schmutzie quits smoking

About a month and a half ago, Schmutzie quit smoking. Since we're married, I get to see all the crazy technicolour effects in person: confusion, irritability, hopelessness, irrational bursts of joy and time dilation. I went through the experience eight years ago, when I decided one day that I no longer needed tobacco. I think the P@xil helped.

Anyway, it occurred to me the other day that I had a) an inquiring mind, and b) a cheap camcorder. Our conversation revolved around two subjects: her overweening ambition to rule the world and her fear of death. Usually this makes for a Genghis Khan-like tyrant mowing down a subcontinent, but in Schmutzie's case it's rather inspiring.

Here she is talking about quitting smoking:

And here's a longer disquisition on creativity and blogging:

Extra footage courtesy of

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poems for monsters #9: a dream of spiderman (with video!)

Poems for Monsters is making the leap to video, which is all in keeping with the tremendous leaps in camcorder technology over the last forty years. If I'd done this in 1973, there's no way I would have been able to afford the equipment and time to bring you my poetry (sic) in such an exciting format. Add to that the complete lack of internet, the absence of Flash video and the fact that I was two years old in 1973. So you can see why it took me so long to put this together.


Note for Facebook users: If the video isn't showing up on my feed, you can see it on my website In Palinode's Palace.

Quest for Soda: Jan

So here's what happened. Two things happened. I bought a camcorder not much larger than a deck of cards. And I developed a burning curiosity about soda. I realized that, armed with a camera, there was nothing about soda that I could not ferret out from perplexed bystanders. Also, whom would you punch in the head if you had the chance? If that makes no sense, please watch this short explanatory video.

Full disclosure: The soda/headpunch interviews are part of the content I contribute to, a venture I'm venturing upon with an Iowan-Mexican man who calls himself onlyaman. We go live every Wednesday and Sunday at 8pm PST, around about the time that onlyaman's kids go to bed. His kids just can't handle the no-holds-barred blistering commentary and insane lag times of

wainbow bwead

I have a feeling that this footage of a young woman endlessly singing the praises of Patty Cake Rainbow Bread ('Cause it's good bread/ It's freeeeeeesh bread) is going to be the next vile internet meme. So I'm here to spread this thing around.

Seven minutes of praise to some forgotten bread. After a few minutes it becomes incredibly boring, but it is physically difficult to remove your eyes from this woman as she sings about various bakeries and identifies Patty Cake Rainbow Bread as her "number one". As the unseen engineer layers her vocal tracks and builds the jingle, the video gains substance not from complexity but from a subtle amassing, a building wall of insistence on the greatness of that bread. Plus she's got this weird lisp.

Here's some information about the video from the Youtube comments:

THE ANSWER from Johnny Hooper:
"That session was done at Goodnight Audio in Dallas, Texas sometime in the 80's.
The singer is Kelly Crane, the daughter of pianist Freddy & Lucy Crane that worked in the recording business here in Dallas. The producer who is is talking to her is Kenny Sutherland, who did a series of Radio & T.V. ads for "Rainbow Bread".
As I recall, the background vocalist are Carolyn Brooks, Debby Hooper, Johnny Hooper, and some others that I don't remember." Thanks Johnny!

Via the Boing Boing.

HORRIBLE UPDATE: Never mind the nice woman singing about the bread. The video below drove me to insanity. It is a demo version of a "jingle package" (ahem) for WCFL-Chicago. There is no video beyond a still image, a relentless numb insistence on itself. The audio track goes through variation after variation of WCFL jingles - fast, slow, whiplash tempo, news, weather, whatever. After five minutes of this you cease to hear it, and you enter a world bounded by the cheery walls of WCFL - Chi-ca-gooo. An hour of this would get you kicked out of Guantanamo Bay for unnecessary cruelty. I highly recommend it for some reason.

so where's the big goddamn alien squid thing?

Good Lord. Someone has made a fan mashup of The Watchmen trailer, using Superfriends footage, to produce a trailer for 'The Watchfriends'.

What? What are you talking about Palinode? Huh what? Okay, stop talking all at once and I'll explain.

I probably don't need to go into detail about the Superfriends cartoon (Superman Wonder Woman Batman Robin Aquaman Wonder Twins all fighting baddies in lively Saturday morning cartoon format the end), but Alan Moore's Watchmen may warrant a word or two. Between 1986 and 1987 Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons released Watchmen for DC Comics, a gorgeous, elaborate, over-the-top, sometimes risible but always riveting meta-take on the superhero phenomenon. The story takes place in an alternate 1985, where Nixon is still president and superheroes have been outlawed since the late '70s. Some superheroes sit around and gain weight, some live lives of psychotic desperation, others end up doing dirty work for the government. Some still want to save the world. And someone is killing them off.

The story of the film adaptation of The Watchmen is long and painful, full of false starts and disappointing turns. Long story short: it's coming out early next year, some twenty-three years after it first appeared. If you've read the book, then the trailer will give you instant feeling of familiarity, as if you've suddenly seen an old friend walking through a crowd. If not, then you probably woln't have the foggiest idea of what's going on.

Here's a split-screen comparison of the Watchmen trailer and the Superfriends mashup. Some of the choices are pretty imaginative.

god's will for the US election revealed

Normally Thanksgiving (Canadian version) is a time to spend with family, friends and a dead bird, but I've got the inside track on getting the most out of my holidays: sit around in my underwear and watch YouTube. This is my favourite so far, in which The Modest Agnostic outlines The Lord's divine plan for the upcoming (non-Canadian) election and how you can help. Not safe for work, unless you have headphones:

that unpleasant microsoft "rocking our sales" video

Welcome to the "2 Girls 1 Cup" of in-house promotional videos. Actually, I wish I could say that it was as repulsive and fascinating as the sight of two girls swapping their waste products back and forth. It's more like the two girls were just about to throw up into each others' mouths but then decided to talk about potpourri and dress up real nice and sing lullabies to orphans.

Corporate videos are inherently corny. They're always on the verge of ridiculousness, as if the actors were about to wink at the camera at a crucial moment or give a thumbs-up to the viewers (actually, in this video that's what they do). In this case, though, the wit and creativity have been carefully ironed out until nothing is left but the fatuous byproduct of a Bruce Springsteen impersonator rasping out Microsoft Newspeak to a dancing audience. 'Our ecosystem rocks'?

What's the dead giveaway? The unattractive dancing girl meant as the Courteney Cox stand-in from the original Dancing In The Dark video. A pretty girl would crank open the window and admit the terrible spectre of sexual desire into the proceedings. Sexuality is utterly verboten in the arid air of the corporate world, even though we spend more time with our coworkers than we do with our own families.

I'm not qualified to comment on the effectiveness of Windows Vista in corporate environments (note that the messaging doesn't bother with home user sales - I imagine that individual consumers aren't as significant a market, and most of us get our Vista Basic or Home Premium bundled with our computers) or its success to date, but I know enough about corporate communications to smell the desperation smoking off this thing in dark oily clouds.

Here's a rule of thumb I will call the Oyster Principle: in a reactive corporate environment, positive messages grow around the seed of a negative message. That is to say, if you've got something nice to say it's because something is wrong, and you're trying to cover it up deeply enough that the target audience won't notice. In many cases, the negative message dissolves entirely into the structure of benefits and anticipated returns. This is not necessarily a bad thing, insofar as sound policy can be a response to an identified problem. But in-house corporate videos are the roughest of aggregations around the irritant of a bad situation. In this case, the message is: Our sales are sucking. But now that we've come out with SP1, our future is bright! Bring on the revenue!

Ow. I think of the flashy but desperate Sino-rapper Sushi K from Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash, clumsily rapping to a crowd of thrash-metal loving skateboard kids about market share and the fact that his "special fondness is in your pants".

Anyway. I'm not one of those strange but smart people who watch Microsoft doggedly and post reports on its every move, so I may be misreading this video. Also, I'm drunk.

the challenge

Remember the days of decent updates, with thoughtful commentary and the asymptotic approach to the inaccessible origin, but you keep going anyway because it's all in the journey? Well those times were self-indulgent and big-paragraphed. Instead of all that jim-jam, here's a really unfortunate breakfast challenge that Burger King issued to a certain portion of the body phagotic in the 1980s:

So come on you, um, lots of people! And get a free drink while you're at it.

UPDATE: One of my readers believes that the above video is an artful fake. He claims that the word "muff" seems to be edited and the opening text is a later addition. Well, shucks, I say. What do you folks think?

chemical reaction

Via Boing Boing: via Wired Science blog: This video made me shout involuntarily. Watch as the liquid goes from clear to amber to blue to clear to amber to blue.

UPDATE: A few people, plus at least two sentient robots and a self-aware Jovian gas cloud, have written in to ask just what the hell is going on in that glass. I would have thought the robots, with their advanced brains, would have figured it out, but here goes anyway.

What you're looking at is known as an oscillating reaction. If done properly, the reaction will continue to occur for several minutes, until the solution settles at dark blue. This particular one is called the Briggs-Rauscher reaction, after the two high-school science teachers who came up with it in 1973. The reaction occurs when three different solutions are mixed together. I would go into greater depth, but I don't understand the chemistry behind it. For detailed instructions on how to create this reaction, along with an explanation for its niftiness, can be found here. Remember that chloride ions suppress the oscillating reaction, so make sure to pick up all the chloride ions you've got lying around and put them in a bag somewhere. And use distilled water.

No matter what you think of this process, it's definitely the coolest possible way to create a jar of deep blue liquid.

three and a half minutes of david lynch

Sometimes I spend too much time staring at the computer screen. I feel bored, anxious, but the pixels keep me locked into place. After a while, what can I do with this paralysis and boredom but turn it into something entertaining? I wish I could go for a walk, but until that day comes round, here are some short David Lynch clips.

David Lynch's "Clean Up New York" spot

This is an anti-littering PSA for New York City. Do not watch this clip if you have a phobia of or even the mildest antipathy towards rats. I never found rats disturbing until I watched this clip. Now I have a new appreciation of Winston Smith's rodent fear.

David Lynch's "Parisienne People" Cigarette Ad

Pretty much everything that people loved and hated about David Lynch in the mid-'90s can be found in this spot. If you like piles of fish inexplicably leaping upward at the behest of spooky guys in suit jacket and bowtie, all in the service of selling you cigarettes, then this is the commercial of your dreams. Your horrible dreams.

David Lynch's opinion on product placement

It's obvious that Lynch has no problems with making commercials, but he takes a very dim view of product placement in movies. Not safe for work, unless you work at Total Fucking Bullshit Inc., in which case people will think you're answering the phone.

I Am The Wolfman

Recently Lynch made a series of commercials for the Playstation 2 with the slogan "Welcome to the Third Place". I don't know where The Third Place is or what they do there, but I don't ever want to go. But I love this ad, which looks and feels more like Michel Gondry than David Lynch.

your local union of pushin' around a lotta little old ladies from flarida

Ah, holy hell. Via Boing Boing, here's an old ad for AFSCME, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Either this is an alternate audio take from the original ad in the late '70s - early '80s (I'm a bit skeptical) or someone's done a good job of reproducing the recording tech from the era (slightly disappointing but way more likely). Whichever it is, this is hilarious and completely aurally obscene. Turn the volume low or plug in some headphones if you're at work. Or you'll likely end up fired. Unless you're in a union.

the opposite of opposition

This, if you are not a frozen crystal of anger, will thaw you but good.

Or as an anonymous commenter on Jim Woodring's blog says:

Did I ever say it? I am the son of Sluggo, who carelessly wasted the best of his dew kissed days, and who looked neither forward nor back, choosing instead to lovingly know each day platonically and lay down with every dusk and know it carnally.

Sluggo, whose gaze fell when they passed the hat. Sluggo, for whom every cooling pie was a gift from God. Sluggo, the enemy of effort, the opposite of opposition.

Man, I wish I'd written that.