Saturday, January 3, 2009

Work-related: "Slut glitter"

You may be asking yourself what "slut glitter" is and why I would be posting about it. Well. It's an inside joke at work, which derives from one day prior to Christmas when I went into the workroom to do something or other and was confronted with a lot of assorted flower shop stuff. Glittery sticks, and gold-painted pine cones, shiny balls of unnatural substances and that kind of thing. The explanation was that large planters were being put together as outdoor Christmas decoration for some local business or another (I forget which), and there wasn't enough room in the flower shop, so it all got moved into my space. Which was fine: it was temporary.

Looking through the stuff, though, I noticed this can:

which I swear to gods I read the first time as "Slut Glitter." That "G" is particularly ambiguous, please note.

So I shared this with the flower shop guy who was assembling the planters, and we had a good chuckle over it, speculating on when and how a product like "slut glitter" might be properly used, and what happens when the quantity of glitter is insufficient, and so on, and then the observation that the product is actually "Glue for Glitter," and that that translates even more hilariously, set it all off again, and it was a fun day. And that was, as far as I was concerned, pretty much the end of it, but I'm told that this has taken on a life of its own now, and that not only have co-workers taken to calling it that (one co-worker who was not yet in on the joke, hesitantly, to the flower shop: "I'm supposed to ask for some . . . 'slut glitter?'"), but the story has been shared with the occasional customer as well and so my contribution to the running joke supply of the business would appear to be assured.

None of which would have been possible without the graphic designer whose "G" was just a little on the ambiguous side. So thank you, graphic designer, and I hope they use your design forever.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Music video: DJ Earworm "United State of Pop 2008 (Viva la Pop)"

I hate Top 40 music for roughly the same reason I hate Christmas music: because I'm exposed to it involuntarily, over long periods of time, and most of the time it's in situations where I'm unable to substitute something I like better, so I just have to grit my teeth and get through it. After which it gets stuck in my head for unbearably long periods of time, which is even worse.

I also tend to dislike mashups, not because they're necessarily worse than the source material, but because there's rarely any more creativity on display than lowering the volume on song A while increasing it on song B, and then eventually slipping back into song A. Which even I can do.

This video, then, is a mashup, created from the top 25 pop songs in the U.S. during the year of 2008, and by any reasonable logic, I should haaaaaate it. (I do haaaaaate "Love in This Club," "Don't Stop the Music," "Paralyzer," and "Low." I like Pink in general but I do not like "So What," and I think I dislike Katy Perry on general principles but I'm still undecided about her song specifically.) But I do not. In fact, with the possible exception of Coldplay's "Viva la Vida," which I dig, I like this mashup so much more than any of the source material that listening to it raises my opinion of the source material. If that makes any sense.

The starting material:

  1. Sara Bareilles - Love Song
  2. Natasha Bedingfield - Pocketful of Sunshine
  3. Chris Brown - Forever
  4. Chris Brown - With You
  5. Chris Brown Featuring T-Pain - Kiss Kiss
  6. Colbie Caillat - Bubbly
  7. Mariah Carey - Touch My Body
  8. Coldplay - Viva La Vida
  9. Finger Eleven - Paralyzer
  10. Flo-Rida Featuring T-Pain - Low
  11. Alicia Keys - No One
  12. Leona Lewis - Bleeding Love
  13. Lil Wayne Featuring Static Major - Lollipop
  14. Madonna Featuring Justin Timberlake - 4 Minutes
  15. Ne-Yo - Closer
  16. Katy Perry - I Kissed a Girl
  17. Pink - So What
  18. Rihanna - Take a Bow
  19. Rihanna - Disturbia
  20. Rihanna - Don't Stop the Music
  21. Jordin Sparks Duet With Chris Brown - No Air
  22. Ray J & Yung Berg - Sexy Can I
  23. T.I. - Whatever You Like
  24. Timbaland Featuring OneRepublic - Apologize
  25. Usher Featuring Young Jeezy - Love in This Club

The finished product:

If you liked that (and give it a couple listens before you decide: the first time through, all you're likely to be able to hear is Coldplay), 2007's mashup is, I think, an even better song (more complex, better transitions), despite being nearly ruined (for me personally) by the appearance of Avril Lavigne about two-thirds of the way in. But, you know, the music shakes her off, rallies itself, and carries on like nothing happened.

He's some kind of genius, this DJ Earworm fella. Check his website for more: most of the mashups he does are just two songs going in and out of one another, but there are some gems even so. I'm especially fond of:

"Believe Somebody" (= Madonna "Like a Virgin" + Cher "Believe" + Whitney Houston "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" + George Kranz "Din Daa Daa"),
"No One Takes Your Freedom" (= Scissor Sisters "Take your Mama" + Beatles "For No One" + George Michael "Freedom '90" + Aretha Franklin "Think (Freedom)")
"Stairway to Bootleg Heaven" (= Dolly Parton "Stairway to Heaven" + Eurythmics "This City Never Sleeps" + Beatles "Because" + Laurie Anderson "O Superman" + Art of Noise "Moments in Love" + Beastie Boys "So Whatcha Want" + Pat Benatar "Love is a Battlefield")
"No More Gas" (= Rihanna "Disturbia" + Kardinal Offishall Feat. Akon "Dangerous" + Ne-Yo "Closer" + Estelle Feat. Kanye West "American Boy" + Pussycat Dolls "When I Grow Up" + Leona Lewis "Bleeding Love" + Danity Kane "Damaged" + Madonna Feat. Justin Timberlake "4 Minutes" + Lupe Fiasco Feat. Matthew Santos "Superstar" + Britney Spears "Gimme More" + Flo-Rida Feat. T-Pain "Low")

Supply Your Own Caption

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Music video: Familjen "Det Snurrar I Min Skalle"

I love pretty much everything about this video. Not like, not tolerate -- love. Everything. Though it's a little weird to love a song that's in a language I can't understand (in this case, Swedish? I think?). Stay out of the YouTube comments unless you 1) understand Swedish, 2) want to fight about the relative superiority of Scandanavian countries, or 3) want to insult religious people / be insulted for no particular reason.

Lucky for you, I've waded into the cesspool myself to bring you the English translation,1 which is approximate and not professional but which seems to more or less agree on most points with the approximate and non-professional translations at YouTube. Obviously I'm willing to be corrected by Swedish speakers in the audience, if any.

made up a fire for you,
and now the whole forest is burning.
I know what you're going to say,
and it feels just like the first time.

show them that its us,
but everybody already knew.
you're running away with me;
yes, can you hear them singing?

as if everything was predetermined,
like the earth goes around the sun.

could've taken my place?
He just doesn't exist.
are talking about something wonderful:
I'm there to tell the story.
bigger than I ever imagined --
my head is dizzy (spinning).

Yeah can you hear them singing? (repeat to end)


1 (You're welcome.)

Random plant event: Aloe aristata hybrid offsets

Well, it's taken forever (almost a full year, in fact) to get there, but the first of the offsets that I reported last January have developed to the point where they can go it alone. So far, only two of them seemed ready to pot up, but there are a good fifteen to twenty more where those came from, which will eventually be pottable too. I hope.

I don't know what happens then: I probably don't really need twenty of these. EBay? Bring to work? Blog contest prizes? They're nice plants. Top ten types, even. Surely someone will want them.

But one thing at a time. First we'll have to get the two existing plants rooted, and then we'll see about the rest. Don't count your chickens, and all that.

(UPDATE: This is probably a hybrid between A. aristata and Gasteria batesiana, not the species A. aristata, as originally posted.)

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Pretty pictures: Tillandsia stricta hybrid flowers

I trust that someone will let me know if I'm hitting the air-plant flowers thing too hard. Three posts in less than a month about the same thing -- maybe it gets tedious. In my defense, there's only just so much going on at the moment to talk about. And a lot of what is going on (seeding of Violas at work, for example) is not terribly interesting or visual. So. There's at least one more Tillandsia flower picture coming in the next couple weeks.

I was originally going to leave it at just those two, but then the actual flowers opened in time for me to include them in the post as well, so:

This all, naturally, has me worried that another obsession may be forming. That may not be so bad: I seem to have gotten out of the orchid thing with a reasonable amount of money and sanity intact. But the African violets and bromeliads still have their hooks in. This could turn ugly yet.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Fictional botany: Conyza piscis

Hippie buttons (Conyza piscis), originally called georgeweed, is an upright-growing herbaceous biennial native to northwestern Australia. The leaves are digitate, with 7 to 15 needle-shaped leaflets. Leaflets are typically about 0.5 to 0.75 inches long (13-19 mm) and the upper surface is covered with downy grayish hairs. The first-year form is prostrate and inconspicuous; during the second year, the plant becomes a dense shrubby plant which may reach to 18 inches (46 cm) tall.

Flowers appear on racemes in late summer (February or March in the southern hemisphere; August or September in the northern) and are quite showy: the most typical wild form of the flower is approximately 1.5 inches (3.7 cm) in diameter, with 20-50 thin, narrow petals, striped in red and white, and a strong, jasminelike fragrance. There can be as many as 50 flowers per raceme, which frequently bends under the flowers' weight.

If successfully pollinated, the flowers become seed pods, which are woody, disc-shaped dark brown or black capsules about 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter, enclosed in stiff tan or greenish fibers. There are usually 8-14 seeds per capsule. Few animals can pry apart the fibers and remove the capsules, though a few birds and mammals in the plant's native range are strong enough to do so. Invariably, a few seeds escape as the capsule cracks open, which go on to produce the next crop.

The plant is sometimes deliberately planted as an ornamental, and there are a wide variety of cultivars available, with flowers of violet, red, orange, and yellow; however, crushed or bruised leaves have a strong rotten-fish odor (the botanical name piscis, meaning "fish," refers to this odor), particularly in young plants, which limits its usefulness as a garden plant. The odors of the cultivars 'Tie-Dye' (orange and yellow) and 'Age of Aquarius' (dark pink, unstriped) are said to be less intense and less objectionable; no doubt other reduced-odor cultivars will appear on the market very soon. Conyza does not appear to be invasive outside of its native range.

The origin of the first common name, georgeweed, is unknown. The name "hippie buttons" came into use in the 1960s and is both a reference to the seed pods (and particularly the "hemp-like" fibers covering them) and a reference to the plant's smell.

Conyza is of interest to industry as a possible renewable source for certain chemicals, particularly hexamethylenediamine and 1,4-diaminobenzene, which can be used to produce nylon, kevlar, and other synthetic fibers. These same molecules are also probably responsible its objectionable odor.

-from A Field Guide to Imaginary Plants (Mr. Subjunctive, ed.)

Monday, December 29, 2008

Pretty picture: Aeschynanthus speciosus flower

Nothing huge here, just a nice, pretty little orange flower. This particular Aeschynanthus has been at work for as long as I have, albeit in somewhat different form (it had originally been much larger and coplanted with a pair of Dieffenbachias). Last winter, we separated the plants and took a huge number of cuttings of this plant, which took forever to root and grow but eventually were turned into about forty or fifty new four-inch plants, and a half-dozen larger hanging baskets. They all still betray their nonstandard origins in certain ways -- being lopsided, for example -- but they're filling in nicely, and the flowers really are pretty in person, especially in large number.

Though it's not actually the case that we have large numbers of flowers. Not yet. Since these are fairly young plants still, we may not get them this year either. But it's nice to see the few blooms we've gotten so far. It has that warm glow of nostalgia that takes me back to . . . a year ago.

Which, in fairness, seems much longer ago than a mere year. Last spring alone was at least eighteen months long, and nothing you say is going to convince me otherwise.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Random plant event: Neoregelia NOID 'Nuance' true flowers

We've had these Neoregelia NOIDs 'Nuance' at work for a while now, and they've been in bloom, or at least about to bloom, for months. They're striking, I guess: the plants are maybe a foot and a half across, with a hot pink center. Nobody's wanted to buy them, though, for some reason. (My guess? I think people are interested, but they assume that since the plants are unusual-looking, they must be difficult to grow.)

The main reason for this post is that it's the best and clearest example I've seen yet for what the actual flowers of a Neoregelia look like (though there's at least one other Neoregelia photo at the 'Fireball' profile).

Both of these photos do get much, much bigger, by the way.

I have no idea what's supposed to pollinate these; it's especially puzzling because the actual flowers can be completely underwater sometimes (these had been: I dumped the water out to take the photo). But I suppose something must. Or must it?