Wednesday, February 28, 2007

A Jazz Musician Was Injured Friday after Jumping from a Burning Motor Home . . .

. . . driven by a one-time roller skating stripper from Lodi.

Am I talking about
(a) a line in a new song from the increasingly strange Bob Dylan
(b) the first page of the latest Tom Robbins novel
(c) the opening scene of the next Coen brothers film, or
(d) the lead to a Lodi News-Sentinel story about something that actually happened (via Fark)?

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Young, Independent Women Now Collectively Named after Ancient Greek Huntress

Ad agency JWT recently announced a new name for what it views as an emerging demographic of assertive, independent twentysomething women: Atalantas.
They are confident, passionate, adventuresome and unwilling to settle for anything less than the best. They neither conform to negative stereotypes of single women (cold, lonely or sad) nor do they pursue the excesses of less discriminating peers like Britney Spears and Paris Hilton.

. . . . "Truly reveling in their 'me' years, Atalantas are eagerly sampling life, love and leisure," says [JWT's Marian] Salzman. "And they are forming relationships with a multitude of brands—household goods, electronics, cosmetics, fashion, food, beverages and many more—that may last a lifetime. As with the sought-after market of single 18- to 34-year-old males, with each passing year the earning power and expendable income of these women will rise, making them increasingly lucrative and appealing for marketers."
Link (via YPulse). The press release gives a long list of examples like these:
Scarlett Johansson (22): She's turned her husky voice and voluptuousness into an industry, always seeming to take the fleeting nature of fame with a grain of salt.

. . . .

Serena (25) and Venus Williams (26): Despite injuries, these two tennis champions have hardly been idle. And though controversy follows them, the sisters just ignore their naysayers.

. . . .

Ziyi Zhang (27): "China's gift to Hollywood" is a slim charmer with big talent whose accomplishments are inspirational for many thousands of women.
Not listed is the original Atalanta, pictured above, who suckled on a bear as a small girl, outran suitors until she was distracted with golden apples, and may or may not have sailed on the Argos. Nor is Martha Atalanta Lumpkin Compton, daughter of former Georgia Governor Wilson Lumpkin, who lent her first two names to one Georgia city: Marthasville was renamed Atlanta in 1845.

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Image credits: Atalanta and Hippmenes (detail), Guido Reni, Italian, 1622-25.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

And Now We Pause for Captain Picard Singing the Alphabet Song


(via Rocketboom)
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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Five Years Oscar Got It Wrong

The Academy Awards take place tonight, and in a year when the only major race that appears to be contentious is the one for Best Picture (conventional wisdom says Helen Mirren, Forest Whitaker, Jennifer Hudson, Eddie Murphy and—knock on wood—Martin Scorsese have their categories in the bag), we look back on the top five years the Academy had a choice to make in handing out its top Oscar . . . and blew it.

5. 1980
Raging Bull lost to Ordinary People.

Vincent Canby says, “Though it's a movie full of anger and nonstop physical violence, the effect of ‘Raging Bull’ is lyrical. To witness Jake's fury is to swing through the upper atmosphere of the emotions. It's breathtaking and a little scary.”

Dave Kehr says, “[‘Ordinary People’ is] [v]ery much a melodrama of the 80s, following the example of ‘Kramer vs. Kramer’ by balancing emotional goo with bleached, sterile visuals.”

4. 1994
Both Pulp Fiction and The Shawshank Redemption lost to Forrest Gump.

Desson Howe says, “‘Pulp Fiction’ is everything it’s said to be: brilliant and brutal, funny and exhilarating, jaw-droppingly cruel and disarmingly sweet.”

Rita Kempley says, “[‘The Shawshank Redemption’ is] not a typical story from the horror King. Instead, it's a devoutly old-fashioned, spiritually uplifting prison drama about two lifers who must break their emotional shackles before they can finally become free men.”

Jonathan Rosenbaum says, “Judging by the [‘Forrest Gump’’s] enduring popularity, the message that stupidity is redemption is clearly what a lot of Americans want to hear.”

See the top three . . .

3. 1941
Citizen Kane lost to How Green Was My Valley.

Bosley Crowther says, “‘Citizen Kane’ is far and away the most surprising and cinematically exciting motion picture to be seen here in many a moon. As a matter of fact, it comes close to being the most sensational film ever made in Hollywood.”

Kevin Smokler says, “After all, America’s paeans to ordinary people and their dreams hit their peak in 1941, hot on the heels of WPA murals and Dorothea Lange’s photographs. . . . [‘How Green Was My] Valley’ still strikes me some kind of virgin artifact, a relic cast in mythology before it was even born.”

2. 2005
Brokeback Mountain lost to Crash.

Kenneth Turan says, “‘Brokeback Mountain’ is a groundbreaking film because it isn't. It's a deeply felt, emotional love story that deals with the uncharted, mysterious ways of the human heart just as so many mainstream films have before it. The two lovers here just happen to be men.”

Michael Atkinson says, “Full of well-observed supporting riffs, ‘Crash’ might've accumulated more frisson had it cast a clearer eye on how social tension actually plays.”

1. 1964
Dr. Strangelove lost to My Fair Lady.

Michael Wilmington says, “[‘Dr. Strangelove’ is] the greatest nuclear holocaust comedy of all time. . . . This landmark movie's madcap humor and terrifying suspense remain undiminished by time.”

Geoff Andrew says, “[Audrey] Hepburn is clearly awkward as the Cockney Eliza in the first half [of ‘My Fair Lady’], and in general the adaptation is a little too reverential to really come alive.”

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Friday, February 23, 2007

This Day in Dakota Fanning History

February 23, 1994: Dakota Fanning was born. That same day, Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding faced off on the opening night of the Olympic women's figure skating competition at Lillehammer. You do the math.

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Portraits of Americans and Their Guns

Kyle Cassidy's Armed America project seeks to capture portraits of Americans with their guns. "This isn't a book about guns," he writes. "It's a book about people." Above are Jean, Fleming, and a Winchester .410 model 42:
Fleming: I was born and raised 12 miles down the road from where Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were ambushed and killed—this was in 1935. As a result of that incident, Northern Louisiana gained a reputation for being a very violent part of the world. And indeed, everybody—that I knew anyway—had at least two guns; a shotgun, and a .22 rifle. But these weapons were looked upon mostly as implements for harvesting food, mutch like you do with hoes, rakes, shovels, and things like that. Because they were used to take wild game. And in a country at that time where there was no electricity, no trains to speak of, you couldn't buy anything. If you didn't grow it or kill it yourself, you didn't eat. . . . I never take more animals than we can eat. I think, in a way, a gun, if it's used properly, can be a tool to teach good citizenship. Because it teaches people to be frugal, to not be wasteful, and above all, it teaches people not to waste our heritage; take what you need, but don't take any more.

Jean: I hate guns. Don't get me started.
Link (via Neatorama).

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Confidential to the Guy Who Ended Up Here after Googling "Flip Quesadillas Fall Apart"

The trick is, you have to let the cheese melt before you flip it the first time.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Norway to Build Seed-Laden North Pole Doomsday Vault

In an attempt to out–James Bond movie Sweden, Norway has developed plans to build a huge impregnable vault on a remote arctic island designed to withstand complete global anihilation and preserve—wait for it—seeds:
The Svalbard International Seed Vault will begin construction in March of '07, and it's supposed to open in '08. The project will cost approximately $5 million dollars to build, and will be so large three million different seed samples will fit snugly inside. The Global Crop Diversity Trust is the organisation apparently spearheading all this, and their executive director said of the project:

"We want a safety net because we do not want to take too many chances with crop biodiversity. Can you imagine an effective, efficient, sustainable response to climate change, water shortages, food security issues without what is going to go in the vault - it is the raw material of agriculture."
Link (via Rocketboom). The always diligent science-news source BBC has further details:
"What we're trying to do is build a back-up to these, so that a sample of all the material in these gene banks can be kept in the gene bank in Spitsbergen," [the Trust's Geoff] Hawtin added.

The Norwegian government is due to start work on the seed vault next year, when it will drill into a sandstone mountain on Spitsbergen, part of the Svalbard archipelago, about 966km (600 miles) from the North Pole.
Yet that March 2007 build date seems a little optimistic when you consider that construction was slated to begin last June.

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Sunday, February 18, 2007

Yeondoo Jung's Photos from Crayon Drawings


South Korean photographer Yeondoo Jung's series Wonderland (via BoingBoing) attempts to recreate the fantastic euphoria of young children's crayon artwork. The gallery that showed the series a few years back explains how Jung executed his vision:
[The series] presents costumed adolescents posing in sets based as closely as possible on children's drawings. He collaborates with many people to bring to life the boundless imagination in the drawings. For four months, Jung oversaw art classes in four kindergartens in Seoul and collected 1,200 drawings by children between the ages of five and seven. After pouring through them, he carefully selected 17 drawings and interpreted their meanings. Then he recruited 60 high school students by passing out handbills at their schools in which he invited them to act out the scenarios in the children's drawings. In order to recreate faithfully drawing details such as dresses with uneven sleeves or buttons of different sizes, he convinced five fashion designers to custom make the clothing for the photo shoot. He also made props unlike any scale found in reality but similar to those in the drawings.
Link. Jung's mother is proud enough to hang the work on her fridge.

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Image credits: "Afternoon Nap," Yeondoo Jung, 2004, courtesy, borrowed for news-reporting and comment purposes.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Saturday Morning Cartoon


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Thursday, February 15, 2007


The Grave Digger

What's cuter than one panda in a box?

Sixteen pandas total.

No doubt the Sichuan Wolong Panda Protection and Breeding Center is hearing the sweet sound of music after their successful artificial insemination of 38 pandas. Meanwhile, both The Crests and Chuck Berry are vying for their song to represent these lucky baby pandas.
Molly Ringwald declined to comment.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Select Questions and Concerns about Spatulas from the Wikipedia Discussion Page for 'Spatula'

How many people spell spatula 'SPATCHULA'. If you know any one please tell me

I've begun to add some important information about the risks and benefits of titanium spatulas. Just curious... Why was it never added??

What's "Ca2O4DHe6"? There is no element with symbol "D", and He (Helium) is inert and generally doesn't form compounds. Where did this chemical formula come from?

Isn't there a lab tool that's also called a spatula? You know we have a problem in our society when there's like 5 different things called spatulas.

I've always been told (including by those who should know and by many a cook) that many of the things pictured in this article are not spatulas. Some are frosting devices which can be called a spatula, but the two on the ends (see picture) are pancake turners. And the thing I believe to be a spatula (long, thin, flexible, rounded corner blade for separating a cake from the pan) isn't even shown.

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Lonely Two-Legged People

This Valentine's Day it's important to explore love's origins:

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Monday, February 12, 2007

Meanwhile, in Montrose . . .

The volunteer fire department is considering branching out to emergencies involving other natural elements.

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Friday, February 09, 2007

Romeo and Juliet's Skeletal Embrace

Two young lovers buried five-thousand years ago in Mantua, outside Verona, demonstrate how the dead celebrated Valentine's Day three-thousand years before Saint Valentine:
The pair, almost certainly a man and a woman, are thought to have died young as their teeth were mostly intact, said chief archaeologist Elena Menotti.

The burial site was discovered on Monday during construction work for a factory building.

"It's an extraordinary case," said Ms Menotti. "There has not been a double burial found in the Neolithic period, much less two people hugging - and they really are hugging," she told Reuters news agency.
Link (via BoingBoing). As the Associated Press points out, the young lovers' location is quite the coincidence:
Archaeologists have unearthed two skeletons from the Neolithic period locked in a tender embrace and buried outside Mantua, just 25 miles south of Verona, the romantic Italian city where Shakespeare set the star-crossed tale of Romeo and Juliet.

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Jack Bauer Takes On ATHF


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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Philadelphia Could Get Rubber Sidewalks

The Grave Digger
Philadelphia city councilman Jim Kenney recently toured Chicago to see environmentally-friendly city projects there. He came back with an idea or two: using rubber for sidewalks.
He says rubber sidewalks are made from recycled tires. They don't crack, and they last longer than concrete. Kenney says rubber sidewalks could also reduce the number of slip-and-fall accidents and the resulting lawsuits.
Link. Rubber streets would likely be harder than a running track, so we probably won't see anyone bouncing to work.

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Free Coffee Really Costs Three Dollars or Social Stigma

A Kirkland, Washington, coffee shop, Terra Bite Lounge, has a menu like an five-star restaurant—no prices in sight. Unlike Alain Ducasse, you won't even get a bill at the end of your order. But that doesn't mean the food and beverages are free per se. Rather than a restaurant, maybe the business model is more like the Philadelphia Art Museum on Sundays: pay what you wish.
Customers pay what and when they like, or not at all — it makes no difference to the cafe employees, who are instructed not to peek when people put money in the metal lock box.

. . . .

So far, Terra Bite has served up to 80 customers per day, averaging about $3 per transaction, he said. When the shop brings in a steady flow of 100 customers a day, Peretz figures, he will more than break even.

. . . .

Even without posted prices, "social monitoring" — the feeling that others are watching what you do — can enforce payment, said Erica Okada, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Washington Business School.

With its anonymous drop box, Terra Bite has minimized, if not eliminated, that effect. Under these circumstances, Okada said, the economic model predicts that Terra Bite customers won't pay anything.

But they do.
Link (via Freakonomics Blog). If Terra Bite wants to subtly enforce payment—and apparently they really don't—they might want to consider posting a picture of eyes above the honesty box.

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Monday, February 05, 2007

The Big Question on Everyone's Lips. Their Chapped Lips.

Groundhog Day this year saw a rare occurence: Punxsutawney Phil actually predicting an early spring. Nobody told most of the country, though. Where I am the wind chill is in the single digits—flip a coin to determine which side of zero—and walking outside makes you feel like the T-1000. Has Phil gone totally mad?

University of Maryland biologist David Inouye suggests the strange behavior of groundhogs this year may be attributable to global climate change:
With this year’s warm winter, which some experts pin on global warming, biologists say groundhogs and their hibernating brethren might rise closer and closer to Groundhog Day each year as Earth's climate changes.

The balmy weather could snap awake groundhogs and other hibernating animals too early this year, well before their breakfasts are ready and threatening their survival.

. . . .

“We’re pretty convinced that this is connected to climate change,” Inouye said. “If the cue that marmots use to decide whether or not to go back into hibernation in April is air temperature and we know because of temperature records that one of the consequences of global warming is supposed to be rising air temperatures, then it seems like it’s a pretty easy link to make.”

. . . .

But groundhogs, also known as woodchucks, actually can emerge from hibernation during a warm spell at any time of the year, said Doug Inkley, wildlife biologist with the National Wildlife Federation.

“The fact of the matter is there’s nothing inherent in woodchuck behavior that says that they’re going to come out on February second, or that what happens on February second is going to be any indication of an early end of winter," Inkley said.
Link. The climate change that has groundhogs and Russian bears waking early is probably also responsible for my suddenly polar city of residence, but for the Arctic, the New York Times' John Tierney suggests, it might be a welcome revision: more trees, more jobs, more ships, more oil, and fewer bears.

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Meanwhile, in Montrose . . .

Eighty percent of Susquehanna County residents who drive by the courthouse over the course of two hours on January 27 oblige protesters' "Honk for Peace" sign, or at least give the thumbs up. Trust me, I was there this weekend, and they are all a bunch of liberal hippie doves in Susquehanna County.

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Friday, February 02, 2007

Please Don't Interrupt

The Grave Digger

We are taking this seriously.

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