Do you want room for cream in that union action?

I had no idea, but this is the third Starbucks that is attempting to be unionized. Plus I really just wanted to include the cool graphic.

Workers at Third U.S. Starbucks Go Union
New York, NY – 25 Starbucks baristas and supporters wearing union pins and hats surrounded the store manager at the Union Square location in Manhattan tonight to announce their membership in the IWW Starbucks Workers Union ( The workers, joined by union baristas from two other New York Starbucks stores, demanded a guaranteed minimum of 30 hours of work per week and an end to Starbucks’ unlawful anti-union campaign. The Union will assail Starbucks with a wide array of actions until the demands are met.

To me the odd thing is reading the ages of the workers–twenty-three, twenty-six…it just doesn’t seem like the age to join a union. But maybe that’s what years of demonization of unions have done to us.
By way of the cool new blog, The Consumerist.

Another Lonely Hitman

Dir. Rokuro Mochizuki
Rokuro Mochizuki’s moody, downbeat Yakuza tale may mention “hitman” in the title, but apart from a backstory sequence Ryo Ishibashi’s gangster doesn’t even use a gun. Out of prison 10 years after whacking a family boss, Ishibashi’s Tachibana tries to fit back into the lifestyle only to find it cynical and without honor. He doesn’t get sent out on hits–instead he and a younger partner usually wind up kicking the hell out of junkies and pimps. You know, dull stuff. At the same time, he tries to rescue a prostitute, Yuki (Asami Sawaki) from the game and get her to kick heroin. Pretty soon, Tachibana wants out.

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The Perfect Shave

It all started with this article over at, called How to Get That Perfect Shave. I can’t remember what I was searching for originally, something about types of aftershave for sensitive skin. No matter.
When I first started shaving back when I was 15, I didn’t know anything, and my dad had been using blue disposables and Barbasol for years. My total beardage was a thin whiff of a moustache. If I left it on, I looked like a tool. If I shaved it, I immediately broke out. Great options.
Years later I decided that perhaps electric shaving would be better, so I got one of those three-head whirly-blade things for Xmas, and for about a decade I used that. With sensitive skin, this was better, but still not effective, and there were always sections to go over again and again. Then I got the Gilette Mach3 (for a birthday gift, but used only much later) and after reading the article above, starting using that in conjunction with Aveda’s shaving creme and Nivea aftershave balm for sensitive skin.
But I still felt I was missing out of the retro fun of a brush and a safety razor, and sent out a poll to my male friends. Unknown to me, 2/3 of them had already gone back (or had never left) to the traditional, old school method of shaving.
So finally, I invested a little chunk o’ change and got me the goods.

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Theater Review — The Fourth Wall

From today’s S.B. News-Press:
‘Fourth Wall’ is entertaining and troubling

Following on the heels of Genesis West’s production of Caryl Churchill’s deconstructionist “Blue Heart” last month, Ensemble Theatre Company’s presentation of A. R. Gurney’s “The Fourth Wall” adds to the boundary-breaking this theater season.
The play’s title alone suggests something meta-theatrical will be up. The invisible fourth wall that separates performer from audience — can it really be torn down? And does this mean an evening of mortifying audience participation?
Thankfully not, but Mr. Gurney’s play is an odd duck. Not too radical to upset the general public, it hints at subversion but hedges its bets in the second half. I can imagine many being entertained and pleased by Mr. Gurney’s work, but I can’t imagine many being deeply satisfied with it.
But there’s lots to like. We open on a suburban living room, radiant in warm, rosy colors. Two characters enter: Roger (Robert Lesser), a “successful businessman,” and Julia (Gillian Doyle), an old friend from New York. The dialogue is overwritten; the performances wooden.

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How the (Fake) News Is Made

BoingBoing posted a fascinating article (as opposed to linking to one) that traces the creation of a fake news story. The story of “Black Friday”–the big shopping weekend after Thanksgiving–was already written before the weekend was finished, and was not the work of journalists, but of a press release. How the press release is used without question as “fact” shows how crummy most of our journalism is these days.

Note that this story is built with two pieces of information: it has numbers and it offers an explanation for those numbers. It’s really the perfect story, regardless of whether it’s true or not. More importantly, the information attempts to provide an answer to a reasonable question: “How busy was Thanksgiving weekend for retailers?” and one can *not* leave the question unanswered. The possible answers are “up, down or flat.” The answer “We don’t really know” is not acceptable; it’s not news. So the press release provides an answer that Thanksgiving Weekend sales were up significantly and an answer that the NRF people like. That answer is also believable because a national industry trade group had real data to back up its claim.
One might also want to point out that there is no real opposing trade group here to offer a counter-claim. Those who don’t shop over the weekend aren’t represented by anyone with a commercial interest in this question. Also, I should mention that the “big” story the day before Thanksgiving is how many people are traveling for the holidays, and how crowded the roads and airports are. That story doesn’t seem to have any impact on the post-Thanksgiving story, which says everyone was shopping.
The NRF “news release” thus becomes news, variously massaged and distributed by news services. You might think of it as a kind of journalistic mash-up.

Grow Cube–Puzzle Game as Art

It’s a simple idea really. Use logic to figure out the order of 10 disconnected objects. But game creator “ON” (that’s his name, not his position) has made this puzzle a beautiful animated work of art. GrowCube is the sequel to the (harder) Grow, but the solution is very much worth it.
Thanks to Robot Action Boy for the link.

The Man Who Invented the Album Cover

For without Steinweiss, there would be no Abbey Road.

Big Town Songbook: Make ’em sing
Most people who have bought any musical recordings over the past 60 years might have assumed they always came in covers, or sleeves, or jackets, that featured a colorful graphic designed to enhance the lure of the music.
They didn’t. Album covers had to be invented. This was a task that largely fell to a Brooklyn kid named Alex Steinweiss.