Showing posts from December, 2006

Apostrophe catastrophe

G rammatical peeve of the day from conversations overheard on the MRT: "fats" is plural if you're referring to different kinds of fats - saturated, monounsaturated etc. "Fats" is not plural if you're referring to the spare tyre around your stomach. (Non-grammatical peeve: quasi-anorexic women speaking about fat (or 'fats' - ugh) that don't exist.) Oh, another peeve spotted on the MRT (see photo of ad above): use of the open inverted comma (aka the single quote mark) when you should use an apostrophe , such as before a year. I don't mind the Prince-style use of "4" for "for" that much - it's a bit naff and dated, but tolerable - but that quote mark really grates with me. I know - I complained about it earlier this month , complete with link to a typography page , but I figured I might as well drum the point home...

Linksfest: My tabs

In which I just put up all the random articles I've found interesting over the last few days: The Least Essential Albums of 2006 . An article that taught me about Neil Hamburger . Inbred dogs in Japan , land of fads. Very sad. And the part about dogs being mated with their offspring is just gross. David Pogue lists the top 10 ideas in technology . I like the flash drive fuel gauge. Regret the Error lists the best corrections of 2006. I particularly like the fake corrections ( IN previous issues of this newspaper, we may have given the impression that the people of France were snail swallowing garlic munching surrender-monkeys whose women never bother to shave their armpits. We now realise that the French football team can stop the Portuguese – and in particular their cheating whingeing winger Cristiano Ronaldo – from getting to the World Cup Final which we so richly deserved to do.) Speaking of which, Kill Duck Before Serving , the book about New York Times corrections, is pretty

Mario the Stripper

Mario the stripper Okay, so this made me laugh.

Reviews of Notes on a Scandal

A pity the Notes on a Scandal movie, which I had looked forward to , has been getting disappointing reviews . Judi Dench, Cate Blanchett, Richard Eyre as director, Patrick Marber as screenwriter - it all seems so promising, especially given how good the source material is (glad I chanced upon it in the library). Still will probably go see it - wonder how they dealt with the unreliable narrator, and of course reviews aren't always right. Plus Dench is always marvellous to watch.

RIP James Brown

A nd... RIP James Brown . Thank you for "I Feel Good", for the "Funky Drummer" break that spawned a million samples, for Live at the Apollo and countless other great musical moments... including "Soulful Christmas" which I had listened to earlier in the day before I heard the news.

Angular momentum

Late to the party, probably, but I've discovered the joy of xkcd 's off-kilter geek humour Also: I love playpen balls . And the MC Hammer slide .

Christmas video of the day - Chinese Food on Christmas

From the Jewish perspective... Happy Boxing Day!

Christmas video of the day - All I Want For Christmas is You

H ey, I've gone with the Pogues, Sufjan, Run-DMC... I think I can indulge my love for this song without totally ruining my cred. Plus, what the hell, Sasha Frere-Jones likes it , so I'm not alone... Having said that, one of my fondest Christmas memories is housesitting for my prof back in Boston and watching the Christmas edition of Pop-Up Video , which included a spectacular piss-take on this song, including such gems as "Falling snow in dreams can represent sexual excitement". And on that cheery psychoanalytic note, Merry Christmas one and all!

Christmas video of the day - Fairytale of New York

R.I.P. Kirsty McColl

Pachelbel Rant

P achelbel Rant - Rob Paravonian goes off about the ubiquity of Pachelbel's Canon in D. The bit near the end where he freaks out about how a million songs use the same chord progressions is awesome. In fact, what the hey - in the spirit of the season, here's reindeer segueing from Pachelbel straight into "Basket Case" .

Christmas video of the day - That Was the Worst Christmas Ever!

Sufjan's voice has always been suited for Christmas songs...


Justin Timberlake is teaming up with Duran Duran . I suppose now that he's done the Michael Jackson and Prince things, he's on to following other 80s groups... Plus here's Timberlake on SNL with very rude lyrics .

Linksfest: In Bloom

I love Slate's the Explainer column, and this week's collection of the questions the Explainer couldn't answer is pretty funny. (Sample: "yea i have my own 620 gang and i dont know how to run it to make not look like a little bitch gang joke it is just me and my friend how do i run it?") Personal ads from the London Review of Books . Literate, wry, self-deprecating. Saparmurat Niyazov, old-school dictator , passes away. The NY Times' "Fantastically well-developed personality cult" barely scratches the surface - but then it seems hard to describe someone who created a statue of himself that rotated to face the sun. In case you ever needed to buy pantaloons . Or bloomers. The most disturbing part is that they offer "split crotch bloomers".

Christmas video of the day - Christmas in Hollis

All Time Wants for Christmas is You

M eanwhile, Time's "Person of the Year" is You . Or Me. Or something. Somehow I feel cheated by that choice. I know it's one way of encapsulating the explosion of user-generated content and its influence, but it's becoming a bit of a Time magazine cop-out to use a group (like last year's "Good Samaritans" Bill & Melinda Gates and Bono) or a generic figure (the American soldier in 2003). Surely they could've gone like Salon and named a figure - S. R. Sidarth, as much as anyone else, helped show the influence of YouTube in 2006 - turning an offhand, obscure insult like "macaca" into ultimately something that helped bring down a would-be Presidential contender and possibly influenced the control of the Senate.

Charlotte's Web - in anticipation

I have to say I was very, very skeptical about the film version of Charlotte's Web . When I think about the magic of that book - or even that sheer expression of terror on Wilbur's face in the illustrations when Charlotte is dying - it makes me well up, and I had my doubts about how much any film version could do it justice. But the reviews look good, and the preview does seem to show a film that hews to the spirit of E.B. White's classic. Wilbur looks appropriately cute, Charlotte looks like a real spider (rather than some cartoony one), and I do like the use of some distinctive voices - Steve Buscemi, Andre Benjamin from Outkast, Reba McEntire. So... please let this be good please let this be good. Some pig, indeed. Link to trailer

Cetacean Rescue

Now that's a really good use of long arms - World's tallest man saves dolphins . As Cool Looking Stuff points out , this ain't even the first time a tall person has used his arms to save a dolphin. Tangentially, I'm kind of surprised the current tallest man in the world is only 7" 9' - I would have guessed 8 feet.

On Doug Rosses

Was rewatching Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask) and realised the Gene Wilder's doctor character was named Doug Ross, just like George Clooney's character in ER. But I guess George Clooney's character never lost his job for sleeping with a sheep.

Because it is bitter, and because it is my heart

B ecause I like allusions, references (although I've used the Joyce Carol Oates one before), the sense of the poem as non-hermetic unit but rather part of a whole literary world: excerpted from Lit (or: to the scientist I am not speaking to any more), by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz Be glad you don’t read, Jason, because maybe you won’t understand this as I scream it to you on your front lawn, on Christmas Day, brandishing three hypodermic needles, a ginsu knife and a letter of permission from Bret Easton Ellis.

Casino Royale

W atched Casino Royale yesterday. Daniel Craig is an awesome Bond. There's a certain unease in his smile that seems right for the part of the proto-Bond, a not-quite-all-there double-0 in the making. And I liked the simultaneous nods to tradition - the 1964 Aston Martin, Bond making up the ridiculous "Stephanie Broadchester" name - with the debunking of it (Bartender: "Shaken or stirred?" Bond: "Do I look like I give a damn?"). Paul Haggis wrote the dialogue between Bond and Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), and their scene on a train, each one second-guessing the other's background, was a great sign that this Bond has moved beyond just wink-wink silly innuendo. And Bond does seem really more passionate in this film: whereas Brosnan was shiny and slick, Craig brings out the rougher, animal side - the film imbues him with a sexual charge, a tender side (there's a shower scene that strips Bond of his traditional detachment, and it's a powerful one),

Thank you for not smoking

Apparently polonium-210 can be found in cigarettes . (Here's another cite .) Good lord.

Linksfest: A Design for Life

Some pieces on design: The roller toaster looks great. An awesome piece of Singaporean design. A rave review of the Tesla Roadster . I hope someday to get a chance to drive the car. It's really nice to see that it replaces the internal combustion engine not just for environmental reasons but for performance. Ten tips for top type . I particularly like point #3, on using typographer's quotes (and apostrophes): "Here's one thing the program can't do for you: It can't tell an apostrophe from a single open-quote at the start of a word. That's how you end up with a backwards apostrophe before an abbreviated year ('98, '06), or with the two apostrophes in "rock 'n' roll" looking like mirror images of each other, instead of identical." The backwards apostrophe always annoys me. Trans-krypt: setting song lyrics to graphic design . Which is where the "A Design for Life" art comes from.