Bust a move, Lady L...
This fascination extends in several directions, including a love of intricate, Rube Goldberg-esque machines and an attraction to early devices like Da Vinci’s flying machines and various automata. I’m not sure where this all started – multiple school trips to The Franklin Institute? Seeing Rowland Emett’s whacky devices in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang or the crazy mechanisms in the Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies shorts (you know, the ones with that great Roland Scott theme “Powerhouse” in the background)? Heck, maybe it was playing Mouse Trap. Whatever it was, intricate machines tickle me, but add the whimsical feature of making them look like creatures, and it’s a whole different ballgame.I mean, let’s face it, what demonstrates mankind’s god-like powers more than being able to simulate life? If you can do that, you must have serious skillz. The problem with it is, it really is supposed to be the work of God (gods, higher beings, whatever). It seems wrong, somehow – presumptuous. And it’s never quite right. It’s always – almost, but not quite alive, and that’s disturbing. Think of baby dolls whose eyes open automatically*. Furbies. Or, to get more meta, zombies. Heck, how about Frankenstein’s monster? Even those damn Billy Bass things are a little bit freaky.
But while full-on robots are disturbing in that they make you think man’s AI children are going to kill us all and take over the world (which would not be so bad, if they looked like Number Six), robots that look like disembodied parts of living creatures are just plain horrifying. Because clearly, brainless parts of things should not be alive, nor appear to be so. That, my friends, is The Devil’s Work. Unnatural. And probably the last thing you’ll ever see.
So, that explains why I keep watching those damn videos over and over even though they give me the serious willies. But afterwards, perhaps I can cleanse my brain with some less anthropomorphic, yet equally fascinating mechanical wonders. To this end, I give you videos of Goldbergian creations from the Japanese children's educational television show ピタゴラスイッチ ("Pitagora Suicchi", or "Pythagorean Switch") and the artier and much larger scale German production Der Lauf Der Dinge (“The Way Things Go”). Enjoy!*Incidentally, I had a baby doll with opening eyes that someone gave me when I was a kid. I hated that thing, and hid it in my closet, burying it under layers of crap. I already avoided looking into the closet because I was convinced it was home to 1.) a vampire and/or 2.) a headless woman. Nevertheless, I had to get clothes, sometimes, and somehow, every once and a while, I’d open the door and it would be sitting up, looking at me and nearly causing me to wet my freakin’ pants. Neither of my siblings admits to setting this up to this day, so my only suspects are the vampire, the headless woman, or the doll itself, which makes this story All. The. More. Chilling!
1. Ow, my goddamn shoulders!
2. Why can’t I stop listening to Kanye West’s The New Workout Plan? It is completely misogynistic. But so very funny. And the beat works for everything from crunches to the elliptical machine!
3. After a couple months of seeing almost no visible results, this morning I accidentally ironed the wrong pair of pants, which I hadn’t been able to squeeze into since before I herniated my neck, and put. Them. On. They are a little tighter than I’d prefer, but still. Feeling stronger and more energetic is great, but this? I can really get behind.
4. Great, only five or six sizes to go…! (plotz.)
You might assume that as a fan of magic I would be all a-twitter, but I'm not. That's because I'm a fan of magic, not endurance stunts. Blaine was interesting when he did street magic, but what's the point, now? Are we all supposed to go along with him on some kind of Zen minimalist journey? We already know that people can live in hardship for long periods of time, and it's not like he's doing it for a political cause. It's just a stunt, without even any major skill involved, except perhaps staying calm and the breath-holding at the end. Houdini would be bored.
Scuttlebutt has it that Blaine cooks up these isolationist bits partly because he just doesn't like speaking with people. So? When am I going to get fame and big bucks for sitting in my office oubliette, eating lunch at my desk and avoiding phone calls? Because I could do that for far more than a week straight.
Is anyone willing to join me in a plan to have him mauled to death by endangered species? What if WE are the endangered species?
More intelligent analysis here.
Jeff at I Am Not Lying explains the disturbing nature of this video excellently, and you should go check his thoughts out for yourself. Honestly, I don't think I've been quite so squicked out by an animatronic figure since Herbie Hancock's Rockit video. Heck, that one still makes me scream a little when I see it. The question is, why am I so fascinated that I can't stop subjecting myself to these videos over and over again, even though they make me a little queasy and dizzy every time? Perhaps they are sort of a safer version of an adrenal gland-stimulating trip through Castle Dracula? Or perhaps they just invoke the specter of man-as-machine by being too lifelike, giving one a sort of spooky uncertainty about how to distinguish life from death, consciousness from physical manipulation? Freaky, freaky stuff...
Although I am almost loathe to display them here, you be the judge...
Yikes. The doglike 'bot turns out, by the way, to be aptly named "BigDog", and you can see more about it and other slightly less scary robots at Boston Dynamics. Oh, and the Rockit video was directed by Godley & Creme, formerly of 10cc, who directed quite a few groundbreaking videos back in the day.
One last note - in pondering this I somehow accessed a horrifying scene from my early childhood. I was watching some program, and it involved a person's face coming off to reveal that they were actually a robot. In retrospect, I'm sure the effects were rudimentary, this being the early 70s, but it left a huge impression on me at the time (nightmares about my parents being robots and whatnot). I've been scouring the internets trying to figure out what it was, but I can't figure out if it was even a movie or a television show. The closest things I can find are references to a film called Futureworld, although I can't be sure it wasn't an episode of The Six Million Dollar Man. I'm pretty sure the robot, however, was a woman. If you have any idea what show this might have been, I'd love to know!
Say hello to Monica, a category 5 cyclone approaching the northern coast of Australia at this very moment. That's category 5 as in currently packing winds of up to 217 mph. Remind you of anything?
Actually, it looks a little more impressive than the shot of hurricane Katrina above. And guess what? This comes only about a month after Larry, another category 5 cyclone hit North Queensland. Meterologists are saying these two cyclones are two of the biggest ever seen.
Hmm, isn't it interesting that Australia and the US are the only two major developed countries that have not ratified the Kyoto Protocol, thus insuring continued environmental damage that can lead to global warming and worse storms? Aah, but what could that have to do with anything? After all, New Orleans has Mardi Gras and Australia has Gay Mardi Gras (not to mention Kylie Minogue). God must just be sending these storms to smite the faggots!
But seriously, the Northern Territory is one of the least populated areas of Australia, but it's also relatively financially poor. It's populated by more indigenous Australians ("aborigines") than anywhere else. This means that once again the poor, brown people are in the path of the natural disaster. Be sure to send them your thoughts, good energy or prayers, and let's keep an eye on this story.
|Your humor style is:|
the Cutting Edge
CLEAN | SPONTANEOUS | DARK
Your humor's mostly innocent and off-the-cuff, but somehow there's something slightly menacing about you. Part of your humor is making people a little uncomfortable, even if the things you say aren't themselves confrontational. You probably have a very dry delivery, or are seriously over-the-top.
Your type is the most likely to appreciate a good insult and/or broken bone and/or very very fat person dancing.
PEOPLE LIKE YOU: David Letterman - John Belushi
The 3-Variable Funny Test!
- it rules -
If you're interested, try my best friend's best test: The Genghis Khan Genetic Fitness Masterpiece
|My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:|
|Link: The 3 Variable Funny Test written by jason_bateman on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the 32-Type Dating Test|
Sigh. So a dyke walks into a bar with a cat on her head...
It was perhaps fotunate I was home sick, today. We shared some excellent farewell cuddling, and he showered me with affection, purrs, and fur - lots of it. Take good care and thanks for visiting, our sweet, spotted bandito. We hope you don't get too bored with no other kitties to harass. Don't forget to write!
The Patsy Cline influence was most obvious last night, with a few nods to Dolly and Loretta, as she and her band used the audience as “guinea pigs” to test a new set of country-style tunes. Mrs. Nator and I had been musing during the country-flavoured pre-show music that Osborne might be moving toward this style - which is not surprising, considering her southern roots - and agreed that her voice could easily fit a country-soul mode. We were not disappointed. Taking the stage in a simple white cotton dress, Osborne called to mind a shy 50s housewife at a VFW dinner who suddenly busted out with serious talent (“Hey, y’all know Ellie Sue can sing? Git up there on the stage, Ellie Sue, and show them what you can do!” “Aw, no, I couldn’t… I’ve got to serve up the pie, now. Welll-l-l, o-kay…” Ka-POW!). Despite the unfamiliarity of the material, the audience ate it up, and each song was CD-perfect, tight. One of my particular favourites, not surprisingly, was a country-western lesbian love ballad to one “Jane”. Alas, Ms. Osborne is, as far as I’ve heard, all hetero, but that didn’t stop her from imbuing the piece with the sincerity of a consummate performer. Don’t make me stalk you, Joan.
Despite our advancing age, Mrs. Nator and I probably fell in the mid-range of the audience spectrum, proving Osborne’s wide appeal. We were, no doubt, not the only ones out past our bedtime – and Mrs. Nator with a bum knee, no less – but it was well worth it to stay for through the end of the set and into the encore. Despite protesting that her some of new band didn’t know her old songs well, Osborne treated us to stomping renditions of “Spider Web” and “St. Teresa” that had almost everyone out of their seats and pressed toward the stage. Although the set could easily have stood on its own without the old material, it was a satisfying coda that left everybody energized and smiling.
All in all, the best show I’ve been to in some time, and well worth dragging my sorry ass out on a Wednesday night. I certainly do hope that the material Osborne’s been shopping around for the last year or two finally gets released, and the songs she did last night do get recorded in Nashville soon, as she is planning. It’s sadly unsurprising in this candy-pop, hip-hop world that a singer of such old-school skill and substance can go unreleased and unpromoted for such a long period of time, but that doesn’t make it any less of a crime.
*Note: I didn't just have that memorized because I really am a stalker - I just read it on her bio this morning. Besides, Mrs. Nator frowns heavily on stalking, unless it's related to ridiculous kitty hijinks.
If anyone's seen this, let me know what you thought. Otherwise, I will continue to wallow in narrow-minded pre-judgement, as per usual.
And now, just because, here is a video of Kathy Griffin dressed as a giant rat.
The thing is, even more than I worry for women’s feet and about submission to the patriarchy (because P-Funk reunions aside, how many men do you think will be sporting stacked heels anytime soon?), I’m afraid Mrs. Nator won’t be able to even hear me anymore. She is an unusually tall woman to begin with, and with these types of shoes she may border on altitudinous. It might fit in with her plans to feel big and strong, but I still subscribe, for several reasons, to the tradition of being a woman in comfortable shoes, and I’m not sure how it will affect the relationship if I am continually at crotch licking level while standing up. Although that might fit in with her plans, too, come to think of it.
Does anyone know where I can take stilt-walking lessons?
It turns out that, although it did not indicate this anywhere on the store site, the case I had selected was not yet available. So, several weeks later, having received nothing, I emailed the store. I got no response for a few days, so I called them, and got someone who put me on hold forever and then told me that the only person there who knew about email orders was out indefinitely. I wrote again. I got no response until I finally saw they had posted something on my account page rather than emailing me. The note said the case was expected within a month or so. I considered cancelling or exchanging the order, but I figured that with all the trouble already, I might as well just wait until the unique case I really wanted arrived.
So I waited, and every month or so I emailed, to no response, and the occasional update on the store site saying the case wouldn't come in for another (X) weeks, after all. I had given up, until one day a couple weeks ago when I finally saw a UPS sticky on my front door with my name on it. This was annoying, not only because I hadn’t been notified, but because the package had been sent to my home address when I specifically requested it be sent to my office (why don’t most service providers and sellers realize that most people cannot be home between 9 and 5 to wait breathlessly for the UPS/Cable guy/meter reader?). Having experienced that mistake before, however, I thought I’d just call UPS, request a change of shipping address and get the package. I was wrong.
Instead, the package was sent back to the store, with no explanation. I had to call UPS and complain, and then call the store to have it re-sent. Again, I indicated it should go to my work address. Again, several days later, I got a UPS sticky on my home door. Again I called with the work address.
But wait, there’s more!
The package disappeared. Poof - no word for several days. When I looked it up today, the tracking said “delivered”. Um, no? So I called UPS again. Oh, it was delivered, alright. To a completely random person at an entirely unrelated address.
Let’s just say I wasn’t as full of sunshine-y goodness when speaking with the UPS people this time. I did get put through to a supervisor. Who then managed to put me on hold and disconnect me (“accidentally”?).
May I just ask, how exactly does this sort of thing happen? It’s not like I screamed at anyone at UPS or the store and thus deserved some spit in my lemonade. I was somewhat terse and annoyed, but that’s it. The only thing I can think of is that the whole mess was due to just plain incompetence. You’d think that by now, with my dim and pessimistic view of the human race, in general, I’d be used to this sort of thing – and I am. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t make me pop a vein, now and then. I mean, it’s no moral outrage or anything, but it’s the type of occurrence that makes me want to write personal letters to each an every creationist outlining this chain of events and asking “so, tell me why it is, again, that you think that humans are too majestic to be evolved from apes? Once you’re done picking the ticks off your brother, that is - take your time.”
I finally, after calling again, got transferred to a “special department that can make outside calls to track packages” (ooh, the freedom! And just what did they do to earn those privileges? Are the rest of the phone reps in lockdown?). There a somewhat bumbling, if seemingly well-meaning lad (he messed up my name twice and my address four times) claimed to have contacted whoever it was who signed for the package at whatever location, confirm it could be picked up there and let me know it would then be sent to my work address. Supposedly.
Nearly five months after my order, I look forward to finally getting my fancy iPod case, which now has more miles on it than John Madden’s bus. I also look forward to putting it on my iPod, which now has so many scratches I have to hold it at different angles depending on the time of day to be able to see anything on the screen.
The moral of the story? Humans are stupid, though we can make tools. Next time, I’ll make me a case out of Saran wrap and duct tape.
Perhaps all this should be filed under “things I should never have admitted to,” along with “wanting to see that new Antonio Banderas where he teaches ballroom dancing”… whoops!
I was roused to consciousness by the desperate voices of 9/11 victims on recordings of their last calls for help, thanks to NPR news.
I now have to go to the interminable weekly departmental meeting. These usually last over an hour, in which nothing that has anything to do with my job is addressed.
I have to go to the dentist this afternoon. It’s likely he will have to drill.
I have concluded that today must be perfect day to buy a Mega Millions ticket.
- Users put positive and negative words, such as "failure", "glorious", "wonderful" and "nasty" into categories of "good" and "bad", then do the same with images of black and white faces.
- By responding to the prompts as quickly as possible, the test aims to side-step what's known as "cognitive control" - the brief, but significant, time lapse we need to give an "acceptable" answer rather than a truly honest one.
- Depending on the magnitude of the result, respondents are judged to have either "little or no bias" or a bias rated as "slight", "moderate" or "strong".
Personally, the test results or me indicated that I have "implicit" preferences for gay people over straight people, black people over white people and Richard Nixon over G.W. Bush (now there's a case of weighing two evils if I ever saw one). None of this overly surprised me, considering my political beliefs and background. I was a little bit surprised at my slight bias in favour of black people at first, since I'm convinced white racism is so prevalent in United States society that we must all internalize it by default, but not overly so, considering both my upbringing with a semi-radical black stepfather and a general aversion to, as they say, The Man.
It does seem, however, that a lot of people are surprised by their results, and this has touched off a lot of dialogue and self-examination, particuarly regarding the race test results. Of course, as even the designers of the test admit, the results may not be entirely accurate. The methodology of the tests have been questioned by other scientists, naturally, and taking a quick online quiz based on reaction times is not exactly an exhaustive, controlled analysis. But, even if you don't necessarily believe the tests to be completely accurate or comprehensive, as I don't, they do make for good conversation pieces and tools for confronting one's own attitudes.
Try them yourself here, and let me know what you think.
Via: Cooper King's blog
Do y'all think Queen Bitch Cat would slice n' dice me if I Manic-Panicked her a construction cone hue?
Update: OK, it seems the comments code I have doesn't want to take links, which was the problem. Unfortunately, I don't have time to muck with it and figure out why, just now. Carry on.
Also, I hate that damn freaky Ralph Lauren flash ad with the spooky little blonde girl all I-see-no-I-AM-dead-people floating around over a flashing sky and "quaint house". Please make it go away NOW.
Anyway, I thought it was a pretty good film, with great cinematography, some excellent moments and a nice adherance to the exquisitely written original story. I have to say I can't tell you exactly how good I think it was, because, quite frankly, all the hype clouded my perceptions to the point that I can't decide whether I really liked it or not. But I do know that I'm sick of that hype. The fact is, Brokeback Mountain has become some sort of cutesy shorthand for being gay, and it's really tired.
For example, back in February my friend at Life Below The Line was reporting the annoying prevalence of straight men using Brokeback Mountain to tease each other. You know how it goes, one guy expresses some kind of emotion and the other "jokes" something like "Hey, don't get all Brokeback Mountain on me, here." This may be mildly amusing the first several times, but at this point it's just being used to reinforce the same stereotypes that any other fag jokes do, except just replacing the word "fag" with the hipper version, "Brokeback Mountain." It also allows the straight jokester to deflect any protests to his or her joke by alluding that if they are sensitive and liberal enough to have seen BBM, or even just heard of it (which... who hasn't?), then they can't really be bigoted and offensive. Right.
At the same time, even homages within the gay and gay-friendly world can be tiresome. As Joe.My.God reported, among other things, BBM catchphrases are showing up in both romance and retaliation between gay men. Elsewhere, several sites on the Web have been chuckling over an ice-skating routine done by men dressed as cowboys (did the creators know it was gay? Was it produced before or after BBM? How gay would it be on the scale of gay dependant on that fine point?). Meanwhile, here in NYC, Jacques Torres is selling chocolate Brokeback Bunnies for Easter. Is it an adorable homage, or a passé marketing ploy? Looks like both to me.
Which all boils down to: listen, people, enough's enough. It's just not cute anymore, and it's certainly not fashionable. Yes, even I indulged in references up until several weeks ago, but it has reached its saturation point. So quit it. Because much further and we'll be out of Montana and into Macarena territory.
Popular magic shows - besides the Harry Potter movie variety - seem to have taken a much more "street" turn of late, what with the rise of David Blaine, Criss Angel and their like. I will forever bemoan the loss of Siegfried and Roy's extravaganza before I could see it, but it kind of makes sense. Street magic is much more appealing for the ironic/skeptical hipster youth of today, and also often both cheaper to produce and more convincing, when done properly.
Recently, however, I happened to see newly popular "experimentalist", Gerard Senehi, on the Ellen show and was intrigued. Senehi seems to use some of the more modern street magic effects while maintaining the "mysterious mentalist" demeanor (and suited dress code) of more innocent times. It's a pretty good combination, and more reminiscent of a more understated Uri Geller than the in-your-face hijinks of Blaine or Angel. Like them, however, Senehi's techniques are impressive enough to get many in his audience to wonder if his tricks are actual psychic/telekinetic phenomena, and he's taking his spoon-beinding skillz to the bank (although in his case, there's talk that his profits are mainly going to a creepy cult run by a less benign charlatan).
All of this led me to fondly recall my childhood love of magic and wonder, could I learn any of these tricks? Back then, magicians carefully guarded most of their secrets, and only revealed them to a select, interested few via magic-shop gatherings and writings. However, now we've got the Web, and guess what? For a certain price, it is entirely possible for anybody to get DVDs that will teach them to melt forks or levitate themselves like the pros.
So, the answer is, yes, I can learn them. And I'm definitely adding some of these goods to my birthday list, so I can entertain friends and party guests. But it's a little sad to know that modern magic is not only far less glam, but available to easily buy. Maybe, if I want a little fun, I should just drop the spoon-bending instructions and get me one of these.
There are, however, two downsides to all this. One is still having to deal with the continual insistance by religious groups that their particular text and interpretation is the only true word of God(s), despite the evidence of tampering and fabrication over the centuries. The other downside is, of course, dreading the time when Dan Brown hops on the bandwagon.
Listen. Are you listening to me? Okay. Dark green and light orange do not go together. Ever. I understand you want the new bills to be all safe and secure and whatnot, but stop it. I can deal with the changed bust sizes, the watermarks, the security tape, even the new images. But the changing ink colours were pushing it (are we paying for groceries or attending a rave?) and the tiny 10s or 20s all over the new bills look like nothing so much as a contagious pox. And now this.
I understand that a lot of people have been really wedded to the old green and black bills. I know change is hard. But if you're going to do it, don't go all half-assed and try to appease the traditionalists, foil the forgers and get arty about it. If you're going to change the bills to several colours, just make them a brighter mix and be done with it. Hell, even red, white and blue would be an improvement. Or, even better, make it a practically a painting. I'm particularly fond of Tahiti's tender, for example.
Thank you for your attention to this very important matter,
It seems that somebody managed to squeeze his or her little paw into a small, inadvertant opening in The Forbidden Drawer, haul out the entire bag of nippage and rip it to shreds, dragging it as he or she went. I suspect Loaner Cat, since he's young, curious and an unknown factor. Also, he was trying to swallow the plastic nip bag when I came in.
The Little One made herself scarce, but not before I saw she was practically bedazzled with herbal flakes. The others were all the same, with Queen Bitch perhaps the most dishabille, three sheets to the wind and close to farting pixies. If they'd have managed to have the Dead playing on the boom box and the lava lamps on, I would not have been surprised.
It took some time cleaning up, between the hysterical laughter and unwrapping eleven pounds of Loaner Cat from the broom every few seconds. The stumper is, did we have this coming, as we were clearly depriving the children, or do they deserve some sort of punishment? Do felines get hangovers?
Weighty questions, indeed. I, however, received my 'awa in the mail today. So, I suspect between that and celebrating Mrs. Nator's landing of a large grant for work, I may spend the better part of the evening butt-waxing the lino, myself.