Man and Coffee

A man carries a serious-looking tripod and a heavy camera bag into a cafe. He orders a tiny cup of dense coffee, walks over to a table, and centers the cup and saucer on the table. Now he mounts the camera on the tripod and spends five minutes photographing the coffee from across the table. He takes several shots, makes subtle changes to the camera settings and winding superflous knobs on the tripod. When he’s finished experimenting, he lays the tripod down on its side next to him and packs the camera away.

Now it’s just him and the coffee. He lifts the cup out of the saucer, cradling it in both hands to put off disturbing the coffee’s surface for as long as possible. He takes one sip and lowers the glass back into the saucer. He produces a news weekly from somewhere, lays it down between him and the coffee, and pours through its pages.

He’s finished with the coffee and the news within ten minutes. He gathers his things, and walks toward the exit — bussing his table on the way out. He reaches the dorr, turns around immediately, and returns to the table to retrieve his tripod.

The Smurfs, From Memory

Smurfs live in villages of exactly 100 individuals. There are other Smurf villages, though they never appeared in a Smurfs episode. An outside Smurf did visit once to help the village conduct a ceremony that required 100 Smurfs to dance at one time. (Papa Smurf couldn’t participate in the ceremony, since he had to act as conductor. That left only 99 Smurfs.) The visiting Smurf looked and talked just like Brainy Vanity Smurf, and that episode was a mistaken identity/Comedy of Errors -type story.

Smurfette was introduced in either the very first episode or in a segment that ran on a prime time preview of the Saturday morning cartoon season. She was an evil Smurf, created by Gargamel, for some nefarious end. Papa Smurf used his magic to turn Smurfette into a good Smurf. You could tell she was good because her hair was magically turned from black to blonde.

It would be a stretch to say that the introduction of Smurfette was a sign that the Smurfs had jumped the shark since she appeared in one of the very first episodes. I assume that her character was added by the producers of the TV show and that she didn’t appear in the Belgian comic books that inspired the show, but I’m not certain. Cynics will still look down at her as a “new” character, introduced to balance out the otherwise entirely male cast.

A new Smurf is born every blue moon. Young Smurfs (those that aren’t created by wizards) are delivered by the stork.

The 1984 Smurfs Olympics Special opened with two Smurfs arguing over which of two uses of the verb “to Smurf” was grammatically correct. Papa Smurf settled the argument by pointing out that every Smurf on one side of the Smurf Village Smurfed verbs one way, and every Smurf on the other side Smurfed verbs the other. The disagreement inspired Papa Smurf to propose holding the Smurfic Games — an athletic competition between the two sides of the village. A line was drawn down the middle of the village to mark the two sides. Clumsy Smurf’s house was right on the boundary — the line was drawn along the ground, up one side of his house, and down the other. If I remember correctly, he was even standing on the border and the line was drawn onto him. He wanted to know which team he would be playing for. Neither team would have him. This upset Smurfette so much that she left her team and formed a third team with Clumsy. All but the last of the games were held and the medals were all split between the two main teams. The final event was the Smurfathon — a long race through the woods. Each team was represented in the in the race by one runner. At the start of the race, Clumsy was left far behind by the other runners. But Gargamel had some scheme in action, and he snared the first two runners. Clumsy somehow eluded Gargamels grasp. He was exhausted when he finally got close to the end of the race, and he stopped just short of the finish line. He only crossed over the line after Smurfette gave him some encouraging words and the crowd cheered for him. The other runners were freed soon after the race, possibly as a side effect of something Clumsy did during the race. In the end Clumsy was crowned with a wreath, and the Smurfs circled around him and sang, “Clumsy is the champion of the Smurfic Games” to the familiar tune of “La la, la lalala la lala la la.”

The male Smurflings were created after a group of adult Smurf characters encountered a magical phenomenon that turned them young. Some of the characters that were changed were existing characters — I believe Handy Smurf was one of them. Others were introduced entirely for the purposes of being reduced to Smurflings. Sassy Smurf was a young female Smurf that was immediately introduced to balance out the Smurfling group. She was created by Gargamel in the same manner as Smurfette.

Grandpa Smurf was introduced either during the same season as the Smurflings or the year after that. His presence and background was never explained. Baby Smurf appeared around the same time as Grandpa Smurf, also with no explanation.

In the last season of the show, a handful of Smurfs were transported to another world by a set of crystals. In each episode, they would have an adventure in the new world while Papa Smurf and Grandpa Smurf tried to rearrange the crystals into a pattern that would take them back to the Smurf village. These last seasons aired long after I should’ve graduated from Saturday morning cartoons, by the way.

This was written without checking any references. Aside from glimpsing parts of an episode running silently on a television in the back of a restaraunt last year, I haven’t seen the shows since they first aired. This is based entirely on details that I’ve retained from my childhood. I sometimes ask myself, “What happened to you?” I think I’m beginning to understand.

Also, In Holland Germany The Smurfs are called something like “Den Shloomps” Die Schlümpfe.

Yesterday Afternoon

  • A barista pours a leaf pattern in the top of a latte, panicking briefly near the end, and her coworkers cheer her.
  • A couple sitting at a table next to mine are talking with a realtor about an apartment in my building.
  • It dawns on me that the work I’d set out to do is more complicated than I’d thought it would be.
  • I’m distracted from work when I rediscover instant messenger.
  • To my surprise, Samantha slips in beside me with her coffee.
  • A woman screams at the baristas, “How can I be homophobic? I’m a lesbian myself!”
  • I close my laptop, Samantha is finishing the last several pages of her book, so I read a few pages of mine.
  • I wander over to the front and get a glass of water.
  • The barista and a police officer are filling out a trespassing complaint against the woman who’d made the scene earlier.
  • Two children play on an old Mac in the back corner. Music erupts occasionally from their computer’s tinny speakers.
  • Samantha finishes her coffee and the last page of Swann’s Way, and I ask her how it was. She says that Proust was very interested in recording all his memories. I mention that the book I was reading is about recalling memories, and I remark that its writer, wrote the most recent English translation of Swann’s Way.

LibraryLookup Variations

Boing Boing linked indirectly to the LibraryLookup bookmarklet. LibraryLookup allows users to find and reserve a book on many public library’s sites from an Amazon.com book detail page or another book site. But it can easily be adapted to check any number of book sites – libraries or booksellers – against each other.

Here are a couple of ideas:

  • Check BookFinder: This bookmarklet loads the BookFinder.com search page for a book. BookFinder runs searches on a dozen separate bookseller listing sites and aggregates them together into one listing. It’s one of the best bookseller sites and the first place I check when I’m looking for an out of print book.
  • Big Cash for Jeff: This version isn’t very helpful. It launches an Amazon.com detail page with my Amazon Associates ID attached to it. I’d get a small kickback for referring someone who used this bookmarklet and bought something from Amazon. (Don’t use it. This one is silly.)

To use the LibraryLaunch bookmarklet or one of these variations, drag the link to your bookmark folder or bookmark bar, visit a book site, and click on the bookmark you created. Your mileage may vary. (The first book site has to use the book’s ISBN in its URL, though they doesn’t seem to work when I try launching them from the Seattle Public Library site

Update 9/29: Librarian.net linked to two other LibraryLookup variations.

  • The Worldcat/Goodle Bookmarklet will load the book’s page at Worldcat. WorldCat checks the inventory of nearby libraries based on a zip code.
  • The xISBN Bookmarklet checks the xISBN database for other editions of a book and includes them in the library search. The other bookmarklets mentioned here are limited to searching for one edition of a book. For example, if a user was viewing the Amazon detail page of a paperback copy of a book, the other bookmarklets would miss a hardcover editon of the same book. Unfortunately, the xISBN Bookmarklet doesn’t work in Safari.

A Cold K Collection

I was gathering together another batch of sticker art photos and it sort of turned into a collection of Cold K photos.

Update: The Stranger published a short interview with the main Cold K artist. They also tagged their cover: “I used to live in the Central District, and one night when my girl and I were out on a walk, we saw a man get murdered. When I told the police, they wouldn’t even listen to me.”

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Eat or Vote?

["Vote" sign]

There was a nicely dressed man hanging around the church hall as I walked up to the door. He asked me, “Fulfilling your democratic duty?”

I nodded, “That’s right,” and I stopped to take some photos of the church entrance.

Another man, who was obviously a transient, walked up toward the entrance.

The first man told him, “Lunch is in the back this week.” (A community lunch for the homeless is served at the church every Tuesday afternoon.)

“What?”

“The community lunch is in the back of the hall this week. They’re voting in front, so we’re serving lunch around back. You can enter over there.” He pointed around the side of the building.

“Oh, right.” The homeless man shuffled across the lawn toward the back door.

Presumably the man at the door recognized the other man from past lunches and could assume that was why he was there. But why couldn’t he have been there for both lunch and voting? Lunch was being served almost every time that I’ve voted there, and I’ve never considered the apparent lack of overlap between those who were there to eat and those were there to vote.