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.
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.
Do you feel fatigued? It could be the weather, and the suspicion that spring is still a few days, or weeks, or months away. Perhaps it’s the lack of sun. Perhaps you’re just not getting enough . . . milk.
We knew it was good with cereal, but also a cure for industrial fatigue? Impressive. I found that on a page of tiny ads in an old newspaper. There were so many. The bread and butter of the industry, really. And they sold bread and butter, too. This one caught my eye:
ICE! Not just when you want it but asyou want it, which sounds like the sequel to a Shakespeare play. Also, note it’s an Ice AND Fuel company, so if your drink has a slight gasoline tinge, you’ll know why.
The ad was below a news story that just happened to be about . . . the Cedar Lake Ice company.
This is not described as an “Ad” or “sponsored” content. It’s a news story. There’s a photo of the fleet:
The story goes on to extoll the virtues of the basically correct ice company. You wonder how much the company paid for it
Those were the days!
MYSTERIES Here’s a line that might make you read a piece about the world’s most untranslatable manuscript: "One of the women looks vaguely annoyed, her hands inserted into two pipes, a small beard sprouting from her chin." More here.
It’s odd I should run across that this morning; daughter brought it up over the dinner table, because she’d been watching a YouTube “Top Ten” video. There are a million of them. Top Ten Unexplained Mysteries, Top Ten Strangest Objects in Space, Top Ten Spurious Assertions Tarted Up With Attractive Graphics, Top Ten Credulous Internet Top-Ten-List Viewers, that sort of thing. Every time she tells about one we go through the assertions to see if they’re factual, or just more internet nonsense. The general lesson: don’t believe something just because it’s in a list and has a dramatic soundtrack.
TECH New commenting system! This CRAPCHA should cut down on all the spambots who want to tell everyone they made lots of money working from home.
I suggest that every site on the internet use this for a while. You can get yours here.
As long as we’re on peeves - and for me, those include spambot comments and CAPCHAs - let me speak on behalf of everyone who accidentally mouses over something underlined twice, and an ad pops up: stop it. No one quits what they’re reading and goes to search for timepieces because they accidentally clicked on the word “watch.” If mousing over the word triggers a short video with audio, please realize you are ruining the internet and people will shun you at parties if you tell them what you do for a living. Thank you.
MAD MEN Is Jon Hamm still doing the radio ads for Benz? He sounds hoarse and uncertain. I still can’t figure out why they hired him to do the ads and requested that he not sound like Don Draper, but they’re the experts. Speaking of Mad Men: here’s something no one else who studies every word, gesture, color, background TV announcer script, or piece of glassware has pointed out yet. I should note that I liked the episode, which is usually a sign that the people who obsess over it were disappointed. It works that way, somehow. Nevertheless:
Don’s expression after he had engaged in some marvelous subterfuge intended to sink the wishes of a disappointing, dull-minded client. In the background, a reminder of one his most favorite pitches.
Of course that's intentional. They've moved since the Carousel pitch. It was put there for us to see.
You may hate the snow; I hate the snow. Everyone hates the snow by now. Except, perhaps, Biscuit.
Via the Buzzfeed list of 38 things Minnesotans are too nice to brag about. One of which (#26, second pic) is in Fargo, but whatever. And the kid with a Mullet (#2) is wearing a Sioux jersey, but whatever. Did you know that we rever the Bloody Mary? (#36) News to me, but whatever. Read the comments for more suggestions, which remind you that the list was not only long, but lazy. They missed these guys:
No Spam? Peter Graves? Replacements?
LATEST NEW YORK BAN “Now, why didn’t I think of that?” said J. Jonah Jameson. CBS reports:
New York City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. introduced legislation Tuesday that would either ban or introduce tight regulations on costumed characters in New York City.
When costumes are outlawed, only supervillains will have costumes. It sounds like a 1960s Spiderman plot: en route to deliver the serum that will save Aunt May, he’s stopped by the police for wearing a costume without a permit.
The law was proposed because something bad happened.
The proposal comes in the wake of several incidents involving costumed characters in Times Square. Most recently, a man dressed as Cookie Monster from “Sesame Street” was arrested this past Sunday after allegedly shoving a 2 1/2-year-old boy.
But that’s because the fuzz took the kid’s word, man. Ask Cookie’s associate: a man “identified in court as the Cookie Monster character’s partner, did not want to answer questions on camera, but earlier told reporters: ‘They’re lying. He didn’t do it. He’s not like that.’” Well then. Case dismissed.
Here’s the deal. Guys dress up as beloved characters, hang around tourist destinations, wheedle their way into getting photographed with the kid, then demand money. It’s not always kids; CBS notes:
Confrontations between ostensibly cuddly characters and visitors in Times Square have been happening with some frequency in recent months. In December, a performer dressed as a Super Mario Brother was accused of groping a woman.
You know, it’s been decades since I played anything that contained a Mario; that was Donkey Kong. I didn’t like Donkey Kong, because it was just memorization. Not a lot of strategy in Donkey Kong. We knew the guy who was trying to save the Princess was named Mario. I’ve imagined him whenever I see something about a Mario-related game, a genre that includes about 3,206 games on every Nintendo platform from the Wii U to the old Nintendo Abacus back in the 2nd century. I know they introduced a brother at some point, though. That would be Luigi He’s dressed in a green costume. My point is this: while you can be groped by a Super Mario Brother, it would be more accurate to say she was groped by Mario, or groped by Luigi. It’s like saying someone was groped by a Baldwin Actor Brother. Narrow it down, please.
A few years ago, this law would have had a chilling effect on the Toy Fair; characters from comics, TV shows, cartoons and the like would mill around the Toy Manufacturers of America’s HQ in lower Manhattan, delighting passersby and groping no one. I went to a few back in the 90s, and remember a guy who wore a Mr. T outfit. The photographer took a picture of me threatening to hit him.
Of course, he probably wouldn’t have needed to get a permit for wearing a Mr. T outfit, since he was, in fact, Mr. T.
Anyway, is there anything else New York hasn’t gotten around to banning? Possibly. It’s going to be illegal to buy a fake designer purse on the street. Fine: $1,000 and a YEAR IN PRISON.
FUN Via Alexis Madrigal at Atlantic, a collection of hypnotic GIFs that teach you how to play pinball. (Via Alexis Madrigal at Atlantic.) I can do all of those, except for the Death Save. It actually hurts to watch, because I can’t imagine moving the machine that much without tilting. The last time I played pinball? Oh, it’s been . . . days. Pirates of the Caribbean at the arcade in the Humphrey Terminal. It’s gone a bit wobbly in the legs, but it’s still a good table. What makes a good table, you ask? One I can beat on the first quarter, that’s what.
Can you identify this location?
I found it in a 1947 newspaper. I had no idea Dayton’s set up shop there. Answer at the bottom.
In related Strib news:
That’s from an ad the Star-Tribune’s “What Makes a Newspaper Great?” series, which ran nationally for four years. One of the things that made us Great was the Minnesota Poll, which found all sorts of interesting facts:
13% of Minnesotans weren't happy they were born? Wonder what it's like now. I'd bet you get 96% on that question answering "Glad." Why, otherwise the world would be deprived of wonderful Us.
I’m digitizing the whole series, so expect a few more from time to time. They ran in Time, Newsweek, the Wall Street Journal, and other national publications.
I’ve no idea why.
WHOA NPR posts this video of a light pole lancing a Chinese bus, and says “Don't click on the videos we're writing about here unless you're prepared to be scared.”
How do you prepare to be scared, exactly? Doesn’t the act of pre-fright prep diminish the amount of scaring you’ll receive? It’s as if NPR is making a legal disclaimer in case someone complains in the comments.
Of course, what idiot would complain in the comments about the secondary effects of a YouTube video? For example: this remarkable video has gotten 2 million hits, because people cannot believe there are people who have decided to wear Superman Emulation Machines and dive from the sky into skyscraper crevasses.
The comment section is a scrolling encomium to human ingenuity and bravery, as well as the marvels of the modern age that permit ordinary folk to have extraordinary moments - and share them with millions of people! Just kidding; the comments start out like this:
I flagged this video for promoting dangerous acts.. My 6 year old tried to jumped off the roof yesterday thinking he can do this ****.. You stupid ****ers want to do this great but don;t post it where kids can watch it
That’s right: it’s the fault of YouTube and the uploaders for this woman’s six-year-old jumping off the roof. Well, let’s take a look at the author's channel, where she posts Poser 8 recreations of the “Exorcist” movie. Just because. Why, look at what happens right here.
You didn’t know the Exorcist took place in a Manhattan skyscraper, did you?
Back to NPR. They ran another scary video about a piece of wood going through a car window. The preface:
Whether it actually is or isn't the "scariest car crash ever caught on video," as Jalopnik.com says, this is a truly frightening thing to watch — even if you know it's coming and that the driver wasn't hurt. So, be warned: This clip is only 40 seconds long and at the 32-second mark a board comes flying into the windshield. Please don't press play if you aren't sure you want to watch.
What sort of tender souls does NPR believe visits its pages?
It is another cool one in Central Florida, and as a result, Disney will not be opening Blizzard Beach today. Typhoon Lagoon will be open however. Temperatures today are forecast to be in the 60s, with lows in the 40s.
I sigh with fellow-feeling for anyone who's there and wants warmth. Also, the Magic Kingdom hit capacity around noon and started turning away people who just showed up without tickets. It’ll reopen later, as it did yesterday, but a reminder: PLAN AHEAD.
In a few years, there will be a new attraction - or rather an old one, redesigned. Disney Springs. It’s an overhaul of Downtown Disney, doubling the number of shops, restaurants, and other attractions. Looks great. You’d hope that the greater number of restaurants means they’ll increase capacity, but it’ll probably mean the usual Disney wait. Last time we were at Downtown Disney we ate at a fish-and-chips joint made to look like a real Irish place based on Real Irish Place. After I’d ordered I got a number on a stick. 97. I watched the kitchen to see what was coming out.
There were seventy-six orders in front of ours. And it was 8:00 PM. I think it was 8:30 before we got our cod-slabs. Which managed to be cold.
The drawings look like it’ll be more “retro” than the current version, which is starting to look like a 80s “power center” outdoor mall. Can’t wait, realy.
ARCHITECTURE The most brutal review of a building I’ve read in some time. Then again, the author appears to be in favor of buildings that “dramatically unsettle” the occupant, so perhaps he’s annoyed the museum spaces aren’t claustrophobic warrens with Caligari-style perspective.
It’s the Perot Museum of Science, by the way, and from this story it does seem to offer inadvertent finger removal. Which would be dramatically unsettling. WARNING! Story has picture of a hand without a finger. Brace yourself. Do not click. In fact turn off the computer and go walk into a closet and stay there until the crisis has passed and the internet is over.
Drawing on the power of parametric scripting, the design of the Phare Tower gathers disparate programmatic, physical, and infrastructural elements from the requirements of the building and its surrounding context, and synthesizes these into a form that seamlessly integrates the building into the idiosyncrasies of its site while expressing multiple flows of movement.
Uh huh. I’m sure it does. They’re also quite proud of this:
ANSWER: Of course, that's the space beneath the ramp that goes up to the Grandstand. It's unused now; the Pioneer Press had it for a few years, and I remember doing some booth work there. People came for the cool shade; people left because of the musty dankness. All that concrete holds the memories of decades of rain.
Only six months until the Fair!
DON’T PANIC. But if you’re heading to Florida, keep in mind that the Magic Kingdom does close.
Yes. It’s a Phase 3 closing, too. Phase one: guests who show up without tickets “will be turned around at the parking lot booths.” Phase 2: admission limited to Disney Resort guests, annual passholders, and some other categories. Phase 3 is more restricted; Phase 4 is NONE SHALL PASS. Or Fastpass, if you wish.
CONFESSIONS It is almost impossible to quantify the amount I do not care. Your may have a different opinion. What famous writer was paid by Esquire to put down the following sentiments?
Before I left, I promised my wife I would be restrained. She is very concerned, because she knows what can happen. But inches from the runway, waiting for the smooth mannequin boys with surgically removed hips and buttocks swaying like sunglassed Gumbys with the newest designs from creative director Frida Giannini, I know the promise is useless.
ART Nowadays, this qualifies:
As if starring in David Bowie music videos wasn't already the coolest, Tilda Swinton has currently taken up residency sleeping at MoMA. It's part of an unannounced, surprise performance piece called "The Maybe" that will be taking place on random days all month year A MoMA source told us, "Museum staff doesn't know she's coming until the day of, but she's here today. She'll be there the whole day. All that's in the box is cushions and a water jug."
I hope someone’s filming it, so they can sell DVD sets of the entire performance. It would be a shame if art of this caliber - so exquisitely conceived, so masterfully executed - vanished at the end of its run. At least they could frame the pillow case on which she drooled.
Or, seal up the box so no air gets in, change the title from “The Maybe” to “The Most Certainly, Oh My Yes” and create a new form of performance art that does not rely on the consent of the artist. It’s an interesting question, no? Can you force someone to create against their will? Is the artist’s permission required, or - OH DO STOP POUNDING, TILDA, IT’S SIMPLY NO USE - or does the art arise from the protest?
Also in the art news, and containing news about actual art:
An Edward Hopper painting of New York City's Roosevelt Island is coming to auction where it's estimated to sell for up to $20 million. "Blackwell's Island," as Roosevelt Island used to be called, will be offered May 23 at Christie's. The large-scale oil has never come to auction before.
Painted in 1928, it's been exhibited in major museums, including New York's Museum of Modern Art, The Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
According to his bio, he painted “Blackwell Island” in 1911, when he was trying to make his name. He was 28, just back from Europe, making his money doing illustrations for magazines and advertising. He hated it.
Here’s the painting.
A biography notes that George Bellows had also painted the island in 1909, and Bellows was a man on the way up. Here’s his take:
You can tell who’d be more fun at parties, can’t you? Bellows’ work has his usual messy energy; Hopper’s is cool and removed and remote. There’s the matter of the clouds, too - the quiet unease you sense in his work, someone noted, is often due to perspective lines that don’t quite the vanishing points the way you’d expect.
But back to Tilda. I spoke too soon: there’s video! Whew.
DESIGN This is cool. Find the name of the product.
BUSINESS As you’ve heard, Supervalu is axing jobs after selling some chains. One of them was Star Market, which I’d never heard about until now. The wikipedia page says this:
In 1918, Sarkis Mugar, an Armenian immigrant who had arrived in Greater Boston in 1906, paid $800.00 for the Star Market, a small grocery store, at 28 Mt. Auburn Street in Watertown. His son, Stephen P. Mugar, eventually went to work for him in the store. In 1922, Sarkis Mugar was killed in an automobile accident, leaving his son to take over the Star Market to support his mother, himself, and his sisters.
It’s still around. It’s the Meat Spot! From this store a retail empire arose.
If it says "23 Auburn Street," and you're tempted to correct me, fine; that's the address returned for "28 Auburn," and that's the even side of the street. I wonder if there's a plaque. Probably not. Few grocery stores have any sense of history, let alone the chains that run then.
If they did, we'd still be shopping at Red Owl, and liking it. Because the Owl is more fun than the name of some chain they broiught in from elsewhere and doesn't mean much to the locals there, either.
See you around; have a grand day.