January 31, 2005

Hack jokes

In honor of my finally having (mostly) kicked the cold that has been plaguing me for the past week (the chappedness of my upper lip is truly a sorry sight), here is a series of cartoons I drew in college. See, there was a long stretch of time during and around my senior year when I would wake up with a sore throat pretty much every day; I'd have a cup of tea or two and generally be fine an hour later. I blame the dry Santa Fe climate. Anyway, it was that experience which prompted these three cartoons, which comprise the complete adventures of Dry-Throat Francis, Scourge of the West. (Sorry for the mega-jpg, which will require rightward scrolling, but that was pretty much as small as I could make it and maintain legibility.)




Posted by Francis at 06:52 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Train in Vain

I swear, I feel like the subway system has completely lost it since the blizzard. Even now, when things seem like they should be mostly back to normal, crazy shit happens. This morning, between Broadway-Lafayette and West 4th, our riotously thick-accented conductor announced: "This train will be goin' on the E LOIN starting at Wes' Fourt' Street. For the SIXT' AVENUE LOIN, transfer downstairs at Wes' Fourt' Street." (This is the tidied-up-for-blogging version; in actual practice, all his sentences included multiple hesitations and restarts.) I mean -- what benefit does this confer? And why couldn't the subway powers that be have decided this while we were still in the Broadway-Lafayette station, so we could have just stayed on the same platform, instead of waiting and forcing us to squeeze an entire train's worth of people down two flights of stairs? Gah.

But anyway, it's hard to avoid the feeling that nowadays any train can suddenly become some other train with no warning whatsoever. This F train? Now it's a D train. No, wait, it's an E train. And this R train will now be traveling over London's Piccadilly line. For service to Brooklyn, please transfer to the Paris Metro at Bakerloo. Thank you for riding the MTA.

Posted by Francis at 11:25 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

January 30, 2005

Bunnies all night long!

Even when I'm out partying, the bunny can't stop (won't stop) can't stop (won't stop) uh-huh uh-huh. Let's get down on it.

From Jason comes this neon rectangle of joy:

He describes it as reminiscent of both "1980s school yearbook photos" and his "inability to draw".

The next one is from Scott, who says, "Clearly my concept of a bunny is most similar to Emily's, although mine is lacking in a feature I find is rarely optional in bunnies, front legs."

Laura found me via Making Light (who linked to my Pericles adaptation) and, like all right-thinking people, felt she had to get in on the bunny-drawing action. "I hope it isn't too belated," she wrote. It is never too late for bunnies.

Vardibidian wanted to participate, but felt it was beyond his skills to draw a bunny. Still: from each according to his abilities, right? He says, "I have just about enough creativity to Google (image) the word 'bunny', take the first result, and mess around with the colors." Hmm...does that count?


And one more, alert despite the late hour, from Maelstrom:

That makes 15 bunnies, and the world population is...just under 6.5 billion people. I think we have a few more bunnies to go! Good effort so far, though!

Posted by Francis at 12:57 AM in Bunny Day | TrackBack

January 29, 2005

Probably not new age-y enough for Cirque du Soleil

There are more bunny pictures to come, but as a little break for people who (for whatever crazy reason) might be seeking some non-bunny content, here's a mash-up I made a while ago. It takes a little explaining first, though.

You see, apropos of I forget what exactly (probably me telling him about how I sometimes perform Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" as sung by Morrissey), my friend Todd Seavey told me that the comedian Dana Gould was known for his dead-on Morrissey impersonation. Well, that gave me an idea. This mash-up consists of a live a cappella fake Morrissey song by Dana Gould edited into an instrumental track by the Smiths, and hopefully it gives a fuller picture of what the world could have been like if Morrissey had been subject to slightly different obsessions. Anyway, here it is, for your downloading pleasure, for who knows what amount of time exactly: "Clown Fucker". (Lyrics are here if you'd like to sing along at home.)

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Bunnies are noted for their ability to multiply

Two more, both from Lance, who writes:

[After drawing the first bunny], I realized what inspiration I was missing, so I've also attached [a second drawing], which I copied out of my Holy Tango of Art History; someone with more artistic talent than me could probably do a better job of it. It is, of course, "The Bunny Has Honor, Liege" by Hans Holbein the Younger.

Truly a fine work which could stand next to Christo's "Ostrich" any day.



Bunny Day is turning out be sort of a movable feast. Anyway, where are yours? You may think you're hot, but you ain't shit until you draw some bunnies.

Posted by Francis at 02:10 PM in Bunny Day | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 28, 2005

Can't stop the bunny

Two more readers get in the holiday spirit.

From Neilfred:

From Kath:

All you people rock the house.

Posted by Francis at 08:40 PM in Bunny Day | Comments (2) | TrackBack

The bunny train rolls on

Two more bunnies have arrived (not including this one you may have missed, from the comments).

From Colleen:

From Debby:

Come on, people, get your meme on. More, more bunnies to f [underscore] heaney [at] yahoo [dot] com. Or e-mail me for my snail mail address, send me drawings, and I will scan them in. If you're going to do something pointless, there's no reason to do it halfway.

Posted by Francis at 06:37 PM in Bunny Day | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Somehow I don't see the word "cockboxing" ever catching on

From Trip comes this article about how to save the cockfighting industry: give the roosters boxing gloves so they can't tear each other to shreds.

"Who's going to object to chickens fighting like humans do? Everybody wins," [Oklahoma State Senator] Frank Shurden said.

Well, not everybody wins. And they have a handy method for figuring out who doesn't.

Shurden said electronic sensors can record the number of hits by each gamefowl to determine which rooster won the boxing match.

Shurden is a big booster of cockfighting, outlawed not all that long ago in Oklahoma. He says, "Let the roosters do what they love to do without getting injured," not going on to elaborate that what roosters apparently love to do is beat the living crap out of each other. He should be getting flowers and chocolates from PETA any day now.

Posted by Francis at 12:02 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 27, 2005

And the bunnies keep coming

From Marc this time:


Don't be the last person on your block to celebrate Bunny Day. (I realize that is a rather open-ended exhortation.)

Posted by Francis at 10:26 PM in Bunny Day | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Somehow, I think everyone else in the world is thinking about different things than I am when they read these articles

One of my coworkers compiles a handout of the day's gossip pages each morning (which may explain this entry to anyone who was wondering what I was doing reading Cindy Adams), which means that I get a daily dose of the Post's horrible, horrible editorial cartoons. But today I thought to myself, maybe I'm just not giving this Sean Delonas fellow a chance. Maybe his work only seems shallow, and if I study it closely, I will discover a hidden layer of complexity and symbolism. And perhaps I will annotate that symbolism with blue magic marker and post it on my blog.


Elsewhere in the Post's gossip pages was this sentence, which I have rendered below with screwed-up spacing painstakingly replicated:

Keanu Reeves -- concerned about the deterio rating health of his be loved sister, Kim -- is keeping a low-key pres ence at Sun dance while promoting his upcoming flick, "Thumbsucker."

One extra space in a single sentence is an accident. Two is carelessness. Three is evidence of high blood alcohol content. Four??? Four is a conspiracy.

Posted by Francis at 05:37 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Bring on the bunnies

Rose has gotten into the Bunny Day spirit:


Who will be next?

Posted by Francis at 04:09 PM in Bunny Day | Comments (1) | TrackBack

On days like this, typing is much more attractive than talking

I have a sore throat today. Not a bad enough sore throat to keep me from going to work, but still. Meh. My voice is a little fainter and deeper than yesterday, and I was actually able to intone two pitches simultaneously as of about 9:00 this morning. I think Tuvan Throat Singing must have been invented by someone with congestion.

Anyway, because I have this sore throat, today I am eating soup, soup, soup. These are the preparation instructions on the can of Campbell's Chicken Soup that I just put in the microwave:

Heat, covered, in microwavable bowl on HIGH about 3 min. Careful, leave in microwave 1 min., then stir.

I love that (ungrammatical) "Careful". Like that will save you from litigation when clumsy people spill hot soup on themselves, Campbell's!

Posted by Francis at 01:52 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Today is "Reminisce About Whatever Holiday It Was Yesterday" Day

As you may recall, yesterday was Bunny Day (a secular holiday, as yet uncoopted by the greeting card industry). These, then, were the bunnies.



If any readers wish to draw belated bunnies and send them to me, they will be happily accepted and eventually posted.

Posted by Francis at 12:30 PM in Bunny Day | Comments (1) | TrackBack

People who don't care about subway rants should probably just move on

We New Yorkers like to gloat a bit when it snows -- you people in other cities have to dig out your cars, but we have subways! Well, the joke has truly been on us this week. On Sunday, neither the train within a reasonable distance from our house (the F) nor the trains that are really kind of too far from our house (the B and Q) were running; at least not where we were, in the land beyond where train tracks start creeping aboveground. (And then there's the whole mishegas with the A and C trains -- but we don't use those lines, so they're dead to us anyway.)

On Monday morning, the F was still kaput -- not that you would have been reasonably expected to know this, because the MTA hadn't posted anything about it on our token booth-free side of the station. One helpful commuter had pushed the gate closed and tied a handwritten "No F Trains" sign to it with red yarn. I ended up on the bus to the Q train with the woman who had written the sign; she pointed out the yarn in her bag. We realized en route that we actually had no idea whether the Q was running or not either, a fear that was only aggravated by the report of a girl sitting behind me who said that she had just talked to her mother on her cell phone and heard that there was no service this far out on the B/Q line. Well, terrific. And while her report turned out to be correct, things still worked out -- the token booth clerk was erasing the wipe-off board reading "No Trains" just as I walked into the station. The trains were alive again, if limping.

Coming home on the trains after work has also been a trial all week. On Tuesday, coming home latish after swing dancing, Rose and I waited an ungodly amount of time for an F train at 14th Street, a wait made particularly aggravating by the fact that trains kept arriving, just not F trains. Mostly, they were all D trains, trains which shouldn't even be stopping at 14th Street. And when they arrived, they just sat there. For ages. Arrrrrrrgh.

After such treatment at the hands of the D train, I felt extra-aggravated when the F train I was heading home on last night announced "Because of a sick passenger on a train at Broadway-Lafayette, this train will be going over the D line." This, after we had already sat in the tunnel for five minutes. Still, it sounded like an only minor annoyance: "For F train service to Brooklyn, please take the F directly behind this train." So, okay, I got out and boarded the next F, which did in fact arrive moments later. And then came the second announcement: "Because of a sick passenger on a train at Broadway-Lafayette, this train will be going over the E line, stopping at Chambers Street. This train will not be going to Brooklyn." Super. I got on a B and went to Church instead.

While the train can be vexing to the max, there are always bright spots. I was in a sour mood yesterday morning after waiting 25 minutes for an F to arrive (well, really I could have gotten on the one that arrived after 15 minutes, had I been the size of a pencil) and suffering through its sluggy pace into Manhattan. But when I transferred across the platform to an express at Broadway-Lafayette, everything suddenly got a lot more entertaining. Three black teenagers were having the loudest subway conversation I have ever heard in my life; they were all within arm's distance of each other, but they were shouting as if they were at opposite ends of a busy airplane hangar. The main participants were two siblings, a brother and sister. Apparently the brother took exception with the sister's sexual behavior. "YOU THINK I DON'T WANT TO FUCK EVERYTHING I SEE? SURE I DO! BUT I DON'T, 'CAUSE IT DON'T LOOK GOOD!" All righty! Point taken. A woman sitting down behind me leaned across the aisle to another fellow who was gazing in wonder and said, "They've been doing this for half an hour." Really quite impressive, if only as a display of pure lung power.

Posted by Francis at 12:10 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

January 26, 2005

Every day will be a holiday

According to the Captivate Network, today is National Compliment Day, traditionally celebrated by complimenting five of one's coworkers. I still have one to go, but so far I've told two people that they have great asses, one fellow that all the ladies want to get with him, and another fellow that his chinstache is surprisingly flattering. As for me, I have received several compliments on my sultry, Barry White-like voice, which is in a disorientingly low register today thanks to some throat virus or other.

Anyway, the reason I find "Compliment Day" so risible is because it reminds me of elementary school -- the way that some days would be randomly themed. In that vein, Emily and I tried to propose a competing holiday of "Bunny Day", to be celebrated by drawing bunnies for one's coworkers, but we didn't get further than drawing bunnies on Post-It notes for each other. Not that this wasn't worth it.

Speaking of elementary-school holidays, Valentine's Day is coming up. Why not surprise your sweetie with some rats?

Posted by Francis at 06:10 PM in Bunny Day | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Prom dress update

Jon writes to inform me of some shocking details of misreporting by the Post in their prom dress expose. See the update at the end of this blog entry.

Posted by Francis at 11:27 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 25, 2005

Aw, look at the cute widdle blogger pretend he has a readership

Sorry for the lack of entertainment today. Here are some links instead.

Do you know the way to Mordor? (Via Making Light.)

Holy crap people it's a track from the new Hot Hot Heat CD (via Stereogum.)

It's a prom dress. Of course it's safe for work. Right? Right? Well, perhaps it's just as well I'm posting it at 8 PM. (via Sugar, Mr. Poon?)

Posted by Francis at 07:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 24, 2005

Educated Bobless stupid, you listen stupid

If you've been following the Time Cube nostalgia action over at Incoming Signals, you'll certainly be excited to know that Honest Bob and the Factory-to-Dealer Incentives have finally released a new CD (available at CD Baby) featuring the song "Time Cube". Certainly a quick way to determine how many people in a bar have been to the Time Cube website is to persuade Honest Bob to play a concert there, request the Time Cube song, and wait to see how many people commence shooting beer out of their noses. (The CD is highly recommended in any case.)

Posted by Francis at 04:27 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

A coma indicates a pause

Two instances of comas in the news: The Red Sox fan with very bad timing and the Italian man with even worse timing.

(Sox item via Happyscrappy.)

Posted by Francis at 12:26 PM | TrackBack

Games cartoonists play

Here's a non-Mystery Hunt puzzle for you -- what song is this installment of Dinosaur Comics paraphrasing? (Answer in the comments this afternoon.)

Posted by Francis at 10:47 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

January 23, 2005

Don't you hate people who only write songs about their personal life?

Now that "Up on Islam" is available for download elsewhere, I've replaced it with one of my older songs, the acoustic version of my sorta-goth-but-not-really vampire tune, "The Ranks of the Undead".

Posted by Francis at 03:50 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 21, 2005

Oh, sure, blame the weatherman

Raleigh, North Carolina, is stymied by one inch of snow. I mean, yes, ice is not something you want to be driving on no matter how thick it is, but still: let's all take a moment to laugh at the misfortune of others.

But snow is not all about bewildering Southerners. There are other ways snow can enliven a slow news day.

Posted by Francis at 12:09 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 20, 2005

And god knows what people who use boustrophedonic writing do

After seeing the fourth item (or maybe it's the third) on this page, I have a question: do native speakers of languages that are not written from left to right tend to identify people in photos based on the direction they read and write? I would assume so, though it seems odd when it's mixed with left-to-right English text.

(And for the 99.99% of people who have no idea what the headline is about, here is the definition of "boustrophedon".)

Posted by Francis at 03:23 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

You keep on saying Perhacs, Perhacs, Perhacs

If the thought of a singer who's 80 percent Joni Mitchell and 20 percent Stereolab sounds appealing to you, I highly recommend ordering yourself a copy of Linda Perhacs's "Parallelograms", a 1970 album that was impossible to find until it was recently reissued. Yes, you've never heard of it. Yes, but you should have.

It's actually on its second reissue; the first was made from a vinyl copy of the album and was none too sonically impressive. After it was released, the label succeeded in tracking Linda down, and she provided them with the original master tapes, allowing them to produce a version of the album much closer to her original intentions. (She was quite unhappy with the LP mastering.) So they reissued the reissue, and added some bonus tracks and demos.

Anyway, you can order it from here (scroll down to find it) or just e-mail aceofdiscs@aol.com and ask for it, as I did. Three streaming audio samples are available at the bottom of this page.

Posted by Francis at 10:57 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 19, 2005

More on the Mystery Hunt

In case you feel like playing the home version of the Mystery Hunt, here are some puzzles I enjoyed (or thought were cool after I saw other people solve them), and that I think would make for good standalone solving:

Vanna's Nightmare
Bouncy Bouncy
Number Two Pencil
An Ax to Grind
Gallery Tour
Jungle Beats
Telephone Pictionary
Writers Bloc
Change of Clothes
Dirty Laundry

If you're not familiar with the whole Mystery Hunt thing, you may be alarmed at the utter lack of instructions accompanying most of these puzzles. That's just the way things work at the Hunt -- part of the puzzle is figuring out what to do. If you decide you'd like to try these, but aren't quite up for the whole stumbling-in-the-dark experience, drop me a line in the comments and I'll give you some pointers as to where to start and/or what you should be trying to do.

Posted by Francis at 12:19 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 18, 2005

This has been a lull. In the event of an actual hiatus, you would have been informed where to go for blog content.

Hello again. In case youve been wondering about the lack of posts, it's because since last Thursday night I've been either (a) in Boston at the MIT Mystery Hunt or (b) on my couch, recuperating from a cold. (Apparently, getting four hours of sleep a night and staying in close quarters with 25 other people for an entire weekend doesn't do wonders for one's immune system. Who knew?)

The Mystery Hunt was largely excellent, although the final puzzle was a frustrating one. Once we found the solution, it seemed ridiculous that we hadn't figured it out sooner -- although our feelings of idiocy were eased somewhat by the knowledge that no other teams had figured it out either. Basically, for at least 8 hours, any of about five teams could have won the Hunt by solving said puzzle; the handful of puzzles that followed were not especially difficult. All of us failed to accomplish this. Our team was the only team to eventually solve the puzzle without a hint; unfortunately, we did so about an hour after a previous team had been given a hint. (Because of everyone's seemingly endless stymiedness, Hunt HQ decided, not unreasonably, to release hints based on the times that teams had reached the point of having everything but the troublemaking puzzle solved.) Although we solved quickly enough to make up some of the lost time, it wasn't enough, and we ended up finishing a close second.

So that sort of sucked, but the Hunt itself, until the point where we got stalled, was quite good. My favorite bit was not a paper-and-pencil puzzle (although there were many excellent examples of those), but a runaround. Now, "runaround" is a sort of Mystery-Hunt-specific term, indicating a puzzle in which one receives a set of cryptic instructions that lead one on a path around campus, generally acquiring information along the way that will lead to an answer. This runaround was slightly different, in that it involved actual running. Around.

My teammate Jenn and I were met by a member of the team running the Hunt (Todd Radford, a onetime teammate of mine), playing the part of a tour guide. (The Hunt was set in "Normalville", and our job was to clean up the debris from a meteor shower that had struck Normalville and wreaked all kinds of havoc.) He began (I paraphrase, of course), in an outrageous Canadian accent, "Okay, hello, I'm from the Normalville Tourism Bureau, and I'll be your tour guide today. Now, I get a big bonus if I get 30 tour groups through today, so we might go a little fast, but just try to keep up, okay? Okay let's go!" And off he went. He would run, we would chase, and he would periodically slow down long enough to say things like, "On your left you'll notice a fascinating sculpture. You'll want to pay special attention to the last letter of the artist's first name okay let's go!" We almost lost him at one point, in a part of campus that was particularly filled with doorways and halls and turns (it was like a classic movie chase scene, where I'd open a door in time to see him turn down a hallway, and get to the hallway just in time to see him cut through a door), but caught up with him and survived to the end of the tour, though we needed to catch our breath at the end, and rewrite my notes so they would be legible on our trip back through campus to get the info we had no time to gather on our first loop. Jenn marveled at the fact that my "neat" handwriting was just as inscrutable to her as the things I'd scrawled when under time pressure.

Anyway, next year I will try to take more of my anti-stupidity medication, otherwise known as "sleep". Maybe that will help.

(Read more about the Hunt here.)

Posted by Francis at 05:20 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 12, 2005

Love knows no species

Who could be so cold as to not be moved by this poignant story of a bunny's forbidden love for a cat?

(Via Slumbering Lungfish.)

Posted by Francis at 08:45 PM | TrackBack

Strike up the bandwidth

Check it out -- the website for my book is now live. This means you can finally download the full set of MP3s which was previewed here. Yes, if you have ever wondered what the world would be like if songwriters wrote songs whose titles were anagrams of their names, you are truly in luck (and I'm glad that I implemented the idea before you did).

There are more songs on the way in various stages of completion; I'll certainly be notifying people here when they're available.

Posted by Francis at 12:29 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 11, 2005

Great moments in near-synchronicity

1) Lucretia Mott was an early suffragette.

2) David Bowie offered his song "Suffragette City" to the band Mott the Hoople, but they refused it. (Later they did record the Bowie composition "All the Young Dudes")

Coincidence? I think so.

Posted by Francis at 02:50 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

I believe you'll find they do have recorded messages out in the hinterlands

An item from today's Cindy Adams column (with awkward verb tense change from the first to the second sentence and dramatic font formatting left intact):

So this lady's phoning her friend. After she dialed the number, the cutting edge, sharp phone company interrupted her call with the recorded message: "The number you are calling has been either changed or disconnected."

Only in New York, kids, only in New York.

Is this a blind item? If it is, it's one of the most boring blind items in history. ("What film star was recently seen eating food...and washing it down with water?") And if it really is, as it seems, just a random anecdote, what in the world makes it worth reporting? Am I missing something here?

Posted by Francis at 11:56 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


Vending machine is back to normal. Just goes to show that if only one person takes a stand, eventually a week will have passed and the vending machine guy will come by on his regular rounds and fix the machine.

Posted by Francis at 09:52 AM | TrackBack

January 10, 2005

Working harder to scam you better

I regularly get scam e-mails purporting to be from PayPal (or eBay, or whoever), telling me that my account is in danger of being terminated if I don't go to some mocked-up website and enter my credit card info. But this one gets extra points for chutzpah:

Dear valued PayPal member:

It has come to our attention that your PayPal account information needs to be
updated as part of our continuing commitment to protect your account and to
reduce the instance of fraud on our website.


Posted by Francis at 02:37 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Gawker certainly has a lot more readers than I do

My hits for the day so far, by hour:


Posted by Francis at 11:07 AM | TrackBack

January 09, 2005

Unhappy vending

Okay, Gawker. You may have an insider at Conde Nast letting slip that James Truman is leaving the organization, or that the Conde Nast cafeteria is changing its hamburger buns. Big whoop. I've got a scoop on a totally "inside" story: three Conde Nast employees robbed of their hard-earned money thanks to a careless oversight by a company insider. Read on for the boring story that I managed to come up with a seamy-sounding lede for!

As you know, the Conde Nast building is very posh, and therefore every floor is stocked with a snack machine that offers both candy bars and soda. (This is New York, man! No room for separate candy machines and soda machines!) The sodas are dispensed from the bottom of the machine...


...and are stored behind this latched door just above.


Every so often, however, the guy who refills the machine will not latch the soda cabinet solidly enough, and the door will fall open, hitting the Plexiglas front of the machine.


This means that if you want to buy, say, a package of Pop-Tarts...


...you will be thwarted.



Here's a better look at the mayhem behind the door.


But wait! What's that down at the other end of the machine?


Apparently this luckless would-be snacker would've been left unfulfilled whether the soda latch had failed or not.


Now, I took all the previous photos on Thursday morning. (The pictures of the non-screwed-up vending machine were taken of a different machine, for comparison purposes.) On Friday at half past noon, I still had my camera in my backpack and was thus able to document that another person had failed to notice the wall of soda that lay between snacks and gratification.


At this point I really thought the story was over. But four and a half hours later, I discovered that poor observational skills had struck again.


Here's a sorta-panoramic shot of the full catastrophe.


I just have no idea how people manage not to notice a massive obstruction in the middle of a vending machine. I mean, unless you have memorized the fact that a Twix bar is C5, you need to actually look through the window of the machine before typing in your candy bar code, at which point one would imagine that the pile of sodas would become evident. (Especially since, as you'll note if you look at that last picture again, the Twix bar -- and the Snackwells cookies, for that matter -- are dispensed from directly above the trouble area.) Mysterious. Perhaps low blood sugar causes tunnel vision.

Posted by Francis at 03:34 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

January 06, 2005

Check it out

I just wrote my first check of the year last night, and I didn't even have a moment of accidentally starting to write "2004" and hastily correcting myself before writing "2005". I believe this is an unforeseen benefit of working at a magazine: At Cargo, we're already working on the April 2005 issue. As far as Conde Nast is concerned, it's been 2005 for months.

Posted by Francis at 02:02 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

January 05, 2005

Human misbehavior

I feel I must report on two instances of poor life etiquette from my morning commute.

You will recall my dislike of people who spread out their belongings on adjacent seats. This morning, I saw a woman who had placed her wet umbrella on the seat next to her. Another woman wanted the seat, and looked leerily at the water left behind after the first woman moved the umbrella. The first woman then lamely brushed the water away with her hand. Classy.

Later, my train developed random sluggishness. between Broadway-Lafayette and West 4th, and we were passed by an express train; that train was juuuuust starting to pull out of West 4th when my train pulled in. Our conductor says, "Next stop, 14th Street," the doors close...aaaand then we don't move. We sit there for a minute or so. Meanwhile, another express train pulls in across the platform. Our doors do not open. We continue sitting there. People have gotten off the other train and want to get on ours. Many of us would like to get off our train and get onto the express. Nothing. Time passes. Finally, our conductor notices the world around him and our doors open -- just as the other train is closing its doors. Brilliant.

Posted by Francis at 11:25 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 04, 2005

He just dropped in to see what condition our condition was in

Reading Language Log's story of fire alarms gone awry immediately reminded a bunch of us here at Cargo of the idiosyncratic language used whenever a fire alarm is set off in the Conde Nast building. First we are told this (question marks have been replaced with periods to more accurately convey the proper tone of voice):

"May I have your attention, please. May I have your attention. This is your fire safety command station. We have received a condition on the 16th floor."

That message then repeats once. When it later turns out that there is no fire after all, this message is heard: "After further investigation, it was an unwarranted alarm."

I just love the phrases "received a condition" and "unwarranted alarm". In particular, saying that one has "received a condition" makes me think that god has seen fit to give that person a chronic knee problem. Clearly no copyeditors worked on that script.

Posted by Francis at 02:17 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Spork plugs

Today I was thinking about sporks.

Sadly, most of the spork homepages on the web have gone by the wayside (I guess spork sites don't really pay for their own bandwidth), but much of the front page of one has been replicated here. Really, a lot of spork info gets copied from one website to another. It is all part of the great circle of life. (Cue Elton John music.)

Posted by Francis at 11:41 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

I'll try not to keep going back and re-editing it all year

...but I did just realize that I left my other favorite single of 2004 off my year-end list: Belle & Sebastian's "Your Cover's Blown". Oh, the life of an obsessive compiler.

Posted by Francis at 12:43 AM | TrackBack

January 03, 2005

Proposed pseudonyms for musicians (since "The Edge" is already taken)

Some of the sender names that have recently appeared in my (and Rose's) spam folder:

Stonework L. Carpathians
Gooiest E. Narrator
Conniving P. Desisting
Garland I. Climaxing
Nineteenths G. Popularizing
Costumed L. Pitchblende
Toscanini A. Spurts
Senselessness G. Chopping

Posted by Francis at 12:10 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

January 02, 2005


Rose and I went to our local bar to sing karaoke with friends this evening, as we sometimes do, but this time I made an effort to document some of the mistakes that appear in the undercopyedited karaoke lyrics. In the Beatles' "Across the Universe", for instance, the chorus ("Jai guru de va om") was rendered as "Hagaroo dayrah ohhh". I mean, yes, it's an odd-sounding phrase, but...the lyrics to Beatles songs are not hard to look up.

One delightful piece is misinformation appeared in the notebook in which one browses for songs to sing. For the song "Time Warp", the artist was given as "Rocky Mountain Horror Picture Show".

The main offender, though, was Elvis Costello's "Pump It Up". I had sung it once before and been amazed at its many lyrical errors. Having long intended to come back and attempt to transcribe the screwed-up lyrics, this time I finally remembered to come prepared. I printed out three copies of the lyrics, double-spaced to leave room for Rose and our friends to note where the karaoke lyrics diverged from reality. I also brought pencils. Anyway, here are the real lyrics, and here is what was on the screen:

I've been a dude who lurks
Ending in dirty looks,
List'ning to the Muzak,
Thinking 'bout this 'n' that.
She said that's that.
I don't wanna chitter-chat.
Turn it down a little bit
Or turn it down flat.

Pump it up when you don't really need it.
Pump it up until you can feel it.

Down in the pleasure center,
Hell bent or heaven sent,
Listen to the propaganda,
Listen to the latest Santa.
There's nothing underhand
That she wouldn't understand.

Pump it up until you can feel it.
Pump it up when you don't really need it.

She's been a bad girl.
She's like a chemical.
Oh you try to stop it,
She's like a narcotic.
You wanna talk to her.
You wanna talk to her.
All the things you bought for her,
Could not get a temperature.

Pump it up until you can feel it.
Pump it up when you don't really need it.

Out in the fashion show,
Down in the first tier,
You put your passion out
Under the pressure pier.
Fall into somethings,
Hit-and-run transmission.
No use wishing now for any other sin.

Pump it up until you can feel it.
Pump it up when you don't really need it.

There may have been a few more tiny discrepancies that went by too fast to catch, but that covers all the real howlers. (My favorite is the seasonally appropriate "Listen to the latest Santa.") I also recall a karaoke session a bunch of years back with my then-coworkers at Who Wants to Be a Millionaire that featured an extremely dubiously transcribed set of lyrics to R.E.M.'s "It's the End of the World as We Know It", which I'd love the chance to reread at leisure.

Posted by Francis at 01:37 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack