Downtown living, billboard views

There’s a new multi-use development going up at South First St. and Riverside Dr. It’s called 422 At The Lake. Here’s what the artist’s rendering on their Facebook page looks like:

Pretty nice, huh? OK, not really. And the artist left out everything that isn’t part of this developer’s property. Notably, the artist left out a new high rise directly behind the building. Were it included, it would loom center left in the image above. 

And there’s one other curious thing the artist left out. It’s a structure that has been bordering the southeast corner of this property for many, many years. And I can’t help but think it may affect the desirability of certain units in the complex:

Um, why would you put apartments there? I can’t help but notice that there’s a big billboard in the way. The side view shows just how close they built this new building to the existing billboard:

Ah, progress. 

 

What's In My Bag

OK, first of all, it’s none of your goddamn business. If you were a cop, no way is it constitutional that I have to show you what’s in my bag. So just keep that in mind.

Second of all, this is my old bag. I switched to a new bag last week. HEB gives away a limited number of free reusable bags on Fridays, but it’s first come, first served. I got there early and bought a pack of gum so’s I could get a new bag.

And I been carrying it around all week and thinking it didn’t feel right. So that’s when I went through my extensive collection of worn bags and found that I left all kinds of good stuff in my last bag. Really, this feature should be called “What’s In The Bottom Of The Last Bag I Was Using.” But fuck it. Let’s do this.

13 Cents, a button, and a video game token

Never leave home without them, unless you leave them in your old bag.

iPhone 4 Case

I found this baby in mint fucking condition. Someday I WILL find the phone to go with it. You can bet on that, Jack.

 

Blueteeth Headset

I found this, too, and what a pain in my ass it’s been. First, it hurts my ear hole. Second, it keeps falling out. And third, it picks up signals from the Trilateral Commission only sporadically. Screw it.

Checkbook

Remember these? This is from a bank account I had when I was runnin’ with my old lady. No, I mean my old, old lady. The bank that gave me this checkbook closed in the bust during the early ’90s. Whatever.

Stick On-able Velcro

What’s not to love here?

Metal Thingy 

Yeah, I wrote about this before. So what? It cares more about me than you ever will, so shut up.

 

Plastic Thingy

I have no fucking clue what this is for. Still, could be useful someday.

Used Ear Plug

Still valuable if for no other reason than if I am found dead, they can find this in my bag, test the DNA on it, and confirm that it had been in my ear at some point before I died.

Small Rock

This is not just any small rock. It’s this small rock. And it’s mine. So shove off. 

Pay Stub

Somebody no longer has a durable paper record that one day long ago they received $100 from Texas Monthly Magazine. Because I have it. Obviously, it’s safer this way.

Other Metal Thingy

I have no clue what this thing is or what it is for. But I do have a very strong feeling that it was instrumental to me in one of my past lives. So, no, you can’t have it.

Plasma TV Cleaning Cloth

OK, Mr. or Ms. Irresponsible, when you are ready to admit that your plasma TV is filthy because you couldn’t keep track of a simple little cleaning cloth—and one that comes in its own individual anti-static tote bag, at that—give me a call and you can reclaim it. IF, that is, the serial number you have written down matches the one in my head.


Confabulotron

At one point, I needed this to connect one thing I had to another thing I had, but I do that all virtually now, so I just keep this around for sentimental purposes. And for aesthetics. 

Open Sack of Balloons

It says 50 balloons on the package, but I only counted 43. Now I may have used a balloon or two at some point. But seven? Come on. Lesson learned: count the goddamn balloons as soon as you open them.

Lip Balm Collection

This is how I figured out I still had stuff in my old bag. ‘Cause my lips get real, real chapped sometimes. And I couldn’t find any lip balm. Why? It was all in my old bag. That’s right. Reunited. And it feels so good.

How people outside the U.S. enjoy their superior Internet service

“Americans pay far more and get far less when it comes to the Internet than many other people around the world.”—HuffPo, America Pays More For Internet, Gets Slower Speeds, Than Other Countries

While we dupes here in the U.S. contend with internet service providers fighting for their right to continue offering the least service for the most money, people in other countries have been enjoying faster internet speeds at lower cost for years. In fact, internet users in those countries have developed ways of using the internet we couldn’t even think of, such as:

Grocery delivery—Move over PeaPod and Greenling. In Norway, where they get download speeds of 5GB/sec for $14/month, the clever Nords don’t have to wait for their groceries to be delivered after ordering them online. Now using a 3D bioprinter they can download their groceries directly (after carefully placing a reusable grocery bag under the output chute, of course). Over there, “printing” groceries for a family of four takes around 15 minutes. Contrast that with your house, where downloading a single cocktail onion would take the better part of a day.

Streaming video—A while back I posted a video showing the different download speeds I get on different streaming services. But even my relatively quick Amazon Prime streams pale in comparison to what they get in Peru, where they pay the equivalent of $8/month for 10GB/sec service. There even home users of limited means have banks of monitors, allowing them to watch multiple ultra-high definition streams at once. A Peruvian man recently boasted on Twitter that he watched the entire run of Breaking Bad in 90 minutes. Granted, he probably missed some stuff—he admitted he wasn’t sure who “Heisenberg” was—but still.

Telemedicine—Here, we brag about the latest advances that connectivity has brought to our medical care, such as when a rural hospital is able to fax an x-ray to a big city specialist in just under 9 hours. But let’s look at Albania. There, where users take for granted speeds of 20GB/sec for around $3/month, your doctor can perform a “remote physical” exam on you in real time, via your government-issued tactile sensory responder. (Citizens themselves are responsible for removing and replacing the disposable lubricated rubber finger on the tactile responder after each exam.)

Audio in/out ports (shown) optional for extra chargeE-Learning—More and more U.S. students are attending college courses online. Sure, the audio and video can be as much as a minute out of sync, making it seem like your professor is a raving schizophrenic. But, hey, at least you can attend class in your PJs, right? Well, screw that. In Tanzania (40GB/sec, $.50/month) you can have a USB3 port installed in your skull that lets you transfer a bachelor’s degree’s worth of knowledge into your brain in just under a minute. (Example reflects liberal arts education. STEM-related degrees may take slightly longer.)

Culture Catchup #3: "Ten Years in the Tub," and my ginormous Nick Hornby man-crush

I kinda wanted to open this post by asking, “Where has Nick Hornby been all my life,” but the answer—in England, mostly—is pretty obvious. And, it’s not, like, all my life, since he’s only been publishing books since 1992, when I was in my, um, late-late-late adolescence.

But nevertheless, that “where has he been” feeling kind of aligns with the GINORMOUS MAN CRUSH I’ve had for Nick Hornby since I started reading “10 Years in the Tub,” a collection of his books columns for the magazine, “The Believer.” (According to Mr. Hornby, I shouldn’t feel too bad for not even really knowing that “The Believer” existed, because that doesn’t make me any more ignorant than billions of other earth folk.)

I’ll just insert here that one of the unfortunate side effects of my GINORMOUS MAN CRUSH on Nick Hornby is that once or twice a day, I’ll hear Mike Myers, in character as Austin Powers, inside my head asking, “Do I make you Hornby?” Sadly, I’m not making that up. I don’t even like those movies.

So, I know I’m an ass for never reading Mr. Hornby before, although I think he’d be pretty understanding about it, since eliminating guilt from the reading list is one of Mr. Hornby’s—oh, hell, let’s drop the formalities, this isn’t the New York Times—since eliminating guilt from the reading list is one of Nicky-boy’s frequent touchstones.

Read what you like, and blow off those who would shame you into reading unenjoyable stuff because it’s “good for you,” that’s our Nicky-Nick.

Good ol’ Nickums.

I have vague memories of two dear departed friends ages ago both urging me to read the Nickster, and then getting into a beery disagreement with each other over the reasons I should. Agreeing in principle I should read Dear Nick, but vehemently disagreeing on the particulars as to why. I could be manufacturing that out of memory fragments real and imagined, but it could also be true, as anyone who knew those friends will understand.

Here’s the thing about reading Nick’s “10 Years in the Tub:” I started feeling sad about finishing it on, like, page 5 of its 800-plus pages. I savor each column-length chapter like a delicious morsel of chocolate.

Here’s another thing that made me sad about how happy I am to have finally “hooked up” with Nicky-poo: it’s so freaking obvious that a huge chunk of the people who read him will feel exactly the same way I do. In other words, I’m not special. In other words, I’m just another one of the fan-boys or -girls that Joey Nickels probably spends an increasing chunk of his waking hours trying to avoid.

Poor Nickly. That’s what happens when you write prose that reads the same way butter melts in your mouth. Except letting butter melt in your mouth doesn’t make you laugh and feel smart. Also, reading Nicksy-wick is not literally like reading butter. I won’t be responsible for what happens if you put butter in your eyes. (Unless it winds up erasing all of your annoying crows feet and laugh lines, in which case let me know. Then watch this space for a post announcing the launch of my new EyeButter™ line of bio-ceuticals.)

This fanboy/girl effect was proved to me by the response I got from my mother-in-law when I sent her an email thanking her for the book and telling her how much I was enjoying it. She said, in so many words, “Oh, yeah, you read Nicky-Nick and you just think, Wouldn’t he be great to have a beer with?”

Oh, really? So, you, too? Hands off, bitch, he’s mine. I don’t care who came out of your womb.

But you see what I mean? To read Sweet Nick is to love him.

Even more, for me, is that to read Nicksy-poo makes me want to write, in the same way that seeing a great band in a club makes me want to go home and work on my music. I’ve always felt like my creativity is a vessel that can only hold so much consumed inspiration. If I read, watch or listen to too much, the excess forms a wax-like plug at the top of the vessel. In fact, I feel like a wax-like plug has formed at the top of this metaphor, trapping me—and you, on the off chance one of you has made it this far—inside.

At any rate, Nicksums (this is getting challenging) quickly fills my vessel to the “time to go create” line. Not too many other writers do that in quite the same way.

Unfortunately, there’s a strong urge to emulate, too. Nickers’s writing is so deceptively natural, easy and conversational that, yes, he makes me want to go write, but he makes me want to go write exactly like him. Which is not cool.

Nonetheless, I’m indulging myself by shamelessly ripping off Nikki Nixx throughout this post.

Because, you guys (note the hopeful plural), he does so many little things that I love and relate to and like to do in my own writing. Like writing as if it’s just the two of you kickin’ it, just havin’ a conversation. And writing discursively, while still being, um, cursive enough to create an overall sense unity to each piece.

Oh! And in “10 Years in the Tub,” he has this little running gag based on a throwaway reference to the Polyphonic Spree. The Polyphonic Spree! From Dallas! He knows who they are! And bases a running gag—running as in 10 years running—on them. Who else would do that? No one. How cool is my Lil Nicky?

I don’t know where he’s been all my life, but I’m pretty sure Laddo Nick will be hanging around on my bedside table long after I finish “10 Years in the Tub.”

 

Culture Catchup #2: "Beware of Mr. Baker"

 

I’m a rock drummer, OK? Not a great one, certainly, but I’ve had my moments.

But until I saw Jay Bulger’s terrific documentary about the drummer Ginger Baker, “Beware of Mr. Baker” (on Netflix), I never truly understood the concept of “time.”

Or “toyme,” as the Cockney Baker pronounces it in the film. Or often spits it out:

Interviewer: What did you like about (any musician from his past whom he respected)?

Ginger Baker: TOYME! HE HAD TOYME!

Interviewer: So, why didn’t you like working with (any musician from his past whom he didn’t think much of)?

Ginger Baker: HE HAD NO TOYME!

Oh, sure, I understood about rhythm, about keeping a beat, and all the cool things one might do within the confines of that notion.

But I never really understood that “toyme” itself could be a musical medium, at least in Baker’s hands. I’m going to have a hard time (heh, unintentional) explaining what I mean by that, probably. But basically, this guy, Ginger Baker, seemed to be able to take time and subdivide it so that the component pieces themselves were music.

In other words, I heard Ginger Baker play things in this movie, that if you converted them to a series of identical clicks—rather than a series of sounds made by a drum kit—those clicks in and of themselves would be musical. It’s like painting with math instead of color. 

Or something.

That didn’t really help, did it? Oh, well. Listen to Cream’s White Room in the video above. Ignore the overly grandiose parts. Listen for how the drums seem to propel the music forward while simultaneously seeming to be slowing musical time down altogether.

That’s not really a great illustration of what I’m talking about either, but it is a great illustration of a rock song with a really cool fucking drum part.

So, yeah, I knew Ginger Baker was supposed to be this incredible rock drummer, and I knew that he was in Cream, the first rock “supergroup,” and I knew that I grew up hearing a few Cream songs, like “White Room,” and “Sunshine of Your Love,” on the radio and that the drums sounded really cool. And I guess part of me always wondered, if this guy was supposed to be so amazing, why didn’t he do much that I have heard of since then?

Well, one answer is that he did a bunch of stuff afterward, and a lot of it was really cool and worthy of listening to, but it just never came up on my (limited and weak) musical radar. I mean, sure, I’d heard of Ginger Baker’s Air Force—which AllMusic.com says was ”arguably the pinnacle of the legendary drummer’s achievements of the 1960s”—but I never sought their music out.

Another answer is that he did a bunch of music afterward that was perfectly awful.

And the ultimate answer is what unifies the first two answers—he was incredibly difficult to deal with. When he made really cool and worthy music, it wasn’t for very long, because every group he was in would implode within a short time. When he made perfectly awful music, it was because the only people left who would play with him specialized in the perfectly awful genre.

Dude was difficult. Incredible, once-in-a-generation talent. Uncompromising personality. Hardcore heroin junkie. Hell, combine any two of the three traits and you get “difficult.” Combine them all and you get a human Category 5 hurricane.  

In all sincerity, after I finished watching this documentary, I thought, man, I am glad this movie got made. Not only was I glad the story was told, I was glad it was told this way.

Just to point out a couple of things I learned that were especially gratifying/mindblowing: One, the movie directly confronts a question that I’d wondered about, which is, if Ginger Baker is so great, what sets him apart from and above other celebrated rock drummers, like The Who’s Keith Moon or Zeppelin’s John Bonham? (Answer: just about everything aside from the fact that they all used wooden sticks as part of their jobs.)

And, two, Ginger Baker sat in regularly with Fela Kuti’s house band. In Lagos. In 1972. And kicked ass. (Fela Kuti was, well, look it up.)

In closing, I’ll point out that one of last year’s heavily hyped indie narrative films was “Whiplash,” about a young jazz drummer and how the pursuit of musical excellence compromised his humanity. I liked it fine. But, oh, boy, does “Beware of Mr. Baker” cover the same territory in a more compelling way. And it really happened.

If you are interested in stories about creativity and creative people, or if, like me, you just always wondered, WTF with Ginger Baker?, you’ll enjoy this film.

Culture Catchup #1: Don Hertzfeldt's "It's Such a Beautiful Day"

 

“Donhertzfeldt” by Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Donhertzfeldt.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Donhertzfeldt.jpg

Don Hertzfeldt makes animated films, and I became aware of him through his Academy Award-nominated short film from 2000, “Rejected.” This short has been viewed millions and millions (and millions!) of times on YouTube. and deservedly so. It’s dark and brilliant and ridiculously funny. It’s well worth investing 9 minutes in.  If you’ve never seen it, you should watch it. I’m embedding it at the end of this post. Do it. 

Whether you should watch Hertzfeldt’s “It’s Such a Beautiful Day,” well, that’s another matter. I saw that it was added to Netflix and eagerly checked it out. It started out as funny and dark and brilliant as “Rejected.”  

Here’s the thing: I love Hertzfeldt’s style of dark, twisted humor. In fact, I’ve often plumbed the same depths in my humor writing “career.”

But whenever I’m writing stuff in this vein, I’m always conscious of how limiting it is. There are only so many gags that can end with someone’s limbs falling off and blood spurting out, or someone being killed unexpectedly in some absurdist way. IMO, of course. 

It’s not like Hertzfeldt doesn’t have things to say. He does, and he says many of them brilliantly. He also uses a lot of interesting, creative animation craft and technique in “It’s Such a Beautiful Day,” resulting in sequences that alternate between arresting beauty and dark malevolence. I also find his use of classical music here inspired (just as it is in “Rejected.”)

But, man, I found getting through the hour-long running time of this film to be a slog. It starts to feel like Hertzfeldt’s absurdist darkness works at cross purposes with his attempt to present a coherent theme (the film was stitched together from several short films).

Let’s ruminate on the randomness and isolating forces of modern life, and then a character gets run over by a train. Ha ha! See?! I’m glad you think that’s funny, because it happens over and over and over again (literally, with the same train).

Watch “Rejected.” If you love it as much I do, you may want to consider giving “It’s Such a Beautiful Day” a try. Or you might want to savor and celebrate “Rejected” as a singular work, without feeling the need to supersize it.

 

 

Tattoo artist specializes in restoring nipples after mastectomies

Breast cancer affects so many women every year. Many of these women get mastectomies, either out of necessity or as a precaution against recurrences. Plastic surgeons can perform breast augmentation to restore a woman’s shape, but as I learned from this surprisingly affecting NYT video, many women don’t feel their surgeons can do an adequate job to restore the appearance of their nipples. The video profiles a woman who visits tattoo artist Vinnie Meyers, of Little Vinnie’s Tattoo in Finksburg MD, to have nipples tattooed on her reconstructed breasts. Meyers says that nipple tattoos have become his accidental specialty. Women from all over the country and overseas visit him to “get a Vinnie.” Beautiful. 

Machine tool porn

 

Are you into power turning? How about gear hobbing, threat milling, boring, or eccentric machining? Well, they’re all here—and the music is kinda porny, too.

I’ve been a sucker for assembly line films since I was a little kid, and I watched every second of this almost 9 minute clip. What are they making with the CTX gamma 2000 TC? Who cares! It’s a beautiful hunk of metal.

 

Found on Wimp.com

Photo Gallery: Abandoned Full Poo Bags, Spring 2014

ARTIST’S STATEMENT: My work photographing full dog poo bags left lying around Austin’s Lady Bird Lake continues. As I spend more time with full dog poo bags, I can’t help find myself humanizing them. Who did they belong to? Who filled them with poo and then abandoned them for someone else to deal with? And what is wrong with those people that they would leave behind an innocent sac of polyethylene to represent their craven, callous selfishness? The imponderables draw me further into the poo bags’ world, and my art. Enjoy.

R. Malley

Artist

This poo bag casts a shadow as if to say, “Look at me! I’m a castoff!”

Taking the trouble to knot the bag, and then tossing it on the ground. Who is the real artist here? I’d submit it’s not me.

I was tempted to check to see whether this bag did indeed contain as large a dog log as it appears, or whether it had been “fluffed up” to help the dog’s owner feel like a “big shot.” But I didn’t.

Is that just another rock? No, it’s a full poo bag. Oh. Gross.

What does this say, if not, “I’m lonely?”Like me, you probably find the composition of this shot inspiring. All credit must go to the selfish asshole who discarded this poo bag on the ground.

Desolation and dread. And nothing else.

New growth, old, bad habits.

The simplicity of spring, captured in its essence. Plus, a full poo bag.

True Crime, False Justice: Texas Monthly’s Epic Exposé of Murder and Travesty

Mike Hall’s Energizer bunny of a magazine story just keeps going and going and going

Old-fashioned reporters were said to build their stories with a lot of shoe leather. In the case of Texas Monthly contributing editor Mike Hall, a good friend, it’s more like sneaker rubber. No matter. After a year of reporting, Hall has delivered a masterpiece of criminal justice journalism that leaves little doubt that six men were falsely convicted for the murders of four people—in two separate, but incredibly entwined cases—in Waco, Texas in the early 80s. Three of the six men were ultimately exonerated. But one died in prison, one still languishes there, and one, David Spence, was executed by the State of Texas in 1998.

Spence’s conviction rested entirely on the testimony of compromised jailhouse snitches and a so-called human bite mark expert whose work was dismissively discredited by the forensic scientists who later reviewed it. After after examining some human remains in another case, this same expert also famously and definitively claimed that they belonged to a missing woman—who later turned up very much alive. And his testimony was the linchpin that cinched Spence’s execution.

This is a story where a relative of one of the victims shouts “Just die!” at a condemned man strapped to the lethal injection gurney, and is then haunted in the following decades over the uncertainty of the executed man’s actual guilt. And with good reason. It’s an incredible—and at 25,000 words—a massive read. Texas Monthly will be releasing it online in four parts, starting today. But if you’re lucky enough to live in the Great State, you can head down to the store, buy a copy of the magazine, and read it all in one mind-blowing whack.

Photo Gallery: Abandoned Full Poo Bags, Winter 2013-14

ARTIST’S STATEMENT: My work photographing full dog waste bags left lying around Austin’s Lady Bird Lake continues. As I get deeper into the work, I find myself feeling that it is less about the dog excrement, and more about the execreble humans who feel entitled to bag their dogs’ waste without discarding it. Though meaning, of course, is in the eye of the beholder. What do YOU see?

R. Malley

Artist

The slashing diagonal is evocative of the wounds I imagine myself inflicting on poo bag litterers with my replica katana sword.The acorns and leaves connote new beginnings. The knot on the poo bag symbolizes our inability to free ourselves from living amongst thoughtless cretins.What can I say? Sometimes even I get caught up in a sense of lighthearted whimsy, as with this mirthful work.
As a counterpoint to the previous image, here I see only sadness and death.

Romanian woman dubbed over 3,000 forbidden western films

Life in Romania sucked under the totalitarian regime of Nicolae Ceaușescu. But during the 1980s, duped black market VHS tapes provided repressed Romanians much longed for entertainment and tantalizing, if embellished, glimpses of western “freedom.”

All of the films were dubbed into Romanian—all of the roles—by one woman, who voiced the dialog for over 3,000 films. 

This NYT Op-Doc made by filmmaker Ilinca Calugareanu lets this woman finally tell her own story. 

As seen on Daring Fireball.

Ready-made excuses for Toronto mayor Rob Ford

 

Rob Ford, the button-thread testing mayor of Toronto, finally admitted yesterday that, yes, he had smoked crack cocaine. I was most fascinated by his response to the question of when this indiscretion occurred, to which Mayor Ford replied, “Probably in one of my drunken stupors, probably approximately a year ago.”

Unfortunately for the citizens of Toronto (but fortunately for humorists needing material), Mayor Ford has vowed not to resign. As a service to him, I am providing some excuses he can fall back on during the remainder of his term:

“Sorry, I’d just motorboated Miss Toronto in the folds of my gut at a charity dinner and I was a little discombobulated as to who all I insulted that night.”

“I was consorting with a prostitute—one of legal age, mind you—and I wasn’t conscious of the date at that moment, which I’m sure the voters will understand.”

“I’d just snorted a gigantic rail off the rack of some Mississauga milf and lost track of the time, which is why I was late to the honorable reverend’s memorial service. Not an excuse, merely an explanation.”

“As I was peaking on the dancefloor, my heart briefly stopped—I’m very sorry, but the brain cells with the information you’re asking about have died.”

“If you made a sex tape with a couple of Leafs cheerleaders over 8 months ago—8 months ago!—are you gonna remember whether or not public funds were used to rent the hotel room? C’mon, ey! Am I right?”

“When I’m rollin’ with my boys and we got some tight bud, it just feels right and at that moment I don’t care who is or isn’t a wanted felon, OK?”

“Forgive me, I had fluid on my lungs after a week-long spontaneous celebration of my mayoralty, and I can’t make sound judgments in that condition.”

“I was down at the local shotgunning boilermakers with some of my constituents and many of the details of the council meeting that followed are a little hazy.”

“That’s the thing about combining Ecstasy and cough medicine: I don’t always have total recall. Now, do I know I groped some gals? Yes. Do I know how many gals I groped? No, sorry, I don’t. That’s just the way it is.”

 

A rock and a hard place: student survives fall, is stuck between buildings for 36 hours

Survivor: Asher VongtauSheesh. College kids.

It’s hard to call NYU student Asher Vongtau lucky. After all, he fell off an NYU dorm building, though no one is yet sure how far he fell. 

But he landed in a narrow gap—described as barely wider than a shoe box—between the dorm building and it’s parking garage. The gap probably broke his fall, but he was still badly injured, and completely trapped, unable to move. At all. 

They finally found him, still alive, 36 hours later. They had to break through a brick wall in the parking garage to reach him and get him out. 

Dude is going to have some stories. 


 

NYT: For 36 Hours, NYU Student Was Trapped Between 2 Buildings

The 50 Least Consequential Innovations Since the Wheel

Kottke links to this post in the Atlantic where “eminent historians” weigh in on the 50 most important innovations since the wheel. 

And that’s fine, that’s fine. Some people get all caught up in the “important stuff,” and I understand that. But here at Oblogatory, we have another list. OK, I have another list. And the significance of the items on this list, I’d aver, simply can’t be measured. 

So without further ado, here are the 50 Least Consequential Innovations since the Wheel:

  1. Mirrored mirror
  2. Grease desexer
  3. Dissolving harpoon
  4. Monkey gloves
  5. Training training wheels
  6. Cheese icer
  7. Nitrogen non-intervention
  8. Inert electricity
  9. Totally normalizing ray
  10. Mustard boiler
  11. Flypaper shoes
  12. Cat isolation chamber
  13. The study of meh
  14. Queasy water
  15. Florm
  16. Arnaz-style sideburns
  17. Personal computer scabbard
  18. Whey-based monetary system
  19. Art
  20. Fruit suede
  21. Reverse frontal rear projection
  22. Light hard lemonade
  23. Angel dust cover
  24. Bull milking machine
  25. Howard spotter
  26. The “Shaved Heiress” Theorem
  27. Gelatin grater
  28. Dead calm mill
  29. Water loaf
  30. Murtaugh’s Law of Guesstimates
  31. The “aware” tattoo
  32. Toenail defiler
  33. Self-fouling latrine
  34. Bullshit multiplier factor
  35. Tree bark condoms
  36. Ever-randomizing grammar
  37. Artificial organic vinyl
  38. Not-quite-slow motion photography
  39. Tank cozy
  40. Eccentric canals
  41. Woven mercury
  42. Aluminum butter
  43. Snerd’s Law of Ventriloquism
  44. Underarm reodorant
  45. Interchangeable punchlines
  46. Hummingbird leash
  47. Remaud’s Law of Six of One, Half a Dozen of the Other
  48. Curd-powered engine
  49. Never-drying ink
  50. Bioengineered lint

OMG, Jeff Beck IS Nigel Tufnel

I watched the 2008 documentary The Story of the Yardbirds on Amazon Prime. It’s pretty good, but what really amused me was the interview footage with Jeff Beck. I guess I’d never him interviewed before, because it was instantly apparent that his look (shag haircut, sleeveless t-shirts, bulbous red nose) and accent were so obviously channelled by Christopher Guest into Spinal Tap’s Nigel Tufnel. Check it out. Hell, you can just look at the preview frames to see what I’m talking about. 

By the way, if you’ve been interested in trying it out—and for me it’s been worth it for the instant video selection alone—use this link to get a 30-day free trial of Amazon Prime. You’ll be helping support good ol’ Oblogatory when you do. Thanks. 

After Senator Cruz Meets with House Conservatives in Restaurant Basement: A play in one act

 Inspired by TPM—Senator Cruz Meets with House Conservatives in Restaurant Basement

Dramatis Personae
Ted Cruz: Republican senator from Texas
Abby: A struggling mother of two employed as a waitress
The Chorus: Senator Cruz’s toadies in the House of Representatives
Sergio: A busboy, offstage.

—Curtain—

A restaurant foyer. Senator Cruz and the Chorus are headed out the door when Abby runs up behind them. She’s holding something. 

Abby: Uh, Senator! Senator Cruz! One moment, sir.

Ted Cruz: Yes, what is it?

Abby: You tell me. What the fuck is this?

Voices from the Chorus: Say, now! You can’t speak to the senator like that! The unbridled nerve! Who is this commoner?

Abby: Back off, fellas. This is between me and the senator. (To Cruz) Well?

Ted Cruz: Well what?

Abby: Like I said before, what the fuck is this?

Ted Cruz: Well, I can’t be certain, but it looks like two United States dollar bills.

Abby: That’s EXACTLY what it is.

Ted Cruz (smugly): Then I’m glad I could help identify them for you.

He and the Chorus resume their exit.

Abby: Not so fast!

Ted Cruz (irritated): Miss, just what is the problem?

Abby: What is the problem? I’ll tell you what is the problem. The problem is I just waited on close to 20 of you for more than two hours and you left me a $2 tip.

Voices from the Chorus: Well, just get another job… Probably here illegally anyway… Doesn’t the restaurant pay her?… Service wasn’t that great, anyway… Only got three coffee refills myself… Harumph…Etc….

Ted Cruz (clearing his throat): Well, miss, I don’t see how your economic irresponsibility is any of our concern.

Abby: Oh, no?

Ted Cruz: No. Now you have a nice day.

A high keening wail rises. No one can figure out where it’s coming from, until they realize it’s coming from Abby. As they look on in horror, she seems to transform in front of them. Her eyes appear to glow red, and her face is drawn back into a fierce snarl. She advances on the group, heading straight for Cruz.

Ted Cruz (panicked): Now, miss, wait. I’m sure we can work this out in committee.

Abby: (inhuman snarling, gnashing sounds)

Voices from the Chorus: Oh, shit… I’m getting out of here… What about the senator?… Who cares? This is a meritocracy of the fittest…. And the closest to the exit…

Just then, a loud clunking noise is heard. The members of the chorus try to open the door. It’s locked. Abby, tossing aside an electronic key remote, continues to advance menacingly.

Ted Cruz (pleading): M-m-m-m-miss, please. Let’s be reason—

Before he can finish, Abby has leapt at his throat, sinking her teeth in up to his spine. A sound like a baby rabbit in distress issues from Senator Cruz as he crumbles, bleeding from the throat, to the floor. Abby turns to the Chorus.

Voices from the Chorus: We’re trapped… We’re all going to die!… I can’t die, my best years of being an asshole are in front of me… Wait, please!

But it’s too late. Abby lunges at the chorus members in an orgy of gnashing teeth and claw-like fingernails. In minutes they all lie dead or dying. A few muffled moans issue from the pile of bodies. Abby bends to retrieve the electronic key remote, aims it at the door, which issues a clunk as the lock opens. Abby steps over the bodies, opens the door and is just about to leave when she turns and calls back into the restaurant.

Abby: I’ll see you tomorrow, Sergio.

Sergio (offstage): See you tomorrow, Abby! Have a nice night.

Abby: I left a bit of a mess by the door, sorry.

Sergio: That’s OK. I’ll take care of it.

Abby: Don’t forget to lock behind me.

Sergio: You got it. See you tomorrow.  

Abby exits. The lock clunks shut.

—Curtain—