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.
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.
I hate that headline. I hope you did too. Let me explain.
I could write “this is the coolest car ad you will see all day,” but
REASON #1. I’ve begun to loathe that web cliche as much you’re doing it wrong or anything other attempt to address me with presumptive familiarity. Flavorwire: “Your Favorite Poets’ Favorite Books of Poetry.” Really? Dante? Rilke? E.B. White? Nope. Lots of people I’ve never heard about. So the headline’s wrong, then. Pajiba: “10 Movies from 1993 That You Should Immediately Add to Your Netflix Queues.” Plural? I only have one queue. what if none of them appeal? Lifehacker: “The Best Streaming Music Services You Aren’t Using (But Should.)” Hah! I use one of them! Gizmodo: “You’ve Never Heard of Inhon, But It Made This Laptop Which is Just 10.7 mm Thick.”Oh, knock it off.
The worst recent example might have been a review for Yahoo’s new weather app: “Yahoo’s New Weather App Will Change Every Day of Your Life.” I think that’s making a rather broad claim for a weather ap. It will not change my life in the sense of reordering my priorities, making me rethink my direction, cause me to face my flaws and strive for life that has more meaning.
Unfortunately for me, who’d like to make a big stink out a stupid headline, it’s literally true, and I don’t mean “literally” in the modern sense of “figuretively.” The photos change every day. They’re not all stock images, either - since Yahoo has flickr, it uses that gargantuan photo pool to supply it with images. I'm using the App store images, b/c everything from the Minneapols feed comes with a copyright, and who knows what sort of trouble I'd get in.
Tilt the phone sideways, and you get the entire photo, with credit. The first Mpls image is a spectacular sunset shot by Dan Anderson; tap the name and you go to his Flickr page.
As you see, it's got lots of data - keep scrolling down for more to get everything from maps to the apogee of the sun, if you wish. All very Flat and Modern and Clean. It's now my favorite weather app, and I go through a lot of them.
Does this signal tighter integration between Apple and Yahoo? Some say yes. Apple doesn’t want to be tied to Google, and Yahoo! has a lot going for it, aside from its stupid name. Anyway: the nice thing is that you don’t have to sign up and log in. I downloaded a photo app this morning, and it asked me to sign up and log in so I could share my photos. It doesn’t let you save pictures unless you follow people. I could not care less about this. Delete. It’s like buying a new camera, and the moment you point it at something to capture a fleeting moment it shoots out a small prepaid postcard, asking you to mail in your name and address before you can take the picture.
REASON #2. Perhaps you won’t think the car ad is cool at all. You might be sick of the “Mad Men” influence. You may find the desaturated colors a dismaying example of the influence of Instagram or Hipstamatiic, and the pernicious spread of “retro” filters. After all, the colors of the era seem oversaturated now; why not make this thing pop?
Anyway, here it is.
ART Storm Thorgerson died. He designed album covers - a lost art, perhaps, since the canvas has shrunk to 300 pixels. Here's a list of ten favorites. Everyone knows the “Dark Side of the Moon” cover, but the photographic covers are better. There was always something off about his covers. Something wrong, but not bad. Something unnerving and amusing. He’s credited with the Pink Floyd “Animals” cover - the one with the giant inflated pig balloon overing over the Battersea power station - and therein hangs a tale:
The balloon was inflated with helium and manoeuvred into position on 2 December, with a trained marksman ready to fire if it escaped. Unfortunately inclement weather delayed work, and the band's manager Steve O'Rourke neglected to book the marksman for a second day; the balloon broke free of its moorings and disappeared from view. It eventually landed in Kent and was recovered by a local farmer, who was apparently furious that it had "scared his cows".
The balloon was recovered and filming continued for a third day, but as the early photographs of the power station were considered better, the image of the pig was later superimposed onto one of those.
Possibly the only record-album photo shoot that was complicated by the lack of a trained marksman.
Off to work on columns; see you around. Notice the lack of weather talk? Right. We just don’t use those words in a family paper.
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.
You’re going to get Trolls movies and you’re going to like it, America.
DreamWorks also announced that they have tapped American Girl veteran Shawn Dennis to lead the Trolls brand development. “Trolls is a brand with over fifty years of deep heritage and we are thrilled to bring this iconic, multi-generational property to DreamWorks Animation,” said Chief Operating Officer Ann Daly.
Iconic! Of course they’re iconic. Everything is iconic. Gatsby is iconic, too. By the way, is that Gatsby musical out yet? I don’t think they’ve made a good version of the movie yet. The Redford version is reverential but inert; the Alan Ladd version was a snore. The 1926 version - well, we’l never know. All we have is the trailer. (Via slashfilm.)
The author didn’t like it and neither did his wife:
Zelda wrote in a letter, “We saw The Great Gatsby in the movies. It’s ROTTEN and awful and terrible and we left.”
Then again, Stephen King didn’t like “The Shining.” Speaking of which:
The big-screen prequel to Stephen King’s novel The Shining is currently in pre-production and Glen Mazzara, The Walking Dead’s former showrunner, has been tapped to write it. The Overlook Hotel, to give the film its proper title, was first announced last summer when it was announced that producers Laeta Kalogridis, James Vanderbilt and Bradley Fischer were developing a story to turn into a feature film.
King’s sequel to “The Shining,” titled “Doctor Sleep,” is due this fall.
I’ve never seen so much interest in one old movie in my life.
I found out about the Shining sequel from the twitter feed of the Overlook Caretaker, Lee Unkrich - he has a sideline as a director himself, having done something called “Toy Story 3” - and he also tweeted a link to the Worst Movie Ending ever.
The movie, I think, is “Student Confidential.” The actor is also the writer and director. I can sense your lack of surprise.
WEB Man in London has his Macbook stolen. The tracking software shows it ended up in . . . Iran. It sent back pictures stored by its new owner. They can be seen here.
Man creates tumblr to share the pictures. THE PEOPLE IN IRAN SEE THE TUMBLR.
Go here for . . . the rest of the story.
WHOA If you’re wondering what a gargantuan landslide in a copper mine looks like, here you go.
ARCHITECTURE A beautiful refurbished gas station: it’s now art.
At two iconically 1980s gas stations in an Amsterdam neighborhood, the lights may be on, but nobody’s lining up to get gas.
Set to be demolished, the stations ended up being transformed into a recreational center, as part of a neighborhood development project that included removing part of a subway and creating a new park around the stations.
Iconically! Any word that can be used to describe a gas station AND a troll doll has become stretched to the point of useless absurdity. It’s pretty, as you can see here. I wouldn’t call the stations iconic, though. There’s not much that’s iconic in gas station design, aside from two styles: the iconic gleaming white station. . . .
That’s a 50s-era Type P. Then there’s the Phillips 66 model. with the tall mast - truncated in this example - topped by the 66 shield:
That’s on Portland. They built lots of these, but they’re vanishing fast. This one . . .
. . . was on Lyndale south of 494, but it’s since been torn down. They'll all be gone in ten years, I fear.
The piece on the gas stations had a link to a story about the American Folk Art Museum. It opened to great reviews in 2001. An instant landmark. Why, give it a few years and it would be iconic. Well:
news of the planned demolition of the 12 year-old american folk art museum expansion designed by revered tod williams billie tsien architects has spread across the nation received by a range of responses. for most, the museum is a much welcomed architectural gem with a sensible design and a mastery in material; it is studied by students, it is an archetype for what is considered to be 'great architecture' in the 21st century. people seem to refer to its innate spirit as a work of art, transcending the traditional trappings of what defines a 'building'
Lack of helpful punctuation and capitalization in the original. One might be wary of something that transcends traditional building trappings; that often means “the janitor hates his job because there aren’t any outlets and the skylights leak” or “residents unnerved by the gently curved hallways borrowed from abattoirs, where the concept was shown to calm cows as they approach the slaughterhouse.” The facade is interesting - it’s all bronze, and the photos resemble some sort of abstract sculpture made out of folded leather. It doesn’t fit the new building, though - an 78-story addition to the Museum of Modern Art. Curious what was planned, I googled the architec, Jean Nouvel, bracing myself for the usual horrors. Ugh:
For Spider-Man's world HQ, maybe. You don't get a sense of how it tapers into the World's Tallest Raised Pinky Finger; maybe this helps.
It's one of those depressing eras where it's possible to feel completely out of step with a modern art form. Most skyscrapers built in this country are strange twisting irresolute things. You have to go to China to see buildings with a sense of balance, grace, and proportion. Or Dubai. Then again, there’s the U-Bora Towers, which looks like it’s standing on tip-toe swelling out its chest like Superman:
Also in Dubai, the Dynamic Tower. Every floor will revolve.
In 2008, Fisher said that he expected the skyscraper to be completed in 2010. In 2009, Fisher said construction would be complete in late 2011. However, as of January 2013, construction has not started yet, and there has been no official announcement of the building site. Fisher did not "say where the tower would be built, [...] because he wanted to keep it a surprise." Fisher acknowledges that he is not well known, has never built a skyscraper before and has not practiced architecture regularly in decades.
Oh, details, details.
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.