Saturday, September 8, 2012

THE BLIND(LY AWESOME) WATCHMAKER: It's probably no great surprise that a kid might follow in his grandfather's footsteps as a world-class watchmaker. It might be a bit of a surprise that he took a detour in life as the lead guitarist of Anthrax.
YOU HAVE ATTACKED THE SYSTEM ... GOOD LUCK WITH THAT:  The Wire, 8-bit video game version.  Folks participating in Wire Wednesdays should stop after Level 3 (3:40 in), obvs.

Friday, September 7, 2012

IN WHICH I WAS THE SHEEP:  At the arena in Charlotte this week -- again, not that we're talking about why I was in Charlotte -- they had free cell phone charger stations arrayed around the concourse on each level. With ports for every type of device (though not enough for iPhone users), these kiosks were a great amenity for folks at the end of long and battery-draining days, and I assume they'll become standard at many locations within a year or two. Plug in, wait by your device (or trust the credentialed masses being watched by Secret Service), voila.  (I did also see kiosks with credit card-activated locked doors for devices, but they weren't at the arena.) Except ...

Except that it was free. And because it was free, folks would hog scarce ports for thirty minutes, an hour, or more (and with monitors on the concourse, you could still keep tabs of the proceedings on the stage), and iPhone and Droid users were often left waiting in intolerable queues.

If there's a better illustration of the tragedy of the commons, I'm not sure what it would be. Consider what would have happened had they instead charged for charging -- $2 for ten minutes?  $5? (We know this was a valuable resource given how much people were willing to wait for it.) That way, you provide an endpoint to everyone's consumption of the resource while capturing the value that's out there. Or am I missing something?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

THIS COULD BE A PROBLEM FOR KNOPE 2016: We don't normally traffic in celebrity gossip, but news that Will Arnett and Amy Poehler are separating has generated enough dismay amongst TV critics and similar folks that it would seem a problem to not have a space for mourning.
ALOTT5MA EXPURGATION DESK: Of course there's a Kidz Bop version of Call Me Maybe, which sounds even more like a computer singing it than usual.  Lyric changes to be safe for kids?
  • Rather than "skin was showin'," "smile showin'"
  • Rather than "beg and borrow and steal," "beg and borrow and feel."

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

WARP SPEED, JUSTICE SCALIA: Io9 helpfully catalogs a number of judicial references to Star Trek.  Live long and prosper, my friends.
IF I LIVE TO SEE THE SEVEN WONDERS, I'LL MAKE A PATH TO THE RAINBOW'S END: Reader Heather K has a request for the ALOTT5MA Travel and Leisure Desk:
I am about to go on my honeymoon (well kind of about) that mostly is a Mediterranean cruise (on Royal Carribean). We are opting not to do most of their excursions because they seem to be for elderly people who are afraid of foreigners and also way too expensive for the return. BUT I thought some people who follow this blog might have some advice on things to do on a few of our day trip stops. We have Athens planned out, but we could use some tips on things to do for a part of a day in the following three ports:

  • Messina (Sicily), Italy
  • Ephesus/Kusadasi, Turkey
  • Chania (Souda), Crete
WELL, IT SEEMS LIKE I CAN'T SAY NOTHIN' TO CHANGE Y'ALL MINDS:  When you see an episode like The Wire's "Middle Ground," and realize how much it took to build to those dramatic moments ... I mean, what can I say?

The episode is centered around a series of conversations between familiar pairings (Avon-Stringer, McNulty-D'Agostino, Stringer-Levy) and unusual ones -- Omar-Mouzone, Stringer-Bunny (with both unable to change the game as much as they wanted), Carcetti-Bunny, and that remarkable scene (look, the whole episode is A+) in which Mayor Royce is meeting with his advisors and thinking seriously about keeping Hamsterdam alive.

I'm a bit overwhelmed down here in Charlotte right now, and I'll try to add more to say over the course of the day.  But how can you watch an episode like that and not want to talk about it, immediately?  To see Avon and Stringer on the balcony, with the audience knowing what each had set in motion for the other ... I'm speechless.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

WHEN THE PROOFS, THE FIGURES, WERE RANGED IN COLUMNS BEFORE ME ... HOW SOON, UNACCOUNTABLE, I BECAME TIRED AND SICK: Critical Debate A over this season of Breaking Bad seems to be whether the shift in pacing has hurt the show.  (Spoilers to follow)
SOME PEOPLE WAIT A LIFETIME FOR A MOMENT LIKE THIS:10 years ago today, Kelly Clarkson was crowned the first American Idol.  5 albums, 10 top ten singles, and 2 Grammys later, she's still kicking.  For whatever else Idol has given us, that's not bad.  And in odd Kelly Clarkson trivia?  "Breakaway" was actually co-written by and for Avril Lavigne.
WHEN IT'S TIME TO PARTY, THIS IS THE ONLY SOUNDTRACK:Andrew W.K. puts together his ultimate party mix tape, which features everything from "a-wop-bop-a-loo-bop!" to LMFAO.

Monday, September 3, 2012

OF COURSE I LOOK BEAUTIFUL, I'M A PRINCESS AND THIS IS MY TIARA:Being neither a young girl nor a parent of a young girl, I've not been in the market for a Birthday Party Princess, but a poster on the SomethingAwful forums apparently is such a Princess, and does an "Ask Me Anything" type thread explaining Princess magic to those who want to know, including the thorny intellectual property issues of Princess-ing.
THE BURDIAN'S ASS OF POP CULTURE: I mean, sure, I'd love to hire Blue Oyster Cult to play some post-lottery winning future birthday party of mine. But what to do when, for the same money, I could hire both Jerry Mathers and Tony Dow?.

It's a tough call.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

I KNOW THAT NOW!  Thing I never knew before about Honeymoon in Vegas: the child Elvis impersonator is a very young Bruno Mars.

(The planned musical adaptation, with Tony Danza, may be stalled.)
WE DON'T NEED TO DREAM NO MORE:  Quick note -- even though I'm on the road this week, Wire Wednesday will proceed on schedule with the penultimate, Pelecanos'd episode of season three, "Middle Ground," which involves pigeons and consequences.