Friday, April 30, 2010

Luck Comes With the Spin of a Statue

The best of April 2010, at least according to this blog:
And, of course, the clickable visual index:

Bird Life in the Bronx

My April, as represented by certain 140-character or less snippets.
Sometimes I think it's too bad that funfetti is an ingredient limited to cake mixes. "Free the funfetti!" I say. "Funfetti in everything!"

Also, I'd like to also point out the strangeness of someone coining the word "funfetti," because "confetti" wasn't fun enough as is

All the DVRed shows have been deleted save for a bunch of X-Files and Rachel Maddow. It's like a creepy lesbian is sneaking into the house.

Fun fact for you: the hairless cat who played Mr. Bigglesworth in Austin Powers was named Ted Nude Gent.

Hope the quake didn't harm my loved ones, by which I mean my apartment, appliances and collection of precariously balanced glass figurines.

Things you watch at your parents' house: Sons of Tucson. I can't keep count of how many ways it bites Malcolm in the Middle.

When trying to make a TV's picture no longer distorted, it helps to change the channel from a documentary about deformed people.

Did Eloise on tonight's #Lost remind anyone else of a British Paula Deen?

I think I've been confusing Annabeth Gish and Embeth Davidtz for years now.

Watching Cheers reruns. So weird watching the early episodes where Carla is still such a knockout.

Am at a Jockey outlet, buying socks and picturing everyone here in whatever article of underwear they're currently examining.

Overheard people discussing astral projection. Heard it the first few times as "asshole projection."

Richard Gere's middle name is Tiffany. Does anyone else think this is funny? And appropriate?

We can't mock John Wayne, however, for his real name being Marion. It could be Gwendolina Tickleblossoms and he'd still be the man.

Live every week like it's shark week.

Heard from the backyard: A girl singing the love theme from Aladdin but with "Magic Mountain ride" instead of "magic carpet ride."

I just love how Coachella keeps emailing me about line-up changes, set times, etc., even though I'm not going. Just. Love. That.

New favorite awful thing to say: "Irish up that Kombucha."

Is amusing, but Drew no can continue argument in weird caveman / baby / Incredible Hulk accent.

Please join me in my backyard for Fauxchella. Seeking portable speakers, extension cords, filthy hipsters to come sweat on me.

Let's start posting fake #coachella tips. Ex: "OMG Paul McCartney and Yoko Ono duet now at Gobi Tent!"

"Hot #Coachella tip! Free VIP passes for the first 20 people who can fill their mouths with dirt and rush the main stage!

Why she looked familiar: The love interest from Kick Ass is the daughter that Bob Saget's telling the story to on How I Met You Mother.

I am not a vegetarian. However, I have to admit that Thanking the Monkey is a pretty awesome title for a vegetarianism/animal rights book.

Can I start a multicultural, globe-spanning phone dating service and call it the International Date Line?

@Fritinancy I don't think there's room for penazzling, but what about dickorating?

Theory: Earth Day was Sen. Gaylord Nelson's attempt to be remembered for something other than his first name.

A good tagline to place on a sign advertising any place ever: "As seen in Faces of Death."

Things 30 Rock taught me: There hasn't been a white Disney princess since Beauty and the Beast, which came out in 1991.

From the internets: YO MAMA SO FAT when she got cremated all the flights in Europe got canceled.

At LACMA: Just ruined a Paul Klee painting of a pair by pointing out that it looked like a Muppet Virgin Mary.

Via 360 on CNN: Claim Jumper serves a one-person rib platter that has 4,301 calories and 156 grams of saturated fat.

Feel like you would have liked to read these earlier? In a different setting? You could have. If only you were following me on Twitter.

Make Way for the Moondancers!

A reminder that not everything introduced into a long-running comic series becomes a permanent fixture. Nor does everything deserve to be.

According to Wikipedia, the Moondancers — Crescent Moon, Harvest Moon and New Moon — are a trio of “radical pacifist terrorists.” The phrase seems like an oxymoron until you learn that they aim to destroy various manifestations of the military-industrial complex. And they begin do just this in their debut 1983 comic until Batman and Superman make them stop, at which point they are not seen or heard from again until a 1990 issue of Animal Man, which, as Obscure DC Characters notes, features the Moondancers as inhabitants of “comic book limbo.” Indeed. Nice knowing you, ladies! I’ll try not to find too much glee in the irony of a one-off team of 80s-glam wannabes making their debut by shouting “Make way for us!” and then promptly moving to the side so other, worthier characters can enjoy the spotlight.

(Source: Comics Make No Sense, via VoVatumblr.)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Zirconia Ztolen!

Here, finally, are the results to the abstract music suggestion game that I encouraged everyone to play two weeks ago. I actually expected to have this up far earlier, but I was downright stumped by some of your suggestions. Today, I finally paired the last one with an actual song. Prepare yourself for the oddest, most mismatched album ever.

In no particular order:

Alice suggested “nostalgic sighs.” To this, I respond with Andrew Bird’s “Oh No.” Though lyrics about chest-embedded calcium mines may not draw up feelings of nostalgia, I feel the instrumentation on this song does, especially for a simpler era in which string sections and whistling were more common in pop music. “Oh No” tends to make me feel happy and sad at the same time, and I consider nostalgia to be the recollection of a memory that makes you feel these ways simultaneously.

I offer Electric Light Orchestra’s “Twilight” as a match for Tom’s suggestion of “A song to play in the future, as you stand on the corner of a large space cube, having defeated all the Nucleon Tessalators with only the power of your Thor-suit.” I’m probably influenced a bit influenced by the fact that I associate “Twilight” with its use in the promo cartoon for Daicon 4, a neat little audio-visual treat that I’ve blogged about before. In fact, that version of the song might be an even better match, since it has the galactatastic spoken intro. Of course, any version of “Twilight” is wonderfully spacey and triumphant.

Godaigamer suggested this: “I want a song that brings back the relief that my 8-year self felt while playing Chemical Plant Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 when he found an oxygen-bestowing bubble with less than a second to spare. In other words, something with a ‘times were tough, but everything's going to be groovy’ feel.” Difficult, right? This one actually gave me quite a bit of trouble, and I felt I would be remiss if I ignored the music associations I have with Sonic the Hedgehog. After skipping over The Hollies’ “Air That I Breathe” — because a bad match and yet still OBVIOUS — I instead chose to match the idea of calm-extreme panic-calm again. The best I could come up with is Andy Votel’s “Return of the Spooky Driver.” Odd, I guess, but at least blippy enough to not be completely inappropriate for a Sonic-based suggestion.

The anonymous suggestion of “the plight of captivity,” was easy: The Mountain Goats’ “Thank You Mario But Our Princess Is in Another Castle,” a surprisingly good song and one of the few works to not only narrate a story from the point of view of Toad but also to aptly use him as a metaphor.

Dina saddled me with “Theme song for a sitcom about a small dog and its best friend, a can of baked beans,” along with the following visual aid:

I respond with the Sam Lanin version of “Yes! We Have No Bananas.” I know, I know — it’s about bananas and not baked beans, but the instrumental opening could certainly work for this awful sitcom. Of course, the show will be black and white. How could it not be?

From Rey Flowers: “A man rocking a fro, clad in only a headband and cargo shorts, sayin’ to his buddy, ‘The colors man... Do you see the colors?... Cuz I sure do.’” I went with my first association, Olivia Tremor Control’s “A Sunshine Fix” — a good, trippy song in the spirit of 60s psychedelic pop.

I think I may have interpreted Darren’s suggestion — “Finding a moment of purity and beauty amidst seedy decadence, but only a moment. Then it is gone” — a little loosely. I could be way off, but when I read the words “beauty amidst seedy decadence,” my thoughts went towards noir. From there, it was only a short movement to the main title theme of Blue Velvet, which plays over the film’s opening credits and which seems to deliberately recall the melodrama of old detective movies. Too often, characters in these films experience something deep and profound, despite their surroundings, but this connection only lasts briefly. That’s my thought process for this one, anyway.

I’m not sure what Ben’s suggestion of “dinosaur tummy time” was supposed to mean, but he gets this:

It’s from a video game. I’m not ashamed to admit that. And it happens to be the first and only thing I could associate with the suggestion. DINOSAURS ARE EATING YOU!

From BigStompyRobots: “A song to play ironically over the top of an action sequence where someone plows a muscle car into a horde of hipster zombies.” To that, I offer something knowingly retro-sounding, inappropriately upbeat for carnage and finally something those very hipster zombies would likely delight in hearing. It’s “Moto Shagg” by April March, who’s perhaps best known as the woman who sings the closing credits song in Death Proof, which perhaps influenced my choice.

Don’t ask why, Bri’s suggestion of “Those aren’t pandas” in relation to Pedobear made me think of in-your-face, inappropriate sexuality and I wound up with “Purple Wail,” better known to the world as that horn-heavy stock song that plays whenever something comically sexual happens ever.

B’s suggestion — “Sukiyaki. The dish. If the song doesn't have anything to do with the dish, what song should?” in reference to my post on the actual song “Sukiyaki” — confounded me until I stumbled onto an old Elvis Presley song that I hadn’t heard since I was a kid: “Ito Eats,” which he recorded for Blue Hawaii. It skews more toward tiki culture than anything authentically Japanese, but I think the song works, at least according to that mid-twentieth-century worldview that collapses everything between the Caucasus Mountains and the California shore into the category “over there.” While listening, please note how the instrumentation, the beat and Elvis’s voice makes the song sound oddly similar to a song from Vampire Weekend’s first album — from before they became boring.

Because why not? After B posted a comment directly after Bri, I realized that they were not, in fact, the same person. They were different people, posting from opposite sides of the country. Don’t know why I assumed they were the same person, but I commented about it. In honor of this realization, I give a schmaltzy, mediocre song that happens to have a very appropriate title: “I’m Not Lisa (My Name Is Julie),” by Jessi Colter.

Lameness of the song notwithstanding, that’s a pretty awesome title for anything — and a very neat way to shorthand someone as being easy to forget.

Finally, there’s Julia’s suggestion of “I was walking in mud and lost my boot. Now my sock is all dirty.” For this, I give The Woods’ “Rain On.” From the opening strums sounding like heavy footsteps to the general sense of melancholy the song gives me, I think “Rain On” actually matches the suggestion pretty well. Either that or the combination of the song title and the band name made me think of mud. Take your pick!

To close out this playlist, I want to offer one bonus song, which I came across recently and which I realized would be the best song ever to load onto someone’s phone and a prank default ringtone: “Monster (in My Pants),” a solo effort by the B-52s’ Fred Schneider. (“For business meetings, weekly worship services and first dates, let “Monster” be your choice to mortify friends and enemies alike!”) The song is worth a listen for the opening lines alone, though if you could somehow make the phone play the entire track — like, lock all buttons until the song ends — that would be especially good. Can anyone get on this?

You get the whole video element for this one, just because it’s kind of amazing.

And to all you commenters, thanks for playing.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Comma-Shaped Jewels

Links of note!

A short history of bygone American TV networks

Some extremely cool fan-created Lost-themed tarot cards.

Failed American states — in the sense of never getting official recognition and becoming footnotes in U.S. history, not in the California financial sense.

The inspiration for the protagonist of The English Patient was gay and in love with a Nazi.

The opening titles of Fringe, appropriately retrofied for the recent flashback episode. (Note: The regular titles run first. The devolved ones come second. Enjoy.)

Will there be a Veronica Mars movie after all?

An interesting post from Kotaku on the Japanese national anthem, the Super Mario Bros. theme song and whether the latter should replace the former.

Speaking of Mario, New Super Mario Bros. Wii was at one point planned to feature a Chicken Suit power-up.

PAHL-a-nik, not pa-LAY-nee-uk: How to pronounce the names of various notable authors.

Lets Check in on All Our Childhood Search Engines.

The question “Why does English have capital letters?” as well as some attempts at answers.

The New York Times on why some people think cilantro tastes like soap.

The real-life zombies of Haiti. Hint: They are not undead. (Via Pajiba.)

Yesterday’s Faces Today profiles the then and now of Leslie Nielsen.

The Unholy Trinity of Bad Internet Lists

A round-up of retro movie posters on the blog Club Silencio brings our attention to the fact that a movie was actually given the title Who Killed Mary What’s ’er Name? (Alternate title: Death of a Hooker.)

The name of the evil queen from the Disney version of Snow White is Grimhilde? No wonder the mirror thought she was ugly.

The original NES Final Fantasy gets translated into Latin. Finally. A much-needed modification from the same people who have brought us such similar notables as the inferior mousetrap, those books that dissolve when you touch them and pajamas that make you die.

More Japanese urban legends from Pink Tentacle: the terror of Cow Head, the belief that the Ark of the Covenant is buried in Japan, and finally Hanako-san, the ghost girl who haunts toilets.

From Poison Mushroom, a pretty cool Japanese TV commercial for Super Mario All-Stars that features a sexed-up Peach, a quacking Birdo and what may well be the last appearance of Wart in any official promotional capacity.

And, finally, the stylish and wonderfully dated trailer for And Then There Were None, the 1974 remake of Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians.

The original novel, of course, was not initially titled Ten Little Indians but something far worse.

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Monday, April 26, 2010

They’re Carrying More Than Moonbeams in Those Jars

A back-to-back viewing of two superficially unrelated articles has managed to concern me about matters over which I have no control. Like always.

Article number one: Boing Boing’s posting of NASA’s first-ever photo of Earth from the planet Mars. It looked like this:


Article number two: Professional smart guy Stephen Hawking relating his belief that contact with aliens may not be beneficial for the meatbags living on good ol’ Earth. In short, someone whose opinion matters is voicing my deep-seated fear that when the tentacled ones do come, they will neither steal our women or blow up our landmarks. No, they’ll just take all the stuff that supports life and go merrily on their way without a second thought, much in the way a beekeeper might not think much of taking a hive’s store of honey.


The Nicotine Robot

Another bit from the “cloudbush” thread: Heat Man, the boss from Mega Man 2 with the fire-based attacks, was clearly modeled after a Zippo lighter.

original concept art
revised concept art

I never noticed this before and find it kind of amusing. Furthermore, the arcade game Mega Man: The Power Battle, has unused animation frames that show Heat Man smoking.

Previous items cloudbush posts:

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Windmills > Tigers, Apparently

At one point in my childhood, I can remember being driven all around California in an effort to show me what my home state had to offer. As part of this experience, I was also given a coloring book — a kid’s collection of tourist locations around California — to help me remember where I’d been.

But being a kid who couldn’t concentrate on much for very long, I never colored most of it in. For example, take a look at the page for the San Diego Zoo, which I loved to the point that I considered running into the landscaping, hiding and then just living at there. You couldn’t tell from the coloring book, however.

As you can see, I inexplicably chose only to color in the clothes and hair of the two children zoo-goers, their balloons and half the shirt of the man standing next to them. In a rare burst of creativity, I also seem to have attempted to put my own spin on the one balloon by giving it a sharp tail or antenna, which leads me to believe that at this point in my life I had never ever seen a balloon in real life, since they have neither antennas or tails.

So, clearly, this coloring book wasn’t my thing. I must have preferred more exciting activities, right? Mostly yes. However, there is one page that colored close to completion.

Solvang. Fucking Solvang. The city I’d come to revisit as an adult and that overwhelmed me with its lameness. This city — which should only appeal to wine buffs, antiques collectors, knickknack hoarders and Denmark aficionados — somehow made enough of an impression on my young mind that I chose to not only color in the picture but actually do so in a chromatically appropriate way — no orange sky and green skin. And I’d say that seems very strange, if it wasn’t for the fact that Solvang would later push me toward mildly creative pursuits, even after I’d realized that it’s a festering swamp of suck.


Solvang, you are and forever will be a mystery to me.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

“Moving in the Direction of the Bushy Hairstyle”?

I tend to misread certain words. Infarction, for example, I often read as infraction until I realize that the sentence makes no sense. Who knows how many times a sentence may have made sense with either word and I just continued on, thinking that someone had broken a rule when they actually were suffering from hypertension or atherosclerosis. The word of the week works similarly, for me at least. I only recently learned of it, but, now that I consider the situation, my eyes could have easily passed over it and wrongly thought it was the much more common word it resembles.
froward (FROH-werd or FROH-erd) — adjective: willfully contrary; not easily managed.
As I type this, I notice that Word’s autocorrect function keeps changing my every mention of froward to forward, so even computers may not be immune to the confusion between these two words. But maybe this little post will remind us all that this word exists and is not necessarily a typo.

Although froward can be explained as the opposite of toward — you know, as in to and fro? — toward isn’t often used in this sense anymore. In addition to the more common use of toward as a preposition (for literal directions, as in toward the house, or figurative ones, as in his attitude toward women), it can also mean “about to come,” “going on” (in the sense of There is work toward), “favorable,” or in obsolete senses, even “promising” or “compliant.” But while the definitions of toward that most apply to froward may be obsolete, froward apparently is still in use. It’s just not used very often.

The Online Etymology Dictionary explains that froward comes from the Old English fromweard, “turned from or away,” and could be also used to mean “about to depart,” “departing” or “doomed to die.” The word appears in various versions of the Bible. The King James version uses it in Psalms 18:26: “With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward,” which gets translated in other editions as something like “To the pure you show yourself pure, but to the crooked you show yourself shrewd.” Froward also gets used in the King James version of Proverbs 4:24: “Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee,” which would be stated in more contemporary speech as “Put away from you a deceitful mouth, and put devious speech far from you.”

To me, this word seems hard to pronounce. If I don’t concentrate, I’ll say it as something like “frerd.” Must be something about the “W” being stuck between “R” and “R” that brings out my inner Elmer Fudd. I wonder if froward fell out of use because it was just hard to say and easy to confuse in its written form with forward?

And finally, because I couldn’t resist:

Previous strange and wonderful words:
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Friday, April 23, 2010

Japan Improves Upon the Common Axolotl

Of course, axolots are cuteness incarnate. This is not a debatable point. To deny that these often-smiling, baby-faced amphibians are anything other than adorable is to admit that your brain is diseased or your eyes don’t work or you’ve somehow associated the word axolotl with some other creature. Please, if you doubt me, examine these images of these real-life Pokémon doing the one task they have in life: frolicking carelessly in their watery homes.

However, for axolotl advocates and deniers alike, I have news: As it always does, Japan has managed to amplify natural cuteness levels to dangerous new degrees, for in this fantastical island nation what we call axolotl is instead known as the wooper looper. An improvement? Yes. Should we have expected anything else from Japan. Certainly not. Japan’s top export is cuteness, after all. I’m unclear exactly why this specific term would have been applied to this animal, as the internet doesn’t seem to be hiding an etymology anywhere. I’m also not sure that wooper looper originated in Japan, where it would be pronounced something like “oopa roopa,” though one site claims that the term arose from a Japanese marketing campaign that aimed to get people to purchase and raise these critters. That site, however, is a Pokémon wiki, so I’m not sure how believable its non-Pokémon-specific information should be. And, yes, there is apparently an axolotl-inspired Pokémon, Wooper.

Note to Japan: Removing a thing’s legs is not a good way to make it seem cuter.

Since we’re on the subject, the word axolotl comes from Spanish via Nahuatl, from atl, “water,” and xolotl, “slippery or wrinkled one, servant or slave.” I also enjoy that any language has a word that can mean “slippery one.”

Weird animals, previously: