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I’m’a smack somebody in a minute

I made up my mind and I’ve been trying all day to buy a new VR headset. The first try was rejected by the bank, as unusual purchases are. Once I got that straightened out, I got into a loop where I hit the purchase button, it swore it was talking to my bank for a second, then took me back to the purchase screen. Online help chat had me try dropping my VPN, using an incognito window, using a different browser. Eventually, Meta told me I’d taken advantage of too many special offers today and to go away.

I’m pissed.

Anyway, here’s another email that sounds like spam but I actually signed up for it: the Bean Institute. I get their newsletter because I’m from Tennessee and I like beans, dammit.

The title of this one is Love Your Heart with Beans, which sounds too much like a recipe.

Finally went through. I switched from paying by credit card to PayPal. And that worked only because PayPal showed me the error message Meta wouldn’t: it didn’t like my mailing address. Used to be, the house name and parish name was all I needed for a valid address, but lately forms have been demanding the road name as well. If only they had told me that!

February 29, 2024 — 7:35 pm
Comments: 5

I’ve been invited to make a rake

I’ve been invited to join a two-day rake making workshop in Wales. The number of times I get an email like that and think, “that’s a weird spam” and then realize, “oh, wait – I signed on for that shit!”

Well, no, not rake making. I signed onto a website that is all about scythes, back during my brief flirtation with scything. This is the first mailing I’ve had from them in years, so it took me a minute to place them.

People who spend two days and £160 making a rake that you can buy from the same site for £42.50 are will be a type. Wealthy, retired to the country, LARPing as peasants.

You know what? It would probably be a lot of fun.

February 28, 2024 — 8:27 pm
Comments: 7

It meanders, but it has a point

This is the excellent Modern Diner in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. “The Sterling Streamliner car, made in the late-1930s and early 1940s, was the first diner in the nation to be accepted on the National Register of Historic Places.” I used to get a wicked greasy breakfast there of a Saturday, after I visited my gun shop.

But I wasn’t looking for that. I was looking for Atomic Pizza, which I think was on the other side of Providence, in Cranston maybe. Very Fifties aesthetic. I didn’t find it – probably long gone – but I discovered there are Atomic Pizzas all over the world. Huh.

Anyway. This morning, I had reason to look up some local shipyards and discovered there was a ship built locally in 1898 called Telephone. Imagine being the captain of the Telephone. Imagine going down with the Telephone. It made me reflect on the hilarious human urge to name things after unrelated cutting edge things that can’t possibly stay cutting edge and will some day sound stupid as hell.

At the end of the 19th C, all kinds of things were marketed as electric that had no electric components at all. It just sounded cool.

Ragtime Gal had ragtime, sending improbable things by wire and the telephone. Poor Daisy just had the bicycle, although it was an extra snazzy one.

The Fifties had atomic and TV. The Sixties had everything space.

When I first started coming over here in the Nineties, everything – I mean everything – was euro-this and euro-that. That got tired fast. I guess it’s sustainable now.

More examples?

February 27, 2024 — 8:24 pm
Comments: 11

It wasn’t far

A widow from Hastings panicked when she found Paul McCartney’s bass in her attic last week. It had been stolen in 1972, after the breakup, and was the subject of an intense search in recent years.

The article isn’t strong on specifics. At some point, it was sold to a landlord and somehow made its way into the collection of her late husband, a guitar collector. You have to think he must have suspected what it was.

She was in the process of cataloguing the collection with an eye to selling it to fund her kids’ college. It’s back with McCartney now and they don’t say if money changed hands but I doubt he’d stiff a poor widder-lady, even if it was stolen property.

I gather Hofners are not particularly good instruments, but he played it on their first two albums and a bunch of hits. He’s holding backwards in the picture because he’s a lefty, if you recall.

Funny thing is, he lives in Peasmarsh – about ten miles from Hastings.

February 26, 2024 — 7:58 pm
Comments: 2

Then it got *really* dark

I read tonight that the National Trust has acquired another Detmold illustration to put on display at Kipling’s house. The Detmold brothers did a beautiful series of strangely dark illustrations for the Jungle Book 1903, some of which are already on display in a funny little side room at Bateman’s.

I have posted about the Detmolds before. They were twin brothers born in 1883 in Putney, London. They were both very fine artists, particularly of animals. But the thing that always sticks in my head about the Detmolds is this anecdote:

Their local doctor gave them some chloroform to kill the housecat. Which Maurice did. Then he took the remainder of the chloroform and killed himself.

That’s it. That’s all the detail I’ve ever been able to glean from any source, and I have so many questions. Was the cat ill? Did people routinely kill their cats rather than bring them on holiday? I know people were shitty to cats back then, but that seems a bit much. Was Maurice depressed? Could it have been an accident? Or did he — this is my favorite theory — kill the cat and then feel so awful about it afterward that he offed himself?

This was in 1908. The Wikipedia article on Edward doesn’t mention the cat anecdote (Maurice doesn’t even get his own page – I wonder why). I went looking again for an explanation and found this article. I kind of wish I hadn’t.

According to this, the doctor had given them chloroform before to kill stray cats (I don’t like the sound of this) so he wasn’t suspicious when Maurice asked for more. Maurice was later found dead on his bed, a chloroform rag in a bag tied over his head. Nearby was a box with two dead cats in it. So he was…practicing? Seeing if it hurt?

Er, have a good weekend!

February 23, 2024 — 7:51 pm
Comments: 3

They’ve deep-sixed their own product

There’s been much hilarity this week about Google’s Gemini and its allergy to images of white people. They’ve had to pause marketing of the image generator.

Someone asked Gemini to explain how it works and it did. Basically, when you ask Gemini to make a picture, your prompt first goes to the language model, which is instructed to insert words like “diversity” into your phrase before passing it to the image generator.

This is an extremely dumb and crude method of getting the result they thought they wanted. There’s no attempt to distinguish between plausible diversity and historical impossibilities, which leads to hilarious images like a racially diverse Waffen SS. And my personal favorite: a 17th Century English king eating watermelon (Gemini couldn’t recognize the racial stereotype because the model itself had injected race).

I can’t get over how crude this bodge is. The irony is that if they hadn’t messed with it, it looks like they had a pretty good image generator on their hands. They have damaged their product, perhaps fatally.

February 22, 2024 — 7:13 pm
Comments: 8

No, really, she’s holding a cat

Why you’d call a black cat Blueberry, I do not know. But meet Blueberry. He disappeared in November of 2019 and turned up this week 200 miles away in the other end of Ireland.

They think he hitched at least one car ride. Maybe several. It’s news because they’re making microchipping cats compulsory here soon.

I have mixed feelings. I’ve had all my cats chipped, but a vet told me the things migrate all over the place. He picked up one low down in a cat’s front leg once. That doesn’t sound comfortable.

February 21, 2024 — 7:29 pm
Comments: 6

Weird feeling

I bought an oil painting of my house I found on Ebay. Imagine that.

Just for fun, I decided to search the name of our house. Never done that before. What are the odds?

I have a standing search on our village name, but the listing had the house name right but the location wrong (the label was torn and they guessed), so I never would have found it otherwise. I wonder how many other things I may have missed.

It’s a view from the 1960s. Small painting, not brilliant, not expensive. I’m chuffed.

The pic up there is a photo, of course (bonus chicken!). I ain’t post a clear shot of my house to the internet and all.

February 20, 2024 — 7:32 pm
Comments: 5

A star is born

Hear me out: Drain Cleaning Australia.

Bruce from down under chatters and unblocks drains. That’s it. It’s weirdly therapeutic.

It’s not just me. He started the channel two years ago with short, silent how-to videos that evolved into 10 minutes of drain unblocking and snappy patter. On Friday, when I found him, he had 97,000 subscribers. Today, it’s 104,000.

Once the algorithm decides you’re onto something, it recommends you far and wide.

Bruce loves him some gross-out, some mis-direction and misleading click-baity titles (he admits this and asks for help coming up with them; said it makes a huge difference in engagement).

I picked one out for you that is a sink drain overcome with tree roots. Nothing too awful.

I avoid the ones with human waste. Grease traps are vomitous but sometimes spectacular and, honestly, they’re just grease. He cleaned out a coffee house drain once that looked appalling but it was only coffee grounds. He let you think it wasn’t for a while.

Fair warning: if you watch a few, YouTube will start recommending other drain unblocking channels. Yes – it’s a genre!

February 19, 2024 — 7:57 pm
Comments: 10

Dead Pool Round 177: smells of fish&chips

Phew! I made it! Only just. Lavendergirl takes it with Jonnie Irwin. I’d never heard of him, to be honest, but I’m not into property programs.

Now to reheat my fish and chips in the air fryer. Go! Go! Go!

0. Rule Zero (AKA Steve’s Rule): your pick has to be living when picked. Also, nobody whose execution date is circled on the calendar. Also, please don’t kill anybody. Plus (Pupster’s Rule) no picking someone who’s only famous for being the oldest person alive.

1. Pick a celebrity. Any celebrity — though I reserve the right to nix picks I never heard of (I don’t generally follow the Dead Pool threads carefully, so if you’re unsure of your pick, call it to my attention).

2. We start from scratch every time. No matter who you had last time, or who you may have called between rounds, you have to turn up on this very thread and stake your claim.

3. Poaching and other dirty tricks positively encouraged.

4. Your first choice sticks. Don’t just blurt something out, m’kay? Also, make sure you have a correct spelling of your choice somewhere in your comment. These threads get longish and I use search to figure out if we have a winner.

5. It’s up to you to search the thread and make sure your choice is unique. I’m waayyyy too lazy to catch the dupes. Popular picks go fast.

6. The pool stays open until somebody on the list dies. Feel free to jump in any time. Noobs, strangers, drive-bys and one-comment-wonders — all are welcome.

7. If you want your fabulous prize, you have to entrust me with a mailing address. If you’ve won before, send me your address again. I don’t keep good records.

8. The new DeadPool will begin 6pm WBT (Weasel’s Blog Time) the Friday after the last round is concluded.

The winner, if the winner chooses to entrust me with a mailing address, will receive an Official Certificate of Dick Winning and a small original drawing on paper suffused with elephant shit particles. Because I’m fresh out of fairy shit particles.

Note: I am woefully behind on dick deliveries. If I owe you one, you’ll know how long. I ain’t gived up, but I haven’t drawn much since lockdown. Some day, your heirs might hear from my heirs.

February 16, 2024 — 6:00 pm
Comments: 48