2012.09 minutiae

  • I am the sort of writer who has to stop after every sentence and ask, "Is there any way to express that without a semicolon?"

  • I was interested to read that the state tax credits for the Chevy Volt line up thusly:

    West Virginia   $7500

    I was like, buh? West Virginia? But I guess it makes sense — West Virginia doesn't have oil but it does have coal, so if the theory is that electric cars will mean more coal plants…

  • I was doing a Sporcle quiz about identifying soda cans with the names removed; it is extremely rare that I drink soda, and has been rare for 20+ years, so I didn't do very well. There were a bunch of lemon-lime ones that I didn't recognize, but I figured one of them had to be Slice because that was the lemon-lime soda we usually got when I was a kid. I was wrong — apparently Slice is all but defunct these days. Out of curiosity, I pulled up an image of a Slice can:

    Oh, man. That looks really old. Which means I am really old for having consumed this when it was new. But wait! That doesn't match my memory of the cans we got! Maybe the updated version looks fresher—

    Okay, I give up. I'm old.

  • Speaking of being old, there's a street festival held right outside my door every September, so I finally heard (many times) that "We Are Young" song that apparently was #1 for just about all of this spring and seems like a good candidate to enter history as the Gen-Y anthem much as "Smells Like Teen Spirit" is the Gen-X one. (Even the videos are pretty similar.) Early verdict: a killer chorus searching for a song to be in, but still a winner overall. One thing I like about it is that it comes with enough latent melancholy baked in that all the Millennial kids can get choked up listening to it in the 2030s realizing that it's no longer true.

  • Also, even though it is not my usual sort of thing, count me as someone who thinks "Gangnam Style" is a winner. I really like how the sung section sounds exactly like the music I used to listen to when I was a kid and first started collecting 45s (except, y'know, in Korean), then breaks down in a way that a song from 1983 wouldn't and reminds us that we're living in the future.

  • I wish Pandora had a mode that would put lesser known songs into your playlist so you can discover new music, or rather, old music that is new to you. When I use a bunch of obscure '80s titles as seeds, it should recognize that I'm not looking for it to feed me a bunch of Top 10 singles from the same era.

  • Elizabeth was amused by the Amazon reviews for the infamous Bic for Her, but I dunno — I might think this was a sillier idea if I hadn't spent ten years teaching math to teenage girls 90% of whom had pink calculators.

  • People used to ask what Twitter is good for — you know, who cares about a bunch of people saying "I'm eating a sandwich now" and all that. My answer: I heard that Andy Murray had won the U.S. Open, and I wanted to read a bunch of Ivan Lendl jokes, and thanks to Twitter, bang, there they were.

    In other tennis news: goddammit, Japan.

  • Here is a comment completely typical of recipe sites — this is for a cookie recipe:

    Four stars! I used chocolate instead of mint, reduced the sugar by 1/4 cup, doubled the baking soda, and added two tablespoons of vanilla.

    Yeah, thanks. I'm tempted to post a follow-up saying, "I too thought this recipe was great! But instead of flour, sugar, butter, and eggs, I used tomatoes, basil, mozzarella cheese, and pasta sheets, and it came out as more of a lasagna. Four stars!"

  • I've noticed that a lot of parents on my social networks have been crowing lately that they have hooked their kids on some decades-old cultural artifact or another. What's that about? I remember that when I was a kid, yes, the Baby Boomers thought the cultural touchstones of their generation were the best, and the mass media was full of Boomer self-absorption, and it pissed me off… but at least it wasn't evangelical. I dunno, maybe if Facebook had been around in 1982 it would have been full of parents announcing that nothing was greater than watching their kids dancing around the house to the theme from "Bonanza."

  • This may have made the rounds already, but in case you haven't seen it, here's a link Elizabeth sent me: pictures of families from around the world posing with their weekly food purchases. Of note: the two most expensive spreads, those of Germany and the United States, strike me as close to inedible — the American one in particular contains virtually nothing that I would willingly eat.

  • It is strange to me that Joe Biden has this reputation, fostered primarily but not exclusively by The Onion, for being a boozehound living the life of Matthew McConaughey's character in Dazed and Confused. It's not a caricature, in that it doesn't exaggerate Biden's actual characteristics — it seems to have been made up out of whole cloth. (For one thing, the man has had a grand total of one drink in his life.) And it's not like the actual Joe Biden is hard to caricature — it seems to me that it'd be pretty easy. What always strikes me about Biden is his lack of the emotional filters one might expect given his demographic and his position. Look at his convention speech: "I remember my dad coming up the stairs in my grandpop's house where we were living, sitting on the end of my bed, and saying, 'Joey, I'm going to have to leave for a while. Go down to Wilmington, Delaware, with Uncle Frank, there are good jobs down there, honey…'" How many other male, 70-ish politicians can you imagine telling stories about their dads calling them 'honey'?" It seems to me that "Joe Biden Bounces Check at Liquor Store" or "Joe Biden Cooling His Heels in Mexico" are a lot farther from the mark than something like "Joe Biden Appears Before U.N., Reads Jonathan Livingston Seagull to General Assembly".

  • I was walking down a quiet residential street when I heard multiple blasts of what sounded like a toy phaser gun from the early '80s. I looked around and soon found the source: an old lady was walking along the other side of the street, and on her shoulder was a large green parrot treating the neighborhood to Mattel Electronics' greatest hits.

  • I was looking at the Google Maps 45° aerial shot of the house I grew up in, and after a moment I noticed something: whoever moved into the house next door knocked the whole thing down and put up an entirely new, much larger house that takes up nearly the entire lot! I used to play basketball over there because there was a hoop set up in the driveway, not even attached to the roof but on its own pole set into the concrete… and that whole area has now been engulfed by the house. No idea if there's a car elevator in there anywhere.

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