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RARRRRRRRR!!!! Rarr rarrrr rarrr meow rarr?
RARRRRR!!! Rarr. Rarrr rarr J-List rarrrr.

2008feb03. A customer testimonial from a real estate seminar radio advertisement.

“This is a way for me to invest in real estate without it involving a lot of time or effort.”

And we are in exactly the market conditions you want to fly blindly like that. Go get’em, champ.

2008feb13. Excerpts from Lee Miller: A Life (2005), by Carolyn Burke.

Elizabeth’s compliant lovers flipped a coin to decide who would see her off. With the Millers, De Liagre, the victor, watched her ship sail down the Hudson in the morning sun while Argylle followed in his biplane, then swooped close to the sundeck to let loose a cascade of roses in Elizabeth’s honor. [pg 69]

Like Lee, [Tatiana Iacovleva] caused a stir when she entered a room. A tale went round Paris about the night when, finding herself across a crowded bistro from her friends, she walked the length of the room on the tabletops to join them. [pg 99]

At Marie Laure’s futurist ball, [Man Ray] photographed her sharkskin gown while guests in silver spacesuits glared at his outfit: a clothes bag with holes for limbs and a cap topped by a propeller. [pg 101]

By September, it must have been clear to Lee that her mentor Man saw her as a threat. The violence implicit in the many works of art that cut her in pieces became explicit in another of Man’s objects on the theme of vision. Some years before they met, Man had attached an image of an eye to a metronome; he called the work Object to Be Destroyed. During the summer of 1932, after her affairs with Aziz [Eloui Bey] and Julien [Levy], Man replaced the image with Lee’s eye, cut from one of his portraits, and gave the work a new title: Object of Destruction. As if warning her, he published a drawing of the object with instructions for its use: “Cut out the eye from the portrait of one who has been loved but is seen no more. Attach the eye to the pendulum of a metronome and regulate the weight to suit the tempo desired. Keep going to the limit of endurance. With a hammer well aimed, try to destroy the whole at a single blow.” [pg 127]

In December, the Royal Academy asked a number of painters, including Roland [Penrose], to contribute to their “United Artists” exhibition – an unprecedented effort by this conservative bastion to boost morale. Due to the language (“sex,” “flesh,” “arse”) with which he annotated one of his canvases, the committee asked him to replace it with something less vulgar. Roland followed Lee’s nose-thumbing suggestion. “What I did,” he wrote, “was ... get a card in deaf and dumb sign language from which I chose a four letter word S-H-I-T, and painted a row of hands saying this.” The committee hung this work opposite a portrait of King George, where it remained until a deaf and dumb cleaner “started hooting with laughter, and gave away what it said.” [pg 201]

Rationing was induced gradually (bacon, sugar, and butter, then meat, tea, and fats, and in 1941, eggs and milk). The Ministry of Food urged housewives to cook grains and vegetables. Dinner might consist of lentil sausages, mock goose (a gratin of potatoes and apples), and victory sponge (potato pudding with carrots). A soup for air raids could be made from root vegetables, the ministry explained: “A hot drink works wonders in times of shock.” [pg 208]

Iris Carpenter resented being assigned to an Allied hospital, but found that ambulances could be exciting when bombs fell all around her, shattering her eardrum. [pg 222]

About this time, Lee joined a group of GIs who were liberating the contents of a distillery. Spying a Red Cross jerry can meant to hold sterilized water, she filled it with framboise (raspberry brandy) and painted the can khaki. From then on, she took this “gasoline can” wherever she went. At a time when gas was more precious than gold, people were not surprised by this precaution, but some were taken aback when they saw her drink from it. When the “gas” ran out, she filled the container with whatever came to hand, making unimaginable new cocktails and keeping herself in good spirits. [pg 243]

2008feb14. Robert Reich on the upcoming economical adjustment period I personally like to call the Fire Tsunami* of Debt. Something he said in the article struck a chord (“Ding!”) with me ... he mentioned that one way we’ve kept the upcoming MegaRecession off our backs for so long was the introduction of women into the workplace. And that got me thinking ... maybe we can go farther back into time [make time machine noises here] to re-introduce some long-missing workers into the labor force once again. I speak, of course, of children. Yes, children. The problem with a child labor force back in ye olden days was mainly one of size – too small to muscle larger machines around, too small to keep from falling into pre-OSHA grain hoppers and the like. But now, since most jobs consist of staring at a piece of paper or a computer screen all day while playing Mr. Dressup, additional shitty brain-dead dull demeaning life-sucking job positions can be more-than-adequately filled by gung-ho clueless tykes. More labor means we can continue our awesome blossom USA3x way of life for another five years or so, print more money, and pass off hyperinflation to junior right about when he’s ready to be promoted to the corner office.

* It’s like a regular tsunami which is made of water. But this one is made of fire. Can you see it? It’s beautiful. I’ll be on the beach if you need me.

2008feb14. Mail.

I have been a loyal customer for over 5 years since moving to arizona. I do not want to put anyones job in jeopardy but, there is one nasty lady at the [city] arizona store who in the Warden and guard of the coffee. She makes nasty remarks when you take a second or third cup. Well, I will not be going there anymore. In front of other customers she made it a point to me that only one cup was allowed. Excuse me. I spend over a 100.00 a week at this store. I am 62 and do not appreciate being spoke to like a child.
Just needed to vent, thanks

Oh AOL, if we could only dig a hole big enough for you then pour quick-drying cement on top.

2008feb15. Secondary Planet. Chinese word blocks. Reader: A winner is you. [via nelo]

2008feb15. More than a few people have told me over the years that jumper cables are supposed to be hooked up a certain way which is wrong. Because I care, I am including this section of text from Dare to Repair Your Car by Julie Sussman and Stephanie Glakas-Tenet. Please stop trying to kill me thank you.

Take one of the red cables (positive / +) – it doesn’t matter which one – and connect it onto the positive terminal of the bad car. Now take the other red cable (positive / +) and connect it onto the positive terminal of the good car.

Next, take one of the black cables (negative / -) and connect it onto the negative terminal of the good car. Now here’s the part you may not understand at first. Take the other black cable and clamp it onto an unpainted metal part of the bad car, such as the engine block on the side away from the battery. Some cars have a designated place to attach the last negative cable and will have the word GROUND and an arrow imprinted on it.

Whatever you do, do not connect the last cable to the battery. If you connect every cable to a terminal, the circuit of electricity will be complete. If that happens, a spark may occur near the battery and ignite the vapor coming from the battery, which may cause the battery to explode.

Yours in Motoring,
Squirrely Joe the Safety Woodchuck.

2008feb18. Excerpts from Heat: An Amateur’s Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany (2006), by Bill Buford.

[Mario] Batali didn’t understand what he was witnessing: his restaurant experience had been making strombolis in New Brunswick. “I assumed I was seeing what everyone else already knew. I didn’t feel like I was on the cusp of a revolution. And yet, while I had no idea this guy [Marco Pierre White] was about to become so famous, I could see he was preparing food from outside the box. He was a genius on a plate. I’d never worked on presentation. I just put shit on a plate.” He described White’s making a deep green puree from basil leaves and then a white butter sauce, then swirling the green sauce in one direction, and the white sauce in the other other, and drawing a swerving line down the middle of the plate. “I had never seen anyone draw fucking lines with two sauces.” [pg 8]

One afternoon, Mario showed up to make a special called a cioppino. He’d prepared the dish the night before but had got only four orders. “This time, the waiters are going to push it, and if they don’t sell out I’ll fire them,” he said cheerfully. Cioppino is a contraction of “C’è un po’?” – is there a little something? – an Italian-immigrant soup made from leftovers and whatever “little thing” a member of the household was able to beg from fisherman at the end of the day. On this occasion, the “little thing” would be crabmeat, and, true to the ideology of the dish, Mario roamed the kitchen, collecting whatever was on hand – tomato pulp and liquid, left over from tomatoes that had been roasted, carrot tops, a bowl of onion skins, anything. He would charge twenty-nine dollars. [pg 45]

“You also develop an expanded kitchen awareness. You’ll discover how to use your senses. You’ll find you no longer rely on what your watch says. You’ll hear when something is cooked. You’ll smell degrees of doneness.” Once, in the kitchen, Frankie used the same phrase, “kitchen awareness,” as though it were a thing you could take classes to learn. And I thought I might have seen evidence of it, in how people on the line were cued by a smell and turned to deal with what they were cooking, or in how they seemed to hear something in sauté pan and then flipped the food. Even so, it seemed an unlikely prospect that this was something I could master; the kitchen remained so stubbornly incomprehensible. From the start of the day to the end, the place was frenzied. In fact, without my fully realizing it, there was an education in the frenzy, because in the frenzy there was always repetition. Over and over again, I’d pick up a smell, as a task was being completed, until finally I came to identify not only what the food was but where it was in its repetition. [ ... ] One morning, Elisa went out to deal with a delivery, and I picked up a change in the way the lamb shanks smelled. They were browning in a large pan about ten feet away, and I walked over, trance-like, turned them, and resumed my task. My nose had told me that they were sufficiently browned and would be ruined in a minute. By the time Elisa returned, I’d removed the shanks and thrown in another batch. She looked at me, slightly startled. [pg 67]

The tricky part was the last stage, when you grabbed the [fish] head with a towel, slipped one of the tongs underneath the tail, and lifted it to get the final hatch marks. Three things could go wrong. If done lurchingly, the fish broke in half. If done too soon, the skin stuck to the grill. And if done too slowly, your arms went up in flames. [pg 83]

Harvey’s, White’s first restaurant, earned its first Michelin star in 1988, the year after it opened. It earned its second in 1990. Five years later, White, cooking in new premises, earned his third star. During this time, he also earned a reputation for theatre: he was so highly strung, so unpredictable, and got himself so worked up (in 1990, he was hospitalized after a hyperventilating panic attack paralyzed his left side) that people came to his restaurant in the expectation that the unexpected would happen. When he talks about this period, he sits up in his chair, his eyes bulge, he raises his voice, and he is animated and indignant all over again. Patrons (“fat ugly bastards”) who ordered meat well done were an insult to his kitchen, and on two occasions Marco ordered them to leave his restaurant before they completed his meals. (“It was ten months before I threw out my first customer,” White was quoted as saying at the time, adding, with a flair for exaggeration, that, once he’d got the taste for it, he couldn’t stop.) When someone ordered fried potatoes, he was so insulted he prepared them himself and charged five hundred dollars. “I used to go fucking mental.” He threw things; he broke things; unhappy with a cheese plate, he hurled it against a wall, where it stuck, sliding down as the evening progressed, leaving behind a Camembert smear. [pg 95]

Mario, then thirty-four, wearing clogs bought from a surgical supply company and dressed in “California jams,” was described as the antic funnyman holding the group together (he may act like a clown, one chef told the reporter, but you’d be surprised – he’s actually very smart) and his I-get-along-with-everyone attitude was illustrated by a story he told of being in San Francisco and having to charm a policeman who had wanted to arrest Batali’s drinking buddy, the fortuitously met writer Hunter S. Thompson who had pulled a gun on a cable car operator who refused to take Thompson to his front door: the evening ended with Batali’s waking up in the Fairmont Hotel (he hadn’t been a guest) wearing wet swimming trunks (the hotel doesn’t have a pool). [pg 134]

“Any cut?” I asked. “The shoulder or butt,” she said, indicating her own shoulder and butt, that cook’s thing of pointing to the cut in question as though it had been butchered from your own body. “A lean piece.” [pg 194]

Enrico begins his harvest in September, when common sense suggests that your trees should be left alone. In September, the olives are green and hard. Most people pick in late November or December. “Ten to twelve weeks later, the olives are swollen and full of juice. The more juice you get, the more oil you can bottle, the more money you can make,” Enrico said. “But for me, the olive is bloated. It is pulpy and full of water.” The fruit is like “mush,” his father’s word. “As a result, the oil is thin. You have volume, but no intensity. For me, intensity is everything. For me, less is more. My oil is very, very intense.” [ ... ] Enrico’s olive oil, I can testify, is very good, but there are a lot of good olive oils, made by other nutty earth artists with no interest in money, obsessed with smell, looking over their shoulders to make sure they’re the first on the mountain to pick their greenly pungent unripe olives, squeezing the tiniest amount of intense juice from their oldest trees. The viscous, gold-green liquid that dribbles out from their stone-like fruit is unlike any other oil I have tasted, and the makers chauvinistically boast that none of it leaves Italy. [pg 298]

2008feb20. Self-healing rubber will eventually enslave humankind; News website’s video menu travels back in time to 1997

2008feb21. I’m shovelling great wads of paper out of my life and ran across a trip journal ... eleven years ago I made a completely unnecessary 1400 mile road trip (~87.00USD) detour that could have been circumvented in one sentence by an incredible German asshole working at a hostel but I guess he decided I wasn’t worth the courtesy, not that I had met him at that point. Here we “tune” in to our last conversation, before I had learnt of his treachery; the last line is my triumphant writer’s embellishment.

Me: “Well, see you around ... “
Him: “Typical American comment ... you going to Germany?”
Me: “Well no, not now, dickhead.”

Much better. I have changed reality. This is how I will remember it from now on.

2008feb26. Mail. Very old.

Dear Editors ...

My name is [name], and I am a professional journalist in [city, state]. I would like to interest you in a story proposal for the no-holds-barred Mixed Martial Arts event known as Ultimate Fighting. [Organization] is having a match here in [city] on [date]. I will have access to the fighters and anyone else I need. A piece on this sport and how it is sweeping the nation will be right up your alley, as an entertainment paper. [ ... ] I would like to introduce this event to Cardhouse’s readers who are unfamiliar with it, and find a unique perspective for those who already enjoy it. [ ... ]

I think most of my readers are very familiar with Ultimate Fighting. I think half of my readers have probably participated in Ultimate Fighting one way or another, even if that simply means breaking a chair over a co-worker’s head during lunch. Those crazy Cardhouse readers! I tell ya.

Please let me know if you would be interested. I can work from any angle: the show, the fighters, the behind-the-scenes people, the safety aspect, the male fans, the female fans. Whatever you need, I can do it.

These all sound pretty standard to me. What I’m looking for here is something new and exciting, a completely different perspective. If you’ll indulge me, let me set up the scenario in which [NAME] becomes the story:

First, you’ll need a bear costume, and some kind of flying harness, like the ones used for stage productions of “Peter Pan.” My shaky understanding of Ultimate Fighting is that the whole ring is enclosed in what I’m remembering as an eight-foot high fence, so no one escapes. That keeps the contestants in, but it’s not going to keep you, [NAME], out. Okay, now, you’re going to have to gain the confidence of the floor manager of the Ultimate Fighting competition. I don’t know how you’re going to do this – but you’re a journalist, you can figure out a way. Slip him a twenty to rig up the flying harness in advance of the fight. You might want to also have it obscured by banners and flowery foo-faa, so as not to attract attention.

So now, the fight’s started. Here’s where the fun begins, and I’m sure you’ve already anticipated where I’m going with this. You would wait until both contestants are good and bloody, all slicked up with the red juice, okay? The crowd is going nuts, they want more blood, and you just go off to one side of the stadium, put on the bear costume, attach yourself to the harness (you might have to do some “practice runs” at rehearsal), and zip right over the ring. You of course would then drop into the ring, and from here, well, there are several options, but let’s consider two:

1) The logical (yet nonsensical) imitating-a-bear display of growling, attempting to maul one or both contestants, more growling, etc.

2) Standing on your hind legs, grabbing the microphone, making an impassioned plea to stop the violence, in the name of the animal kingdom.

I’m sure you can think of more scenarios here – or, perhaps you could just wing it. You never know what could happen when your adrenaline starts pumping and you’re wearing a bear costume in the middle of an Ultimate Fighting match.

The pay is ten dollars for the completed story. Good luck.

2008feb29. Friday is sometimes a “free day,” and sometimes it’s re-heated pizza. That’s when you and your friends get in a car and drive to White Castle. You collectively pay for the burgers, then you individually pay for them again a little bit later.

Giant sticky man schlorps down side of skyscraper
Zero Punctuation: Guitar Hero III
Moo by Syriak.
Echochrome. An upcoming surreal maze game.
La Jetée [26min].
Promotional video for the Retro Encabulator, a glorious offspring of the Turbo Encabulator.
Backhoe paddle.
Attenborough: Geckos coax leafhoppers to feed them honeydew.
Abraham Lincoln: A Short Documentary.
Bert & Ernie: Total Destruction [via titivil].
Never Mind the Buzzcocks: w/Amy Winehouse [ 1 2 3 ] “She’s dead.”
Pink and Blue Project.
Hoshi Saga 2

Say, why not take a look at QI, a British quiz show hosted by Stephen Fry. One could find 80% of all five series of QI on the “youtube” facility if one applied the proper search terms (I suggest “qi series”).

“So ... Culloden was really more of a local difficulty ... it was highland versus lowland, it was like Celtic and Rangers ... Catholic versus Protestant, essentially. It’s that kind of fight, and it goes on to this day. Will we never learn. Who knows. Religion: shit it.”

A book entitled “The Book of General Ignorance” was based on the show and apparently sold quite well over here. Then, after you get a few episodes under your Sansabelt™, check out the 2005 program Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive [ 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 ]. Short appearances by (among others) Robbie Williams, Carrie Fisher, Richard Dreyfuss, and Jo Brand (who also appears frequently on QI). QI is also the only TV show I’m aware of that has its own members’ club. I wish there were something around here like it. I mean, without it costing 400USD+. Finally, QI provides an answer to the timeless question, “What exactly happened to Rich Hall?” He is now a beloved UK panel show traveler, from the looks of it – he is, as we go to press, the 2nd most frequent guest on QI. America clearly needs more panel shows because we’ve all grown sick of seeing our neighbors on “reality” programs, and I’m just the guy to provide this sort of service for a nominal fee.

A series of point-and-click flash adventure games: Submachine. I have hated “point and click” flash adventure games for awhile now – but the mechanics and storytelling of this set are wonderful. Don’t chintz out and play it sans audio; the ambient backing track does help to establish mood (and sometimes there are audio clues). There were two or three parts to almost every game when I had to grab a spoiler to move on, especially the first puzzle in Submachine 3 (Loop) ... it has enough states that it can easily be overthought, leading to oodles of unnecessary toil (especially, in my case, when you get a false positive at the exact time you were expecting a positive). Play them in order, you build knowledge and there are interesting sequential sub-plot elements. The author’s site occasionally has problems serving up the games, so check out this metafilter post for alternative locations.

Knytt Stories. Atmospheric adventure game. Really well done. Be sure and familiarize yourself with what certain items provide for you in the way of new abilities before you tootle off, I did not and suffered for it.

Dwarf Complete. A well-crafted walk-around puzzle game. I needed some help twice in the game; now people are posting walkthroughs for puzzly games to Youtube, which is much better than trying to read someone’s written interpretation of a visual world.

2008feb29. Bracing For Impact 2008: Overseas financial think-a-dink tank actually names the date for US Depression. Well then.

What we will have, instead, is truly a global momentous threat – a true turning point affecting the entire planet and questioning the very foundations of the international system upon which the world was organized in the last decades.

What I’ve done to prepare for the crash is purchase durable goods, like apples and pencils. Have I made that joke on here? [search] Yep. I’m copying myself now. I thought the whole house of cards [nudge] was going to topple in 2006. I was off a bit. I sorry.

2008feb29. Photo set: Trader Vic’s tiki sale. They recently closed the San Francisco and Osaka Trader Vic’s, and bought out a tiki supplier that was going under ... so they were over-laden with tikis. The cashier said this was a “once-in-a-lifetime” thing and “probably would never be repeated.” The large post-like tikis (“posts”) were going for $250, the tiki-like tikis (“tikis”) started at around $750 and went up to about $2500. They hadn’t gotten around to unwrapping a lot of the Osaka ones when I was taking these photos. Some of the tikis were recently carved, some were very old ... some were funny (the gap-mouthed buck tooth one that unfortunately had a “sold” tag; it wasn’t around while I was taking photos), some had dongs. Which is also funny as well.

Book: Animals in Translation Book: Pranks! Book: Adrift - 76 Days Lost At Sea Book: Secret Language of Sleep Book: Consider the Lobster