June 2009 minutiae

  • I read an article in the New York Times about how hugging is much more common among Kids These Days than it was among previous generations; apparently a hug is the standard greeting when high school kids run into one another over the course of the day. Upon reading this article I flashed back to my own high school days. I was on the school paper, and I remember Brian Jackson writing an article, "Sesame Street Tactics Not Up to Par," attacking the ineffectual, cutesy-pie PSA campaign that passed for an anti-drug effort at Troy High. One poster showed teddy bears embracing, accompanied by the slogan, HUGS NOT DRUGS. "I haven't exactly noticed waves of hugs replacing pot smoking around campus," Brian scoffed. Apparently if he'd stuck around for another twenty years he would have!

  • Random web quote I enjoyed: I usually hesitate to watch Japanese porn, because 90% of the time, I end up seeing some atrocity and crying out "Goddammit, Japan!"

  • It is amusing to look at Facebook pairings and imagine those people actually having been friends.

  • The kitchen at Lizzie's place has these amazing pans: I roasted some asparagus in one — upwards of ten minutes at 425°F — and a few moments after I took it out of the oven it was cool to the touch! Better living through chemistry, man.

  • I come to bed around 3:30 am to find Lizzie awake and a bird loudly chirping outside the bedroom window (as it tends to do around 3:30). Conversation ensues:

    me: Hey, did I wake you?
    L. (drowsy): no, I woke up a few minutes ago
    me: Did the bird wake you?
    L.: maybe
    me: Do you want me to go chase it away?
    L.: no, that's okay
    me: What kind of bird is that, anyway?
    L.: enemy bird

  • Wikipedia: On November 10, 1845, Polk sent John Slidell, a secret representative, to Mexico City with an offer of $25 million ($628,942,308 today) [...] Hey, uh, whoever wrote the script that automatically calculates inflation in Wikipedia articles? Might want to build in some rounding-off routines.

  • At a stoplight, waiting for the left-turn arrow, I found the driver of the car next to me frantically waving at me to roll down my window. I did so. "Ya make a wrong turn??" he asked. I quickly looked around to see if I had fucked up somehow — was I in the wrong lane? Was I trying to turn onto a one-way street? The man continued, "California! Ya make a wrong turn at Hollywood and Vine and end up in Victoria?" Apparently he was astounded by my license plates. It occurred to me that the "Hollywood and Vine" reference suggested that it was distinctly possible that his knowledge of California came entirely from cartoons.

  • One of my favorite online smackdowns of recent weeks was when comics reviewer Paul O'Brien gave a negative review to a Wolverine backup strip written by someone named Jonathan Maberry. A "Celia Harrick" posted to disagree, followed precisely one minute later by one "Robert N Norris" who seconded Celia's objections. Paul checked the IPs and discovered that they were both from the same address in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. Jonathan Maberry's Myspace page indicates that he is from... why, yes, Doylestown, Pennsylvania. So Paul posted about his discovery. Which led to the following exchange:

    Celia Harrick:
    Big deal...so Paul and I live together and we've been fans of Mayberry's writing. He's a local author. Big deal. We still like the Wolverine story and you definitely missed the point of it.

    Paul O'Brien:
    You mean Robert. I'm Paul.

    *ahem* HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!

  • Sample perfume description from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab, which Elizabeth has become obsessed with: "Lush, creamy vanilla and the honey of the sweetest kiss smeared with the vital throb of husky clove, swollen red cherries, but darkened with the vampiric sensuality of vetiver, soporific poppy and blood red wine, and a skin-light pulse of feral musk."

    My description of same: "Smells like whatever perfume is made of"

  • When I was in fourth grade, my teacher made a suggestion. No doubt your fourth-grade teacher made the same one. The suggestion was this: if you are ever in doubt about what pronoun to use in a sentence like "Mom made cookies for my brother and (I/me)," simply break it up into two sentences! "Mom made cookies for my brother." "Mom made cookies for (I/me)." Now it's easy! You wouldn't say "Mom made cookies for I"; now you know that you have to use "me"!

    Nate Silver: these results were sent to he and the other students

    *gag* *choke* Dude, you don't even have to break it up! You have the phrase "sent to he" right in the middle of your sentence!

    Anyway, the blood gushing from my eyes meant that they were all red states for a while.

  • dan_schmidt For all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these: "1 comments"

  • By the way, speaking of Twitter, I think top marks on my list have to go to Robb Sherwin. A sampling:

    icecreamjonsey Attn: failed businessmen: there is nothing to eat in Thornton, CO. Please open something, anything. A granary would be fine, frankly.

    icecreamjonsey Water heater died. But, I have a date tonight. So... worst shower of my life. If •that• was what waterboarding was, I'd cave.

    icecreamjonsey If this guy in line at lunch were any more in my personal space he'd be in a suit of my skin typing this very tweet.

    Really just a high-value add. #followwaitthisisawebpage

  • Isn't this banner ad sort of like Stevie Wonder offering free eye exams?

  • In the late 1980s the Bangles had a hit single with "Hazy Shade of Winter"; a couple of years later I heard the original by Simon & Garfunkel and was amused to note that the line "Carry a gun in your hand" was, in the original, "Carry your cup in your hand" — ah, a gentler and more innocent time! Except just recently I was listening to the Bangles version again and, uh, it's "cup" in that one too. For twenty years I thought they'd changed the line to be more badass.

  • My dashboard is digital and can be switched from imperial to metric units by pushing a button. I switched the display to metric when I crossed into Canada but for a while I was still periodically switching back to see how fast I was "really" going. I finally figured out the trick to avoid doing that: think of the kilometers-per-hour number as the percent of 60 mph at which the car is traveling.

  • I really can't tell whether certain foods are organic or not — broccoli, for instance — but there are others for which it seems to make a world of difference. Organic bananas, for instance, were a revelation: I'd never managed to buy a good banana before.

  • One sign that most of the people on Broken Picture Telephone are not of my generation: when someone draws a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, the others always know which one it is.

  • Alex Hoffer reports that on the Harvard Alumni Association survey, the bit that asks for your title includes boxes not just for "Mr." and "Ms." but also "Chief Justice" and "Her Imperial Highness Crown Princess."

  • csmonitor.com: Michael Jackson's death leaves door open to hacker threat. Yeah, Bad would have come out much sooner if MJ hadn't been busy cooking up a security patch for the Brain virus.

  • Some commentators have wondered whether the media coverage of Michael Jackson isn't overblown. This may be a generational thing. If you didn't watch MTV in the 1980s then, sure, he probably just seems like any other big-name musician, whose death is no more deserving of around-the-clock coverage than those of Ray Charles or Johnny Cash. But... man, if you were in sixth grade in 1983-84 like I was, then Michael Jackson was the most famous human being on the planet and there was no close second. MTV played the "Thriller" video every hour on the hour! I don't think North Korean TV devoted that much coverage to Kim Il Sung.

    That said, it's interesting for me to look at Jackson's discography. I only know his pre-Off the Wall stuff from memories of my mother talking about it. I know the first two songs from Off the Wall, but feel as though I originally heard them in a dream (as is the case with all music I heard prior to about 1981). Thriller of course I practically know by heart, having heard every single off it hundreds of times. But then... with Bad, I can give you the central refrains from the singles, but nothing else; with Dangerous I can give you the central refrain of the first single and nothing else; and of the last two albums I know nothing at all. It's been weird to read reports of contemporary musicians planning to record tribute songs and find that the songs they've selected are '90s and '00s tracks I've never heard a note of.

  • Saw someone use "g,d,r!" in a bb post. Man, that takes me back! Now I'm boggling at the fact that online communication has been around long enough for there to be chatroom acronyms that fall into the same category as "groovy" and "tubular."

  • I had a weird sense of dissociation from the rest of the world when there was a big hullaballoo about the death of Billy Mays, whom I'd never heard of. Rapper?, I wondered. Mixed martial artist? I did a web search. "OxiClean pitchman," said the web. What the hell is OxiClean, and how can an "OxiClean pitchman" count as a celebrity? Oh, but he's the focus of an Internet meme, I was told. Great. So does this mean that everyone is going to erupt when Keyboard Cat kicks?

    I think the most frightening thing this has taught me is that people out there are actually watching infomercials. Are you also carefully reading all your spam?

  • Lizzie and I were walking around downtown Victoria and passed a place called "Old Towne Video." I made some dumb joke about whether it'd been there since the Hudson's Bay Company days, etc. Then I peeked inside and saw aisle after aisle of VHS tapes. So maybe it had been!

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