Archive for November, 2011

“Sancho. Mark a large red X on the door.”

There by plague in these here parts. The downside of living with someone who works with sick kids all the time is that she brings home all manner of nasty bugs, which means I get sick more often than usual. The upside is that she tends to get sick slightly sooner, so at least I can see it coming.

So long story short, my girlfriend and I are both sick. I’m having a hard time concentrating through the Dayquil haze, so important bloggings today.

In place of deep thoughts or groovy music, I offer you the following Public Service Announcement:

Bad Grammar Kills

Click for source

And previously.

“The Future’s Here, It’s Just Not Evenly Distributed”

And right now, South Korean shoppers have a little more of it than we do:

A new virtual store developed by Euro grocery giant Tesco for its line of South Korean Home Plus supermarkets lets customers browse store shelves for the products they want just as if they were in a physical store. But they’re not. They’re on a subway platform. …

Tesco has simply plastered the walls of a subway station with visual recreations of grocery aisles. Each item has a QR code emblazoned on it. Snap that code with the Home Plus smartphone app, and it goes straight into the virtual shopping cart.

Customers can then check out via their smartphones as they step onto their morning trains. The groceries are delivered to their homes that evening at a specified time, saving office drones the added hassle of braving a crowded supermarket during the late-day rush.

A Quote, A Question, and An Observation


“Americans obsessed by the problem of conduct, usually judge their authors, not as artists, but as citizens, Christians, men. Edgar Allan Poe, I daresay, will never live down the fact that he was a periodical drunkard, and died in an alcoholic ward. Mark Twain, the incomparable artist, will probably never shake off Mark Twain, the after-dinner comedian, the flaunter of white dress clothes, the public character, the national wag. As for William Dean Howells, he gains rather than loses by this confusion of values for, like the late Joseph H. Choate, he is almost the national ideal: an urbane and highly respectable old gentleman, a sitter on committees, an intimate of professors and the prophets of movements, a worthy vouched for by both the Atlantic Monthly and Alexander Harvey, a placid conformist. The result is his general acceptance as a member of the literary peerage, and of the rank of earl at least.”

– H. L. Mencken, Prejudices – First Series

Question: Would anyone take an even-odds bet that there is anyone in this entire country familiar with William Dean Howells and Joseph H. Choate but not Mark Twain and Edgar Allan Poe?

Observation: “Placid conformists” may sell books, but those books are very soon forgotten. I think that that’s a perfectly sensible ordering of affairs, and it’s not one that riles me as much as it did Mr. Mencken. No one ever lost out by pandering to “common sense” or to common sensibilities. But no one ever changed the world, literary or otherwise, for the better in doing so.

“Never wanna give this feeling up”

Lately, I’ve been nursing a pretty wicked addiction to a local band called Campfire OK. They make exceedingly well-crafted pop music, with a unique style of composition and artistry. Their debut album, Strange Like We Are, is available from all the usual sources, and it’s well worth the money. All the tracks are solid, but by far my favorite is “Primp and Prune”. Here they are playing it live at this year’s Capitol Hill Block Party:

The audio on that’s not great, though, so here’s the album version of the song, which they released as the second single off the album:

Campfire OK “Primp and Prune” by xopublicity

I’m continually impressed with the Seattle music scene and the kind of creativity and artistry it produces. But more than that, I’m impressed but just how inventive people can be, even within the confines of genre. I’ve often thought that a great artist would make great music in any genre, and that those who consciously try to transcend genre boundaries are often doing so to make up for the fact that they’re not good enough to do what a particular genre demands of them.

Campfire OK have no such pretensions however. They make pop music and, being brilliant musicians, they make awesome pop music.

And on a lighter, more adorable note…

…here’s a video of a blind kitten figuring out how to play with toys he can’t see:

“Very appropriately, it leads to the capitol of the United States”

I stumbled across this incredible interview with H. L. Mencken not long ago. Mencken is as quick-witted, well-spoken, and cantankerous in person as one would expect. Start with the video below and then click through the whole series. (Each part is helpfully posted as a response to its prior part.)

I’m thrilled we live in an era when this is available for anyone to enjoy. Mencken is one of the greatest writers and greatest minds that America has ever produced. It’s fascinating, after having read many hundreds of thousands of words that he’s written, to hear his voice and the way he composed his thoughts while speaking. His wit is just as evident in his speech as in was in his writing.

He was truly a national treasure, and I don’t know that America has ever produced a literary writer or thinker that was his equal.

Be Thankful for our Freedoms

Those freedoms we have left, anyway:

“It’s an amazing smile / Even the suit has teeth”

Jonathan Coulton, “Nemeses”, featuring the brilliant John Roderick of The Long Winters.

Brilliant tune. So subtle a parody of the long song trope that it barely counts and parody any more. Well written, skillfully performed, and catchy to boot.

Art in the Future

Welcome to the future, where one passionate, committed person can create works of art like this:

ROSA from Jesús Orellana on Vimeo.

This is the work of Spanish artist Jesús Orellana. He did it over the course of two years, debuting it at this year’s Seattle International Film Festival. He’s currently in talks to turn it into a full-length, live action feature film.

I’m absolutely blown away by how much computer graphics has developed in just a few short decades. Ten years ago, I doubt you could have made a film like Rosa for less than millions of dollars. Twenty years ago, you couldn’t have made it for any price at all. Today, it only took one artist and (I would imagine) some modest, “pro-sumer” grade equipment.

I can’t wait to see what our digital art looks like in another decade.

For more information, check out the film’s website.

Edited to Add: I love the “behind the scenes” images Orellana made:


Click for Full-Size

Winning Hearts and Minds

I already annoyed any of you who follow me on twitter with this last night, but I just had to point out the brilliant strategy employed by the Occupy Seattle Brain Trust.

See, Occupy Seattle, in conjunction with the SEIU, decided to march on the University bridge and shut it down in the middle of rush hour. Now the University Bridge is one of only a handful of ways to get from downtown to North of Lake Union. It’s a popular route for a lot of work-a-day business commuters. Regular folk, working a job to pay the bills and live their lives.

You know, the sort of folks staunchly in the “99%” that these Occupy gits are always nattering on about.

And Occupy Seattle thought that it was a great idea to annoy these people by preventing them from getting home on a Thursday night.

*Slow clap*

Good job, hippies. You just managed to piss off your target audience in one of the most sympathetic cities in the country. Winning strategy, that.

The best part of the whole thing, though, was their rational. Many of them made self-congratulatory comments about how none of the 1%’s yachts would be allowed to pass. See, the U Bridge is a draw bridge (Google informs me that it’s a type called a “double leaf bascule bridge”) which covers the only passable ship channel out of Lake Washington. A lot of rich people have their boats in Lake Washington.

So if any of them decided to go on a pleasure cruise at (departing at 5pm on a Thursday night in foul weather), well, they might be sore annoyed that they had to sit on their multi-million dollar yacht for an hour, waiting for some hippies and union thugs to get bored and go home.

Yeah, that’ll teach those rich fat cats.

So in summation, Occupy Seattle decided to delay, harass, and annoy thousands of work-a-day commuters on the off chance that they might ALSO delay, harass, and annoy a couple of rich people.

Hey, at least they’re being douchebags to every one. Equality!

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Magic Blue Smoke

House Rules:

1.) Carry out your own dead.
2.) No opium smoking in the elevators.
3.) In Competitions, during gunfire or while bombs are falling, players may take cover without penalty for ceasing play.
4.) A player whose stroke is affected by the simultaneous explosion of a bomb may play another ball from the same place.
4a.) Penalty one stroke.
5.) Pilsner should be in Roman type, and begin with a capital.
6.) Keep Calm and Kill It with Fire.
7.) Spammers will be fed to the Crabipede.