Worms on a Train!

Filed under: Newsworthy — olivander November 26, 2008 @ 12:15 pm

Soon to be filmed as a sequel to Snakes on a Plane and starring Samuel S. Jackson. “I want these mother****ing worms off this mother****ing train!”

Japanese man releases hundreds of worms in train

Tue Nov 25, 10:01 am ET
TOKYO (AFP) – A Japanese man was arrested for releasing hundreds of beetle larvae inside a moving express train to try to scare female passengers, police said Tuesday.

“I wanted to see women get scared and shake their legs,” police quoted 35-year-old Manabu Mizuta as saying.

He was arrested on the spot by a patrolling police officer after releasing the creatures on the Keihan line in Osaka prefecture.

“He would go close to women on the train, any woman, and pour out the worms from containers,” said a police spokesman.

Local police had been on alert after 18 similar cases of released worms had been reported this month by the same train operator.

“When the arrest was made, the man had nearly emptied a container, which is believed to have held 200 worms,” he said. “You cannot count them because there are so many.”

Mizuta had 10 containers in his backpack estimated to contain a total of 3,600 worms, police said.

“We have the worms sitting inside the police station right now,” the spokesman said. “You see them wriggling inside their clear cases. It’s really disgusting.”

An era passed

Filed under: Finds, Musings — olivander November 17, 2008 @ 7:34 pm

An era passed

This past weekend, I took time to indulge in a side hobby that I haven’t had much time for lately: early audio recordings. The occasion was a melancholy one. Fine Groove Records, one of the finest and last independent music shops, is closing its doors after 26 years of peddling new and used music in Northfield, MN. I collared a friend who also collects 78rpm records and we spent the afternoon rifling through the shop’s hundreds of shellac disks and LPs, searching for overlooked gems. (For me, my gems were a previously unknown to me Raymond Scott recording, an early Eartha Kitt record, a promotional double-disk interview with Laurie Anderson never released to the public, and the elusive second volume of Henry Mancini’s music from “Peter Gunn” in mint condition. My friend hit a rich vein of Spike Jones recordings.)

Owner Brian KenKnight says that the decline of locally-purchased music, along with rising property taxes, caused him to make the decision. He told us that the vinyl collectors were still coming in, but his primary customer base of college students have turned more and more to digital downloading, both the legitimate and illegitimate variety.

Today’s big, flashy, electronics stores have nothing on independant shops like Fine Groove. Brian can tell you the career history of almost any musician from the 1920s on. He’s the kind of shop owner that actually listens to the stuff he sells and knows that if you like artist A that you might also like artist B. He keeps a pair of turntables behind the counter and will let you play something to see if you like it before you buy it. At Best Buy, you’re lucky to get a sales droid who’s aware that Thelonious Monk is not a rapper.

More than economic, the closing of Fine Groove will have a cultural impact on Northfield’s Division Street. Fine Groove was a place to hang out and talk music with someone who knows and loves music, and you always came out feeling richer (in the spiritual sense) for having gone in. Independent business owners who are informed and enthusiastic about their products are few and far between these days.

In tribute to Brian and other indie music shop owners, here is a collection of record labels from days gone by. Though Columbia is still around, and Gramophone eventually became EMI, these are labels mostly forgotten by all but us who dig in thrift store boxes and dusty bins in hopes of finding that obscure folk song or Uncle Johnny Coons comedy routine.

In defense of NaNo

Filed under: Books, Rants, Typecast — olivander November 13, 2008 @ 12:25 am

Typewriter: Ulysses, a 1923 L.C. Smith #8

Gone, but not forgotten

Filed under: Errata — olivander November 11, 2008 @ 4:13 pm

Happy Armistice Day, Dad.

Dis ‘n’ Dat

Filed under: Errata, politics — olivander November 10, 2008 @ 3:42 pm
  • Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com has an interesting analysis of Al Franken’s odds of pulling off a win in the Minnesota senate race recount. Okay, interesting if you’re into statistical analysis. Nate’s day job is as a professional baseball statistician. He applies the same calculating principals to election outcomes, and he tends to be fairly spot-on in his projections. Nonetheless, grain of salt and all that.
  • Barack Obama meets with Prez Bush today. Geez, he isn’t even in office yet and he’s already sitting down with unpopular and aggressive world leaders without preconditions*.
  • A sign of adulthood is when you one day realize that your recycling bin is full of baby food jars instead of beer and vodka bottles.
  • I probably have better things to do (like working on my NaNoWriMo novel) than trying to track down what typeface was used to print the first edition of The Great Gatsby**–but I’m a typographical nerd that way. (I can launch a conversation with a graphics designer friend of mine with something like, “I need Dakota for PC. Do you have Fulton’s Hand?” and they will not only know exactly what I’m talking about, within five minutes they will locate it six subfolders deep in their font archives and send it as an attachment.) Does this win me a Procrastination merit badge?
  • Yesterday, I attended a friend’s community theater recreation of old radio shows. It was keen to be able to wear my 1940s short tie, fedora, and ’40s bomber jacket without getting strange looks. Now I’m buzzed to create a podcast in the style of a Golden Age radio station–yet another diversion that I don’t need to loop myself into. Besides, I do a lousy imitation of Symphony Sid.

*confession: I saw a version of that statement somewhere else. it was too good to not repeat

**Scotch Roman

Holy s**t moment

Filed under: politics — olivander November 3, 2008 @ 5:35 pm

I just had a scary revelation-type moment. And by “revelation”, I’m talking winged demons, tormented-souls-screaming-in-the-pits-of-hell biblical-style revelation. It provoked the same heart-pounding terror that I frequently feel upon bolting upright in bed out of a nightmare that ends with an aid waking Palin in the middle of the night and saying, “Madam Vice President, President McCain is dead.”

What if…

  • Obama wins Tuesday…
  • Ted Stevens manages to retain his Senate seat, only to lose his appeal and be forced to resign in shame and slink off to his modest hunting chalet insulated with bribe money in the Alaskan wilderness…
  • Sarah Palin appoints herself to fill Stevens’ vacant Senate seat.

It could happen. Here in Minnesota, after Senator Walter Mondale won the Vice Presidency, Governor Wendell Anderson resigned and appointed himself as Mondale’s successor. He took a lot of heat for it; it was political suicide, really. But since when has political suicide ever been an obstacle for The Maverick?

Gonna go donate ten bucks to Mark Begich.

Speaking of Ted “The Internet is a series of tubes” Stevens’ conviction, here’s a gem from the Capitol Hill newspaper, Roll Call:

The juror who was dismissed from the criminal trial of Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) to attend the funeral of her father in California admitted Monday that her father had not died, and that she went to California to attend a horse race.

Appearing disheveled and confused and brandishing a thick stack of dog-eared papers, Hinnant told the judge that in the spring she had purchased tickets to the Breeders’ Cup event in Santa Anita on Oct. 24 and 25.

Hinnant then began to tell a convoluted story about criminal activity in the horse racing industry, alleging that her phone had been tapped and that someone she once worked with in the industry was involved in crime and drugs.

The judge attempted to dismiss her, but Hinnant continued to tell her tale, ultimately asking the judge, “Can I have a case of my own?”

After Hinnant left the courtroom, Sullivan told the attorneys in Stevens’ case that he had dismissed her because she was unable to continue to serve on the jury, and “what you heard today just reinforces the correctness of the court’s decision.”

Update: as it turns out, Alaska law was changed in 2004 to require a special election within 90 days in the event of a vacated seat. It’s murky on whether the Governor can appoint an interim senator until then. And now that both Stevens and his fellow Alaskan scofflaw Rep. Don Young are poised to win re-election, there could be a very interesting mess on the tundra soon. And let’s not forget that homebound governor Palin still faces a legislative ethics board.

Alaska: the new Florida!