November 24, 2003

There goes the Triangle

The Triangle under the backhoe

A fight that has dragged on since 1997 has ended. The Triangle, a fallow 22-acre chunk of land bounded by Lamar, Guadalupe, and 45th, and owned by the State Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation, is now under development.

This was a highly politicized issue in my neighborhood, and for a long time, I was active in the fight against yet another strip mall, plunked down right in my part of town. Eventually, because of pressure by community activists (most significantly, Sabrina Burmeister, but many others as well) organized as the Neighbors of Triangle Park, the state agreed to a less-awful plan. Developers and architects signed on to the project, then abandoned it. I lost track of its progress, and what would eventually be built there.

I guess I’ll find out now.

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Table layout for non-tables

CSS is endless fun for the geek–it can be perverted in so many amusing ways. Take table layout, for example.

Back in the old days (you know, like 1998), HTML authors used table tags to lay out web pages. Gradually, a certain sub-community of web developers came to criticize this: HTML is meant to describe the page’s structure, not appearance, and tables were being used to lay out text matter, not tabular matter. “Save tables for, you know, spreadsheets.” they said. “Look, we’ve got this lovely thing called CSS that provides all kinds of layout flexibility.”

Many old-school web developers have been uncomfortable with this. Table tagging is familiar and predictable; CSS uses a completely different model for laying out the page. Or does it?

The fact is that CSS provides a complete set of tools for styling tables. It even lets you use tabular display tricks for text matter. So you can have your nice, semantically correct HTML, and in the CSS twist it to be displayed exactly as if you had marked it up with table tags.

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Alamo double-header

Took in two oddball events at the Alamo this weekend.

On Saturday, we saw the “Show with No Name” show. This is actually a community access show (which I’ve never seen), but they saved their raunchiest, weirdest stuff for this screening, which included such lowlights as the Pamela/Tommy Lee sex tape, the Paris Hilton sex tape, and Chuck Barry pissing on his wife’s face. Plus lots of other scatalogical strangeness, capped off by a woman sending a profoundly bizarre come-on video to the object of her affection, Stevie Vai, featuring an astounding three-minute queef solo.

Saturday was a screening of Santo contra la invasión de los marcianos, presented in glorious Foleyvision [mpeg], that is, live voice-over and sound effects. The dialogue seemed to be a pretty straight translation of what (I’m guessing) the original Spanish must have been–they didn’t bother giving the movie the What’s Up, Tiger Lily? treatment, but it was funny enough on its own. After all–it’s a movie about a masked Mexican wrestler fending off a Martian invasion. What more could you want?

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Size deflation

I bought a jacket yesterday.

In itself, that is hardly worthy of comment. But in the process of trying on jackets–and I tried on quite a few–I learned something that strikes me as strange. I am “small.” In fact, I am 5’9″ and about 155 lb, which is the average height for an American man, and a healthy weight for my height. One might think this would make me “medium,” and in the past, that was the size I would grab first. But yesterday, the only jackets that fit me were smalls. I tried on a few mediums that might as well have been tents.

Sizes go way up–all the places I looked had XXL jackets–but what about guys who really are small? There were no sizes smaller than “small.” There was no short-men’s section tucked away in the corner of Dillards (though there was a big-men’s section there). What do they do? Shop in the boys’ department, the way Prince does?

I think it’s widely known that women’s sizes have undergone a radical deflation over the years. I was vintage-shopping with my sister once, and remember her trying on a 30s-era dress that was size 14. Going by modern sizing, she’d wear a 4. It seems that, as Americans get bigger, something similar is happening with men’s clothing.

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