The bane of my summer backyard festivities:

The thing that puts the BAD in badminton. Cheap. Never worked right; always had a swayback like a 20-foot-long horse too long on the trail; had a series of complex strings to brace it when just one would have done; made of Chinesemetal, which bends if you glare at it. Every year I dump it in the shed, and every year before kids come over my wife asks me to put it up so they can play with it for four minutes. This I did, except I discovered the last shuttlecock had disintegrated.

“There are some,” she said, and I could either argue the point and make it look as if I was looking for an excuse not to put it up - which I was - or put it up and then let the lack of shuttlecocks become apparent. I got it out and it was more tangled than it had ever been. Ever. But that just means I’ll spend the next 20 minutes performing an Assigned Task, so I sat down and untangled every horrible string, only to discover it was missing one of the sharp things that sticks into the ground. Improvised with some croquette . . . things. The things the ball goes through. Wickets. Wickets? Well, they worked.

The kids came over; asked for shuttlecocks.

“Ask Mom,” I said. “She will conjure them from another dimension.”

I thought I’d won, but they ended up using tennis balls. Drat. Foiled. The next day I took it down for permanent disposal, and the netting caught around a button on my shirt. Not in a desperate plea to be saved, but one final act of malice, like the villain of a movie arising one last time to choke the hero out of sheer godless spite.

The next day I also cleaned out the Oak Island Water Feature, which had accumulated enough stank-tastic dead leaves and murky water to poison the entire city of Portland, if you threw a bucket of the stuff in their reservoir. Miserable job, and no matter how much I washed up between bouts of cleaning I still smelled like a barn. Too five minutes with a loofah and some caustic lye to get it all off. But! The fountain is splashing and it no longer smells like a goat died in the back of the yard, and that’s two signs the summer is off to a good start.

Except it’s not summer until June. Right? Right.

But it’s summer movie season. Saw “Godzilla,” which needed to made again for some reason, and . . . and, well, Godzilla.



The entire concept seems ridiculous. This may have been forged by early exposure to the unconvincing nature of Godzilla movies which were obviously men in rubber suits smashing into tiny fake buildings. There’s nothing at stake except the cartoony combat; no real cities are being leveled. But if they’re going to be Super Realistic then you can’t go back to the old tropes, where bullets and tanks and missiles are useless. Obviously the creatures can be stunned, as the combat sequences demonstarte. So drop a fuel-air explosive on it and send in laser-guided bunker-busting penetrating ordnance and hello, turtle soup. But no. BUT NO.

As I said on Twitter: I have a real problem enjoying the wholesale destruction of cities. (I enjoyed Thor 2, which confined it to a few blocks, if I remember.) It’s not just because I’ve seen it before. It’s because there is no shock or dismay at seeing skyscrapers leveled; it’s because I don’t know what I’m supposed to feel at this - glee because whoa awesome Godzilla combat or glee just because it’s awesome to see big buildings fall down or something else? The vandal’s delight at seeing the destruction of what he could not possibly create?

There’s a moment where Ken Watanabe is talking about Nature and such, and says “Let them fight.” Because thus will nature be rebalanced, Godzilla being all about restoring balance to the Force, I guess. But the obligations of sentience sometimes means fighting nature as hard as you can - be it your own, or the general mindless red-in-tooth-and-claw swirl for survival and dominance that characterizes the population that does not use opposable thumbs to go to other planets.

That said, if I was a Godzilla fan, I probably would have enjoyed it.

I also watched Pompeii. This about sums it up.

Lots more here. Scroll down and read up, if you missed it.


Tomorrow: big news. BIG news.

Bioshock Infinite Update BECAUSE YOU CARE no you don’t. But:

You’re in Paris. You’re walking past this man. Bonjour, Monsieur Seurat, you say. Nice little touch. Paris is beautiful:

The river moves; the trees sway; people are in the cafes, everyone knows you. You, however, are not you. You are someone else, but all the emotions built up in the original game come flooding out here. And then a bird alights on your index finger and sings. Honest to God: it’s an expansion pack in a computer game, and I’m wiping away a tear. (So to speak, if you know the game.) Not because of the Beauty or the Genius of the Design or any other aesthetic reaction, but because the game has taken all the emotional capital it built up around the character and spent it all in one lovely scene.

I noted before that the game makes you play as Booker DeWitt, the hard-boiled / emotionally damaged Pinkerton agent who evolves into the man you’d like to think you could be, and this closed off the game to women, inasmuch as they had to play as a person with hairy hands. Well, now you’re her. How the expansion pack handles that will be the subject of this week’s needless updates, but so far it’s almost a textbook on gender assumptions in games - how to establish them, how to subvert them, how to satisfy an overwhelmingly male audience who find themselves inhabiting a different body than they might otherwise choose.




At some point they stopped using lovingly painted tableaus of domestic amusement, and went with this.


Elsie seems to have her characteristic delight, but Elmer is staring in fear and horror over what he has become.

The twins are gone. I guess we're not supposed to ask about the twins any more. VACCINATE FOR HOOF AND MOUTH, people. Please.


Spur! Favored by kids whose genial exterior cannot mask their desire to keep you from getting their glass, which they have protected with both hands.

When you are hit hard on the head, you hallucinate that it looms over you, as if concerned for your welfare:

I love the fact that Canada Dry is owned by Texans. Hence the name of Spur, perhaps. The slogan: “It’s a Finer Cola,” which was rather dull, and “Zip in Every Sip,”: which was better. Another Canada Dry favorite:

Hi-Spot: it was lithiated! A clear attempt to steal some traffic from 7-Up, which was also lithiated. Meaning? Lithium citrate, “used as a mood stabilizer in psychiatric treatment of manic states and bipolar disorder.” Wikipedia says 7-Up was “a patent medicine marketed as a cure for hangover.” True: the old ads from the 30s note how well the stuff soothed enormous heads from which lighting bolts and vibration waves emanated, both classic signs of a hangover.



More Minnesota Marvels:

But how does it work? “Transfer films are composed of wide angle, exposed retroreflective lenses bonded to a head activated adhesive.” That’s from the product spec pages - 3 M still makes them in a wide variety of uses.

But in case you think that the world of reflective tape is a sketchy, uncertain world without the comforting appearance of Standards, rising like battlements in the sky: all the Scotchlite tapes in the catalog “have certificates available for the ANSI/ISEA 107-2010 American National Standard for High-Visibility Safety Apparel and Headwear for Level 2 retroflective performance and meet the requirements fro CAN / CSA z96-09 High Visibility Safety Apparel.”

3M notes that it has every intention of meeting the requirements for the 207-20120 standard for High-Visibility Public Safety Vests, too. They’re not resting on their laurels. They’re not sitting still. It’s a changing world, and visibility standards are changing as well.

Why, you ask, do the standards have to change? I’ve no idea. I don’t think atmospheric pollution has increased, requiring a tape that reflects back light through air containing a higher level of particulates. It’s probably someone’s job to revisit the regulation every so often, and no one ever lost a job proposing that the regulations be updated and expanded.

If you’re worried about Abrasion resistance, they were tested by the EN 430 Method. Sorry, Method 2.


Of course, puppies for motor oil. Of course:

And of course the nautical theme, because they’re mates, in the aye-matey sense, and sailor dogs selling motor oil makes perfect sense. This was probably a store display, something they sent to the garages and expected them to put it together.


Wide Wide World was a 90-minute documentary series telecast live on NBC on Sunday afternoons at 4pm Eastern. Conceived by network head Pat Weaver and hosted by Dave Garroway, Wide Wide World was introduced on the Producers' Showcase series on June 27, 1955.

The premiere episode, featuring entertainment from the US, Canada and Mexico, was the first international North American telecast in the history of the medium.

It returned in the fall as a regular Sunday series, telecast from October 16, 1955 to June 8, 1958. The program was sponsored by General Motors and Barry Wood was the executive producer. In March 1956, Time magazine reported that it was the highest-rated daytime show on television.

This is where Wide Wide World of Sports came from; people remember that show, but not the one that spawned it. Perhaps because the original's credits did not contain the line "the agony of defeat," accompanying a skier wiping out. Over and over again, week after week. Vinko Bogataj, if you're curious.

The melodrama of the narration—which became a catchphrase in the US—and the sympathetic pain of watching Bogataj wipe out week after week, transformed the uncredited ski jumper into an American icon of bad luck and misfortune. Meanwhile, having retired to his quiet, private life in Slovenia, Vinko Bogataj was unaware of his celebrity, and so was quite confused to be asked to attend the 20th anniversary celebration for Wide World of Sports in 1981. He was stunned when other, more famous athletes present, such as Muhammad Ali, asked him for his autograph.



Been a while since companies offered this big an incentive:

Back in '53 or so, that wasn’t eight cents. It was eighty. Or something like that. I’m just going to leave that inaccuracy sitting there to tempt someone to come up with the correct answer, and display it with huffy irritation.

Was anyone not acquainted with Heniz Ketchup? Ever?


Finally, a rare in-store display from Coke:

That took up a lot of real estate - but as the size of grocery stores increased, so did the displays.

And that's it for today; new Richie Rich addition. Work Blog and Tumbler - just mouse over those buttons below for more fun. See you around!


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