Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Take it to the bridge

Today I got fitted for removeable dental fill-ins/what have you. It was a fairly simple process, but a weird one. First the dentist's assistant put a couple of things that looked like U-shaped sink-strainers in my mouth to see if they'd fit over the teeth. Then the dentist herself came in and made notches on the enamel of the teeth that will be neighboring the dentures. Not really painful, but still, it is a drill. Then the assistant filled in the sink strainers with this algae-derived... stuff. It's like rubber that's somehow in semi-liquid state at less than room temperatures. But somehow that hardened enough to take impressions of the teeth, and she removed it. There were still some eraser shavings left behind, or what felt and tasted like bits of eraser.

Not bad overall. Did not involve the taste of blood, anyway.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Pour one out for Leslie Nielsen

This is a neatly creepy scene from George Romero's Creepshow. Really, the only thing about it that isn't scary is the zombies, who look like they've been sleeping outdoors at a reggae festival. But by this time Nielsen had already done Airplane!, so it's alarming how much of a no-holds-barred jealous husband he plays.

Friday, November 26, 2010

For the goth (They still exist, right?) on your holiday shopping list

What are you looking at, Sigmund?

In honor of Black Friday--and because I may as well keep up the focus on artistically accomplished nightmare fuel--let us note that a few artists are using the medium of taxidermy in new ways. If you didn't already know this--and I didn't until seeing a link on Dark Roasted Blend--you probably haven't given the possibilities of animal stuffing a lot of thought.

Taxidermy itself is generally thought to be as dead as its subjects to begin with. It's not that absolutely no one practices it anymore, but it belongs to an imagined past. Pop culture may be part of the equation. Since the release of Psycho a half-century ago, the idea of being a taxidermy enthusiast carries about it a whiff of "freeeeeeak!"

More than that, there are huge differences in the way life was lived in the nineteenth century and the way it's lived in the early twenty-first. More people in those days lived on farms and slaughtered animals for sustenance. Even among city dwellers, one was more likely to live with an elderly, dying relative. It was more accepted back then that death would have a place in the center of life.

Another interesting aspect to these works is the way they tie into a lengthy and hidden tradition: that of zoological trickery. The raw materials are from real animals. The creatures as depicted, however, are either fictitious or acting in ways far different from the way they would in life. When the world was larger, it was easier to mistake exotic specimens and huckster's chimerae. Errors were made on both sides.

Meaning, perhaps, that if natural history museums were as credulous as they were in the past, some of these works could pass muster as "real" grotesque creatures. I find that--along with the care and the beauty many exhibit--to be exciting.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Where's the rest of me?

I spent Thanksgiving night with a couple of friends. Good time. When I was close to leaving, the wife told me mentioned that I had lost a ton of weight. Another friend of mine said about the same thing a couple of weeks ago. Both times I reacted with surprise, because that's not really something I've been trying to do. Maybe stop gaining at a noticeable rate, but even there I wasn't too conscious of it. Having acid reflux there are a few dietary changes I've made, and they may have had side effects. But really it just sort of crept up on me. So I guess the key to weight loss is obliviousness.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

It's always Time for Beany!

For fans of ulcerous sailors and bolshy clowns:

I can't really imagine anything with as basic an aesthetic as this making the airwaves today. Tell the networks "Well, my friends and I have these handpuppets..." and the door will immediately be slammed in your face.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

We all scream

A little something from Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, a very productive, usually quite funny webcomic that operates at varying levels of cuttingness.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Fox Business thumb wrestling


Oh, it's not surprising that Neil Cavuto just tucked in his chin, waved his finger, and spouted nonsense when Rep. Hahn belatedly made the point that unemployed people will spend the money quicker than multimillionaires will.

Nor is it a surprise when Cavuto insisted that businesses aren't spending the money they have because they know taxes are going up and so are health care contributions. Just for fun, though, compare the upper tax rates and unemployment numbers for 1960 with current stats.

No, the humdinger is that Cavuto was actually interviewing someone who would contradict him. He could have just found a video soundbite and eviscerated someone from a distance. Some intern is so fired over this.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The day the music was out sick

No Friday Random Ten this week. Probably not Saturday either. I can't import anything into iTunes right now because the program will shut down as soon as I try. So I'll have to get it looked at. But I will be keeping the blog fires burning one way or another.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


This author dispels some rumors that are so ridiculous on the face of it that this probably shouldn't have been necessary.

The ignorance expressed in this passage is beyond anything I've encountered in a long time. In my letters to Matlin and the editors at Slate (thus far unanswered), I did my best to rein in my temper, turning instead to one of my most reliable and, I think, useful analogies: High-tech cockpit equipment assists pilots in the way that high-tech medical equipment assists doctors. It has vastly improved their capabilities as professionals, but it by no means degrades the experience and skill required to perform at that level, and has not come remotely close to rendering them redundant. Thus, modern commercial airplanes can "fly themselves" about as much as the modern operating room can perform a surgical procedure "by itself."

Except of course that someone saw fit to publish them. And apparently thought that visiting 30 airports in 3o days was worth doing. Big fan of pat-downs?

Anyway, I'm wondering if this will eventually lead to an epic battle between Slate and Salon. Since everything I've ever seen from Slate has made me want to go back in time and uninvent the Internet, my side is already chosen.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Gross meets cool

I forgot which eye offended me, so I played it safe.

The above image is from British artist Jessica Harrison. Looking through her image archives she seems to have a gift for this kind of brutal surrealism, often on a very small scale. There are some unnervingly fine pencil drawings in her 2006 gallery.

Credit where credit is due to Lauren Davis at io9.

So that happened

Apparently there's a fair-sized group of people willing to believe that Jim Davis hates the military. Well, it's possible that a Marine stole his girlfriend once. That's not the silly part.

This same group seems to think that Davis has a taste for controversy. It's at that point that I spew my beverage all over the keyboard. I'll shotgun a bottle of fabric softener before the creator of Garfield deliberately sets out to offend people. His "bad timing" explanation is so obviously true that I'm surprised he even had to make it.

Nonetheless, some rightie blog whose URL I've mercifully forgotten described Davis as "just another liberal elitist." For a comic strip that, like Hagar the Horrible and Family Circus, is aimed at people foggy on who the president currently is. Really.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Second straight Saturday Random Ten

Just sort of got away from me on Friday proper. Ah well, I caught it again. And this lunatic cough is starting to lift.

1. Arcade Fire--Suburban War
2. Don Byron--Charley's Prelude
3. Jackson Browne--Late for the Sky
4. The New Pornographers--Up in the Dark
5. Sly & the Family Stone--Fun
6. Nellie McKay--Crazy Rhythm
7. Ladytron--Last One Standing
8 Beck--Mixed Bizness
9. Finn Riggins--Mahoney
10. Talk Talk--Life's What You Make It

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


I definitely like the idea of the It Gets Better Project and there is a need for it. Hopefully the world is a little kinder and safer for bullied teens when they hear encouragement from people who have been through it.

That said I wonder if there isn't an opportunity being lost here. As far as I know, none of the people who have spoken out have been on the other side of the equation. There would be value in hearing from someone who used to be a homophobic bully, but who got past it. Not just as a mea culpa, although there is that. Kids are killing themselves because they think their lives aren't going to change. But one way and another they will. And there is every possibility that their oppressors will too.

Then again, it's best to make clear that this will take time.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Submitted for your approval...

The similarity in patterns of behavior between male castellans, male chimpanzees, amd female baboons raises the question of how we explain it. Someone might be tempted to posit a sort of racial memory, as if castellans and spouse abusers were and are controlled by the genes of their distant primate ancestors, genes that had been "turned off" during Boehm's intervening period of reverse dominance hierarchies. But genes do not usually act this way. It is more productive to explain the similarity of these behaviors as the product of convergent evolution. It is similarity of ecology, not relatedness, that often determines the similarity of behavior. In societies or relationships where certain conditios are met—where resources are scarce, power is distributed asymmetrically, and the ability to form coalitions is suppressed—alpha individuals manage to reinvent the pattern of random abuse because it is a psychotropic device toward which certain politically adaptive behaviors will converge. In Paleolithic ecologies, as Boehm argues, some of the key ingredients of dominance were missing, notably because power was relatively evenly distributed and because nothing hampered the formation of political coalition: the Paleolithic counterpart to the public sphere as described by Jürgen Habermas. The Neolithic revolution brought about a return to the ecology of ancestral primate societies, and, as a result, dominance hierarchies were reinvented, though in forms very different from the strictly competitive hierarchies of primate societies. The practice of random abuse, as a concomitant of dominance, was, and is, just one of the many new psychotropic mechanisms that evolved to reinstall the feeling of dominance and submission among inferiors in Neo- and Postlithic human societies.

Daniel Lord Smail, On Deep History and the Brain; University of California Press; 2008

While Smail focuses on Neolithic developments in this passage, he seems to realize that the subject—abuse to maintain dominance—is still relevant. Very much so.

Neither gone nor forgotten Saturday Random Ten

While the last week has been a fallow one for blogging, I actually did intend to run a Friday Random Ten. But Thursday I forgot to bring my iPod home to recharge it. It was still there when I went to work the next day, which speaks well of our custodial staff. The toothbrush I left in the bathroom was still there too, although that's less of a surprise.

1. Beck--Nicotine & Gravy
2. Battles--Race: In
3. Sly & the Family Stone--M'lady
4. Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings--Give It Back
5. L'Attirail--Sophiapolis
6. Count Basie & Sarah Vaughan--Little Man (You've Had a Busy Day)
7. The 5,6,7,8's--Roadrunner
8. Talking Heads--Uh-Oh Love Comes to Town
9. Nina Simone--I Loves You Porgy*
10. Finn Riggins--Antoinette Pt 1

*But she says "I love..." Apparently the nonstandard syntax rubbed her the wrong way.

This is another Finn Riggins video, and a cool one. The spacious, unplugged version of "Antoinette" is very different from the studio version on my list, but both are exemplary.

finn riggins // Session #5A // ANTOINETTE from Marja Kuivisto on Vimeo.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A little late...

... Halloween humor. On the other hand it's going up three nights before Simpsons Treehouse of Horror, so it's not too late.

This is from Medium Large. I know that Shermy was dropped because no one except maybe Schultz himself could remember who he was, but this makes a funny story.