It's hard to believe that fifty years ago, The Monkees' television series premiered. The band is often denigrated as phony, but I don't care. They had some of the best songwriters and studio musicians in the business, and if you listen to the final product with an unprejudiced ear, it's good stuff.
Lead singer Davy Jones died in 2012, but that is not stopping Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork from hitting the road and cutting a new LP (Michael Nesmith is most likely sitting out on the tour) this year. The album is called Good Times, and will be released June 10, 2016.
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Surviving members Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork perform on the entire album, which brings together songs originally penned for the group in the 1960s along with newer work by Cuomo, Gibbard, XTC’s Andy Partridge and more. One song written by Neil Diamond, “Love to Love,” features Davy Jones with a vintage vocal.
In 1969 the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation took a break from making planes to drop bombs on Vietnamese villages and turned their attention to making films about dropping acid. The results of both their efforts were awful. And of course they were richly rewarded at the taxpayer's expenses. From Night Flight:
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Lockheed ended up borrowing $400 million from a consortium of banks in 1969, even they would still end up declaring multimillion dollar losses for the company for ’69 and 1970. It wasn’t enough money, however, and so the failing aerospace giant once again turned to our federal government, who then granted them a $250 million dollar loan guarantee, which Nixon’s administration actually proposed and Congress narrowly ended up passing in August 1971, passing that sizable debt on to the U.S. taxpayer by showing that Lockheed — just like the banks — was simply too big to fail.
Lockheed would survive and grow in the 1970s, of course, ultimately buying another defense contractor, Martin Marietta, and becoming the mega-huge Lockheed Martin, the world’s biggest defense contractor, which was later described by Jonathan Vankin in The Big Book of Scandal as “a company that sold billions of dollars in weapons every year, while covertly functioning as one of the world’s largest organized crime syndicates.”
According to WorldNews247 the fellow in this video pushed the elevator button, and when it didn't open, he gave the door a flying kick, which dislodged it. He walked through the opening and fell down the shaft. He survived. Read the rest
Peggy Hartman died on January 20, 2016. She was 91 years old. Hartman's friend Magaret Seaman ordered a floral arrangement in the shape of a Jack Russell terrier to be delivered to Hartman's memorial service (Hartman loved dogs). But when the floral arrangement was unveiled in the church, the dog looked more like a generously snouted tapir with five legs. Seaman said she was embarrassed and asked the florist a refund, but was refused.
From Echo News:
The florist, from Harlequin Flowers, in Ness Road, defended her work though, saying she had photographic evidence of how the dog looked when it was being delivered to funeral directors S. Stibbards and Sons, also in Ness Road. She said: “It has been tampered with."
The mystery deepens!
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I was 34, a first-time parent, married, a recent university graduate with a BA in English literature. I had published a few (very few) short stories in Omni, a glossy magazine from the publisher of Penthouse. Omni paid around $2,000 for a short story, a princely sum (particularly when compared with science fiction magazines – digest-sized, the traditional pulps – which paid perhaps a 10th, if that). Omni left me no choice but to write more.
Their first cheque cashed, I’d purchased the cheapest possible ticket to New York, intent on meeting the mysterious human whose editorial decision had resulted in such a windfall. The late Robert Sheckley, a droll and affable man, and a writer whose fiction I admired, took me out to lunch on the Omni tab and gave me two pieces of sage advice: I should never, under any circumstances, sign a multi-book contract, and neither should I “buy that big old house”. I have managed to follow the first to the letter.
Robert Ito wrote a wonderful profile of cartoonist Daniel Clowes in California Sunday Magazine. It includes some nice illustrations of Clowes by other cartoonists.
In the third issue of Eightball, Clowes published “The Return of Young Dan Pussey,” a scathing takedown of the comics industry. In the strip’s satirical alternate reality, Marvel Comics founder Stan Lee is a glad-handing cheapskate with an eye for prostitutes, while Fantagraphics co-founder Gary Groth is a bully who consults a thesaurus mid-rant to come up with fresh ways to insult his artists. Art Spiegelman is a creepy, chain-smoking taskmaster who forces his stable of unpaid artists to create work for his comics magazine in a miserable hovel with burlap sacks for beds. “I just felt it was nasty, snotty, gratuitous,” recalls Spiegelman. Françoise Mouly, his Raw co-creator, says, “I became aware of [Clowes] as a wiseass a long time ago.” Clowes has a different explanation. “Jealousy isn’t the right word, but I just had a longing to be a part of that world and had that feeling that I wasn’t,” he says. “It was sort of an expression of rage and self-pity and trying to make myself feel better about that.”
Clowes' full-length graphic novel, Patience, will by published March 1, 2016 by Fantagraphics.
What rough beast slouches toward Aragon?
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Shaky footage of what looks like a strange ape-like creature with white fur clambering though the snow was posted online this week.
Spanish ski resort bosses have been forced to comb part of the Pyrenees after the images sent the internet into a frenzy. But skeptical viewers of the footage say it is just a man dressed in a furry suit.
A skier sounded the alert after posting the photo taken at Formigal in northeastern Spain on a popular website with the message: “Strange animal spotted in Formigal. What the hell is this?.”The picture, retweeted thousands of times, sparked a search by ski resort owners Aramon and a frenzied debate over whether a Spanish Yeti was on the loose or if it was a bear, Photoshop montage or even a soldier wearing mountain camouflage.
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“My American friend [Dave Sitek, who produced the
videosong] suggested that this time we do hip-hop, the genre originally rooted in gangster culture,” said NT. “So in the film we have a criminal, the biggest gangster there is in Russia: Prosecutor General Yuri Y. Chaika.”
[Tolokonnikova] plays a rather special version of Chaika. She wears a tight uniform, fishnet stockings, and patent pink high heels that sharpen her long legs. Over and over she sings Chaika’s rules: “Be loyal to those in power, because power is a gift from God, son. I love Russia. I’m a patriot.”
The words come straight from Chaika’s declarations after members of the Russian opposition investigated him and leveled against him allegations of massive corruption and connections with organized crime.
The general impression of the View-Master Virtual Reality viewer is that it's an excellent Google Cardboard viewer for any Android phone or iPhone, but that the View-Master app "reels" aren't very good. My family and I love Google Cardboard - the experience of walking around Paris and Tokyo is amazing. For $18, it seems like a good deal. Has anyone tried it? Read the rest
There's no question that Belgian cyclist Femke van den Driessche had a motor hidden in a bike she rode in the UCI Cyclocross World Championships over the weekend, because race officials discovered it in the hollow part of the bike frame. But van den Driessche swears she didn't know the motor was there. Here's her alibi, as reported by Velo News:
The 19-year-old denied that she had used a bike with a concealed motor on purpose, saying that it was identical to her own but belonged to a friend and that a team mechanic had given it to her by mistake before the race.
"It wasn't my bike, it was that of a friend and was identical to mine," a tearful Van den Driessche told Belgian TV channel Sporza. "This friend went around the course Saturday before dropping off the bike in the truck. A mechanic, thinking it was my bike, cleaned it and prepared it for my race," she added, insisting that she was "totally unaware" it was fitted with a hidden motor.
The motor and battery weigh 1.8 kilograms, which you would think van den Driessche would notice.
This reminds me of a case many years ago when my friend's cousin in Boulder, Colorado was caught cheating in the Soap Box Derby. His car had an electromagnet inside it that gave it a boost when the gate dropped. Another friend of mine, Colin Berry, wrote about the incident for MAKE, which took place in the 1970s. Read the rest
On February 1, Amy Rios tweeted: "Write the saddest story you can using only 4 words." Since then, the replies have poured in, and they are excellent. Most of them are darkly humorous or sarcastic, instead of just sad.
@TheAmyRios "Ladies and gentlemen, Nickelback!"— Rachel Bachman (@Bachscore) February 4, 2016
I didn't pull out. "@TheAmyRios:Write the saddest story you can using only 4 words"— Chester Cheata (@CapoFrankLucas) February 4, 2016
@itsmcdermott That's unacceptable! We'll get Netflix working for you, Hannah! What device is it on? What happens when you try streaming? *JF— Netflix CS (@Netflixhelps) February 4, 2016
@TheAmyRios Taco Bell is closed— BigMcLrgHuge (@BigMcLrgHuge) February 3, 2016
@TheAmyRios Dingoes ate my baby.— Nicolette Barischoff (@NBarischoff) February 3, 2016
@TheAmyRios "please clap," he pleaded— Mr Internet (@decktonic) February 5, 2016
The last story refers to this recent Jeb speech, where he implored the silent audience to applaud: Read the rest
My favorite Vonnegut novel, Cat's Cradle (1963), is just $1.99 as a Kindle ebook today. I read it when I was about 12 or 13, and the idea of "Ice-nine" has intrigued me ever since. Ice-nine, as described in the novel, is a stable form of water that's solid at room temperature, and doesn't melt until it reaches 114.4 °F. If you drop a bit of Ice-nine into a glass of ordinary water, it will work like a seed crystal and turn all the water in the glass into a solid. If you toss an Ice-nine cube into a lake on a warm summer day, the whole lake will freeze over.
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Vonnegut came across the idea while working at General Electric:
The author Vonnegut credits the invention of ice-nine to Irving Langmuir, who pioneered the study of thin films and interfaces. While working in the public relations office at General Electric, Vonnegut came across a story of how Langmuir, who won the 1932 Nobel Prize for his work at General Electric, was charged with the responsibility of entertaining the author H. G. Wells, who was visiting the company in the early 1930s. Langmuir is said to have come up with an idea about a form of solid water that was stable at room temperature in the hopes that Wells might be inspired to write a story about it. Apparently, Wells was not inspired and neither he nor Langmuir ever published anything about it. After Langmuir and Wells had died, Vonnegut decided to use the idea in his book Cat's Cradle.
This person has three problems with the new Uber logo. The first problem ("It can be recreated in under one minute using three of the standard shape tools) does not bother me. I actually think that's cool. But the uncentered square and the overhanging line really do suck! Read the rest