April 30, 2007

Gettin' down with my peeps

I love science, because it brings us important advances in technology like dancing squishy robots that look like baby chicks. After you've watched Keepon adjust to the changing rhythms of a disembodied human hand playing a bongo, click on "Keepon dances to Spoon" to see what every audience member at a concert in New York would look like if they were a robot Peep.

(Thanks to Bill for the link!)

Posted by Francis at 09:31 AM | Comments (3)

April 29, 2007

Pedestrian taxonomy

As someone who walks quickly, and who still gets agitated about people with poor sidewalk skills even as I have gotten mellower about many other things that used to drive me crazy, I have developed a classification system to describe the various different ways in which other pedestrians contrive to get in my way.

1) Amblers

The most common sidewalk nuisance, these are the people who are in no particular hurry, ever. Sometimes they are tourists. More often they are people who apparently have nowhere to be, but are on the sidewalk anyway.

2) Millers

These are people who have run into each other on the street, or just come out of a restaurant, and are conducting their conversation smack in the middle of sidewalk traffic.

3) Meanderers

They may or may not be walking slow enough to be amblers, but they're walking slower than you, in any case. Their main trait, however, is that they do not walk in a straight line. They drift from side to side, making it difficult to get around them without getting into their personal space.

4) Spacers (aka Expanders)

Speaking of personal space, we have these people, who are walking in a group, but keep a larger distance between all members of the group than usual, thus taking up far more space than is necessary or reasonable. Two spacers can take up a regular-width sidewalk, but even one person can expand their own personal space to an inconvenient size by swinging their arms too far to the side while they walk.

5) One-siders

These are people who come out of a restaurant/store/whatever, and look one way...and then immediately turn and start walking in the other direction without looking in that direction to see if anyone's coming, thus causing many collisions or near-collisions.

More classifications may come to me later, but I think that covers the essentials. There is one specific sort of meanderer I would like to point out, though, and that is the person who looks behind themself over their shoulder as they walk. I highlight this brand of meanderer because I can offer advice about them: if someone is turning and looking over their right shoulder, they're about to start drifting to the right (and vice versa), since turning your head that far to the side pulls the whole body in that direction. Thus if you're trying to get around someone and they turn to look over their shoulder, go the other way.

Anyone else have any types of sidewalk behavior that irritate them?

Posted by Francis at 11:53 PM | Comments (24)

April 25, 2007

More Tales from the Search Query Crypt

Clearly I should've saved up all of yesterday's search strings, since more memorable ones have been coming in steadily. Here's another:

a tatoo that is a poem about a little boy crying with the grim reaper

Since I like to help people, I did a little searching for this tattoo myself, but had no luck finding it, although I think I got a tiny bit gothier in the process.

Posted by Francis at 07:34 AM | Comments (2)

April 24, 2007

Still obsessed with how our country is going to hell

Man, I am all about the dwelling on the Orwellian crap today. Maybe it was reading Naomi Wolf's diagnosis of our early signs of Creeping Totalitarianism Syndrome this morning. Now I'm steamed about this professor being denied entry to the U.S. for having used LSD 30 years ago. I bet we let Paul McCartney come perform some concerts though.

Posted by Francis at 03:57 PM | Comments (1)

Frettin' to the oldies

Of course, while the not-politicized-in-the-least Department of Justice is busy with teensy-tiny voter fraud cases of dubious merit, there is that one suspected voter fraud case they seem strangely uninterested in checking out.

Posted by Francis at 02:35 PM | Comments (0)

Another search query

...but I was actually kind of interested in this one. Someone asked Google, "Has Jeopardy! ever had a one dollar champion?" The answer is "yes", according to the Database of Champions: Col. Darryl Scott won the game with $1 on January 19, 1993. The record for the lowest total winnings is $100 (Jimmie Bucci, "1988-ish").

Posted by Francis at 11:02 AM | Comments (7)

Hit parade

More search queries from my referral logs.

1) Modest Mouse you bug me

Yeah, Modest Mouse! What the heck is your deal, anyway? Think you're so big with your #1 album and your Johnny Marr. Just step off.

2) dont want to play just want to be a winner when the main contestant wins & they call your number

This is, of course, how vice presidents are chosen.

3) writing you in confidence

Dude, it's a scam!

4) lopping of sweaters

At first I thought this was a really inept query about knitting, but then I realized it was probably someone confused by a spoonerism. Since I later got more hits on the same search string, I assume it appeared in a crossword, and based on the location of the referrals, I assume that puzzle appeared in India.

5) amputee water polo

This is one of those search queries that you joke about. Then someone actually comes looking for it. Go figure.

Posted by Francis at 08:46 AM | Comments (0)

In which we learn that copy editors should also have a rudimentary knowledge of math

Do you think the people who wrote this ad meant to say that the minimum sentence for illegal possession of a gun is 1.73 years? Because I don't think they did.


My guess is that this particular mistake (thinking for some reason that a fraction should be superscripted) is related to the weird feature in Microsoft Word that wants to automatically superscript the endings of ordinal numbers -- the "st" in "1st", the "nd" in "2nd", etc. -- a formatting choice that I'm pretty sure Microsoft concocted out of thin air. Either that or no one could figure out how to insert a proper fraction character.

Posted by Francis at 12:45 AM | Comments (6)

April 23, 2007

The Tie Project, days 107 to 113

I wear ties so you don't have to.

Day 107. This is one of the ties Rose got me for my birthday this year, with a patchwork shirt that's two plaids in a checkerboard pattern.


Day 108. Another tie that was a gift from Rose; she brought this one back from a trip to Louisiana. Sort of an unusual color for me, but then it ended up going perfectly with this shirt, both in terms of color and pattern echoing.


Day 109. I bought this shirt and tie on the same trip to the Garment District, while Rose and I were attending the 2004 National Puzzlers' League convention in Boston. I liked the outfit so much I ended up wearing it in the convention photo.


Day 110. Kind of a backup outfit. I have a slight prejudice against shirts with two pockets. What is it about two pockets that makes any shirt into a safari shirt? Do people on safaris just need so many pens that one pocket is not sufficient to hold them all?


Day 111. Now this outfit I'd completely forgotten about; I pulled it out because I had been reminded of it by seeing some old photos taken at yet another NPL convention (2000 in San Francisco). I'm not sure I've ever worn the outfit since then, honestly. Rose, astutely enough, looked at the outfit and said, "I like that outfit, but it somehow doesn't seem like the sort of thing you normally wear these days."


One thing that's different about the outfit is that I wear it with a vest (a regular vest, not a sweater vest). I used to wear vests pretty frequently but don't really do so anymore. Getting two busy pieces of clothing to match is usually hard enough. Here's this outfit with vest, though:


Day 112. Lorinne spotted the shirt while she and I were shopping at Daffy's, and I believe Rose said as soon as I brought it home, "Ooh, I bet that will go with the lizard tie." She was right. This combination reminds me of Ukrainian Easter eggs.


Day 113. This was the day of the massive rainstorm, and a day I probably would have spent indoors if we hadn't been meeting for dim sum with a friend visiting from out of town. Since I had to go out in the wet, I wore something appropriately pluvial.


Posted by Francis at 12:47 AM in Ties | Comments (3)

April 22, 2007

Boom, slang

Got no prior plans for Sunday evening? Opinionated about words? You may then be interested in an online chat about slang and whether it revitalizes language or makes it crappy. Handling the "A" part of the the Q&A will be Grant Barnett, cohost of A Way With Words and a very funny guy who I have, several times, nearly come to blows with while playing a parlor game in which players try to guess what famous person's name is stuck to their forehead on a Post-It note. What can I say, we're people with strong opinions. Fortunately, it hasn't diminished what is otherwise a high mutual regard. So check out the chat, if you're around.

Posted by Francis at 02:55 AM | Comments (1)

April 18, 2007

In other news

On any day when there hadn't just been a horrible, tragic school shooting, I suspect the news that the Supreme Court has upheld the ban on partial birth abortions would be the top story at the Times. Time to start lobbying Congress to repeal that, I guess. (Not feeling very optimistic about it, though.)

In the category of "news that shouldn't be news to anyone", it turns out that riding in a car without a seatbelt is dangerous, especially if the car is going more than 90 miles an hour.

Also, in case you haven't been obsessively following the story as I have, the real scandal behind the attorney firings is starting to emerge: the Bush administration's attempts to aggressively prosecute bogus voter fraud cases as a way to provide a pretext for voter ID laws that will serve to suppress the turnout of low-income voters; and its attempts to dig up scandals with which to smear Democratic candidates, even when those scandals are entirely trumped-up. If only eight attorneys weren't playing along, I'm a little concerned about the rest. I think we're all veeeeeerrrrrry lucky that the Dems eked out a victory in both houses of Congress so that this wouldn't all stay uninvestigated.

Posted by Francis at 11:59 AM | Comments (0)

Screw you guys, I'm going to St. Mark's to buy used CDs

Me as a South Park character:


Go here to make your own.

(Thanks to Bill for the link!)

Posted by Francis at 01:05 AM | Comments (4)

April 17, 2007

Do these tits make me look smart?

Breast implants: You've never looked smarter.

Did we change our stereotypes and I didn't notice? I thought glasses were what made you look smarter. Maybe Hollywood's opinion of what scientists look like is catching on.

(Thanks to Rosa for the link.)

Posted by Francis at 09:18 AM | Comments (3)

April 16, 2007

The Tie Project, days 98 to 106

What? Taxes aren't due until Tuesday? I'm posting about ties, then.

Day 98. The shirt is a recent acquisition from Daffy's; it didn't occur to me when I was buying it, but when I brought it home I realized it would go with my Valentine's Day tie from Lorinne (last seen on day 67). I think I like this shirt better with it. The colors seem a little Easter-y, so I wore this outfit again at my birthday party (held on Easterween).


Day 99. One of my more sedate shirts. Rose jokes that if I wore this shirt with jeans and no tie, I could pass for a computer programmer. Until I opened my mouth, anyway. The tie is a Rooster, and it's hard to express how much I adore it. It's Madras and batik and there are Hindu gods on it! Awesome.


Day 100. Whoo! Milestone! I'm celebrating (he said, as if he planned this in the slightest) by wearing a colorful patchwork shirt and patchwork tie. There are other fabrics in the shirt, they're just not visible in the photo.


Day 101. Swordfishes and a seaside color scheme; this is the outfit I typically wear when I go watch the Mermaid Parade. I should take that tag off the pocket, though.


Day 102. Here's another example of my buying a tie without really recognizing what I was buying. I thought these were just cute Japanese-looking drawings; in fact, they are Tamagotchis. I don't really mind this, since I don't think anyone really remembers Tamagotchis anymore or what they looked like. I think they go nicely with the colored-in-with-crayon look of the shirt.


Day 103. Didn't I just wear this shirt? Yes, I did. See, this past set of photos was all taken around my birthday, and Rose and I had made plans to meet up for brunch on my birthday at Miracle Grill. But sneakily enough, she had planned a mild surprise by inviting Rob, Lorinne, Cindy, and Derek to join her, thereby making a mini-surprise party. Cindy and Derek showed up each wearing a tie, which they then presented to me as we parted. (The combo I'm wearing in the photo isn't documented here, since it's a repeat of day 20.) I wanted to wear at least one of the ties promptly, and I knew this shirt would be good with the one Derek had been wearing, so I trotted it out again.


Day 104. Another well-adored combination. I bought the tie first, even though it was in some ways not quite in my idiom; I liked the color scheme and the fabric's rippling-water texture. Not too long after, I saw the shirt at the flea market in Park Slope and thought, "I bet this will go with that tie." The colors were perfect, and the speckles on the shirt remind me of raindrops on pavement, which goes well conceptually with the raindrops-on-water tie fabric.


Day 105. I've had this shirt for a while; the tie just recently arrived by mail, a gift from my friends Cally, Andy, and Elaine in Boston. They were shopping at one of my favorite used clothing stores, the Garment District, and found some ties they thought I'd like, so Cally took cameraphone photos of them and sent them to Rose's phone so she could show them to me to get my approval. We received the cameraphone pics as we were walking home from the vet visit where our beloved cat Celestine was put to sleep and were feeling extremely despondent and bereft; it was cheering to find that someone was thinking of me at just that moment.


Day 106. Another tie sent by Cally, Andy, and Elaine. The shirt is another one bought on my recentish trip to Filene's Basement; it was the last holdout in terms of finding a tie that matched it. When Cally sent the photo of this tie, I thought it might fill the bill, and it did -- hooray for friends coming to the rescue!


Next week: More patchwork, more clothes from the Garment District, and the "Ukrainian Easter Egg" outfit.

Posted by Francis at 01:38 AM in Ties | Comments (11)

April 13, 2007

I guess there was already a building called Guitarstrummet

So, Don Imus blah blah blah. It seems pretty obvious what happened here. The guy has spent years saying the first crazy thing that pops into his head, and so the filters that normal, non-morning-radio people have are no longer present in his brain. I suppose the only surprising thing is that nothing this controversial has happened to him before. Does anyone here actually listen to his show? Because I have a theory about why Imus's comment about the Rutgers women's basketball team has struck people as particularly outrageous, but my theory is based on a perhaps completely baseless assumption about his show, which is that I assume when he says something mean about someone, it's usually about a public figure of some sort -- a politician, or a celebrity. That is to say, someone who we are used to seeing criticized. George W. Bush is a dimwit, Paris Hilton is slutty; these are things we do not bat an eye at, because W. and Paris have made themselves public figures and thus open to criticism (whether that criticism is juvenile or not). But the basketball team is only in the news because they're really good at playing basketball. They're not celebrities. And when you're insulting regular people -- well, regular people are going to get pissed off.

Anyway, the main reason I even got on this subject is because I wanted to link to this article about how New Jersey governor Jon Corzine was injured while being driven to a meeting between Don Imus and the Rutgers women's basketball team at the governor's mansion. (He's got lots of broken bones, but will be fine eventually, it sounds like.) And the main reason I wanted to link to that article is because I, a native New Jerseyan, had never been aware that the name of the governor's mansion in Princeton is...Drumthwacket. Seriously. Drumthwacket. So naturally I wanted to share that.


Okay, done now.

Posted by Francis at 12:30 AM | Comments (5)

April 10, 2007

I believe this also points out a continuity error in "Bull Durham"; when Annie says "baby ducks are cute", she should have said "widdle scrunched-up baby bunnies are cute"

Debby sent me a link to the cutest dim sum in the world: bunny buns! And then, the next day, I was browsing Cute Overload and discovered the real-world equivalent (second photo).

Speaking of bunnies and food, reader Kristi sends this photo of some cupcakes with decorations partly inspired by Bunny Day. (Recipe here. Kudos to Kristi for bucking the system and substituting homemade bunnies for the suggested store-bought ones.)

Posted by Francis at 12:15 PM in Bunny Day | Comments (1)

April 06, 2007

The Tie Project, days 90 to 97, plus one more

Somebody just mailed me a "Self Shot Mirror" to stick to the front of my camera, to aid me in my daily documentary photography. But I don't know who! Thanks, mystery blog reader. On to the outfits.

Day 61.5. Somehow or other I accidentally missed an outfit a month or so back. Well, actually, I know exactly what happened. I photographed myself in the morning, and then Lorinne and I went to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden that afternoon, where I (as usual) took a whole bunch of pictures. Then, later that week, when I went to upload tie photos from the camera, I only noticed the photos that followed the set from the garden. So, here it is -- The Tie Project: The Lost Episode.


Day 90. Had a hell of a time photographing this. The shirt is very soft and floppy, and doesn't really want to hang symmetrically. Comfy, though.


Day 91. I'm pretty sure I didn't realize there were jungle cats in the pattern of this shirt when I bought it. I might not have gotten it if I had noticed, having a certain antipathy towards representationalism on clothing. It's still fairly abstract, though, so it does get worn now and again, and I do like the way it makes this tie pattern seem like potential jungle camouflage.


Day 92. I bought this shirt and tie on the same day from a vendor at the Chelsea Flea Market. I liked the idea of a semiformal (well, maybe more like hemidemisemiformal) Hawaiian outfit. One day I was wearing this combo and I received an extremely enthusiastic compliment about it from a young Orthodox Jewish man. I was surprised, but maybe he was tired of wearing all black all summer long and dreamed of wilder outfits.


Day 93. The first time I've worn either the shirt or the tie. (Both got bought at some point during the cold months.) I swear I ironed the shirt, but side lighting will find the spot you missed every time.


Day 94. This is what I wore for the first night of the crossword tournament. Somewhat sedate, but I like the tie and vest together, with the shirt serving as a color accent.


Day 95. Saturday's outfit at the crossword tournament. Lorinne made the vest for me; isn't it gorgeous? I had some ideas about wearing this patterned shirt or that with it, but none of them quite worked. Then I found the perfect tie and realized the outfit didn't need anything else, so instead I wore it with a plain cream-colored shirt. (I do keep a handful of solid shirts on hand for emergencies.)


Day 96. Sunday's crossword tournament outfit was a repeat, so we skip ahead. This outfit uses the same tie from day 61-and-a-half above. I'm fond of this tie; I like the way the pattern looks like beads. For a while I had no shirts to go with it, but then I found this one, which has echoes of all the colors in the tie. And obviously I've also tried it out with at least one other shirt.


Day 97. An old favorite. The outfit does most of its matching on the pattern level. Colorwise, it's an interesting combination of blending and contrasting.


Kind of a hefty update, I know, but I'm pretty behind. In the next installment: the same shirt twice within four days? What is the world coming to?

Posted by Francis at 01:33 AM in Ties | Comments (9)

April 05, 2007

Overheard in New York by someone too lazy to send it to "Overheard in New York"

Woman on subway, to man (possibly boyfriend) sitting next to her: "You're in a perfectly good airplane...and you're going to jump out of it."

Posted by Francis at 11:48 AM | Comments (1)

Help me help you amuse yourselves

If you didn't attend this year's Crossword Puzzle Tournament, you missed a fantastic multi-puzzle extravaganza on Friday night, written by Scott and Susan Weiss. (Scott, of course, is the fellow responsible for the three-way tie on Jeopardy!) Fortunately for you, he's posted the whole thing online. It's a quick, fun puzzle set, designed to be solved by a group of four in under an hour.

If you prefer your puzzles to make little noises and feature cartoon people that move around, then I direct you to the latest game from mad genius On of Eyezmaze: Dwarf Complete. It's a small but remarkably satisfying adventure game. Highly recommended.

The Terrific Menace of the Invaders from Audiogalaxy looks good too, but I haven't gotten very far into it, so I can't vouch for the quality of all the puzzles. It's been pretty entertaining so far, though.

(Game links from Jay Is Games, as usual.)

Posted by Francis at 12:30 AM | Comments (2)

April 04, 2007

Six things, sort of

Someone linked to this old entry of mine, and being reminded of the (now relocated) make-your-own-sign site inspired me to make some more. Six, in fact.







Posted by Francis at 12:01 AM in Six Things | Comments (1)

April 03, 2007

Lumpy Little Pill

I've never particularly been a fan of Alanis Morissette -- not that I have anything against her (except the usual complaint in the word dork community about her abuse of the word "ironic"), and, in fact, I like a few of her songs, but she's just not really on my radar. Which is why I'm doubly delighted by the video for her cover of "My Humps" -- who ever expected this Jonathan Coulton-esque performance from Alanis? Sweet.

Get more of Alanis's lovely lady lumps here, here, and here.

(Thanks to Todd Seavey for the link.)

Posted by Francis at 07:56 PM | Comments (3)