April 30, 2005

Give me your tired, your poor, your wanting to see Kate Bush's nipples

I get, I believe, at least one hit every day on the search query "Kate Bush naked" (thanks to this blog entry from a while back). Well, you know how I like to help people out who arrive here due to Google searches gone awry. And while I still can't come through with any naked Kate Bush photos, I believe this is as close as any of you searchers are going to get. I give you the cover of a Japanese bootleg LP which features a somewhat prominent right nipple. I know, salacious, isn't it? Anyway, here it is. Go then and be happy.

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P.S. -- Hi Kate Bush fans! It's lovely that you enjoy this image so much that you all want to put it on your MySpace pages, but please save it to your own servers instead of using my bandwidth. What's that? You don't have your own servers and that's why you're on MySpace? Then I cannot help you.

Posted by Francis at 02:52 PM | Comments (31) | TrackBack

April 29, 2005

To serve man

Six things.

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Posted by Francis at 05:02 PM in Six Things | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Copyediting 911!

Spotted this poorly written headline on IMDb yesterday:

Study Suggests Differences Between Black and White TV

Posted by Francis at 01:02 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 28, 2005

The primate directive

Six things.

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Posted by Francis at 08:37 PM in Six Things | Comments (6) | TrackBack

The Japanese are not like you and me

Debby sent me a set of links to Japanese plush toys that all involve an odd juxtaposition of cats and food:

Kitty McNuggets.
Kitty tempura.
Kitties for vegetarians. Note the miso cat, although my favorite is the radish cat:

cattish.jpg

Seriously, how awesome would this be? You're out working in your garden, "La la la, I think I'll pull up this radish oh my god it is a cat!!!!"

Maybe I have more in common with the Japanese than I thought.

Posted by Francis at 04:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Million-dollar Basho

Really, really nice write-up of Holy Tango by this bookstore owner. And it's also nice to hear that they've got me prominently placed on the counter!

Posted by Francis at 02:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Mama, don't let your monkeys dress up to be Nazis

Money quote: "You can not dress a horse like a Nazi." Sounds like a challenge to me!

(Via BeaucoupKevin.)

Posted by Francis at 10:33 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 27, 2005

Know your chicken

This is a whole lot of freaky to make a point about unfair economic competition. I have to admire that.

(Thanks to Jenny for the tip.)

Posted by Francis at 08:20 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Guilty as charged

Six things.

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Posted by Francis at 06:34 PM in Six Things | Comments (2) | TrackBack

There's something for everyone at Heaneyland

Whether you're someone who thinks I'm an idiot for liking bands that are signed to major labels (and being afraid of CDs that might not fit my consumer -- oh, the truth hurts), someone who thinks that the first thing I said to Rose when I woke up this morning was "Dude, I slept like crap last night because I was still so pissed off about that Kaiser Chiefs CD!!!", or someone who thinks I should maybe have better things to do than make nerdily themed mix CDs, Heaneyland is the place to be!

Posted by Francis at 04:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What to expect when you're expecting to get slapped because you're so clueless

Mr. Nice Guy provides some highly entertaining commentary on a book of bad advice for those in regular proximity to the baby-gestating.

Posted by Francis at 04:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 26, 2005

This cartoon is not meant to be used as a flotation device

Six things.

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Posted by Francis at 06:51 PM in Six Things | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Prepare to die...of cuteness!

It's a blog of cute animal photos. (I'm fond of this one in particular.) It's from Japan, of course. Where else?

(Via Jarkolicious.)

Posted by Francis at 01:55 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

New York, New York, it's a hell of a town; Eloise is up and Bartleby's down

My pal Randy Cohen is working on a very cool project: a map of Manhattan-based fictional characters' homes. He already had citations for all the ones I came up with off the top of my head, but maybe you can do better (or have more time on your hands with which to investigate).

Posted by Francis at 12:12 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 25, 2005

Toot-toot-tootsie, goodbye

Six things.

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Posted by Francis at 07:52 PM in Six Things | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Over and over

Here's something I discovered while trying to decide whether "over the top" needed to be hyphenated in an article I was copyediting: Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary doesn't know either! The phrase appears in the dictionary twice, once as a subentry under "top" and once as its own entry:

over_the_top.jpg

The definitions are slightly different, but not really different enough to warrant the phrase appearing in two places. It seems a bit...excessive.

Posted by Francis at 03:18 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Inaction figure

There is now a Precious Moments figurine of Emily Dickinson. It's very realistic -- bring it home and it never leaves the house!

Posted by Francis at 01:17 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

April 23, 2005

I predict a riot

It really annoyed me when CD companies starting putting FBI anti-piracy messages on the back of CDs. I was all like, shut up! I bought the CD. I'm contributing my goddamn money to your dark satanic mills! Get off my back!

The first such warning I remember seeing was on the back of Elvis Costello's "The Delivery Man". Elvis clearly wasn't pleased about it being there, adding this disclaimer above it: "This artist does not endorse the following warning. The FBI doesn't have his home phone number and he hopes that they don't have yours."

Well, I just bought the new Kaiser Chiefs CD -- which, I feel I should point out, I downloaded in its entirety before purchasing. You know, I was dubious about the album because I felt like, oh god, another cheeky young British band coming in on the heels of the Futureheads and their ilk, it can't be that good, can it? But I liked it quite a bit, so I threw it in the shopping cart the next time I went on one of my periodic CD binges (also buying all the Go-Betweens reissues that I did not already have, the new live Los Lobos album, and the new Beck).

When it arrived, I was mildly annoyed to see the back cover defaced with FBI chiding:

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Note that the warning is repeated twice!

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Maybe they figure people might not take the big flashy warning seriously, but if they see it in the fine print, they'll think, "Oh, crap, they really mean it!"

So anyway -- whatever, I thought. This is the world we live in. I put up with the idiotic "comics code" insignia in my youth, and I guess I can put up with this now. Then I opened the case and saw this:

kaiser3.jpg

Yes! They had stuck an anti-piracy warning smack in the middle of the CD itself! On top of a pretty spiffy design! This...is unacceptable. I know the white-on-off-white is hard to make out, so here's a Photoshopped-like-crazy close-up that makes the text more visible and may also provide a little frisson of remembering what it was like to go into the room with the blacklights at Spencer's Gifts when you were a kid:

kaiser4.jpg

This all seems like the dumbest fucking idea in the world. I just want to shake every single moron who works for the RIAA by the lapels and say to them, "Do you understand? The thing that makes me want to buy CDs is that I am a geek who enjoys having physical objects around. If you go around stamping ugly text directly on the artwork in a CD's packaging, you are decreasing my incentive to want to buy it, because you are making it objectively less attractive as an object."

Thank god I've got a big stockpile of cheeky British post-punk music to listen to when I've worked myself up into such a state.

Posted by Francis at 01:32 PM | Comments (60) | TrackBack

April 22, 2005

An e-mail-y post from Emily Post

Six things.

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Posted by Francis at 06:18 PM in Six Things

T2

You know what, I don't think we've had enough Mr. T yet this week. I think you all need to check out the Mr. T Rubber Duckie.

Posted by Francis at 10:36 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 21, 2005

Yes, I know it's supposed to be "Paree", but I had more jokes about New York than I did about Paris

Six things.

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Posted by Francis at 04:17 PM in Six Things | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Bloggers and lagers

New York-based Heaneyland readers may wish to swing by Solas (232 E. 9th St., between 2nd and 3rd Aves.) this evening for a big ol' bar-based get-together from 6:00 to 9:30ish. This is a semiregular event hosted by my friend Alexandra and two of her cronies (Sarah and Andrew), but this evening is distinguished by the fact that I will be serving as the DJ (or, more accurately, MP3J, a job that entails attaching my Rio to the stereo and hitting "shuffle"). We'll all be in a bar off the main room, on the ground floor; you can get in from the street through the glass double doors. If you come in and there is a bar to your left instead of straight ahead of you and all the way to the back of the room, you came in the wrong doors, but you can rectify the situation by looking for an unassuming door along the wall to your right which leads to the secret room where all the hip people are.

Posted by Francis at 02:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

So long, Oolong

I just now learned that Oolong, the bunny who balanced things on his head, died in early 2003. A brief remembrance by the owner is here. You can remember Oolong yourself by browsing the photo archives.

Oolong's owner now has a new rabbit, Yuebing, who also has some skillz, it seems. (Scroll down to fifth and sixth pictures.)

(Via Collision Detection.)

Posted by Francis at 12:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 20, 2005

Happy anniversary to me

Today marks the 50th installment of Six Things. Yes, this blog has been host to 300 things thus far, all in increments of six. Let's hear it for randomly self-imposed responsibilities!

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Posted by Francis at 06:51 PM in Six Things | Comments (4) | TrackBack

My eyes! The goggles do nothing!

Coworkers Andrew and Emily have been contributing to my productivity today by directing me to some motivational music videos. Feel free to watch them while I train to be in shape for the long jump in time for Mother's Day:

Mr. T vs. people who don't respect their mothers. (Update: Site is down, but see the comments for alternatives.)

Carl Lewis vs. the '80s.

I'm afraid I must insist that you watch both videos to the bitter end.

Posted by Francis at 11:40 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

April 19, 2005

And so on

Six things.

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

Bad news, good news

In case any of you have been thinking to yourselves, "Wasn't Francis supposed to do a reading in Washington, D.C., this week?" -- well, yes, I was. But the reading series was cancelled due to insufficient sales. Annoying, but whaddayagonnado. Can't say I'm surprised -- it's hard enough to get people to come listen to a humor reading when it's free.

But! I've just heard I'll be appearing on the Joey Reynolds show in the middle of the night on May 6, along with David Bader (Haiku for Jews) and A.J. Jacobs (The Know-It-All). Should be fun. More details when the date approaches.

Posted by Francis at 04:43 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

How'd you like to check out some legal briefs?

Apparently this fellow forgot that clients are not obliged to observe attorney-client privilege.

(Via Obscure Store.)

Posted by Francis at 03:46 PM | Comments (1)

April 18, 2005

Getting off the subway is always bittersweet

Because you're happy to have reached your destination...but then all the people you pass on the stairs are sad, because every single one of them just missed a train.

Posted by Francis at 07:32 PM

When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be itemized

Six things.

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Posted by Francis at 05:52 PM in Six Things

A band you've never heard of and CDs you'll never be able to find

A couple weeks ago I was once again reminded of a band I loved back in my college days, the Balancing Act. They were a eccentric folky band from California that was briefly signed to I.R.S., made two and a half very good but not so successful albums (New Campfire Songs, an EP; Three Squares and a Roof; and Curtains, produced by freakin' Andy Gill, people!), and vanished. I own all their albums on tape -- although, I must confess, I shoplifted them, because that was my preferred method of music acquisition when I was 18.

The last time I got curious about the Balancing Act and what ever happened to them, my investigation happened to nearly coincide with the release of a new album from bandmember Jeff Davis, who had started up a new band, Niagara. Niagara ended up releasing two CDs, both of which I own, and they're pretty good, although I didn't quite feel the old magic was entirely there; one of the things I most dug about the Balancing Act were their tight harmonies, and those were absent on Jeff's mostly-one-person singer-songwriter foray. Still, the CDs are worth having, and thank goodness I found out about them promptly, because the Niagara website is totally gone now.

This time around I decided it was time to try upgrading my old Balancing Act cassettes to CD, since the tapes were sounding a little creaky last time I listened to them -- and, more importantly, now that I have an MP3 player, I want those albums on it, and the tapes are totally useless for making decent MP3s. So I found the CDs on eBay (there are only two CD -- one of the CDs includes the EP), got outbid for them (and, I mean, I guess I should be pleased that I'm not the only person alive who remembers that band, but still -- couldn't you remember about them a different week?), but then managed to track them both down for cheap at two online used-CD sites, coming to about $15 total when you include shipping. Guess it's good I didn't give up and order from this guy, huh? (Though maybe I shouldn't gloat until the second CD actually arrives.)

Additionally, I discovered that another band that includes an ex-Balancing-Act guy among its members, MysteryPop (formerly Spanish Kitchen) had finally gotten itself organized and put out a CD. Haven't received my copy of the album yet, but the samples I listened to were promising. If you're feeling spendy, you can get yourself a copy at CD Baby -- and that CD is part of the $5 sale, where, if you buy three sale CDs, they cost only $5 each. I highly recommend these two CDs as your second and third choices.

At this point I must apologize if I've gotten you interested in a band that has largely disappeared from the face of the earth. But there are some MP3 rarities online that you could check out -- try the demos of "Dangerous Roof", "Leopard-Skin Pillbox Hat", and "She Doesn't Work Here", and the live version of "Red Umbrella".

Posted by Francis at 02:32 PM | Comments (6)

April 16, 2005

Fab ties

Recently, my friend Alexandra bought a tie at a thrift store for me. Here's a picture of it:

fab_ties_01.jpg

But, you see, it is not just any tie -- it is a Beatles tie.

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Not sure what's going on in the second of the two pictures. The top one seems like a plausible representation of "Let me whisper in your ear / Say the words you long to hear", but the other one seems more like "Let me whisper to your neck / All the facts you'll want to check" or something.

What Alexandra did not know was that I already owned a Beatles tie -- although I didn't realize this fact until, like, a year after I bought it. What can I say? I never looked at the back. And, I think you'll agree when you see the tie, the fact that it was meant to represent a song is not so much immediately apparent:

fab_ties_03.jpg

I mean, yes, I had noticed that there were recognizable graphic elements in there -- a clock, a phone, people's heads -- but I didn't give it much thought. It all seemed pretty random, and all I cared about was how freakin' well it went with this shirt:

fab_ties_04.jpg

Clearly, these two garments were meant to be together. Frequently, when I wear them, people ask if I bought them as a set. I mean, it would be interesting if Garanimals branched out in this fashion after so many years out of the public consciousness -- but no.

So, anyway -- can you tell what Beatles song this tie is meant to represent? I'll show you another image, from a little higher up on the tie, that may provide a hint:

fab_ties_05.jpg

If you're still stumped, click here for the answer.

(See crappy images of many other ties in the collection here.)

Posted by Francis at 05:33 PM in Ties | Comments (3)

April 15, 2005

Whip it good

Six things (special extra-hastily drawn tax day edition).

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Posted by Francis at 07:13 PM in Six Things

Whipping Post

As if the ongoing stream of bad editorial cartoons at the Post were not entertainment enough, today's cartoon features a delightful series of mistakes. As you know, we here at Cargo get a daily compilation of the day's gossip pages, which include the Post's cartoon. But I hadn't yet gotten a copy of that when Col advised me (in the Bill Frist comment thread) to check out today's offering from editorial cartoonist ordinaire Sean Delonas:

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How could it be better? A missing apostrophe after "boys" and a misspelling of "attendance"! Delightful. But then I received my daily gossip roundup and saw that someone must have sent a note asking for a correction...and given the result, I assume it was worded in this fashion: "The word 'attendance' is misspelled and punctuation is missing after 'boys'":

delonas-after.jpg

Yes, they changed the cartoon so that the speaker is referring to a single female teacher as if she is a group of boys. The only thing that could improve this is if "Principal" had been misspelled as "Principle" on the door.

Posted by Francis at 04:03 PM | Comments (3)

United stats

Well, this is entertaining. Amazon now lets you see the 100 most frequently used words in my book (as well as some other stats):

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I'm thinking their word-counting program ignores the word "the" and its ilk. Also note that my rating on the Fog Index is ideal. Boo-yah!

Posted by Francis at 11:29 AM | Comments (3)

Rulings, with an iron Frist

Well, what a lovely way to wake up. The top story on the New York Times website this morning is "Frist Set to Use Religious Stage on Judicial Issue":

As the Senate heads toward a showdown over the rules governing judicial confirmations, Senator Bill Frist, the majority leader, has agreed to join a handful of prominent Christian conservatives in a telecast portraying Democrats as "against people of faith" for blocking President Bush's nominees.

Fliers for the telecast, organized by the Family Research Council and scheduled to originate at a Kentucky megachurch the evening of April 24, call the day "Justice Sunday" and depict a young man holding a Bible in one hand and a gavel in the other. The flier does not name participants, but under the heading "the filibuster against people of faith," it reads: "The filibuster was once abused to protect racial bias, and it is now being used against people of faith."

Gosh! Did you know that every single judge that the Democrats have not blocked was an atheist or an agnostic? Neither did I! That's amazing!

Later in the article, John McCain once again proves himself to not be crazy:

Dr. Frist has threatened that the Republican majority might change the rules to require only a majority vote on nominees, and Democrats have vowed to bring Senate business to a standstill if he does.

On Thursday, one wavering Republican, Senator John McCain of Arizona, told a television interviewer, Chris Matthews, that he would vote against the change.

"By the way, when Bill Clinton was president, we, effectively, in the Judiciary Committee blocked a number of his nominees," Mr. McCain said.

Well, yes, thank you. And yet, somehow, it's hard to be heartened by calm statements of centrism when you have psycho nutjobs with massive amounts of followers who buy their crazy propaganda.

"As the liberal, anti-Christian dogma of the left has been repudiated in almost every recent election, the courts have become the last great bastion for liberalism," Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council and organizer of the telecast, wrote in a message on the group's Web site. "For years activist courts, aided by liberal interest groups like the A.C.L.U., have been quietly working under the veil of the judiciary, like thieves in the night, to rob us of our Christian heritage and our religious freedoms."

Yes! The courts, like thieves in the night, interpret the law based on legal precedent and our nation's Constitution in secret bunkers that speckle this great country like so many blackheads, and then take their decisions the moment they are written and lock them in a titanium safe ten miles below the planet's crust, only returning to the earth's surface by the light of the moon to feed on the flesh of the living and periodically urinate on holiday manger displays.

Now I really do need a shower.

Posted by Francis at 08:34 AM | Comments (3)

April 14, 2005

Kind to be cruel

Six things.

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Posted by Francis at 08:26 PM in Six Things | Comments (2)

How you gonna keep 'em down at the pharmacy?

Not that anyone here needs to be convinced, but Dahlia Lithwick has compiled a thorough collection of counterarguments to the idea that pharmacists should be allowed to impose their religious beliefs on women seeking contraceptives.

(Related: Now playing on iTunes -- Ben Folds, "Jesusland".)

Posted by Francis at 02:27 PM | Comments (2)

Apparently, looking for criminals is a good way to catch them!

Who knew? According to CNN:

More than 10,000 fugitives from justice have been captured in a nationwide, weeklong dragnet, law enforcement sources said.

[snip]

"We're really amazed. We had no idea we'd apprehend more than 10,000 bad guys," said one federal law enforcement official who asked not to be identified.

Seriously, though, I am impressed, and not just because the cute acronym for the project is less contrived than most (FALCON = Federal And Local Cops Organized Nationally). No, I'm impressed because some of these fugitives were really good:

Some targets were considered especially dangerous. In one case, an armed man was found in a cave under a trap door in his kitchen floor.

A frickin' secret cave, people! That's supervillain-class fugitivery. Kudos, FALCON.

Posted by Francis at 01:49 PM | Comments (1)

April 13, 2005

Are you ready to Ragnarok?

Six things.

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Posted by Francis at 06:25 PM in Six Things

I bet you they won't read this blog on the radio

I was not aware that WFMU had a blog until I caught up with the Stay Free! Daily archives today, but you can be sure I'll be wasting a lot of time there now that I know. I'm particularly enjoying The Happy Listener's Guide to Mind Control.

Posted by Francis at 03:10 PM

Mags of tricks

In case you haven't been keeping up with Panopticist's ongoing magazine-cover parodies, here's a recap for you:

Star (the smart version)
Us Weekly in the style of Harper's
Sly in the style of a similarly named magazine of yore
Understatement Weekly
Parents goes overboard with logo-obscuring graphics

These are not parodies, but you might be forgiven for thinking that they are:
Guitar World
Virtual City

Posted by Francis at 12:10 PM

April 12, 2005

My money's on Andrew, honestly

Six things.

ipod.jpg

Posted by Francis at 06:55 PM in Six Things | Comments (3)

Geddy leaves

There are a lot of people who do not share my love of the cheesy prog band Rush. Generally, their objections fall into one of three categories:

1) I don't like Geddy Lee's voice.
2) Geddy Lee's voice makes me want to scream.
3) If I could rip Geddy Lee's vocal cords from his throat with my bare hands, I would.

Well, there is a solution to all three problems: a mash-up that replaces Geddy Lee with Annie Lennox. You're welcome.

Posted by Francis at 03:32 PM | Comments (14)

April 11, 2005

On the Dolby

Six things.

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Posted by Francis at 05:18 PM in Six Things | Comments (9)

No this, no that

On the way to the subway this morning, I saw a car with a sign tucked behind the windshield. I (and, I'm sure, you) used to see this all the time, usually involving a sign reading "NO RADIO". But I didn't know what to make of this sign, which said, "NO HID. LIGHTS IN CAR". I...just have no idea what sort of theft that is meant to prevent.

When I got off the subway, I swung by the bank machine vestibule on 42nd to deposit some checks. There was someone arriving just ahead of me -- and, happily, it was a fellow who knew which of the four possible orientations of a bank card is the one that will open the door, so I didn't have to wait for him to figure it out, as I sometimes do -- but when he went for the door, there was no handle. Between the two of us, we got it open; he swiped his card again, and I pried the door open. I opened the door from the inside for a few people while I was there, and they all went through the same dramatic arc: swipe card, walk to door, reach for handle -- look absolutely nonplussed. Hope they plan on fixing that sometime soon.

Posted by Francis at 02:16 PM | Comments (3)

April 08, 2005

Attempted shopping synergy

Just noticed an amusing result of the BoringBoring project. Remember this ad?

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Clicking on it took you to an Amazon page where you could buy plain white T-shirts. Well, add that to the Holy Tango link and this is what you get:

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Speaking of Holy Tango, I noticed that a few people have recently commented about it here and there on the Web. (Cute how I say "noticed" like it was an accident, and I wasn't Googling myself.) This bookstore included a glowing blurb about the book in their newsletter; I must say I am fond of the phrase "screamingly funny", especially when it is applied to me. And you know what phrase is almost as sweet? "Impulse buy". Slightly less exciting is "A collection of parodies of poets and dramatists", but at least it's true, and it is, after all, evidence that someone who I do not know personally bought my book, which is the key to success as an author.

Posted by Francis at 09:45 PM

Talking heads

Six things.

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Posted by Francis at 07:21 PM in Six Things | Comments (1)

Shell game

Six Things will be late as usual today (assuming I manage to finish it at all), but here is some visual entertainment to tide you over -- a brief commentary on today's installment from the ever-underwhelming Sean Delonas, editorial cartoonist at the New York Post. (Drawing in the missing comma is left as an exercise for the reader.)

mariano.jpg

Posted by Francis at 06:26 PM | Comments (2)

I'm gonna sit right down and not write a bunch of letters

My lipogrammatic* reviews of six of my favorite books are online today at The Week. Check it on out.

*Lipogrammatic = avoiding one or more letters of the alphabet. More examples here.

Posted by Francis at 10:49 AM | Comments (2)

April 07, 2005

Foul deeds

Six things.

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Posted by Francis at 07:34 PM in Six Things | Comments (2)

The Department of Homeland Security has issued a cuteness alert

It's not the Gates, but I, for one, am very psyched about this art opening.

And if you miss the Gates, you can relive the audio portion of the experience (in text format) here.

Posted by Francis at 04:23 PM

April 06, 2005

My bad influences

Six things.

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Posted by Francis at 10:32 PM in Six Things | Comments (1)

Seriously, what the hell?

You all know how much I hate the New York Post's editorial cartoonist. But I have absolutely no idea what he's trying to imply with today's cartoon, which depicts Princess Di as a sleeping Snow White, and Prince Charles on the arm of Camilla, drawn as a wicked crone holding a poison apple. Charles is saying "No, we're not cancelling the wedding, just postponing it."

Okay. Let's....just think about this for a second. Is he saying that Camilla Parker-Bowles had Diana killed? And that Diana would come back from the dead if Charles just kissed her? Is he imputing some sort of ulterior motive to the delay of the wedding? What motive would that be, exactly? And what the fuck is Bambi doing there? (Or is that Rudolph?) What. the. hell.

Assistance in the interpretation of this cartoon would be heartily welcomed.

Posted by Francis at 11:31 AM | Comments (7)

We download as one

This is quite a video. I believe I may have been supporting the troops merely by watching it. Emily and I decided the singer was sort of a cross between Geddy Lee, Steve Perry, Weird Al Yankovic, and Eric Idle. Idly Weird Geddy Perry.

Posted by Francis at 10:56 AM | Comments (3)

April 05, 2005

Let's see how far I can take this thing

Since my last birthday list worked out so well...

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Posted by Francis at 08:03 PM in Six Things | Comments (2)

We are such stuff as memes are made on

Herewith, for anyone who may be interested, a brief history of BoringBoring.

As regular readers know, I am a wordplay dork, and constantly notice little word-related things (like the sign on the way to the Church Street F station that reads "Deval's" -- which is "slaved" backwards). So I noticed (or perhaps "re-noticed" is more correct) that "Boing" changes to "Boring" reeeally easily, and I thought I'd make a little fake Boring Boring logo in Photoshop. All the letters for "dull" were used in the word "wonderful" at the bottom of the logo, so changing that text was easy to do as well.

I hadn't really thought much about whether there was anything else to do with this idea. I vaguely thought it might be fun to do a parody site filled with links to deathly boring webpages, but I felt low on the requisite technical know-how. Then, in March, I was at a party at Jim and Alexandra's apartment, and I mentioned my half-formed idea to Jim, who immediately lit up. "That's a great idea," he said. "Have you registered the domain yet?" I hadn't, but he did (at least the one that was available), and suddenly the project was on.

It has always been the case that I work better when I am under deadline. So once the concept turned into something I was actually doing, I started cranking out material. I tidied up my half-finished logo, and e-mailed it to Jim. Rose suggested I recruit a Web designer friend of ours, Debby, into the project. I knew she'd be an asset, but it hadn't occurred to me how much of an asset she would be until I told her, "Yeah, I don't really know what to do with the jackhammer girl" and she turned around and made her a sleeping girl, complete with animated snoring.

I learned a lot about Photoshop last month. Many of the ad parodies were mine, and making some of them required me to learn new skills (like, I had to make most of the background of the Slep ad transparent when dropping in a new background image, so I wouldn't need to worry about the logo alignment changing; this is something I would not have had any clue about a month ago, so I felt pret-ty smooth about it). It took me several tries to tweak the Suicide Girls logo into something sufficiently studious. Using the logo from the actual BoingBoing ad didn't work, because it was too small for me to modify well enough. So I took the logo from the main Suicide Girls page instead, cropping the hair and adding glasses and a shirt, and left the logo a little larger than usual in the finished ad, the better for people to see the modifications.

A lot of people, once the site went live, wondered who was behind it. This guy checked to see who had registered the domain name (Jim, under a pseudonym) but was still, as of his last post on the subject, "looking for clues" as to who was behind the site. I guess his investigations didn't extend as far as, oh, clicking on all the "thanks" links on the page to see who they linked to, which might have given him some idea, especially after Jim and I confessed our involvement on both our blogs. And honestly, it was barely a secret in the first place. The folks at BoingBoing were onto us right away.

Of course, the fact that about 20 minutes after we got BoingBoinged in the first place, our server died a sad, choking death also had something to do with it. Jim speedily set up a mirror on his webpage and Xeni, savvy Internet person that she is, suspected that perhaps he might have something to do with the site, writing, "That, sir, is a brilliant piece of work. If you were involved in it -- man, our hats are off to you." At that point he rightly assumed that we would all rather bask in praise than maintain our semi-anonymity, and fessed up on all our behalfs, also pointing out the sekrit message hidden in the metadata, right after all the keywords:

[meta name="Keywords" content="arid, bomb, bromidic, bummer, characterless, cloying, colorless, commonplace, dead, drab, drag, drudging, dull, flat, ho hum, humdrum, insipid, interminable, irksome, lifeless, monotonous, moth-eaten, platitudinous, plebeian, prosaic, repetitious, routine, spiritless, stale, stereotyped, stodgy, stuffy, stupid, tame, tedious, threadbare, tiresome, tiring, trite, unexciting, unvaried, vapid, wearisome, well-worn, zero"] [meta name="Greetings" content="Hi Mark, Cory, David, Xeni and John. We kid because we love. But Josh, we're serious. Mod-u-late."]

When things were still going a bit haywire on the tech end of things, an entirely-unrelated-to-us fellow stepped in to take some of the heat off our server by setting up a mirror (which lacked some graphics, like the Studious Girls rollover). The thing I found most interesting about his mirror is that while most people posted his link as an adjunct to the regular boringboring,org address, quite a few people linked to it as if it were the real page. Odd. Sloppy.

I don't so much care that he posted the mirror -- it's not like he tried to claim authorship in any way -- but as a control freak, it bugs me that the copy of the page is imperfect. Also, his page doesn't include the update about "Cory's" (really Ernest Miller's) DMCA takedown notice -- which, incidentally, we could not have been more delighted to hear about, because it had actually been our plan from day one to add a post sometime on the afternoon of April 1 reporting that we'd been served with a cease-and-desist letter. Jim was going to write it, but then a real lawyer went and wrote it for us! Awesome.

Quite a few people got fooled by Ernest's follow-up joke, including this person. iZ Reloaded reader Roy was helpful enough to point out exactly one of the three people responsible for the site, apparently being too averse to research to read anything.

Anyway, the whole thing was lots of fun to do, and the collaboration went very smoothly. Big ups to Jim for getting slashdotted on his own blog (for uncovering the "toothing" hoax), thus keeping our BoringBoring hits alive -- almost up to 50,000 so far. Dude, that's already more than half as many total hits as my blog has gotten since it debuted a year and a half ago. Damn.

(Small update on the above over at Jim's blog.)

Posted by Francis at 12:30 PM | Comments (8)

April 04, 2005

Single-minded

Six things.

dollar.jpg

Posted by Francis at 09:17 PM in Six Things | Comments (4)

Clip service

Someone found my blog by searching on the phrase "how to wear a tie clip". Since I believe in helping people, I will attempt to answer his query.

1) Put on a shirt
2) Button it
3) I hope you have pants on, because now I'm going to tell you to tuck that shirt in
4) Put on a tie
5) Pick up tie clip, grasping it firmly between your thumb and forefinger
6) Squeeze it
7) Slide it so that the negative space within the clip is replaced with a combination of tie fabric and shirt fabric; attempt to accomplish this without pushing the tie off-center in the process
8) Vertical placement of the tie clip is a matter for your own aesthetic consideration; I personally favor a fairly low position on the tie (a little more than halfway down the shirt), but whatever works for you. Like, if you want to wear it really high on your shirt and look like an idiot, that is your right. Do, however, try to avoid aligning the clip exactly with one of the shirt buttons. Use this handy mnemonic to remember: "On the button, ain't worth nothin'; in between, lookin' keen."
9) You are now ready to face the world.

Posted by Francis at 03:49 PM in Ties

Prepare yourself for the lamest pun in the history of mankind; it is based on the name of an actress and requires lisping: Penguin ith not paltry

Lots of people prank websites on April Fool's Day (at least three that I can think of), but how many people do you know of who pranked penguins?

(Via Peripatetic Circumambulant.)

Posted by Francis at 02:53 PM

35 and counting

So Rose threw a birthday party for me this weekend, and it was awesome. You may recall that I posted this cartoon not so long ago. Well, Rose included a link to it in the party invitation, and I have since learned that when you post a wish list online, things get done. Did I get CDs? Yes I did. I finally got a copy of Camper Van Beethoven's "Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart", and James brought me a CD by someone he discovered and thought I would like (Vic Thrill) -- and he was correct, I like it very much. What about ties? Well, the boxes weren't bottomless, but I did get quite a few ties, all just my sort of thing, one of which was emblazoned all over with little drawings of Oscar the Grouch.

But surely no one brought me a red panda, right? Well, check this out!

panda.jpg

Yes, that is correct -- you are looking at a cake topped with a red panda made of many different colors of melted chocolate. So. Fucking. Amazing. Our friend Amber made and frosted the cake (with a delicious coffee-flavored cream cheese icing) and Mary made the panda.

Okay, okay, so I got a red panda. But a swing set made of chocolate? That's not even--

swings.jpg

Yes. In addition to baking the cake, Amber also made me a Hershey's Special Dark swing set. I am still in awe about the whole thing. My friends are the coolest.

Other snippets about the party and the preparations for it:

Rose and I savvily ordered most of our party supplies from Fresh Direct, to save me from carrying five bottles of soda and three six-packs and god knows what-all else back from the grocery store. Unfortunately, they screwed up our order, forgetting the cranberry juice and accidentally misreading the "one six-pack of Brooklyn Brown Ale" as "one bottle of Brooklyn Brown Ale" (this is especially mystifying because they do not sell beer by the bottle). So I still ended up carrying way too much stuff back from the store, in the rain. Bleh.

I did manage to complete my shopping trip in less time than it takes to play the Futureheads CD, which was good, because the rest of the time for the party was allotted for cleaning, and there was a lot of it to do. The most obsessive moment of my cleaning process was, I believe, when I washed my mouse pad. (But it was filthy! And now it is beautiful!)

While setting up for the party, I left one magazine on the table: a copy of Action Pursuit Games magazine that I found on the street one day and picked up for amusement value. I did this just in hopes that someone would see it, fail to notice that it was from 2001, and ask about it; happily, someone did. Carrie spotted the magazine and asked me, "Who's the paintball enthusiast?" and I was off. "Oh," I said, deadpan, "That's me. Yeah, ever since I started working at Conde Nast I've totally gotten into it. It's weird, there's this whole paintball culture there. We play the other magazines once a week. Last week we played Vogue and we kicked their asses. Glamour is the worst, though; those guys fight dirty." She was still with me (although Charles/Ugarte thought I gave away the game as soon as I said we played every week, and he's dead right; I should have claimed that there was a match every week, but that each magazine played, like, once every two months) and asked where you can play paintball in the city. At this point I confessed that I had been making everything up. Someone else complained, "Hey, April Fool's Day was yesterday," and I replied, "That's true, but my birthday is April Fool's Day, and we are celebrating my birthday today, so I consider this to be April Fool's Day (observed)." It's sophistry like that which makes people want to spend time making me red pandas and swing sets, I'm sure.

Posted by Francis at 11:38 AM | Comments (3)

April 01, 2005

State of the prank

Boring Boring is going very nicely (25,000 hits and counting as of this moment), and if you haven't checked it since this morning, you might want to read the update. Props to my collaborators, Jim and Debby. We are all loving the awesome response, like all the comments at Metafilter, although Cillit Bang misreads our intentions considerably (I guess he didn't check out the metadata):

I love how the Boing Boing people don't seem to get that this is actually rather vicious and wouldn't be worth doing if the original didn't suck.

Clearly he doesn't see that only people who are fans of a site would expend so much effort parodying it. The only other particularly negative (or at least halfhearted) comment I saw was over at Making Light, where Teresa Neilsen-Hayden says our parody "unfortunately ... succeeds in being dull." Ah well. I can't get too worked up over it, when all I really care about is all the e-love sent our way by my Internet crush Xeni.

And, yes, to elaborate on one of the new Boring Boring links, someone else has posted their own Boing Boing parody, Gakker. The graphics are more of the hastily knocked-off variety and less of the where-did-the-last-two-weeks-go variety, but it's still pretty amusing. What's with the name, though? Did they plan to do a Gawker parody and then get sidetracked?

Posted by Francis at 04:54 PM

On this day in (recent) history

If you're someone who started reading this blog less than a year ago, you might be amused by last year's April Fool's Day prank. (It involved a lot less Photoshop.)

Posted by Francis at 11:18 AM

Happy birthday to me!

To celebrate my birthday, I'm going to take the day off -- from drawing Six Things (which will return Monday). But if you need some amusement, you surely won't want to visit a page as dull as BoringBoring. (Note that the preceding link has sporadically been down because, apparently, a lot of people enjoy reading boring things. You may have to access the mirror.)

Posted by Francis at 12:28 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack