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July 28, 2004
USA Today notices
Posted by Teresa at 06:39 PM * 95 comments

USA Today had a lamebrained idea for convention coverage: they’d get Ann Coulter to cover the Democrats, and Michael Moore to cover the Republicans. If you don’t care about the actual content, it’s a good way to guarantee you’ll get some colorful writing.

This plan went awry when editors at USA Today noticed that the first column Coulter filed was incoherent, unfunny, and made assumptions contrary to fact. I know that’s her usual riff, but this column was further over the line than usual.

According to thick-as-two-short-planks Human Events Online (which is deeply confused by USA Today’s failure to appreciate the “witty, vivacious” blonde attack dog), Coulter claimed her column was “summarily rejected”. I don’t think that can possibly be correct, though; the version they quote is interspersed with USA Today’s editorial queries. Perhaps Coulter is unfamiliar with the concept, or is incapable of doing a simple rewrite.

Here’s a sample from her column, plus queries as quoted by Coulter:
Here at the Spawn of Satan convention in Boston, conservatives are deploying a series of covert signals to identify one another, much like gay men do. My allies are the ones wearing crosses or American flags. The people sporting shirts emblazoned with the “F-word” are my opponents. Also, as always, the pretty girls and cops are on my side, most of them barely able to conceal their eye-rolling.

USA Today: EYE-ROLLING? AT WHAT?

Democrats are constantly suing and slandering police as violent, fascist racists — with the exception of Boston’s police, who’ll be lauded as national heroes right up until the Democrats pack up and leave town on Friday, whereupon they’ll revert to their natural state of being fascist, racist pigs.

USA Today: WHAT DEMOCRATS SUE THE POLICE? BUT THEY WON’T ACTUALLY REVERT TO BEING FASCIST PIGS, DON’T YOU MEAN THE DEMS WILL THINK THEY HAVE REVERTED TO BEING FASCIST PIGS?

…As for the pretty girls, I can only guess that itís because liberal boys never try to make a move on you without the UN Security Council’s approval. Plus, itís no fun riding around in those dinky little hybrid cars. My pretty-girl allies stick out like a sore thumb amongst the corn-fed, no make-up, natural fiber, no-bra needing, sandal-wearing, hirsute, somewhat fragrant hippie chick pie wagons they call “women” at the Democratic National Convention.

USA Today: NOT FUNNY, I DON’T GET IT.
I have to wonder whether the editors at USA Today also noticed how many delegates have been wearing variations on the American flag. And in all the hours I’ve been watching, C-SPAN hasn’t picked out a single person wearing the F-word. Perhaps Coulter wrote the column before she got to the convention.

Human Events Online has reported in a follow-up story that Coulter’s gig will be taken over by agent-spawn Jonah Goldberg, who will no doubt provide them with colorful coverage, if fewer opportunities for fantasizing.

July 14, 2004
Prophetable colors
Posted by Teresa at 11:56 AM *

We’re going through one of those periodic big shifts in fashionable colors. IMO, the last really big one of those was at the end of the 80s, when blues went more cyan, reds lost most of their blue undertones, and yellow came back into the palette. They all looked good against black.

This new one seems to be related to the big khaki push of a few years back. There are a lot of dusty off-shade pastels: pink, peach, sage, taupe, cornflower, and a bunch of light to medium browns. Blues have gone grayer, grays bluer, reds more orange, and yellow’s either gold or greeny-bronze. Dark red’s a major accent color. Dark gray and very dark brown are in; black is out. Scariest news: burnt orange, avocado green, and harvest gold are fashionable again. New official cliche: Gray is the new black.

I’ve known people who think official color reassignments are a conspiracy theory. The short answer is that they are a conspiracy, but they aren’t theoretical. I submit as evidence the assigned colors for 2004, 2003 and 2002. And here are some recent specimens of the new range, to give you a better idea of what they look like when in use.

Who does this to us? An outfit, founded in 1962, called the Color Marketing Group. These are the people who wished avocado green and harvest gold kitchen appliances on America, and put the 1980s into those mauve-pink shades that looked so peculiarly horrible on so many of us.

Basically, the CMG is a trade organization, with 1,500 members drawn from a bunch of different industries. Twice a year they get together in Alexandria, VA, to come up with long-term and short-term color predictions. The long-term prediction is a set of sixteen colors that will be profitably marketable two years hence. That is, the 2003 palette was distributed to manufacturers in 2001. The short-term prediction is a palette of colors declared to be currently the thing.

It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Nobody’s obliged to follow CMG’s lead; but a manufacturer who ignores them is likely to find that all his competitors’ products are in fashionably compatible colors, while his own clash.

How do CMG members choose new colors? As someone explained in Slate back in 1998,
The official line is that they look at economic trends (pastels in bad times, saturated colors in good times) and also examine social trends. What this boils down to is six hundred people sitting around in small groups, trying to figure out the next big thing. Gray, for example, was chosen in part because of the craze for technology and space-age stuff as the millennium approaches: “People associate gray with futuristic things like silvery metallics and anodized aluminum,” a CMG spokeswoman said. And why blue? “Water is a big social issue, what with the current emphasis on designer water and water conservation.”
Makes no sense at all, right? But CMG’s official explanation of the colors we’re supposed to want this year makes even less:
According to the CMG, color is becoming clear, therapeutic and nurturing, driven by a need for more white, lights and translucents. Though the palette is divided by industry, there are similarities and overlap between industries. Active consumers will purchase items with unexpected sophistication, including optimistic and genderless colors. By 2004, consumers are expected to break away from a period of fear and satisfy a pent-up demand for durable home products with brighter, sophisticated colors. Home fashion will focus on innocence, freshness and elegance. Communications/graphics colors will emphasize confidence. Transportation colors will be visually soft, and will unify interior and exterior colors. Fashion will use mid-tone hues to reflect a desire for comfort, security, solidity and spirituality.

“The 2004 Consumer Directions Palette includes rich reds, innocent pinks, therapeutic blues, soft greens and a jolting neon yellow,” says Color Directions Committee chairman Barbara Lazarow, CMG, Blonder Wallcoverings. “Special-effects-enhanced hues such as Cu, Glassy, Hyper Green, Acier, Aloeminium and Tusk offer consumers luminous and metallic options,” commented committee co-chairman Carol Byrne, Transportex Design & Marketing Company. “These directional colors, when teamed with current hues, offer consumers a full palette of color and texture.”

The 2004 Consumer Color Directions by industry are:

ACTION/RECREATION

Crystal Sky-The energy of a brilliant blue sky, clean and clear as a summer day.
Grenache-Full-bodied and sophisticated, a fine wine at midnight.
Taos-Vegas and saddles influence this sun-drenched, earthy, baked adobe. Translates as high-tech metallic or eroded finish.
Moondance-A rhythmic choreography of warm-tinted white, as beige moves whiter, warmer and more comfortable.
Red Rush-An exciting flush, an adrenaline rush, powerful and genderless.
Power Punch-Fun and fantasy for all ages.

DURABLE HOME

Hockney Blue-Escape to the tropics with this soothing and tranquil blue-green.
Soho Green-A fusion of bronze and gold creates this 21st century neutral, elemental and enduring.
Coppertunity-An opportunity for copper fresh from the mine to move into the home. It is optimistic and happy, flattering to skin tones.
Knew Blue-Who knew this blue would be new? Familiar and calm, the tranquil effect of aquatic blue on environmental greens.
Good Earth-Freshly tilled, an enriched new brown with Victorian roots, Mission influences, and Lodge appeal.

HOME FASHION

Coral Bells-A relaxing stroll through the garden-can you smell the coral bells?
Cu-It’s elementary. A precious metal with healing powers, shiny new or corroded over time.
Naughty But Nice-Don’t blush if YOU know Victoria’s little secret. A traditional twist on innocence and peace.
Glassy-Glass tints this transparent green; reflective, fresh and innocent.
Hope Blue-Heaven-sent, our hope for the future.
Hyper Green-Technology puts this virtually real green into overdrive.

COMMUNICATIONS/GRAPHICS

Swim-Jump into blue, a splashy reflection of cyber youth, clean and pure, yet with natural complexity.
See-Fresh with an inner glow. Ethereal becomes believable.
Tickle-A happy red-tickle makes the whole word giggle.
Jolt-Brace yourself for this neon citrus.
Grow-Sprouting with a fresh green confidence.
Touch-Feel the love … baby, with the warmth of skin and body contact.

TRANSPORTATION AND RELATED

Tusk-Ivory influences aluminum reflecting the global warming of silver.
Acier-Sounds like French, but this steely gray is really from Pittsburgh, and has universal appeal. It is an expansion of the cool metals.
Aloeminium-The healing power of aloe combines with aluminum.
Mystic Quartz-A purple whisper adds mystery to silver; mature, technical and genderless.
Broadway Bronze-This dark and murky complex neutral is pulled from the streets of the concrete jungle.
Peace-A unifying global blue represents peace on earth.

FASHION

Vanilla-Create your own sundae with this go-with-everything color.
Hortensia-This casual blue dresses up and goes to work.
Phthalo Green-Good luck! This scarab green will protect you.
Bijou Red-Ooh la la! At the Moulin Rouge, rubies are a girl’s best friend.
Giraffe-Stick your neck out and go for this Serengeti brown, inspired by copper, arts & crafts, and African block prints.
Nougat-Sticky sweet and so delicious. It’s blush with undertones of copper.
What’s all this blather really about? It’s selling; nothing more. If CMG were trying to describe trends, or even just lay down the law for manufacturers’ colors two years hence, they’d be specifying the exact shades by Pantone number. (Or perhaps not; Pantone has been trying to horn in on the color racket.) At minimum, they’d describe the colors in recognizable terms: chartreuse, taupe, golden yellow, rust, fawn, pale sage green, et cetera. Instead, we get a list where the two most recognizable color names are “vanilla” and “phthalo green”, and are left wondering what color “power punch” might be, and whether “giraffe” is the color of the hide or the markings. It’s the kind of overhyped marketing language that gets used to drum up desire where little or none exists.

Are these newly fashionable shades soothing? You might think so, if you’re the sort of person who buys a new wardrobe every year, and has your house redecorated once or twice a decade. But if you’re the sort who budgets to buy new china one year, matching curtains the year after, and chair covers the year after that, or who invested in a costly but classic suit in what was at the time a very safe color, these arbitrary changeovers aren’t very damned soothing at all.

I knew what was up with the big khaki push. Remember that one? Ads everywhere saying “Hemingway wore khaki”? We’d all been wearing black for several years. We had black levis, good black skirts, black leather or denim jackets, little black dresses—a great installed user base of basic black clothing, plus the colored stuff we wore with it. I hadn’t heard anyone sighing for the return of khaki, and if I had, I’d have pointed them to one of the WASP mail-order catalogues. What’s the big deal with khaki? It gets dirty too easily, and for a lot of people it’s an unbecoming color. But there’s only so much new black clothing you can sell a happy consumer who already has a closet full of black-and-coordinates; so the clothing industry pushed khaki remorselessly.

Funny thing is, the last few years’ CMG colors go pretty well with khaki. Must be a trend or something.

July 11, 2004
Bodger joy
Posted by Teresa at 04:56 PM * 88 comments

So I have this plate-glass mirror to hang, which in combination with its solid wooden frame weighs about a ton. And since the walls in our new place are lath and plaster, this means I’m trying to locate a stud to which I can fasten my guaranteed-to-support-100-lbs. picture hook.

All the obvious jokes aside*, have you ever noticed that your basic hardware-store studfinder doesn’t work? I swear, they’re more responsive to their own momentum as they move across the wall than they are to the presence of nails underneath the plaster.

After considerable frustration, I took a little rare-earth magnet I had to hand, and glued a long piece of thread to it. I tied the other end to the tip of a screwdriver, and started scrying along the wall. Presently the magnet found a spot it liked and stuck there, quivering. I tried it again, and the magnet found the same spot. I marked it lightly in pencil. Within a few minutes I had the stud mapped.

I feel absurdly triumphant.

July 08, 2004
Open thread 25
Posted by Teresa at 10:08 PM *

Meph.: Why, this is RASFF, nor am I out of it.

An unexpected award
Posted by Teresa at 09:08 PM * 23 comments

It appears that on the already-memorable day the water heater flooded our basement full of boxes, Making Light received the 2004 Wooden Rocket Award (“for online excellence in science fiction and fantasy”) in the Best Fan Home Web Site category. I had previously been inadequately aware of the Wooden Rocket Awards, but of course I now have a much higher opinion of them.

Seriously, this is swell. Thank you, voters. I’m a little startled by the numbers; according to the Wooden Rocket website,
At final count on July 1st 2004, 12,381 verified voters had made 68,725 valid nominations for various web sites.
Which is not all that boggling compared to (say) BoingBoing’s traffic on a slow day; but it’d swamp the Hugo ballot. I suppose I’m showing my age by being startled by non-rinkydink numbers in connection with the SF communityl

The Best Fan Home Web Site category is for “Any SFF site created and maintained by an individual, focusing on their life and fandom activities. Including Blogs.” That sounded a lot like the online equivalent of Best Fanzine, so I looked up last year’s winner. That turned out to be a site I had previously been inadequately aware of, Lost Car Park. Currently, LCP’s lead news story is an announcement of this year’s TAFF winner, and it links to things like the James White Award and Ansible; so I’d say I wound up in the right place.

July 04, 2004
Home
Posted by Teresa at 06:36 PM * 74 comments

I’ve just returned from driving Jim Macdonald home. That’s the last of the moving. Now for the unpacking, bestowing, reassembling, and reshelving. My computer, for instance: Patrick got it set up while I was away. Hello, World.

To the list of Hugely Appreciated Helpful Persons add the mighty Julia of Sisyphus Shrugged, who among other things turns out to be startlingly inventive about packing solutions. I thought I was a bodger, but Julia rules.

I go fall over now. Have a nice 4th. Blow up a few for me.

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Making Light copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.