Friday, November 30, 2018

"State liquor enforcer and consultant plead guilty to shaking down Koreatown bars"

In pleading guilty, Seo acknowledged paying more than $28,000 in bribes and kickbacks to Salao between the end of 2011 and May 2016. In exchange, prosecutors said Salao helped Seo’s clients by, among other things, fast-tracking liquor license applications. Salao also targeted enforcement raids at bars that refused to work with Seo.


Later that day, prosecutors said, Seo told Salao that he wanted to meet to discuss a plan for using the Korean news media “to pump fear into Ktown.” Salao responded by saying: “I’m open to whatever lines our wallets!” according to the indictment.


Salao also tipped off Seo to impending raids or undercover operations by the ABC and the Los Angeles Police Department, prosecutors said. He once sent Seo a photograph of an undercover LAPD officer, which allowed Seo to warn a client to conceal illegal activity from police.

"'Lost In Vivo': How a Secret That Can Only Be Discovered At Midnight Came To Be"

Lost In Vivo is a first-person game that deals with having crippling claustrophobia. During a rainy day, your service dog gets lost into the sewer system beneath the ground, and you have no option but to follow your partner into such a dark, humid, and terrifying environment. The game portrays its fear to the player in a place between reality and psychological horror, and as you might expect, things start to get obscure really fast for the character.

Wrapped in a PSX-like art style, Lost In Vivo takes heavy influence from the Silent Hill series, and it quickly shows up more complex systems: different weapons, an inventory system, puzzles, and backtracking are only a few.

But there’s something way more different happening if you boot up the game at midnight.


Kira expressed that living in Murphy, North Carolina, certainly affects his work as well. “I mostly just find my town a bit depressing, but there are some interesting decrepit buildings and abandoned collapsed farmhouses that give me more inspiration for things

"consumers have spent more than $1 billion on [Britney Spears's] perfumes"

Elizabeth Arden had sunk a lot of chemical lab hours and market research into perfecting Spears’ scent (not to mention the $52 million it paid her for the deal): it was a saccharine meringue with a light glaze of white peaches and a delicate lotus basenote, the kind of sugar-dusted mist that’s like catnip to teenage consumers. But celebrity scents are not always a sure thing. Many of them drop into the market with a thud, lasting only a season never to be heard from again (remember J by Jennifer Aniston or Black Star by Avril Lavigne?). So few of them have lasting power — on the skin or in stores.


In its first year in stores, Curious didn’t just kill, it obliterated. It became a phenomenon. It was the top selling fragrance of 2004, netting over $100 million in sales. To put that in perspective, over the course of her 20-year career, Spears has sold 100 million records worldwide. By 2013, one report stated that in five years Elizabeth Arden had sold over 500 million bottles of Curious. That’s five times as many units in a quarter of the time.


Britney Spears’ perfume operation has continued to thrive and innovate.

Gritty is the cover of Artforum's year in review


Thursday, November 29, 2018

"The Oral History of 'San Junipero'"

Charlie Brooker: I thought people would find it more shocking or surprising, that old people had been talking to each other about fucking, but no one ever comments on it.


Laurie Borg (producer): Our biggest challenge was creating period America on a tight budget, so the key decision I made was to film most of the interiors in London and most of the exteriors in Cape Town. I knew we could not afford to film in the U.S., but also knew South Africa could deliver “period” Americana streets and coastlines.


Mackenzie Davis: I loved the very first Yorkie outfit: the pleated khaki shorts and aqua sweater over a pink polo. It still makes me laugh that she could have put together anything for this new self and she chose something that looks like her mom laid it out on her bed the night before a charity golf tournament! But it was authentically her, and there’s something so beautiful about this woman choosing to be authentically herself in this moment of unlimited possibility. The thrill of her identity and her queerness is the event, the reason for all of this, not the opportunity to reinvent her exterior self and sell a coolness that would appeal to anyone else.


Charlie Brooker: I thought we gave some huge clues, but people generally didn’t pick up on them! There’s a moment in Tucker’s when the guy shows Yorkie this arcade driving game, and a car crashes on the screen. She has this horrible visceral reaction because it reminds her of the car crash that paralyzed her. Once you know what’s going on, it makes perfect sense. We even put the noise of a car crash on the soundtrack, so I thought people would immediately go, “Oh, she’s been in a car crash in real life.” But no one ever picks up on it, until maybe a third viewing.

The other big clue was playing the Smiths’ “Girlfriend in a Coma” over a shot of Yorkie. You see, I seem to think that viewers are writing all these small details down! But they’re not. People only notice when a plot doesn’t make sense. It’s good to give the audience a chance to get it, though, because otherwise it might feel like a complete cheat.


Charlie Brooker: People were worried for Kelly and Yorkie because they’d seen us destroy people in “Playtest” and “Shut Up and Dance.” There’s an extra tension in a totally merciless show like this. That’s why “San Junipero” worked.
Related: "Is She a Lesbian or Just From the Midwest?"

Ten funny tweets

"Toy makers, who are experts at capitalizing on children’s weird interests, have now figured out how to make a toy that replicates what kids like about unboxing videos"

Enter the L.O.L. Surprise! doll, a sphere the size of a bocce ball that consists of seven layers of packaging. Kids peel away the layers of crinkly plastic, which contain stickers and messages and tiny accessories that are surely crunched under many a parental foot, and find a small, nearly naked plastic doll with giant Bette Davis eyes who measures just a few inches tall.

More than 800 million L.O.L. Surprise! toys have been sold since their debut in late 2016, and they were one of the top products sold on Cyber Monday this year, according to Adobe Digital Insights. This year, even more toy makers have caught on to the trend. Parents can now buy eggs, pods of foam, cake pops, burritos, and balls of many shapes and sizes containing mystery animals and figurines. (“Unrolling is the new unboxing,” said Ashley Mady, the head of brand development at the company that launched the burritos, called Cutetitos, in October.)

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

"That time Superman’s hearing went crazy and eavesdropped on other DC books published that week"

"The Oakland A’s are set to unveil a 'bigger than baseball' mega-ballpark deal"

The plan also includes an aerial gondola to shuttle 6,000 fans an hour from downtown Oakland over Interstate 880 and the railroad tracks to Jack London Square.


The Howard Terminal-Coliseum double play is the second — and possibly last — attempt by the A’s to build a new ballpark near downtown Oakland.

The team’s first pick, which was next to Laney College, died almost as soon as it was announced when the school’s faculty and students objected to putting the ballpark there.

"Sisi Builds a Green Zone for Egypt"

Egypt’s new administrative capital, currently under construction—and tentatively named Wedian, which means “desert valleys”— represents concretely where President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has been trying to take his country during his five years of authoritarian rule. Built and run primarily by the military, it is to be a sleek, contemporary “smart city” of government institutions and apartment blocks, located some 28 miles into the desert east of the heavily populated thousand-year-old metropolis of Cairo. Wedian’s echoing emptiness also symbolizes the fact that most Egyptian citizens have no place in Sisi’s vision—it is an equivalent of Baghdad’s Green Zone, where he will rule indefinitely behind a security cordon, shielded from the demands of the country’s 97 million inhabitants.

"Did a Rave Review Really Shut Down Portland Burger Bar Stanich’s? Maybe It Was the Owner’s Legal Troubles"

For almost a year, the sudden and unexplained closure of one of Portland's favorite burger joints has baffled the city's food scene.

Last week, a food writer claimed responsibility—saying he had "killed" Stanich's on Northeast Fremont Street by naming its cheeseburger the best in America on the website Thrillist.

The confession went viral. But it wasn't the full story.

In fact, court records show that owner Steve Stanich's personal life had been spiraling into chaos long before his restaurant landed on the national radar.
The omission of this parallel story, which Stanich has continued to insist had nothing to do with the closure of his restaurant, suggests either sloppy journalistic practice or a preference for believing, at face value, the kinds of stories men tell each other about themselves.


It’s possible Alexander did not possess the tools or instinct to look into Stanich’s domestic and legal history. He is a James Beard-award winning restaurant critic, not a court reporter. But when you Google Steve Stanich, the third image that appears is his mug shot.
The original article now includes a link to the WWeek article.

"Separated by travel ban, Iranian families reunite at border library"

like many Iranian students in the United States, has a single-entry visa and can’t leave the country without risking that she won’t be allowed back in. And her parents, as Iranian citizens, are blocked by U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel ban from visiting her in the United States.

She didn’t want to miss her destination: the Haskell Free Library and Opera House.

Estahbanati and her family had agreed to meet around 9 a.m. at the library, which through a historic anomaly straddles the U.S.-Canada border – and today has been thrust into an unlikely role as the site of emotional reunions between people separated by the administration’s immigration policies.


American and Canadian officials have threatened to shut the library over the visits, one library staff member said.

"Fallout 76 $200 Collector's Edition Comes With Nylon Bag Instead of Canvas"

A Redditor posted a photo of the actual nylon bag people are receiving, and it looks like Bethesda has confirmed "due to unavailability of materials, we had to switch to a nylon carrying case."  The listing at the official shop doesn't describe the bag, but the listing at Amazon still calls it a "West Tek Canvas Carrying Bag."

*Previously: "I’m suspicious that the real reason [the Spider-Man Collector's Edition statue] was obscured up until now is that, well… it’s a total mess."


"Meet the anonymous artist installing bus benches at neglected stops on L.A.’s Eastside"

On a Sunday afternoon earlier this month, I find him at Valley and Soto, laying out slabs of wood and power tools. He is decked out in a bright waq’ollo mask typical of the Peruvian Andes (imagine a balaclava with a mustachioed face embroidered on it). The mask is to protect his identity; he prefers to remain anonymous.

Over the past 11 months, the artist has surreptitiously installed more than a dozen wood benches around the Eastside, and he has it down to a science: He props a ladder next to the bus sign, slips a handmade wooden bench over the pole and proceeds to screw, hammer and glue it into place. In about 15 minutes, the stop has a brand-new bus bench.


getting a bench or a shelter installed at a bus stop in the city of Los Angeles requires a frustrating level of red tape.

Any street furniture has to first be approved by the Los Angeles City Council. After that, a single bus bench travels through an extensive permitting process, requiring approval from the Department of Public Works, as well as eight — eight! — other city agencies including the Department of City Planning, the Bureau of Engineering, the Los Angeles Police Department and the Bureau of Street Lighting. Nearby property owners also have a say.

Big Mouth Billy Bass – Compatible with Alexa is available for preorder at Amazon

Listed for release 12/1:
Big mouth Billy bass is back and better than ever. Everyone's favorite talking and singing fish is now programmed to respond to Alexa voice commands.
Pair big mouth Billy bass with your preferred device in the Echo family and let the fun begin.
Responds to Alexa voice commands
Lip syncs with Alexa spoken responses
Responds to inquiries about the weather, your commute, the news, random facts, and more
Reacts to timers, Notifications, and alarms

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

"The War of the Bucket . . . was fought in 1325, between the rival city-states of Bologna and Modena"

It was provoked when Modenese soldiers stole the bucket from a city well, but was really an episode in the over 300-year-long struggle between Guelphs and Ghibellines. Modena won the Battle of Zappolino (the only battle of the war), and the bucket remains in Modena to this day.


From the late Middle Ages until the Renaissance, northern Italy was divided between factions supporting the rival political claims of the Holy Roman Emperor ("Ghibellines") and the Pope ("Guelfs"). Modena was Ghibelline; Bologna was Guelph.


In this atmosphere of tension and hostility, some Modenese soldiers slipped into the center of Bologna, and stole a civic bucket filled with loot from the main city well in the center of Bologna. The humiliated Bolognese demanded the return of the bucket, and when that was refused declared war on Modena.

Batman Black and White Statue designed by Gerard Way is 13% off

At the BBTS, along with his Joker.
This lanky interpretation sports a tattered cape and a padlock shielding his heart.

Geode ceramic mug

Available at Etsy.

2018 China-ASEAN dragon, lion dance competition

Big cow, cute cat, vigilant dog

Taking advantage of a disgusting request to illustrate how to negotiate as a freelancer

From a lengthy thread:

Geraldo on the asylum seekers at the border

Monday, November 26, 2018

Ten funny tweets

"10 'Mission: Impossible — Fallout' Blu-Ray Commentary Revelations"

Hollywood Reporter:
The celebrated bathroom fight at the Grand Palais features Chinese wushu champion and acclaimed stunt performer Liang Yang as John Lark’s decoy. McQuarrie and Cruise first worked with Yang on the set of Edge of Tomorrow as he doubled for Emily Blunt. (Side note: Cruise twice refers to Edge of Tomorrow as All You Need Is Kill, the film’s original title, in the commentary.) Since 2008, Yang has put together an impressive resume including FN-2199 in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, a Praetorian Guard in Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Oberyn Martell’s (Pedro Pascal) stunt performer during his fateful fight on Game of Thrones. Yang also trained Daisy Ridley and Felicity Jones for their Star Wars stunts.


Once the IMF team arrives in London with Solomon Lane (Sean Harris), the elaborate spycraft sequence at Pennington Street Warehouse proves to be a painful endeavor for both Cruise and Baldwin. Despite breaking his ankle six weeks prior, Cruise had just finished shooting the foot-chase sequence the day before, and he states how he couldn’t walk on this particular day of shooting. To add injury to injury, Baldwin was overdue for double hip replacement surgery. Thus, McQuarrie blocked a major portion of the scene around a table that would provide Cruise and Baldwin some support, as well as call for the least amount of movement possible.

The Little Drummer Girl is available from AMC, and is terrific

Directed by Park Chan-Wook.

Speaking of spies:
French official 'suspected of spying for North Korea'


a senior civil servant and president of the Franco-Korean Friendship Association

"Customer Service Chats Are Watching You Type Before You Hit 'Enter'"

Like Facebook’s data-mining, this is one of those situations where the people inside an industry have a completely different theory of what’s normal than the people on the outside, who deal with the industry, do. Along with real-time typing monitoring, the chat-service company also offers a feature that enables the chat operator to “see the current webpage of your customer on chat, and you’ll also be notified of each page they switch to.”

Metallica poster

By Ian Bederman.

"Olivia Jaimes, the Mysterious Cartoonist Behind ‘Nancy,’ Gives Rare Interview"

What was the note you wrote down for the famed “Sluggo is lit” Labor Day strip? Did you just write down “Sluggo is lit?”

No, actually, I had a couple of worse ideas for Labor Day because Labor Day is Nancy April Fools’. Ernie Bushmiller would always [jokingly] be like, “I’m not drawing Nancy today for X reason.” My first ideas were to make it a do-it-yourself strip, like, “I’m not gonna write the joke, so here’s a bunch of blank speech bubbles.” Or one where there’s just like a bunch of different scenes stolen from other comics. And then I was like, Actually, what are the panels that would most upset the person who likes me the least? The most upsetting panel to somebody who’s like, “Nancy sucks now”? I actually went to Shena because I don’t read the comments. Shena was like, “Oh, definitely have a panel that’s all phones.” And then I’d been joking with her at the very beginning about how I was going to make Fritzi [who wore very formfitting outfits in the Gilchrist era] wear a parka, and she was like, “People would hate that.” But then I was like, the incarnation of what I imagine my greatest hater would despise most is Nancy interacting with every piece of technology using words you don’t understand. So, yeah, that’s where that one came from.


Let’s talk about the appearance at Cartoon Crossroads. How did that come together?

Shena put me in touch with the organizers and was like, “Hey, this is just something to consider.” It was really just to toe the waters and see what this might be like, and also to put rumors to rest that I wasn’t a woman or was a team of people. Also, it’s in this context where Shena knows lots of people, and it can be something very limited. This does not mean that I wasn’t terribly nervous. I was like, Ohhh, what could happen? I did spend two hours before I went on in a closet because it was in a library, and the room that I could come out of to go into the room we were in was a closet. I just hung out in there for two hours after I snuck into the library, watching The Good Place. That was part of the experience, just some good old-fashioned closet-sitting. It was nice, and I’m glad that I got to do it. I’m glad that I got to prove that I’m a real person. And I’m glad that nobody doxed me, which was also really nice.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Nobody Goes There Anymore, It's Too Crowded

Nightmare fuel

"Decapitated wasp grabs its head before flying away"

Spitting rocks ahead

The Haunting of Hill House, as a cartoon


Ten funny tweets

The slapstick Death of Saruman, and the lingering shot on his boots


Previously: More pain.

Wargaming miniatures roundup

Saturday, November 24, 2018

The time when Ricky Jay almost blinded Pierce Brosnan

AVClub interview from 2009:
Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)—“Henry Gupta”

RJ: Yeah, the father of techno-terrorism. A part that was originally cast for a 25-year-old Indian man, so I’m not quite sure how I convinced Roger Spottiswoode that that would be a good role for me, but I did somehow.

AVC: Did they change the part after you came onboard?

RJ: They did. At one point, they wanted me to throw cards as weapons to attack Bond, but the first time they asked me to do it in rehearsal, I was an enormously long distance away from Pierce Brosnan, and I warned them that the cards went very, very hard and fast, and they said no no, they had someone in front of it to block the shot, and I again said, “I don’t think you should do that,” they said, “No, no, it’ll be okay.” And Pierce seemed to be fine with it. So I whaled a card, I don’t know how, 50 or 75 feet away, and they said, “Just throw it at his face,” and I hit him right above the eye, and realized that I almost ruined the most lucrative franchise in the history of film. 

"Meet the Guy Who Draws Every Great British Baking Show Recipe Illustration"

“My best mate worked in television and suggested that I apply for a job in ‘the edit’ at this new cookery show. With no TV experience or idea about how edits worked, I blagged my way in and started two days later.” Soon after beginning this editing job, though, Hovey admitted to the directors and editors that his passion was actually illustration, which spurred the higher-ups to spontaneously incorporate something artistic into the show. “It led to the director coming to me in the second week saying that he felt there was a visual element missing and maybe I could come up with some ideas,” Hovey recalled. “I sketched a few examples, we decided on a style that fit the bill and I got the gig.”
Related, tricks for photographing food:

Home decorating in Fallout 4

Wargaming miniatures roundup