Stan Musial 1920-2013

photo of Stan Musial from 1953 Bowman
trading card via Wikimedia Commons

Bob Costas was on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Monday night. In one of the unaired, Web-only clips from their extended interview, Costas shared a nice anecdote about baseball great Stan Musial, who passed away on Jan. 19th at the age of 92. I find the story particularly appropriate to share on Jackie Robinson's birthday, as we celebrate not just No. 42 but those who accepted him.

Musial was a dream come true for both those who love seeing poetry in their statistics and those who love seeing the game played the right way.

Fringe Thinking: Ticket to Ride

With its final episode, Fringe took us back to the first episode of its last and (to me) least season. Much of the capper referenced past moments in the show's run, as Season Five has done to varying degrees throughout. Yet despite the fact that the answer to avoiding its despotic, dystopic future would seem to suggest another rewriting of Fringe history, the events it changed appear to be limited to those that — save for a brief flashforward late in Season Four from which the eventual Season Five sprang — followed the Season Four finale and indeed are, so far, still in our future (or would be if we were living in Fringe's world). Although Season Five has echoed and even recontextualized pivotal elements of previous episodes, it's entirely possible to view the series' bonus stretch as a thing apart, from beginning to the double-shot ending one week ago in...

I'm not sure how much there is to say about the episodes that I haven't said already in this batch of "Fringe Thinking".

Wise to the Wordle

For some time now I've been planning to add a Wordle graphic to the blog. The one below, set in a font called Tank Lite, has at this writing just been slipped into the sidebar between my general and exhaustive lists of post labels. It's followed by four more further down, using four other fonts: Kenyan Coffee, Grilled Cheese BTN, Enamel Brush, and Chunk Five.

Wordle is an online application created by Jonathan Feinberg. You enter a bunch of text into its box and it produces a nifty "word cloud" out of that, customizable in typeface, color, and (to an extent) layout, with the size of each word or phrase based on the frequency with which it appears in the source text.

Mean and Done

If you've ever left a comment on a blog, you may very well have come across word verification.

On blogs hosted by Blogger/Blogspot, as elsewhere, the proprietor can select an option asking commenters to type in some randomly displayed text to prove that they're actual people rather than some kind of automated malevolence. This used to take the form of a single nonsense word that almost always could be a real word, but wasn't; then, last year, the esteemed hosting service joined the ranks of websites using heinously jumbled-up, visually skewed letters and/or letter-&-number combos. Previously the nonsense words tended to have vowels and consonants placed in such an order that they were pronounceable, leading me to devise definitions for (or other reactions to) them based on actual words, morphemes, and phrases they suggested.

I took to sharing those definitions in comments, when they came readily to mind, then filing them away and periodically presenting batches of them here on my own blog. It was an endeavor not unlike Sniglets, which Rich Hall popularized on HBO's Not Necessarily the News and in a series of books back in the '80s, except in reverse. I've laid absolutely no claim to being either the first or the best at this, but I've been told I'm not bad at it either, and I'm genuinely sorry that the absence of that older format of word verification has led to a near-total shutdown in new definitions.

In my previous installment I wrote that the next one would probably be the final one for the foreseeable future. Here we are and so it will.

The following will be added to a dedicated page on the blog collecting over 400 of the definitions, "Meaning Full".

cztory — [ztoh ree] n. A Slavic tale.

ermend — [uhr mend; ee ahr mend] v. Fix someone up in the trauma center.

archMC — [artch em see] n. Preeminent (or sly) rapper.

Pyg Out

Pygmalion and Galatea: Jean-Léon Gérôme c. 1890. Photo: Unknown.
Font: Papyrus. Text & Digital Manipulation: Brian Saner Lamken © 2012.

Fringe Thinking:
You've Got to Hide Your Love Away

Last Friday's penultimate episode of this fifth and final season of Fringe on Fox spotlighted crucial moments in time.

We visited the Invaders' future headquarters in 2609 with Windmark. We learned of the discovery in 2167 that sent humanity down the path of suppressing emotion in favor of clinical analysis, ultimately leading to the Invaders' subjugation of their ancestors in 2015. And we revisited, from the perspective of 2036 and Season Five, the fateful moment in 1985 on Reiden Lake back when the Invaders were merely Observers, the plural was a singular, and the Observer who would come to be known as September rescued Walter and his son from another universe, through the title of the episode...

We also metaphorically revisited Olivia & Peter's day in the park with Etta in 2015, a memory that's virtually been a recurring cast member this season.

It's Gettin' Hoth in Here

Photo: Melissa Billings © 2013 (of a project assembled by the Billings/Soedler family), used with permission. Font: PortagoITC TT (applied by Brian Saner Lamken). Boba Fett ® Lucasfilm Ltd.

Greedo, Buzz Lightyear, and
Spider-Man Walk into the Batcave...

I'm not setting up a joke there. It's just what happens when toy lines collide.

During my sister's visit with her kids last summer we decided to drag some of my old stuff out of the basement. I had got my nephew Ishmael (real name classified) a Batman figure 
for his birthday — from the 2008 Dark Knight movie line, I think, but I was happy to find one in the character's traditional gray-&-black motif rather than the all-black seen in the films. He told me that he "really, really wished" for a Batmobile and he thought that we could find one. Aware that I didn't have a Batmobile per se but having already discussed with my sister giving him some of my Kenner Star Wars figures, I decided to quite literally dust off a couple of great Mego items for him, the Batcave playset and what was officially called the Mobile Bat Lab but I liked to call the Batvan.

Unlucky Days

'Welcome to 2013, X-Men... Hope You Survive the Experience!'
Detail of cover to X-Men #141 © 1981 and characters TM/® Marvel Comics.
Pencils: John Byrne. Inks: Terry Austin. Colors: Unknown. New Text:
Brian Saner Lamken, based on the infamous cover copy of
X-Men #139.