Monday, January 31, 2005

have y'all seen these?

Bookshelves made from books! And the coolest reading chairs ever. Want!

Friday, January 28, 2005

New words

One of the things I'm avoiding other work with is a sekrit project which most of all y'all know about. So here's a word that's not so secret and not so drafted as some of Mr. Butner's contributions:

Umami!
(Japanese)
The taste sensation for the 21st century. Salt? So Bronze Age! Sweet? The 20th century sure covered that. Bitter? Mmm, melon: but prohibition killed bitters sales although a few fans are still waiting for the tide to turn. And sour's time (outside of extreme candies, ugh) is yet to come.
We want flavor, flava, the richer and more sensational, the better. Umami is savory; it’s viscosity: it’s more, more, more. It’s why Heinz ketchup keeps on selling, why Chinese takeout and Mom’s chicken soup can’t be beat. Umami is what you’ve been looking for and didn’t know how to ask for.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Pheremone of the Damned

Did you know that there is a Hummer fragrance?

Now you, too, can smell like a complete fucking asshole!

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Cyberjongleurs

With the official sounding name of the Juggler Information Service, this erstwhile organization tracks, among other things, juggling world records. Aaaand a list of 388 movies in which juggling has appeared! (What other list would include Bachelor Party, Waiting for Guffman and Xanadu?) Shine on, you crazy diamonds.

Late Note: The movie descriptions are even more unimaginable than I, er, imagined. E.g., for Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy:

Before they can return to America from Egypt, Peter and Freddie find the archaeologist Dr. Zoomer murdered. A medallion leads them to a crypt where a revived mummy provides the terror.

Reported to contain juggling.


Love the idea of a (shadowy) network of juggling tipsters.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Let's be joiners!

And be the eleventy millionth place on the internet to post a link to this very damaging image. Sweet dreams!

Sunday, January 16, 2005

hear this moon

ESA - Cassini-Huygens - sounds of an alien world: Those folks at the European Space Agency have stuck up sound files from Huygens' descent, including nifty radar sounds. Pretty amazing, no matter how you slice it.

They're quick downloads and more amazing for their sort of pedestrian quality. This is what being a machine in space sounds like. Kind of like radio static, kind of like Atari 2600 sound fx, kind of like nothing you'll ever hear in your kitchen.

b/c there wasn't a category for indefinable

You scored as Punk/Rebel.

Punk/Rebel

81%

Goth

63%

Ghetto gangsta

44%

Loner

38%

Drama nerd

38%

Stoner

31%

Prep/Jock/Cheerleader

25%

Geek

13%

What's Your High School Stereotype?
created with QuizFarm.com


(Via Barth Anderson with the fancy advance.)

Y tu?

Friday, January 14, 2005

OK, who's going?

The Magic Lantern Society's 7th Annual International Convention, that is. (I just have this image of people in cloaks dealing in, well, magic lanterns. But that's uncouth on my part. Still, what a dealers room that would be). The Victorian forerunner to the slide projector, you can read more about the history of the magic lantern here.

Queuing in the snow, in the rain.

Not out yet in the US, but hopefully our correspondent in Japan, C.B., will post soon on his experience of seeing Hayao Miyazaki's new film Howl's Moving Castle.
In the meantime the rest of us wait and wait*. The zine of record, The New Yorker, has a profile by Margaret Talbot of Miyazaki -- which isn't online but there is an interview. Oddly enough at no point is (author of Howl's Moving Castle) Diana Wynne Jones's name mentioned.
*Also still waiting for the confection Bride and Prejudice.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Rye, bitters, and sweet vermouth

Oh I do so love projects like this one: walking every street in Manhattan. A beautiful idea with many photographic reminders of what a beautiful place Manhattan can be.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

another plagiarism lawsuit

Maybe this is old news to everyone else, but I only heard about it recently.

A friend of mine told me that a woman had won millions of dollars from the Wachowski brothers in a plagiarism lawsuit, having shown that she was the original author of the first Matrix movie. I was intrigued, because while I know lawsuits like this happen all the time, it's rare that someone can prove plagiarism. So I did a little searching online.

First I found posts on many Matrix discussion forums that all quoted the same article, which starts as follows:

Monday, October 4th 2004 ended a six-year dispute involving Sophia Stewart, the Wachowski Brothers, Joel Silver and Warner Brothers. Stewart's allegations, involving copyright infringement and racketeering, were received and acknowledged by the Central District of California, Judge Margaret Morrow residing.

Stewart, a New Yorker who has resided in Salt Lake City for the past five years, will recover damages from the films, The Matrix I, II and III, as well as The Terminator and its sequels. She will soon receive one of the biggest payoffs in the history of Hollywood, as the gross receipts of both films and their sequels total over 2.5 billion dollars.


The article goes on to say that crucial evidence was found during an FBI investigation of Warner Bros., and that Stewart was in talks with CBS about exclusive rights to the story of her victory. All pretty amazing.

It turned out that this article was originally published in The Salt Lake Community College Globe (here). Further searching revealed that the paper had retracted the story a few days later:

In reference to the recent article entitled "Mother of the Matrix Victorious," some information has been deemed misleading. Ms. Sophia Stewart has not yet won her case against Joel Silver, Time Warner and the Wachowski Bros. The decision on October 4th enabled Ms. Stewart to proceed with her case, as all attempts to have it dismissed were unsuccessful. Ms. Stewart's case will proceed through the Central District Court of California.

(here) "Misleading" seems like an understatement.

I then went to the website that detailed Sophia Stewart's claims, http://www.daghettotymz.com/matrix/matrix.html. On this site, she says (among other things) that a different, longer version of the film was originally shown when it was first released, and that Warner Bros. recut it and rereleased it to avoid infringement. Supposedly the original cut had a text intro at the beginning, like Star Wars, describing a war that resulted in humans being used as batteries. She asks anyone who might have a bootleg copy of this original version to please send her a copy, to assist her with her case. There's no indication that the FBI has done any investigation related to this matter, but I guess she thinks they should. She's also recently begun accepting donations to help with her legal expenses.

So, we'll see how it plays out. Personally, I don't find her claims credible at all, but you should decide for yourselves. I do think it's interesting that an article published in a community college newspaper can generate so much publicity.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

fast and 2 furious?

Meg Wolitzer has a piece today on the joys of writing quickly (and she's someone who does both, slow novels and fast ones):

For most of us, the wasted days, failed beginnings and slow gathering of words really are a big but undramatic part of what we do. Entire novels are often cobbled together through a series of fits and starts. Everyone knows the expression "writer's block," but the opposite state, hypergraphia -- in which the writing comes surprisingly easily -- is far more obscure. Some writers have experienced both the slow, piecemeal construction of a novel and the fast, manic, seemingly effortless one. I can say without hesitation that fast and manic is better -- not only for the writer but sometimes, in the end, for the reader as well.

The "fast" novel tends to take shape when a writer is young and in possession of stamina and an uninterrupted sequence of thoughts and big ideas. These books bristle with the writer's excitement.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Flipbooks!

Via Liquid Treat.

A possibility for a new line of books from Small Beer, Fortress, Velocity Press...? My nomination for the first book, Chris Barzak karaokeing the Divinyls's "I Touch Myself." Any other ideas?

offered without comment

(Because I couldn't come up with anything that I really wanted to say. I just want you to take a look at this.)

Akiane - child prodigy, realist painter and world-renowned poet

Thursday, January 06, 2005

The SGHC Phenomenon

I can't help but dissect television commercials, mostly because I think they are evil to the core and it's good to be vigilant. A huge percentage of them have what I call the Schlubby Guy/ Hot Chick Phenomenon. Slate has an article today about the same thing, but in sitcoms. Why a male viewer would identify is easy to spot:

they portray a fantasy life for couch potato male viewers—for a half-hour a week, you can be 300 pounds and still imagine yourself married to Jamie Gertz!

I always thought that the commercials were only aimed at men, but the article's theory of why a woman would relate is even more depressing:

In portraying husbands as lousy parents, marginal breadwinners, and repellant sexual partners, the fat-husband sitcoms convey a persecution fantasy that rises from the same swamp of resentments as these books do: "Yes, I'm supercompetent and I even look great, despite all the crap I have to deal with, and, yes, that's my husband over there, the fat, useless one scratching his nuts."

Bleh.




Not to lighten the tsunami relief mood purposefully, but you should all be jealous that I get to eat really cool stuff in Japan like this. I love me some Kit Kats, and I love that Japan continues to bring out different flavors. Summertime it was Lemon Cheesecake and in the Fall it was Strawberry. But, mmm, my favorite is the Green Tea.

Now someone just has to send me some sausage patties and maple syrup. I have been craving it all damned day long.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

tsunami relief

Just a note for those wanting to donate to a relief organization other than the big international ones: a friend of mine recommended Sarvodaya. It's a Sri Lankan grassroots organization that's been working for human rights and sustainable community development for many years. You can donate via Paypal at their website, and read updates at their blog.

One interesting note I found on Usenet: "Sarvodaya delivers assistance in Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim and Christian communities. (US government assistance will NOT aid those millions of Sri Lankan Tamils who reside in areas controlled by the Tamil Tigers. The US government forbids all contact with the Tamil Tigers, although they are a legally recognized organization in Sri Lanka)."

For other options, you've probably already seen Ben Rosenbaum's chart of various relief organizations here. (I see that he just added Sarvodaya to it.)

this year's edge world question: what do you believe that you can't prove?

Page 3 has some really good answers on it. I imagine I'll be reading these responses on and off all day.

Here's my answer: I believe in the magic behind things.

Magic here can be defined however you (or I) like -- science, motivating force, a natural progression toward complexity as proposed in one of the respondent answers. But basically, I believe there is a little something behind every bit of the world that is magic. Doesn't make it good or bad, just interesting.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

you just rolled jeeeezus!

Mortality - A great family board game for Mormons, by Mormons:

"It's competitive, because there is a winner, but it isn't the cutthroat competition that forms the foundation of other games. It becomes a great deal of fun for all the players, not just the winner. Do you have children with sensitive feelings? Or do you have children who tend to be ruthless in games? Don't play Sorry! or Monopoly, play Mortality, and everyone will enjoy it and learn a little about how to truly succeed in life."

And hey:

"Get a game going with your friends, and you'll find yourselves laughing over the troubles each player meets: Your children come home from school with lice; a hailstorm wipes out your tomato plants; you break your arm on the kids' jungle gym; mice invade your teenage son's stash of Twinkies. If you have enough inner strength, you'll grow from each of these challenges. Otherwise, they may do you in!"

K & G, you willing to test this one first?

(There are testimonials!)

Via MeFi.

the gray lady gets all poetic & shit

Really, really stellar editorial on beginnings, change and the new year:

But deep within us is the habit of looking forward, a habit as powerful as the belief that our lives are somehow external to us and that we can pick them up and rearrange them at will. We live profoundly in time, painfully aware of the way the new years stack up one by one.

We also live immersed in intention, trying to make the most of what time has to offer. There are days when the likelihood of real renewal seems almost impossible, when our lives seem utterly conditioned by the past. And then there are those days when renewal seems certain, merely a matter of making the right choices, consciously. It would be a coincidence if one of those days of rebirth happened to fall on the first of the year.

Humor apprehension department

By way of obit, Gawker pointed to this Frank Kelly Freas cartoon from a 1950s MAD.

The Vogue and Esquire columns invite a straight reading, but I really don't get the Astounding column. Sci-fi rags propose the ideal woman as a bespectacled spinster scientist, but in fact sci-fi rags are read by hot young babe scientists? Is this from some alternate 1950s I have not yet heard about?

Monday, January 03, 2005

An uneven year

Arithmetic be damned, 2004 surely was. But all these lists are good for something: reminding one of all the good things (cue Rilo Kiley backing track) of the year. Which must have been musical, because they certainly weren't political.

Fave local band: The Fawns. Pop!

Also, been toying with putting a Regula Blogga style interface on our site. Any thoughts? Have looked at Word Press and I suppose I should look at MT. Has to work with OS9 (yup, still). This thingy we are using works with 9 with Netscape but not IE (there is no Firefox for 9).

Sunday, January 02, 2005

in or out, 1 or 2, better or worse