Using our advanced knowledge of aesthetics and personality types, we've placed each sock wearer from this NYT article into a category, based solely on their socks:
|SHIT I HAD||SHIT EVERYBODY ELSE HAD|
|Coaster brake||Hand brakes|
|Boombox on seat||Actual car stereos|
|Velvet Elvis||Beer posters|
Mr. T for World of Warcarft:
Brock Lesnar for Fusion ammo:
VERDICT: Lesnar is scary as fuck, and he's got a gun. Mr. T just has an imaginary hand grenade that makes your avatar look like his avatar. But here's the essential question: What kind of gigs will Lesnar get when he's pushin' 60 years old? He'll probably still be shootin' stuff. T, meanwhile, is setting himself up for anything: Webkins, fart apps, whatever.
This twister was in Canada, but whatever. They're weird, too.
The rise of the pocket video camera means that every single fucking tornado that comes into contact with civilization is now probably preserved in pixels. I'm actually OK with this, because of all the shit that happens on a regular basis in the sky, tornadoes are the closest thing -- in disposition, if not constitution -- to angry extraterrestrial life forms descending on the landscape. In fact, I have a hypothesis that goes something like this: Give a Flip camera to every knucklehead in tornadoland, and large swaths of our nation's rich UFO-conspiracy heritage would start to dissolve. Because, really, look at that huge fucking tornado. Holy shit.
If I had found that any of these young ladies indeed had searched for me, I would consume antibiotics immediately, out of concern that I would be subject to novel and potent species of contagion. If you should label me irrational for such fears, I would suggest that the biology of the common skank is inclined toward mysterious and powerful mutations at the level of microflora. When mingled with powerful (and perhaps untamed) communications technology, a skank's potent parasites cannot be presumed to remain purely in the organic realm. Just inserting this photograph into this blog entry has left me with a keen desire for hand sanitizer.
I agree with most of what Christopher R. Weingarten says here about the net effect of tech on the act of gettin' critically wreck with rekkids. But I reserve a little boo-friggin'-hoo for the part where he talks about it not payin' moneys anymore. Dude, I've written about hundreds of records over two decades for nothin' more than a free copy and "a pat on the head." It kinda sucks, and it kinda doesn't, so welcome to the club. I guess I learned long ago that -- despite what teevee tells you -- not everybody makes a living at doing what they love. Maybe I was just afraid to take the plunge and do it full time. Maybe I had a hunch that the lifestyle wasn't for me. Or maybe life got in the way. Or maybe I wasn't good enough. Anyway, I'd like to think I was more "realist" than "sucker" or "wuss." (And for the times I did get paid good money to review a record, I'm eternally grateful, in hindsight.)
I hadn't noticed the Google Chrome thingy-ball until today:
I was gonna riff on the Pokémon similarity and the HAL 9000 similarity and the Hacky Sack similarity, because I'm a total fucking geek.
Instead, here's a video of gibbons that barely delivers what it promises to deliver:
It might be a "lotsa videos for yer eye" week around here, but don't complain, because this blog post is totally better and more convenient than what you would've been reading or watching 20 years ago. Louis C.K., cranky:
Let's call it "porn creep" -- the slow dispersion of fleshy flotsam and jetsam onto pages that otherwise should be visually benign. Like, say you've chosen to download some music from Nah Right -- you know you have a folder of like 8,000 shitty tracks from there, so don't even give me a hard time -- and they serve the mp3 via zshare. The download page sometimes will be plastered with harmless auto or gadget ads.
And then sometimes you get this:
Anybody eyeballing your screen is gonna see barely-contained breastices, ass-up poses and "WHO IS HANNAH MONTANA'S FATHER?" On the same page. You're a total fucking perv.
Now, this isn't an anti-porn rant. My glass house has lots of nasty smudge marks on the windows. There ain't enough Windex in the world to clean that shit up. I am totally exaggerating. But I wish zshare would eliminate that titties ad.
I resisted buying a mobile phone for years, mostly because of the expense, and partly because my dad had worked for Ma Bell. Owning a cell seemed not only to be an extravagance, but also a betrayal of the land-line monopoly that had put food in my mouth all those years. But after the 9/11 attacks, I got a pay-per-use phone. And a few months before I became The Poppa, I added myself to the big-carrier plan that my wife had been using for awhile.
But throughout the late 1990s, before mobile-phone ownership was an inevitability, I harbored a deeper objection. I never read Into Thin Air, but one of the book's widely disseminated plot-points -- the final satellite call by Everest guide Rob Hall to his wife during that disastrous 1996 climb -- firmly affected my view of personal communications devices. Now, I've never trekked up a big mountain. And I've never been hopelessly lost in the wilderness. But I've also never been enamored with the idea of having the ability to call home and say, hey baby, I'm freezing my balls off and things don't look too good. In that kind of situation, if you have a phone, you're kinda obligated to use it, even though it's probably gonna be one of those conversations that is more "ironic and awful" than "dramatically sweet."
So, back in the day, anytime I borrowed somebody's celly for a long trip or whatever, I thought about Hall. And since I've owned my own, this has been my plan: If know I'm going to die, and I'm able to use my phone, I'll just send a text message to my entire address book:
LUV U ALL!
Everybody will think it's flippant and/or cavalier, but after awhile, they'll be appreciative that I even made the effort. (I reserve the right to revise this plan, depending on the context.)
It's possible that I'll send a second txt to close friends and family:
LUV U LOTS!
And Tha Mrs. will be all like "WTF?" And then I'll txt her:
BALLS FREEZING OFF. DOESN'T LOOK GOOD. LUV U MOST!!!!
And I'll be a legendary coward.
(read the complete and ongoing Secret History here)
From the NYT's Sunday Business section:
ON an early Saturday morning about three weeks ago, Barry M. Meyer pulled a sheet of paper from the fax machine in his home office, inhaled deeply and held it up to the light of a nearby window.
The number on the fax was eye-popping: $66 million, plus change.
Ka-ching. The opening-day box office receipts for the Batman film “The Dark Knight” had just set a record. And for myriad reasons — including the late Heath Ledger’s delicious turn as the Joker — the blockbuster is still filling theaters on a pace that may land it just behind “Titanic” on the list of all-time, top-grossing films.
Mr. Meyer is the chairman of Warner Brothers, the Hollywood studio behind “The Dark Knight,” and the film has had its debut at a transformative moment for his studio’s parent, Time Warner. Link
What is this? 1992? I hope the FAX MACHINE holds up well for you, buddy. (Nearby, the newspaper reminds us that Peter Gabriel has gadgets and ideas.)
If somebody is being nerdy and annoying, you look at 'em and say, "You're gettin' your nerd on right now. If Rae Dawn Chong had a sibling, and it was you, they'd call you Nerd-On Chong."
It's got a nice dynamic, because it's actually more gentle than it seems. After all, if somebody was Nerd-On Chong, they'd be Tommy Chong's kid, and that's not so bad, right?
Hey all you bigtime rock 'n' roll social-networking whores: Are you just searchin' for equilibrium? (You know who you are.) Catching up on old New Yorkers, I came across this Oct. 9, 2006, passage from Milan Kundera:
... a man becomes famous when the number of people who know him is markedly greater than the number he knows. The recognition enjoyed by a great surgeon is not fame; he is admired not by a public but by his patients, by his colleagues. He lives in equilibrium. Fame is a disequilibrium. There are professions that drag it along behind them necessarily, unavoidably: politicians, supermodels, athletes, artists.
And thus, Myspace. Of course, my little half-baked corollary ignores the fact that most heavily networked superstars don't actually *know* all of their friended individuals. Still, I believe that somewhere, there's a pop god who just feels better knowing that he can call these folks Pals.
My first thought upon watching Discovery Channel's When We Left Earth: It's time for another comeback of NASA style. You had the skinny-tie moment of the '80s and the indie spacerock nerdlove of the '90s, but the buzzcut/shortsleeves/hornrims look now seems to be absorbed, dispersed and minimized among various subcultures. Nobody really owns it anymore. (Indie rock is now too hirsute. And nerdcore doesn't count.) This clip is a good primer, in case you forgot.
After decades of communist rule, the Russian people haven't come up with a world-class punk band or a standup comedian who can erase the stain of Yakov Smirnov. No, their idea of fun is spamming the shit out of us. At least Russia's rich assholes prefer London. I mean, they probably think the spam is funny. Bully for them.
Atlantic Records has a remarkable asset: a list of thousands of people who will buy anything. From yesterday's WSJ:
Last fall, Warner Music Group's Atlantic Records called on AdMob when it started selling cellphone ringtones to go along with an album by hip-hop artist Sean "Diddy" Combs. AdMob served up an ad reading "Get Your Diddy Ringtones Now" 715,000 times on cellphone screens over a three-hour period. More than 20,000 people around the world clicked on the link, taking them to Atlantic's mobile Web site. The record company was so happy with the sales the campaign generated that it is planning new campaigns through AdMob.
The frickin' Economist cues up some simple advice about buying an HDTV:
To see this new high-definition content at its best, you need a television set that paints its picture with no less than 720 lines (and preferably 1080 lines) running across the screen from top to bottom. ...
But picture quality depends not only on line count. Broadcasters can beam their high-definition signals one complete frame at a time in a so-called “progressive scan”. Alternatively, they can use the old cheap-skate method of sending first only the odd lines in the picture for one frame, and then the even lines for the next frame, and so on.
The aim of “interlacing” like this is to trick the brain into thinking that it’s seeing the whole picture all the time, though only half is available at any instant. Unfortunately, the brain isn’t conned completely. Moving objects, in particular, tend to be seen as images with jagged edges. ...
Broadcasters have been pushing 720 lines progressive (720p) for high-definition sports programmes that include lots of moving objects, and 1080 interlaced (1080i) for everything else. Both, they say, are good enough for what they have to do.
But good enough is the enemy of better still. Anyone who has seen a 1080-line progressive-scan display knows there’s no comparison. And what the shills aren’t saying is that stunning and affordable 1080p sets are in the works. Those who buy HDTV models offering only today’s interim standards will be kicking themselves in six months.
Obligatory side reference: The Onion's Point/Counterpoint: According To The Economist NASA Is An Industrial Subsidy In Disguise/Oooh, Look At Me, I Read The Economist!
The inimitable Walter S. Mossberg notes in his Personal Technology column:
... to buy even a single 99-cent song from the Zune store, you have to purchase blocks of "points" from Microsoft, in increments of at least $5. You can't just click and have the 99 cents deducted from a credit card, as you can with iTunes. You must first add points to your account, then buy songs with these points. So, even if you are buying only one song, you have to allow Microsoft, one of the world's richest companies, to hold on to at least $4.01 of your money until you buy another. And the point system is deceptive. Songs are priced at 79 points, which some people might think means 79 cents. But 79 points actually cost 99 cents.
Microsoft: If you can't make something good, make it Orwellian.
If you're going to sell me some penis-lengthening products, be a little more sensitive about it. Today I got a message with the subject, "LONGER 2-3 INCHES ON YOUR ShortPENIS IN 2 MONTHS TIME, TRY NOW obliged."
Does it really make any sense to tell a guy, point blank, that his cock is short? It's far preferable to say something like, "Add 2-3 inches to your already sufficient member." That's what's effective about those Enzyte commercials. They sorta say, "Hey, buckaroo, we know you're quite capable of giving the little lady some magic, but wouldn't you like to really rearrange her girdle?"
Yeah, it's all about products this week in the ol' Cesspool....
Although I still can't find the original Dotster commercial that inspired my quasi-pseudo-lust for the Dots, the one and only Skmo has done us the service of pointing to the audition video page for the broader campaign.
And for the record, this is not the commercial I'm talking about. The original was ... deliberately maxi-fruity.
Weeks later, my search for video of the Dotster Dots commercial is still fruitless. Even the Dotster site itself is a tease. You see this:
But when you click it, you are directed to some superfluous Corvette sweepstakes. Where are the deliciously decadent dumbass Dots? Vile temptresses! Reveal yourselves, in all your shiny-birthmark grandeur!
NOTE: This is not the first time I've used MY LIFE IN THE BUSH OF GHOSTS as a headline. Cripes, I'm redundant. And that other post was far funnier this one. I'm redundant and lame.
The Dotster Dots will do that to a guy. Evil whores!
I think any average sports-loving knucklehead could've told ESPN that its mobile phone venture was a bad idea. I wouldn't want to buy my TV or my computer from ESPN, so why would I want to buy my phone from them?
It takes a high level of corporate hubris to think that your customers will devour any product you throw at them. Some unexpectedly good afternoon ratings for "Pardon The Interruption" don't mean you're invincible in the marketplace.
WSJ.com: Throughout the book you emphasize your love of pranks and jokes. At one point you write that you own a roulette shocker -- four people stick in their thumbs, and one of them eventually gets an electric jolt. Do you use this for party tricks?
Mr. Wozniak: It has good sound effects as well. I've brought it to some engineering events. Hardware people will stick their figures in; software people say, 'No, no.' They won't dare. Hardware people know what it's liked to be shocked. That's one major difference between them and software people.
Yet another daytime commercial on CNN has sparked my imagination: I find myself infinitely turned on by the vapidity, day-glo colors and sparkly beauty-marks of the Dotster Dots. The Cesspool, unlucky in a Google and YouTube search, hereby orders a dragnet for all images and videos of these temptresses. Post links in the comments section, and don't delay. I'll be filled with longing in the meantime.
When Pixar Animation Studios set out to make Cars ... artists there found that the metallic bodies of the vehicular characters did not shine quite right unless they added ray tracers to the usual raster rendering system. On all its previous movies, the studio had resisted using ray tracing for the same reason that makers of games and other interactive software have: the intensity of computation that the physics demands has always brought microprocessors to their knees. Even with Pixar's fast network of 3,000 state-of-the-art computers, each second of finished film took days to render. Film producers may tolerate such delays, but gamers, engineers and doctors generally will not.
You might notice that "gaysian" Lloyd on "Entourage" is slowly gaining some subtle depth to his character: Tonight he was checking a Dashboard widget for the weather outside. You don't have that kind of nerdlington talk come from a character's mouth unless it means something: Lloyd doesn't just have a Mac on his desk, he's a full-blown Jobsbitch. I guess such tech touches are fitting, because "Entourage" might be the only show on TV where people spend MORE time on cellphones than the thunderous geeks on "24" do.
You may have beheld the totally geekfreak article from Wired News about people who put rare-earth magnets in their fingertips:
According to Huffman, the magnet works by moving very slightly, or with a noticeable oscillation, in response to EM fields. This stimulates the somatosensory receptors in the fingertip, the same nerves that are responsible for perceiving pressure, temperature and pain. Huffman and other recipients found they could locate electric stovetops and motors, and pick out live electrical cables. Appliance cords in the United States give off a 60-Hz field, a sensation with which Huffman has become intimately familiar. "It is a light, rapid buzz," he says.
In the same way, I'm looking for some rare-earth bullshit to implant in my own finger. Y'know, for the times when I can't actually detect the presence of bullshit using normal means.
Right about now, you're all like, "but JW, then your finger would be like, pointin' at your own mouth all the time."
See, I know you.
If the trend in my visitor stats is to be believed, your blog ain't worth doody unless you post video clips of stuff. I've been seeing a lot of Google searches for terms with "clip" attached, like these from last night: "Jack+Elam+Cannonball+Run+clip" and "video+clip+gatti+vs+ward." Sometimes I get "Kirsten+Dunst+boobs+clip" or "Eastern+Motors+theme+song+clip" or "Josh+Smith+dunk+clip" or "Mo+Rocca+clip" or various forms of "masturbation+clip" or whatever. Usually the sex ones are people just searching for the term, not for a clip. But the really random pop-culture stuff is coming more and more in a "I wanna see the video" context.
I found myself newly fascinated with the behavior of my cat.
And I hope Peter Jackson puts out a CD-ROM that allows you to fly around -- unencumbered by plot or large apes -- his splendiferous version of 1930s New York.
Notes on Charlie And The Chocolate Factory: In a lot of ways, the Chocolate Factory itself is like one big intellectual property fortress, beset on all sides by the wickedness of evil hackers and bootleggers. The Oompa-Loompas are hired essentially to serve as data security. To Willy's credit, his beef is not with people who share his candy, and you gotta assume that he would be OK with people doing not-for-profit mashups and remixes of his products. Thus, he probably wouldn't be a DRM nazi. But you gotta wonder -- if he could convince an entire race of beings to migrate to his factory, why couldn't he find some good patent and copyright lawyers?
The short version: 40GB iPod acting funny. Run diagnostics. Disk Utility sez the problem is like, huge. Tell Apple that I want service. Two days later, an empty box arrives via DHL. Put iPod inside, annoyed that I have to find a DHL drop point after biz hours. Upon exiting the building, a DHL truck is stuck in traffic directly in front of me. Give box to DHL guys. Six days later, brand new iPod arrives via DHL. No money spent.
I've probably pointed out before that people frequently stop me for directions while I'm walking to work. Today was some next-level schitt, though. I was dressed in my usual go-to-work gear: inexpensive brown dress slacks, well-worn dress shoes and a blue point-collar dress shirt. I was carrying my blue heavy-duty synthetic shoulder bag, which, incidentally, is the same one I've been using since I was a student teacher in 1994. (Might be time for a new one. The fabric on the outer flap is one shade lighter than the rest of the bag, from sun and water exposure.) It was full of Progresso soup that I bought cheap over the weekend.
Anyway, Washington's real-estate boom also has meant a home improvement boom. There are almost as many people in the 'hood during 9-5 hours as there are once the actual residents get home from work. Today, about three blocks into my commute, a paint-splattered guy crossed the street and started walking toward me, saying, "yo, man, can you help me out for a second?" I started gearing up the usual cold "no, sorry" response, but before I could get it out, the guy was like, "yo, you know how to work one of those tripod things?" He was making a small rectangle with his fingers. "I got plenty of work to do, but all of a sudden my music stopped."
Still on guard for some sort of spiel or scam, I said, "yeah, a little bit," and he said, "come in here and look at this one, then." Across the street was an open door and a well-lighted living room, with the floor covered in tarps.
I followed him inside, and there it was -- a late-model iPod in an Altec-Lansing dock that had frozen on a song by 112, Chingy and Ludacris. "Ah, you like that Luda?" I asked, and he grinned a little, more interested in my potential iPod-reanimation skills than my music knowledge. I pulled it out of the dock and did the Select-plus-Menu hold 'em combination that usually restarts the lil' OS, but for some reason it wasn't working. I realized that I might've screwed up by not turning off the dock's power switch before yanking out the 'Pod. Not wanting to hang around in somebody else's house, with a guy who probably didn't live there, I said, "Just leave this here for five or ten minutes and then hold down both of these buttons for about 10 seconds. Then put it back in the dock and turn that power switch back on."
I kinda wish I had a little transistor radio in my bag that I could've loaned the guy overnight and picked up tomorrow, or not. Painting can be lonely without music. If he'd asked for soup, I could've helped him out pronto.
The moral? You don't have to be wearing an iPod to look like a guy who knows how to work an iPod.
At my day job, I get PR e-mails from just about every think tank, advocacy group and nonprofit organization within a 30-mile radius of D.C. They often tag their oh-so-important missives with little red exclamation points or red flags (the kind that show up in the far-left column in Outlook). This is not only corny, it's also a sign that these folks have no concept of basic psychology: If I see a red flag on a message from somebody outside the building, I can guarantee that I probably won't read it. I'll peep the subject line and hit the Delete button. In my minute world, red tidings are not love darts -- they stain my eyeballs.
But here's the more probing question: Most people who use e-mail know that goin' ALL CAPS (but not "All Caps") is like, dumb, because the assumption is that you're shouting, and shouting turns people off. So why hasn't the word gotten out about indiscriminate/excessive red-flag usage?
Fun game for the kids: Find the haiku.
Another GarageBand beat: Diesel Dance (2.3MB MP3). Whenever I work on a track, the bottom end always lives so brightly and cleanly in the software itself, but by the time the auto-mixdown and the MP3 compression are done, it sounds like somebody stuffed an old sock into the woofer. Oh well.
Maybe all y'all geeks-like-me can help on this: The batteries on my iMac wireless keyboard were dying, so I flipped it over and replaced them. Afterward, though, the keyboard didn't work anymore. No matter what I did (turning the power switch off for awhile, turning the computer off for awhile, doing those two things in different sequences, etc.), I couldn't get Bluetooth to recognize it. The mouse works fine, so I know the general Bluetoothiness of my computer is healthy. I called Apple, and they ultimately couldn't help me (although the dude had me do these weird APPLE-OPTION-O-F and APPLE-OPTION-P-R key combos during some of the troubleshooting logins).
The annoying part is that there are two logins for the computer, so if I boot up, I don't get a desktop, I get a login window. Thus, getting to the Bluetooth diagnostic software is impossible, and I can't boot from a CD because I'd have to hold down the C key to do that.
I sprung for a $30 cheapo USB/OS X-compatible keyboard today, just as a backup until I can get the wireless one over to the Apple store. Of course, the $12.99 cheapo keyboards at Staples only have old-school PS/2 connectors. Sons-a-bitches.
The annual mix CD might be a little delayed this year because of Civ. I've also taken the plunge into GarageBand, using only the supplied loops. Enjoy the home-rolled mp3 below. It's a lesson in cheese and stoopidity, of course, and it needs a little more mixing, but I'm kinda proud of it. It was created merely by screwin' around. There was no direct or specific inspiration.
ORIGINAL TRACK: Diesel Smooch (1.2MB mp3)
NEW TRACK: Diesel Funk (975KB mp3)
I'm still gung-ho about the Postal Service's self-service kiosks, but EPIC provides a little warning: "[The] new Postal Service self-service postage machines take portrait-style photographs of customers and retain them for 30 days on a Windows XP platform." More in the EPIC alert newsletter. EPIC's FOIA documents on the issue (pdf). In a way, the picture-snapping makes sense because the machines don't ask for a signature when a person uses a regular credit card. (Debit cards require a PIN, of course.) SIDE NOTE: The USPS has reworked the machines so you don't have to re-insert your card for each separate purchase. It was annoying.
Gotta love it that high-ranking defense and industrial figures write their bitchy e-mails with the same flair as high school girls: He is like, so DUMB. A few more exclamation points, and you'd think they were arguing over the latest episode of "The O.C."