Archive for the ‘Stuff’ Category

Home improvements! A thing that I do! Part 1.

Friday, June 11th, 2021

A few years back I had the PTAC replaced in my bedroom. A PTAC, in case you don’t know, is a heating and cooling unit that hangs out under a window. Hotels have them.

Unfortunately, they do not come in a variety of flavors and colors. They’re all pretty much the same.

Beige, beige, dirty eggshell, beige and, for a change, beige. I wasn’t in my apartment when the people installed mine so when I got home I was appalled by the workmanship. I’ve never seen a more “Here’s your stupid appliance now shut the hell up” job in my life.

I mean, look at how they slathered the silicone. Did they use a spoon? It’s an actual tragedy.

Anyway, after angrily staring at this for years, I decided to finally do something about it. I chose to pull off the silicone and reapply it with care and also to paint the plastic housing so it’s white and matches the wall. I started with the left-hand corner.

I learned that the installers stuffed this foam filler in the space so when I go to the hardware store I need to buy something similar.

And then I realized I needed to pull the front of the PTAC off to remove all the silicone.

Do I know how to put it back? No, I very much do not. But I’ll figure it out, and in the meantime I can clean off all the dusty crusty whatnot that’s been there for I don’t know how long. I’ll keep everyone posted on how this goes. Thoughts and prayers, thoughts and prayers.

Why I should not be in control of my finances, #643.

Tuesday, June 1st, 2021

I recently learned the most interesting piece of information: Bone Music.

The short version is after WWII Western music was banned in the USSR (no surprises there). But the cool kids desperately wanted to hear this music. One guy snuck in a bunch of records but there was no vinyl or petroleum or any material to copy the records. Then someone had a brilliant idea – use all the discarded X-rays from the hospitals. That’s how this got the name Bone Music. Here’s some additional information from Wikipedia:

Medical X-rays, purchased or picked out of the trash from hospitals and clinics, were used to create the recordings. The X-rays were cut into 7-inch discs and the center hole was burned into the disc with a cigarette. According to Russian music critic and rock journalist Artemy Troitsky, “grooves were cut [at 78rpm] with the help of special machines (made, they say, from old phonographs by skilled conspiratorial hands)”; he added that the “quality was awful, but the price was low, a ruble or a ruble and a half.” The disks could be played five to ten times…. The clandestine approach to circulating banned popular foreign music eventually led to a law being passed in 1958 that forbade the home-production of recordings of “a criminally hooligan trend”. The “hooligan trend” refers to the stilyagi (from the word stil’ meaning style in Russian), a Soviet youth subculture known for embracing Western styles of dress and dance.

Which is how I ended up on eBay and now own a bone record of “Beer Barrel Polka” on a pelvis.

Sometimes I worry about Japan.

Wednesday, May 5th, 2021

I keep getting ads for a place called Sugoi Mart. They seem fine, normal, mentally sound.

But now I get different ads. Disturbing. Concerning. Off-putting.

Hey, Sugoi Mart, you okay? Do you need someone to come get you? Let me know if you need a hand there.

 

Addendum – 5/16/2021: That have posted additional products. My concern has not ebbed.

Randomry you didn’t know you needed, but you do.

Saturday, May 1st, 2021

1. Mirabelle the Snail by Snuff Puppets.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NAQSNBNsUOY

The music really compliments the video. If I saw that crossing the road I would need an asthma inhaler, I’d be laughing so hard.

 

2. There’s an episode of the older Ducktales (I still know all the words to the theme song for some reason) where, in the back, the eye chart says “Ask about the Illuminati.” I’m sure conspiracy theorists got all manner of excited about that.

 

3. Did not know about this creepy-as-hell mask women used to wear. You would have to hold it in place using your teeth. I imagine your jaw would get really tired being clamped like that. Never mind the potential for drooling.

 

4. I love this. There’s a commercial for a birth control product called Paragard. The commercial has smiling dancing people. However, as the commercial ends, it is clear the director called cut and the actors were like “whatever, just give me my paycheck already.” I guess that was supposed to be edited out but it was not. The tall dude in the middle actually checks his watch. But my favorite is the curly-haired blonde on the left.

 

5. I was working at an advertising agency when I noticed a rainbow on the wall. The sun was hitting something and throwing up that rainbow. Before it was gone I ran to the window and it was an crystal award shaped like a pyramid! Pink Floyd!

 

6. I saw a sculpture that I assumed was a joke. It is not a joke. It’s a legit sculpture. With dick grabby-grabby.

The story has man-eating horses. Trust the Greek gods to be absolute lunatics.

I tried to find this sculpture as a lawn ornament but the tallest version I found was 14 inches and like $100. If anyone finds it in lawn ornament size and at a reasonable price, please let me know.

Covid shot #1 done.

Sunday, March 21st, 2021

I went and got my first vaccine shot and it was a super-weird experience. I don’t know what it’s been like where you live but here it’s been a real Walmart-on-Black-Friday situation to get an appointment. You get on the New York site at 6:00am and vigorously hit refresh because new locations appear every day. One day I saw there was a spot available at the Westchester County Center a mile from my house so I sat on hold for one hour, one full hour, to be told the spot was gone. It’s been like that since vaccines became available. My sister K loves a challenge so she wrestled with the website for two days and got me a shot at the Javitz Convention Center in Manhattan which is very much not a mile from my house but this is not the time to be picky. I went down to the Javitz in an Uber. It was a rainy misty day so everything looked monotone and gray, that’s an important detail. I went in and that’s when the dystopia really kicked in. The Javitz is all glass and silver metal, and that combined with the misty skyscrapers made it look like the world was in black and white. Plus there are no trees up against the river so one could imagine that all plant life was gone. I took photos. I did not doctor these in any way.

Why did they cover the giant TV screens like it’s a Jewish memorial? That is really not helping the vibe. The National Guard in their camo uniforms checked everyone’s paperwork and IDs and organized them into lines. I felt like it was 1938 and I had to pack up everything and flee Poland.

To add to the vaguely nightmarish element there was the Soothing Lady On The Loudspeaker saying things like “We have been verified to have the best cleaning protocol” and “If you feel ill, have a fever or are coughing, please go home and reschedule” and the most creeptacular “Remember, we’re all in this together.”

Luckily everything moved as smoothly as anything. I was shocked. Considering how long they had to pull this together it was amazing. I was in and out of there in under a 1/2 hour and that’s including the fifteen minutes I had to sit in the observation area. We’ll get there.

First, before I went downstairs I was taunted by this closed food kiosk in the lobby. That’s like all my favorite foods in one and it’s not open. Cruel.

From this point I wasn’t allowed to take pictures so these are other people’s shots I found on the internet. You waited in long lines separated by stanchions in rooms so big army people come up to the line to walk you to the next available table. Each table has a cheap floor lamp and when the table is available the person working there turns on their light. It’s the only way to communicate in a room that big. In case you’ve never been in the Javitz Center, the rooms are astonishingly large. This is a pic from Comic-Con. Look at the room. It goes on forever.

So that room has about 100 tables with lamps and you get escorted to one. That person checks your printout that says today is the day to get your shot and you show your driver’s license to prove you live in New York and then you go to the next gigantic room. More stanchions and then you go to your table where you get your shot. This is nice – as you’re getting your shot in your chosen arm, there’s someone else at the table filling out that card everyone has taken photos of on social media. So the second you’re done you can leave. So, so well-organized.

Here’s where the bad choice came in. You then go to an observation area where you sit in chairs for fifteen minutes in case you have an allergic reaction. They, quite graciously, had musicians playing off to the side. HOWEVER, it was a string quartet and they were playing soft gentle dirge-type music which gave strong Titanic-going-down energy which is not at all the emotion you want. You can’t leave for fifteen minutes, you’re waiting to see if your throat closes and there’s this gloomy “Gentlemen, it has been an honor” thing going on. But then you’re done! And they automatically schedule you for your follow-up shot. When I went back yesterday I took surreptitious photos. Here are the tables with the lamps.

And here is the observation area. This time there was a harp, a flute and a viola. Really lovely.

Now my arm is really hot and ouchy but that’s good because that means my body is fighting. Hopefully this works and I can hug people again.

Live-reacting to the Superb Owl. It’s going to be very sportsy.*

Monday, February 8th, 2021

Tom Brady plays for the Buccaneers now? When did that happen? I thought he played for the New England Kraft Mac ‘n’ Cheez team! It’s really hard to follow football when you only watch one day a year.

Wow, I don’t care about 99% of this. There had better be some good commercials. I’m interested in what The Weeknd does with the halftime show.

Regarding who I’m rooting for, here is my Facebook post from earlier this week:

I always tear up when someone sings the Black national anthem (“Lift Every Voice and Sing”). Waaaaay better than the milky-white one.

Oooo there’s a show coming out based on Silence of the Lambs and they’re using the font from the original movie! Nice touch.

Holy crap, Paramount put their mountain with stars behind the stadium using some green screen whatnot and I seriously thought there was a giant mountain with stars hovering in the sky. I do not know what is real and what is fake anymore. It’s the end days, people! Stop messing with my head!

They’re doing a really beautiful film that meant to evoke emotions and it’s evoking emotions. I’m trying to fight it because it’s intentionally treacly but I’m losing. I was fine with the parents of the players talking about how much they love their kids but one of the players left to go work in a hospital in Canada during Covid. He gave up on his Super Bowl dreams to help people. Right in the feels.

The Chiefs fan chant is so incredibly racist. Look it up. They need to catch up with the times. My God.

I do not know the two people singing the national anthem. This is shaping up to be a profoundly underwhelming experience.

I’m going to ignore Amanda Gorman the national youth poet laureate because that felt weird and inappropriate.

Okay, the coin toss. That means they’re going to start playing which is where I check out. I’m going to go on Tumblr until something happens worth acknowledging.

M&M commercial with Dan Levy is good.

Logitech commercial with Lil Nas X is good. Love that makeup artist.

New M. Night Shyamalan movie looks good.

Daveed Diggs rapping with Sesame Street is good.

I am rooting for the Buccaneers because I like the color choices on their pants. #sports

The Doritos commercial with  Matthew Mcconaughey is not good.

Dr. Squatch: Nope. Natural soap for men will not cut it. They need detergent. Otherwise they smell like goats.

I just learned the Empire State Building is lit in the two colors of the teams and flashes the teams color when that team gets a goal. Next time I will try to find a place with a view so I can see that.

The Buccaneers are destroying the Chiefs and now it’s the halftime show. I’m happy because I despise the racism of the Chiefs but I’m sad because I’m sick of Tom Brady’s stupid face.

The set The Weeknd starts on is clever, it looks like a poster but it’s 3D. They use trickery of the eye.

Did an angel-demon hybrid fall out of the sky, what the actual hell?

Oh, it’s just a cyborg gospel choir.

Wow, he goes backstage and it’s a carnival mirror maze, so cool.

I love this.

He’s singing “I Can’t Feel My Face When I’m With You” and dancers all have nose job gauze wrappings that cover their mouths as well, great way to work masks into the performance.

Now everyone is out on the field and either they’re using plastic filters on some of the cameras or we, as a nation, have astigmatism.

Ah, fireworks, that means we’re done with half time. And I am done with this game. Anything that happens after now matters not to me.

Addendum: The Reddit ad is clever and I like it. It references owls as well, extra points for that.

*This is a lie.

Dribs and drabs of awesome stuff.

Saturday, December 19th, 2020

1. I joined a group on Facebook called Crustacean Memes for Crabby Fiends.

I love when a someone invents a pleasant but irrelevant meme and out of nowhere it catches on and then it becomes its own thing. That is how we got Reginald.

Seems pretty innocuous. But he seemed to touch people’s hearts and a Life of Reginald was born.

Update: The Crustacean fan group is at war with the Ant fan group! And now the Snail fan group is getting involved!

 

2. When I worked at Publicis I walked past the H&M store on Fifth Avenue. Their window displays were well-designed. However, there are always choices made that are, I don’t know, odd. Counter-intuitive. Allow me to present you with an example.

Wrapped gifts! How nice. Oh, ice skates and a robot!

And a globe! Globes are a great gift. So round and informative.

Wow, a motorcycle!

Musical instruments!

And an enormous cactus. In a bathtub. Wrapped. Like gifts.

That threw me for a loop every time I saw that.

Also in the Rockefeller Center is a Cole Haan store. Cole Haan is pleasant, I loved a purse they had twenty years ago and I loved their summer lobster flip flops a couple years back but that’s pretty much it. Again with the however, they were doing some all-over approach with spikes and I am here for it.

Those shoes are great. If they come in black I will struggle not to buy them. So minimal but then spikes.

 

3. I don’t know what I’ve clicked on to get Facebook to get these news articles but I am a-okay with it.

 

4. Billie Eilish is a musician that’s very popular right now. Someone did a cover of one of her songs on a variety of pumpkins and I might like it better than the original.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlzqHmUqrfM

 

5. I saw a man walking his chicken on a leash in New York. It was a very good-natured chicken.

 

6. And finally, at first glance I was CONVINCED this was someone massaging legs that were horribly broken in a car accident, not someone making bread.

The Victorian Era is so much.

Wednesday, October 21st, 2020

The last time I was in Cape May I went to the Emlen Physick Estate. Aside from having a real interesting name it is a Victorian home open to the public for tours. So sure enough I went on a tour. I thought I was ready. I was not ready. I had an inkling about Victorian design but I had not anticipated the depth and breadth (and width and length) of the design elements and the layering. i will clarify.

I own this book called Artistic Printing. I was intrigued by the variety of patterns all crammed on one postcard. It’s pretty intense.

But here’s the key: It’s an small printed object. Your eye can move off the image and look at nice simple things in your environment like, I don’t know, a clean white towel. When you’re in a room and every surface looks like this it is, honestly, it’s upsetting. You get a little motion sickness.

First, the outside of the mansion. Not bad at all.

 

As you arrive you find yourself in a little foyer where you remove your coat and hat. There’s cool embossed wallpaper made from wood pulp so it holds its shape. That’s fine.

You step forward into the first hallway and oh dear. The bottom part of the wall is one complicated pattern. The top part is another. Going up the stairs? Another. And then on the ceiling there’s like four more wallpapers. I’m not kidding. We haven’t even added in the furniture which is also ornate. Off at the end of the hall? A patterned stained glass window. It’s an assault on the senses.

I didn’t hate everything about this space. Check out the light fixture made of whatever the hell was lying around.

We went through all the rooms on the ground floor. They were all various versions of mismatched chaos. Here’s the ceiling of the parlor.

I had never seen this before: Instead of the house being wired with electricity, it had gas tubes going through all the walls so you could carry a lamp from room to room, plug it in and it would stay lit for as long as you wanted because the gas kept flowing.

There was definitely an Asian aesthetic in many of the rooms because about the time the house was being decorated Asia was really in vogue. So there’s a lot of Oriental (you can use that word when describing decor) decor.

The upstairs is just as bad. The one thing I loved was the tiling around the fireplace. I collect art nouveau tiles from 1895 – 1910 and seeing them in their natural habitat is always a treat. I patted some of them. The other people on the tour were probably weirded out. I did not care.

Here’s another light fixture made from whatever was lying around.

And here’s a light fixture with the exact design shapes from the Artistic Printing book. Scroll back up and you’ll see what I mean.

Finally, my favorite thing on the tour: According to the tour guide celery was hard to come by during the Victorian era so well-to-do folk would place a glass of celery on the table to be like, “Bask, bask in my wealth. By adoring this celery.”

The future is gettin’ real off-putting.

Sunday, September 27th, 2020

Deepfakes, y’all. Here, a definition:

Deepfakes (a portmanteau of “deep learning” and “fake”) are synthetic media in which a person in an existing image or video is replaced with someone else’s likeness. … Deepfakes have garnered widespread attention for their uses in celebrity pornographic videos, revenge porn, fake news, hoaxes, and financial fraud. This has elicited responses from both industry and government to detect and limit their use.

Dangerous stuff. You can convince anyone of anything if you’re not careful, and in this day and age with the disintegration of definitive facts this could go downhill mighty quick. Which is why I’m not surprised one of the first times I see this technology is swapping Willem Dafoe into distinctly not Willem Dafoe situations.

And, without a doubt, my favorite. Truly nightmarish AND my favorite Spice Girls song. It’s everything I could ask for.

BONUS: The opening of “Full House” but with all Nick Offermans. You didn’t know you needed this, but you do.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=57&v=aUphMqs1vFw&feature=emb_logo

Mexico 2019 Part 4.

Thursday, March 12th, 2020

More city center stuff! Before we delve into that, let’s look at a sign that made me feel a variety of emotions simultaneously – rage, despair, confusion, sadness, other ones. Here it is.

Now I spend my entire day creating signage like this so I have trained my eye to catch bad choices. Therefore the epic tragedy of this sign might not be immediately obvious to you. That’s why I made these helpful notes to bring you into my world of sorrow.

Ughhh. I know there are amazing designers in the country, go find one and rectify this.

I also wanted to show you the symbol of Mexico because it pops up periodically. You can see it on the flag. It’s an eagle holding a snake in its claw on top of a cactus with a indigenous thing under the cactus. I’m not being disrespectful. I asked numerous times what the thing was. It looks kind of like a pillow with thick twig branches. No one could tell me except that it was part of the pre-Hispanic era.

I looked on Wikipedia. It says the symbols are:
The eagle, in a combative stance
The snake, held by a talon and the beak of the eagle
The nopal on which the eagle stands; The nopal bears some of its fruits (tunas)
The pedestal, on which the nopal grows, immersed in the Aztec symbol for water
Oak and laurel leaves encircling the eagle cluster; tied together with a ribbon with the Mexican flag’s colors

Okay, so that’s more information than I had before. I still want to get clarification on the details but that’s good for now. Related: Since our tour ended near sunset I got to watch the folding of the giant flag.

CHARCH! We went to the cathedral. Unfortunately, like most places of conquest the cathedral was built on the site of the previous religion’s destroyed house of worship. These were the original steps.

Surprise: The churches and cathedrals, despite being build during the Baroque period which is the most gaudy period in ever, are surprisingly tasteful. I mean there are splashes of WayTooMuch but the whole interior is not bad. The only gold-encrusted excessiveness was the organ and the altar. The organ is very cool, it has organ tubes sticking directly out and it’s double-sided.

Here’s the altar. It’s very Baroque.

But the rest, lovely. Clean. Simple.

I saw a pendulum in the middle of the aisle. I’ve seen those before and they’re usually to show the rotation of the earth throughout the year but this one is different. Since the city is slowly sinking into the mud this one shows how much the cathedral is shifting.

The city has a lot of tilting, a lot of sagging. Near the end of the tour we saw a two buildings where they needed to spackle between them because they were ever so slowly sliding away from each other.

Outside the cathedral is the main square. The cathedral is a major center of Catholicism. It may seem obvious but it’s important. Directly in front of the cathedral were people sitting in front of blankets. I assumed they were selling trinkets but no, they had herbs and candles and other objects. And they were practicing pagan rituals taught down throughout the generations from their ancestors. I heard a sound that concerned me, it sounded like a man AGGRESSIVELY vomiting but it was one of the shamans doing a bark / growl combo. He was cleansing a woman of demons because she was possessed. This is real. Did I mention this was happening in front of the cathedral? And is that a child’s skull on that blanket? It was at that time that I left. I did not need that answered.

Time for candy and snacks. We went to a ye olde candy shop that sold traditional Mexican sweets. The interior and signage is intact and unchanged.

The guide Pau pointed out one particular snack, a brick of seeds. She said:

“You know, this was banned when the Spanish got here.”

Me: “?”

Pau: “It is amaranth held together with honey.”

Me: “Sounds nice.”

Pau: “But it used to be held together with human blood.”

Me: “Ok, there it is.”

After that we went past the Palacio de Bellas Artes. It looks like a glorious Europen turn of the century building.

But if you get up close there are smatterings of Mexican imagery. Like the man wearing the jaguar head and the snakes around the doorway.

See? If you’re not looking you could totally miss it.

There were a few other things we saw that were notable. One is the inability of the Mexicans to carve lions in the 1500 – 1600s. They had jaguars. They did great jaguars. Imagine a jaguar with a fluffy mane, right? Nope. Janky dog-monkeys for days.

Coming up next: Murals and craftsmen.