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May 1, 2005

'Pope My Ride!'

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That's the headline over the report in today's Washington Post's about a metallic gray 1999 VW Golf (above) on sale on German eBay.

Turns out the car's paperwork, held in the photo above by the vehicle's current owner, Benjamin Halbe of Olpe, Germany, indicates the vehicle was once owned by Joseph K. Ratzinger, aka Pope Benedict XVI.

The car went up on eBay this past Friday and at the time I wrote this (3:53 p.m. ET today) the top bid was $80,587.

The auction ends this coming Thursday so you've got plenty of time.

According to a German eBay spokesman, said the Post story, "the online auctioneer checked with the vehicle licensing office and confirmed that the name of the original owner [former Cardinal Ratzinger] was genuine."

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The car's paperwork is above and below.

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Here's a link to a more detailed report from today's Guardian.

May 1, 2005 at 05:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Stealth Translation Pen

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Invented by an Oregon woman, Poster Pens (above) look like an ordinary ball point pen — until you unroll the sheet cleverly hidden inside the barrel (below),

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which extends to offer nearly 40 square inches of information containing basic translations from English to French, Spanish, German or Italian.

The sheet is attached to a thin bar along the side of the pen, which then returns the sheet like a window shade rolling up once you're done.

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The company also offers pens with facts about different states (above and just below)

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and
one
with

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facts about the solar system (above and below).

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You know Cliff's Notes is already in serious meetings with the company.

If they're not, they're gonna wish they had been.

The pens retail for $4.95 apiece.

50 sets of all four translation pens are available on eBay for $15 a set here.

[Via the Washington Post]

May 1, 2005 at 03:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Physics of Book Sales

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The Spring 2005 issue of UCLA magazine just arrived, containing a very interesting article about the way best–selling books get to that point.

Didier Sornette, a professor of earth and space sciences at UCLA, used statistical physics and mathematics to analyze 138 books that made Amazon.com's best–seller list from 1997 to 2004.

His conclusion: Best–selling books typically reach their sales peaks in one of two ways.

The less potent way is by means of what he calls an "exogenous shock," which is brief and abrupt.

An example is "Strong Women Stay Young" (above) by Miriam Nelson, which peaked on Amazon's list the day after a favorable review appeared in the Sunday New York Times.

Sales are typically greater, though, when a book benefits from what Sornette calls an "endogenous shock," which progressively accelerates over time, a result of favorable word–of–mouth.

Such books rise slowly but their sales growth is more enduring and the decline in sales is slower and much more gradual.

One example: "Divine Secrets of the Ya–Ya Sisterhood" (below),

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which reached the best–seller list two years after it was published without the benefit of a major marketing campaign.

Popular with book clubs, it inspired women to form "Ya–Ya Sisterhood" groups of their own.

I've decided to take the endogenous approach: here, we're building slowly, gradually, and inexorably.

Even as you read this joeheads are meeting up and combining forces, from Reykjavik to Rio de Janeiro.

Our time is coming.

I'm just not sure when.

May 1, 2005 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Ring Thing

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It's a stainless steel ring that also works beautifully as a bottle opener.

No one will know you're carrying.

No more looking for that darn church key.

Engraveable for the one you like.

"Wear it on your social finger" says the website, but I'm not going near that.

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Elsewhere it says to wear it on your middle finger.

Designed by engineers Georg von Koenemann and Alfred Grund, it took Germany by storm and arrived in the U.S. last year.

bookofjoe being so far behind it's ahead, I'm just getting to it today.

Hey, my future's so bright, it's past.

So what — cut me some slack for a change.

Sheesh.

Where was I?

Oh yeah — the Ring Thing.

$9.99 here.

Comes in whole sizes 9 through 14.

Oh, so now you're giving me this stuff about not knowing your ring size.

Really.

All right, go here and find out.

Anything else?

May 1, 2005 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Dial–A–Poem — Now Only One Click Away

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Sarah Boxer wrote a nice piece for yesterday's New York Times about Dial–A–Poem, which arose seemingly out of nowhere back in 1969, at the height of flower power, and started offering free, at 212–628–0400, one of a dozen poems read by their authors who included, among the initial dozen, William S. Burroughs, Anne Waldman, John Cage, Allen Ginsberg, and Joe Brainard.

Each day there was a whole new group of poems.

Millions of people called, most between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., so the founder, John Giorno (above in 1969 at Dial–A–Poem headquarters, which consisted of one room and 10 phone lines) figured that it was people sitting at their desks during business hours in New York City.

Believe it or not there was no internet and no bookofjoe back then — you really had to work a lot harder not to work than nowadays. But I digress.

Giorno said in the Times story, "The second busiest time was 8:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m...., then the California calls and those tripping on acid or who couldn't sleep, 2 a.m. to 6 a.m."

No more phones, but Dial–A-Poem still exists, online.

Just go here and voila, there you are.

Of course, you could say that about anyplace you were, but we're not about semantics here — sure, we tolerate some antics, but that's a whole other kettle of wish — I mean, fish.

Where was I?

Oh, yeah, Dial–A–Poem.

Check it out: there's lots to browse amongst.

Surely you'll find something more interesting than whatever it is you're supposed to be doing.

Which is not saying a whole lot, I know, but hey, that's just that way it is.

For now, anyway.

May 1, 2005 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Underwater Surfboard

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Very cool.

"Combines the thrill of surfing and skateboarding in one exciting ride."

Bonus: you don't drown, become paralyzed or fracture your skull.

It's a soft, buoyant EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate, if you must know) surfboard–shaped, skateboard–sized (30"L x 7"W) object that sinks when you stand on it the pool, then tries to surface — with you trying to stay aboard.

The website calls it the "SubSkate," which is a dreadful name for a wonderful invention.

Boy, do they need someone from my crack research team to come in and reshape their offerings.

No, they can't afford me, don't even ask — you know how much it would take to get me away from you. But I digress.

Weight capacity = 150 pounds.

"For children 6 and older with adult supervision" — so you just barely qualify.

$19.95 here.

May 1, 2005 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Rick Lewis, who wrote and sang on the Silhouettes' monster 1958 hit, "Get a Job," is dead at 71

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He died in Philadelphia, his home town, on April 19 of multiple organ failure.

"Get a Job" sold nearly 2 million copies and soared to the top of the pop and rhythm–and–blues charts.

Pretty heady stuff for a 24–year–old.

The rock group Sha Na Na took its name from the song's energetic refrain, "Sha na na na, sha na na na na."

The Silhouettes (above) signed with Junior Records and in 1958 recorded a 45 with "I Am Lonely" on the A side.

"Get a Job" was on the B side.

Doo–Wop Hall of Fame President Harvey Robbins said the Silhouettes were given a lifetime achievement award in 1993.

"'Get a Job' is the national anthem of doo–wop," Robbins told the Associated Press.

May 1, 2005 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Bacon Band-Aid

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Well, what if you happen to cut yourself while you're out and about and sporting your terrific Bacon Bracelet?

You don't want to slap on some generic flesh–colored band-aid, no ma'am.

You'd much rather extract from the excesses — oops, I meant recesses — of your Birkin bag a Bacon Band–Aid (above).

You get 15 for $4.95 here.

Hey, if a raw steak was good enough for a black eye in the old days there's no reason slapping a piece of pork over your laceration shouldn't be almost as good as mommy's "kissing it better" was back when you were young and innocent.

Now that you're older and innocent.

Hard to resist that "Free Toy Inside!," isn't it?

Told you you were still innocent.

[via Stephane and core77]

May 1, 2005 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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