Here is My Imaginary Boytoy and also apparently Wendi Deng‘s, former British PM Tony Blair, aka bLIAR, speaking the absolute, literal truth for once in his goddam life, with a little help from remix artist Cassetteboy. The peace broker was risking all to deliver a desperate address to the hastily-gathered rebel alliance at the beating heart of the fabled Bloomberg empire, its London HQ. Oh, who am I kidding? He was there for the paycheck.
Soon to be me. Titania, queen of hippie fisherpersons
So, preparing to move from a nomadic, cat-sitting existence to a geostationary one, and one in a vegan ecovillage at that, is proving to be somewhat of a bigger shift than even I realized.
For starters, there’s the busfare to get there, which I do not have. Nor will I have it until one of my clients pays me, and I just split from the biggest-paying one by mutual consent. Yeah, I sent in The Last Invoice, but it’ll be Monday before it’ll be paid, and then it’ll be paid in Paypal, so to get it to the bank will be no sooner than Wednesday, probably Friday of next week and that’s IF it gets paid Monday. And once the money is there, if I’m there also, there’s nothing to buy up there but nights in a B&B and whale watching tours.
So I made Mine Hosts Metro and Mrs Metro an offer they could refuse, but fortunately they didn’t. I will give them the money that would go for bus fare if they will drive me. They can then use this to get a night in a swanky B&B or hotel. This guarantees that I get the back seat of the car, but oh well, it also guarantees I don’t have to sit beside a random homicidal maniac who will hog the armrest. It also means they can drive me to the actual site instead of dropping me off where the highway meets the road and I get a nice long walk down a gravel shoulder before turning up a dirt road in the middle of the rainforest, all while toting three heavy suitcases filled with everything I’ve been wearing for the past nine or ten months.
My footwear collection, also being ported around all over BC in said suitcases, consists of one pair of metallic wedge sandals, one pair Doc Marten Mary Janes, and two pairs of Brooks running shoes made of mesh. Absolutely nothing of the rain boot gum boot variety. And that is the single most necessary type of footwear when approaching an ecovillage on the west side of Vancouver Island in the dead of winter.
When I show up to the ecovillage, I am expected to be self-sufficient and bring food. They have kale; anything else, I’ll have to lug in. Since I am not and do not wish to become a Kaletarian, this means I have to buy food (too busy to catch my own, and the hunting is atrocious in downtown Victoria, although I hear at certain bars it’s easy to catch crabs).
And I have $1.90.
So, being me, I bitched about this on social media.
And, my friends being my friends, one of them sent me $100 so I could buy some goddam boots, two offered to mail me their boots (postage is $40 or so from Vancouver, though), and one offered me a job doing copywriting for his companies. He asked if I needed an advance, and told me to name my own rate. He trusted me to do that honestly in part because when my friend, who is between jobs, offered me the $100 I posted about it and asked my friends if I should take it or turn it down.
As it turned out, I turned down the mailed boots as the postage was truly extravagant and I could buy boots at the end of the month anyway, and accepted the money on the advice to pay it forward.
Then I went to LL Bean and found out the boots I wanted were 37% off, but they were also sold out until April 22, and a fat lot of good that does me. MOST of their boots are sold out, which means everyone is having a pretty shitty, slushy winter. So tomorrow I’m off to do some shopping in downtown Victoria.
My shopping list is a bit different now. When I lived in Vancouver’s Chinatown my shopping lists looked like:
bean thread noodles
peanut butter (the universe’s most perfect food)
soy sauce (you could always tell when I was “rich” because then I’d have three kinds: Indonesian, Japanese for sushi, and Chinese for rice)
nail polish in outrageous colours
antique or collectable cocktail accoutrements
My shopping list for tomorrow reads:
keeper cord for my $150 Akubra hat so the wind doesn’t blow it away
crab trap so I can catch my own food
bean thread noodles
sambal oeleck (some things never change)
bag of oranges in case of scurvy or some goddam thing
coffee and GOD I HOPE THEY HAVE A COFFEE POT IN THE COMMUNAL KITCHEN
It would be nice to get some glasses before I leave (the kind for your face, not the kind for your cocktails) so I could actually SEE the view, but maybe I’ll squeeze in an eye exam at least. Metro and Madame Metro have promised me glasses for Christmas. If not, once I’m paid I can just wander into town and I’m sure there’s a doctor there who can write a prescription that Clearly Contacts will mail.
So, basically, gasp in wonder at my steez. My swag. My YOLO. My command of buzzwords.
Some people only aim as high as the podium. Some tawdry, conventional people.
The members of the Jamaican Bobsleigh Team are not such people.
As we have written elsewhere, they are living their Olympic dreams in part because of the backing of a satirical cryptocurrency named after a faddish pet meme. Now they have released the best song and music video of the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games (unless the fabulous Johnny Weir wants to record something, of course). With a score to date of almost three quarter of a million plays in five days, this is definitely a winning performance.
Is it just me, or do those hands look like…not-hands, if you know what I mean?
It’s a fact! Take that musty old VHS tape of the Christmas yule log and toss it on the fire, because there’s a new time-waster in town. The internet’s cutest cat, Lil BUB, has come out with a full hour of her napping and purring by the fireside.
Seriously. That’s all it is. One cat drooling and making noises and intermittently sleeping, with a fire in the background. Enjoy!
What could be better than an hour of a magical squonking, snorting and purring BUB at a cozy fire?
Loop it on your screen, and let BUB warm your home with SCIENCE and MAGIC this holiday season.
I have no idea why we’re on this big Video Kick lately, particularly as we’re working on a computer that refuses to update Flash to something dating to this century, but we are. One is using the Royal We, of course. One wouldn’t mind using the Royal Wee on Prince Hot Ginge, whose birthday it is, should one ever get a chance with that nasty ginger, but it appears unlikely, as he does not travel in our elevated social circles. But I digress.
Here is one video that will simply creep you right the fuck out. It’s 1962 footage of the late Kenneth Stevens, Clarence J. LeBel Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT, saying words. Saying words while being X-rayed. I’m not sure what possible super-powers one might receive from a session like this; perhaps alliteration? the ability to extemporize in rhyming couplets (rap)? But certainly the ability to live on as a creepy YouTube video. His official obit from MIT is interesting.
Stevens is best known for his “quantal theory of speech,” which explored why — despite the apparent diversity of sounds across different languages — human speech actually exploits only a small fraction of the sounds that the vocal tract can produce.
In 1952, while Stevens was completing his doctorate, the MIT linguist Morris Halle, together with colleagues Gunnar Fant and Roman Jakobson, proposed that all human speech sounds could be described as combinations of 20-odd “distinctive features,” such as the placement of the tip of the tongue, the shape of the tongue, whether the glottis (voice box) was opened or closed, the shape of the lips, and so on.
Stevens, who collaborated closely with all three men, observed that these distinctive features seemed to describe configurations of the vocal tract’s “articulators” — such as the tongue, glottis and lips — in which small deviations had little effect on the sounds produced. This is by no means true of all configurations: In most cases, small deviations would actually yield large sonic differences. But, Stevens argued, language users would naturally converge on the more stable configurations, which would lead to greater consistency in sound production.
Quantal theory was not, however, just a theory of speech production; it was also a theory of speech recognition. If humans had a limited repertory of sounds that they could produce reliably, then the auditory system may very well have evolved to key in on them. Stevens spent much of his career indefatigably investigating the implications of quantal theory, both experimentally and through mathematical modeling, frequently in collaboration with Halle and, later, with Samuel Jay Keyser, another MIT linguist.
In the pursuit of knowledge in this rarefied field, he produced and starred in the following creepy-ass video, asking that musical question, “Why did Ken set the soggy net on top of his deck?”
Transcript, courtesy of YouTube robots, who are comically inaccurate:
0:03 the fifth
0:09 the top
0:13 going there
0:15 is there
0:17 asar [that can’t be right!]
0:26 that t
0:30 that uh…
0:31 the two
0:34 the talks
0:40 he interrupts
0:42 he are
0:44 the are
0:47 why didn’t care will set the starting next week on top of his deck