Chumpass link-bait site thinks Jim Morrison is alive and transmogrified into Steven Tyler

I was on some site somewhere reading something when I saw an ad for one of those obnoxious multi-page click-bait features, "17 Celebrities Who Are Aging Terribly."

Ordinarily, I avoid that shit like the plague, but every once in a while, something moves me to click. This time I clicked because the thumbnail with the link was a photo of Clint Howard (Opie's little brother) that I could've sworn was a Drew Friedman caricature, and I wanted to have a closer look:

Here's a Drew Friedman (love him!) caricature for reference:

Irony number one is that nowhere in this execrable web feature of 17 badly aging celebrities is Clint Howard mentioned or pictured! Ha! Irony number two is that Clint Howard is the "celebrity" they chose to feature in their ad. It's hard for me to imagine someone somewhere saying, "Hey, Barry! You wouldn't believe how that Clint Howard pic converted!"

And irony number three? Well, here's irony number three. Words fail:

A 1908 Impressionist Masterpiece: The Artist's Son, Texting

M.S. Rau Antiques, of New Orleans, has a full-pager in today’s New York Times advertising two works by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, an important 19th-20th century impressionist painter, and the father of celebrated film director Jean Renoir.

One of the works is, in fact, a portrait of Jean Renoir dated 1908, when the future director of “Grand Illusion” and “The Rules of the Game” would’ve been 14.

And, OK, I know Jean Renoir is not sending a text in this painting, but, geez, doesn’t it look like he is? I mean, the subtle way Renoir Pére uses light and color to capture the young man’s mien and attitude—it’s uncanny. If the painted figure could talk, you could imagine it saying, “I could give a shit about you and your portrait, Dad. Can’t you see I’m busy?!”


I have been identified as a guaranteed winner!*

Thank you, Clay Cooley Nissan of Austin South! I will be headed your way soon to claim my prize!* I mean, seeing as how my NOTIFICATION STATUS is APPROVED and CONFIRMED and all.

Oh, wait. The prize claim deadline is Wednesday. And today is Wednesday. 

Oh, wait again. It doesn’t say which Wednesday is the deadline. So the deadline could be today, or it could be any Wednesday into perpetuity. I get it! Creating a little urgency there. 

Just one thing: I’m a little concerned that my PRIZE NOTIFICATION NUMBER is illegible. Weird, huh? I mean, everything else is legible here, even on the carbon copy (nice touch, BTW!)

Well, I guess we can work that out when I come in and compare my number to the numbers on your PRIZE BOARD. I’m sure if there’s any question about what my PRIZE NOTIFICATION NUMBER is, I’ll get the benefit of the doubt, right?


See you soon.*

PS: The bank said the bottom part is not a real check. What up with that? : ( 

Bait bike, bait bike, whatcha gonna do, whatcha gonna do if no one steals you?

Not sure if you can tell, but the padlock is doing nothing, really. If you forced the chain lock, you could slip it right off the bike and this padlock. Weird.This is the second bike that has been locked to this isolated signpost at the end of my block and seemingly abandoned. I’ve seen similar perfectly serviceable bikes apparently abandoned in the park across the street. 

This morning it hit me: dollars to donuts these are bait bikes

Once I realized this, I unconsciously started looking around trying to see if I was on Candid Camera or something. And then I backed away, slowly. 

New Yorker typo: barfing dogs, or barking dogs?

Louis Menand’s overview of two new books about the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in the New Yorker’s July 21 issue includes this sentence: “On May 3rd, Birmingham police, under the direction of the public-safety commissioner, Eugene (Bull) Connor, trained fire hoses and sicked dogs on young protesters.”

Ahem. That would be “sicced.” Although sicking a dog on me would definitely get me to stop whatever it was I was doing. 

Inexplicable Spurs championship knock-off t-shirt for chintzy bandwagoners

So you say you want to jump on the San Antonio Spurs’ NBA championship celebration bandwagon?

But you’re kinda cheap and you don’t wanna spring for officially licensed NBA gear?

Is that what’s bothering you, bunky?

Well, hold your head up high and walk tall, because Walgreens in Austin has just what you need. Just like the stores that sell the real thing, the day after the Spurs’ triumph, Walgreens had their shelves stocked with just-in-time merch made to help them cash in. 

Yes, go forth proudly with your muscles flexed and your chest all puffed out, the better to display this knock-off t-shirt Walgreens let you have for only ten bucks. 

Just be sure to remove the sticker that disclaims any resemblance—unintentional or otherwise—to any officially licensed sports team. 

And have an answer ready for when anyone asks you what the hell your shirt means.

Good luck!


Metal thingy I found a while back still satisfies

Both of my dedicated readers may remember this from back in ought-one-one. It still sits on my desk where I can see it every day.

“A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” Who said that? Keats? Yeats? One of them poetry dudes, I’m pretty sure. And was he wrong? Hell, no.

We went al fresco for this photo session, me and my little hunk of metal did. If anything, I think the natural lighting only makes it more beautiful. But then again, I’m hardly objective when it comes to this little booger.

Just look at the details in that patina! Why, if I had a daughter, I’d name her Patina. But from the way things are going, I’ll probably die childless. Maybe that’s why I feel so tender towards this thing, which, again, I believe is some kind of ferrule. And it never did nobody no harm, so far as I know.

Dang, y’all. If that doesn’t get you all choked up, I’m not sure what will.

'Scuse me while I put on these miracle shoes so I can kiss the sky


Click to view at readable sizeWhen I see a shoe ad with the sub-headline “Excitement swept through my body,” I don’t just think, “Man, I wish I had snuck that in a brochure for Dell when I had the chance.” No, excitement sweeps through MY body, too, because something this outrageous just has to be shared. The copy in this full-page ad from yesterday’s NYT Magazine is so over the top I’m going to have to quote liberally.


This is my story… I used to be more active. I used to run, play basketball, tennis, football… Nowadays I rarely walk. For some reason, it’s just harder. Gravity has done it’s job on me.”

Note how we move from the wonderful, light-footed past to the crappy, dead-footed present, all in one paragraph. We’re living in the here-and-now with some unnamed narrator guy, and the living sucks. Goddamn gravity!


“‘Wear them and you’ll know.’ That’s what my doctor recommended. He said, ‘Gravity Defyer shoes absorb harmful shock that may cause pain in your feet, knees, back and joints.’ He promised they would change my life—like they were a fountain of youth… The longer he talked, the more sense it made. He was even wearing a pair himself!”

OK, where to begin? Who is the doctor making these fantastic promises? Is it Dr. Arnold Ross, the endorser at the top of the page? We don’t know. Although it is impressive that Dr. Ross is an associate professor of podiatry at the Western University College of Podiatric Medicine, isn’t it? (But why is Dr. Ross not included on the faculty page of that august institution of lower extremity learning? Hmmm, interesting.) But what I love about this part is that the narrator and the ad aren’t making the claims, some doctor is making the claims. Tricky.


“Excitement swept through my body… I received my package from and rushed to tear it open like a kid at Christmas. Inside I found the most amazing shoes I had ever seen… I put them on and all I could say was, ‘WOW!’ …I felt invincible, tireless in my new Gravity Defyer shoes. It was as if my legs had been replaced with super-powered bionics. What the doctor promised was all correct. At last, I was back in the game. Gravity had no power over me!”

The bold is from the original. But what I really want to know is how you type ad copy in zero gravity. Desk straps? Anyway, there’s a lot going on here, not the least of which is the implication that our narrator can now dunk a basketball through a goal of any height.


“So, my friend, get back on your feet like I did… You have nothing to lose but the gravity that is holding you down.”

Moral: If your feet hurt, get these shoes. Your feet may still hurt, but once you become completely unmoored from the only planet you have ever known, you’ll have much bigger things to worry about. Like floating free of an oxygen-rich atmosphere and suffocating in the ionosphere. It’s unlikely you will give a shit about your lousy sore feet then.  

Ladybird Lake bedecked with 14K dead tree prayer flags for public art project

Some of the 14,000 prayer flags that will ring Ladybird Lake

Notice the design on the flags at top. And if you squint real hard, you can see the line of white flags on the Pfluger pedestrian bridge in the background, just below the rusty train trestleIf you haven’t seen them already, next time you’re down by the hike and bike trail around Ladybird Lake, you’ll see a loooooong string of Tibetan-style prayer flags silk screened with an image of a leafless tree. There will be 14,000 flags in all, covering most of the loop between the South First Street and Pfluger pedestrian bridges. They are for a public art project called THIRST, presented by Women and Their Work. The piece is a collaboration between visual artist Beili Liu, architects Emily Little and Norma Yancey, and landscape architect Cassie Bergstrom. It’s meant to memorialize the 300 million trees that died in the 2011 Texas drought, and raise awareness of water conservation issues. (So, I guess each flag represents 214,000 trees? Math help, please.)

According to one of the flag installer dudes I came upon this morning, the piece’s installation will culminate on Sep. 29th with the lighting of the actual dead tree silhouetted on the flags, which will be erected on a barge in between the Lamar St. and Pfluger pedestrian bridges. (The barge is already there, and, having seen it for the past week or so, I’d been wondering WTF. Now I know.)

This is one of the coolest public art projects I can remember seeing in our fair city. It’ll be up through December 20. 

Vana Mazi: Just another badass Austin band

I’ve had a busy week, so it’s been hard for me to find things to post about. (Unlike the big boy bloggers, no one ever sends me tips—hint, hint.)

So it was with great delight that I happened upon Vana Mazi at the Whip In last night. I thought they were so cool I couldn’t wait to share them. (VANA MAZI LINKS: Reverb Nation, CD Baby, Facebook)

(I should mention here that it was the outstanding Gavin Tabone Quartet that got me out to the Whip In last night in the first place. But I had to work late and only caught the end of their set on the outdoor stage, which is about when Vana Mazi got cranking indoors.)

Vana Mazi’s lineup of tuba, accordion, acoustic guitar and combo drumkit immediately got my attention. I mean, you don’t see that instrumentation every day. At least I don’t.

What got my attention even more was the wonderful eastern European/Balkan sounds these folks threw down. 

Vocally, Vana Mazi seems to hew to an English-never policy. Guitarist and lead vocalist Ian J. Everett not only has a really strong and appealing voice, dude has outstanding diction and authentic-sounding accents in several languages I do not speak.

Their repetoire consists of songs that Everett collected during extensive travels fueled in part by a passion to learn music from other cultures. 

Aces accordionist Amanda Kitchens adds strong harmony vocals, and is a captivating frontline presence. 

Let’s also note that while everyone in the band has mad skilz, drummer Tim Maher is just absolutely sick. Dude is ill in the best possible sense. You don’t find a drummer who can nail those crazy Balkan meters just anywhere. All in all, it’s pretty special that these people found each other. 

I couldn’t wait to download Vana Mazi’s latest album, Flux, which I am listening to as I write this. And it sounds terrific. I could and probably will listen to it all day. 

Watch this video of them playing in a teepee. Then go check ‘em out. They sound great, they look great, and they know how to keep the party going. (Another thing Grandpa Oblogatory really appreciated was that their Whip In gig was at a reasonable time and a comfortable volume.) 

My First Solo Show: Abandoned Full Poo Bags, Summer 2013

ARTIST’S STATEMENT: I am interested in the interstices that define separation. The 2 mil of Chinese polyethylene that separates poo from the Earth. The few steps that separate a full poo bag left on the ground from a nearby trashcan. These are the distances that limn my work.

I believe it is only through art that we can fully appreciate the fundamental dichotomies in our world. One such dichotomy is between the feelings of social obligation that impel us to make a public show of putting on a polyethylene hand puppet and force feeding with it our dogs’ excrement, and the selfish douchiness that enables some of us to turn that puppet inside out and toss it aside to be someone else’s problem.

I hope you are moved by what you see here.

R. Malley


Find a tween Ozzy Osbourne with this Youth Metal Detector

Are you looking for the next pre-teen Motley Crüe?

Do you want to get your mitts on the next Iron Maiden before some other rapacious, scruple-free svengali exploits them first?

Wouldn’t it be great to discover Pantera as a diamond in the rough so that you could present them to the world as a diamond in the slightly less rough, for fun, and most importantly, profit?

Then pal, do I have the tool for you.

The Model MC1 Youth Metal Detector is unlike any youth metal detector before it. Its twin sensitivity coils can pick up the slightest bent string feedback from up to 500 yards away!

With its powerful anguished shriek detection circuitry, it can penetrate deep into even the most heavily egg-crated cinderblock rehearsal garages to sniff out those aspiring Bon Scotts and Axl Roses.

No, wait, I’m lying. This is just a metal detector for kids with funny syntax on the package.

As you were.


Tamper Proof: 3 Mistaken Beliefs about the Extra Strength Tylenol Murders

Unlike a lot of you, I’m old enough to remember when over-the-counter medicines didn’t come with a shrinkwrap tamper-evident seal on the bottle, like the one I have so artfully shown. Over the years, I’m sure that US food and drug industries have spent billions developing and using this packaging. I thought I knew why these measures were put into place, but I wasn’t exactly right.


In my memory, these product safety requirements were the direct result of the Extra Strength Tylenol (EST) murders of 1982. In September and October of that year, seven people in the Chicago area died after ingesting Extra Strength Tylenol, causing widespread alarm and massive news coverage.

Imagine the horror: people who had minor headaches and the like reached for a popular brand-name product trusted as safe and died because of it, totally at random. It was a big, big deal.

The fact that the case has never been solved and led—indirectly, as it turns out—to such a drastic change in the way products are packaged has always fascinated me. For some reason, I never took the time to read anything about it until recently. (Hey, I’m busy.—ed.)

Here are three things I thought knew about the case, but didn’t, along with links to the articles that set me straight.

•The seven people who died consumed poisoned EST from seven different bottles bought at seven different Chicago-area stores—WRONG

In fact, the seven victims consumed poisoned EST from five different bottles: in a sad and twisted tragedy, three victims were poisoned from the same bottle! In the first known deaths, one lady died early one day; later the same day, two of her relatives who had gathered at her house to grieve didn’t feel so well, so they took capsules from the same bottle that killed her, whereupon they collapsed and later died.

This was, of course, before authorities had figured out what was going on. Later, when all of the EST had been removed from store shelves from coast to coast, a couple more EST bottles removed from Chicago-area stores were found to contain poisoned capsules. Luckily, no one had bought them before they were yanked.

•We have tamper-evident packaging on everything directly because of the EST murders of 1982—WRONG

The Federal law that requires companies to use tamper-evident packaging was not a direct result of the Tylenol poisonings of 1982. It did become a Federal crime to tamper with consumer products in 1983, in the wake of the Extra Strength Tylenol murders.

It was only in 1989, after a spate of copycat crimes occurred over the years, that the Federal government enacted the requirements for tamper-evident packaging.

In two separate copycat crimes, murderers poisoned their spouses with cyanide-laced OTC medication. In both cases, the motive was insurance money. Also in both cases, the murderers placed other poisoned bottles in stores to make the poisoning of their spouse look like a random act, resulting in the deaths of three total strangers who were unlucky enough to buy and consume the planted poison pills. Killing random strangers to cover the murder of one’s spouse for money—does it get more cold-blooded than that?


•No good suspects were ever developed for the original EST murders—WRONG

In fact, almost since the very beginning, investigators have tried in vain to build a case against a man named James W. Lewis. As recently as 2009 they executed a search warrant on his home trying to find evidence that would finally lead to an indictment.

Lewis served a long prison sentence after he was convicted of sending an extortion letter to McNeil Consumer Products in the wake of the poisonings. The letter threatened more deaths if the drug maker didn’t pony up $1 million. But the crime was allegedly less of an actual shakedown and more of an attempt to pin the murders on Lewis’s wife’s ex-boss, with whom the couple had an ongoing feud.

With so much time passed, it seems very unlikely that a case will be made against Lewis, though apparently some law enforcement types are convinced of his guilt.

The fact that Lewis was charged with an earlier murder in Kansas City probably stoked these suspicions in the first place. In spite of  the seemingly strong case against him, Lewis was never prosecuted for that murder thanks to sloppy police work that enabled his lawyer to get the case thrown out on technical grounds.

Lewis has always adamantly denied that he was in any way responsible for that crime, or the EST murders. Rather than keeping a low profile since his release from prison, he seems to take great delight in taunting law enforcement over their continuing fruitless focus on him. Check out his website—yes, his website—to see what I mean. You might even decide to buy his book: POISON! The Doctor’s Dilemma

Wikipedia: Chicago Tylenol Murders 

Tru.TV Crime Library: The Tylenol Murders

Chicago Reader: A Bitter Pill FBI Searches Home of Man Linked to Tylenol Deaths Books by James Wm. Lewis


WTF is with iTunes 11 asking for consent EVERY time I open it?

EVERY time I open iTunes 11.0.2, I get this:

In case you aren’t wearing your readers, the text at lower left is asking me to either agree or not agree to share details about my music library with Apple so that they can download album cover art, and probably also infect my brain so that on some secret pre-determined date they can flip a switch and turn me into their robot slave. 

Up until now, I’ve always clicked “Agree.” The risk of turning into Apple’s robot slave is worth it to me so that I will see the cover art for for Johnny “Guitar” Watson: Best of the Funk Years when I am listening to “A Real Mother for Ya.” But the consent screen still came up every time I re-launched the app anyway.

In the interest of blog-a-listic inquiry, I just now tried clicking “No Thanks” to see if that would make it go away. Nope. It didn’t.

Ha ha! Apple made a mista-aake!

A DIY moldable silicone polymer for hacks and mods? sugru?!

Yeah, the post headline pun is a reach. But meet Jane, the adorable and no-doubt soon to be annoyingly ubiquitous inventor of sugru (pronounced sue-grew). 

Her invention is a hand-formable, self-curing silicone rubber that bonds to almost anything. I can think of dozens of times when having something like this would have been a godsend. 

I am ordering some right now. I can’t think of a use for it right now, but I’m sure I will, and I’ll let you know how it works. 

As seen on

Indoor skydiving coming to Austin

This is Aaron Necessary, a flight trainer for iFly. Sorry for the crappy picture, Aaron.

iFly runs these indoor vertical wind tunnel facilities where you can replicate the experience of skydiving freefall. Watch iFly’s video below for everything you could possibly want to know.

I’ve always wanted to try it. Not sure if I will. It’s kinda pricey, and what if I fall in love with it? I could be an indoor freefall derelict in a matter of months. 

Anyway, I ran into Aaron at Costco, where he was promoting the upcoming grand opening of iFly’s new Austin digs. They are running a half-price promotion for their grand opening, so if you are interested, you might wanna head to Costco next weekend and look for Aaron or another iFly person.