Tuesday various

  • On WNYC, the Leonard Lopate Show has recently started posting picks and suggestions from any given week’s guests, asking them questions about what books they’re reading, what music they’re listening to, etc. They also ask, “What’s one thing you’re a fan of that people might not expect?” Teller, the silent half of Penn and Teller, answered, “Novel forms of pancakes and waffles.” I love that I have almost no idea what he means.
  • All this time, I had been avoiding the Huffington Post mostly just because it’s a time-sink. Like io9, Metafilter, or Boing Boing, I was only visiting occasionally, and even then only when another blog redirected me there. But, it turns out, there’s a whole bevy of other reasons to avoid it, namely that, although it earns millions of dollars — and even more in its recent merger with AOL — it still doesn’t pay its writers, nor did it even pay for the blogging platform that runs it. Plus, it seems less like an interesting time-sink and more one that just re-purposes what other news blogs have written, with occasional liberal celebrity cameos, for the purpose of aggrandizing the Huffington Post. Maybe that’s unfair. As I said, I don’t spend much time with it, except when others occasionally direct it there. But it would be nice if some of that AOL money went to the people who day by day create the product AOL bought.
  • A teenage burglar killed three goldfish because he didn’t want to leave any witnesses behind. In his defense, he may just have been reading The Cat in the Hat one too many times. Then again, reading might not be too high on this brainiac’s agenda. [via]
  • I don’t think it will surprise anyone that Donald Rumsfeld is full of shit. This is what I think he himself would call “a known known.”
  • And finally, Wolverine or two Bat Men? [via]

Thursday various

  • “Julie Powell managed to cook/blog her way through all 524 recipes in Julia Child’s cookbook in a year, learning valuable life lessons along the way. I hope to learn as much, if not more, by watching the film Julie & Julia every day for a year.”

    You know, as a joke, it’s pretty funny. I haven’t seen the film or read the original book myself, but my understanding is that only the “Julia” parts are actually worth watching. (In fact, someone out there must have created a cut of the film that excises Julie Powell altogether, right?) But to actually do this? Watch the same movie every day for 365 days in a row? That way lies madness. [via]

  • Nathan Rabin on Bill Murray in Larger Than Life:

    Like pop music and playing center field, slapstick is a young man’s game. Nobody wants to be a fiftysomething Jerry Lewis in Hardly Working, yet Larger Than Life persists in having Murray flail his way through dispiriting pratfalls and physical comedy. In his early comedies, Murray’s deadpan under-reactions felt like an inveterate anarchist’s passive-aggressive rebellion against corrupt authority. Here, they merely broadcast Murray’s understandable lack of engagement with his material. Murray wears a simultaneously bored and humiliated look throughout the film that says, “I’m getting too old for this shit.”

  • The Case of the Vanishing Blonde [via]:

    After a woman living in a hotel in Florida was raped, viciously beaten, and left for dead near the Everglades in 2005, the police investigation quickly went cold. But when the victim sued the Airport Regency, the hotel’s private detective, Ken Brennan, became obsessed with the case: how had the 21-year-old blonde disappeared from her room, unseen by security cameras? The author follows Brennan’s trail as the P.I. worked a chilling hunch that would lead him to other states, other crimes, and a man nobody else suspected.

  • You know, I’m not particularly looking forward to the new Thor movie, but here’s one good thing to come out of it: its casting has outraged hate groups. For that reason alone, I applaud casting Idris Elba as a Norse god.
  • And finally, I for one welcome our new Jeopardy-solving robot overlords.

Thursday various

  • A pair of weird stories about Japan’s disappearing old people.

    In the one case, it looks like just a combination of clerical error and magical thinking. (If your 89-year-old mother disappears, you should maybe inform the police, not keep paying her health insurance for a quarter-century on the off-chance that she’s still alive.) The other story is a whole lot more creepy, however. It’s one thing that they kept collecting the old man’s pension after he died. Did they have to keep his remains around for thirty years? [via]

  • It’s the end of an era. Well, several dozen eras, actually, starting quite possibly with the Mesozoic. Mary Hart is leaving Entertainment Tonight.
  • Oh yeah, this will be a surefire box office hit: a Jerry Garcia biopic that can’t use any of his music.
  • I kind of love these Comics, Everybody!: the histories of Hawkman and Xorn explained.
  • And finally, some absolutely stunning sculptures carved from pencils. [via]

Wednesday various

  • Six degrees of literary separation? [via]
  • If nothing else, I think this elaborte fake ATM is proof that you don’t need a carefully designed forgery to fool a lot of people. [via]
  • The Cracked Guide to Fonts [via]
  • You know, I’m sure Tin House‘s heart was in the right place with this prove you bought a book somewhere before you submit anything policy, but it’s not hard to see why it’s upset some people.
  • And finally, an interview with Michael Palin:

    I’m very proud of the fish-slapping dance we did in Python. We rehearsed this silly dance where John Cleese hits me with a fish and I fall into Teddington Lock. We were so intent on getting the dance right that I didn’t notice the lock had cleared and instead of it being a 2ft drop into the water it was a 15ft drop. I’m very proud of doing that.

    The rest of the interview is pretty interesting too — he didn’t think A Fish Called Wanda was a good script when he first read it — although residents of his “worst place ever,” Prince George, British Columbia, might not love it.

Monday various

  • Would you have spotted the fraud? I’m not convinced I would have. A good reason to avoid any unattended debit or credit card reader. [via]
  • Mark Evanier further defends Jay Leno:

    What I don’t get is why some people think Leno had a moral obligation to retire and disappear. They didn’t like that he did that 10 PM show. They didn’t like that he was willing to do the half-hour show at 11:35 when that was proposed. They don’t like that he’s going to take back a show that he and his crew didn’t want to give up in the first place. I know some of you don’t think the guy’s ever funny but you oughta try what I do. If I don’t like a performer, I don’t watch him. It’s just as effective as if he did disappear and it saves a lot of time.

  • Speaking of Leno, he’ll apparently be hosting this year’s White House Correspondents Dinner. I guess it’s better than Rich Little, but not by much.

    Then again, Leno’s hosted the event before (in 2004), and, Stephen Colbert’s 2006 appearance notwithstanding, they haven’t really been known for making memorable choices for host. Anybody remember Yakov Smirnoff’s routine from 1988 or Elayne Boosler’s from 1993? Me neither.

  • Last week on Twitter, I joked that in the new movie Extraordinary Measures, Harrison Ford is entirely computer-generated. By law, Brendan Fraser’s co-stars must be at least 35% CGI. Turns out I maybe wasn’t so far from the truth: Ford’s character didn’t exist in real life. I guess they figured he’d be more convincing as a Nebraskan than as a Taiwanese.
  • And finally, speaking of Twitter, the first live tweet from space! [via]