Burb Rocking
Sunday, April 30, 2006
  BlaK Ops

Tree's back! The blog is back!

That's my excuse, by the way, for the previous two endless entries (and this one): Making up for lost time. Over two months and no posts?

This is all part of the master plan to bring the blog back from the brink. Check Google. Check Yahoo. Plug in "BlaK" and you won't see any of these posts for miles. I didn't run out to page 100 on Google, but these last couple of posts may be the reason why the word "google" was invented (often misspelled in popular culture - and, yes, guilty as charged). We're talking a very large number of pages back.

It has been suggested to me that Blake's Marriage of Heaven and Hell (mentioned in the previous post) may have been too oblique a reference. So, an overdue bulletin from the folks at the Pointing Out the Obvious Department: marriage of heaven and hell = marriage of coffee and Coca-Cola? (Okay, admittedly: not so obvious.) Nothing against Coca-Cola BlāK intended there, though I confess to disappointment over their choice of sweeteners and the reduction of the coffee extract. Some reassurance for anyone concerned: This should be Lokabrenna's last post on Coke BlaK. And it is with a triumphal "Ah-hah!" that I encourage a quick visit to Coca-Cola BlãK's index page, where "BlãK" does have a tilde (of course, just to keep the confusion going, the home page still insists on the long "a.") Go ahead and try to find on the Web an image of the bottle or can with the tilde - I dare ya!

Of course, when Coca-Cola uses that symbol in "BlãK," it is no more a tilde than "BlãK" is black. The truth is that it's really Coca-Cola's patented dynamic wave symbol, or dynamic ribbon, turned on its side over the "a." My friend Jim, who began his adult life as a Communications major at the university we both attended, but later transferred to St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore to receive training from the Sulpicians, unlocked this mystery. He often sees what others miss. And he noticed the dynamic wave ribbon bisects the fluid droplet symbol on the bottle. For my part, I speculated the split droplet symbolizes the union of coffee and cola in a single fluid. And that's when I saw that the tilde over the "a" wasn't really a tilde at all. The dynamic wave apparently derives from the natural shape of the cacao seed pod, adopted as a model for the distinctive Coca-Cola bottle design:

All this stuff connects, of course. See the mermaid at the top, so reminiscent of the Starbucks maiden of the waves (whimsical tribute to Moby Dick, whence comes the coffee chain's name, but that's another tangent). The mermaid shown here is pulled from Saint-Sulpice (Fougères Office de Tourisme). She is Notre Dame des Marais - Our Lady of the Marshes. Saint-Sulpice is in France, where we spent a week in February (see, it's that full-circle thing again), where my friend Jim is going in just a few weeks. He'll be checking out Brittany and that church as he and others make their way across northern France. Check this out - in spite of oft-stated American sentiments to the contrary, the French are cool.

Everyone will be hearing more about Saint-Sulpice soon enough - this time L'Église Saint-Sulpice in Paris. Featured prominently in the upcoming Da Vinci Code movie (there are tours!). We were never there, but we were here:

Part of the Ipswich Tour!

This would be a great place to introduce Moby Dick, whose symbology of nature and the divine might apply, whose context of ocean-going trade would definitely apply. In comes the mermaid, Starbucks, the Boston Tea Party, the whole history of coffee (which takes a momentous turn in the American Revolution), but you've probably already stopped reading. So back to Coca-Cola BlāK. Futilely ego-surfing for my own posts on BlaK, I came across Jiggle the Handle and was immediately won over.

In our house, a long battle has been fought to get everyone trained to jiggle the handle. Otherwise, the toilet runs all day and night, hiking our water bill. In the family in question there are two beautiful young girls, and one of these immediately learned to jiggle the handle of the toilet after use. It's taken about 6-7 years for others in the household to master this challenging skill.

I love J.D. Arnold's site. The title sucked me in, but the content kept me there. Such as the introductory quote at the top of the page:

"We've heard that a million monkeys at a million keyboards could produce the complete works of Shakespeare; now, thanks to the Internet, we know that is not true." - Wilensky

On that subject, check out his Quote-alicious section, where can be found such gems as: "An expert is a person who avoids small error as he sweeps on to the grand fallacy" (Benjamin Stolberg); "Now I know what a statesman is; he's a dead politician - we need more statesmen" (Bob Edwards); "Reminds me of my safari in Africa: Somebody forgot the corkscrew and for several days we had to live on nothing but food and water" (W. C. Fields). Obviously, to paraphrase Mr. Edwards, our world has too many politicians and experts and not enough W. C. Fields. Possibly in appreciation of Fields, the blog opens with drink recipes. And, nearly two-thirds of the way down, the write-up Blak & Kahlua and First the Money waits in the Drinks of the Week section.

France, Coke BlāK, The Da Vinci Code, the Order of Saint Sulpice, Melville and mermaids, art, toilet-handles which require jiggling. It comes back to the-French-are-cool, I guess. If the French version of BlaK were being sold in the US, it just might have a chance. But, just as Vanilla Coke was taken off the shelves to make room for Coke BlāK, it seems safe to predict Coke BlāK will in turn be pulled (to make room for good ole Coca-Cola "Classic" again, corn syrup and all?). And about those two beautiful girls who recently visited France (one of whom swiftly mastered how to jiggle the handle), they're of Irish descent, not French, but still quite cool.

I've always thought Irish girls would make the best mermaids. (Rent or buy The Secret of Roan Inish sometime, if you want to see what I mean.)

That concludes these too-long BlaK posts. So: Box-cutters; Uranium-235; anthrax; anti-tank RPG-7s; corn syrup.
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Well, good to know all that futzing around at college was years of wasted time! What was I thinking...?

(Really, what was I thinking? The degree proved completely worthless.)

This is really this, according to La Boîte à Images. Friendly warning: The site's a bit risqué, as the French would say, so not family-themed or kid-friendly. But under the two images the author has written: "Il représente… un grain de café ! Les grains de café présentent tous cette fissure dont la forme emprunte plus ou moins à celle de la lettre S. La fameuse vague de Coca est elle aussi en forme de S." That is, on the one hand the "S" curve dividing the oval is Coca-Cola's dynamic wave, but it's also the crack seen in the side of a coffee bean.

Thought it only fair to throw this footnote onto the post. By the way, I still say the oval visually suggests the merging of two separate fluids into a "carbonated fusion beverage," as BlāK is described on the bottle.

I am not denying reality, I am not denying reality, I am not denying reality...

Jim, who first brought the dynamic wave in the oval to my attention, will be in France in just a couple of weeks - and will perhaps bring back a French bottle of BlāK. Which would be cool, since the French bottle is not glass, but aluminum - a can in bottle shape. Of course, this might lead to further posts on Coke BlāK, but I will do my best to keep my pledge to post on other topics from now on. Still, like Rumsfeld, I can't defy the laws of physics (he said this about his failure to ensure troops in Iraq were provided with decent armor), like Bush I can't wave a magic wand (Bush has said this about his inaction regarding price-gouging at the gasoline pump), like Bush's new chief of staff Josh Bolten I have no silver bullet for preventing future BlāK posts (Bolten said this about the same topic: price-gouging at the pump). So if my fingers type out a new BlāK post, it's completely beyond my control. Fresh out of silver bullets, magic wands and defiance of the laws of physics, after all. Just like our wonderful leaders.
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