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, as elsewhere, the author can select an option asking
people commenting to type a seemingly random bunch of letters to prove that they're actual humans rather than automated envoys of mischief or malevolence. This used to take the form of a single nonsense string that almost always could be a real word, but wasn't; then, last year, the hosting service joined the ranks of websites using heinously jumbled-up, visually skewed mixes of characters. Previously the nonsense “words” tended to have vowels and consonants placed in such an order that they were pronounceable, leading me to invent definitions for 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 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.

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.

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.

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.

Photo of various action figures along with toy fire truck, Batvan, and Bat-Signal outside Batcave playset

During my sister's visit with her kids last summer we decided to drag some old stuff
out of the basement. I had gotten my nephew Ishmael (real name classified) a Batman figure for his birthday — from the 2008 Dark Knight movie line, I think, although I
was happy to find one with a gray-&-black motif rather than the solid 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 no Batmobile per se was in my stash but having discussed with my sister giving him my Kenner Star Wars figures, I decided to literally dust off a couple of great Mego items for him: the Batcave playset and what was officially titled the Mobile Bat Lab; I liked to call it the Batvan.