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.
Things learned so far at the Fair today:
The Fresh French Fry booth (by MPR, not the Midway) has Fresh French Fry Fairies who preside over a spinning wheel that dispenses prizes. When not spinning, they dance to “Ice Ice Baby.”
The Spin-A-Painting guy has a new booth; more on that to come. He seems proud of it, as he should be. I’d lament the loss of a piece of the bygone Fair; the old spin-art booth seemed right out of 1967, but the new one keeps the homey spirt. Doesn’t look like some fancy expensive place with a backlit plastic sign.
There are no moist towelettes at the Strib booth, alas. It’s one of those days where you get sticky quickly; towelettes would be nice. Someone would do grand business opening up a misting station. Even more business if it misted beer.
Had a brat for lunch, because I had to compare it to the taste of the Brat Balm., $5.50. For a brat. I paid $3.99 for five at the store the other day. New motto: Fair Quality, Airport Prices!
More later; we’re just getting started.
But we do have burgers - Fargo style! Bizjournals says we’re going to get a NoDak burger chain:
JL Beers, a Fargo, N.D.-based restaurant that's expanded to several locations throughout the Dakotas, will open Twin Cities locations as part of a new franchising deal.
I’ve been there. Long narrow joint with 3,264,829 beers. Give or take. Hence the name, I guess; it’s not JLBurgers, so adjust your expectations accordingly. The burgers were pretty good, though; one of those places that offers innumerable customization options.
But why don’t we have an In-and-Out Burger? Good question.(TM)The 'CCO article notes that we don’t have a Dunkin Donuts or Krispy Kreme, and that’s true. But we did. Right? I didn’t hallucinate that half-decade Krispy Kreme incursion, did I? And I know there was a Dunkin’ Donuts at 70th and Penn before it became a bagel shop. This was before Dunkin’ became famous for its coffee, as opposed to its confectionary pastries, and I'm still trying to figure out how that happened.
Somehow, someone discovered that this particular institutional roast, mass-produced on an unimaginably fast scale, is superior to the boutique coffee offered by an upscale chain so conscious of its image it sells CDs that seek to align the independent, thoughtful, tasteful sounds of certain artists with your conception of the company and its products. As opposed to just giving you a cup of joe.
Most coffee-shop coffee strikes me as burnt and winey. Dunkin’ Donuts coffee is for people who want just coffee, okay, hot and fresh and good, and they don’t want anyone to think they went to McDonald’s.
As for Dunkin’ Donuts in this market, I have a suspicion (journo-speak for “too lazy to even Google it") that they bought Mister Donut, converted them to DDs, and left us bereft. So I remember, anyway.
Okay, I'll google it. Jeez.
Well, I’m right. DD bought Mr. D and converted the North American stores. The brand remains popular in Japan, which has ONE THOUSAND THREE HUNDRED stores. Sorry to shout, but that means there will be peculiar commercials. Let’s see what they have.
Hold on, you say: aren’t Japanese brands required to have cute mascots with simplistic facial features? Coming right up:
PARODY The Malcolm Gladwell Book Generator:
Don’t know if that’s a generator in the true sense of randomizing things for infinite combos, but you’ll probably tire of it before it repeats itself. Via this New Yorker article on the decline of book-cover art. The author has a good point, and the rise of self-publishing means it’s only going to get worse. It also means it’s less relevant, since the titles are just thumbnails on an e-reader. On the other hand, the author says:
Getting to design your own book cover is the sort of ultimately maddening power that probably shouldn’t be entrusted to vain mortals. It’s a little like getting to choose your own face. What kind of face would best express your inner self? Maybe more important, what kind of face will make other people like or respect or want to sleep with you? Do these two hypothetical faces bear any resemblance to each other? Can you imagine a face that would combine their best features?
There’s often an embarrassing disconnect between how people try to present themselves and how they’re actually perceived, which is why they ask their friends to tell them honestly how they look in something—and why publishing houses hire professional designers for books’ covers and allow their authors very little say over them.
William Shawn’s ghost just put his hand over his eyes and shook his head from side to side, almost imperceptibly.
ARCHITORTURE i09 says:
The Brutalist architectural style was popular in the mid-twentieth century. Any time you see a giant, cement building with a thick, angular silhouette — you can thank Brutalism.
Almost right. It was popular with no one but a few architects and taste-deprived clients who forced the monstrosities on everyone else, and you don’t thank Brutalism, you blame it.
That said, they have pictures of Brutalist buildings that might be good settings for sci-fi dystopias. Some aren’t Brutalist, but just . . . bad. I don’t even have to read the comments to know there’s some people who say “actually I think these are cool” complete with Confession Bear.
No one's submitted our own Brutalist building . . . yet.
This is the day we dread: too much summer. When we dream of summer in the middle of winter, it’s the warm dry days with a slight breeze. Lakeside perfection. We know we’ll get 90s & humidity, but hey, it’s part of the deal. Then it comes and we start to think: it would be nice if it was cooler. Just a bit. Makes you think of fall as just a short crawl from the oven to the fridge.
Here’s what’s not happening on the web today. If it’s happening, you know about it; why bother you with the obvious?
Los Angeles-based artist John Knuth has created a series of paintings with the help of over 250,000 common houseflies.
Trapped inside canvas-walled enclosures, the flies were fed a mixture of sugar, water, and colored pigment.
The paintings were created as the result of the flies regurgitating the mixture a “million times” over the course of six weeks.
According to the video description, Knuth is “drawn to the tensions between the controlled environment of his studio and the inherently non-social insects’ unpredictable mark-making; a process that he feels mirrors contemporary society”.
Pictures of the tension-drawing and society-mirroring here.
EDITOR’S NOTE WATCH The Washington Post has a shocking story on a shocking video about shocking behavior:
The video is only 78 seconds long, barely enough to establish the nationalities of the two young club-goers in the frame and the third holding the camera. But what it shows is so disturbing, so charged with deeply sensitive issues of gender and race, that in the week since it was posted to Facebook it has generated a growing debate on the Korean Web and even coverage in the South Korean press.
The video shows two Western guys humiliating a Korean woman. Sounds bad. The still frame in the piece looks bad. Second-to-the-last comment on the page says it’s from a movie. Korean Herald says:
Two men, however, separately contacted The Korea Herald claiming that the video was edited and was in fact part of a series of short horror films shot in 2011. One of the men said that the video had been shot to show the “horror” of how society treats people with physical deformities. In the controversial video, the men are also shown ridiculing the young woman over the condition of her teeth.
One of the alleged actors, both of whom spoke on condition of anonymity, provided a screenshot from a Facebook conversation showing the alleged director admitting that the video was staged. The apparent director of the video studied film at a university in Seoul, according to his Facebook account and a university webpage from 2004.
A comment at 9:14:
This is a video made in Bedlam bar in Itaewon in January 2011. All the people were paid actors / actresses. The director is Korean and wanted to get famous for doing some edgy viral videos. This is one of them. He tried to release this over 2 years ago and nothing happened all the websites took it down for its graphic content. I know all this because I am one of the men in this video. I do not condone the actions that I did. But this was a paid acting job no one was hurt. The actress was wearing fake gums to make her teeth look bad and everyone left the shoot smiling and shaking hands.
And still people comment away afterwards, deploring it. Wonder how long before the piece is amended? Let’s check back tomorrow.
FOLLOW-UP The iPhone Electrocution story is in its second and final day. Quartz says it reminds people - meaning, writers looking to invest the story with more meaning than it actually has - that there was the incident of the Exploding iPhone. It’s recounted here by Storm Williams, a UK “technology enthusiast” who presumably has experience with the English language he is holding in reserve for some reason:
According to a new report from Tech Sina, Wang Kai, young professionals, has reported that his iPhone 4 exploded.
The most likely caused for this explosion is probably due to poor storage of the device. Wang Kai told reporter that he sleeps with his iPhone under his pillow. According to the report, smartphone users should:
Do not look at the video when charging
Please do not put the pillow at night.
During the Summer is best not to charge in enclosed places.
Well, that’s news you can use. Charge your phone outdoor. And please, please! do not put the pillow.
PORTABLE MEATS I have been a guinea pig for several months, it seems. This article discusses REV, a new Hormel product that wraps various varieties of meat and cheese inside bread-like substances. They are marketed towards the AXE crowd, obviously, being RADICAL in their appearance - to use a word so old it dates me and makes me unfit to comment further, really - but the company says they’re popular with everyone. The article states that they’ve been available locally since May, but will be going wide soon.
May? I’ve seen them for a lot longer than that. I swear I’ve seen them at Target for a year, since I considered buying one as a plane snack, only to think “nah,” because it didn’t look particularly satisfying. So it’s possible that the Target where I shop contains all sorts of secret products that aren’t available elsewhere, and they’re performing highly-targeted marketing experiments based on the choice demographics of the area.
OUCH X2 Today’s dashcam video reminds you how to be safe on a scooter in city traffic. It’s simple. Don’t ride one. Make kids who want a scooter see this, just so they know the drill.
Yikes. But here’s the thing about the world to come: when everyone has cameras going all the time, you’ll expect to see uploaded video from the scooter-driver’s helmet-cam as well. To say nothing of the perspective from the car that rolls into the frame on the left side.
Speaking of which:
The days of single-perspective crash videos will seem like early Edison Kinetoscopes.
I’m king of the world! Admire me! Throw laurels at me! Bedeck my heck with garlands! Name your kids after me! Place Zod behind me in the list of people to whom you should kneel! I won! I won! I - hey, who’s that?
GUESS THE SUBJECT The Cheesegrater, the Walkie-Talkie, the Can of Ham, and of course the Gherkin. The last one might give it away. Hint: half of them were probably demolished by Khan.
HUMAN INTERACTION IMPROVED Yes, thanks to this new type of drinking glass, people may make eye contact once again. More likely they will spill beer everywhere. Or ask for wine. It’s a nice reminder, though: unless you are expecting a text whose importance reaches the level of “your transplant organ is now available, but the dry ice keeping it cold is beginning to deteriorate” then you don’t need to check your phone every minute.
THAT’LL LEARN HIM He’ll learn that authority is capricious as it is witless, I mean. That’s the lesson he’ll take away, if he remembers anything at all. Probably not. From the WaPo:
Calvert County school officials on Friday denied a request to clear the school record of a 5-year-old boy who was suspended for bringing a cowboy-style cap gun onto a school bus last month.
The kindergartner, who tucked the orange-tipped toy gun inside his backpack so that he could show it to a friend, was suspended May 29 for 10 days. After a disciplinary conference that scaled back his punishment to three days, he returned to Dowell Elementary School in Lusby.
First of all, I’ll have to make a note to drop by the sporting goods store and get me one of those Cowboy-Style guns. Just walk in and ask for something Cowboy-Style and they’ll wave you over to special case and if you’re lucky the clerk will use a Slim Pickins voice during the transaction and call you Podner.
Second, the orange tip means it’s fake. Third, wouldn’t you want the school’s policy on contacting parents not to consist entirely of “oh, eventually”?
The incident highlighted concerns about the length of time in which parents are notified of school offenses. The mother said she was called more than two hours after the bus ride. The boy was questioned without a parent and uncharacteristically wet himself, she said.
School officials said that the incident was handled appropriately and that the child was questioned for five to seven minutes. Calvert officials did not respond to requests for comment Friday.
Of course they didn’t! They rarely do. Schools always clam up when someone calls from the media to ask about some example of cranial calcification like this
On the other hand: here’s a school responding to a parent’s complaint with proper alacrity. Read “The photo that broke a mother’s heart,” and see if it doesn’t do the same for you.
HEY YOU Today’s gratuitous use of the internet headline cliche:
BARATUNDE THURSTON LEFT THE INTERNET FOR 25 DAYS, AND YOU SHOULD TOO.
The article is by Baratunde Thurston, who wants you to read his piece. On the Internet. Well, let’s see what he’s peddling.
I’m an author, consultant, speechifier, and cross-platform opiner on the digital life. My friends say I’m the most connected man in the world. And in 2012, I lived like a man running for president of the United States, planet Earth, and the Internet all at once.
Never heard of him. But he had a hectic year and tweeted a lot and took a lot of pictures and sent a lot of messages, so:
I considered fleeing to a remote island for a few weeks, but I realized I wasn’t craving physical escape. I didn’t actually want to be alone. I just wanted to be mentally free of obligations, most of which asserted themselves in some digital fashion. I decided to stay still, find an Airbnb residence right in Brooklyn (technically homeless, remember?), and step back from digital interaction.Yes, me. The recipient of the 2011 Shorty Award for Foursquare Mayor of the Year would not check in. At least for a few weeks.
I KNOW! THE 2011 SHORTY AWARD WINNER! It’s amazing you guys but maybe if he can leave the internet for 25 days, you can too. If you want to. Totally your call. Anyway, here’s an interesting definition of “leaving the internet:
I didn’t want to completely abandon the Internet. I love, depend on, and frankly am made a better human being by the convenience of streaming movies, online food ordering, and Google Maps. I did not want to sever ties with friends; in fact, one of my goals was to strengthen relationships with pre-Facebook pals. I wanted to go to lunch, attend holiday parties, and host people for dinner. So I decided I could use my phone for personal calls and texts, and could schedule these encounters with Google Calendar.
Detox AND you can still drink? Awesome! I recommend the article for three reasons:
1. The picture of the author looking into the future while holding a quill pen
2. A logistical account of the process of leaving the internet, which makes the Normandy Invasion look like jumping over a puddle
3. The flowersthat infest the browser window until the piece is unreadable.
Any more of this and the internet won’t be something you leave as much as something that just drives you away.
Waiting for all the Apple news to roll out of the developer’s conference. Interesting stuff so far, but if they don’t announce a watch that gives you the power of invisibility the stock will probably drop. How happy will I be if the interface is flattened and the leather-stitching on the apps is dropped? This happy.
Of course, if everything is flattened and adjusted to Ives’ exquisite sensibilities, that means that every other app on the phone will look old and garish. Every app developer’s probably been working on new icons, anyway. Joy: you have 127 new updates.
See? We can complain about anything.
BEGUN THE CHIP WARS HAVE Sorry; I’m as tired of that Yoda-trope as everyone else.
Yesterday I went to Menard’s for some peanuts and a door lock. They didn’t have the lock. It was a custom door, apparently, and that meant a custom lock/. The clerk showed me where I could find the model number of the door, so they could order the lock. Great! Thanks. But I had a basket with a jar of peanuts and some Special K bars: nice price. You feel stupid checking out of Menard’s with just food.
Anyway, that’s all to explain why I have a picture of this.
First of all, Menard’s would be your sweet spot-demographic for this, no? Don’t think they’re showing up at Byerly’s.
But more to the point, Tater Salad?
Larry’s right there in the video. It’s Ron White’s website’s address, for heaven’s sake.
There seems to be a point in one’s career where branded potato chip is the next logical step, but it only happens to a select few. I’ll bet someone approached Ron White with an offer to endorse a line of Tater Salad. You can imagine the expression. Until recently I’d only known his work from listening to the Comedy Channel on satellite radio, and I could still imagine his expression.
MOVIES Summer means a new Pixar movie, which now means we have to sniff at them and make disappointment faces. Here’s something that’s poorly conceived AND executed:
In the early days of Pixar, the company's use of computer-generated animation was ahead of its time. When that novelty wore off, it became progressive in other ways. With the thematic depth and layered humor that carried it through an unprecedented run of universally beloved hits, Pixar supplanted Steven Spielberg as the preeminent source of smart popular cinema, even coming close to outdoing Disney's decade-spanning animated legacy with its complex range of characters. Then Disney bought Pixar, and the distinctly post-modern Pixar touch slowly turned into a modern Disney one.
Do you get the sense you’re reading a college paper? It has that ring - the earnestness, the solemn truths, the Olympian tone of knowledge and wisdom won at great cost. We continue:
Once upon a time, in a land that now looks so magical it could have been dreamed up, Pixar carried the virtues of an independent studio that delivered brainy alternatives to simplistic studio-produced animation. Whether exploring the end of humanity in "Wall-E" or the frustrations of the nuclear family in "The Incredibles," Pixar assailed society's mythologies and fears within a pop culture context in a fashion that at times almost felt subversive.
This is what you say before you set yourself apart by ripping that which everyone previously lauded. The Apple Effect. They’re too good! Everyone loved their groundbreaking work, but they’ve ceased to innovate. We continue:
As it has devolved into less of a disruptive force, the company got safe. Two years ago, "Cars 2" could have been written off as an anomaly (because "Cars" was a weak Pixar effort anyway), but then came last year's "Brave," an innocuous children's fairy tale that carried plenty of wholesome value in its unconventionally assertive princess but lacked the searing wit and complex subtext associated with most previous efforts.
Like “Bug’s Life” and “Nemo,” eh? Searing wit. Searing. I gave up on the piece with the swipe at “Cars,” which may require more suspension of disbelief than any other animated product in the history of the genre, simply because a civilization populated entirely by vehicles is beyond preposterous. The illogic sears. And the subtext! It’s insufficiently complex!
It’s a love-letter to the bygone days of the American highway. Everyone said Pixar had lost it after that one, too. As for why we’re getting a Monsters Inc. sequel, why not? You can say that it lacks the deep subtext and searing commentary of the first one, which tackled resource depletion and corporate skullduggery, but that’s why anyone loved the move.
BTW, there’s nothing wrong with a “modern Disney touch.” Let’s look at some recent Disney movies:”Tangled” was arguably better than “Brave.” “Wreck-It “Ralph” contained searing subtext on obsolescence and social anxieties. It was also funny. Neither, however, gave the company “street cred,” which meant they resonated with the codes of the urban dispossessed, which is what the term used to be. When I used to watch cop shows there was always an informant who would tell the hero cops about the word on the street, which was invariably true, as it pertained to low-lifes. No one ever said “Word on the street says they’re close to finding the Higgs Boson.” Unless he was a sailor who jumped ship, and the story was set in a 19th century whaling town, or something.
OBITS One of the greatest comic novelists of the 20th century died last week. Sorry, forgot; this is the internet. One of the Greatest Comic Novelists You Probably Never Heard of Died. There. One man remembers Tom Sharpe:
When I was an undergraduate at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge in the early 1970s, an otherwise blissful life of indolence was occasionally blighted by the college's head porter, a pocket sergeant major of a man named Albert Jaggard. The 1960s had swept away most college rules. Those that were left – mostly relating to sex, drugs and alcohol – the authorities were too squeamish to enforce. So Jaggard, as head porter, made this his business. Like many bullies, he was a complex character, ferocious yet strangely loveable.
Those of us who nurtured secret aspirations for the literary life, would occasionally share the view that Jaggard was a figure "from fiction" or "should be in a novel". Then we discovered that this ambition had already been realised in a novel called Porterhouse Blue, in the immortal character of Skullion, by a savagely comic writer named Tom Sharpe, who died this week.
Sharpe was a bit too “contrary,” as the article gently puts it, and a tad too ridiculous, if memory serves. But his novels were hilarious. American publishers tried to get us to like them in the early 80s, but I think they fell flat; people were just baffled.
And then there was this:
Mott Green, who emerged from a hermitlike existence in a bamboo hut in the jungle of Grenada to produce a coveted Caribbean delicacy — rich, dark chocolate bars that he exported around the world with the help of sailboats, bicycles and solar-powered refrigeration — died on June 1 in Grenada. He was 47.
He was electrocuted while working on solar-powered machinery for cooling chocolate during overseas transport.
RIP. Back to watching the Apple news. Ah! Just saw that the Calendar is FLAT. I'd make sarcastic noises about how happy I am, but really . . . I am. More tomorrow.
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