Neil Gaiman will read the Cheesecake Factory menu if we raise $500K for the UN High Commission on Refugees

The campaign to raise $500K for the UN High Commission on Refugees started with author/comedian Sara Benincasa daring Neil Gaiman to do a dramatic reading of the Cheesecake Factory menu; Gaiman responded that if she raised the half-mil, he'd not only read the Cheesecake Factory's (notoriously florid) menu, he'd follow up with a reading of Dr Seuss's Fox in Socks if the funds hit $1m (I hasten to point out that this activity involves some risk to Gaiman, given the Seuss estate's penchant for bullying acts of copyfraud). (more…)

Why are doughnut boxes usually pink?

At the Los Angeles Times, David Pierson unties the story of why doughnut boxes are so frequently pink, particularly in southern California. It's a story of Cambodian refugees who emigrated to the US in the 1970s and built the donut market. But why pink? From the LA Times:

According to (Bakemark, formerly Westco) company lore, a Cambodian doughnut shop owner asked Westco some four decades ago if there were any cheaper boxes available other than the standard white cardboard. So Westco found leftover pink cardboard stock and formed a 9-by-9-by-4-inch container with four semicircle flaps to fold together. To this day, people in the business refer to the box as the “9-9-4.”

“It’s the perfect fit for a dozen doughnuts,” said Jim Parker, BakeMark’s president and chief executive.

More importantly to the thrifty refugees, it cost a few cents less than the standard white. That’s a big deal for shops that go through hundreds, if not thousands, of boxes a week. It didn’t hurt either that pink was a few shades short of red, a lucky color for the refugees, many of whom are ethnic Chinese. White, on the other hand, is the color of mourning.

Len Bell, president of Evergreen Packaging in La Mirada, first noticed the proliferation of pink boxes as a regional manager for Winchell’s in the early 1980s. Back in the Southland after a few years in Minnesota, Bell was amazed to see the doughnut business seemingly transformed overnight by Cambodian refugees, who proved quick studies and skillful businesspeople.

“Pink boxes have been around for a long time, don’t get me wrong,” he said. “But they really came into vogue in the late ’70s and early ’80s simply because it was a less expensive box to produce and buy.”

"Why are doughnut boxes pink? The answer could only come out of Southern California" (LA Times)

photo: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

Theory11 'Archangels' are the prettiest playing cards

I still love these Archangels. 90% of the time, this is the deck of cards I have in my pocket.

I buy a lot of decks of cards, and this remains my go-to favorite. The beautiful black on white back design is mesmerizing to watch go by as I practice flourishes, and I think helps distract people from clumsy sleights. The Ace of Spades and Joker designs are some of the best I've seen, and the gold foil used on the face cards adds a touch of class.

No blank card or double backer is included. There is one Theory11 advertisement card that can be used for "write on this card" tricks and still preserve the decks 52 card integrity.

Bicycle Archangels Playing Cards via Amazon

Arrest warrant issued for disgraced yoga tycoon Bikram Choudhury

Bikram Choudhury, the founder of Bikram yoga, is out of money, even though he claims in the video above that women are clamoring to pay him $1,000,000 for a single drop of his sperm. To make matters worse for Mr. Choudhury, who was ordered to pay millions for sexually harassing women, there's now a warrant for his arrest.

Via SF Gate:

A California judge on Wednesday issued an arrest warrant for the founder of Bikram yoga, who's been ordered to hand over proceeds from his global fitness business to satisfy a $6.8 million judgment won by a former legal adviser.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Edward Moreton issued the warrant for Bikram Choudhury and set bail at $8 million.

No lawyers appeared for Choudhury, who claimed last year he was nearly bankrupt.

(Thanks, Matthew!)

New documentary in production about electronic music pioneer Morton Subotnick

Morton Subotnick is an 84-year-old avant-garde composer whose pioneering electronic music, and approach to musicmaking, influenced the likes of Daft Punk, Kraftwerk, Four Tet, and countless techno artists. Subotnick helped Don Buchla design what was likely the first analog music synthesizer and used it to create his seminal psychedelic masterpiece, Silver Apples of the Moon (1967), the first electronic music work commissioned by a major record company, Nonesuch/Elektra. (Fan-made video below.) Just a few years before, Subotnick co-founded the iconic San Francisco Tape Music Center that became a creative home for Terry Riley, Pauline Oliveros, Steve Reich, and so many more incredible composers. And he's still making sounds. Now, Toronto's Waveshaper Media, the production company behind “I Dream Of Wires" and the forthcoming “Electronic Voyager" film about Bob Moog are working on a documentary about Subotnick. Support it on Indiegogo.

Mexico markets Trump themed tp, proceeds help migrants

Orange Julius-themed toilet paper will hit the shelves this year, and 30% of the profits go towards helping migrants.

Via CNN affiliate Expansion:

Del enfado pasó a la creatividad. Antonio Battaglia, un abogado guanajuatense, pondrá a la venta la marca de papel higiénico 'Trump' a finales de año, y de paso dejará una parte de las ganancias para apoyar a migrantes y a sus compatriotas deportados.

El tono ofensivo que utilizó Donald Trump al referirse a los mexicanos durante sus días de campaña rumbo a la presidencia de Estados Unidos motivó a Battaglia, que buscó generar un mensaje para dejar claro que los mexicanos no son “Bad Hombres”, como les llamó el estadounidense.

"Me generó una molestia y empecé a buscar la manera de hacer algo que tuviera una repercusión, no en tono de burla o un mal desquite, sino de manera positiva”, dijo en entrevista a Expansión.

(h/t Pocho)

Teaser for Castlevania series on Netflix

With the classic 1980s Nintendo Entertainment System continuing to rack up extra lives thanks to the retro videogame resurgence, the thirty year-old game Castlevania has been ported to Netflix with a new animated series. Warren Ellis wrote it, which almost guarantees that it will be the best TV program based on a videogame ever, and that includes Hanna-Barbera's Pac-Man.

Math puzzle: Filling a bath tub with increasingly smaller containers

High school teacher Joe Howard presents a summer break math problem:

We are trying to fill a bath tub! How long does it take if we make our containers smaller and smaller following a certain pattern? Finding an upper and lower bound means finding a range of possible answer: we can know that it will take more than a certain amount of pours and less than a certain amount of pours, which will at least give us an idea. Who can come up with the most precise range? Grappling this problem will introduce you to ideas within Calculus. The situation is super counter intuitive. Good luck!

Killer bug threatens life on Earth, why Comey had to go, and other weighty issues in this weeks tabs

It's another week of weighty issues in the tabloids, with heavy politics and underweight celebrities hogging the headlines.

"Bag of bones Angelina Jolie" is an anorexic 91 pounds and must "rehab or die!" proclaims the 'Globe,' only three weeks after stablemate the 'National Enquirer' reported that the actress "looks healthier than she has in months" and had "regained an estimated 53 pounds."

The 'Globe' squad of fun-fair midway-trained "Guess Your Weight" experts also report "99-lb Lisa Marie Presley Dying!" as "friends fear she's killing herself with drugs." Because in Hollywood friends live in constant fear for their celebrity pals.

Singer Tony Bennett "has 5 weeks to live . . . friends fear," reports the 'Globe.' Evidently he's too weak to snap his fingers as he sings, which "pals fear" means the end is near. Or maybe at 90 the crooner simply has a touch of arthritis?

Another singer, Jessica Simpson, has gained a little weight, and her modest stomach paunch prompts the 'Enquirer' to report that she is "pregnant to save marriage!" Or maybe she's just eaten too many Burger King Double Whoppers? The magazine even found a New York doctor to say that based on a couple of photos "she certainly looks at least three months along" - a time at which most women are barely showing.

Heavyweight politics dominates the 'Enquirer,' which devotes two pages to former FBI director James Comey: "A Victim - Or A Villain?" Former White House advisor Dick Morris answers that question for the 'Enquirer,' in his column: "Why Prez Had to Fire FBI Boss." The reason? Comey allegedly sealed his own fate when he passed to Obama the spy dossier containing allegations of Trump's link to golden showers with Russian hookers. "He even had the gall to brief Trump on what was in it," says Morris, scorning Comey's professional courtesy. Sure, kill the messenger.

'Us' magazine devotes endless pages to Hollywood's "Best Bodies" and how to get them, with workout and diet tips from Julianne Hough, Kate Hudson, et al, in a traditional display of unattainable genetically-blessed improbably honed and toned bodies.

'People' mag brings us its own real-life "weight loss triumphs" with four graduates of the reality TV series 'My 600-lb Life' revealing how they each lost hundreds of pounds. Then the magazine helpfully offers a recipe for "orange-glazed baby back ribs" which look perfect for gaining all that weight back.

Of course there's plenty of lightweight celebrity news too, much of it fed a virtually fact-free diet.

Paris Jackson "adopts her baby brother" claims the 'Enquirer,' of Michael Jackson's youngest son Blanket, though of course she has not adopted him, and at 19 is highly unlikely to adopt her 15-year-old sibling while he is under the supervision of a court and trustees, in the care of their grandmother, aided by three housekeepers and a chef. Incidentally, 'People' reports that Blanket was so unhappy with his name and the bullying it attracted, that he changed his monicker in 2015 to something less provocative . . . Bigi. I kid you not.

I hate to come to the defense of beleaguered alleged sex fiend Bill Cosby, but the 'Enquirer' claims that he is "faking blindness," enlisting "a nationally recognized forensic expert" to conclude that photos of him getting into a car clearly show him looking at the door. I can't imagine why the 'Enquirer' didn't employ its customary team of psychics, fearful friends and doctors who have never seen the patient to diagnose Cosby, but they seem to ignore the fact that he is "legally blind," which can mean that he is unable to read or drive, yet may still have limited peripheral vision giving him a blurry view of the world. Even if Cosby is lying, it's hard to imagine making a forensic diagnosis of that based on a few photographs.

Princess Diana's former lover James Hewitt, clinging to life following a major heart attack and stroke, is taking his "secrets . . . to the grave," reports the 'Globe.' Or you could believe the 'National Examiner' report that Hewitt, despite fighting for his life, "is poised to spill shocking secrets of their lengthy affair from his deathbed" in a "tell-all book." Perhaps banking on Hewitt not surviving his ordeal, the 'Examiner' gleefully reveals secrets from this as-yet-unwritten memoir, claiming: "Charles Paid Hewitt to be Diana's Lover!" Courtesy of their squad of psychic book reviewers, no doubt.

Fortunately we have the investigative team at 'Us' magazine to tell us that Jennifer Lopez wore it best, actress Katey Sagal wishes that she could paint, Melissa Rycroft keeps Animal Crackers, baby wipes and hair scrunchies in her Louis Vuitton bag, and that the stars are just like us: they bicycle, eat, drink, and shop. And paparazzi are there to chronicle every magical moment.

'Us' and 'People' both bring us more photographs than we could possibly want of the semi-Royal wedding of the year, when the Duchess of Cambridge's sister Pippa Middleton tied the knot with a slew of British royalty in attendance. The vacuity of celebrity coverage at its best.

The 'Examiner' yet again brings us the biggest news of the week: "Killer Bug Threatens to Wipe Out the World!" but understandably relegates this earth-shattering revelation to page 40, because readers will certainly be more concerned with a "Dog & Duck's Quacky Friendship!" and "how Goldie & Kurt keep the passion alive!"

Onwards and downwards . . .

Ben Carson thinks poverty is a state of mind

Ladies and gentlemen, the US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development says you're poor largely because you have the wrong mindset.

The retired neurosurgeon oversees a department that manages housing for the country's low-income population.

His comments quickly drew sharp criticism on social media.

"I think poverty to a large extent is also a state of mind," he said in an interview that aired on Wednesday.

"You take somebody that has the right mindset, you can take everything from them and put them on the street, and I guarantee in a little while they'll be right back up there.

"And you take somebody with the wrong mindset, you can give them everything in the world, they'll work their way right back down to the bottom."

Never attribute to malice or stupidity that which is explained by both.

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