Sunday, December 31, 2006

Jingle Balls

Woman Charged With Malicious Castration

"All three were heavily intoxicated."

That's a shocker. What's impressive is that she inflicted a wound requiring 50+ stitches with her bare hands.

Snap!

Two very different best-of-the-year image collections, both British:
* Those look-how-fabulous-I-am pictures that people invariably take when they're on vacation

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Go Fark Yourself

I can't believe nobody's told me about Fark. With stories like this, it's right up my alley.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Hard Times at Hillbilly Heaven

Papa Pilgrim proceeds to the pokey.

Fascinating though it's been, the saga leaves me with only one burning question: How did they bathe with their clothes on? (And why? God made us nude, did He not?)

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

You Killed Santa!

Or maybe he just has a wicked hangover.

A sand sculpture in Puri, India.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Alone for Christmas?

Here's an idea. I'm not sure they speak English, but beggars can't be choosers.

Friday, December 22, 2006

O Tanenbaum

We went with a different shape of Christmas tree this year: tall and thin. Like Naomi Campbell, but it doesn't throw tantrums or telephones. (Wouldn't that be fun, though?)











The smaller footprint leaves more space for people. And presents.


South Florida Squirrel


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Martha and Her "Very Good Tool"

From the New York Post:

MARTHA AIRS HER DIRTY LINEN
By CATHY BURKE

December 17, 2006 -- She's no prison rat.

And her new $1,200 "vibrator" is "a very good tool," ex-con domestic diva Martha Stewart confided in a raunchy riposte with Sirius Satellite Radio colleague Howard Stern.

The usually stiff-shirt Stewart showed her down-and-dirty side last week.

She recalled dating Mayor Bloomberg "years ago" - and confessed she couldn't get past the Hannibal Lecter character while dating "Silence of the Lambs" actor Anthony Hopkins.

"Do you want someone eating your brain while you are sitting in your beautiful dining room in Maine?" she wondered. "I would have probably had a very nice relationship with Anthony Hopkins but I couldn't get past the Lecter thing."

She called her current beau a filthy-rich Microsoft retiree with his own plane and boat. "Those guys have all the toys," she said.

The woman imprisoned for the ImClone insider-trading scandal also said she ran into "girls with mustaches and girls with beards [who] would ask me for lunch" behind bars.

"They also wanted to learn," she added ". . . Everybody in prison has a business plan."

She said she always told guards that she'd simply fallen whenever they asked her to snitch on who had bruised her arm.

And she's still fuming at Donald Trump over her axed spinoff of "The Apprentice." "Don't sit us next to each other," she said.

Redneck Time-Out


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Season's Greetings

Pity the artist whose work is misinterpreted by an unsophisticated public. Like Mr. Sensitivity here. Don't miss the video.

Role-Play Can Be Fun

Especially for the audience. Check this out.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Grannies Say the @#*&!%est Things

People who socialize with gossip columnists know not to say anything they'd regret seeing in the next day's paper. As ubiquitous as blogs have become, you might think that lesson would be universal by now. But you'd be wrong. You're not even safe confessing to a shut-in these days. Not if he has a blog.

The other day, someone of my acquaintance was driving her four-year-old granddaughter and a young friend to the performance of a traditional holiday ballet. She's normally mild of manner, but a late start and another complication had set her nerves on edge long before the cabbie cut her off.

"Fucker!" she hissed reflexively.

A moment later, inevitably, came the small voice from the back seat: "What did you say, Grandma?"

Thinking fast, she said, "Oh, I was just saying hi to Mr. Fucker," trying to make it sound more like "Focker" this time. "He's driving that taxi up there. Hi, Mr. Focker!" She gave a little wave.

That seemed to satisfy the girl. But Grandma's going to hold her breath for another day or two, and she'll probably be a little anxious the next couple of times her son or daughter-in-law calls.

This could just as well have happened in my family. We're about 10 years past that point now, but I'm sure my nephew's vocabulary got plenty of entries from my mom.

Boy Genius


Saturday, December 16, 2006

That Ain't My Excuse

Soy is an excellent source of protein. It's also "feminizing, and commonly leads to a decrease in the size of the penis, sexual confusion and homosexuality." Might cause cancer and obesity too.

So says this guy. And he should know, because he's an "author, advertising copywriter, columnist, teacher, pioneer thinker, chronicler of the miraculous, and spokesman for the worldwide house church community." He's so smart, he wrote The Meaning of Life.

Check out his site. I'm sure you'll be every bit as impressed as I was.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Constructive Criticism

The Finns have devised a creative outlet for the everyday annoyances of modern life: the complaints choir.

The first effort was actually in Birmingham, "the arsehole of England," but their group isn't nearly as melodic as Helsinki's. No one does misery like Scandinavians.

Now the phenomenon is spreading. Could this be the magic bullet for the Middle East?

Annoying Neighbors?


Thursday, December 14, 2006

Not Your Plumber's Snake

There are a lot of stories I'd dismiss as urban myths if the source weren't a newspaper. Like this one from Sydney's Daily Telegraph:

Toilet blocked by 2m snake

SCHOOL teacher Kate Poole called for help when she found her toilet was blocked – and couldn't work out why.

A plumber peered into the porcelain bowl – and found a huge snake looking back at him.

The 2m carpet python was living in the septic tank at the property in Howard Springs, 20km south of Darwin. Parks and Wildlife ranger Peter Phillips said the snake had probably poked its head out of the toilet "for a bit of a look around".

He tried to pull it out through the bowl – "but it was stuck around the S-bend".

The snake was finally caught by lifting the septic tank cover and using special tongs.

Ms Poole, 58, a part-time relief teacher, had met the snake before when it killed a baby possum that used to come to her door for a feed with its mother.

"It was crushing the possum," she said. "I managed to free the poor animal by lifting up the snake with a crutch but it was too late – the possum was dead." She didn't hold a grudge and was happy to see the python liberated from her toilet and septic tank.

Mr Phillips said the snake was a fine specimen – "he's got a nice big boof head and no sign of disease".

The operation brought back memories for plumber Mick Pittman – he used to catch crocodiles and is known as Crocodile Mick.


Best of the Year's Bumper Stickers

1/20/09: End of an Error
That's OK, I Wasn't Using My Civil Liberties Anyway
Let's Fix Democracy in This Country First
If You Want a Nation Ruled By Religion, Move to Iran
If You Can Read This, You're Not Our President
Hey, Bush Supporters: Embarrassed Yet?
George Bush: Creating the Terrorists Our Kids Will Have to Fight
Impeachment: It's Not Just for Blowjobs Anymore
America: One Nation, Under Surveillance
They Call Him "W" So He Can Spell It
Whose God Do You Kill For?
Cheney/Satan '08
Jail to the Chief
No, Seriously, Why Did We Invade Iraq?
Bush: God's Way of Proving Intelligent Design is Full Of Crap
Bad President! No Banana.
We Need a President Who's Fluent In At Least One Language
We're Making Enemies Faster Than We Can Kill Them
Is It Vietnam Yet?
Bush Doesn't Care About White People, Either
Where Are We Going? And Why Are We In This Handbasket?
You Elected Him. You Deserve Him.
Impeach Cheney First
Dubya, Your Dad Shoulda Pulled Out, Too
The Republican Party: Our Bridge to the 11th Century
What Part of "Bush Lied" Don't You Understand?
One Nation Under Clod
2004: Embarrassed. 2005: Horrified. 2006: Terrified.
Bush Never Exhaled
At Least Nixon Resigned
Republicans for Voldemort

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Condi's (Not So) Secret Weapon

I have a friend who's kept me laughing for more than two decades now. We share a strong appreciation of the ridiculous and outrageous -- and a fondness for shocking people, especially those we think could use a jolt.

In recent years she's developed a taste for outsider art and a talent for finding good stuff. Pathologically generous, she's as likely to buy a piece for a friend as she is for herself. I've been a grateful beneficiary more than once, and the latest offering is my favorite so far.

It's a portrait of Condoleezza Rice, our estimable secretary of state. Condi is not wearing her famous dominatrix boots in the picture. In fact, she's not wearing anything except pearl earrings, a gold necklace, and a sly smile. Oh, and a huge phallus, which probably explains her expression. Appropriately, the title is Mine's Bigger Than Yours.

The picture hangs proudly in our hallway, where I can see it from my bed, framed by the doorway. It's been there for almost two months now, and it's been a hoot watching people's reactions: lots of hearty laughter, given the political views of most of our visitors, but also a pair or two of pursed lips. What can I say? Butt Hollow just isn't a Martha Stewart sort of household. No seascapes or still lifes for us.

This is clearly not a case of art imitating life, but it would explain a great deal about the administration's approach to foreign policy.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous

From MuchMusic.com:
Tori's Sale Attracts Hundreds

Tori Spelling's yard sale attracted about 300 people this past weekend. Reportedly, people even came from out of town for the sale. As a result, traffic jams occurred and news helicopters flew overhead capturing the chaos. Among the items purchased by bargain-hunters were paintings, lingerie, a rubber duck, a $25 plastic Starbucks mug and a whip.
Check out Tori's official site. It's a treat.

Noteworthy Names

The latest installment from the ever-growing list of names that have caught my attention:

Fawn Breeze
Phila Belle Blackwell
Elmer Freeburger
Caitlyn Shatlock
Crystal Nick
Jewel Skeens
Rubye Beaver
Jade Teegarden
Wanda Wiltbank
Erlease B. Proctor
Luva Dotson Gant
Clarence T. Finkle
Trevin Lumpkin
Lisbon Jack Gober
Cmdr. Herschel Head
Edna B. Head
Celestine Head
(Ms.) Temprest Tennille
Durward and Vandalia Taylor
Junella Shade Lovett
Rev. Kahlfani Drummer
Vondaleera Higginbotham George
Olive Bonnet
Refrenita Smith
(Ms.) Ozell Jones
Wilma Knight White
Orman Z. Rippeon
Luola Murchison Hurkamp "Lola" Beaver
W.G. Snuffy Walden
Vendetta M. Forney
Comillious Proctor
Annie Stringer Necessary
Sir Ninian Buchan-Hepburn
Forrest Coop
(Mr.) Gwan Gamble
Violet Rosen
Violet Laden
Terry Terbush
Queenie Pope
Jean S. Pookrum
Collenia Linzy
Peter Pupa
(Mrs.) Ossie Fryer
Park Greenwell
Hattie V. Ivey
Haydon McPheeters
Winnie Peoples
Eulitta Rhodes
Ezella Stone
Harry Hurt III
Effie Mae Funderburk
(Mrs.) Starr Topken
Heather Sacks
Destanye Owens
Novella Nesbitt
Danita Fedchock
Ida Mae Day
Tyrone L. King Jr. Armstead
(Mr.) Delaware Barbour
Fletcher Gnat
Meta Dohrmann Driessnack
Doris Morris
Marva Goode
Melburn Lingenfelter
Natavia Vineyard
(Ms.) Crata Vaughn
Wilma Ohlenbusch
Roxie Dippel
Clayton, Leona, and Lynelle Stunkard
Chuck Sublett
Shane Yamada
Zenobia Boulware
Elandus Carver
Hattie Duppins
Earline Fludd-Minor and brother Wilbur Pierre "Tookie" Fludd
Hal Hasty
Mellowese and Lenericha Pegues
Travilla Weatherholtz
Zelda Coker
Carolyn Bacon Cave
Domini Bean
Bland Janice Holly
Willestine McClain
Fiona Roll
Capt. Urial Leach
Debernair Leonard
Cornelius Awkard
Percy Pondexter
Celestine Pettus
Maebell Stuckey
Vanilla Spencer
Musette Sutphin
LaSanta McGill
Fannie, Luevenia, Pandora, and Candy Carey
Rose Woods
Elvis, BaRonie, and Shaneena Wright
Brig. Edward Grismond Beaumont Davies-Scourfield
Damian Grammaticus
Cielle Fink Block
Nannie Bustle
Rosetta Dent Napper
Otelia Mugg
Braxton and Twanna Wiggins
Preston, Ettrina, and Marquise Vanzego
(Mrs.) Laculia P. Williams
(Ms.) Tamale Walton
Melvin T. Bumbrey
LaVell and LeVell Calhoun (twin brothers)
Candy Couch

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Laying It on the Line

This book is worth buying for the title alone: They Call Me Naughty Lola: Personal Ads from the London Review of Books.

And then there are the excerpts:

Most vegetarians complain about missing the taste of bacon. Not me, I complain about my liver disease. And rural postal services. Man, 40. Box no. 3143.

You're a brunette, 6', long legs, 25-30, intelligent, articulate and drop-dead gorgeous. I, on the other hand, am 4'10", have the looks of Hervé Villechaize and carry an odour of wheat. No returns and no refunds at box no. 3321.

I'll see you at the LRB singles night. I'll be the one breathing heavily and stroking my thighs by the 'art' books. Asthmatic, varicosed F (93) seeks M to 30 with enough puff in him to push me uphill to the post office. This is not a euphemism. Box no. 4632.

Mature gentleman (62), aged well, noble grey looks, fit and active, sound mind and unfazed by the fickle demands of modern society seeks . . . damn it, I have to pee again. Box no. 4143.

These ads try too hard to be funny. Not me, I'm a natural. Juggling, monkey-faced idiot (M, 36). Box no. 5312.

Friday, December 08, 2006

iWhat?

If your holiday gift list includes this, this, or -- God forbid -- this, I humbly suggest that you take that money and donate it to a charity instead. Or to me.

I'm quite fond of my iPod, but things have clearly gone too far.

Disconnect

[Mary Cheney is] going to have to explain to her child what mommy was doing trying to help a party that doesn't believe in fairness for families like theirs.
Indeed. A thoughtful column by Ruth Marcus in today's Post.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Learning From the Past

At this point, all of my pants have elastic waistbands. My wardrobe is that of an old man or a small child, with just a hint of the Unabomber.

Even with a minimum of buttons, snaps, and zippers, it's become increasingly challenging to pull my pants up and keep them there.

Lying on my bed the other day, catching my breath after one such struggle, an epiphany surfaced from some dark recess of memory: Maybe it would be easier in this position. I gave it a try, and indeed it was. Gravity was no longer working against me.

I did not invent this technique. It was widely practiced by girls during my early teen years, when skintight jeans were de rigueur. The names Jordache and Sasson probably don't mean much to other generations, but they meant everything at the time. Girls would yank them on and totter around triumphantly, laughing off the dark rumors about fainting, blood clots, and sterility. Who knew back then that these brave young heroines would reach far into the future one day to lend me a hand?

Thanks, girls!

(Wind-) Breaking News

Dec. 6, 4:12 PM EST

Flatulence Forces Plane to Land

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- An American Airlines flight was forced to make an emergency landing Monday morning after a passenger lit a match to disguise the scent of flatulence, authorities said.

The Dallas-bound flight was diverted to Nashville after several passengers reported smelling burning sulfur from the matches, said Lynne Lowrance, spokeswoman for the Nashville International Airport Authority. All 99 passengers and five crew members were taken off and screened while the plane was searched and luggage was screened.

The FBI questioned a passenger who admitted she struck the matches in an attempt to conceal a "body odor," Lowrance said. She had an unspecified medical condition, authorities said.

"It's humorous in a way but you feel sorry for the individual, as well," she said. "It's unusual that someone would go to those measures to cover it up."

The flight took off again, but the woman was not allowed back on the plane. The woman, who was not identified, was not charged in the incident.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

And You Thought Your Family Was Weird

Richard Pryor's daughter Rain has written a memoir. Considering the circumstances, it's bound to be an interesting read.

Truth be told, I'm a little jealous that the following will never be said of me:

[A] lot of the time, she says, the money went to the hookers hanging out at his house -- "Daddy, the whores need to be paid"-- and not to paying child support to his many ex-wives raising kids far from the Hollywood Hills. So hers was a childhood of abundance and of lack, of private jets and welfare checks, of elaborate vacations in Hawaii and a gig selling hot dogs on the beach when she was 13.

She is the daughter of an exceedingly complicated African American icon who famously set himself on fire, and an equally complicated blond, blue-eyed Jewish woman who fervently believed that she was black. In a new autobiography, Pryor writes of lighting candles for Shabbat with one set of grandparents and also listening attentively to her great-grandmother, a onetime bordello owner, breaking down racial realities as she shuffled a tarot deck: "You black, Rainy. The world's gonna see Rain as a [black person] no matter what her mother is."

The book describes her mother as a jive-talking dancer with a fondness for wearing Afro wigs -- it was the '60s -- and quoting Malcolm X.

When she was 4, her mother introduced Rain to her father. The book recounts that he took one look at her and said, "Ain't denying this one's mine!" That night, during a sleepover at Pryor's home, she wandered into her father's bedroom. She'd heard noises and she was afraid. She saw her father on top of a blond woman and ran out of the room.

More here.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

New Title on the Fiction Shelf

At long last, someone has explored the uncanny links between two of the most distinguished figures in modern history.
Greatness: Reagan, Churchill, and the Making of Extraordinary Leaders
Steven F. Hayward

Ronald Reagan and Winston Churchill were true giants of the twentieth century, but somehow historians have failed to notice the many similarities between these extraordinary leaders. Until now.
Among the "extensive and profound" parallels the author uncovered:
  • "[M]any of Churchill’s friends would say to him — 'Winston, you missed your calling in life. You should have been an actor.'" And Ronald Reagan was an actor!
  • "They both had a fondness for vigorous outdoor labor. Churchill spent years building a large brick wall by himself at his country home, Chartwell, while Reagan built long fences out of telephone poles at his ranch, as well as endlessly cutting brush."*
  • "And of course they both loved horses."**
Well, that cinches it. The two giants were obviously separated at birth. It's eerie, I tell you. Just think of all the coinkydinks Hayward didn't mention: Both men were white, married, spoke English ...

* I see room for another cowboy-president in a future edition.
** Hayward notes that "[b]oth were in the cavalry," but I believe he's confusing Reagan's film roles with actual military experience -- just as the Gipper himself did on occasion.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Beyond Immaculate Conception

Obviously I spend more time perusing the obituaries than is generally considered healthy. I concede the point. But they're so interesting.

This one, for instance:
CHARLES MacLEOD PLUNKETT
On October 25, 2006. Father of Charles Hendrix Plunkett of Maryland and the late Ernest MacLeod Plunkett; grandfather of Charles F. Plunkett; great-grandfather of Charles C.K. and R.I. Plunkett; great-grandson of the late Lt. Col. William Henry Plunkett; grandson of the late Rear Adm. Charles Peshall Plunkett; and son of the late Lt. Charles Tuck Plunkett, USN.
Some families have more boys than girls, and vice versa. And then there are the Plunketts, who apparently managed to produce seven generations of males without the assistance of a single woman. Remarkable. I guess theirs truly is a man's world.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Be Fruitful and Multiply*

I just read a death notice for a man who left 16 children, 60 grandchildren, 80 great-grandchildren, and 3 great-great-grandchildren.

Pardon my French, but holy fucking shit!

I finally saw An Inconvenient Truth last week, so I already knew the planet is doomed. Still, must we hasten it so wantonly?

* In moderation. In moderation, damn it!

Burning Bushes

Much of the Outlook section in today's Post was given to predictions of Bush's legacy -- i.e., the worst president in history, or merely one of the worst? Five historians weighed in:
And the magazine reprinted a brief excerpt in which Bush pere et fils share their views on class and privilege, revealing far more about themselves than they realize. The full article, from 1986, can be read here.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Livin' (and Dyin') Large

Big news in this morning's paper:
Rosalie Bradford
Once Weighed Over 1,000 Pounds

Rosalie Bradford, 63, who held records for being the world's heaviest woman and for losing the most weight, died Nov. 30 at a hospital in Lakeland, Fla.

Publicist Stephen Nortier said the cause of death won't be known until a medical examiner's report, but Ms. Bradford had spent the past year bedridden with complications from having her lymph nodes severed years ago. She weighed about 400 pounds just before dying.

Ms. Bradford weighed 1,050 pounds in January 1987, according to the 1994 Guinness Book of Records. She lost 736 pounds, to weigh 314 pounds, in September 1992, according to the record book. At her largest, Bradford was 8 feet wide.

She credited Richard Simmons, the fitness guru, with helping her lose weight. The two began corresponding after a friend of hers wrote Simmons when she tried to commit suicide.

Ms. Bradford blamed her lifelong battle with obesity on abandonment, which bred a food addiction. Her Web site claims her peak weight was more than 1,200 pounds.
Among all those big figures, the one that really struck me was the eight-foot width. She was as big across as a standard ceiling height.

If, like me, you are riveted and want to learn more, check out her site.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Off the Beaten Path

Why stay at the Radisson when you can rent a Forgotten House?

The agency looks like a small, private version of Britain's venerable National Trust, which offers hundreds of quirky properties. We rented a cottage in rural Devon three years ago, and it was one of my best vacations ever.

Great browsing at both sites.

Why I Don't Watch Daytime TV

A friend saw fit to forward this clip of Rosie O'Donnell and her milkshake. Now I'm sharing the love, because that's the kind of person I am.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Me and Mao

When you're part of a minority -- and I'm a card-carrying member of several -- you maintain a mental roster of any high-profile figures among your ranks. Adam Sandler picks anew each year from the long list of famous Jews for his Hanukkah Song, while Scientology has Tom Cruise, John Travolta, and countless other celebs. We Quakers have Herbert Hoover and Richard Nixon, lucky us. And a friend of mine, bless his heart, practically wets himself when he spots anyone from his native Minnesota in a TV show or a movie.

As for ALS, everyone knows that Lou Gehrig had it; he gave his name to the disease. Almost as well known are Stephen Hawking and Morrie Schwartz, the latter famous mostly because he had ALS. I was also aware that our numbers included David Niven, Jacob Javits, and Catfish Hunter.

But yesterday, after nearly a decade in Club ALS, I was astonished to learn that one of my comrades was Mao Zedong. Mao Zedong!

Nowhere was this mentioned in the orientation kit. As a former flack, I understand the reluctance to tout mass murderers among your membership. Still, you'd think I'd have heard about it sometime over the past 10 years. When Andrew Cunanan shot Versace, the gays could speak of nothing else for at least a week. "He went to prep school with my cousin!" "My ex's ex had a blind date with him!"

If I can make peace, however grudgingly, with my affiliation with Tricky Dick, I guess I can accept Chairman Mao.


Sixty Seconds of Fun for the Morbidly Curious

The Death Predictor.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

I'm So Proud

We've already come a long way from George Allen's presidential analingus:

At a recent White House reception for freshman members of Congress, Virginia's newest senator tried to avoid President Bush. Democrat James Webb declined to stand in a presidential receiving line or to have his picture taken with the man he had often criticized on the stump this fall. But it wasn't long before Bush found him.

"How's your boy?" Bush asked, referring to Webb's son, a Marine serving in Iraq.

"I'd like to get them out of Iraq, Mr. President," Webb responded, echoing a campaign theme.

"That's not what I asked you," Bush said. "How's your boy?"

"That's between me and my boy, Mr. President," Webb said coldly, ending the conversation on the State Floor of the East Wing of the White House.

Full story here.

The incident even provoked a huffy outburst from George Will. Someone get that guy some Ex-Lax.

Color Me Blue

This winter will be a little colder without Stephen Heywood. (See the October 9 post "So Much So Fast" in the archives.)

The Enemy Within

Bats in her belfry (actually, her bedroom).

After Us

A fascinating look at a posthuman Earth.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Tatum's Valley of Tears

No idea why CBS decided to rerun a two-year-old story, but the headline is beautiful.

I saw an interview with the subject, and she seemed boundlessly bitter and more than slightly unhinged. If you didn't recognize her, you'd think "trailer trash" before "Hollywood royalty." But she did have a rough childhood, bless her heart.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Anti-fan Clubs

Here's a trend that's right up my alley.

I don't watch Rachael Ray*, but I can think of many worthy celebrity subjects: Dr. Phil, Celine Dion, the late Steve Irwin, anyone with a crafts show ...

And of course there are countless noncelebrity topics. There used to be a brilliant site called the Dysfunctional Family Circus, which I appreciated as much as I loathe the comic that it parodied. It's gone now, but one blessed soul had the foresight to save and post some of the best. The original "Family Circus" is so criminally insipid, I want to gouge my eyes out with a rusty spoon whenever they accidentally stray near it.

* Why does she spell her name that way, anyhow? Rachel is spelled Rachel.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

¡Viva Zapata!

Despot, thief, charmer
Center of our universe
Twelve years old today


Another Inconvenient Truth

Laurie David finds corporate foxes in the henhouse of science education. I'd like to be shocked, but I'm not.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Prepare to Believe!

Or -- if you graduated from, say, elementary school -- maybe not. But do prepare to be greatly amused.

Somehow, I don't think the Creation Museum's creators* meant for it to be a place of high hilarity or a temple of irony. But this description in the Guardian makes it seem exceedingly promising in those regards. Leave it to a lefty Brit to write a magnificent sendup with just the right amount of restraint.

I'm clearly not among the facility's target market, yet I almost feel like checking it out when it opens next year -- if only to learn how the Grand Canyon was carved in a few months. It's pretty big, you know; I always thought it took at least a year or two.

* Do they call themselves that?

Friday, November 24, 2006

Obscene Interiors

A friend recently reminded me about this snarky site, which combines two of my favorite hobbies.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Allen's Parting Shot

Whatever sort of legislator Jim Webb turns out to be, some honor will be returned to the Senate when George Allen is gone.

Somehow The Post overlooked the final turd he left on the carpet. The New York Times, by contrast, found it worthy of an editorial.

Headline du Jour

Woman, 92, Dies in Shootout With Police

Her picture is almost as riveting as the headline. Apparently she was a nonagenarian prom queen:

I Still Like You

Another great interview with Amy Sedaris features a dig at Martha Stewart and more handy tips:

A whole chapter on entertaining the elderly -- in large-print type -- advises: Turn up the heat, turn down the music, serve a bland meal about 4 p.m. and thread some needles for them to take home. "With all the special attention needed, one might ask, why entertain the elderly?," she inquires, then answers: Because "soon you will be in their comfort shoes, and wouldn't it be nice to be invited to a party?"

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Against Nature?

Until now, the "gay agenda" was one of the religious right's greatest bugaboos, but it looks like Mother Nature has a much broader plan than the homos. Meanwhile, God enjoys a good hearty laugh.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

My Life as a Roach

This afternoon, as I attempted to transfer from wheelchair to bed, my feet slid back an inch or two and I toppled slowly forward onto the bed.

That would be no big deal for a healthy person, who could either stop the fall or push himself up afterwards. But it’s a lot trickier when your arms don’t work.

I remained prone for a while – mulling, pondering, considering, weighing, plotting. Then I began wriggling and thrashing, trying various things, all with one crucial goal: staying off the floor. Once I’m fully down, even Dan can barely get me up.

After a seeming eternity, I managed to wedge my toes under the wheelchair and maneuver my ass into an acceptable position on the bed. (People sometimes ask how I occupy my time. Now you know.)

As I lay there catching my breath, an image appeared in my head: that of a cockroach on its back, kicking in frantic futility, its only hope a serendipitous puff of wind. I was stuck on my front, granted, and would have required a tornado to flip me over, but the parallel seems apt nonetheless.

Product Placement

Doris Roberts's career is officially in the toilet. Bless her heart.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Noteworthy Names

The latest installment from the ever-growing list of names that have caught my attention:

Wysteria Berkhoff
Amber Dimmer
Ebba Jo Spettel
Ebay and Ulonda Shamwell
Odie and Etta Waple
Rodrechus Durden
Khadijah Hoffler
Piercezendo Jackson
Harry Bugg
Harry Peaper
Orlando Barksdale
Vesta B. Dick
Grace D. "Bunny" Kok
Artemeshia Hairston
Lula Voyles
Iola Queen
Phyllis Queen Commodore
Willmer Stultz
(Ms.) Rozzetter Richardson
Jane Train
Lynne Flynn
LaVonne Quidley
Pearl Green
Kitty Dragonette
Hurshul Goosby
Conic Forehand
Lovella and Symphonette Nelson (sisters)
Hunter Gore
Monk Topping
(Ms.) Verdell Estep
Julius U. Hoke
Dequlia Pullen
Steptoe and Alzata Wrenn
Billie Jo Nutter
Lucy Diggs Slowe
Lottie Wills
Connie Hair
Hilda Trout
Sneed B. Collard III
Johnnie Mae Shingles
(Ms.) TaShai LaMhi Cheeseman
Brent Boner
(Mrs.) Beany Brown
Rev. Burnard Furbush
Joy Chapper
Kayrethia Crook
Faith Apt
Dr. Ellen Leibenhaut Leibenluft
(Mr.) Pleasant Bullock
Patricia Curtin Hankey
Ebony, Maghongany, and Cynnamon Gayden (siblings)
(Mrs.) Wanza Wiley
Marquis Prince
(Ms.) Clove Galilee
Phyrne Pitkin
Matilda Sugg
Edward Woodward
Melba Sue McGlamary
Glovenia Dorsey
(Mr.) Downie Deen
Mary Pearl Munsterteiger
Roosevelt Peebles
Rev. Roosevelt Dickens
JoEtta Pegler
Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter
(Ms.) Vergie E. Bodenstein
Aleecia Foo
Tinny Jones
Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller
Loretta Retta
Temina Blue
Lettie Gooch
(Mr.) Crogher Devalentine Butler
Tarsha Snead
Sylvanus and Ozie Sneade
Jewelene Owens
William B. Tubby
Marjorie Gray Brown
Hazel Browne
(Miss) Lawnie Lee Browne
Gracie Belcher
Wiley and Virgie Bratcher
Jane Traylor Hauser
Hurley Offenbacher
(Mr.) Verl J. Wilfong
Hazel Wilfong Bean
Columbus and Colonious Knight (brothers)
Eartharene Prophet, Mervin Prezzy, and Willodean Plummer (siblings)
Wanda Moon
Odelia Dugger
Lulu Teates
Cleta Toomey
Tana Woodcock
WindyJoy Murphy
Pearl Starr
Dudley Harpster
Herma Gant Leatherwood
Mary Wedlock
Ginger Rash

Sunday, November 19, 2006

"A Tepid Sort of Oatmealy Hate"

Mark Morford examines objections to gay marriage.

"It's all just a bit cute, in a grossly ignorant sort of way."

Saturday, November 18, 2006

A Liberal's Pledge

By Michael Moore, not surprisingly.

Some trenchant lines, among them:

"If you need an automatic weapon or a handgun to kill a bird or a deer, then you really aren't much of a hunter and you should, perhaps, pick up another sport."

"We will respect your religious beliefs, even when you don't put those beliefs into practice."

Friday, November 17, 2006

Coming Soon to a Wal-Mart Near You

She sings, she dances -- and now she has her own line o' bling. Clothing, shoes, and maybe even furniture to come later.

She's also a philosopher, bless her heart. In this hilarious clip, she explains her "seven portals to peace and order." Don't miss the end.

And always remember: "It's only beauty that can feed the spirit."

Mimes Gone Mad

There are few things that disturb me as much as clowns, but mimes are right up there. The very sight of one tends to fill me with revulsion. There's just something about mimes that makes you want to beat them senseless -- or at least give 'em a good slap.

That said, this video seemed freaky enough to warrant posting.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

"J'adore Louis XV!"

A friend saw this picture and thought of me: I'm not entirely sure it was a compliment. (But I do love Charlotte Rampling.)

You can see the rest of the series here.

Bushsmack

Relive the midterm election again and again.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I'm OK -- You're OK*

The bishops were perturbed.

Anti-gay-marriage measures were handily approved in seven of eight states, but still the bishops felt unfulfilled. So they convened at their headquarters, a dank, musty warren of caverns deep in the Ozarks, where they donned their flashy robes, gnashed their yellow teeth, beat their pale, flabby man-breasts, and wailed mightily.

"We've made it clear where we stand, but we must do more," said one bishop as a small boy emerged from under his robe and scurried away. "I agree," said another. "Society reviles the gays less each day. We must smash them down before it's too late." "I'm with you," said a third. "Next thing you know, women will want a place in the clergy." A collective gasp cut through the cool, damp air, and the circle of puffy white faces clenched in horror, their gin blossoms reddening further at the ghastly thought. They decided on a course of action.

This, in turn, forced the Baptists' hand. Having long prided themselves on outdoing the Catholics at intolerance, homophobia, and all-around backwardness, they realized immediately that they had to act. So they called an emergency meeting at their lair, somewhere between the second and third layers of the earth's crust, and drew up their own plan.

You can read about both actions here, with a dash of Presbyterianism thrown in for good measure.

* Certain restrictions apply.

"The older one grows, the more one likes indecency."
Virginia Woolf

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Gocta Go Now

How is it that the world's third-tallest waterfall escaped discovery until this year?

I'd love to see it in person, but that seems unlikely, to say the least. The pilgrimage involves multiple flights, a 12-hour car ride, and a long, steep hike through the jungle, complete with rope bridges.

Someone check it out while it's still unspoiled and bring me back pictures.

The Tide Advances ...

Last week Mexico, this week South Africa.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Don't Invite a Barnacle

Andy Cohen interviews Amy Sedaris about Martha Stewart, morning TV, and how to get rid of gay guests.

Clever Idea

Just one of many possible scenarios for people with plenty of spare time and no Caller ID.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Happy Days

Mark Morford offers 11 reasons to celebrate.

Breaking Science News

Discovery of the densest element yet known to science

A major research institution has just announced the discovery of the densest element yet known to science. The new element has been named Bushcronium; its symbol is W. Bushcronium has one neutron, 12 assistant neutrons, 75 deputy neutrons, and 224 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 311.

These particles are held together by dark forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons. Bushcronium's mass actually increases over time, as morons randomly interact with various elements in the atmosphere and become assistant deputy neutrons in a Bushcronium molecule, forming isodopes. This characteristic of moron-promotion leads some scientists to believe that Bushcronium is formed whenever morons reach a certain quantity in concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as "critical morass."

When catalyzed with money, Bushcronium activates Foxnewsium, an element that radiates orders-of-magnitude more energy, albeit as incoherent noise, since it has half as many peons but twice as many morons.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Small Damn World

I realized today that Iowa's new governor was a year ahead of me in high school. (In Bethesda, not Des Moines.)

We were like doppelgangers back then, except he played varsity baseball, basketball, and football, while I was in the marching band. It was a huge relief when he graduated and I could spread my wings senior year.

"Hatred's Last Frontier"

The election results were almost shockingly good, with one notable exception: Virginia's passage of an appallingly overreaching constitutional amendment to ban same-sex unions.

I was so busy celebrating the Dems' takeover, especially George Allen's richly deserved defeat, that I hadn't gotten around to writing about the amendment. The editorial board of Staunton's News Leader beat me to it -- and said everything I would have.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

She Who Would Rule

In six years of study and a decade of practice, I came across countless communication theories and guidelines. Strangely, "Karen's Rules" were not among them.

Some might question the value of guidance from the advisor of the least articulate leader in modern history. You have to admit, though, she kept her charges on message -- no matter how implausible or false.

The best part of the piece is the analysis by psychologists.

"Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully
as when they do it from religious conviction."
Blaise Pascal

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Freedom

Great video.

Vote!

I was at the synagogue bright and early this morning -- not to pray, but to vote. (Actually, I did a little praying too. There's a lot at stake today, especially in Virginia.)

If I can manage to vote, you sure as hell can. Get thee to a pollery, go!

Aggravated and Isolated

Political analyses don't usually make me chuckle, but this one did.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The House as Organism

Joel Achenbach in today's Post Magazine:
When you first buy a house, you think of it as an inanimate collection of rooms. But a house is more like a complex organism. Even though it may look presentable, you know that it is gradually disintegrating, that its arteries are clogging. In my house we have learned, over time, to ignore the things that are broken, the accumulated crud in the louvers, the peeling paint, the scuff marks and dents and divots. But after the walnuts fire, our eyes opened, and we realized [cue shrieking violins] that we live in squalor.
As we say in Quaker meeting, "The friend speaks my mind."

Read the full essay here.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Zana

One of my greatest friends is a person I've never met.

Many moons ago, as a freshly minted member of Club ALS, I happened to read something that struck me so profoundly I contacted the writer to tell her so. I've forgotten the topic and the context, but the author, Zana Abdul Rahman, has been my penpal ever since. We're bound by ALS and separated by geography: she lives in Australia.

Some years back, Zana put together Cornflower Blues, a book of essays by people with ALS, including the two of us, on how they cope with the disease. Producing a book is a heavy task under any circumstances; when you're physically disabled the effort is herculean. Having read many of Zana's journal entries, I harbor an intense hope that she'll publish another volume.

We've known each other for about nine years now, and Zana and I should have checked out long ago, but we're both still here -- a fact of enormous comfort to me. She recently sent some pictures from her garden, giving me a taste of spring in mid-autumn.


Delicious

Betty Bowers on "liturgical Liberace" Ted Haggard.

Many of the links are worth a click. Like this one.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Other Other White Meat

Is this considered pork?

Lodging Complaints

No doubt you've often wondered, as I did, what sort of accommodations $100 a night would get you in West Virginia. Not much, surprisingly, compared to a Marriott outside Hartford or a Radisson in scenic Scranton, both of which we had occasion to sample last year.

The term lodge had always conjured images of commodious rusticity in my mind. Rough-hewn timbers, crackling fires in stone hearths, maybe some antlers on a wall and a bear rug underfoot.

In West Virginia, it seems, the definition is somewhat looser and can in fact include a hostelry with no structure in sight that could be considered an actual lodge. The owners conferred lodgehood on their establishment simply by naming it the Cheat River Lodge. (For comparison, see "war on drugs," "war on poverty," or "war on terror.") Easy as 'possum pie.

My mental lodge didn't have pink wall-to-wall carpeting or acoustical ceiling tile. It certainly didn't use striped wallpaper and a border to create the illusion of a wainscot. (Even my dentist finally realized that was a decorating no-no; word apparently takes longer to reach the hollers of West Virginny.) The higher paper was a floral print of uncertain subject. When I studied it closely, the blooms looked strangely like artichokes. But I was more troubled by the dehumidifier, air purifier, and two (!) electronic air fresheners. Most worrisome of all was the fact that the "lodge" was built against the base of a massive cliff. I half expected to wake up with a boulder on my face.

The impetus for our vacationette was to gawk at some fall foliage. Like me, the color was well past its prime, but we did manage to find some vivid patches, especially at lower elevations and in sheltered little pockets, of which there are many. Saw a pheasant, a chipmunk, and a few deer too. Oh, and lots of roadkill, of course.

The rest of the stereotypes were hit or miss. I saw many men with bushy beards, but nary a soul settin' on a porch strummin' a banjo, to my great disappointment. Plenty of rusting cars (and other objects) in yards, but mostly newer models, including a couple of Land Rovers. And scads of trailers, a disturbing number of which were situated in floodplains, as if taunting fate. But only one outhouse.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

"Man invented language to satisfy his deep need to complain."
Lily Tomlin

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Heading for the Hills

The Igljacks -- bipeds and quadrupeds alike -- are headin' to West Virginny for a couple of days of fall color. We'll be here until Tuesday.

Extreme Pumpkins

Some seasonal inspiration.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Living the Dream

Talk about committed fans ...

Stretching the Boundaries of Torture

I found the 10th circle of Hell this morning, and it took me ages to claw my way out.

After reading a reference in the paper to John Ashcroft's "Let the Eagle Soar," the song -- if you can call it that -- burrowed into my brain like a botfly, playing in an endless taunting loop until I nearly lost the precious remaining shreds of my sanity. I was finally able to exorcise the evil by crawling to the stereo and turning on good music -- loud -- for several minutes.

I'd honestly rather be waterboarded or have electrodes attached to my naughty bits. Which got me thinking: Do you suppose they "Ashcroft" the "guests" at Guantanamo? I'd say anything they wanted just to make the bad noise stop.

Click the link above for the full version ... if you dare.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Paging Dr. Limbaugh

The intersection of ignorance and stridency has always been a busy and dangerous place, and it seems especially so these days. Teeming swarms of foolish, ugly-minded people desperate to be heard at any cost.

Yesterday an especially shrill voice managed to rise above the din. It belonged to that porcine man with the crazy eyes. He was standing in front of his alma mater, the Bill Frist School of Neurology, apparently still in withdrawal from his OxyContin habit. This is what he had to say.

Hateful? Extremely. Wrong? Completely. It would be laughable if he didn't have such a big audience. But he does. And they vote.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

My Hero

Now more than ever.

This effort could actually make a difference. A friend pointed me to a related two-part interview here and here.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Epileptic or Alcoholic?

Waiting for a train in Boston today, friends were treated to an impromptu performance:

Act I: A woman shrieks at her companion, berating him loudly, publicly, and at length.

Act II: Shortly thereafter, she falls on the floor in the throes of a seizure. A pair of "shockingly fat" EMTs arrive promptly. One asks whether the woman is prone to seizures, to which her companion replies: "No, but she is a drunk."

Friday, October 20, 2006

Noteworthy Names

A bumper crop this week:

Rusty Rice
Eulalia Muschik
Mildred Magazine (daughter: Joanne Book; stepdaughter: Phyllis Press)
Marlin Potter
Fernarine Hunter
Hunter Peacock
Velda Pyles
Eugenia Krupsaw
Audray Smoot Blizard
Jewell Poon
Pastina Purnell
James Bond Romans
Lois Shuffles
Pearl Brass
Lonnie and Geneva Lovely
Carolyn Medley
Royal Seymour
Prof. Lucius Outlaw
Elmira Diggs
Rhonisha Good Fortunato
Flossie Prue
Peachie Richardson
Bessie Wigglesworth
Maverick and Maven McGann (brother and sister)
Savannah Hillman
Bambi Goodhew
Mary Perry
Paul Wohl
Ollie Wooden
Darenzo Nettles
Azel Q. and Verna D. Lester
Trendanaia Williams

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Ick

Apparently some Catholic seminaries offer a course on the nuances of hairsplitting. Maybe it's a reward for students who show special promise during their training in denial and dissembling. This guy could teach Bill Clinton a thing or two.

So now we know the story of Mark Foley's formative trauma. At least there's one thing he wasn't lying about. And yet, it explains little and excuses nothing.

As Valerie Cherish might have said, "I did not need to see that!" But I did see it, and now you can too.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Yiddish with George and Laura

This might just as well be called "Yiddish for Democrats."

Virginia v. Virginia: A Primer

From today's Washington Post:

NoVa and RoVa: Welcome to a State Of Disagreement

Recent polls confirm the common assumption that Northern Virginians tend to be much more liberal than those in the rest of the state. In fact, NoVa seems to be a world apart from RoVa (the rest of Virginia). In NoVa, for example, when people speak of a "trailer," they mean a movie ad, and in RoVa "sprawl" is what you do on the couch after Sunday dinner.

Herewith, a few more ways NoVa differs from RoVa:
· In RoVa, they hope the South will rise again. In NoVa, they hope the souffle will.
· In NoVa, a lab is the family dog. In RoVa, a lab is the family meth business.
· In NoVa, people spend their dough at Starbucks, shooting the breeze. In RoVa, people spend time in the breeze, shooting does and bucks.
· In NoVa, a "fur piece" is something a woman wears on a special occasion. In RoVa, a "fur piece" is unit of distance.
· In RoVa, people pick blackberries. In NoVa, people click BlackBerrys.
· In NoVa, they listen to NPR. In RoVa, they listen to the NRA.
· NoVa has Crate & Barrel. RoVa has Cracker Barrel.
· NoVa: Chain Bridge. RoVa: Chain saw.
· In RoVa, they like freshly killed venison. In NoVa, they like Alfred, Lord Tennyson.
-- Style staff

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Lookin' Sharp

Some truisms truly are true. Like "you get what you pay for" -- when it comes to coiffeur, anyway.

The transition from working girl to welfare queen forced many changes for me. Salon haircuts were one of the first casualties of my austerity budget, and it's been quite a comedown. The chic little storefront has been supplanted by a suburban strip mall, designer robes by tatty nylon smocks, hushed elegance by cacophonous din. "Would you like some herbal tea?" has given way to "NEXT!"

Yesterday I went to the beauty parlor for my monthly rinse-and-set (actually the $14 basic coif at the local Hair Cuttery). I must have been distracted by the cascade of clippings, which at this point seem more salt than pepper, because the result looked OK when I was prompted to give a nod of approval.

An hour later, when I glanced in a mirror at home, there was no denying the ugly truth. I'd been given the Hair Butchery special: the little-retarded-boy cut. Not the dreaded salad-bowl 'do, but the one where the hair is cut in a straight line over the forehead. The kind of haircut your mother might give you in the kitchen, only my mom was never that cheap or that mean.

I like to say that vanity is the first casualty of ALS, but I must have a little left or I wouldn't be burning with shame today. I'm tempted to grab a pair of scissors and go at these bangs myself. With my shaky hands, I'd probably lose an eye, but at least then I wouldn't have to avoid mirrors.