It’s Like The Transporter On A Bike In New York City

Allow me to prognosticate: Premium Rush is going to bomb.

It’s like The Transporter, but it’s about awesome bicycle riding. And you know who likes awesome bike riding? Hipsters. And do you know what kind of movies hipsters like? Foreign language films screened in shabby little single screen cinemas.

This film has too much English in it and, judging by the fact that they’re advertising it during preseason football on ESPN, too much advertising budget and too wide of a release to garner the support of the sort of people who wear their Spanx® on the outside and crush their testicles against hard plastic for hours at a stretch.

(Isn’t that a lot of smack talk from someone who has seen enough of the film Breaking Away to be able to call it to mind instantly? Shaddup.)

What, no attempt at Die Hard on a Bike? C’mon, a tandem bike where the back seat has a terrorist in it and the front seat has Don MacLivane in it? Hey, how about you throw a little Speed in it and they can’t go less than 22 mph or a bomb will blow? And maybe a little Collateral in it where they have to stop every once in a while and kill someone, except that would ruin the Speed bit of it? C’mon, the screenplay writes itself.

UPDATE Thanks for the link, hipcarryster.

Visiting the Air and Military Museum of the Ozarks in Springfield, Missouri

It’s easier to remember the name of the Air and Military Museum of the Ozarks once you realize the acronym is AMMO. It didn’t help that the Web site calls it Ozark’s Air & Military Museum. But I figured it out, and I know what to call it, and I even know how to find it.

The Air and Military Museum of the Ozarks

The museum occupies several store fronts in a strip mall on the north side of Kearney Street in Springfield between Glenstone and Highway 65. Its unassuming exterior belies the size of the interior, as the building is quite deep and it has a garage on the back that we’ll get to in a moment.

It costs something like $5 for adults and $3 for children, which makes it an affordable destination for a couple of hours and certainly less expensive than more tourist-flavored attractions. For the most part, AMMO is self-funding and volunteer-run, so you can throw a couple more bucks in the box. I did.

The main thrust of the museum is collections of souvenirs and artifacts donated from private collections. As with many of the smaller museums, a large number of items are crammed into a small space, so you really have to linger to see it all. The organization features displays of uniforms for each branch of service:

Uniforms in AMMO

Uniforms in AMMO

Other exhibits include dioramas, weapons, tools and basic kit for different soldiers in different eras, and whatnot.

But enough about that.

As I mentioned, there’s a garage at the back, and within the garage, the museum has a number of military vehicles, including a couple of jeeps:

AMMO Jeep

And an AH-1S Cobra helicopter:

Cobra helicopter at AMMO

Now, in most museums, you can look, but you’re not supposed to touch. But at AMMO, visitors, especially children, are encouraged to climb into the drivers’ seats or cockpits to see what it’s like. And, frankly, given the size of that Cobra gunner’s seat, I’m not sure how adults could have fit in them.

The museum has a couple of other hands-on experiences, and the garage has a number of other piece of equipment to view up close, including a jet fighter trainer and some ambulance show pieces.

At any rate, it’s a couple bucks for an hour or more’s worth of education and entertainment, so it’s well worth a visit. Also, since it’s lesser known, it’s probably not going to be overcrowded and jostly.

Claire McCaskill Wants To Run Against Todd Akin

Claire McCaskill has been running ads that single out Todd Akin by name:

television ad shows U.S. Rep. Todd Akin sitting in front of an American flag, talking with constituents and generally looking serious, as a narrator declares him “Missouri’s true conservative.”

Akin is “the most conservative congressman in Missouri,” says the recent spot. He’s “a crusader against bigger government” and has a “pro-family agenda.”

The commercial sounds as if it came from the Akin campaign. But it didn’t. And it isn’t from any of his conservative supporters, either.

In fact, it was paid for by Sen. Claire McCaskill — the incumbent Democrat and the ultimate opponent of whoever wins the Republican primary.

Apparently, that’s giving Akin some traction in the polls:

A new poll shows U.S. Rep. Todd Akin surging in the final days of Missouri’s three-way U.S. Senate Republican primary.

North Carolina-based Public Policy Polling shows businessman John Brunner still in the lead with 35 percent, Akin at 30 percent, and former Missouri Treasurer Sarah Steelman at 25 percent. About ten percent said they were either undecided or would choose someone else.

This last story also points out results from a different poll:

The Post-Dispatch poll suggested that Akin would offer the least threat to Democrat Claire McCaskill in a one-on-one contest.

Why would McCaskill mention Akin by name? Why would she prefer to run against him?

Akin is not an outsider to Washington. As a long-term Congressman, he cannot attack her for being an insider siding with Obama and voting for unpopular party agenda items as he’s done the same thing. Also, Akin is such a creature of Washington that he’s had problems keeping his residence in Missouri straight.

I know McCaskill’s ads are having an actual effect instead of just a effect on the polls. I’ve spoken with a voter who’s thinking seriously about Akin based on McCaskill’s ads.

I looked through the raw polling data (PDF), and I didn’t see a breakdown of regions for the respondents. I wonder if the poll skews urban (read: St. Louis and Kansas City) and whether that particular fact significantly impacts the numbers. Brunner is a St. Louis-based businessman and Akin is a St. Louis area legislator. If they’re calling only the 314 area code, that might impact the numbers. I dunno.

Origin of That Thing Daddy Always Says

When it comes time to apply sunscreen to my children in the summer, I’m prone to saying to the children, “Everybody’s free to wear sunscreen.”

That’s the title of a song by Baz Luhrmann from 1999.

I remember it because 1999 was a pivotal year in my life: I got married, moved from an apartment into a rental house that would be my first home with my beautiful wife, and I remember hearing that song on the radio in my office in that new house. The song charted and reached #10.

I remember when I heard the song that I recognized it; not because I’d seen it in an email forward that said Kurt Vonnegut had written it. No, my friends, I’d seen the original column by Mary Schmich. I’d gotten my first office desk job as a technical writer in the explosion of the Internet but before the rise of blogs, so I spent a lot of time in those days reading the Web sites of major city dailies, like the Chicago Tribune (along with the Chicago Sun-Times, Washington Post, New York Times, New York Daily News, New York Post, Washington Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and so on and so on). When I found I liked a columnist, like Mary Schmich (and Bob Greene and John Kass), I read their complete archives. So I was familiar with the column before the song came out.

But the song, too, sticks with me even now. You don’t hear it on the radio any more and probably won’t find it on any K-Tel collections of music from the 1990s (although I hear Grunge Rock is going to be huge–well, turn it up, man!).

The only place you’d hear it any more is the backwater corners of the Internet. Or, if you’re my children, almost every day, every summer.

Book Report: Modern Jewelry from Modular Parts by Martha Le Van (2007)

Book coverThis book is pretty much what it says. It uses a lot of hardware store equipment, including thin rods, pipes, washers, and stamped metal to create necklaces, rings, brooches, and ear rings. It’s very similar to Kilobyte Couture in that regard. However, the projects in this book are more targeted to serious designers and very artistic pursuits indeed. One of the project includes small balls made of gold, which in this day and age would make for a very pricey piece of jewelry.

42 pages of the book are given over to tools and to techniques, which includes a lot of metalworking material, including a brief primer on soldering. It’s been a while since I’ve watched an episode of That’s Clever which often featured metal working, but it was a review for me because of that. Not that I’ve ever soldered anything, although I do own two soldering irons. Just in case, you know. Back to my point: This ain’t beading, Grandma. This is Jewelry Design. And Fabrication.

The rest of the book is given to some projects, and in addition to the projects, the book presents photos of other pieces throughout the text, so you can really get a maximum of ideas from the book. But the style of jewelry is too industrial for my taste. So I probably won’t try anything out from within the book. Because I wouldn’t want to ruin the collectibility and resale value of my soldering irons.

Books mentioned in this review:

You’re Just Like Mitt Romney

Here in Missouri, it’s a Sales Tax Holiday weekend:

By state law, the sales tax holiday begins on the first Friday in August and continues through the following Sunday. In 2012, the three-day holiday begins at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 3, and runs through Sunday, Aug. 5. Certain back-to-school purchases, such as clothing, school supplies, computers, and other items as defined by the statute, are exempt from sales tax for this time period only.

Now, as you Missourians head out to the shops to get school supplies this weekend to save a couple percentage points on your purchases, you’re engaging in strategic thinking and behavior to minimize your tax liability, to increase your personal cash flow, and to use your capital as you want instead of maximizing your contribution to the collective good as ministered through the various levels of government entities that collect and disburse that revenue.

In short, you’re just like Mitt Romney.

And Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi, and Barack Obama, and George Soros, and Charles Schumer, and the dreaded Wall Street cartoon villains, the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson, and so on and so forth.

The difference is that this rational behavior is somehow portrayed as bad when Republicans or businesspeople do it. But a lot of people do the same thing every day and, in Missouri, every first weekend in August.

Book Report: Ozark Caves: The Unofficial Guide by Kevin V. Bright (2008)

Book coverWhen I wrote about my visit to Smallin Civil War Cave last month, I mentioned this book, which is a book about Ozark caves that the Smallin Civil War Cave’s proprietor wrote about caves in the Ozarks. He wrote this book before he bought and ran the cave.

The book is more of a memoir than any sort of actual field guide, since it doesn’t talk much about actual caves per se. It talks about the author’s experiences in amateur spelunking as well as some experience of being a cave guide (from which I drew much of my glibness about cave guides from the book). As a personal memoir, it interested me than a more stilted book would. Bright recounts stories about chasing goats and discovering caves, finding abandoned home sights in caves (and the attendant story therein), and a host of other folklore and geology filtered through his experience and explorations. The book also contains a large section of pictures from the author’s collection. As such, it clocks in at 128 pages, which makes it a very easy, quick, and pleasant read.

Books mentioned in this review:

A Trademark You Didn’t Know You Were Violating

So I just gathered and organized all of my Atari 2600 game manuals (at least, those I know of–there are probably a bunch floating around in stray boxes here and there), and I discovered something.

Back in the day, Game Program was a trademark of Atari.

Check it out.

Here’s the manual for Defender, which says it is the Atari® Game Program™.

Atari 2600 Defender manual cover

Here is a catalog saying that there are 45 Game Program™ cartridges.

Atari 2600 game cartridge catalog cover

Ergo, Game Program is a registered trademark of whoever holds the Atari intellectual property these days.

So watch yourselves.

A Name For Men, A Cutesy Picture For The Ladies

Book coverPredator wine. It’s got a name that sounds like a Schwarzenegger movie, a name that speaks of a hunter stalking its prey and feasting on the warm, uncooked meat of a fresh kill.

And then it’s got a cutesy little lady bug logo underneath it. Something that looks like the little tattoo a middle-aged woman gets on her shoulder during her mid-life crisis (or in her .375 life crisis at 30). I remember when table wines were proliferating, and all of a sudden we went from Mad Dog to a bunch of cutesy kangaroos and penguins on labels. Women could feel safe cuddling with those bottles of wine.

So now we have this fusion: A wine with a name strong enough for a man, but a logo made for a woman. Something a couple can share, with all the marketing necessary to lure in casual retail wine browsers.

Also, note that it is the only Zin I have ever drunk that has an undercurrent of barbecue.

Yes, I know, technically speaking, a ladybug is a predator that eats aphids. I have a garden, you know. DWL! The vineyard’s Web site even explains it for those who don’t. But, really, when you hear predator, do you think ladybug?

Book Report: Lullaby by Ace Atkins (2012)

Book coverI’ll be honest: I was not in a real hurry to pick up the Zombie Parker titles, including this book, a Spenser novel written by Ace Atkins. However, a piece about it and its author in Mystery Scene magazine changed my mind. So I started watching for it in the library. As you might know, I found it. And I was pleased.

Atkins does his best to capture old Spenser novels from the pre 1990-something era, where the books had some depth and lyricism to them. The plot: Spenser is hired (for a box of doughnuts) by a fourteen-year-old girl from South Boston who wants Spenser to investigate the murder of her mother four years before. He looks into the murder, which the police have already solved, and finds that the man in prison probably did not do it. But once he gets that notion, finding out who did puts Spenser and the girl in jeopardy from scary individuals in the crime syndicates and whatnot.

As I said, it’s a good throwback to the old style Spenser novels, before Parker stacked them up with nothing but dialog. Atkins adds depth and, get this, new allusions. He throws in references to previous books and characters, but also peppers the book with quotes and references to other material. I dunno, maybe Parker stopped reading, or maybe he thought his readers were more interested in references to the Spenser mythos (and now that there are two authors in the field, it has achieved mythos), but I find the new allusions satisfying and fresh.

Sadly, though, Atkins does go to the established baddie well much like Parker would have done (Gerry Broz plays an important role in the plot), but it’s not the sort of book where Spenser knows the answers but has to work out a solution. Instead, he, Hawk, and the girl spend a lot of the book trying to figure out what’s going on, and that makes the story move along well and keeps one going.

It didn’t take me just a night to read like they did in the old days–the old days are gone, as are the short Parker entries in the series–but I did read it in only two nights. I’m looking forward to the next entries in the series more than I have in some time, although I’ll probably go with library copies. But if Atkins–or other designated heirs–keeps this up, I might take to buying them again.

Books mentioned in this review:

The Saga of St. Louis County’s Garbage Collection Saga Continues

Meanwhile, back in St. Louis County, where St. Louis County a couple years back determined it had the right and the obligation to select medical care and providers garbage haulers for residents of the unincorporated St. Louis County, those trash haulers have won in court a lawsuit that says the county violated the law in not giving them two years’ notice in their lack of livelihood. Story:

The Missouri Supreme Court upheld on Tuesday a 2010 St. Louis County Circuit Court ruling that the county violated state law when it failed to give three waste haulers two years’ notice before setting up trash districts.

The haulers — American Eagle Waste Industries, Meridian Waste Services and Waste Management of Missouri — had sued after they did not get contracts when the county set up the districts in 2008.

. . . .

The plaintiffs’ attorney, Jane Dueker, with the Clayton firm of Stinson Morrison Hecker, had asserted that Wallace’s award was too low and that her clients were due about $23 million in lost revenue.

Dueker predicted Tuesday that her clients would end up winning more than Wallace had initially awarded them. Dueker would not estimate how much that total would be.

“The real shame is that the taxpayers of the county are the ones who are on the hook for the damages,” Dueker said.

Hopefully, the city of Republic, which is currently seeking to expand this dominion over its citizens, is paying attention.