Identify this!

Guess what this is:

Squid Skin

Give up? It’s the skin of a deep sea squid, photographed by Australian researchers earlier this year. When I first saw this picture, I was taken aback at how beautiful it is, how it looks like some exquisite, hand-made fabric. And, come to find out, the squid’s skin is like that for a reason. As this nifty article points out, squid have the ability to change color to camouflage themselves from their enemies, and how it all works is pretty nifty. In fact, this article notes that squid might be able to send each other secret messages using this system which would be invisible to the naked eye. Cool!

COOL SONG: “Once I Had A Love”

You ever hear a song, think “that’s nice”, and file it away in your memory… and then hear the song years later and think “wow, that’s pretty cool!”

Such is the case with me and the song “Once I Had A Love” by Blondie. The song was the basis of the later megahit “Heart of Glass”. But whereas “Glass” was much influenced by the Disco movement, “Once I Had A Love” is more of a rock and roll song, with a nifty reggae\ska beat. Many of the sounds that would by made by synthesizers in “Glass” were made by guitars in “Love”. And, most interestingly of all, the words “heart of glass” do not appear in the original at all. Where Debbie Harry would later sing “had a heart of glass”, in this version it’s “was a thing of the past”.

Have a listen:

Also, I had no idea the line “soon turned out, to be a pain in the ass” (heard in both songs) was such a big deal back in the day. Apparently the song was banned from Australian radio completely. In the UK, the BBC demanded an edited version of the song, and when the music video was played on Top of the Pops it faded out before the last verse.

FRIDAY FUN: A Cavalcade of Cover Songs!

Here’s a few of my favorite cover tunes!

We’ll start with Eve Plum’s version of Duran Duran’s “Save a Prayer” (stick with it to the very end, that’s my favorite part):


I also like 10,000 Maniacs covers of “Sally Ann” (The Horse Flies) and “Everyday is Like Sunday” (Morrissey) and “(Don’t Go Back to) Rockville” (R.E.M.), but can only find “Rockville” on YouTube at the moment. Amazingly, all three covers are from the same Candy Everybody Wants EP:


Something funny: Most everyone knows that 10,000 Maniacs also covered the Patti Smith Group’s “Because the Night”. Many fans also know they covered David Bowie’s “Starman”, and the post-Merchant Maniacs an OK job covering Roxy Music’s “More Than This”. But the Maniacs are also responsible for one of the worst cover songs ever, of Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart”. The recording I heard was live, and Natalie Merchant sang something like “When routine gets hard, and la-la-la is low… la-la-la-la-laaaaa and la-la-la don’t grow… and la-la- our ways… take a different approach”. Whoever sang backup then took over, and Merchant would only join in the chorus. It was pitiful!

Continue reading “FRIDAY FUN: A Cavalcade of Cover Songs!”

TRIVIA: Lasts and Crashes

The world of IT and consumer electronics is littered with dead and dying technologies. Here are a few “lasts” from the world of home entertainment:

LAST 8-TRACK TAPE: 1988’s Fleetwood Mac’s Greatest Hits was the last 8-track made by a major label, although Cheap Trick offered their 2009 album The Latest in 8-track format on their web store.

LAST VHS MOVIE: David Cronenberg’s A History of Violence was the last VHS film distributed by a major studio, way back in 2005.

LAST LASERDISC: In North America, the last laserdiscs released by a major studio were Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow and the Nicolas Cage stinker Bringing Out the Dead, in 2000.

LAST VIDEODISC: Laserdiscs looked like LP-sized CDs. Videodiscs came in a plastic sleeve and sort of looked like a giant floppy disk. The last major videodisc release was… a documentary about itself called Memories of Videodisc in 1986.

Another last: the USFL was a professional American football league that operated from 1983 to 1987. The last USFL player to retire from the NFL was Philadelphia Stars punter Sean Landeta, who signed with the New York Giants in 1986 and played for various teams until 2006. He officially retired in 2007. Quarterback Doug Flutie, signed by the New Jersey Generals in 1985, was the last non-kicker to retire, in 2005.

Now, two interesting stories about airplane crashes:

– In the 1980 film Nine to Five, three secretaries kidnap their sexist, overbearing boss. Another secretary, Roz (played by Elizabeth Wilson) asks too many questions about his disappearance, so the kidnappers send her to a language school in Colorado with vague promises about a future transfer to France. In the film, Roz is seen walking onto a TWA 747. This is the same aircraft that would crash in 1996 as TWA Flight 800.

– Carowinds is an amusement park here in the Charlotte area. It’s unique in that the park straddles the NC\SC border, so different laws may apply depending on where you are in the park. The park has (had? I’ve never been) a tall observation tower that pilots use (used?) as a landmark to find Douglas Municipal Airport (now Charlotte-Douglas International Airport). On September 11, 1974, the pilots of Eastern Airlines flight 212 became obsessed with finding the tower because they had been goofing off for much of the flight, and the plane crashed short of the runway. Many died, including the father and two older brothers of comedian Stephen Colbert, host of The Colbert Report on Comedy Central. Also, this crash was the first time that doctors noticed that passengers wearing artificial fibers (like rayon and polyester) were usually burned much more severely than passengers wearing natural fibers.

The “Wednesday is now Thursday” News Dump

– Regardless of what you think about gay marriage, can we at least agree that Judge Walker’s decision is horrible law? After all, this is the same judge who said that Prop 8 supporters “had no standing” for an appeal? (Pssst, Judge Walker… if they have no standing for an appeal, how were you able to rule on the case in the first place?)

– Here’s a picture of a koala that was hit by a car traveling at 50mph:


Don’t sweat it: the koala was not injured… at all. Not even a scratch! Read more about it here.

– Kathy Parker just wanted to fly out of Philadelphia International Airport on August 6. But she was randomly chosen for the “thorough search”. TSA agents found a couple of prescription bottles and one asked if a diet pill worked. Another started reviewing the Walmart and Kohl’s receipts she had in her purse. But then agents found a deposit slip and several checks in the side pocket of her purse. Since the checks were “large” (around $8,000) and numbered almost sequentially, the TSA agents decided that she must be running some kind of embezzling operation. Philadelphia police were called and Parker was questioned. After 30 minutes, she was “allowed” to board her flight. Read more about it here and wonder whatever happened to the Fourth Amendment in this country.

– Speaking of the cops, Atlanta police were called to a college campus thanks to an umbrella that looks like a samurai sword. It’s not known whether the campus was Georgia Tech or Georgia State, but in the cops’ defense there was an actual samurai sword attack on the Tech campus back in February. Still, it seems a bit much for the SWAT team, though.

Continue reading “The “Wednesday is now Thursday” News Dump”

Mad Men: “The Rejected”

This episode begins with Don and Roger having a conference call with Lee Garner, Jr. Lee is worried about how some new tobacco advertising restrictions will affect Lucky Strike. Don frequently puts the phone down and uses the down time to pour drinks, approve Peggy’s idea for Pond’s, and to give his okay for Dr. Miller to have a focus group with the 18-25 year old secretaries at the agency. Roger excuses himself to go to the restroom while Don continues the call. While talking to Lee, Don goes through his mail and finds a letter from Anna:


Roger and Lane (who has just arrived with Pete in tow) walk into the hallway and the two older men tell Pete that SCDP must drop the Clearasil account (which the agency got through Pete’s father-in-law) because Pond’s thinks it will cause a conflict of interest in the agency. It’s strictly about money: Clearasil is being dropped because Pond’s brings in almost twice as much money.

Back on the conference call, Lee worries that SCDP is overbilling him. Roger says that he will have Lane by his side in 20 minutes if he wants to go through the billings line-by-line. Don then fakes a fire near Radio City Music Hall, giving them an excuse to get off the phone.

Continue reading “Mad Men: “The Rejected””

Happy Birthday, Madonna!

Every year since I’ve had this website (2002, for those of you keeping count) I have wished Madonna a happy birthday. This year is no exception, although I’m doing so with the minimal amount of enthusiasm. I love the woman, but she needs to a) eat something for God’s sake; b) stop trying to be an actress\director; and c) stop trying to be culturally relevant.

Again, I love you girl, but we’re now getting to a generation of kids who have no idea who you are. You influenced Britney, Christina and Gwen Stafani, and already those women are giving way to Katy Perry and Lady Gaga. Continue to make music, sure, but don’t try to grab all the headlines. Act like the 52 year-old you are.


Anyways, happy birthday, Madge!

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-08-15

  • Just after five today it will be 5:06:07 08-09-10!!! #
  • Quick: name the five NFL teams that aren't named after cities. You have 30 seconds… GO! #
  • The best bass line of all time: "Love Hangover" by Henry Davis. Discuss. #
  • In other news, Obama approves Shinto temple at Pearl Harbor. #
  • "If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it’s free." – O'Rourke #
  • "The best government is the one that charges you the least blackmail for leaving you alone.“ – Rudmose-Brown #
  • "A little government and a little luck are necessary in life, but only a fool trusts either of them.“ – O’Rourke #
  • "Government at its best is a necessary evil, and at its worst, an intolerant one.“ – Paine #
  • "What this country needs are more unemployed politicians.“ – Langley #
  • "To compel a man to furnish money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical.“ – Jefferson #
  • "A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves.“ – Murrow #
  • "The United States is a nation of laws, badly written and randomly enforced.“ – Frank Zappa #

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Friday’s Tab Closer

From the “Holy Crap I have 84 tabs open in Firefox!” Department:

– Glass-bottomed boats are old school and boring. How about a glass-bottomed hot air balloon instead? Looks like freaky fun to me!

– Michael Dick (yes, that’s his real name) hadn’t seen his daughter since he divorced her mother a decade ago. Of course he’d looked for her, but all he knew was that she’d moved to Suffolk (the one in England). He gathered his two other daughters and they went looking for her. Michael contacted the Suffolk Free Press newspaper for help, and they sent out a photographer to snap some photos and get his story. Little did they know that Dick’s daughter ended up in the background of the picture!

– You’ve probably already heard this by now, but a man from Brewster, Massachusetts named Ron Sveden accidentally inhaled a pea one day (it “went down the wrong road”, as my grandma used to say). When Ron later complained of chest pains and difficulty breathing, his doctors were shocked to find that it had sprouted and was growing in his lungs!

– Archaeologists in the UK have found a house that is around 10,500 years old, making it the oldest dwelling ever found in Europe.

– Hey Google… whatever happened to “not being evil“?

– The Smoking Gun has pictures of the weed seized from Willie Nelson’s tour bus a while back. Yep, it’s a lot!

– Lastly, the Cassini spacecraft has captured some incredible pictures of Saturn’s moon Enceladus. The moon has geysers that send water and ice into space, and it seems that Saturn’s faint G ring was created by those geysers. The pictures are beautiful – you should really check them out!