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.
YouTube’s new map shows the most popular videos at the moment in particular locales around the nation. According to their unerring computational analysis, Twin Citians have been riveted by the tense and ominous colloquy of two lynxes.
We thank the fellow for uploading that, and beg him to TURN HIS CAMERA SIDEWAYS next time.
The map for the entire country is here. If you’re busy at the moment, I’ll save you some work: most of the country is watching the True Blood season 6 trailer. Play around the age settings a little; makes for an interesting lesson in tastes and interests. Warning: the 65+ section is nothing but Wilford Brimley cussing videos.
PIZZA The video goes on about 38 seconds longer than it should, but it does make you want to search the internet for “Zeus Gorham Munkist.” Good luck.
What’s he selling? An app that locates pizza. “Our pizza-to-mouth indicator shows the exact travel distance required to enjoy a fresh slice, and our steam technology lets you know when you’ve arrived.” If you have to look at the app to see if you’re really in a pizzaria, you might want to train yourself to look up more often.
TV NOOO. No. Deadline says:
With little fanfare, Saturday’s hourlong season finale of Cops actually marked the venerable docu-reality series’ last original airing on Fox.
Twenty-five years on the air. Over 850 episodes. It was cheap to make and still brought in three million viewers, so someone in the boardroom must have realized that the show will never answer the question of what bad boys are going to do when the Sheriff John Brown comes for them. Besides run away, that is, then apologize profusely when tackled and tased, explaining they were Scared, and had Warrants.
Yes, it does tend to repeat itself. No, there really hasn’t been anything to top the naked guy in the barbershop hosing everyone with a fire extinguishers. But it’s still like nothing else. Sigh.
But! When Fox’s lack of interest became obvious . . .
the producer, Langley Prods., started looking for a new home. They’ve found it at Spike TV, where Season 26 of Cops will debut in September, airing in its long-time Saturday 8 PM time slot.
And the guys from “Inner Circle” breathed a sigh of relief. At least one more year of royalty checks.
ART Test of your architectural knowledge: identify this painting’s location.
You say: oh, come on. Marina City. Give me a tough one. All right:
I got that right away, which is why I'm mention it. If I didn't know I would have shut up about it. Tt’s from this collection of building portraits. Answer at the end of the post.
TECH Here’s a piece on the best way to make a great Vine. Number five is pretty good:
My daughter was showing me a Vine someone made of a pet baby squirrel. It had five sequences in six seconds. There’s nothing wrong with letting a sequence go for two or three seconds, as much as that might fly in the face of everything we’ve learned from Michael Bay. I uploaded a 6 second Vine that was one sequence with no cuts. Which, in terms of today’s length of attention, is like the opening of “Touch of Evil.”
Business Insider notes:
Cute animals always make great vines. Be sure to use the #cute hashtag so more people can find it.
It would be terrible if they couldn’t.
MEME-READY Charles Ramsey, the man who helped rescue the kidnapped women, speaks to ABC. It’s an interesting change in style from his 911 call, which was, shall we say, rated NC-17 for language.
THE ANSWER Okay, here's the second building in the painting.
I recognized it right away, because it’s a memorable building, mostly because it looks like it has a skin condition. Those pleats in the aluminum panels aren't decorative - heaven forbid anyone would put a decoration on a skyscraper in 1956. They’re supposed to use the power of Wind to keep the building clean.
It was originally known as Socony Mobil Building, back when the company felt it was important to have a big tower in New York. (They left for Virginia in 1987.)
FINALLY: A Chicago Tribune photographer comes to Minneapolis and shoots the Nicollet Mall, in grim black and white. We look drab and achingly lonely and deserted. Also, a guy with a mullet. I wondered why he couldn’t do color - it’s not like he’s opposed to it - but then I thought, no, downtown is not particularly vibrant in late April.
Today's a different story. Sunshine! No snow! Occasional hopeful shoots of green! Grand day out there; hope you get out to enjoy it.
Great episode, right? Right. It wasn’t about anything Important; we did not see how a Major Historical Event affected the characters’ lives. It was a show about advertising, and it was lean and focused. Don Draper like you haven’t seen him in years! Pete Campbell, sputtering and bleating as his nose is rubbed in his own pile of leavings! (Poor Pete.) Roger plucking a client out of the air - literally - and some vintage Northwest Orient stewardess garb as well.
But don’t listen to me; the best recap, as ever, is by Matt Zoller Seitz at Vulture. Although I am disappointed he didn’t note how they do the Bunny Dip when serving drinks in the first-class lounge.
This week’s animated GIF, of course, is Pete’s staircase pratfall.
ARCHITORTURE Headline: “China’s Architecture just keps getting more bizarre.” How bizarre? This is possibly the first architecture link that might be NSFW. Some of the buildings are just ugly - it’s difficult not to hear the end of the Monty Python theme when you see this.
Here’s a list (in Chinese) of the ugliest new buildings in China, courtesy of archy.com This one is unnerving:
Especially since the translated text says it’s a The Federation of Trade Unions kindergarten. Nothing says “a happy, safe learning environment” like the eyeless face of an insect robot. Although it’s not really an insect robot. The text notes: “Building Description: monkey building.” That’s true of so many structures. Then there’s this one:
Building Description: “peripheral disgusting green circle is how is it? Original Ronchamp Chapel twin brother ah!”
Twin brother ah indeed; that’s Corbu’s Notre Dame du Haut. Click through them all if you like, and make sure you translate the text. “Building Description: blunt ‘rocket’ shape, people speechless.” Sounds about right. Or this:
Building Description: Shaanxi weeks resembles the northern gate of the giant cigarette has recently become a hot spot network. From a distance, with a yellow "filter" pillars "Monkey King off the Monkey King Bar, or the Jade Emperor, learn to smoke?" Users have tucao. From the the Qiuku resembles Suzhou door to Liaoning Fushun "Circle of Life", an endless stream of fanciful landmark. Behind the huge amounts of money to build, they can play the corresponding value of practicality is still unknown.
That they can, indeed.
LISTS The 10 Weird Things Customers Say in Bookstores. How many do you think are real, and how many are made up? The first one quotes a customer who wants a signed copy of a Shakespeare play. It’s possible the customer was joking. Perhaps the entire article could be called “10 Droll Jokes Bookstore Employees Fail to Get.”
ART NPR says a restoration efforts have found a 15th century Vatican fresco that shows the New World - or at least what they thought it looked like. This will lead to conspiracy theories, of course. There’s no way a painter in Italy could know such things! He was transported there by Masonic exploratory committees that went to America in 1359 to plant artifacts to make it look like the Vikings had been there in 837! Misdirection, that’s what they’re all about.
Okay. But if the Masons are such a supersecret all-powerful cabal, why do they have their own buildings and charities and membership drives? To hide in plain sight, of course. Brilliant!
Anyway. In related news that overuses the only adjective the internet knows besides “iconic,” io9 links to “Stunning posters” for all six original Star Trek movies. Most of these reimagined posters make sense only if you know the movie.
AWWWW The Huffpo says: Baby Goat Plays On Pig In Amazing Viral Video
Amazing? Standard barnyard antic, really. Here you go. Warning: amazement may not result.
Now send it to someone else, because it’s a Viral Video.
I’m much more partial to the Russian pit ball having a complicated relationship with a stick, complete with almost-comprehensible vocalizations.
Congress is talking about a five-cent plastic grocery bag tax. It’s intended to reduce the use of plastic bags. As the article notes, the bill also taxes paper bags, just as long as they're in there fixing things.
If it doesn’t happen now, it’ll happen eventually. The Washington Post quotes a bag-tax advocate:
“This is coming, one way or another,” said Dereck E. Davis (D-Prince George’s), chairman of the powerful House Economic Matters Committee, where a watered-down version of the bill died after passing in the environmental committee. “The whole idea of free bags is going by the wayside. It’s not a matter of if, but when.”
1. There ain’t no such thing as a free bag. The cost is built into the products you buy.
2. Once I’d like to see a committee described as “Weak and Generally Ineffectual.” It’s always the powerful House Ways and Means Committee or the Powerful House Committee on Appropriations. You never hear about a bill dying in a “laughably impotent House committee.
YOU THERE A few days ago I mentioned how you should be irritated that you are being referred to as “you” in presumptuous headlines that are supposed to make YOU read the stories. Because it’s all about YOU. Today’s example of headline presumption is from Mother Jones: “Why Your Supermarket Only Sells Five Kinds of Apples.”
It's intended to make me think “it does? My supermarket? Let me read this story and find out how to change this deplorable situation.” But my supermarket sells more than five kinds. So the story is wrong. Nevermind.
From the Atlantic Wire: Amazon Is Building a Streaming TV Box You Don't Need. Okay, then.
Let’s wander over to Buzzfeed and see if there’s something YOU don’t know or YOU haven’t seen. Ah: “Apple's New iPhone Ad Reminds You You're Helplessly Addicted To Taking Photos." Double you! Bonus score. There are also “Nine other tweets from the celebrity twitterverse that you missed today!” Maybe I didn’t. How do they know?
LOCAL OLD STUFF Some old city directories have been put online, and I’ve been going through picking out ads. Some are in beautiful shape:
Nowadays people might not want to take their delicate unmentionables to the GROSS BROTHERS, but the meanings of words do tend to drift.
Take a look at this: can you name the building?
Probably not. It’s undistinguished. But doesn’t it look like a house? Or, perhaps, a clubhouse?
It was once, I believe, the home of Mr. Rand, the local gas magnate.
An old hardware supply company:
Neighborhood’s changed a bit.
Yes, that was a fair trade.
Finally, an ad for a safe so good that robbers gave up upon learning its maker’s name:
That’s it. Friday! A few hours from now, we’ll all put. Have a good weekend.
Bang! Flash! Blackness. Something blew down the street about 11:00 last night, and the power went out. You think: should I call them? They probably know. Something’s going AHHH-OOOOH-GAAHHH and lights are popping up on a big board. Repair crews leap from bed and throw themselves down poles to the repair vehicles, roaring away with the theme from “Emergency!” playing in their heads.
Well, so you’d like to think.
My neighbor called last night when the juice stopped, and they said yes, we know. It will be fixed at 1:50. Not by 1:50; at 1:50. That either suggests an extraordinary amount of confidence in the precision of their repairman’s estimates, or a sop to thrown to the customer. If it doesn’t come on at 1:50, who knows? We’ll be asleep. If it comes on early - conforming to Montgomery Scott’s Axiom on Miracle-Worker Reputation Acquisition - then they’re AWESOME.
At least I got to use the flashlight I discussed in last week’s column. The one that doubles as an X-Ray machine. It’s illegal to point it towards the Hubble because it’ll overexpose the pictures. When the cops showed up I could point at at the troublesome junction box at the end of the block. The cop was impressed but said that his flashlight might be smaller but it was just as powerful. So there we are, standing in the middle of the street, ankle-deep in snow in the early hours of April 23rd, talking about flashlights. It’s an odd world.
SCIENCE! Scientific American has a piece called “The Physics of Fred Flintstone’s Flaming Feet,” perpetuating the culture’s eternal fascination with that cartoon. It wasn’t very funny. People loved when they were kids because they were kids. Okay, so it had Ann Margrock. There’s that. There’s the naming convention, which was just hilarious! All names have mineral componants! Because if that’s the dominant raw material in your society, that’s what you name everyone after.
I know, this is heresy. The Flintstones are beloved. It’s just not very good. Compare the first ten years of the Simpsons to the entirety of the Flintstones and it’s like comparing Cheever short stories to a Dick and Jane primer.
No? Really? Quote one line from the Flintstones that isn’t “Willlllmaaaaa.”
Anyway, here comes the science:
Most of the car’s mass is going to be bound up in the huge rock rollers at the front and back. Let’s assume that they are granite. If they were one and a half meters long and 80 centimeters in diameter—like huge stone rolling pins—they would be about 360 kilograms (~795 pounds) each. But that’s not all pressing down on the road Fred has to stop on. Fred himself is a hefty fellow, maybe 95 kilograms (210 pounds). For the sake of estimation, we could assume the rest of the car, made of tarp and wood, weighs and additional 50 kilograms (110 pounds). So all in all Fred must use his heels to stop an 865-kilogram (1910 pound) rockmobile.
And so on. You’ll have to read the piece to figure out whether Fred could stop the car, or whether his flesh would be burned and abraded so severely he would never walk again. At least the article noticed something that bothered me since FOREVER:
All this is assuming of course that the car itself would hold together for more than a few feet. As an engineer, I have no idea how a forward-moving car keeps a rear wheel on that has no backstop.
Exactly. Then there’s Gazoo! Gazoo was life! Bringing Life to our Life Participants!
It’s good that the people who worked on these projects are given their due, but it seems as if we sometimes mistake the ephemeral products of mass culture for something that means much, much more than it does. It’s just a cartoon.
Now, the Jetsons, that’s a different matter. It's much more important, and not just because I liked it more.
DISNEY The more things change, the more they stay the same. Partly because they haven’t changed much at all. Here’s a big collection of Disneyland then-and-now images.
Did you know that the forced-perspective trick makes the castle seem farther away when you enter? Main Street seems to stretch into the distance. When you’re heading towards the exit, tired and eager to leave, Main Street seems shorter.
Actually, you'll probably never see the movie again anyway, so never mind.
The official site for the event is here. There is some dispute over who invented the High Five - at least that’s what cursory googling seems to indicate. If you go to the wikipedia page for “High Five” - of course there is such a thing. Of course - you find that
The use of the phrase as a noun has been part of the Oxford English Dictionary since 1980 and as a verb since 1981.The gesture takes its name from the "five" fingers and the raising of the hand "high". This is opposed to the "low" five which has been a part of the African-American culture since at least World War II.
It's probably impossible to know exactly when the low first transitioned to a high, but there are many theories about its inception. Magic Johnson once suggested that he invented the high five at Michigan State. Others have suggested it originated in the women's volleyball circuit of the 1960s.
But if you go to the imdb entry for the peculiar actor and comic Dick Shawn, you find this line: “He invented the ‘high five’.”
Citation needed. Anyway, Dick Shawn:
WEB Wired has a piice on “The Most Hilarious Abandoned Websites.” Hilarious because the web is so much better now, and the sites look old and silly. Ha ha! They didn’t have Facebook plug-ins and they had to design for 640 X 480 monitors. I remember those days: hand-animating 4-frame GIFs, using blurry expensive camcorder frame-grab cards because scanners weren’t a big thing yet. We did what we could.
At least someone’s curating this stuff; you can’t rely on Google to cache the web in all its glory, and it’s not like anyone will walk into an antique store in 30 years and find a stack of old websites someone’s Mom saved in a box in the attic.
ARCHITECTURE We have an image of the 30-story apartment building slated for downtown. Hmmm.
I’m on the fence. On one hand, it’s almost classically modern, if that makes sense. On the other, it’s almost as dull as it can possibly be, but it has a serious presence. It’ll depend on the materials, the window tint, and whether that blank wall is repeated on Marquette - safe to presume it’s covering the parking ramp, which would have a depressing effect on the street. I like the way it rises up sheer without setbacks, though.Setbacks? I don't need no steenkin' setbacks.
Click here to see the other buildings going up on the block, and at least be happy that the sad block is finally being redeemed.
Finally: somehow I missed the latest music video by David Brent - you know, that horrible boss from the BBC2 documentary, "The Office." He's still got it.
Bidily Bidily Bidily Bidily Bidily Bidily Bomp Sweeeet.