The Ranting Wren The Wren Forum Banner
The Glorious Wren The Movie Wren The Photo Wren Old Man Wren

Exit ArchiveArchive for the "Nothing in Particular" Category
Permalink Comments Off on First Picture I’ve Taken with the iPhone 4Comments Off on First Picture I’ve Taken with the iPhone 4 By

Just look at that! Sweetness. (Click to see full size.)

UPDATE: Oops. Thanks to a WordPress re-install, upgrade, and old backup, I have lost this picture entirely. I’m very sorry. It was very nice. If I find the file somewhere, I’ll post it back here for you.

Permalink Comments Off on Made, as They Say, In the ShadeComments Off on Made, as They Say, In the Shade By

I guess this is kinda the modern version of that phrase, eh? “Molly’s got it made in the shade.”

Permalink Comments Off on “Candy Striper”Comments Off on “Candy Striper” By

Here is my latest art installation at Maison des Wexlers. I call it “Candy Striper,” and it will soon be open to the public. It will, inevitably, be an interactive piece.

Permalink Comments Off on Chicken FoundryComments Off on Chicken Foundry By

So there’s Chicken Vindaloo, Chicken Parmesian, Chicken Marsala. How about the following as chicken dish names? C’mon, top chefs! Let’s get inventing!

Chicken Verdana
Chicken Tahoma
Chicken Bodoni
Chicken Calibri
Chicken Kabel
Chicken Palatino

Less appetizing chicken dishes would include:

Chicken Officina
Chicken Compacta
Chicken Goudy
Chicken Futura
Chicken Perpetua
Chicken Wingdings

The most flavorless dish would, of course, be:

Chicken Helvetica

Permalink Comments Off on Uncluttered Apple®Comments Off on Uncluttered Apple® By

There is something I realized for the first time not long ago regarding Apple and their excellent sense of design, and I wanted to put it down here, now, on paper. As it were. My revelation is this: Apple does not use ® and ™.

I just got an e-mail from my sister. She uses Hotmail, now part of Windows Live. At the bottom of her message was a text-only ad saying, “Windows Live™: Keep your life in sync.” Now, I ask you, for whom is that ™ included? No one. No. One. Er, okay… maybe it’s there to alert that poor sap who’s almost finished setting up a new service for designing window treatments she intended to call Windows Live. Oh, no you don’t! See here in this e-mail footer? We already ™ed Windows Live, so hands off!

What a waste of time. What legal nonsense. And how ugly. Uselessly ugly.

Apple does not do that. Just go to their website and take a look around. Do you see a single ® or ™? Oh, well, sure… in the store, on the Microsoft® Office page, where you can read about Entourage® and PowerPoint® and Excel®. And Windows®. But Apple’s equivalents of these applications? It’s Keynote, not Keynote®; Pages, not Pages®; iWork, not iWork®.

iLife is not iLife®, Garage Band is not Garage Band®, Bonjour is not Bonjour™, QuickTime is not QuickTime®, Mac is not Mac®, iPod is not iPod®, iPhone is not iPhone®, MobileMe is not MobileMe™…

To be fair, Microsoft’s website does not have many ™s and ®s in the product descriptions either. Someone made a good decision to exclude those. Whew. But as soon as you get to any of the logos and packaging, the ™s and ®s make a strong appearance.

I should not pick on Microsoft alone, really, although it’s always great fun. The Adobe® Creative Suite® 3 Design Premium box in front of me right now has those two ®s plus a third, on the Adobe logo. I have a bin of Twizzlers® on my desk, and an unused Contour® Design ShuttlePRO™ v2. An Altinex® Cable Catcher™ is to my right, as is a Pantone®/GretagMacbeth™ i1 spectrophotometer and a butt-load of Sanford® Sharpie® pens. But I also have iLife, iWork, Aperture, Mac OS X, and MacBook Air boxes in my office, and what do I see? Not one ®. Not a single ™. The Apple logo itself, unlike most other companies’ logos, is beautifully unblemished by the annoying ®.

Including a ® or ™ is pointless. I know some lawyers somewhere would disagree, but certainly not for any non-esoteric reason. Once again I find myself thanking Apple for making the world just a tiny bit better.

Permalink Comments Off on …Right ‘Round Baby Right ‘Round Like an Escalator…Comments Off on …Right ‘Round Baby Right ‘Round Like an Escalator… By

Why have I never seen this before? Why have I never done this before? Why has my life been so empty until seeing this?

Permalink Comments Off on iPhone Post TestComments Off on iPhone Post Test By

Hello! I’m just testing posting from the iPhone. With a picture. How will it work?


Ah, it works pretty damn well. As does editing after the fact. Sweet deal! Totally rad!

That picture, by the way, was taken yesterday on the way to Togo’s. It was a kinda nasty rear-ending accident, though you can’t see the cars from this vantage point. I wonder if I can post another picture?


I can indeed! That one is of a few cars from The Haunted Mansion, taken “backstage” at Disneyland last week. They looked like they were in for repairs.

Here’s another shot from behind Disneyland:


That is one ofnthe Mounties from It’s a Small World. The ride is currently under renovation.

Click any of those pics to see them larger.

Permalink Comments Off on Program NotesComments Off on Program Notes By

For some reason, I just poked into an e-mail folder I have called “Classics and Keepers.” There are not many items in there, and not much I’d label as “classic.” Except maybe the one I’m reprinting below.

But first, some explanation so that you know what the hell prompted me to write such a long (and often historically accurate) “essay.”

In April, 2004, a month before The Wren Forum opened for business, I had sent an e-mail to friends asking them which L.A. Phil concerts they wanted to choose for the second season of Disney Hall. I listed several concerts in detail, but snuck some pieces by a little-known composer named Lekowicz into the list. (They were: Symphony No. 1 “Cake and Cookies”; Symphony No. 3 “Not Too Early in the Morning”; and Hungarian Suite in G “Tchotchke.”) Sven noticed this, and asked for some background on the composer Lekowicz before he could make a decision.

My friends got the following on April 12. Good luck!

* * * * * *

Stephen James Lekowicz was born in 1769 in Englewood, Poland, to the renowned artist and philosopher couple Sletvanya Polisnika Harrison and Trevor Singh. (It is interesting to note that Polish surnames are not passed from parent to child, a practice which was seen as pompous and cruel.) From an early age, it was determined Stephen had a keen musical sense, and was soon encouraged by his parents to develop his musical talents by banging on tins of potted meat product with wooden spoons.

By the age of 5, Stephen had already composed two waltzes, a collection of pond songs, and the now-famous Pirogy Mazurka in F. His parents farmed young Stephen’s talents out for pay, having themselves hit upon hard times during Russia’s Smashing of the Poles into Submission campaign in 1774. Through this public exposure, Stephen’s most well-to-do fan was Glinka Hurdy, who, upon hearing the Danse Macaroni i Ser Stephen composed when he was 7, finally felt the composer had entered into his own. Hurdy and his partner, Spears Britney Gurdy, signed the young prodigy to compose works for their music publishing company, Muzyka Hurdy Gurdy.

During the Hurdy Gurdy years of 1777 to late 1777, Lekowicz’s pieces for intimate royal ballroom extravaganzas, such as “King’s Triptych Danse,” and his more extravagant compositions for intimate social settings, such as “The Lily Pixie and the Butter Bun,” became such gargantuan hits that Hurdy Gurdy could not cope with demand. Their shop and press warehouse were mobbed by enraged music enthusiasts, and Hurdy and Gurdy themselves were killed in the tumult.

Sadly, with the passing of his employers, Stephen and his parents were left to the mercy of poverty, and from 1777 to 1782 they roamed the Polish countryside, dodging Austrian, Prussian, and Russian “liberators” and hoping Stephen would soon be accepted into the Stanislaw August “Augie” Poniatowski National School for Poor But Gifted Musicians and Their Parents and/or Immediate Relatives. Their hope was shown light when, in August of 1782, Poniatowski, recognizing Lekowicz as the composer of his favorite dining hall background piece, “Ham and Polonaise on Bread,” welcomed the emaciated but fiercely passionate Stephen and his family into the school.

This period proved to be one of unstoppable musical growth and enlightenment for Lekowicz, who composed no less than 149 pieces under the tutelage of the well-meaning but mediocre masters of the Augie school. Some of the pieces from this era include the Scherzande in B Minor, Sarabande for Flute and Tuba, “Samba dla Idiotów,” and the now ubiquitous Symphony No. 1 “Cake and Cookies.” This latter work has been hailed since its creation as nothing short of light and fluffy. Taking no more than 12 minutes to play and with nothing more challenging in its theme than that of pure gastrointestinal pleasure, this symphony is a model of the period and a delight to the ear.

While Poland was experiencing a slight resurgence of culture, it was still difficult for musicians to make a living plying their trade. It was for this reason that Lekowicz, at the age of 29 in 1788, became a spy for King Poniatowski. From this time to 1792, Lekowicz composed fewer works, but gained a maturity that was not present in his earlier works. Of these newer style pieces are the Scherzo in A, G, and E, the Ecossaise and Requiem in C Minor, Symphony No. 2 “Shaken Not Stirred,” and the Hungarian Suite in G “Tchotchke.” This last work was composed while Stephen traveled clandestinely in Hungary, collecting information for the Commonwealth and sampling the local cuisine. It is considered one of the most accurate portrayals of Hungarian Gypsy music ever captured by someone disguised as a gypsy while under the command of a puppet regime. The ironic title comes from the early 1800s, when the Spanish composer Falla de Guerno Hispola Fernando Hacienda was heard at a post-concert party in Seville to comment that such a “souvenir” of the Hungarian Gypsies was genius, as the gypsies themselves carried nothing more than they needed to live.

In 1792, Lekowicz was caught up in the confusion surrounding the formation of the Confederation of Targowica. When Russia and Prussia came to the aid of the revolt they started within Poland’s borders, The Commonwealth fell, and Lekowicz was one of the four million citizens annexed by Russia. This embittered Lekowicz, and his works became even more sparse in frequency and more revolutionary in tone. It was then no surprise that he moved his way to Warsaw to join the Uprising of the Soon to Be Defeated in early 1794. This uprising was soon defeated, however, and by 1795, Russia forced the abdication of the King and absorbed the rest of Poland.

Now without a homeland, Lekowicz took to writing more furiously. Pieces from this era include The Abdication Waltz in F Flat Minor, “Mass for Sausage and Cabbage,” Piccolo Concerto No. 4, and Symphony No. 3 “Not TOO Early in the Morning.” While only his third symphony, and this while aged 36, this last remains his masterpiece, a symbol of rebellion and refusal to work within a system that included too many countries ending with the syllables “ussia.” Most notable is the symphony’s lack of a fourth movement. Lekowicz claimed in a letter to his sister, Lara, a figure who was so important in his life that it has been decided to ignore her almost entirely in this essay, that his not writing a fourth movement was, besides being a protest against the dismantling of the country he loved, a wonderful way to save time. “This symphony would have taken me nine more months to write,” he wrote. “Audiences of future regimes will thank me, dear sister, for abolishing the necessity for them to stay seated in the hall an extra 20 minutes.”

Stephen Lekowicz soon after met Jaye Davidson Plotknywscz, with whom he fell madly in love. The couple planned to marry in the spring of 1799, but died in January of that year of Walesa’s Disease, a rare deformity of the facial hair. Jaye’s contraction of this disease, known to only afflict men, was confusing to the doctors of the era. Instead of fighting to get the couple well, the doctors spent their time in conference over the odd case, and Lekowicz and Plotknywscz died, covered entirely in beard, in a hospital in Vancouver, Canada.

Sad as I am to have only gotten 30 out of 34, I still had a great time playing The Rather Difficult Font Game. Let me know how you do!

Via Daring Fireball

Is it any wonder that countries fight, peoples genocize each other, and couples can’t choose a place to have dinner? Communication is difficult, and sometimes it’s simply impossible.

Take the following exchange between myself and another guy on DList, a sort of gay MySpace.

To set this up, I have to explain that my profile asks people to send me a message and make some contact with me before asking me to be their “friend.” I hate sites where people just add “friends” willy-nilly. I mean, I get why they do that—the more friends, the more likely you are to be seen—but I can’t be bothered to have a huge list of people that I’ve never even talked to. That’s not why I’m on sites like this. My request is acceptable, and it is certainly not out of the ordinary.

So a fried request pops up on my account, after which a message comes to me, both from a guy calling himself BulkingUp. The message has the subject, “why do you have.” The message then goes:

to be one of those who needs a line to add a friend? I always feel awkward when I’m forced to write a message with the request, I mean what are you supposed to say? besides the obvious, that is…

First two warning signs: the subject line was used as the beginning of the message, and the guy calls himself BulkingUp. While the latter is about par for the course on a gay site, the former is inexcusable no matter what one’s sexual alignment. A third warning sign: poor capitalization. Not a deal-breaker, to be sure, but still grating. At least he was using punctuation.

Had the message been fun and cool, I could easily have ignored the warning signs. But the message was, I thought, obnoxious. He’s bitching about my requirement, but is not annoyed enough by it to decide against sending me a friend request. He was even unable to find anything to say aside from the bitching.

I should have ignored the message, but I was annoyed, so I wrote back a simple, “Sorry you don’t like it. Alas!”

To which he replied, “I was trying to be funny, I guess.” (He had no period at the end, however.)

Oops. Okay, so I misread it. It was easy to do, what with the complete lack of humor involved. So I sent back, “Oh, sorry, I didn’t pick up on that! Oops.”

“I was too subtle, I guess.” Hmm. Okay, yes, the humor was a bit subtle… to the point of near nonexistence. However, he seems to not be understanding that I get that, and that I missed his intent. So I shoot back, “Which is funny, because I’m the one who can often be too subtle! Ha! So I’ve tasted my own medicine! :)” Every time I use an emoticon, I am ashamed, but sometimes it’s the only way to prove that there is no harm done, no harm meant, and no harm received.

Perhaps his browser turned my &#58) into a >:P, because his response was:

Dude, all I was trying to do was to add some sort of funny message to my friend request. You didn’t get it. Or it provoked the opposite reaction to the one I expexted. There is no reason to continue this exchange.

On a grander scale, this is when the troops would be sent across the border to shoot up some town holding no strategic advantage. Oh, except he said, “Peace.” So maybe the border troop build-up would have been stood down. (Can you say “stood down”?)

I should not have sent anything more, but I did. “And I was genuinely trying to apologize. Sorry it got so botched. TTFN.” And the communication was done. For all I know, he thought “TTFN” stood for “Ta-ta, fuckin’ numbskull.”

There is nothing important at stake here, nothing to worry about, nor anything to lose sleep over. Yet I was, and still am, a bit taken aback by this. How could two random strangers so quickly and completely miscommunicate? Personally, am I really that bad at getting across my own intent? I don’t think I am, yet here is someone who does. I certainly think he’s no good at it. Is it really that easy for written communication to be so misinterpreted? What if he and I had met randomly in person, at a bar (SOOOOO likely!) or a sushi restaurant (SOOOOO likely!)? Would the visual connection have been able to diffuse such a miscommunication, or would something in each other’s demeanors have set us at each other anyway?

Is it personality, language, attitude, or perception that get in the way of being able to talk? Or all of those?

Whatever the cause, the genuine surprise that comes from an unexpected breakdown in dialogue is not really welcome. It gives me a case of the brow-furrows.

Permalink Comments Off on Happy February 32nd!Comments Off on Happy February 32nd! By

Hey, today is leap day! And though I could be blogging about one of my two recent and very destructive car accidents, my ski trip to Utah, my break-up with Fuz, or how I’m now a producer on Life from the Inside, I’m going to instead waste my currently-precious time to write this:

Hey, today is leap day!

What, Robb already beat me to it? Son of a Beyoncé! I should have known! And I didn’t start blogging until May of 2004, so I don’t have a cool old leap-day post to send you to.

So never mind. Go read Robb’s post. His is more informative and useful anyway. Mine just says:

Hey, today is leap day!

Permalink Comments Off on Infinite Colors of GreyComments Off on Infinite Colors of Grey By

Boy, is this an amazing illusion! It ended up being much cooler than I expected. Too bad it’s not a picture of Britney or Paris, though.

Permalink Comments Off on O Little Tree, O Little TreeComments Off on O Little Tree, O Little Tree By

I got to stop by Trader Joe’s yesterday on the way back from getting my hair cut. (It’s short. I should post a picture!) On the way in, I was stopped by these cute little trees outside the store.

I love trees. I have a ficus in my office that has flourished since I bought it at Ikea years ago. I wish I could have one in my apartment, but it’s too dark. These little Trader Joe’s pine trees were so cute, and I wanted to have some kind of Christmas cheer in my office, and I knew what was going to happen later that night, so I bought one to brighten my pre-Christmas days. Today, I bought little glass ornaments and decorated the tree.

A Little Christmas Tree

How Charlie Brown Christmas is that? It’s so cute. I makes me smile. And since it’s alive, I can keep it in my office year-round. I lived in Boston last time I bought a tiny live pine tree like this, also around Christmas time. I had it for a quite a while. Sadly, it died when I took a trip. Must have been a long trip. This tree, I feel, will be my little Christmas tree for years to come. When it’s the off-season, I won’t even have to disguise the pot; I’ll tell everyone it’s my barber tree.

I’ve been busy, thanks for asking! In fact, I just got back from Paris, where I worked three maddening shows, got some kind of food poisoning, and then shunted it all away to the “who cares?” trough with a few fun days roaming the city proper.

But now I’m back. And to prove it, here’s a fun anti-Microsoft video. ENJOY!

Here are some things I’ve been looking at to make today’s installation of Windows on two Macs bearable.

(Via FSJ)

Button for Bacon

(Via Hi-ReS! Feed)

WTF Mac Store by Jeff Carlson

(Via Daring Fireball; photo by Jeff Carlson)

In Case You Have No Style

(Also via Daring Fireball; click picture for larger view)

Permalink Comments Off on Powerless PostComments Off on Powerless Post By

The power just went out in our entire building. I was on my Mac, but it’s a laptop, so nothing was lost. Thankfully, I finished my laundry a couple hours ago, and not long after that, I stopped building my new Lego Star Destroyer set (a random purchase from Downtown Disney last night to lift my spirits—which is a post for, perhaps, tomorrow). So really, this isn’t terribly inconvenient at all. But I can still post, you see, though the DSL modem is down. How, you (don’t) ask?

I am sitting here in the sexy glow of my iPhone, posting this just because I can.

The power should be back on soon. A transformer in the alley caught fire. But of course no one came and told us this. I had to go out and ask the guys with the big important trucks what happened. I think maybe every emergency crew needs to travel with a PR agent to go door-to-door and explain what’s happening. I mean, the trucks had been in the alleyway for nearly an hour before the power was cut (it must have been a very tiny little fire that did its damage very, very slowly), so a roving PR schmo would have had plenty of time to come around and warn us to shut down any mission-critical computers before the power was cut. My mission-critical sexy gay man underwear merchant browsing could have been properly terminated!

I guess really what I should be doing is getting my contacts out and going to bed. My alarm clock won’t wake me in the morning, and nor will my trusty iPhone if I drain the battery with Wren business.

Oh, well, what timing. There’s the power. So much for ending with a little bit of drama.

Permalink Comments Off on Oh, God, This Guy’s a Steve?Comments Off on Oh, God, This Guy’s a Steve? By

I am so very embarrassed to share this guy’s name. I’m sure we’ve all seen this clip before, but it’s worth revisiting.

Look at this man! He’s a nutjob! Look at those scary, crazy eyes! That tilted-head look is what I’d expect my own eyes to see right before an ice pick is rammed into my heart by a woods-dwelling maniac.

Steve Ballmer, a woods-dwelling maniac. Seems about right.

Permalink Comments Off on So Much for 27B Stroke 6Comments Off on So Much for 27B Stroke 6 By

I recently mentioned a blog I read on the Wired site called 27 B Stroke 6.

Well, sadly, they are changing their name to something less clever and creative: “Threat Level.” How… interesting. How… thought-provoking. Pshaw!

I have been a subscriber to Wired for many years. The reason I never read it much when it first came out is because it was so over-designed as to be difficult to read. Magazines are… what? Anybody? Yes, read. A difficult-to-read magazine is useless.

Thankfully, Wired‘s loony design got toned down and I started subscribing once I realized what a great magazine it actually was.

Well, actually, that’s kind of a lie. I subscribed once I noticed they were offering the mag for $12 a year. Wow! A bargain!

During my readership, Wired has undergone three major redesigns. I think I can safely say only the first one was a success. The last two are horrible.

The first mistake, this being from the second redesign (I think), was making stories continue in the back of the magazine. For years, Wired stories were printed in a continuous flow, ending before the next article began. But that was changed, and now you have to flip way back into the magazine to finish reading an article. This sucks. I hate magazines that do this. It is inconvenient to read and bookmark.

The second mistake was the fonts. Oh, the FONTS! The second redesign brought the text of the magazine back to the nearly unreadable zone. I can suffer very small text, but when it’s small and thin, forget it. This style lasted a couple years.

The last redesign, which happened sometime last year, was yucky. The first change that brought the magazine from “cool” to “pedestrian” was the size. Wired went from being a wide-format magazine, which is nice to hold and imparted a bit of specialness, to being a normal size, which is… normal. Dull.

The last redesign also brought a bunch of “new” fonts, designed specifically for the magazine. Oh, the FONTS! They suck. Often, the font meant for body text is blown up huge for headlines and such, and the font is butt-ass-ugly at larger sizes. And the multiple fonts used do not harmonize well together, nor have I really been able to determine when a certain font is used for what, meaning they are all just tossed in whenever and make the magazine look junky.

Maybe to offset this now-ugly monthly experience, I recently subscribed to Print magazine. (Yes, that Print.) It is a model of beauty. The typesetting is pristine and high-class. The fonts are readable. The layout is thoughtful and pleasing. It makes the people designing Wired look like junior high students just learning InDesign.

What does all this have to do with 27B Stroke 6? Only this: Wired‘s changes, both online and off, have smacked of Corporateness. Wired used to have this rebellious spirit about it, but that’s definitely changed. The magazine is now almost dull. Any hipness it tries to impart seems forced, like Cargo or something. I still enjoy the info I get from it, but it’s no longer my destination magazine.

The name change for 27B Stroke 6 is another sign of this. The old name was amusing and clever. If not everyone got what it meant, so the hell what? For God’s sake let some people be in the dark about something. Let there be something to discover about something. But corporate marketings desire the exact opposite of this. It’s a shame.

At least the new redesign is an actual improvement. The site has sucked for quite a long time now, design- and coding-wise. At least now it’s cleaner and easier to use.

Permalink Comments Off on Studio FoamComments Off on Studio Foam By

Giant blocks of foam at Walt Disney Studios

Here is Marcy standing next to some giant blocks of foam at Disney Studios. They use these to carve out sets, like caves and cliffs, or to pack and ship extremely large action figure collectibles.

The empty space in my heart is filled! Joy has returned to my wrist!

Chococat Returns

Chococat is back! He/she/it comes by way of eBay, and I thank it forever.