Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Inspiration, thy name is Germany

In last week's "News of the Weird", the Washington CityPaper reported on a $35-million media campaign to boost Germans' self-esteem. One script was translated as, "[O]utdo yourself. Beat your wings and uproot trees. You are the wings. You are the tree. You are Germany."

Huh. There's something about German marketing that just doesn't quite cross the Atlantic. I can't help but recall these enigmatic Deutsche Bank Alex. Brown ads that appeared in The Economist a few years ago, featuring strange-looking men in awkward poses, captioned by unsettling claims about high-quality investment and wealth management services. (Kerry remembers. The balance of the Hollerer readers are wondering how I can dare to use this post to accuse anything else of being "enigmatic" or "awkward".)

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Fun with style guides

After their first, full-name mention in an article, The Economist always refers to a person as "Mr Smith", "Ms Jackson", etc. This practice pays unexpected and hilarious dividends in the 24 November issue where an article makes multiple references to rapper 50 Cent as "Mr Cent".

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Design flaw

Everybody hates to lose a button from a coat, but this morning, I discovered a drawback of having your buttons firmly affixed to your overcoat: when a button gets caught in the Metro ticket gate, and you walk forward, the firmly-affixed button will pull an eight-inch tear right down the front of your coat. Clearly, this coat could have been better engineered. The breakaway strength of the button affixment system should not exceed the rupture limit of the base fabric. I will submit an RFC (Request For Change) to my coat designers.

On the bright side, though, I'm ahead of the crowd. Everybody else will have to wait until tomorrow to see "Rent".

Monday, November 14, 2005

At last, Autumn is in the air

The leaves have turned and many fallen, the morning air is fogged and brisk, and today, I saw the first ponchos of the season. One woman wore a simple red in light wool, while the other was resplendent in rich browns and blacks of faux fur.

The garment of a prophecy! O poncho,
If Autumn comes, can Winter be far behind?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Lost and Found, found

Last Saturday, Kerry and I went to see Lost and Found play a concert in Bowie. We missed most of the opening act by going to the wrong venue first. (Watch out, faithful reader! The Lutherans will put a "Trinity" and "Holy Trinity" church within miles of one another.)

Lost and Found are a two-man group in the nasal singer-songwriter tradition of They Might Be Giants. Their instrumentation is a bit more limited than TMBG - guitar and keyboard, with occasional recorder and Slinky (tm) - and they're not quite as quirky, but they have a similar sense of humor. And of course, they are a purposefully Christian band, playing songs and about God and Jesus, and thrashing versions of classic hymns (well, as thrashing as you can be on acoustic guitar).

You can hear samples of Lost and Found at their website (, but their recordings, while enjoyable, have nothing on their live shows. They're not as much concerts as lounge shows (with the lights up, in a church). Between songs they tell little stories, take requests (they don't have a pre-set song list), and talk with audience members, learning names and little facts. The closing song is always "Slide Girl" (OK, I guess their song list is somewhat pre-set), where the lyrics are improvised about that night's show. The level of interaction with the band makes the show super-fun.

Note: If you are motivated to go look hunting on the Internet for Lost and Found tracks, do be aware that they are not the same as *The* Lost and Found, a bluegrass band.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Congratulations to Carlie and Scott

Last Wednesday, 2 November, Carlie and Scott had their first child, Liliana. (I've held off sharing the news as long as I could; if Scott hasn't told you himself yet, well, he's just too darn slow.) Scott reports that Carlie was "a trooper" (a characteristic I had thought was reserved for boys no older than 14), and baby and mom are both doing fine.

Kerry and I are delighted for Scott and Carlie, of course, and we're also excited to be aunt and uncle, respectively. (And what is the collective terms for aunts and uncles, anyway? Moms and dads are "parents". Grans, grandads, grampies, omas, geenaws, etc, are all "grandparents". Brothers and sisters are "siblings". "Cousins" is gender-neutral. Are aunts and uncles special, wonderfully unique family members, like no others? I think maybe.)

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

When in doubt, state the blindingly obvious

Fresh parmesan cheese, shredded straight off the block, is really good. We made some lasagna earlier this week, and the fresh parmesan tastes great. It's not worth mentioning that it's better than the powder in the can, but it's also markedly better than the jars of shredded that you can find in the deli or the cold case.

Now you've always liked the fresh-shredded parmesan at Macaroni Grill, but you've suspected that most of the enjoyment was the ritual: the waiter bringing over the huge block and the wood rasp, to be followed by pepper from the three-foot-long peppermill. I assure you, dear reader, it's all about the cheese. Get yourself a block for home; you won't regret it. The only trouble is that it's so good, you'll want to put it on things where it doesn't belong: not just pasta, but sandwiches, corn flakes, your toothbrush, etc.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

When in doubt, write about statistics

According to a report on NPR this evening, Halloween is the second-worst day of the year in the US for drunk-driving fatalities. The worst, of course, is the Fourth of July. (Surprised?)