Friday, June 25, 2004

You said shizzle for the what now?

Kids today, what with their hip and their hop and their crazy lingo and all. Snoopy the D-O-Double-Gizzle and whatnot. Who can tell what those young whelps are going on about anyways? And now, instead of teaching them to speak proper English and publish web content in something that can be read and enjoyed by everyone, for the love a Pete, now they have the Shizzolator. With this contraption, any address you type in will be translated, nay, corrupted into da shiznit.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Libraries say, "Thanks for nothing. In fact, thanks for 430 copies of nothing"

This week the RIAA, which is comprised of some the the country's largest record labels, shipped out approximately 5.6 million CDs to public libraries throughout the country as part of an antitrust lawsuit settlement.

Sounds like a big win for the libraries, until they took a look at what they were sent. The guys in shipping and receiving at the CD warehouse must have had to wear SARS masks to keep from inhaling the layer of dust some of these titles must have been gathering.

Librarians at the Tacoma (Washington) Public Library got a shipment of 1,325 CDs that included 57 copies of “Three Mo’ Tenors,” a 2001 recording featuring classically trained African American tenors. They also received 34 copies of the Bee Gees’ “This Is Where I Came In” (2001). A computer glitch is being blamed for the problem.

Elsewhere, the public library in Worcester, Mass., with a main library and two branches, received 150 copies of “Nastradamus,” a 1999 album by the rapper Nas, and 148 copies of “Entertainment Weekly’s Greatest Hits of 1971.”

And the winner in the Department of Redundancy Department would be the Des Moines (Iowa) Public Library. Their shipment of 2,647 CDs, due to arrive in the next couple weeks, was listed as containing 430 single-song discs — 16 percent of the total -- of Whitney Houston singing “The Star Spangled Banner” at the 1991 Super Bowl.

I have an idea that could take a little of the sting out of this for the 'braries. Could everyone who reads this please call the Des Moines library and ask if they have a copy available of Whitney Houston singing the national anthem? Just a thought.
(via Boing Boing)

Sunday, June 20, 2004

"In the lead it's the favorite Winalota Cash followed by Place Lady and Showboy in third. But wait! Out of nowhere, here comes Cheatin Charlie, and bringing up the rear is Last At the Table..."

Ever wonder how racehorses get their sometimes strange names? It's not as easy as it sounds. Names can't be more than 18 letters, and must meet phonetic and taste guidelines set by the Jockey Club, which maintains the registry of over 430,000 names in use now. Browse through the online database.

And yes, there is a Horse With No Name, but no details on whether he's been through the desert, where there ain't no one for to give you no pain.

Cory Doctorow on DRM

Cory Doctorow is the author of the sci-fi novel "Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom" and the creator of the wonderful blog Boing Boing. He recently gave a talk to Microsoft's Research Group on the subject of DRM (Digital Rights Management). His main points:

1. That DRM systems don't work
2. That DRM systems are bad for society
3. That DRM systems are bad for business
4. That DRM systems are bad for artists
5. That DRM is a bad business-move for Microsoft

It's a lengthy but worthwhile read if you are interested in keeping corporate behemoths like Sony, Microsoft and the RIAA/MPAA from telling you how to listen to your own music or watch your own DVDs.

If you are more action-oriented on the subject, I urge you to check out the Electronic Frontier Foundation, where you can find out how to tell your legislators what you think on subjects like DRM, copyright, tech/privacy issues and much more. Even better, donate to EFF.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

You spin me right round, baby right round
Like a record, baby
Right round round round

- Dead or Alive

I’m a cowboy, on a steel horse I ride
I’m wanted dead or alive
Wanted dead or alive

- Bon Jovi

Quick! Fay Wray, starred in the original 1933 King Kong (as the pretty one, not the hairy one). Dead or alive?

How about Falco, who was responsible for foisting "Rock Me, Amadeus" on the world? Dead or alive?

What about Russell Johnson? He played The Professor on Gilligan's Island? Dead or alive?

Fay Wray - Alive at age 96
Falco - Died in a jeep crash February 6, 1998.
Russell Johnson - Alive at age 79, though there were rumors of his death a few years back when his son passed away.

There are several really well-done sites that keep track of celebrities and whether they're still kickin' or kickin' the bucket. First there's the Dead People Server. Browse by last name or year, and check out the section called Rumors, where you can learn the truth about whether Abe Vigoda is truly pushing up daisies.

Also very good are:

Dead or Alive? - Nice features like Died in the last 6 months and People alive over 85. Take the Dead or Alive and Put 'em in order quizzes. Also has a unique list sorted by cause of death plus lots of other goodies. Browse to your ghoulish heart's content.

Who's Alive and Who's Dead - A little more low-key. Clean and simple. Check out the Odds & Ends section for great lists like Mouseketeers, Alive and Dead, a Complete List of Dead Astronauts and Dead Playboy Playmates of the Month.

And for those of you (you know who you are) who can't learn about a celebrity's untimely demise fast enough, there's Celebrity Death Beeper, a free service that checks every 10 minutes for famous stiffs and emails you with the news. Be the first at your water-cooler to know when Eddie Albert (96) moves on to Greener Acres.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

Wish you had the nerve to tell off your boss or dump that loser you've been dating? Fret no more, my courage-challenged friend. Let do the dirty work for you! Now with three easy plans:

Just A Jerk includes:
* A customized script, pre-approved via e-mail before it is used.
* A telephone call from one of our staff members to any area within the United States or Canada, to a maximum of fifteen minutes
* Price: $15.00

Jerko Supremo includes:

* All the features of the Just A Jerk Service plus:
* The call is taped on an audio cassette for your records and perverse enjoyment
* Price: $25.00

And for the cash-strapped jerk, you can try Jerk Express, where you write an anonymous letter to your intended victim letting them know how you really feel. You send the letter to Rentajerk and they will remail it from their offices in Toronto. Sneaky...
(thanks, Bonnie!)

Monday, June 14, 2004

The Art of the Mixtape

There is a nice speech that John Cusack's character gives at the end of High Fidelity that goes:
The making of a great compilation tape like breaking up, is hard to do and takes ages longer than it might seem. You gotta kick it off with a killer to grab attention. Then you gotta take it up a notch but you don't want to blow your wad. So then you gotta cool it off a notch. There are a lot of rules.

You can say that again. In fact, some would say that creating the perfect mixtape is an art form. First up, the readers of expound on how it's done. Some nuggets:
** Don't put more than *2* songs by a band on the tape. If you want to put two songs on by the same band, but want to put a song in between them, don't. It's either one after the other, or on totally different sides.

** Pick songs that match the recipient (i.e. don't use Fugazi for sorority girls and no Elton John for indie chicks).

** Just like with records, side b should start with a kicker as much as side a does, particularly if you close side a with something mellow.

Next we have the tale of two people, one mixtape and zero common ground.

Lastly, it's a chance to make that ultimate mixtape without going through all the effort of, you know, making that ultimate mixtape. Mixmatcher is a stroke of genius, and I am amazed no one has thought of this before... You can create your own virtual playlist using a topic of your choosing. Others can view your selections and add their own selections to your list. For example, some of the current playlists are:
Really good covers you think no one else has heard
State Songs (songs that have the name of a state in the title)
and One to Tango: Songs with a masturbation theme.

You can browse through any list, but the fun is in creating your own and adding ideas to other people's lists. For that you need to register, which is free. If you want, you can post your email so others can contact you, but that is optional.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

No clowns, no elephants, just trees

Back in the 1920's Axel Erlandson happened upon two sycamore trees that had naturally grafted together; he was inspired to create his own "living sculptures" through grafting and bending the trees. In 1947 he opened his Tree Circus, where people could pay to see his botanical art. He worked on his creations for 40 years until his death in 1964. Through neglect, a number of trees didn't survive, but in 1985 Michael Bonfante purchased and transplanted the surviving trees to his family theme park Bonfante Gardens in Gilroy, CA.

Today, the art of arborsmithing is alive and well. Richard Reames is the driving force behind Arbormith Studios and is the author of the book How To Grow a Chair. Richard's site also offers My Father Talked To Trees by Axel's daughter Wilma.
(via punkasspunk)

Combing to a theater near you...

Combover: The Movie
Thin on top? Bet you can't wait for the Combover Patent
(via The Morning News)

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

How To Dial

Browse through the Prelinger Archives. Rick Prelinger spent almost 20 years collecting over 48,000 "ephemeral" (advertising, educational, industrial, and amateur) films. In 2002, the film collection was acquired by the Library of Congress, Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division.

One of the more fascinating ones is an instructional film on one of the cutting edge technologies of the 20's. It's called "How To Use the Dial Telephone". (The layout may be a bit confusing for some. Basically you can download or view streaming with Real or QuickTime. Use the links on the left of the page)
(via Incoming Signals)

Friday, June 04, 2004

Drive-thru music

One of my favorite They Might Be Giants songs is the brilliant "Fingertips" from their 1992 Apollo 18 album. Actually, "Fingertips" is more of a suite of song fragments. If you get the CD version, you'll see that it actually spans 21 tracks, with the average track clocking in around 13 seconds. If you set your CD player to shuffle, it makes it pretty interesting. You can preview it here with either Windows Media Player or Real Player..

And my point is...?

Andrew, the creator of Songs To Wear Pants To makes little songs like "Fingertips", but you get to decide how they get made. Go ahead and send an email describing your song idea, and if he chooses your suggestion, he'll write a song to your specifications. The songs are 1:11 long or under, though if you want to commission him for a longer piece, you can pay him some $$.

Here are a couple of examples from STWPT, but it's worth browsing the archives for more:

Could you make a song about how great the original Nintendo is?


Please compose and record a song extolling the virtues of your Web site in which the lengths of the words can also be used as a mnemonic for at least the first 50 digits of pi. In other words, the first word has three letters, the second word one letter, the third word four letters, and so on.

[For your convenience, STWPT provides the first fifty digits of pi:



Thursday, June 03, 2004

All wrapped up and ready to go

Candy wrappers - old school. Check out the R. Crumb wrapper! (via Nuggets)

Candy Rapper - new school

and packaging in general. The 3D images are really quite something, if you have the bandwidth.

Aria in the mood for a hotdog?

Love him or hate him, Charley Marcuse a/k/a "The Singing Hotdog Man" at the Detroit Tigers' Comerica Park has been silenced. Since 1999, Charley has been peddling franks behind home plate with his distinctive "HoOoOoOtt DOoOgGs" with his operatic baritone. Sportservice, which handles the concessions for Comerica Park, claim that they have received complaints from fans that he is disruptive and starting last month have told him not to sing anymore.

Whether you're outraged or relieved, you can vent and vote at, and if you're a real political firebrand, you can sign the "Let Him Sing!" petition. Finally, since capitalism is all about voting with your dollars, you can buy "Save Charley" T-shirts.
(via Jim Romenesko)

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Crispy Critters (and pennies, and trees, and chalk, and...)

Why we don't let Giant Sherlock Holmes visit go downtown anymore.
(via Sarcasmo's Corner)

And if you can't get enough mayhem, you can take a peek at Random Destructive Acts via Focused Solar Radiation. Pity there aren't more photos, though.

On a more benign note, you can also use our friend Mister Sunlight for stuff like cooking.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

A cut above the rest

Remember the scene in Aliens where the android Bishop plays a game with one of the crew members, holding down his hand and then taking a knife and stabbing ever-faster in between his fingers? Now you can relive that scene over and over again as you, ah... sharpen your virtual mumbley-peg skills with 5 Finger Fillet.

I always thought this was called "mumbley-peg", but apparently that's a much safer and more benign game. Here's the rules for mumbley-peg.

Bonus fun! Play Fillet with your speakers nice and loud so the screams resonate throughout wherever you are. See how many people come rushing in to see if you're dying.

Crickets and Spice and Everything Nice

Would you pay good money to watch someone try and eat a jar of Extra Hot Horseradish in less than 10 minutes? Would you pony up some pesos to witness someone drink an entire gallon of milk in under 30 minutes? The sadists at did, and they documented the results to boot.
(via J-Walk)

"Dearly Beloved..."

Funeral Karaoke

I'm picturing some excerpts:

"Hello, Pittsburgh, and welcome to Marty Stauffer's funeral! Are you ready to mourn? I can't hear you!! I said ARE YOU READY TO MOURN?!?!"

Grieving Relative #1 It was aaight. It was aaight. You did your thang, dawg, but it was a little pitchy. And wearing black? A little too safe, you know?
Grieving Relative #2 Don't listen to him! I thought your rendition of "Highway To Hell" was just what Grampa would have wanted.
Grieving Relative #3 Sheer torture. In all honesty, during that performance I was wishing I could trade places with the deceased, just so I wouldn't have to hear you sing.

"Thank you! Thank you! And even though Aunt Ruth isn't, I'll be here all week!"
(via Bifurcated Rivets)