2017.11 minutiae

  • Well, since I skipped last month’s minutiae I guess I’d better do one this month, even though I don’t have much to say.  Like, I didn’t even get around to making a new Australian dessert, though I did make another batch of honeycomb—​taking the caramel only up to amber, now that I know that it continues cooking and reaches the desired foxy red color as it’s reacting with the baking soda.  Take a look:

    This tasted a lot better than the previous batch, but what I didn’t realize is that it would melt.  The evening I made the honeycomb it was dry and crunchy, but the next day it was sticky to the touch, and the morning after that it had turned into a puddle.

  • Ever had one of those days when you’re convinced it’s a different day of the week?  “Wait, it’s only Thursday? I would’ve sworn it was Friday. Doesn’t it feel like a Friday to you?”  I had one of those days and wound up getting a parking ticket because of it.  Oof.

  • After revising my big Sparks page I wondered how some other bands’ album scores might look, so I went through the Beatles’ catalogue and ran the numbers.  Here’s how it turned out:

    Please Please Me: 15
    With the Beatles: 15
        ⬑ (without “Don’t Bother Me”: 3)
    A Hard Day’s Night: 33
    Beatles for Sale: 20
    Help!: 28
    Rubber Soul: 31
    Revolver: 30
    Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band: 21
        ⬑ (without “A Day in the Life”: 4)
    Magical Mystery Tour: 15
        ⬑ (without “Strawberry Fields Forever”: 6)
    The Beatles: 31
        ⬑ (disc one: 24; disc two: 7)
    Yellow Submarine: 13
    Abbey Road: 29
    Let It Be: 27

    That’s remarkably consistent!  The majority of the albums are clustered around 30.  I figured that A Hard Day’s Night would probably come out on top, but I wasn’t expecting it to be a virtual seven‐way tie.

  • Speaking of music, I’ve noticed that when I’m driving and a really good song comes up on my MP3 player, if I park in the middle of it, when I return to my car I generally have no interest in listening to the second half.  I’ll fast‐forward to the next song even if it’s not nearly as good.

  • Driving around Berkeley, I found myself stuck in traffic behind a van with the license plate EDBEGJR.  “Does Ed Begley Jr. live in Berkeley?” I wondered.  So when I got home, I looked it up, and found this:

  • I said:
    “Wait, what? I can’t just buy this game and install it on my hard drive and play it whenever I want, even if I only ever want to play the single‐player version? I have to get an account on this web site and register online? Like, the game doesn’t even function without an Internet connection, so really I wouldn’t even be buying a copy, just a license to access it that could be revoked at any time? Fuck that! That goes for music and ebooks and productivity software and everything else, too—​either sell me the files or don’t sell me the files. I’m not paying for the right to ‘add this item to my library’ or whatever.”

    She said:
    “Old Man Yells at Cloud”

  • From the time I first heard it, I have rolled my eyes at the use of the word “shipping” to mean “imagining that two fictional characters are romatically involved”, because not only is “shipping” already a word that means something else, but etymologically it’s silly: “‐ship” is a suffix that means “a property or state of being”, and is attached to hundreds upon hundreds of words other than “relationship”.  A few that spring to mind just off the top of my head: bipartisanship, championship, courtship, fellowship, horsemanship, internship, kinship, ladyship, ownership, partnership, penmanship, receivership, salesmanship, swordsmanship, township, worship.  But it occurs to me… I guess this sort of thing is also the origin of the word “bus”!  It’s a shortened form of “omnibus”, but the part of that word that actually means something is “omni”.  The “bus” part is just a Latin declension marker—​it means the word is in the plural dative or ablative.  Still, the fact that this sort of thing has happened before doesn’t make it any better.  It’s like if those of us living in the United States of America decided to start referring to our home country as “The Of”.

  • The Baltimore airport has a huge mural of the United States near the security entrance.  Every state is filled with the name of its capital city in big letters: “AUGUSTA” for Maine, “FRANKFORT” for Kentucky, etc.  Except for Oregon, which says “PORTLAND”.

  • Mississippi has had some senators with remarkable names.  Powhatan Ellis!  Hernando Money!  Wall Doxey!  Theodore Bilbo!  (I guess “Mississippi” is itself a pretty remarkable name, come to think of it.)

Here is quite possibly the funniest tweet I have ever seen, courtesy of 91‐year‐old former congressman John Dingell:

Why did this have me gasping for breath when I first saw it?  I think it is the same thing I usually talk about here in the Chuckle Box: the sheer unlikelihood of the setup.  I guess it’s been long enough now that some readers may not remember this, but when Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005 and the critics began to charge that the government had bungled its response, George W. Bush torpedoed his poll numbers by going on camera with embattled FEMA director Michael Brown and saying, “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job!”, which in the popular imagination morphed into “Heck of a job, Brownie.”  (I guess it’s the same process that turned “Kenneth, what is the frequency?” into R.E.M.’s “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?”)  Now, there aren’t too many ways to make a play on that statement.  Brannie isn’t anything, Breenie isn’t anything, Briney isn’t anything, Bruney isn’t anything.  You basically have Brainy, like the Smurf; Brony, like the adult men who really got into the My Little Pony cartoon; and Brawny, the paper towel brand.  So when another hurricane hits, and the government again fucks up its response, and you want to make a play on “Heck of a job, Brownie”, it’s not going to work unless the president does something staggeringly unlikely such as going to the affected area and pelting the crowd with rolls of paper towels for some goddamn reason.  Which is what Trump did.  It was a one in a million shot that something this apropos would happen and make this line work, but it did.  And John Dingell came up with the line, and the odds just short‐circuited my brain and sent me into hysterics.

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