Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Through The Fire And The Flames We Carry On

You know, I wonder if the subpar reliability of most British diesels has anything to do with the following videos.

A Class 20. 

A Class 37.

A Class 31.

Sure, let's let all our diesels shoot flames out of the stack! That's never a bad idea!

Even the Russians are getting in on the act!
No idea what type this thing is, but I've never seen a diesel blow smoke rings.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Out Of My Brain On The 5:15

A long time ago, I stumbled upon a technique to make some really strange bicolor saturations of photographs to use as computer backgrounds. Some of them have turned out quite well. Check out the original photos linked in the captions. 

Tom Meatzie - SD&AE 2353
This was the first such shot I created. The process involves saturating and converting to black and white using, of all programs, Microsoft Word, whit the color being applied in MS Paint. 
Max Batten - BR D1941

CO&E 17
All of the action shots of Crab Orchard & Egyptian 17 have been pulled from RRPictureArchives for some reason, including the image used as my source, so I have linked to the shots that remain.
Jeff Van Cleeve - D&RGW SD45 5335

Mike Pierry, Jr. - CVL 4070
The best of these transformations seem to use the altered colors in the same manner as the light conditions in which the photograph was taken.

Friday, January 25, 2013

One Mistake In A Subtle Way

So I'm eagerly anticipating the new release from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Mosquito. I was trying to preorder via someone else's smartphone when I detoured into a Rolling Stone article about the album's art. Apparently, a number of longtime fans are upset about the packaging, since it's such a departure from the appearance of their first three albums. For context I'll post those here.

Fever To Tell: psychedelic graffiti/pastiche
Show Your Bones: the winning entry in a flag contest
It's Blitz!: really cool (and messy) photograph
So what does the new one look like? Here. Careful, it's from the realm of the bizarre.

Mosquito: what the shit am I looking at?
This is not the arty, hipster-charming aesthetic that we all know and love from YYYs. This is like a terrible cover to a terrible kids' movie. This is the cover to a Goosebumps novel that R. L. Stine wrote with a severe hangover. Perhaps it's appropriate in the way the title is appropriate, in that it may somehow reflect the music or the subject; but I really feel like this is a misstep on the order of Bob Dylan's Self-Portrait. And the brief preview of either a music video or a live show that is on their site has this worryingly Lady-Gaga's-evil-twin vibe to it and I can't explain it. 

What the hell, Yeah Yeah Yeahs? Did you guys stop being hipsters sell out or something?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Passengers Will Please Refrain

Japan is weird.

That's a heads-up for those of you, reading this post now, who feel some measure of cultural Japanophobia. However, for those in that group who are also railfans, you may be interested (disturbed) by what follows.

Japanese popular culture has had two oft-maligned trends in recent years which I'm about to discuss: moe anthropomorphism and obsessive fandom (the otaku). I'm mainly going to discuss the former, and yes, I will get to the latter and railfans in good time.

If you ever needed a name for the trend of things Japanese to end up indisputably cute even when it's unnecessary, you'd be best served by the term 'moe anthropomorphism'. It's the trend of personifying inanimate objects as incredibly cute ladies, such as 'Mecha Musume' which features fighter aircraft. Also of note are the 'OS-tans', who are a group of characters first personifying Microsoft's operating systems, and later some programs and websites including Firefox and Wikipedia.
You know that header indicating a Wikipedia article needing cleaned up? Guess how and when it goes away. 
There are many examples in popular anime series, but one notable title consists entirely of this by way of nations; this would be the infamous Axis Powers Hetalia. I have no idea what it's like, but any nation-state entity you can think of seems to have been personified somewhere in its canon. An aside; Hetalia's personifications are all male.  

And, apparently, Japan has its share of railfans. Guess what they do to their beloved trains?

You guessed it - they picture them as incredibly adorable girls. I picked this group to represent this phenomenon because the trains they personify are depicted alongside, and you can see the resemblance. I do recall a few American railfans attempting to personify the EMD F40PH, but I also recall being unimpressed with the result. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

And If You Feel A Little Left Behind

Second in the series of New Stuff CDs, this disc was another product of my sophomore year at Penn State. This may have been the first installment burned on my first laptop computer. If so, that would place its date at very early 2006. 

New Stuff CD 2
  1. What I Say & What I Mean – The Like
  2. Everything Is Alright – Motion City Soundtrack
  3. Fearless – The Bravery
  4. I Predict A Riot – Kaiser Chiefs
  5. Decent Days & Nights – Futureheads
  6. TKO – Le Tigre
  7. Bom Bom Bom – The Living Things
  8. The Bucket – Kings Of Leon
  9. Soul Meets Body – Death Cab For Cutie
  10. Stars & Boulevards – Augustana
  11. DARE – Gorillaz
  12. Helicopter – Bloc Party
  13. Wings Of A Butterfly – HIM*
  14. Niki FM – Hawthorne Heights*
  15. Rock ‘N Roll Queen – The Subways
  16. Earthshine – Rush
  17. One Way Ticket – The Darkness
  18. Breakin’ – The Music
  19. Pressure Point – The Zutons
  20. Dance Dance – Fall Out Boy*
  21. Nowhere Again – Secret Machines
  22. Vertigo – U2
*Suck, suck, and suck. Why did I ever think any of these were good songs?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Vanity On Parade, Fake And Frantic And Strange

Recently I stumbled on a photo of Jayne Mansfield that raised at least 1.3 of my eyebrows. 
The image uses the 'large' display setting. Does it really need it?
In case you couldn't tell, it's also a picture of Sophia Loren, who appears to be staring at Mansfield's ample cleavage. That's quite the expression Sophia has right there. Turns out it's a death glare, for Mansfield's  upstaging of Loren at a dinner party in the Italian star's honor. According to Wikipedia, Mansfield's career began to fade in the early 60's and as a result she occasionally bared her ample assets to snag headlines - mainly tabloid headlines.

Interestingly, Mansfield and other blonde bombshell actresses began to fall out of favor in the late 50's, at the same time as the larger and heavier autos built throughout the decade. Smaller autos like the Nash Rambler were in demand and slim actresses and models such as Audrey Hepburn and Twiggy began to rise in popularity. Rock'n'roll even entered a slow period that would only fully recover with the arrival of the Beatles; Elvis was in the army, Buddy Holly had died, and Chuck Berry would end up in prison by 1960. And amid all this, there was a minor recession over the change of the decade. Funny how so many pages turned all at the same time.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

We're Told To Hold Fire Until Unfriendly

It's like The Da Vinci Code, but with Led Zeppelin instead of Da Vinci. 10 Mind-Blowing Easter Eggs Hidden in Famous Albums

Interesting discussion of why there won't be any more Middle-Earth movies after The Hobbit is complete. Concerning Christopher – An Essay on Tolkien’s Son’s Decision to Not Allow Further Cinematic Licensing of His Work

Damn you, former employer; stop being so interesting! A McD's built for the sole purpose of shooting commercials. Fake TV McDonald's

In Soviet Russia, train set runs you! From English Russia, an interesting Russian HO-gauge setup. Railway Modeller Forum - English Russia

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Roads Are Empty, Trying To Avoid Myself

Since BOTCB is taking up all of my free time, I figured I might as well give Drew a hand in looking for the source of a mystery song he posted back in 2010 and has written about before. Drew downloaded it from Audiogalaxy back in 2001, where it was listed as 'Autobahn' by Karate. It's mislabeled, as there is a band called Karate, but they don't have a song by that title. It's actually not a bad song. I will reproduce the lyrics as well. 

I put up to my shoulders every now and then
No matter how I try I’m always halfway there
The roads are empty trying to avoid myself
No matter what I do I’m always halfway there
I am [inaudible] before I have a shot
The blissful ignorance will [inaudible]

Why would I need another day?
I try to find another way
It’s just I don’t know what to do and no one else seems to know it
I’m not yourself and that’s more frustrating than knowing you’re undead

[Inaudible] play for keeps are rolling under me
All this distance, still I’m always halfway there
Yes I had a bad day they know I can do better
A safe return forever from now on this is downhill
I guess I had a bad day they know I can do better
A safe return forever from now on this is downhill


I will be alone when it's cold
Yeah I'll be here to hear when it's closed
Yes, damn the doors, and all of them will be closed
Damn the doors, all of them will be closed

The rest of my life I will always drive and drive
The rest of my life I will always drive and drive
The rest of my life I will always drive and drive
The rest of my life I will always drive and drive
The rest of my life I will always die and die

Pushing In The Pin

I was reminded, by this BOTCB post, about a company with a certain web address, similar to those described in the post, but not mentioned. Here is that web address.


That, logically, is the website for a custom print pen company called Pen Island. (Get your mind out of the gutter.) Funny enough as it is, but then I saw this on their front page:

That was all I could handle.

Monday, January 7, 2013

This Is Tyson's Favorite Song

So... On a recent solo trip to the South Side, and Dee's Cafe in particular, I noticed a trend that was most irregular and a bit disconcerting. You really had to squint to see the hipsters.

Not that they were in urban camo or anything; they just looked more subtly hipster-fashioned than I am used to (Thanks a lot, Joe Mande). Next to none of the usual hipster spotting features* were visible at a glance. Case in point: I noticed That One Really Hipster Dude You Always See looking surprisingly normal, aside from retaining his glasses and mustache, while I swear I also saw That Girl That Always Looks Like An Egyptian Princess looking decidedly un-royal and with a lot less makeup than I remember.

It's possible that a lot of the obvious markers are rendered invisible by the onslaught of winter, hipsters' general dislike of bundling up in the elements notwithstanding. Sure, there were a lot of knit caps out, but in a Pittsburgh winter they appear on a lot of non-hipster heads as well. Same goes for tattoo-concealing wear, especially flannel. Skinny jeans have always been uncommon around here, but last night was ridiculous. Maybe they insulate less than the ol' boot-cut.

I do wonder if, indeed, this is just winter getting serious and the hip malcontent crowd is indeed keeping warm, and for some reason that means dressing more conservatively. I mean, nobody wants their obituary to say that the cause of death was 'went outside'. But I also, in a slightly paranoid fashion, am considering the possibility that the hipster is sublimating into some new form. Whether that's a renewing phase, or a slow disappearance, or a watered-down version, I don't know.

Is Pittsburgh the hipster retirement home?

* Yes, the railfan in me said 'spotting features', rather than the more reasonable 'signifiers' or 'giveaways'.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

We'll Look At Some Pyramids And Check Out Some Heads

I've always been fascinated by Egyptian art. I was poking around the web the other day and found some excellent surviving pieces, mainly tomb paintings. A few of these actually came from a slideshow I had to do for a class at Penn State. Enjoy. 

Wait, what?