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.
Sound advice, no? We’ll get to that in a moment. First, here’s good news for everyone who loves 3D movies. They’ve added another dimension! Hollywood Reporter reports from Hollywood:
Iron Man 3 will be shown starting April 26 in 4DX at a theater in Nagoya, central Japan, operated by the Korona World chain, which plans to screen 12 titles a year using the new format.
Fourth dimension" effects utilized by the system include strobe lights and equipment in the ceiling that can drop bubbles down upon the audience, who will pay a $13 premium for 3D versions and $10 for 2D films, on top of the regular ticket price. Average admission price in Japan in 2012 was $12.50.
In other words, you pay $25 so you can get water sprayed in your face. These theaters have been in Disney theme parks for years. As you’re flying through a scene from Aladdin, the wind blows. As you splash through a waterfall, mist squirts from a hose embedded in the seat in front of you. Things vibrate and tilt. It’s fun, except in the wretched Stitch ride, where you hear a big ripe belch and the room fills with the aroma of burped-up chili dogs. Or maybe that was just the guy in the next seat. In any case, it adds some novelty to the experience, but I really don’t want water shooting in my face when the Enterprise crashes into the ocean or Jack Black bellyflops in a pool.
ART I hate the use “stunning” to describe things, particularly if they’re iconic, but these are stunning. And iconic. “Industry and Architecture in Mid 20th Century America” - the photos of Ezra Stoller.
COMMERCIALS Everyone has to start somewhere. Flavorwire dug up 10 commercials with actors who went on to bigger things.Steve Carroll’s early days as a chicken-shiller:
MEANWHILE IN RUSSIA or one of its previously captured satellite nations, it's your daily ration of dashcam vid. First: an indication of how long one can reasonably expect to impede traffic by standing in front of a vehicle berating its driver.
The poster frame tends to give away the ending, alas.
Oh, what the heck, have another. It's like "Signal 30" every day on every road over there.
A remarkable absence of Titanic news this weekend. Last year was the hundredth anniversary, and that seems to have exhausted media interest in the subject. Too bad; this story didn’t get much play. They found the violin played by the band as the ship sank.
As the Titanic sank, the band famously played on. And more than 100 years after the tragedy, the violin owned by the band leader has been confirmed as a survivor.
The instrument used by Wallace Hartley was thought by some to have been lost in the Atlantic in the 1912 disaster.
But in 2006 the son of an amateur musician found it in an attic, complete with a silver plate showing its provenance.
In related news: another toilet-related problem for a cruise ship.
It was anything but flush for hundreds aboard the Crown Princess last week.
The Crown Princess returned to Galveston Saturday after toilets broke down during the seven-day Caribbean cruise to Honduras, Belize and Cozumel - the latest in a recent rash of problems for parent company Carnival.
A blockage within the vacuum toilet system caused commodes in 410 staterooms in the aft part of the ship to temporarily stop flushing, said Julie Benson, a cruise line spokeswoman. Public restrooms were available to passengers in the affected cabins, and passengers were kept "continuously updated about the progress of repairs," she said.
What was supposed to be a relaxing vacation turned into a soggy, stopped-up mess for Fonda Boyd, 44, of Dallas and several of her friends.
Everyone got a $50 voucher.
In several European countries, filing tax returns is a near-automatic process: instead of painstakingly calculating figures yourself, the government estimates what you owe based on wage and bank account data that it already collects, and you make any necessary adjustments.
If you’re going to link to something you paraphrased, don’t reuse words like “painstakingly,” because they tend to stand out. Anyway, the Verge piece continues:
Why isn't there a similar "returns-free filing" system in the US? According to a report in ProPublica, the primary culprit could be Intuit, the maker of popular returns software TurboTax.
I’m not sure “popular” is the word. “Purchased with a heavy heart and a sullen, bitter acceptance of the miseries to come” might be better. Reserve “popular” for things people enjoy. If there’s ever a home DIY Root-Canal kit, it might be frequently purchased, but it would never be popular.
What's the goal behind Anonymous' attacks, other than to tweak the nose of North Korea?
In a separate Pastebin post, the group said it wants the government to stop making "nukes and nuke-threats." It also wants Kim Jong-un to resign, North Korea to set up a democracy, and the country to allow uncensored Internet access for its citizens.
So far, though, the North Korean government doesn't seem to be swayed by Anonymous' actions.
”So far” suggests we’re a few more hacked sites away from a change in government policy, which doesn’t seem likely. Here’s one of the images that greeted Nork viewers when they called up a webpage:
You wonder if Anonymous considered how many people got sent to the camps for letting that happen. Or seeing it in the first place.
UPDATE Recall the story about the NYC attempt to license costumed characters in Times Square? One reporter goes nside the dark, elmo-eat-elmo world of Times Square costumed tip-hustlers:
When Pooh set up in front of the Toys ‘R’ Us on Broadway at 44th Street with his “Hunny” tip jar, a group of other characters immediately began eyeing the newcomer with suspicion.
There aren’t enough [tourists] here for all of us. You have to leave, OK?” Minnie said. “Try across the street. We are too many, you know?”
That’s all for today; I have a cold, and it is cold, and it’s April 15th, and there are workmen ripping up a wall in my house to fix a bathtub pipe from 1914. Things can only get better.
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.
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.
. . . or a sunny equivalent. Spring break starts this week for many kids, and the airport will be thronged with people heading someplace warm. Anywhere will do this year, after the March we’ve had. A rickety lawnchair on the roof of a Tijuana brothel would do. Since many head to Florida for the amusement parks or cruise-ship ports, we’ll try to work as much Florida news in the blog this week as possible. So:
STAR WARS This article wonders if Disneyland will add a Star Wars attraction. They’re testing the waters by polling fans to see if there’s any interest. Here is where you are entitled to snort through your nose with derision and contempt for anyone who wonders whether Disney will not develop a SW theme park. I’d be surprised if they didn’t build a fourth theme-park in Florida centered entirely around Star Wars. It fits with the Hollywood studio, and that one could use some refreshes. As much as I love that park for the architecture, most people don’t go a theme park looking for 3/4 scale reproductions of imaginary 1930s streetscapes, and the haunted hotel is the only thrill ride on the lot. Something like Universal’s “Harry Potter” ride - completely immersive, disorienting, wild, vomit-inducing - is what’s called for here. Of course, the attack on the Death Star comes to mind, but that’ll be tough; the flight down the trench is hard to do with multiple cars. They’ll figure it out.
Star Wars doesn’t belong at the Magic Kingdom, though. Don’t expect them to make over Tomorrowland - which wouldn’t make any sense, since “Star Wars” happened a long time ago. (Inasmuch as it did not happen at all.) Nor does it belong at Epcot, which has its own mood so different from the other parks you’d hate to see it sullied.
SIN Also in Florida: A headline to get the Internet Defenders of slashdot et al riled up good ‘n’ plenty: FLORIDA BANS INTERNET CAFES. What sort of police-state regime is descending on us? What dark night looms for us all if they can ban internet cafes? It does seem odd, until you google a bit and discover that “internet cafe” is a term for a depressing, mercenary type of gambling establishment that exploited a loophole in the law. This post at slashdot explains it from a first-hand perspective. Usually fisticuffs and turf wars don’t come to mind when you think “internet cafes.”
CROSS CHECK AND ALL CALL When you’re about to take off to go to Florida, you’ll have to turn off the Kindle, which produces so much disruptive energy you can actually divert jet airplanes by driving past the airport and holding one up to the window. The window does not need to be rolled down. Just hold it up. Watch the planes do barrel rolls. Fun! But now they’re going to let you use them. Huzzah. The NYT says:
One member of the group and an official of the F.A.A., both of whom asked for anonymity because they were not allowed to speak publicly about internal discussions, said the agency was under tremendous pressure to let people use reading devices on planes, or to provide solid scientific evidence why they cannot.
As I wrote in 2011, travelers are told to turn off their iPads and Kindles for takeoff and landing, yet there is no proof that these devices affect a plane’s avionics. To add to the confusion, the F.A.A. permits passengers to use electric razors and audio recorders during all phases of flight, even though those give off more electronic emissions than reading tablets.
The F.A.A. declined to comment.blogs.laweekly.com/squidink/2013/03/disneyland_club_33.php
Of course they declined to comment! Who the hell are we to think they owe us any sort of comment? Now turn off your iPod Mini and stare straight ahead.
ARCHITECTURE Also in Florida: I read three pieces this morning about the death of the Miami Herald building. Here's one. The company sold it for a nice chunk, and is moving to new digs by the airport. All three pieces quote the staffers who toiled within the featureless bunker, praising its views of the water. Those were the days! No one else is sad to see it go, I suspect, since the overwhelming majority of people did not work inside the building and did not have the nice views, but saw the structure as an inert, aloof bunker whose inner machinations were a mystery to all but the elect. The best newspaper buildings came from the 30s and 40s, like StarTribune World HQ, or the Daily News in New York City.
DINING When you get to Disneyworld you’ll want to eat at 33, but you can’t. It’s too exclusive. You have to pay thousands of dollars and wait ten years. Now, here’s where the Disney experts scoff, because Club 33 is in Disneyland, not Disneyworld. Really? Fine; you want to believe the Mouse Propaganda, be my guest, as the singing piece of crockery said. I think they have one, and it’s so super-exclusive it’s where people from California go to avoid the hoi polloi who bought their way into the original one. Anyway, it’s mysterious and exclusive, and this writer got inside to spill the secrets!!!!
It’s also so mysterious and little-seen that Disney put up a website for the place.
I have some matchbooks from the restaurant; They belonged to Walt Disney’s brother. A friend gave me a cigar box full of matches that belonged to Ray, a little-known brother who didn’t go into the Mouse biz. As far as I can tell from the matchbooks, he was in the insurance trade. The “33” matchbook makes you wonder whether Walt comped him a membership, or just invited him over to eat once. Either way, it had to sting a bit. You’re out there busting your hump every day to sell policies, and your younger brother not only has this, he has a spread in Florida the size of a state.
You hope it didn’t bother him too much. He outlived Walt by decades, and died in ’89 one year short of his 100th birthday.
I’d love to show you the matchbook, but I updated my system software this morning, and it broke my computer so bad I can’t do anything without waiting five minutes between mouse-clicks. Two basic system programs that normally sit in the background nibbling on crumbs of memory now have decided they need 2.5 GB each; on a machine with 8 GB of RAM, opening a browser and nothing else reduces the amount of free RAM to 14 MB. So! Fun ahead. I’ll have it fixed by tomorrow. See you around.