Monday, March 31, 2008

He came. He wagged. He wore gold lame'.

Just wanted to take a second and post a quick shout-out to my sister-in-law's dog Milhouse, who went to his reward today. He was a pretty cool little dog. His interests included getting his hair blow-dried, warming any and all laps and chasing cursors on computer screens. Farewell, sir.

Right click, fold, laugh, then forward to someone via a mispelled text message

The New York Times recently threw some love in the direction of MAD magazine artist Al Jaffee, a revered figure here at Blogfoot headquarters. In addition to the regular feature "Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions", Mr Jaffee has been the driving force of the famous "Mad Fold-In" for the last 40 years or so.

In addition to a nice lengthy article, the Times posted a gallery of fold-ins on their site that can be folded "interactively." This is because studies have shown that young people don't like actually folding with their hands anymore, but are inclined to do so electronically in between watching bit-torrented episodes of "Lost" on their phones.

Link to gallery here.

Link to article here.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

That personal touch all too-often lacking in today's marketplace

I recently bought a used book online for $1.99 + shipping, and was pleased to see the following email confirmation in my inbox. It read:

SUBJECT: Your order has shipped

Your order has been gently taken from our shelf with sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow. We all had a wonderful celebration afterwards, and the whole party marched down the street to the post office, and waved 'Bon Voyage!' to your package. I typed the label using your expanded nine digit zip code so that it will reach you as soon as possible.

I hope you had a wonderful time shopping. We sure enjoyed it. Your picture is on our wall as 'Customer of the Year'. We're all exhausted but can't wait for you to come back. If you enjoy this service please leave me some positive feedback at Thanks!

I know it's a form letter, but I still like the cut of it's gib.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Georgee's is pointing fingers

I like that these guys decided to assign blame rather than go quietly into that goodnight. Now the economy will no doubt hang it's head in shame.

This almost rivals the great handwritten sign I recently saw in a downtown pizzeria here in Minneapolis that was taped to the register and read:

"Due to the high cost of everything imaginable, we will be raising our prices."

I guess "everything imaginable" pretty much answers whatever question you could ask. Whether you're talking about boxes of plastic forks, grosses of napkins or a giant two-headed dinosaur that has gorilla arms, wears a bowler and speaks with a British accent, a sign like that lets you know in no uncertain terms that yes, such things have gone up in price.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Gott in Himmel!

So yesterday I was excited to learn via an email update from the fine, upstanding folks at Ticketmaster that legendary German techno-music pioneers Kraftwerk were making a rare exodus from the Fatherland and not only touring, but actually bringing their catalog of highly-efficient mechanized ditties to the Twin Cities area.

This excitement was short-lived however. After conferring with a friend and deciding that yes, we should go to this, I followed a link to a ticket-selling website and was walloped by a blitzkrieg of gestalt. The ticket prices were as follows:

$129 - General Admission

$224 - Floor area

Mein Gott! For those of you keeping track, that's 163.42925 Deutsch marks for general admission, and 283.78507 marks for the floor area. Well, that's classic German engineering for you - reliable yet expensive. To make it even more culturally authentic, there are no seats at the venue, so you must pay a fortune to stand at rapt attention while bobbing your head in perfect time with the other attendees.

That said, I still really want to go. Why? Well, because their music is cool, and if the live show is even 1/1000th like this video, even those wallet-vacuuming prices will seem like a bargain.

And if for some unfathomable reason that doesn't convince you, here's a nice little primer on the band set to music, or more accurately, "machine musik":

Friday, March 21, 2008

Finally, some clarity

We've all been there: you open the funny pages in your local paper, and are immediately drawn in by the appealingly loose brush strokes of Brad Anderson's long-running single-panel comic "Marmaduke." And although you recognize that at it's core it concerns the misadventures of a comically large Great Dane, the obtuse and skillfully crafted jokes often go over your head. Well, help is here, in the form of this handy blog.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Overheard while buying a videogame at EB Games earlier today


"I didn't like that they had the Iron Giant sacrifice
himself and get blown up."

"But that's what made the movie so poignant."

Congratulations, bored clerk. You win.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

These kids nowadays

So I have this nephew (or rather, my wife has a nephew, who became my nephew via marriage, along with a chihuahua, which became my dog. Thus was my dowry). This nephew goes to the University of Minnesota and lives in the dorms. And he recently relayed to me a sorry tale that forced me to re-assess all of my previously held views of the cosmos.

Said nephew plays the guitar. He's pretty good at it, and likes the punk rock, which is cool. Time was, being able to play guitar with a level of proficiency was a good thing, as far as the ladies went. Chicks dug the lute-strummers among us. Panties were thrown, eyelashes were batted, backstage passes were sought after, etc.

Apparently this is no longer the case.

My nephew was playing his guitar in his dorm room with the door open. I'm assuming he was playing through his amp, so that the sound carried. A co-ed girl-type creature wandered in. And then, this disgustipating scene played out.

CO-ED: (excited) "Hey, are you playing Guitar Hero?!"

NEPHEW: "No, I'm actually playing a guitar."

CO-ED: (disappointed) "Oh."

CUT: Co-ed leaves room, leaving nephew dazed and yes, confused.

The End. Any further editorializing on my part would be superfluous. But I do have a message to impart to my nephew, and it is this: get thee to a Best Buy.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day

To get you in the properly besotted Irish drinkin' mood, here's the Swedish Chef, Animal and Beaker from The Muppet Show singing "Danny Boy," courtesy of Making Light via Boing Boing, and of course, Sir Lew Grade.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Look under a rock, and you're bound to find some dirt

So last night "Road House" was on, and I made the wife watch some of it with me. Being female, she was unamused by it's near-hallucinatory stupidity, unlike myself, who enjoys the film. She said "it made no sense." Well, duh. It's "Road House." It stars Patrick Swayze as a bouncer with a philosophy degree who vows to clean up a violent honky tonk bar and free a small town from the tyrannical rule of Ben Gazzara.

Plus, it contains one of the greatest lines of dialogue committed to celluoid - as Swayze and Ben Gazzara's head goon battle to the death, Swayze is on the ropes, and the goon snarls at him: "I used to fuck guys like you in prison!" Do tell.

I won't detail the film further or debate it's place in history; there are plenty of websites that have already done that. But I was going to send my wife the link to the wikipedia page so that she could get a better sense of the Homeric plot, and while reading said page, found some interesting tidbits in the trivia section, the most alarming of which was this:

"Script writer David Lee Henry had written the script with John Stamos in mind for the lead role, but Stamos was already on tour with his band "Jesse and the Rippers" at the time of filming, so Patrick Swayze was chosen for the part."

Jesus. That sentence is horrifying on so many levels...that someone wrote a script specifically for Stamos...that Stamos had a band...that said band was based on his fictional band from "Full House"...that the band was deemed sufficiently popular enough to tour the country...quick, someone give me a bottle of bleach to guzzle. I can't stands it no more.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The good's gone

"The Wire" aired it's final episode last night. I found it to be a wholly satisfying conclusion to what I think was the smartest, most layered and authentic series to ever air on television. Pity only 1.6 million people on average watched it. But whatever - since 2002 it's depiction of societal ills and the power of entrenched institutions to grind down the individual, all under the guise of a cop drama, never failed to hold me in rapt attention.

Plus, in addition to the stellar writing (believable character arcs, intertwined plot threads, the refreshing lack of lazy exposition), brilliant acting and subdued direction, they never - until the final coda last night - used music as a cheap emotional cue, but only as background noise as it would actually be heard the characters; in a bar, car radio, etc. Any emotion was from the characters or situation, not ham-fisted aural cues. And even in this last scene (a montage), they only used the shows theme. Nice.

Sincere kudos to all involved. And I'll continue to pay you the highest compliment a cheapskate like myself can: by purchasing this season on DVD as soon as it's released, just as I have the previous seasons.

And now, for my next trick, I'll be canceling my subscription to HBO.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

He ran out of hit points

Gary Gygax, the creator of Dungeons & Dragons, died yesterday at the age of 69. Not only was he a pioneer of tabletop role-playing games, but he single-handedly saved the graph paper and little velvet pouch industries in the 70's. You see, people needed something to carry their multi-sided dice in, and if you're the type who's inclined to play a game with your buddies in which you pretend to slay dragons and find treasure, then you're more likely than not going to want a velvet pouch for that purpose.

I'll admit it right here and now: I played D&D and I had a velvet pouch.
I think I actually had a second-hand velvet dice pouch though, as my brother had one first, and when he moved up to a fancier model he bequeathed to me his old one. This velvet pouch, perhaps inevitably, ultimately gave up the D&D lifestyle and was used solely for the purpose of concealing and transporting weed and it's related machinations.

But I'll never forget the magic of the "Monster Manual" and it's companion, the "Fiend Folio." These were coveted tomes amongst my set, despite the fact that we all found the illustrations in them to be horrendous. You got a couple of these books, start playing for something to do in 8th period study hall, and before you know it you're holed up in the basement drawing maps and painting little pewter miniatures of your character. Such was life before girls became interesting.