This is just too hard to resist posting about: the Japanese have invented an exploding piggy... READ ON
The people behind the sunny pair of Hostel movies (the sequel being the movie I wish I'd never seen) claim inspiration from an urban legend that in some awful corners of the world, there exist services that allow someone--after a bidding war--to walk into a room and shoot a willing participant, whose family is then compensated. May that legend ever stay urban. But in the case of designer kidnappings, the customer is also the victim, or, really, "victim." NYC-based artist Brock Enright is usually credited... READ ON
I mean, they're already scatting in a nonsensical language (Vonlenska aka Hopelandic in English) that may be post-rock's answer to Klingon. Which already makes them superlative in my book. As their site explains:
on von, Ã¡gÃ¦tis byrjun and takk, jÃ³nsi sang most songs in icelandic but a few of the songs were sung in 'hopelandic'. all of the vocals ( ) are however in hopelandic. hopelandic (vonlenska in icelandic) is the 'invented language' in which jÃ³nsi sings before lyrics are... READ ON
The WGA is officially on strike, but this doesn't mean a surfeit of brunching scribes playing with their Webkinz or perusing Fantasy Football matchups. For WGA members, the strike means 4 hrs/day of picketing:
"I've heard that a couple of people are greeting the news that their presence is required on the picket line with the very human and yet disappointing, 'Cool... So, um, what happens if we don't show up?'" a WGA email... READ ON
THE BOOKSTORE: Los Angeles Public Library, Los Feliz Branch
THE DICTIONARY: Miriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition
THE WORD: red giant
Instead of boring you with a blurb about red giants (and assuring you that it'll be a long time before our sun becomes one), I thought I'd take a look back at the words selected this week, and try to assemble something from them--something ridiculous, in that it's random and hopefully a little fun. I've been trying to manufacture some theme out of the... READ ON
THE BOOKSTORE: ok, it's really just my bedroom bookshelf
THE DICTIONARY: Oxford Pocket American Dictionary
THE WORD: "diaspora"
How timely...Just today I was reading an Adam Gopnik essay about when the Jewish Museum invited him to be the Purimspieler, and how in his angst over what to expound on he visits a rabbi who says the Book of Esther is "'the comic book, a book for court Jews, with a fairy-tale, burlesque spirit.'" Gopnik reels: "I was stunned. This was, as they say, the story of my life. A... READ ON
THE BOOKSTORE: (well, you don't have to buy them unless you lose or destroy them) Los Angeles Central Public Library, Downtown LA
THE DICTIONARY: Webster's New International Dictionary, 3rd Edition, 1976
THE WORD: "consigliere"
Now, obviously there are other, more frequently employed synonyms for adviser, but this one is just way more fun in that it generally evokes organized crime (think Robert Duvall's turn as Tom Hagen in The Godfather). Consiglieres are not usually in the bloodline, nor are... READ ON
THE BOOKSTORE: Skylight Books, Los Angeles
THE DICTIONARY: American Heritage Dictionary, Fourth Edition, 2000
THE WORD: "loopy"
c.1390, probably of Celtic origin (cf. Gael. lub "bend," Ir. lubiam), influenced by O.N. hlaup "a leap, run." In ref. to magnetic recording tape or film, first recorded 1931. Computer programming sense first attested 1947. The verb meaning "to form a loop" is first recorded 1856. Looped "drunk" is from 1934; loopy "crazy" is from 1925. To loop the loop (1902) originally was a... READ ON
Growing up, a trip to the library was usually doomed to be frustrating because I could never decide which books to check out; hence (and with Sunday School visions of King Solomon's, er, radical problem-solving techniques still in my head), I removed any agency I had in the matter & plucked books at random, careful to avoid reading the spines--I even carried this contrivance all the way to the check-out, staring at my nail beds while the books were swiped, bagged, and shoved my way. I'd finally allow... READ ON
I'm currently visiting my old haunts in NYC, and on my shortcut today through Gramercy Park I saw a sign that warned of a $350 fine for honking! The East Coast-West Coast stereotype seems to hold true: no one honks in LA, and everyone honks in New York. Why is this? Now I know that LA has its own exorbitant but perhaps understandable fines--riding in the carpool lane will set you back some, and now running red lights at some intersections will dock you $400--but I really thought the sign was a joke at... READ ON
A NYtimes article published today discusses DNA testing as a "family history research tool."
Among the famous whose DNA has been tested is Marie Antoinette, who belonged to maternal Haplogroup H (along with about half of all Europeans).
Katie Couric (maternal Haplogroup K) is genetically linked to a 5,000-year-old iceman whose body was recently discovered in the Alps. And Jesse James? T2, a subgroup of maternal Haplogroup T.
Whether you've mapped your family's taproots or would rather... READ ON
Neuroscientists believe we have about 100 to 500 trillion individual synapses firing in our adult brains. So although our desire to continually stuff our minds may be earnest, brain capacity is finite--about one to ten terabytes, and it's estimated that the average person's vocabulary treads water well under 100,000 words.
When I was growing up, road trips meant I was frequently captive audience to certain kinds of niche talk radio programs—which were bad enough without those commercial... READ ON
By now we can all probably agree that it would be unpleasant at best to wake up and find ourselves in the charge of Naomi Campbell. Or, retroactively, Leona Helmsley. Or Schopenhauer, who apparently hurled his seamstress down a flight of stairs just because he was peeved by the sound of her voice. You don't have to see the world through a master-slave lens or live by the Stanford Prison experiments to acknowledge that the hierarchy of workplaces can be rife with opportunities for abuse. The most... READ ON
Recently, my roommate starred in a music video of one of her songs (it's great--I'll post it when it's edited). Even though I had been minimally involved in the bureaucracy of staged productions in college, I'd never seen a real stylist in action. I'd never seen a team of people so passionately engaged over which pair of patterned tights would go with which bracelets to effect the ideal tone. When I showed up on set to watch it all go down, I was impressed: yes there somehow was a vast,... READ ON
Ever since arriving in LA, I've been receiving invites to Cuddle Parties, gatherings I can't help but regard with suspicion, despite the "cuddlemonials." I came close to going a few times, but my co-conspirators always dissolved at the last... READ ON
Recently, to feed my Gosling-film quota, I saw Lars and the Real Girl, in which a 27 year-old man presents a blow-up doll as his... READ ON
Next month, Se Ri Pak is going to be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. Maybe then her father will finally lay off the extreme training tactics, which have included, in no particular order:
taking her to pit-bull fights
training her in cemeteries
& in freezing weather until icicles formed in her hair
reprimanding her with a stick called a pechori
making her climb 15-story staircases--backward & forward
In a 1998 NYTimes profile of Pak & Pak, an incident at one of Se Ri's first... READ ON
In the midst of all the Kid Nation hype & the ongoing fascination w/Lynne Spears, Dina Lohan, it seems that the presence of stage mothers is stronger than ever. Here's a look at few stage moms from... READ ON
That Bela--alternately so jovial, so brutish! The image of Karolyi hoisting Kerri Strug to the champion's podium is one of the most ubiquitous images of the 1996 Olympics. Nadia Comaneci, Mary Lou Retton, et al. have defended him, but others--most notably Joan Ryan of Little Girls in Pretty Boxes fame--contend that his techniques are psychologically damaging.
A Slate profile circa the 2000 Sydney Olympics illuminates the shadows Ryan explores:
He sought younger and younger girls to train, and... READ ON
In Ayurvedic medicine body types are grouped into three main categories, or doshas: vata, pitta, and kappa. Your dosha is determined by how quickly you anger and metabolize, which foods you seek out and eschew, etc. It's not going to be able to predict your blood pressure or heart rate, but determining your dosha can be a great DIY diagnostic exercise; however, I sometimes I wish there were a similar system to help calculate the rate at which & style in which we think and consequently express ourselves.... READ ON
NAME: Lucy Cousins
OCCUPATION: Director, South American Explorers, Buenos Aires
LOCATION OF GARAGE SALE: The clubhouse of SAE in Buenos Aires
PURPOSE OF SALE: To raise money for our non-profit
FAVORITE ALBUM: Buena Vista Social Club
FAVORITE NUMBER: 7
FAVORITE BEATLE: John
When was your garage sale and what was the weather like? We had the garage sale inside, but the weather was actually really nice!
Have you attended garage sales in other countries? What have you noticed about sales in Buenos... READ ON
All the hype about the newly released Amir Bar-Lev documentary--"My Kid Could Paint That"--makes me think of when I was casting "Wiccan types" last year & more than a few mothers kept bragging to me about the past lives of their offspring. Of course, this isn't to cast any shade on Wiccans, or challenge the could-be-a-past-life-reference accounts of families--secular and otherwise--for whom I've babysat. I'm always interested in how families make sense of life & death vis-a-vis the idiosyncrasies of their... READ ON
THE BELL: Big Ben
NAMED FOR: Sir Benjamin Hall, the commissioner who played diplomat between the architect and clockmaker; some believe it was named after Ben Claunt, noted boxer
WHERE IT RESIDES: The Clock Tower, Palace of... READ ON
Jonathan Stephens, designer and CEO of TIMEBANDITS Watches, talks about his art, his cosmology, and his X-Files days.
Last week all my posts were about bandits. What do you like about the idea of bandits as part of your brand?
I like the idea of bandits in TIMEBANDITS because it represents "one who is Superior to Time," and it means that you are a bandit of time--you have the ability to control your own time in your own... READ ON
Pearl Hart (1871-1956*), aka The Lady Bandit of Arizona, acquired her legend as the last bandit to rob a stagecoach (though she wasn't--Ben Kuhl was), the only woman ever caught robbing one (also not true, there was Jane Kirkham), and maybe the only person in history to attempt suicide by ingesting talcum powder (this I can't refute). Though Pearl was raised in a well-off, conservative Canadian family, she had a weakness for bad boys and at seventeen became the spunky appendage to an abusive gambler and... READ ON
Hamburglar, one of Ronald McDonald's original McDonaldland posse, was first voiced by Howard Morris, and thereafter played in commercials alternately by Frankie Delfino and Gaetano Vicini, aka Tom Vicini (also a stunt double who paints religious murals--the one pictured is a piece he co-created for a Milwaukee church in 1986). There have been complaints that an icon like Hamburglar isn't positive for kids, but he's been infantilized over the years so that his penchant is, I suppose, forgivable; however,... READ ON
I suppose you can't really fault Norman Mailer for being seduced by Jack Henry Abbott. After all, he had already courted Gary Gilmore (complete aside--how wild was it when Mailer & his son appeared on Gilmore Girls?!), who had been acquainted with Abbott in prison. And then of course there's Mailer's whole romance/own problem with violence (i.e. the stabbing-his-wife-incident in 1960--she didn't press charges, but she did eventually publish a book about it).
Their correspondence deepened, and Mailer... READ ON
Even before he was wanted in connection with the murders of over 100 people, Koose Muniswamy Veerappan was a notorious poacher and sandalwood smuggler. Things really got interesting on July 30, 2000, when he kidnapped "the John Wayne of Bollywood"--Rajkumar--after the beloved actor had thrown a housewarming party (at the behest of his astrologer, to coincide with the usually beneficent new moon). The Kannada star was generally tight-lipped about the ordeal, but a New York Times Magazine piece of 2004 (the... READ ON
LampiÃ£o (1898-1938), born Virgulino Ferreira da Silva, was a bandit considered a Robin Hood of Northeast Brazil by his apologists (though isn't the job of all apologists to liken their bad boys to Robin Hoods?). His life of crime commenced when his father was murdered in a 1919 police raid, and thereafter he could be found trampling through the Brazilian badlands with his band of cancageiros. His targets were the macacos (monkeys, aka the police), but soon generally extended to anyone he pleased.... READ ON
Some friends of mine are going to be collapsing their garage soon; that'll be the first stage in a major renovation on the house they've lived in for ten years. They have a contractor on board, but much of it will be DIY. They also know that to complete the project, they'll probably have to temporarily move out (like when my family lived in the RV park when we renovated!). Just hearing about it, renovating one's own home seems like a giant commitment--maybe not the Oregon Trail, but perhaps more like... READ ON
This post is exactly what it sounds like, and it's a sad corollary to Sandy's compendium of celebrity suicide attempts. Tear-water tea was sad, but this is sadder: people who have committed suicide in their garages.
Before the prevalence of catalytic converters, there was a significant amount of carbon monoxide in car exhaust; even so, if you're going to run a car in an enclosed space, there's going to be CO (in response to which, there are patents to deactivate the ignition if CO is detected, much like... READ ON
Something else to file under garage sales: the woman who accidentally sold the ashes of her husband's first wife. The turtle jar that housed the remains was purchased for fifty cents by a woman who thought it would make an excellent cookie container. The woman who sold it claimed that its urn status was obscured by the fact that they collected many turtle-themed objects. The ashes were eventually retrieved.
Overall, I think that makes a pretty sad garage sale. Objects that are ripped from their context... READ ON
Since my foreign garage sale correspondents are still filing their reports, wouldn't you know I'd find another way to talk about garages. Specifically, the garage band. I'd love to be able to say I formed one in the 90s and that it enjoyed a small, jealous, following of anarchists...
But no. I was never in a band, though I did learn early on that the way to a confused teenage boy's heart, or at least ego, was by being a groupie. So I sat there in a group of other young hopefuls, drinking suicide... READ ON
NAME: G. Kelner
OCCUPATION: Cajon Maker
LOCATION OF SALE: Victoria, BC
FAVORITE BOOK: The Grapes of Wrath
FAVORITE COLOR: Green
FAVORITE ANIMAL: Yellow Lab
FAVORITE ELEMENT ON THE PERIODIC TABLE:... READ ON
A while back, Neatorama featured this picture of Xia Aifeng, a Chinese woman who hasn't had a haircut--good or otherwise--in 16 years.
You've gotta love the Cellar Image of the Day...And I think it's nothing but synchronicity that today's is: curly-haired pigs. And this just sounds like something out of a Sam Shepard play (and echoes a few of the comments from yesterday): while riding a bus in Jakarta, a woman's ponytail is snipped off.
Nuryamah, 35, felt a tug on the back of her head as she took a... READ ON
Ok, so we've asked you about the most expensive haircut you've ever received. But what about the worst? Y'all are really lucky I couldn't find the picture I was going to post of me circa this very haircut. I'm not going to make the rules for you, but I do think childhood shouldn't count, unless you suffered psychological pain. I mean, yes, I'm sure many of us were subjected to some strain of Dorothy/Mark Hamill wedge (here's a blueprint if you'd like to recreate the glory), but did we really hurt inside... READ ON
In an age where a showdown between Kanye and 50 seems to draw more attention than so-and-so's potential running mate, maybe the spotlight is aching to warm another subset. That's just what David Humphries, Detroit-based founder and producer of Hair Wars, thinks: "The rappers have been in the spotlight since the early 1980's and it's bigger than ever. But it's time for a new type of celebrity." Enter the hair... READ ON
My theme for this week started out as hair, but for today's post it seemed almost impossible not to extend this theme to include something that wants so badly to be considered hair--that signature houseplant/talisman of the 80s: the Chia... READ ON
Doug Williams is a dear friend of mine, and he also happens to hold the Guinness World Record for Longest Nipple Hair. The paperwork arrived the other day: with his 5.07-inch-long nipple hair, he officially beats out Simon Mould of the UK, whose prize hair was 4.5 inches.
The measuring ceremony (pictured) took place this spring in Brooklyn, attracting the attention of The Brooklyn Paper:
It might seem excessive to bring in a medical doctor for a single hair, but the Guinness Book requires that the... READ ON
It's an earnest question, and I'm not interested solely so I can poach your great techniques. I'm interested because ever since my father strapped my brother into his seat so that he might be motivated to finish his dinner, I've been fascinated by what what really inspires people to finish the work in front of them--especially if these methods are extreme. An Ohio State University study on employee motivation broke down the importance of the following factors:
The ranked order of motivating factors were:... READ ON
ScienceDaily reported this week on the TLC ancient Egyptians applied to the mummification of certain favored animals, including cats and crocodiles:
"Mummification of animals has been thought of as cheap and cheerful, but this shows that a significant amount of effort, knowledge and expense was afforded to them," explained Dr Buckley. "Cats in particular received special attention and this fits with the idea of cats having a special place in Egyptian life."
Cats were associated with the Egyptian... READ ON
We reported on ghost riding last year, when the hyphy-ghost riding movement seemed to be building; however, the viability of that wave has been debated a lot lately. Rapper Keak Da Sneak assumes responsibility for naming the style; "hyphy" is derived from "hyper"--his hyperactive antics as a child were the inspiration for the stop-start-freak-out-get-stupid vibe of hyphy, which started in Oakland in the early 90s.
Recently, the San Jose Mercury News suggested hyphy's lackluster reception compared to... READ ON
Last year the Reason Foundation published a study arguing that drinkers earn more than non-drinkers (stressing that drinkers "who tipped a glass at home" earned less--and probably cried and Googled exes more?--than drinkers who jousted for social capital at functions). I wonder if that's doubly so in America's Drunkest Cities. Other studies have shown that smokers earn less than non-smokers--MSN says 4-11% less. But regardless of your vices, it seems that twenty-something women living in major U.S. cities... READ ON
Kissing booths...They've always seemed about as desirable as stocks and pillories. Of course, I understand raising awareness/cash for a worthy cause (e.g. when Kate Moss sold a one-minute, Â£60,000 kiss to benefit the Hoping Foundation--the man who bought it ceded his kiss to Hugh Grant's girlfriend; fittingly charitable and salacious). Elsewhere, you've got bear-kissing booths ("just a small part of a larger twice-daily presentation about wild bear safety"), pug-kissing booths, and then there's always... READ ON
I've been thinking about lycanthropy--maybe because we're just that much closer to Halloween, maybe because the "Back to the Future" ride is closing down (I just can't choose between McFly and Teen Wolf), or maybe it's because of all the traction that Sea Wolf song is getting (though my friends Hang the Lights romanced the topic quite beautifully first). It's been conjectured that the ergot in people's rye bread was responsible for episodes of clinical lycanthropy, which continues to be treated today,... READ ON
If you haven't been discovered on YouTube (whether or not you already had a major label), maybe you can score a deal via your Second Life:
"My Second Life: The video diaries of Molotov Alta" purports to tell the story of a man who "disappeared from his California home" and began issuing video dispatches from Second Life. The popular virtual world, which has its own currency and a growing economy, has drawn millions of users who create alter egos called avatars and interact with people from around the... READ ON
If you develop a self-help bug while in an airport, you're in luck: they're everywhere. All airport bookstores are like bestseller lists reified, and if you close your eyes and just grab, you're likely to make contact with a book on how to succeed.
No one is going to give you any grief for indulging in one, either--the assumption is that you're out to kill time, and more "pedestrian" activities are suddenly forgivable: you can read Teen Vogue cover to cover, go back for seconds at McDonald's, and... READ ON
I don't bike, but I might if I didn't live in LA. I've just known too many people injured while pedaling across town, or even in their own neighborhoods. Capering around town as a pedestrian here feels subversive enough, and until my encounters with crosswalks improve (in CA it's illegal to keep driving if a pedestrian has just one foot on a crosswalk--thank you, all my friends who've lived to tell from Traffic School), I'm just not getting on a bike. Once I'm in Europe, then I'll bike, and I'll probably... READ ON
This summer I stumbled upon a detox, and I've been so fascinated with it that I'm keeping it up. It's like finally handing your body the microphone! It just has so much to say, and I want to give it the floor as long as I can stand it. And once it starts talking, the toxins keep coming. It's our biggest internal organ, so I suppose that makes sense.
I had no idea it took so long to detox, or that your liver was in much worse shape right after you stop drinking than it ever was while regulating normal... READ ON
We're still in the era of prankdom, when people can win $100 if they go along with a stranger's protracted back story and subsequent request for help (thank you, "Boiling Points"). It seems that ever since hitchhiking became taboo (but there's hitchwiki!), we redirected our thirst for those encounters into a devoted voyeurism that finds relief in reality television, especially that of the "reveal"-oriented variety.
Every time I see a show that hinges on the horrified reaction of a reveal, I experience a... READ ON