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Weirdest presidential photo op yet…

Drudge ran this picture at the top for a while today. My eyeballs rejected it.

At first I thought, “fake! No way those two are really painting that; brush lettering is *hard*.” So I looked up the original large AP photo, and actually, the quotes are sketched out in pencil on the wall in a shaky hand, and the painted version isn’t any better, so they could easily be painting it to the standard it’s being painted.

So then I thought, “whoa! POTUS and FLOTUS are actually standing all by themselves on two separate little ladders in a school library painting signage? Isn’t that even weirder?”

I don’t mean to be a jerk about it. The President and First Lady visited an elementary school and helped paint inspirational MLK quotes on the library wall. That’s nice. I’m just having fun with the appalling stagecraft.

The two of them. Totally alone in the room. Backs to the camera. Facing away from each other. Ten feet apart. Chundering away at their separate work assignments like they’re doing community service for a DUI or something. Bad, BAD presidential optics.

By the way, Mister and Mrs Sooper Genius, you’re doing it backwards. Right handers should work left to right, left handers should work right to left. Otherwise, you have to brace your hand or you’ll drag it through wet paint.

Original huge color version here, if you’d like to snark for yourself.

January 17, 2012 — 9:36 pm
Comments: 19

My god, it’s full of chickens!

Yes, yes…another computer game post. All the cool kids are playing Skyrim, and so am I (even though it’s essentially the basic game as the last two I’ve played through. If you like a type of game, this is no bad thing).

The typical computer game leads you through a series specifically defined challenges, A to B to C and on to the grand finale. You can do some side-exploring and Easter egg hunting, but the plot is the plot.

In games of the Skyrim type, they just drop you into a big ol’ world and let you get on with it.

Kind of.

There are a few big tasks that must done to advance the game to the ending, but the rest is wandering around doing the hell you feel like.

Be a giant cat! Learn alchemy in your spare time! Smite bandits! Join the Resistance! Steal things! Wander around staring at shit!



While the playworlds get bigger and more fun to look at, these games get a lot more interesting to play. Imagine the fun the designers had hiding a practicing necromancer in a stone circle in the middle of the woods, in hopes you might jog past and enjoy frying his ass.

Oh, and the chickens! There are beautifully animated chickens in all the towns. I followed them around chicken watching for a while.

Haven’t killed any, but I did immolate a bunny in the woods once with a fire spell. On purpose. I felt kind of bad about that, but I did get a meal out of it.

— 12:12 am
Comments: 21

Dance for me, tiny naked bus driver!

I made you a tiny naked bus driver! That spins!

(I was at this very useful artists’ reference site, and turns out I simply cannot look at sequential images without itching to cut them together into an animated .gif file).

Anyway, who thought “seated nude with arms in robot position” was going to be wildly helpful to anyone?

Have a good weekend! Or, you know, you could hang around here and watch the tiny naked robot-arm-chair guy go ’round and ’round and ’round and ’round… 


January 13, 2012 — 10:55 pm
Comments: 19

The giant chicken, obviously

Boxed: Fabulous Coffins from the UK and Ghana

Free novelty coffin show at the Southbank Centre, London, January 20-29. “A vibrant collection of bespoke coffins from the famous Pa Joe workshop in Ghana and Crazy Coffins in Nottingham.”

Pineapple. Nokia phone. Skateboard (“urban decay”. Nice). Ballet shoe. Corkscrew (“Special Scented Reserve.” Mmm). Shark.

I get the impression the Brits are taking the piss, while the Ghanaians are just really, really hoping the afterlife will be decent enough to front them a Coke.

Give it a miss, shall we?

January 12, 2012 — 10:10 pm
Comments: 16

Okay, now I’m pretty sure somebody is blowing smoke up my butt

When we drive around Britain, I often accuse Uncle B of sending a PR team from Disney on ahead to change all the placenames to painfully quaint things like Chipping Sodbury and Tincleton (I swear some day I’m going to stop and have tea in Pratt’s Bottom). Because sometimes Brits really do make shit up, and they do it with such maddeningly straight faces, it’s damn near impenetrable.

So when one of the neighbors told me he used to go Dwile Flonking at a local pub, I naturally gave him the hairy eyeball. As described, it involves dancing in a ring around a man trying to hit you with a rag soaked in beer dregs.

Turns out, Dwile Flonking has a Wikipedia entry. Huh.

A ‘dull witted person’ is chosen as the referee or ‘jobanowl’ and the two teams decide who flonks first by tossing a sugar beet. The game begins when the jobanowl shouts “Here y’go t’gither!”

The non-flonking team joins hands and dances in a circle around a member of the flonking team, a practice known as ‘girting’. The flonker dips his dwile-tipped ‘driveller’ (a pole 2–3 ft long and made from hazel or yew) into a bucket of beer, then spins around in the opposite direction to the girters and flonks his dwile at them.

If the dwile misses completely it is known as a ‘swadger’ or a ‘swage’. When this happens the flonker must drink the contents of an ale-filled ‘gazunder’ (chamber pot (‘goes-under’ the bed)) before the wet dwile has passed from hand to hand along the line of now non-girting girters chanting the ancient ceremonial mantra of “pot pot pot”.

A full game comprises four ‘snurds’, each snurd being one team taking a turn at girting.

Well, actually, as it turns out, no. Despite a solemn and ancient pedigree, the game was almost certainly made up by two printing apprentices in 1966. But, hey, getting on for fifty years — pretty darned ancient to an American, I guess.

January 11, 2012 — 11:32 pm
Comments: 27

Nope. No idea.

Google Translate wasn’t much help, either. I think the caption was something like, “Girls, what are you doing?”

Got jammed up tonight, but I know my audience. I figured this picture would earn me a stunned silence, followed by a thoughtful pause, followed by a prolonged period of wistful introspection.

During which I could slip out the back door unnoticed.

January 10, 2012 — 11:25 pm
Comments: 45

Okay, I’ve come up with my slogan for 2012

The great thing is, it works equally well for both parties. And, come to think of it, nearly every election I’ve ever voted in, ever.

Other slogans considered: “Let’s Get This Over With” “Oh, Goody” and “WhatEVER.”

— 12:13 am
Comments: 31

Let me explain what a GAME is…

So, I started my Christmas video games, oldest first. That would be the Witcher.

Technically, it’s holding up great for a four year old game. It’s pretty. I’m enjoying all the smiting and the alchemy and the running around all day long without getting a stitch in my side (though dude totally can’t hold his liquor). But the storyline is getting a leetle grown up for my taste.

No, I don’t mean the dryad chick with the green nipples. Or the dwarves who keep grumbling that their balls itch.

I mean the game forces me choose between two bitchy, controlling girlfriends. (Ahhhh…none of the above! None of the above!).

Also, I have to pick sides in a war. Worse, it’s pretty obvious the game doesn’t want me siding with the greedy, racist humans and their creepy religion. I’m supposed to go with the non-humans who have decided anti-human violence is the way forward. (Dear game designers: please don’t make me bet against my own species.)

I suppose this would make more sense if I had read the books these games are based on, but that’s no guarantee I’d like it. I’m here to kill stuff, not make mature choices between difficult options.

Oh, well. I was going to start with Skyrim, but then I took an arrow to the knee.

Ba-dum tss.

Good weekend, everyone!

January 6, 2012 — 11:12 pm
Comments: 43

Got $200M to spare?

Check down the back of the couch cushions, will you? On the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, they’re going to auction off over 5,000 items recovered therefrom, and a judge has ruled they all have to go in one, big lot to someone who will put them on public display. I’m not quite clear how a Virginia judge got jurisdiction, but good on her, anyhow.

I’m a Titanicophile — or was, until the discovery of the wreck, and the movie and the salvage and the whole Titanic industry. I have some deeply conflicted feelings about this whole business.

On the one hand, there’s no moral high ground in letting it all rot away and cease to be. I’m all for preserving as much of the past as we possibly can, up to and including digging up the ancestors. The wreck was two and a half miles down — finding it and salvaging any part of it took significant investment and significant risk — of money and real, live bodily harm.

On the other hand, the owner and profiteer is Premier Exhibitions, an organization with an ethical compass stolen from the vest pocket of PT Barnum’s stinking corpse. Their other main claim to fame is Bodies, a creepier rip-off of the sufficiently creepy Gunther von Hagens‘ Body Worlds Exhibition. Er, let’s just say, they felt compelled to put this disclaimer on the Bodies show:

This exhibit displays full body cadavers as well as human body parts, organs, fetuses and embryos that come from cadavers of Chinese citizens or residents. With respect to the human parts, organs, fetuses and embryos you are viewing, Premier relies solely on the representations of its Chinese partners and cannot independently verify that they do not belong to persons executed while incarcerated in Chinese prisons.

So. Huh.

Anyhow, the Telegraph has a great slide show of some of the stuff up for auction.

Happy thoughts, happy thoughts.

January 5, 2012 — 10:51 pm
Comments: 24

Yep, that’s a banjo

So, this is an indie band from Beijing called Shan Ren. It means “Mountain Men” but they have a lot of different, mostly modern Western, influences. This playlist will give you a taste (huh. Amazing how much an electric guitar through a wah-wah pedal sounds Chinese).

Last year, they traveled across Yunnan province filming the locals and recording music. Turns out, most folk music is about drinking moonshine. How strangely familiar.

In honor of that, they recorded this Drinking Song, which I thought was lots of fun. Based on a local folk song, the main chorus means, “you have to drink, whether you want to or not.”

What? Oh, no. If politics wants me to pay attention to it again, it’s going to have to stop sucking so hard.

January 4, 2012 — 11:24 pm
Comments: 21