Category Archives: Total trivia

Random images I shot and sort of like…

I Tweeted this out with the words, "Warm light of the setting sun falls on the heart of downtown Columbia -- seen from @CapCityClubCola."

I Tweeted this out with the words, “Warm light of the setting sun falls on the heart of downtown Columbia — seen from @CapCityClubCola.”

First, I’m not claiming these images I shot yesterday are great. I did not set out to take great images. I did not set out to shoot any images. It’s just that, when you have an iPhone, you shoot things like these as you go along. I do, anyway.

I took this still life on the bar at the Cap City Club, a moment before the shot above.

I took this still life on the bar at the Cap City Club, a moment before the shot above.

I’d like them better if they were of higher resolution. I wish I could have shot them with a high-end SLR, a digital version of the Nikon 8008s that sits in a drawer in my bedroom, and has for years, because it uses film. But I don’t have one of those.

But that doesn’t bother me much, because you don’t get trivial, serendipitous photos if you wait until you’re lugging a camera around. A virtue of this (relatively) new world of photography is that you’re always ready to shoot, limited only by the length of time it takes to whip out your phone (not long for me, since I’m one of those geeks who keeps it in a holster on his belt).

Anyway, they’re not much, but I thought I’d share…

This was a disappointment. The sight of workers backed by the big, blue sky was way better IRL.

This was a disappointment. The sight of workers backed by the big, blue sky was way more striking IRL.

My car is SUCH a crybaby

crybaby

Stop me if I’ve mentioned this before…

These days I drive a 1997 Volvo. It’s a great car, although a bit worse for wear. It was my father-in-law’s car, and my wife inherited it from him. The last few months I’ve been driving it, because our larger, newer Buick is more suitable for my wife to chauffeur the grandchildren in.

I love it, especially in the winter, as it’s the only vehicle among our three with heated seats. I hate having hot, dry air in my face. So I fire up the seat, and let the air I’m breathing stay relatively cool. It’s great.

But, being from Sweden, the car gets seriously traumatized by Columbia summers. For one thing, it has air-conditioning that probably works great in a place where a hot summer’s day is about 75 degrees, but tends to get overwhelmed by our Famously Hot days. But that’s OK; I stay comfortable enough.

I can’t say the same for the car. It freaks out, and the most dramatic manifestation of this is that it starts lying pathologically. On a typical summer day, it pretty much always claims that the temperature is 10 degrees higher than it is. It’s like it’s making excuses: You expect air-conditioning to deal with this kinda heat? Are you nuts?!?

Today, I left it parked with the windows and sunroof open, so it wouldn’t get too hot. I came back to the car, and it was claiming that the temp was 108 degrees!

I checked my phone. It was 92.

Again, I love the car, but it is such a whiner…

Top Five Things Wrong With This PBS Quiz

decade

As y’all know, I dig PBS almost as much as I do NPR, and it’s basically the only broadcast outlet I ever watch. (Mostly I have a TV for Netflix and Amazon Prime, and occasionally, when I’m feeling retro, a DVD.)

So I have high expectations when I see the PBS logo. Which is why I was so disappointed by this lame “Which Decade Do You Belong In?” quiz.

The whole thing was phoned in for the shallowest of purposes — promotion of three “Masterpiece Mystery” series. Nothing is offered that would provide a serious time traveler with helpful insight into which decade he would be most at home in.

Here are the Top Five things wrong with it:

  1. The individual questions force you into ridiculous choices. Such as “Choose a Women’s Hairstyle,” and the options are “Beehive,” “Poodle cut” and “Shag.” In other words, you have to have a fave among the most extreme, least appealing, hairstyles of three decades. (The worst: “Who’s your biggest critic?”, with the choices being “The Establishment,” “The Church,” and “Your mother.” Y’all know me: I’ve got no beef with any of those parties. But I chose “The Establishment” because I knew that would make me cool in at least one of the three decades on offer.)
  2. Even if the individual questions offered minimal guidance, there aren’t enough of them to add up to anything helpful. There are only seven of them! I mean, why even bother inventing a time machine to begin with? With info like this, even if I fell and hit my head and thought of the flux capacitor, I wouldn’t bother to build it, because I’d have no idea where I wanted to go!
  3. Crass commercialism. Or, since this is technically not commercial television, crass… I don’t know… promotionalism! There have been loads of fine “Masterpiece Mystery!” shows over the years, set in many very fine decades, but this is all about three that were currently showing or about to have a season premiere. About as shallow as you can get, and strangely trapped in the current moment, considering that the point is to appeal to people who presumably want to live in other moments.
  4. Lack of truly cool decades. Forced to choose between the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, I of course ended up in the 50s, which will surprise few of you. But that’s because the decade of 1800-1810 wasn’t even offered! And you would think that PBS, if it exerted itself even slightly, would be able to manage that…
  5. One of the three shows that inspired this insipidity was a show that I haven’t even watched,
    No Annie Cartwright.

    No Annie Cartwright.

    from lack of interest: “Prime Suspect: Tennison.” I tried watching it one night, but quickly lost interest, mainly because it takes us back to the Metropolitan Police Service in 1973. In other words, it covers ground already covered far more entertainingly by “Life on Mars.” The central character is a young WPC trying to make her way in a service just beginning, reluctantly, to take female cops seriously. And I’m sorry — I’m sure she does her best, but she is no Annie Cartwright! Anyway, I lived through the 1970s; I became an adult in the 1970s, so show me something more interesting.

In the grand scheme of things, of course, such quizzes are beneath the dignity of PBS, which is probably why the person who contrived this just gave it a lick and a promise. But if you’re going to try to engage my appetite for quiz clickbait, then make it worthy of the PBS name!

That is all…

50s

Wow, those chairs really looked… festive

The state of South Carolina’s electric chair, once a more frequently used form of execution, is shown here in 1998. The viewing room to the right is where media, lawyers and family members from both sides sat as witnesses. THE STATE File photograph Read more here: http://www.thestate.com/news/local/crime/article135985263.html#storylink=cpy

The state of South Carolina’s electric chair, once a more frequently used form of execution, is shown here in 1998. The viewing room to the right is where media, lawyers and family members from both sides sat as witnesses. THE STATE File photograph

I hope my friends at The State won’t mind my using this old file photo they just posted, but I was really struck by the incongruity of the decor.

Imagine that being your last sight as you were being executed. Instead of, “I really wish I hadn’t done it,” you might think, “Where the hell did those chairs come from? Couldn’t they have found something a bit more respectful of the occasion?” Which would be a stupid thing to be thinking at a time like that…

Those chairs look like they escaped from a “My Pretty Pony” cartoon. I wonder for what purpose the state ever purchased them to start with?

Boris, could you please first do something about the hair?

I said this on Twitter earlier today:

But that’s not exactly right.

Trump’s hair and Johnson’s do have things in common — they’re both light-colored, they’re both flamboyant and they’re both ridiculous.

Boris Johnson's actual Twitter profile photo.

Boris Johnson’s actual Twitter profile photo.

But there’s a huge, defining difference, which actually makes them opposites: Trump’s hair is ridiculous because it’s so obvious that he goes to far too much trouble to make it look like that. Johnson’s is distracting because he goes out of his way to look like he does nothing with it, that he has never in his life seen a comb or had anything to do with one.

In any case, both are distracting, and do not inspire the kind of confidence one would like to have in the head of a major country.

Boris’ hair in the actual, formal portrait photo at right, reminds me of my grandson — he resists anyone combing his hair, firmly declaring that he prefers that it remain “bumpy.” In a 4-year-old, this is endearing, and I have been known to compliment him on the bumpiness of his hair. In fact, I regularly reach out and muss it up for him.

But in a grown man who wishes to be taken seriously by other grown men, it is ridiculous.

Now is the time on bradwarthen.com when we all harrumph together over men among us with ridiculous hair.

Harrumph, harrumph, harrumph, harrumph, harrumph…

What sort of hair should a serious world leader have? The sort that we don’t notice. The sort that, if someone asks us to describe it when we’re not looking at it, we can’t. We shouldn’t even be able to swear whether he has hair or not, unless it’s right in front of us. It should be that understated and unobtrusive.

I’ll pause now for a moment while you all say, Hear, hear!

Hear, hear! Hear, hear! Hear, hear! Hear, hear!…

The candidates as the cast of a WWII B movie

battleground

How did I get on this subject? Well, Bryan had said something about liking Scott Walker before he dropped out, and I said he failed to stand out and distinguish himself. All the other candidates have a shorthand character people can describe, for good or ill. For instance, Lindsey Graham, who did no better in the polls than Walker, was known as the hawkish guy with the wisecracks.

So I got to thinking about how we all think we know the candidates, even though we don’t really know them any deeper than we do the characters in a cliche-ridden B movie — as a group of familiar types.

So let’s treat them like old-style contract players and cast them in an imaginary flick about World War II, since most of us are familiar with the genre. The title of the film? I dunno. “Hell is for Sad Sacks,” or something like that.

Here we go:

LuzLindsey Graham‘s the wise-cracking guy who nevertheless can give a pretty good speech about why we fight, and though he’s obviously no John Wayne, he’ll likely be a passable soldier when the shooting starts. Think L.Q. Jones — the character, not the actor who played him and adopted the name (even though he was poorly cast) — in “Battle Cry.” Think the book version. Only Leon Uris fans will get that, so never mind. Instead, think George Luz in “Band of Brothers.”

HallScott Walker is the replacement who gets killed at the start of the first battle, and no one in the unit can remember his name. Or maybe he was a member of another company entirely who ended up fighting alongside the main characters because the drop zones were all messed up. Think Private Hall in “Band of Brothers,” the guy who is the first character killed on D-Day. Or, to switch genres, anyone in a red shirt on “Star Trek.”

FrankoTed Cruz is the blowhard who talks big about how many Krauts he’s gonna kill, and the first time he’s within hearing of the guns he’s found cowering, quivering, in his foxhole. Everybody hates him — he’s always figuring an angle for getting ahead, at the expense of the other guys in the platoon — so they’re inclined to leave him there in the hole, but someone calls the medic. In “The Dirty Dozen,” he’d be Victor Franko.

RicklesDonald Trump is the utterly corrupt quartermaster who runs the black market operations in the area. A real weasel, although a tremendous businessman (ya gotta give him that) he’s all about insulting the other guys in the battalion. He’s even trading with the enemy; anything for the deal. He gets along great with Starshina Putin, his counterpart in the Red Army unit just over the hill. Think Don Rickles in “Kelly’s Heroes.” (He’s not smooth enough to be Milo Minderbinder.)

earnest young officerJeb Bush is the well-meaning but largely ineffectual officer who lives under a huge shadow. His father was a general and even his ne’er-do-well big brother made a name for himself earlier in the war. He got great grades at West Point but thus far hasn’t distinguished himself. He’s not a bad guy, but he’s not the kind of guy the men are all that eager to follow into battle. Picture Tom Hanks’ kid in “Band of Brothers.” (I’m not going to be cruel and call him Lt. Dike.)

PopsBernie Sanders is “Pops,” the impossibly old guy who somehow got drafted anyway. The young guys all think he’s great and look out for him, even politely listening to his crackpot ideas about politics, the Army, etc. He likes to freak out the recruits by popping his teeth out without warning. For some reason I’m picturing James Whitmore in “Battleground,” but I’m not sure that’s quite right. Can anyone think of somebody better?

Savalas 2Chris Christie is the crusty sergeant who’s been there and done that and rides the younger guys pretty hard, calling them “craphead” and “boy in the bubble” and such. Maybe Telly Savalas, in either “Battle of the Bulge” or “Kelly’s Heroes;” take your pick. But not in “The Dirty Dozen” — totally different character. Was James Gandolfini ever in this kind of movie? That would be perfect, but I don’t think he ever was.

WebsterMarco Rubio is “College,” the guy who earned half a degree before deciding he’d better join up. He’s a slick talker and will probably get into politics when he gets back home. The guys respect him for his ability to talk his way out of KP and such, but he hasn’t proven himself to them yet, and some wonder how he’ll measure up in combat. Think of David Kenyon Webster, the Ivy Leaguer in “Band of Brothers.”

StrayerJohn Kasich is the battalion executive officer, like Major Strayer in “Band of Brothers.” (Yeah, I keep citing “Band of Brothers,” which doesn’t fit the mold of the stereotype-ridden B movie. But there were just so many characters to choose from.) He’s regular Army and he knows his way around and the guys pretty much respect him and accept him in the No. 2 role, but people just aren’t sure how he’ll lead if the Old Man gets hit. This guy doesn’t usually have a lot of lines in the movie.

rooseveltI don’t know who Hillary Clinton is. It’s tough, since the Pentagon hadn’t yet rubber-stamped an OK on women in combat. I’m still working on it… She’s not a nurse (unless we’re talking Nurse Ratched, and that’s the wrong genre), and I don’t see her as the dame back home who wrote you a Dear John letter and broke your heart. Maybe she’s the long-suffering wife of the good-time company commander who chases all the nurses — Deborah Kerr in “From Here to Eternity.” But I don’t see her with Burt Lancaster. Maybe I’ll just say she’s Eleanor Roosevelt. She should like that…

Really, Trey? THAT’s the look you’re going with?

gowdy_surfs_up  download (3) 596-trey-gowdy-610 FILE - This file June 28, 2013 file photo shows House Oversight Committee member Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. House Speaker John Boehner on Friday declared he’d schedule a vote to create a select committee to investigate the Benghazi attack, escalating a political battle that has raged since the final days of President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign. A senior Republican aide said Boehner was considering Gowdy to chair the select committee. The aide wasn’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter and demanded anonymity. It’s unclear when Boehner will schedule the vote.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

I was out of pocket yesterday playing in a charity golf tournament (to benefit Healthy Learners) out at Fort Jackson, which means I probably had a better time than you did. (How did I do? Well, the official score was 70, which sounds great until you learn that it was captain’s choice — which, for the uninitiated, means that we had four tries at every shot — and that was the team score. When I left, the leading team had come in with a 56, and we were tied for last place. But it was a beautiful day, and we had a good time.)

But while I didn’t blog exactly, I did mini-blog and bit, and this was my most popular Tweet of the day, garnering a number of reTweets and favorites:

You may have noticed that South Carolina’s own Rep. Gowdy has made almost as many attempts to do different things with his hair as Eric Clapton, only with less success. I am not the only one to compare the above look to Oswald Cobblepot, a.k.a. The Penquin, on “Gotham:”

Others have mentioned Draco Malfoy, possibly after seeing this particular do.

You might be tempted to say that he’d look better if he just grew it out some, particularly on the sides. But then you would take that back upon seeing this. And let’s not even get started on this one

The most normal he has ever looked was when he went with the neoclassical Brutus cut, as they called it when it came into fashion in the early 19th century. Or perhaps we should call it the Cassius look, as in:

Let me have men about me that are fat,
Sleek-headed men and such as sleep a-nights.
Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look.
He thinks too much. Such men are dangerous.

Maybe that’s why he abandoned it. He didn’t want Kevin McCarthy talking about how “yond Trey hath dim’d the star of Hillary Macbeth…”

But when the big day came, what did he do? He whipped out the Butch Wax and went with the kewpie doll look:

Gowdy look

Planned Parenthood chief is already wearing her Halloween costume: Claire Underwood

Richards

One of the frustrating things about these danged Interwebs is that it’s now impossible to fool yourself into thinking you’re having an original insight. Especially insights of the more superficial kind.Claire

For instance, lately I’ve been on a roll with seeing people on TV and realizing that they look just like some other person, and thinking I want to do a blog post to share this recognition, and when I check I find that everybody else has noticed the same thing.

For instance… I recently saw Hitchcock’s “The Lady Vanishes,” and for most of the movie I tried to think who it was that Michael Redgrave looked exactly like. I knew it was another actor, but not a marquee idol by any means. Yet it was someone I had seen a lot of recently. I refused to let myself Google, “Michael Redgrave looks like…,” forcing my brain to work a little, if only on a silly pop culture problem.

Finally, I came up with it: It’s that guy who plays “Littlefinger” on “Game of Thrones,” and Councilman Tommy Carcetti on “The Wire!” That is to say, Irish actor Aiden Gillen. Congratulating myself, I went ahead and did the internet search, and… every other sentient being on the planet had already noticed it.

Dang.

So it was that when I saw a picture of Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood on my Washington Post app this morning, and thought, “Claire Underwood!,” I thought I was just being perceptive as all get-out. Of course, the vast majority of people, who saw her on TV yesterday, had beaten me all hollow.

Dang yet again. I was all ready to say it looks like somebody already has her Halloween costume on, and other facile manifestations of a feeble wit, and I was too late.

Frustrating…

Michael Redgrave

Michael Redgrave

Aiden Gillen

Aiden Gillen

 

Oscar the Grouch is in grave danger

Oscars

I assume you’ve noted the disturbing pattern:

  1. (CNN) — Legendary fashion designer Oscar de la Renta, who spent half a century putting high society in haute couture, has died. He was 82…
  2. South African athlete Oscar Pistorius has been given five years in jail for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp….

On the chance there is some sort of twist on the Rule of Three in operation here, if you’re Oscar the Grouch, you’ve got to be worried…

images (8)

Is SC the ‘most patriotic’ state?

patriotic-states

That’s the conclusion based on this survey:

 South Carolina is the most patriotic state in the nation, a real estate research firm has found.

The ranking is based on Movoto Real Estate’s measure of the number of people who Googled for American flags. The state also has the seventh highest veterans per capita, and 16th highest funding for veterans per capita….

Seems like a rather slim criterion to me. A state could top the list if, for instance, it was ordering flags in order to burn them or something.

Nevertheless, I don’t doubt that South Carolina is at least among the most patriotic states, whatever your criteria. We have definitely come a long way on that score since that time, so very long ago that it’s hardly worth mentioning, when we, you know, launched a war — the deadliest war in the nation’s history — against the United States.

 

Bee Gees tune makes my hypothetical band’s playlist

Last night, I was watching an episode of “The Americans” and it ended with a song in the background that was a pleasant-enough-sounding ballad, but for one thing: It seemed to be very close to something very familiar, and something that I wanted to hear, but it never got there. It was too busy being artsy, too free-form, too showy in its refusal to be anything like the original.

I now know it was Roberta Flack’s version of “To Love Somebody.” It was pleasant, but considered as a cover of that song, it was awful. It left out all the best bits, such as the change when it launches into “you don’t know what it’s like,” and then when it takes it down a notch, for “to love somebody.”

Everything that made the song special was missing, including the appealing rhythm of the verses, in between the aforementioned best bits.

Frankly, I hadn’t ever realized how special the song was, until it had been stripped of what made it that way.

So I’m unilaterally adding it to the playlist for my band, for when I have a band. I’m not consulting my bandmates on it, because I don’t have any, and it wouldn’t do to start having artistic differences before we even get together.

I’m even thinking of going out on a limb and adding “I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You,” because I’ve always known that was great, even though it was by the Bee Gees. After all, the Brothers Gibb were pretty good before disco (he said defensively).

This is coming together well. Before long, I’ll have a complete playlist for my ultimate cover band, and that will give us a head start when I get around to actually putting the band together. Don’t you think?

Have fun storming the castle (a bit late)!

Click on this to blow it up.

Click on this to blow it up.

I missed this reunion of the cast of “The Princess Bride” when it happened a couple of years ago (to celebrate the film’s 25th anniversary), but since I just ran across it today, I thought I would share.

The photo, near as I can tell, came from Entertainment Weekly. Here are some close-ups from it.

So you want me to go back to politics and other serious stuff? As you wish…

Here’s how we used to find stuff out in the old days, kids

Since this post the other day, I’ve been listening more closely to the Christmas music to which I’ve been exposed.

This morning, I heard something really unusual. What got me was the very different rhythm part of this rendition of “O Come Emanuel.” I’d actually been listening a while before I realized what the song was — even though it’s my favorite Advent song. This was before coffee, you understand.

I wanted to know right then who it was. But I couldn’t do what I would normally do. I was driving the truck, which is straight-shift and takes two hands, and wearing my winter coat that zips up, and couldn’t get at my phone to get my SoundHound app to give it a listen and ID it for me. Frustrating (in any event, as I discovered when I got to work, I’d left my phone at home — again, the lack of coffee).

So I decided that I’d fall back on trying to find out who that was when I got to a keyboard. To my inexpert year, it sounded like Pearl Jam. So I hunted on Google, and on YouTube. I asked everybody on Twitter:

Heard a very offbeat rendition of “O Come Emanuel” on radio this a.m. Sounded like… Pearl Jam. Google couldn’t find that. So who was it?

Weirdly, no one answered. I asked again about six hours later. Still no takers. Which is unusual. Normally, someone at least guesses.

So you know what I did? I found out the old school way. Soon as I got a moment (late this afternoon, after a busy day) I called the request line at Magic 98.5. I asked who that was doing “O Come Emmanuel” between 7:45 and 8 this morning.

Turns out it was Third Day, a Christian rock band that formed back in the early ’90s. You know, when everybody was trying to sound like Eddie Vedder.

The fact that my crowd-sourcing efforts failed, I suppose, testifies to grunge-style Christian bands  occupying a lesser-known part of the pop music spectrum. Even Rob, Dick and Barry might have had trouble with it.

I’m just glad I solved the mystery. I’m sure you’re happy for me.

The resurgence of The Chicken Curse?

522792_216874205110417_1504477813_n

My friend Doug Nye is gone, and many think his great discovery, The Chicken Curse, is gone with him.

But it pops up now and then.

The Chicken Curse, properly understood, is not just about the Gamecocks football team losing. So the recent winning seasons by the home team don’t mean the Curse is dead. In fact, as I was introduced to the concept in the late 1980s, it’s more about people who otherwise have nothing to do with South Carolina being done in by an incidental association with our flagship university, particularly with anything bearing on its athletic programs.

Under this interpretation, for instance, we understand that Gary Hart missed his chance at the Democratic nomination for president in 1988 because of his relationship with a former USC cheerleader, Donna Rice.

Anyway, the thing that brings all this to mind is the fact that, just days before the BCS Championship game, The Wall Street Journal carelessly decided to run a lengthy interview with Lou Holtz talking about how great the Irish were this year, headlined, “Why Notre Dame Is Back on Top.”

Textbook case of the Curse, as I was taught to understand it…

Which is Rothko, and which is ADCO?

Three years ago, the staff of ADCO had our annual Christmas party at Hobby Lobby. After refreshments, each us was given a canvas and paints, and challenged to create something for the walls of our offices.

We were encouraged to paint in the style of Mark Rothko, and most of us cooperated. We were generally pleased with the results, which you can still see today adorning the walls of 1220 Pickens St.

Fast-forward to this year…

Last Thursday, our office Christmas party consisted of lunch at Hampton Street Vineyard, followed by a tour of the Rothko exhibit at Columbia Museum of Art.

Now, here’s a test of your artistic perspicacity: Above and below are images of two paintings. Can you tell which is by ADCO, and which is by Rothko himself?

No cheating! To check yourself, you may look it up on Google Images after you share your answer. You’re all on the honor system, and sure, you are all honorable men. And women.

IMG_1022

What is the sound of no cookie crumbling?

Tom Priddy, former colleague at The State and the man who introduced me to Internet porn*, encountered a terrible omen last night:

Uh, oh. Not only did my fortune cookie not have a fortune in it tonight, but it didn’t even have a cookie. Yep. It was a package of air. Never opened. Just a bubble. I think maybe I’d better just stay home tomorrow . . .

The only explanation I could offer him was that maybe it was a Zen cookie. What is the sound of no cookie crumbling?

* Perhaps that calls for an explanation. Tom was an early computer guru at the paper, and by the late 80s or very early 90s had taken a job with Knight Ridder corporate doing something technical and mysterious, although his office was still at the paper in Columbia (he was maybe the first person I knew to have such a long-distance job enabled by technology). He was helping me on a project one day in his office, and somehow it came up that people were using computers and modems — not the Web, this was before common access to the Internet — to share dirty pictures. I said “Really? Show me.” Several minutes later — it took some time to identify a relevant server, dial up and establish a connection — a picture started gradually revealing itself on his screen, very slowly, one line of pixels at a time. We continued with the task I had come there for while it unfolded. It turned out to be a fairly unremarkable picture of a nude woman lying on a bed, with her head tilted back looking at the camera. Not really X-rated, more hard R or NC-17 at most. I made a note, and promptly assigned a reporter to do a story on this new form of high-tech porn, which ended up running on our features front.