June 2009


No Title

The news about the breakup of reality-TV-made celebrities Jon and Kate was accompanied by notification that their show “Jon and Kate Plus Eight” would be going on hiatus – for one month, returning in August. My personal reaction was WHY?!? and WTF?!? and other things starting with W, but apparently, the serial adopters are under contract for 34 more episodes before the TLC channel will allow them to fade away into much-deserved obscurity. The damage this does to the “everybody will be famous for fifteen minutes” truism is shocking, but it also raises an interesting possibility to me… shouldn’t the show be re-titled after the split?

“Jon vs. Kate With Eight In Between”

(if they split custody) “Jon Plus Four and Kate Plus Four”

(if Kate gets full custody) “Kate Plus Eight Minus Jon”

(or) “Octomom II”

“See? Eight Is MORE Than Enough”

“No, It’s Not Your Fault Times Eight”

“Jon Plus Eight Mistresses” (now casting)

“How I Lost Your Mother”


Not a Followup to Three Dog Night…

…thankfully. Still, I was trying to ignore the meme-bomb that was the Three Wolf Moon t-shirt, until I was going through my collection of shirts spacewolfshirt(not so much a collection as evidence of a severe addiction that I have recently gotten over cold turkey; I really should apologize to the t-shirt sellerspushers for doing some serious damage to their business model) and I found my Space Wolf shirt. —>

Obviously, some explanation is needed for this. Yes, that is a dead wolf floating in space, because wolves don’t thrive in a near-vacuum any more than you or I would. But more importantly, this is a dead werewolf, as explained in the very short film from which this design is taken:

Thus proving that (1) mixing rocketship sci-fi and fantasy horror usually just doesn’t work and (2) there is a good reason NASA screens out werewolves from its astronaut training program.

So the Three Wolf Moon Shirt phenomenon can go on without me. I was halfway considering a little PhotoSlop with the design, but Amazon.com’s Customer Images included umpteen pics of “famous people wearing the shirt”, many of which were far more badly done than anything I’d ever expose to the web. But then I came upon what seems to be a real photograph of some dork in THE shirt (another thing the Customer Images make perfectly clear is that the shirt does NOT make you awesome) standing next to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.
And in the proud journalistic tradition of CNN, Wolf appears to have not the foggiest idea what’s going on.


I Said Allen, Not Alien

Design geek and brilliant self-promoter Pete Dungey just completed a project where he did a ‘survey’ to find the best-known people named Alan or Allen, and printed the top names on Allen Wrenches (or Alan Keys as they’re called in the UK, I guess). Brilliant! And if you’re a non-UKian who’s wondering who the funny-named #1 is: Ground Force!

And after I posted this to MetaFilter, I started wondering to myself which Alans and Allens would earn wrenches in a USAian survey. Well, I went to the search engines (Google, Yahoo! and Bing) and got the first few people names that came up for Allen and Alan…
Considering the recent news and new movie, I wasn’t surprised Woody was the first Allen (other than the names of towns), but Colmes as the top Alan? That was surprising and slightly disturbing. Lily Allen from the UK wrenches came close, and other runners-up were Allen Iverson, Alan Alda, Alan Arkin, Alan Rickman, Alan Thicke, Alan Greenspan, Alanon, Alanis Morissette, Alan Moore and Alan Partridge (#2 in UK).

No sign of Mr. Titchmarsh among the top couple-dozen, I regretted not seeing TV icon Steve Allen, and, no, Alan_Keyes was totally not in contention. Because he never is.


Re: Source

I was working on one of my Databases Of Trivial Stuff (DOTS), figuring out data types and their relationships as apply to Oxymorons or Murphy’s Laws or Tom Swifties and I was talking out loud to myself (which, since I was working alone, nobody would care about, notice or even know of if I didn’t blog about it).

“I need to differentiate between my Research Source and the Original Source.
Call it Origin?
I’d rather use Source, but they can’t both be “Source”…
Of course!
Go right to the source and ask the horse!
He’ll give you the answer that you’ll endorse!
He’s always on a steady course!”

I could have stopped then but I didn’t…
“As long as you don’t try to take it by force!
Or using the code named for Samuel Morse!”

I stopped searching for true rhymes and free-styled…
“Don’t carry it home inside anything porous,
Or sing all the verses and forget the chorus,
Or keep it in back of my ’95 Taurus,
I won’t get anywhere if I ride a slow loris!
She’s so cute I’m gonna name her Cloris!
I could keep it up but it just would get worse
I wonder if it can be found at a bourse
This may be a course that will make you curse
While the Animaniacs say “Hello Nurse!”

It was at this moment that I realized that not only was a total system failure and meltdown of my mental faculties imminent, but it might not be a bad idea.


Today’s Naughty Joke Challenge

…comes from the usually only slightly naughty Octopus Pie webcomic where, while creator Meredith Gran makes a cross-country migration (that will NOT be reflected in her Brooklyn-based comic, at least not at once), she has allowed far-naughtier webcomicker Erika Moen (not usually SFW) to do a guest comic in which she provided a collection of verb out with your noun outs” as declared by the various Octopus Pie characters.

I like the casual style of “hang out with your wang out”, the proud un-coolness of “nerd out with your bird out” and “geek out with your cheeks out” and the age-appropriate “lie down with your fly down (some of us are too old to rock out for very long)”. But I know there are other possibilities, and I wanted to test my own creativity with a little “out”-ing.

But all I could come up with was “a detective doing a stakeout with his snake out” before I essentially schlepped out with my pep out.

So I attempted some oddly-worded queries on several search engines… Yes, I did Bing out with my thing out, Google out with my kugel out, and Yahoo! out with my Yahoo! out.

And, not only am I really not very good at naughty punnery, now the secret databases where the search engines follow your every move have me labeled as a “punning prevert” (which I was trying to hide from them). Later on, when I was writing a response to a MetaFilter post about “Everything Is Terrible” by linking to a video of the Ray Stevens song “Everything Is Beautiful”, I stumbled upon a video for one of Stevens’ less serious songs, “The Streak”.

Now there was a true pioneer in verbing out with his noun out. Except he didn’t really Rock Out, it was more like he Country/Popped Out.

Anyway, at least Achewood is better than usual. I’m sorry, but when it gets into storylines like the recent time travel poncho thingy, it loses me. But in its most recent strip, when Chris Onstad used all of his powers of weirdness on Facebook, it was a delight to behold. “It’s kind of like if the pictures in your high school yearbook came alive and went bald and said sorry.” Best. Definition. Ever. And the COURTESY NOTICES. If there isn’t a Facebook group called “I Have Died” (and I am never getting deep enough into that swamp to find out), there certainly should be.

And then there is the ongoing saga of fantasy, absurdity and clever wordplay that is simply titled Goats, where new chapters have been fewer and farther between as the webcomicker is busy dealing with the dead-tree/living-color edition of his earlier work, yet it is so worth waiting for every new moment in the Ultraweapons Trade Benevolence Private Weaponyards on Galactron Cortex with the Ultimate Computational Weapon, the Lolcat Memebomb, that can “Rickroll an entire level of existence into submission”. Awesomeness.

One other thing worth noting in the Wonderful Web of Wit and Whimsy: the demotivating minds at Despair.com is doing another caption contest, this time using a picture of two dandelions, one of which has only a single spore left standing.dandyAnd unlike previous contestings, it’s allowing the unwashed masses to rate the entries… it’s things like these that help reassure me that I AM an above-average writer of the funny, because some of these are deeply, deeply awful. Why did this picture inspire so many to make Bald jokes? (Forget I asked; I know) And some of the typos just make the lines better (“The looser takes it all”). And so many references to wind… most of them rather windbaggy. Some of the contributors forgot to include the humor in the black humor (and internet writing contests are not good places to make your cry for help). And then there are some very good turns of phrase that have only the slightest connection with the picture! (“Standing firm against the currents of change invites the lawnmower of destruction.”) Or none at all… (“When being sized up for the promotion, there was always a chance they were not going to go with tenure, experience, and knowledge. Just a chance.”) I submitted a couple myself, but I cannot remember them. Which means I probably voted against them. But I know they didn’t have anything to do with baldness or the wind!

Still, it does my heart good to see an entry like:
Wishing for it isn’t going to make up for your abundancy of not funny

And knowing it can’t POSSIBLY be referring to me!


Typer Stickers

Speaking of Bumper Stickers, the late semi-great site EyeWire.com (since fully absorbed into the commercial site Fonts.com), did a feature once in which it presented a number of “Typographically Topical” Bumper Stickers (saved for posterity by archive.org). Of course, these “sticker” designs are not terribly good for placing on cars, nor for adorning web pages like the Internet Bumper Stickers (unless your site is typography-themed… as one I am now developing will be). Still, they offer some entertaining in-jokes for the type-obsessed, and since the viewing interface within the archive site is kind of … how shall I put it? … crappy, I have ‘rescued’ what I considered the best of the still-accessible designs and place them below. Just part of my policy of “Claiming to Provide Some Kind of Service While Letting Somebody Else Write All the Jokes”…



Re: Things

“This is why we can’t have nice things.”

It’s an oft-repeated cliché on the Web, especially at MetaFilter, where many members worry about whether they actually deserve “nice things”. Honestly, I find “nice things” are somewhat overrated (and I’m looking at you, Apple). I have an adequate supply of adequate things that do what I want them to do… adequately. Of course, one of the things that my adequate things do is to help me make things… and if I’m doing a really good job, the things I make are “nice” and nobody better tell ME they’re overrated. Because the difference between “having nice things” and “making nice things” is immense. Think about it.

Also, “nice people” are definitely NOT overrated, but I’m not comfortable with the wording “having nice people”. “Having nice people around,” much better.


Hut One, Hut Two

In what has to be the biggest mistake in a ‘minor’ rebranding since the SciFi announced it was becoming the SyFy,
scifisyfyfofumthe folks at Yum! Brands (the ! is part of the company name), the same people who have been trying to make you forget that KFC stands for Kentucky Fried Chicken for over a decade, is now bringing you “The Hut”.
Yes, it’s Pizza Hut, but no, they’re not changing everything as they are reassuring the world in a hastily-written press release

Pizza Hut Name To Stay The Same
Company Issues Statement Addressing Its Brand

Dallas, TX (June 20, 2009) — “Pizza Hut is not changing its name. We are proud of our name and heritage and will continue to be Pizza Hut. We do use ‘The Hut’ in some of our marketing efforts,” said Brian Niccol, CMO, Pizza Hut, Inc.

“To the loyal fans of Pizza Hut and pizza lovers around the world, we’re happy to tell you that nothing is changing, we’re still Pizza Hut, America’s Favorite Pizza.”

Well, that’s good to know. But why did they need to make this “what do mean I have to interrupt my weekend?” announcement? Because without any prior notice, people around the country were getting their pizzas delivered in boxes that said “The Hut”.
hutbox(photo thanx to Omar G., who first brought this to my attention)

The news had already gotten out to some via Business News and Snark-Based Media that the plan was to ‘reposition’ the Huts with eat-in facilities as ‘hip hangouts.’ Okay, but why then, did they change the delivery boxes first? Why did they change the delivery boxes at all???

That isn’t the only miscalculation that the Pizza Hut people are making. One of the key elements of the ‘hip-ifying’ of the Huts is adding televisions showing exclusive content to the captive pizza eaters. Okay, that might work, but the content provider they’re working with is CBS, probably the least ‘hip’ media megacorp there is, since they split the company and sent everything appealing to the under-40 demographic to Viacom Inc. In fact, they’re bragging that HutTV (as they inevitably call it) will feature “programs such as ‘Wheel of Fortune’ and ‘Entertainment Tonight’.” And, as shown on a publicity screenshot for the feature, Katie Couric.
87254-HutTVKatie hasn’t been hip since before her broadcast colonoscopy. (Sorry.)

Of course, there is one reason, above all others, that rebranding any part of Pizza Hut to ‘The Hut’ is a really stupid idea. And that came out with the premiere of “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back” 29 years ago…

Right now, Mel Brooks is going “HA! You all groaned and smirked when I came up with the ‘Pizza the Hutt’ character in “Spaceballs”! So who’s groaning and smirking now!!!” (come on, that’s exactly the way Brooks would say it, right?)


Bumper Schtick

First, a note about my last post: the last line about not having slept for 88 hours was a JOKE, but soon after I wrote it, I fell asleep and slept, with minimal interruption, for over 14 hours, waking with memories of bits of three separate dreams, and what I remembered was NOT scenery, NOT architecture. Let’s just say I finally made the team in one, got the robot working in another, and saved a TV series in another. It’s true what they say about bloggers, we really do write for ourselves, and this time it really helped. But you don’t care, and I don’t mind that you don’t.

A recent MetaFilter post (NOT by me) about a site selling “Moderate/Ambivalent/Nuanced” Bumper Stickers reminded me of the existence of Internet Bumper Stickers a site that designs little 250×40 pixel images to ‘stick’ on your site or email. I know they go back to the previous millennium (their “retired stickers” collection refers to Bill Clinton, JarJar and Y2K), and have accumulated nearly 4000 designs. They’re an ‘equal opportunity annoyer’ which means they try to cover all the reasonable opinions and some of the unreasonable ones, while keeping the language PG (but some of the entendres do double).

I just wanted to take this occasion to display some of my favorites (since this blog is not formatted for 250-pixel graphics in the sidebars):
cant_fit(if you disagree with this one, they do have another with the opposite opinion)fits
defrag_brain(my apologies; this one is hard to decipher, MUCH harder if you’re colorblind – hint, hint)
inspector(okay, that one is less a sticker than a tag)


I could go on and on (and maybe someday I will) but they have rules, and to show off as many as I’m showing right now requires me to say “Internet Bumper Sticker® is a registered trademark of InternetBumperStickers.com.”

Their content is sorted into semi-logical categories from Admonitions and Affirmations to Personal Issues and Political Issues, as well as a section containing Latin translations of contemporary stuff:
latin25(Garbage in, garbage out)
latin19(What me worry?)
And a section of Oxymorons that specifically excludes “Jumbo Shrimp” as lacking ‘attitude’.
oxymoron097(although that one is just logical, isn’t it?)

Since the days when I visited the site more often, they have monetized their Bumper Sticker Wisdom by putting some of the most popular and/or original on physical stickers for sale (as well as Refrigerator Magnets and, inevitably, T-Shirts).

One more thing they have is MUCH LARGER images for use as desktop wallpaper. My favorite (which has been on my current computer on multiple occasions (and multiple computers):
And there you are.


Sleep. That’s Where I’m An Architect

The following may be the strangest and most self-indulgent 900 words that I have ever strung together. It’s about dreams and weird places and BBC TV. Do not click the “more” link unless you are very open-minded (or if you came to this page via a direct link, DON’T LOOK DOWN).
Is that all? Of course that’s not all! Click Here.