s a venerable trade.
Speaking of old pictures: while poking around the Library of Congress archives the other day, I came across this:
That's right: It’s the Minneapolis delegation. Wonder if anyone in the picture has a relative living in town today? I’d bet on it. I’d bet one of them hits startribune.com today.
SCIENCE! Mount Sharp at the Junda Outcrop! Tanaka, when the walls fell! A panorama from robot on Mars.
More here, including a 3D version.
MOVIES Somehow this became an new art form: movie posters for old movies. The “minimalist” ones get a bit tiresome. Laurent Durieux is taking another approach, which this site calls “Retro-Futuristic.” I’ve no idea what that means,, but they’re good. Name the movie:
Correct! Now, the worst news of the day: Michael Bay’s production company is remaking “The Birds.”
I was vaguely aware you could call a phone number and get movie information, but why would I do that when the listings are in the paper? Things changed; now I think why would I check the listings in the paper when I have Fandango? Sometimes it’s a race between myself and my wife; she checks the paper, I whip out the app, and we see who can get the information first. She usually wins because the print version of the newspaper does not display a holographic 3D trailer of a movie and require her to search for the NO THANKS button.
Which brings us to Moviefone. AOL bought it for $400 mil back in 2001. Brilliant. This week they announced they’d drop the “fone” part and move the service to app-only, where it will compete with everything else. Does this NYT story resonate with you?
For 25 years, residents of America’s biggest cities have been able to call 777-FILM to receive movie listing information and buy tickets. The service’s goofily booming greeting became a cultural catchphrase: “Hello, and welcome to Moviefone!”
Never used it. Never called. Well, let’s go to YouTube . . . Nope. Can’t find it. But I did find a clip, where the Voice of Moviefone - Russ LEATHERMAN - is interviewed on . . . this show.
There’s a whole series. You wish it was bad enough to be one of those discoveries that suddenly get famous after someone on Reddit plucks it from obscurity, but it's not.
DIG IN Friday may be half-over, but I believe this is the most memorable sentence of the day:
“Curiosity piqued, I headed over to the site, which explains how it plans to cultivate edible meat from cloned celebrity tissue samples.”
More here. The company says they’re quiteserious about selling dried, aged, cured and spiced lab-grown celebrity meat.
SCIENCE! Here’s something incomprehensible, from Discovery.
This cluster, named RX J1532.9+3021 (its friends call it RX J1532), is 3.9 billion light-years away and extremely massive – about a thousand trillion times more massive than our sun (and about a thousand times more massive than our entire galaxy.)
Inconceivable. You don’t know where to start figuring out how much you cannot understand the dimensions at work here. Anyway, that’s a story about a black hole that “Blasts Galaxy-Sized Gaps in Space,” but that’s last month’s news. This month has this: “Monster Black Holes Can Kill Galactic Star Formation.” That’s if you’re unlucky enough to have a supermassive enormo-gigantic ultra-honking black hole in the center of your galaxy. If you do there probably isn’t a you in the first place. Point is, the headline accurately sums up the story. This isn’t how you get hits these days. Let’s look around the rest of the page and see if it’s possible to recast good science news in Upworthy-BuzzFeedy headlines.
A powerful NASA telescope has found not one, but 10 supermassive black holes. And it did so by accident!
That’s okay, but the exclamation point makes it look like you’re trying too hard. The ideal formation would be NASA pointed its telescope at the wrong place and no one guessed what they’d see next” or some such drivel.
Dnews: Why Sitting Too Much Can Kill You!
Much better. But let me show you how it’s really done. This popped up on a page the other day.
That’s how you do it. Macro photography of some hideous beastle that may be living inside of you. Who could resist?
TECH How do we preserve old games? It’s possible, thanks to emulation and dedicated hobbyists, but it also requires enough time, money, and people. This article discusses the problems facing the preservation effort, but it doesn't address an ephemeral aspect of gaming: the experience. You can save the game, but no one who plays it in 2050 will understand how it felt to play it in 1996, for example. Just as it's hard today to understand how movie audiences in 1921 experienced a new type of FX. I played a little "Hexen" the other day, and it was claustrophic, jerky, blocky, and flat. Almost unplayable, and hard to enjoy. At the time? Cutting-edge and addictive.
NEWS Finally: this. A simple account that gives you an idea of what they want in Ukraine. Besides the Russian boot, of course. It's short, and worth a read.
That's it for this week; thanks for the patronage. See you on Monday.
Sixteen below when I sent Daughter off to the bus stop. That was sufficient cause to suspend school a while ago. Today: eh. Perhaps they assume kids have been sufficiently toughened and winnowed.
While I am far from a Luddite who fetishizes a life without tech, we need to consider the consequences of this latest batch of apps and tools that remind us to contact significant others, boost our willpower, provide us with moral guidance, and encourage us to be civil. Taken together, we’re observing the emergence of tech that doesn’t just augment our intellect and lives — but is now beginning to automate and outsource our humanity.
He goes on to describe something called BroApp, which he admits may be a parody. It sends “automated daily text messages” to your girlfriend. This does not turn you into a sociopath; if you believed that automated canned sentiment will do the trick and save you some time, you may be one already. Or more likely just selfish and manipulativeg. Really, if you're buying something called BroApp you’re already a Bro, and the app isn’t going to infuse you with additional Bronosity. BroApp even sounds like a long ripe beer belch.
Related, maybe: Here’s something I didn’t know. The name of the Bitcoin exchange that was hacked and shuttered was Mt. Gox. right? Daily Dot:
The joke here is that the name MtGox doesn’t actually refer to a mountain. It’s an acronym for Magic: The Gathering Online Exchange; the site originally started as a place for fans of of the tabletop fantasy card game to buy and sell their cards.
Somehow that fits.
THE FUTURE The tumblr about “Beer Labels in Motion” is exactly what you think: animated beer labels. Some day they’ll actually look like this.
Related, maybe: the Morton Salt girl is updated for its 100th birthday; here’s a look at the logo’s evolution. Interesting how she looked at the customer with a cheerful expression in 1956, then looked away in 1968, as if contemplating something private. She’s never looked at us since.
DESSERT Ben & Jerry’s has some new flavors. Here’s how the site “Hello Giggle” describes the company:
Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield are kind of living out a childhood best friend dream come true, aren’t they? Making ice cream as a job, coming up with witty pop culture flavors when they feel like it, working together every day, and eternal fame in New England? What more could anyone want?
In April 2000, Ben & Jerry's sold the company to Anglo-Dutch multinational food giant Unilever. Unilever said it hopes to carry on the tradition of engaging "in these critical, global economic and social missions". Although the founders' names are still attached to the product, they do not hold any board or management position and are not involved in day-to-day management of the company.
But other than that, yes, totally awesome in the dream-coming-true department. The new ice cream flavors sound delicious indeed, but I can’t figure out why no one ever attacks Big Ice Cream when it comes to attacking obesity and marketing. Soda, sugar, fast-food - but never ice cream. It’s almost as if it gets a pass because it’s the one thing the critics couldn’t imagine giving up.
URBAN DESIGN The Pentagon Park plan is on again. They want to tear down the ultra-50s office complex and build a half-billion dollar project. The Pentagon tower is an odd and distinctive structure, but there’s no saving it; no one will say it’s historic. Things come and go. Such as: The Richmond and Landour Hotels.
I ran across this while digitizing some old postcards, and finally found out where it was. Here:
Fair trade. Some details of the site:
Cedar Lake Ice Co. was at Hidden Beach. Wikipedia:
Before 1860, Cedar Lake had a much different shape, and most of the woods surrounding Hidden Beach, particularly to the south east, were areas of water and wetland instead. In 1867 the southeast bay of Cedar Lake was filled in to create a major train yard and in 1878 a large scale ice cutting operation known as Cedar Lake Ice Company was founded on the lake’s north eastern shore, which shipped ice to places as far away as St. Louis. By 1900 Dingley’s boat house occupied the end of a thin peninsula on the eastern side of the lake, which eventually widened and became the site of today’s Hidden Beach. Despite the large railway operations going on nearby, the land surrounding Cedar Lake’s eastern shore was sold to build houses, hotels, and other such structures between 1908 and 1975.
Elsewhere around town in teh 1940s:
Minneapolitans who know what the city used to look like can probably guess: the big rusting falling-down skid-row of Washington Avenue. It’s here:
Not so good a trade.
VotD Stick ‘em up! C’mon, man, stick ‘em up! Please? Hey - hey, let go!
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