Avast, Me Hearties!

Happy International Talk Like a Pirate Day, Ye Scientists, Naugty Wenches, Sea Dogs, Cheese-eating Surrender-pirates, Gothpirates, Scurvy Lubbers and Assorted Bilgerats!

P.S. Would a real pirate drive a Honda?

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The first book is from the founders of Talk Like a Pirate Day. A good read. Why TLAPD is not a national holiday is beyond me.

From the book cover: “Gideon Defoe, who lives in London, is twenty-eight. He wrote The Pirates! to convince a woman to leave her boyfriend for him. She didn’t.” Gideon Defoe is also rumored to be a relative of _that_ Defoe. In any case, I really don’t see why that woman did not leave her boyfriend, as Mr. Defoe is a genius.

Freedom Cuts

I have a friend who likes to remind me that my taste is highly atypical and should not be taken into consideration when coming up with new products. For instance, Fox cancels any show that I start to really like. Firefly, The $treet, Futurama – all mistreated and gone. The Simpsons weren’t cancelled, but somehow changed by Fox to become unappealing to me. Strange but true.

Right now Fox is promoting a new show, Prison Break. Recently they turned a little raised plaza in front of the Newscorp Building into a “Fox River State Penitentiary”, complete with signs, a barbed wire fence, and a whole bunch of dudes in prison jumpsuits handing out nailfiles and fake tattoos with the show’s logo.

There were also free henna tattoos as well as free buzzcuts. I was very much surprised at how popular the buzzcuts were with the office crowd.


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You know what’s missing from The Simpsons today? Bite. There’s no bite left in them. And I don’t know, something else too. It’s still there in the old seasons, but somewhere along the way either Homer jumped the shark both literally and figuratevely.

A relatively well known fact is that Groening started his career with a “Life Is Hell” comic which was about bulgy eyed rabbits instead of bulgy eyed humans. It had what the Simpsons is missing these days.

Blast From the Past

Boing Boing, with it’s love of red and anti-red comics made me remember Herluf Bidstrup. You see, for some reason in the Soviet Union multiframe format comics were seen as a western influence, despite their usefulness as a propaganda tool. Single and two-frame caricatures were common though. One glaring exception to the rule were comics of a Danish illustrator Herluf Bidstrup, who worked for a Danish communist newspaper. His work was published in a 5-volume set of coffee table books.

The fifth volume was all political, and thus particularly interesting to the Soviet reader. But the other 4 were full of amazingly drawn multi-frame comics that showcased Bidstrup’s eye for little things in life and his crisp, flowing line. I spent hours upon hours looking at his cartoons. Unfortunately we left the books behind, but I will absolutely replace them (I’ve seen them for sale in a Russian bookstore, but balked at the price).

Here you can find some political editorial cartoons and everyday sketches, probably from the last volume at pretty good resolution. These include sketches from his visit to the Soviet Union.

This site, on the other hand has a lot of the good stuff from the first four volumes, alas at a terrible resolution that absolutely destroys Bidstrup’s elegant line. Here’s a similar site.

Bidstrup was pretty much anti-US. Here’s Denmark scared by the Soviet menace joins the Nato. These are just few frames out of a longer sequence.

I absolutely love Bidstrup’s take on the generational conflict and his other cartoons about families. This is another favorite of mine.

Sometimes he just could not help himself and drew pinup girls, and the editors of his books were forced to add politically motivated copy: this cartoon’s title said something about how “this Bulgarian Eve is safe in the Garden of Socialism” or some such nonsense. I think it’s just that Bidstrup liked exotic women in bikinis (forgetting to thank Uncle Sam for the bikini, of course).

I bet that if he were born in the US Bidstrup would have become one of the finest pulp illustrators. I wonder if he illustrated any sci-fi at all…

Oh, and another thing. To this day I prefer cigars that taper on ends because they were prominently featured in Bidstrup’s cartoons. These are collectively called “figurados” and are rather uncommon in the American market. The type that tapers on both ends is called “perfecto” and the one that tapers on one end is called “torpedo”. These are hard to roll, so usually only experienced rollers venture to make them.

Polishing the Jewels

When you run a classy joint, like Tiffany & Co, you can’t just board up your windows and start renovating. No, you board up your windows and hire an illustrator to draw a mural on it. Tiffany & Co execs seem to have a pretty good sense of humor though. The mural looks like an illustration from Cosmo or some other chick young woman oriented rag publication. On the side a legend says: “Welcome to Tiffany. Please use our 57th Street entrance while our crown jewel gets a polish.”

Here’s a detail from the front: bow tie boldie has this annoying expression on his face: “he heh, I am surely getting my crown jewels polished tonight.”

This, by the way would have been an interesting photography project – camping out with a long lens across from Tiffany’s and discretely (otherwise Trump and Tiffany security personnel will probably drag you away for this) taking pictures of men walking out with those robin’s egg blue shopping bags. I would not want to do something like that though, as on occasion I walked out of that store carrying the shopping bag and the expression. I am a fan of the 1837TM line.

Captain Deadprogrammer and the World of Today

This is one of the many photos in the series that will need to be reshot. I was looking for this picture to happen for a long time, but when the opportunity finally occurred, my main camera was broken, the new one is not ordered yet and my old standby camera had enough juice only for one or two pictures.

On Friday the Goodyear Blimp was loitering around the Empire State building for some reason. Of course the photo is of poor quality, Goodyear Blimp is no Hindenberg and is positioned incorrectly to use the mooring mast, but I guess this is as close as it gets for me to take a picture that I imagined so many times when looking at the Empire State Building. Seeing that scene in “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow” made it worth my while to go to that otherwise not very interesting movie.

Objectivist Living With Style

A Curbed article about the new “tower of penthouses” tower reminded me of the Enright House in Rand’s “The Fountainhead”:

He stopped. He saw the reproduction of a drawing: the Enright House by Howard Roark.

He did not need to see the caption or the brusque signature in the corner of the sketch; he knew that no one else had conceived that house and he knew the manner of drawing, serene and violent at once, the pencil lines like high-tension wires on the paper, slender and innocent to see, but not to be touched. It was a structure on a broad pace by the East River. He did not grasp it as a building, at first glance, but as a rising mass of rock crystal. There was the same severe, mathematical order holding together a free, fantastic growth; straight lines and clean angles, space slashed with a knife, yet in a harmony of formation as delicate as the work of a jeweler; an incredible variety of shapes, each separate unit unrepeated, but leading inevitably to the next one and to the whole; so that the future inhabitants were to have, not a square cage out of a square pile of cages, but each a single house held to the other houses like a single crystal to the side of a rock.

Yeah, I guess Mr. Calatrava is no Mr. Roark. But still, kudos to him for trying.

Oh Yeah, That’s a Mystery

Reuters reports:
Japanese police have been scratching their heads in bewilderment over the country’s latest counterfeiting trend — fake bills that cost more to make than their face value.

“Police suspect a techno-maniac is involved,” the Asahi said.

The fake bills are made by replacing the middle strip of genuine notes with a color photocopy, and securing them with tape.

A Soviet detective would figure this out in a second – those people are using color copiers at work which cost them nothing. “Techno-maniac”. Hah. In Soviet times there were cases where people would pour out wine and soft drinks out of bottles stolen at work to get the deposit.