They Said It Wouldn't Last
Netflix Profit Nearly Doubles
, mostly due to their taking over Wal-Mart's online DVD rental service. Terrific for them. By the way, would any of you Netflix users like to be my Netflix Friend? (God, I sound so pathetic.) Interested parties can go there
and enter this email: biz((at))scrubbles.net. Thanks.
Scrubbles.net Fifth Birthday
This happened sometime last week when I didn't notice, but as of now Scrubbles is entering its sixth
year of pop-culty goodness. That's right, this weblog's been plugging away for five whole years now. Unbelievable. Honestly, I never expected to get much of an audience for all the ramblings and weirdness that's been posted here, but I truly cherish all the goodwill and friendliness that has come my way since this project started so long ago. Whether you're a longtime reader or just happened to drop by — thank you.
By the way, one of the questions I've been most often asked about this site is where the name came from. I'm gonna tell you! Originally I wanted to call my weblog Scribbles (as in writing), but that name was already picked and it seemed too common. Since many weblogs back then had nonsense names, I substituted a 'U' for the 'I' and it became Scrubbles. I liked the name's connotations with my fave board game Scrabble and the Dow Scrubbing Bubbles. If this weblog had a mascot, it would be a scrubbing bubble - "we work hard, so you don't have tooooo!" Anyway, that's the story of the name and I'm sticking with it.
My Lethargic Tiger
Installed OS X Tiger
yesterday. Not the best system software update, though. Everything
runs slower now. It turns out that the memory requirements on my iMac are the bare minimum required to run this. So now I have to spend another hundred dollars for more RAM. Grrr.
Dashboard seems neat, if a little too flashy for its own usefulness. Still, some of those widgets might come in handy. The nifty Dashflix displays your current Netflix queue and which DVDs you currently have circulating. Nice!
Web Design Query
I'm designing a website for a client who operates a hotel/restaurant. She'd like for visitors to be able to make room reservations online. I've never done anything like this before -- would anyone have suggestions for a website or book that can help me? Is there a simple template I could use? Would my client need to open an account with someone to ensure secure transactions? Admittedly, this kind of thing is beyond my area of expertise -- so any suggestions are appreciated.
Eustace Tilly at Your Fingertips
Wowza. The Complete New Yorker
will become available as an 8 DVD set this fall. (link courtesy of Christopher, whom I trust will get me this for my birthday if he really likes me)
Feeding the Simoebas
The BBC offers an enticing preview
of Will Wright's next Sim-creation. Spore
will allow gamers to develop a life form, from aomeba to complex creature. Looks neat! (thanks to Christopher for this)
Pass the Venom
Nikki Fink of LA Weekly weighs in
on The Huffington Post
: "Her blog is such a bomb that it's the box-office equivalent of Gigli
and Heaven's Gate
rolled into one." On a somewhat unrelated matter, I just love Nikki Finke's name. Nikki Finke, Nikki Finke, Nikki Finke. OK, I'll move on to something else now.
And RO Blechman Did the Masthead Illo
Checked out The Huffington Post
yet? Ariana Huffington's group weblog, in which seemingly every contributor is a famous somebody, launched today. The whole enterprise reads at first like a silly publicity stunt ("Liberal Hollywood blogs!"), but the honesty and eloquence on display thus far is refreshing. I wish they would archive by contributor, however. Harry Shearer
has a regular feature on the media biz. As Mr. Burns would say, "Excellent."
In a recent talk
, Onion editor Robert Siegel revealed that "America's Finest News Source"
was nearly shut down by... Janet Jackson. Dang, let this be a lesson to never cross paths with Janet (Miss Jackson if you're nasty).
That story brought up one the all-time great Onion headlines -- Fun Toy Banned Because of Three Stupid Dead Kids.
Going Blog Wild
Weblogs, weblogs, weblogs:
- Sploid, the latest baby in the Gawker media empire, aims to be a weblog/tabloid hybrid with a stream of links to tawdry stories of the Michael Jackson trial and such. So far, I like it. The barrage of all-caps headlines is ugly, however, and the serious/silly contrasts on display seem weird.
- Eric Larson emailed me personally about his new group blog, Placement, which explores the fuzzy border between design and art. What's already up looks excellent. I'm gonna keep watching it.
- 1947Project (found linked at AJTIEP) is a novel idea, with two contributors posting news stories on Los Angeles area crimes from 1947. An excellent year -- the Blue Dahlia, Hollywood at its peak, postwar malaise, etc. Even better, they trek over to the crime scenes and snap a photo of what they look like today. When did newspapers stop publishing the exact addresses for crime scenes, anyway?
And the Bland Played On
The Wall Street Journal profiles Harriet Klausner
, amazon.com's number one reviewer. In a way, I have this weird admiration for Ms. Klausner for being at the top of a unique field and utilizing something she obviously loves to full advantage. But then I check out her reviews
and it's abundantly clear why publishers love her. Much of her writing consists of rote plot descriptions of whichever middlebrow paperback she just devoured (four or five a day!!), wrapped up with a few sentences of cheerfully bland affirmation. Plop on a five star rating, and it's done. This is cheerleading, not criticism. Calling that the work of a reviewer (much less critic) is really stretching things.
Then again, maybe I'm just jealous of all the free crap she gets.
The Chicago Tribune interviews artist Dennis Hwang
, a.k.a. Google Holiday Cartoonist. (via Arts Journal
) I guess this means they are not
mysteriously completed the night before they're needed, "shoemaker and the elves" style.
Ads and Disadvantages
Today I tweaked the sidebars on this weblog, including getting rid of the crappy border and inserting a couple of ads. That's correct, scrubbles is no longer ad-free -- but of course it won't affect the content here. I used companies for which I'm a happy customer anyway (Amazon, Netflix and iTunes), placed in a manner to be as unobtrusive as possible. Not that I expect to make much off 'em, but every little bit helps. Who knows, you might someday find a PayPal tip jar joining them.
What do you think about ads on weblogs? Personally I don't mind them too much as long as they aren't obnoxious or offensive. The hard truth is that, now that I'm no longer on a regular income, I need to look into as many ways of getting revenue as possible. One thing I did NOT want to do is Google ads - those benign but annoying columns of text that kinda sorta have something to do with the accompanying weblog's content, but they really don't and so spotting them constitutes some sort of weird game of wordy mix 'n match. Having so little control over what goes into them would personally drive me up a wall, but their popularity must mean Google is doing something right.
Pride and Joystick
Starting this week, the Onion A.V. Club adds videogames to the menu. Their Will Wright interview
delves fascinatingly into the "coulda beens" of the Sims franchise (a weather simulator?), and Games of Our Lives
is a promising weekly feature where Wil Wheaton
discusses forgotten vintage games.
Here We Go Again
The 2005 Bloggies nominations
are out. Can you feel the excitement? No? Every time, I approach these with a shrug -- mostly because the categories are so baffling. The fact that they dumped the worthy "Best Weblog About Music" category this year but kept the less worthy ones (Best Meme??) makes it even more bizarre. But they're always popular, which counts for something. I guess.
Because Everything Is Random
"I love the white-knuckle ride of random listening." In The Rise and Rise of Shuffle Mode
, blogger City of Sound expounds on Apple's iPod Shuffle
, intellectual property, and the idea of artist as curator. Yowza. (via things magazine
Fell in Love with an URL
I have a piece up at the new edition of Professor Barnhardt's Journal
, which details contributors' 5 favorite websites. I tried to stay away from the indespensibles -- after all, everybody knows how great Google, Amazon, the IMDb and their ilk are and nothing I say would make any difference. So my list is more of a second tier of consitently enjoyable sites. Most of 'em have a Pop Culture bent, of course.
Extra Cheese, Hold the Stigmata
By now you've probably heard of the Virgin Mary grilled cheese sandwich
auctioned for a hefty sum on eBay, right? It went for 20 grand, despite being a decade old and having a bite taken out. If you do an eBay search for Virgin Mary Cheese
(gotta love the page title - "virgin mary cheese, Metaphysical Stuff, Weird Items, and Men's Clothing Items at low prices"), you'll find a whole cottage industry capitalizing on this one thing. Such as -- ghost of Virgin Mary in a jar
and a sock monkey
demonstrating how to grill a cheese sandwich (thx, C.!)
Well, we just got a new DSL service installed (basically for my business purposes), so you know what that means - online movies. Veer has a neat little presentation called Mask Infusion
which flashes a bunch of those cheap old plastic halloween masks in quick succession. Immediately after the installation I dashed to the Prelinger archives
of online "ephemeral films" at Archive.org. This treasure trove of vintage promotional/educational shorts is the kind of thing that is best experienced at high bandwidth. For instance, check out the fabulous Ford lineup of 1960
, a glamorama fantasy in chrome, velvet, fur, white skin and earnest optimism. Is it just me, or does that theme song sound a lot like "Flipper"?
File under "well, duh
": Bloggers Declare War on Comment Spam
. Actually, it's a very interesting article. Spammers have already infiltrated Usenet newsgroups and email like kudzu on an Alabama storage shed. Now that they're moving into weblogs, with tougher opposition and more sophisticated spam control methods. On a similar note, I wish I'd seen this page of despamming tips
before installing my MT upgrade.
The Brigands Are Coming
Play Dark Tower online
! Ooh, this made my day. Ever since my mom carelessly carted off our family's old Dark Tower game to the thrift store (see my scrubbles entry from March 24, 2001
), I've wanted to play again. This flash-based version isn't quite the same, but it's very close and those tinny, metallic sounds bring me back. You can even do multi-player. Cool. Thanks to East of the Sun, West of the Moon
for finding this.
Radio Free Scrubbles
Lately, I've been synching up my iTunes playlist to Audioscrobbler
. Apparently, Audioscrobbler is hooked up with a beta site called Last.fm
which allows anyone to listen to internet streams of members' playlists. I don't know how well this works (or even if it does
work), but -- it sounds pretty cool! Lately I've been listening to Brazilian, Motown, vintage Soul, Now Sound, French, Girl Group, Sunshine Pop and other stuff (oh, and the Avenue Q
soundtrack). So, if any of that appeals to you - check it out
You Got Mail!
I almost forgot that this month marks a little milestone in my life: ten years ago, I went online for the first time. Well, not exactly. In August 1994, I moved into my own apartment. One of my goals was to buy a new modem (a sizzling 14K model!) and set up an account with America Online to meet other guys. Until then, my sole online experience was with my parents' Prodigy service. Remember Prodigy? Yeeks.
Anyway, you have to remember that in the early '90s, AOL promoted itself monstly through free floppy discs placed in computer magazines. These were great because, unlike the CDs, you could erase the disc content (what, like a whopping 80K of memory) and store your own stuff on them. The first time I logged onto AOL, it was astonishing. A nice graphical menu greeted you, and everywhere people were talking about the things they loved. It was a real community, albeit a dorky one that was still trying to figure out what to do with this internet thing. With every dialup, I would get a little thrill of anticipation - would I be greeted with a "you got mail!" sound or silence? It seems inconceivable in this spamming day and age, but sometimes days would go by and nothing would show up in that little AOL inbox.
It was fun but the honeymoon was short-lived, however. Having never liked chat rooms or the forum postings of silly, boring mainstream types, the novelty started wearing off quickly. Eventually, I would only log on only to check email and click the "World Wide Web" button for the big bad territory beyond AOL's paltry borders. So, in '96 it was bye-bye but thanks for the memories.
The Blogger's Dictionary
1. A sudden outpouring of unwanted electronic missives from the same recipient, generally of a marketing nature. v.
2. The act of committing or undergoing a spambush. Usage: "Sorry I cannot make it for dinner, dear - I've been spambushed
Right on: iTunes vs Jazz Preservation
, an insightful little analysis found via Media Nuggets
. It bugs me how callously online music vendors treat what they're selling. If they expect us keep buying something you can usually get for free, they need to give us more than what you'd find on a P2P network. Much more - original recording or release dates on recordings, musician and producer credits, better artwork, and the same liner notes you'd find on the corresponding CD. Is that too much to ask?
Okay, we all know by now that bloggers at the Democatic Convention has overtaken Mary-Kate's eating/drug/whatevah disorder as the most annoyingly overdone media subject. Still, I have to point to Danah Boyd's DNC story
for Salon.com. Boyd did the best job of articulating the very nature of blogging, and why established journalists still can't get a handle on it.
Newsweek cover story
on the iPod. It's the latest thing! Celebrities love it! If everybody loves their iPods so much, then why have I never seen anyone else using one in public?
Blogger for Hire, Cheap
Blogging with the Boss's Blessing
(Business Week, via I Want Media
). If anybody wants me, my resume is posted at monster
Ye Olde Digital Archive
The British Library is planning to digitize
nearly two million 19th century newspapers, which will be put online in September 2006. I'm sorry, but would us Yanks ever do something this deliciously arcane? Never. Kudos to the British Library!
Time Magazine: Where Things Go to Die
Time magazine on weblogs
: "What makes blogs so effective? They're free. They catch people at work, at their desks, when they're alert and thinking and making decisions. Blogs are fresh and often seem to be miles ahead of the mainstream news. Bloggers put up new stuff every day, all day, and there are thousands of them." This is the first major publication article on weblogs I've seen that doesn't have an underlying suspicion or condescending attitude toward the subject. This is also the 1,000th piece that only name-checks the most megapopular weblogs.
DO U RSS?
This Wired article
serves as a handy little introduction to RSS as written by Xeni Jardin of Boing Boing
(if you're saying "huh?", by all means check it out). A couple of weeks ago, I decided to start an account at Bloglines
to read the RSS feeds of my favorite weblogs. Although I initially didn't expect much, now spend a lot of my time there.
Some blogs' RSS feeds only have a headline or excerpt on each post, which is annoying. Lots of bloggers probably do this on purpose, but I have a feeling most are simply not aware. For instance, Moveable Type defaults to showing a post's first 20 or so words in RSS feeds. A simple change can make them full posts.
One downside - RSS readings don't show up on a web page's referrals. A year ago, the number of referrals I got from other weblogs was about 30-40%, with the rest coming from search engines and other pages. Now search engine referrals take up 90% or more. It's either a result of RSS or dozens of people have abandoned this weblog. Hello? Helloooo?
Food for Thought
The always worthwhile Cup of Chicha
posted two recent blog entries that I liked. One is about the Whitney Biennial
and the other is on a particularly crappy issue
of Marie Claire
P.S. I hate spam comments.
When Two Tribes Go to War
, an intensive look at controversial videogames from Death Race to Grand Theft Auto (via Kris
). This stuff is so alien to me. Even in my prime videogaming years, I never gravitated toward the violent ones. My idea of excitement was staring at the Little Computer People
on the C64, wondering if the guy will feed his dog or play the piano. So pathetic.
is a fake videogame company dedicated to preserving the funky Atari 2600 aesthetic (thanks, Tim!). They only have one game online so far, but the site looks promising. At least they got the logo design just right. It follows all the rules for that clunky, early '80s techy look. Use a grid. Add stripes. Set everything in Eurostile
. And don't forget the puzzling silhouettes.
And now I want to share one of my favorite things from my library. The Office Book (Facts On File, 1982) includes this top-of-the-line custom home office system (that's an Apple II computer on the desk). Check it out:
"Architects Doug Michaels and Richard Jost designed this media room in a Texas residence. The telephone links the terminal with an office computer and other computer networks. The video projection screen replaces a CRT screen. This room is also used for home entertainment with video games. The furniture and neon lighting were custom designed."
Weblogs Watching Weblogs
Fimoculous Blogs of the Year
includes the perennial heavy-hitters and a few interesting newcomers (Low Culture
is in the latter, for me anyway).
Feels Good All Over
is back after a year's hiatus. Yay!
Asia Weblog Awards
I find weblog awards kind of silly, but it was so nice of William from Robot Action Boy
to nominate Scrubbles in the Asia Weblog Awards category Best Foreign Blog
. So I turned around and voted for William in Best Taiwanese Blog
and added a nom for GmtPlus9
, which was mysteriously absent from the Best Japanese Blog
Hey, Your Aztec Theme Is In My Consumer Electronics!
Yesterday, while shopping for holiday gifts, I went to our local Fry's Electronics emporium. What a trip. For those who don't know Fry's, most of these cavernous stores are elaborately decorated in Disneyland-like themes
that extend to every detail - walls, floors, signage, you name it. The Phoenix one has an Aztec theme. Products are displayed on fake rocks, the ceiling is painted with white clouds, and there is a mini temple with brown-skinned native mannequins and stuffed animals in the store's rear. It's wild - but the place is overlit and noisy as well, making trips there a truly Fellini-esque experience.
Every Fry's has signs that explicitly forbid the taking of pictures. Nevertheless, someone has started a website documenting the themed stores, illegally or not. Apparently some people have had awful experiences there. At least I've got to give Fry's credit for making their stores unique.
If you dig cool illustration and iPods, check out
the 'Shag Pod' desktop at the iPod Lounge. Mmm, orangey!
A Few Hours with the Girls
During my most stressed times on the job, I would often tune into the Spectropop GirlPop Live365 station
and feel much better. The station plays girl groups and solo female singers from the '60s, often venturing into obscure gems. Sometimes it doesn't occur to me how varied and interesting a musical genre is until I've experienced a ton of it. Girl groups have an image of weepy teen heartbreak ballads and cutesy dance music, but some of this stuff truly rocks. Surprisingly, although that sound's popularity peaked around 1963, the genre hung in there and produced some mighty strange singles when it mashed with psychedelic/sunshine pop in the late '60s. It must have been easy to co-op the Girl Group sound for Hairspray (the musical), since much of the source material has a brassy, theatrical flair in the first place. Among my current faves on the webcast are "I Can't Stay Mad at You" performed by a winsome Skeeter Davis, an unidentified Four Seasons ripoff called "Little Girl Tears," and the Tammys
' wild "Egyptian Shumba" - as unhinged and just plain weird
as anything this side of "Rock Lobster".
For more info, try the knowledgeable Girl Group Chronicles site. BTW, the image above was taken off Peggy March's No Foolin' album. I have no idea what the music on this particular platter is like, but just look at the gorgeous cover. Yowza.
Pong Is, Like, So Gay
Today's kids review yesterday's video games
: "This is boring. Maybe if it had characters and stuff and different levels, it would be OK. If things blew up or something or—" Allrighty then. Now I feel about 75 years old. (via Boing Boing
iTunes usage methods
, a weblog entry on how to utilize my fave software (via Kottke
). Looks like most of the respondents are obsessed with categorizing, whether by genre or ratings or frequency of play. My own obsession is by year of release. Which is difficult, since the year a song dates from is often an afterthought on publicly downloaded music files. The iTunes Music store
annotates files with years, but on older albums and best-of compilations the year is the given CD's reissue date. That is so boneheaded. eMusic
leaves the year completely blank. Usually I end up having to track down those years in reference books and on the internet. It's tough being a music geek.
Another diversion: Alana's Compleat Diagram of Strange Persons (thanks, Brad!).
Pretty neat - SCTfontBrowser
displays all the fonts activated in your system in one browser page. Link comes courtesy of fabbo Snarky Malarkey
, who just two weeks before John Ritter died sent me some of these Three's Company trading cards
- along with a Johnny Cash souvenir thermometer and a Leni Riefenstahl bobblehead doll. Creepy, man!
Ga Ga for Google
Today is Google
's fifth birthday. We all know how wonderful it is, but one of the unexpected side effects of the search engine's popularity is as an unintended source of hilarity for weblog keepers. This BBC article
mentions the peculiar way Google results favor weblogs over other sites - and this one is no exception. Based on the number of requests I get for stuff like "pantyhose gallery" or "Brian Eno nude," there are many weirdos among the Google populi. I was gonna share my last few Google results, but a quick check reveals not much variety there