Sunday, September 30, 2007

Noteworthy Names

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

(Mrs.) British Holliday
(Mr.) Fonzie Garnett
Happy Ryder
LuPearla Crawford
Queenie Singletary
Krystal Footman
Glossie Valentine
Ciara Fullilove
Sheylette Haziel
Prof. Pharnal Longus
Author Thomas
Joy Child
R.J. Reynolds (age 17)
Nannie Burns Frisby
Tunisia Greenfield
Melba Lippy
Fannie Woody
Dr. Guillermo Balfour
Crystal Gray
Ebony Green
Arphelius Gatling
August J. Rumps
Royal Zino
Nikki LeBoo
(Mrs.) Middy Shutt (children: Buffy, Topper)
Marvel Shangle
Shaffrus Wiggins
Shade Bembatoum-Young
Chauncey Beavers
(Mr.) Ocie Crump
Pearl Fig
Hazel Rice
Hazel Wood
Holly Stone
Tangela Roundtree
Manzella Ann Yourtee
Rose Blume
Maddy Etter
Serenity Way
Lorena Bobbitt (not that one)
(Ms.) Spirit Trickey
Ollie Mae Alley
Hans Hoppensack
Wilbur and Velma Wigglesworth
La Dear Brevard
Gary Cooper
Eva Goodnight
Richard Putz
Louis Napoleon Lemieux
Hank Wangford (president, Nude Mountaineering Society)
Justin Sprinkle
Sherry Coffey
Pansy Solis
Richard Prichard
Melody Heap
Paul Newman
Hervey Hinote
Nettie Weaver
Queen Elizabeth II, ascending the Grand Staircase at the Opera in Paris during a state visit to the French capital, 20th April 1957. The image is a montage of 15 separate pictures: The Queen Conquers France.
(Bert Hardy/Picture Post/Getty Images)

Friday, September 28, 2007

Fun in the Sun

Nazis at leisure. Don't miss the pretty pictures. Good times.

The Sound and the Fury

My mom used to have a secretary with a toxic personality that seemed to be composed entirely of neurotic quirks. Phobias, superstitions, unique prejudices -- you name it. She was an army of one, lost in her own mental minefield.

It was known that she was no cat lover, yet people were nonetheless taken aback when she remarked, shuddering, that she couldn't stand "that awful noise they make." My mother, who's had many felines, none of them particularly vocal, was nonplussed. She must mean the yowling you hear when a cat's in heat, she decided.

A logical answer, but not the correct one. Further probing revealed that the sound so disturbing, so offensive, was ... purring.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Could Be Worse

Commutes around the world.

Free. Coli, Anyone?

I love a bargain -- who doesn't? -- and recycling makes me feel faintly virtuous even though I fully expect the planet to implode in another generation or two regardless of what I do with my gin bottles.

Freegans take it a lot further. To them, thrift is a calling and recycling's a competitive sport.

I admire their commitment, I honestly do. Just remember, kids: It's all fun and games until you get amoebic dysentery. And your doctor doesn't subscribe to the barter system.

I Thought He'd Never Shut Up*

* Actually, I thought he died decades ago. Shows you what I know.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Other L Word

When a person cannot deceive himself the chances
are against his being able to deceive other people.

Mark Twain

One of the good things about living in the Internet Age is that it's a lot harder for public figures to get away with rewriting history. Yet still they try ...

In Slate, Jack Shafer examines media fact-checking efforts and asks: "Why can't the press drop the pretenses and call people who lie liars?"

Sorry, Have to Dash

I find it deliciously ironic that the story's fifth paragraph consists of a run-on sentence, although that seems to be common practice in British English. Maybe they'll discover the wonders of the semicolon once they've made it through the hyphen crisis.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Positioning Missionaries

Young Mormons get ready to spread the Word.
In many parts of the world, a Mormon missionary is the only American the locals will ever meet; the clean-cut, idealistic young face of our nation. With foreign-language fluency and the perpetually sunny demeanor of the true believer, they’re incredibly successful at winning converts.
My favorite passages:
Because they prohibit birth control, Mormons have apparently developed a remarkable tolerance for screaming babies.

Mormon families are instructed to stock up on canned goods and wheat to prepare for Armageddon. The Church itself stores 19 million pounds of wheat in a Salt Lake City grain silo.

Mummy Dearest

Mother was never really a warm person ...

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Deep Thoughts

If you ever fall off the Sears Tower, just go real limp, because maybe you'll look like a dummy and people will try to catch you because, hey, free dummy.
A comprehensive compendium of Handey sayings.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Bawlmer's Best

Did you ever wonder why Baltimore is called Charm City? (Or are its residents the only ones who call it that?)

Maybe it's the blue-blooded ladies with their patrician pursuits. Or this cultural colossus, surely the field trip I'm least likely ever to take.

Corny Tribute

At first glance, I thought this was supposed to be Mark Twain or possibly Albert Einstein. I was wrong.

A cornfield maze in the likeness of the nation's 38th president, the late Gerald R. Ford, is seen Saturday, Sept. 8, 2007, at Gull Meadow Farms near Richland, Mich. A company that specializes in corn maze design drew up the plans for the portrait, which reads PRESIDENT FORD across the top and THANKS below.
(AP Photo/Gull Meadow Farms, Dawn Wendzel)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Notable Neighbors

Interesting article.

I think I'll take a cue from the writer and start referring to Parkfairfax as "the Park Fairfax." Sounds more like a resort.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

That Time Again

Dear friends,

Every year when I come begging for the Walk to D'Feet ALS, I like to highlight a benefit or service that's been of particular help to me so you can get a tangible sense of where your money goes. This year it was an easy choice.

At some point over the summer, my computer went kaput. Decisively. Most people these days are attached to their computers, but mine is much more than a convenience. It's my link to the world. Without it, I am effectively cut off from civilization. As much as I enjoy reading and watching TV, they get old after a couple of days when you have no alternatives.

The company that adapted the computer advised me to send it in, but that would have taken ages and cost a fortune. The speech-language pathologist at my ALS clinic suggested I just throw away the machine and use a Muscular Dystrophy Association grant towards a new one. I love a new toy, but I don't love tossing expensive devices when they can be repaired.

Carlos, the technology guru at the ALS Association's DC/MD/VA Chapter, had a radically different approach. He came over, diagnosed the problem, and had the computer up and running within days. Better than ever, with extra memory and vastly improved voice-generation software. How much did all that cost me? Nary a cent.

Services like this are priceless to me and many others, which is what pushes me once a year to set aside my aversion to fundraising. If you'd like to sponsor me for the walk, you can do so here. Support in any amount is greatly appreciated. Contributions are fully tax deductible, and you'll receive a receipt.

If you're free on October 21st, come join the Jackals on the Mall. We have a great time, and there's always room in the pack.

Thank you!

Mumbai, India: An icon of the Hindu elephant god, Ganesha, takes up a seat
on a train as it pulls out of the city's central station. (Pal Pillai/AFP)

Friday, September 14, 2007


As I was putting away the paper this morning, this ad caught my eye:

Framed 3D Depiction of The Last Supper -- 42x52. Exquisite. $2500. Call 703-549-1473

I wonder if it comes with special eyewear.

"A Massive Waste of National Spirit"

Mark Morford on Iraq.

Street Logic

I don't know the first thing about rap or hip-hop, but I know what makes me laugh.

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood

The Fargo chapter has only one, and it's really not a secret. More of a catchphrase.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

"There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know."

Donald Rumsfeld

"It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble.
It's what you know for sure that just ain't so."

Mark Twain

"That's Where My Head Is At"

"The job of the president," he continued, through an ample wad of bread and sausage, "is to think strategically so that you can accomplish big objectives. As opposed to playing mini-ball. You can't play mini-ball with the influence we have and expect there to be peace. You've gotta think, think BIG...."
Excerpts from Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W. Bush.

Mob Shooting


Bad English

This Chinese hospital might want to consider finding another translator:

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Monday, September 10, 2007

Freaks and Geeks

Whenever my friend Marty babysits, the TV seems to get stuck on TLC's medical-oddity programs.

I don't know when he acquired the habit or how much time he devotes to it. We were roommates for years in the '90s, and the only show I remember watching regularly was "Melrose Place." Those were good times. At some point the plotlines grew too farfetched and we gave it up like a pair of OP shorts. It's better to quit while you still have a little self-respect.

Marty's last stay coincided with a "Little People, Big World" marathon. Lucky me. The featured family is surprisingly ordinary except for being dwarfs. And ordinary families don't make for riveting entertainment. Even their dysfunction is fairly mundane.

Last night's feature was "627 Lb. Woman: Jackie's Story." The subject seeks bariatric surgery, which requires leaving her home for the first time in a year and a half. Now, this was a story I could sink my teeth into -- even as I sank them into the stack of cookies in my lap. Marty was mesmerized, eating Ben & Jerry's straight from the carton.

So thoroughly did we empathize with Jackie that we were too spent to fully bond with her successor. "Half Body: A Woman's Courage" introduced us to Rose, whose malformed spine leaves her with a virtually useless lower body. Naturally, she wanted to have a baby. Yet adoption, a seemingly logical solution, was apparently either unfamiliar or unappealing. We didn't last long enough to find out how she fared.

Marty will be back any minute, and I haven't had the courage to peruse tonight's listings. He checked in this afternoon, saying: "I hope there's something on about hermaphrodites."

Political Science

This is a neat little theory, but if it were true I'd be a raving conservative. Which I am decidedly not.

Lesser-known Country Classics

"If My Nose Was Running Money"

"Puttin' on the Dog"

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Humpy Old Men

Noteworthy Names

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

Bessie Bell Beatty Bussey
Willie Stroker
John Hooker, defense attorney
Ruby Rolling
Hawk Koch
(Mr.) Sanatone Reddix
Juan Smith
Hak-Ye Stone
Eleanor Pope Tickell
(Mr.) Stonie Weathers
Patti Nuttycombe
Minor Appleman
Goddess Lorde
(Ms.) Triantafilitsa Mattfeld
Hugh E. Lewis
(Ms.) Missouri Maggett
Aletha Spittle
Commie Lena Bussey
Haseltine Cornelia Shockey
Etta Hook
Capitola McKnight
Thomas C. Thomas
Millard Swingle Jr.
Cornelius Marine Buffler
Lura Ann Zickefoose
Garland Godlove
Peggy Fremming
Fannie Ruffin
Ruth Pack Wolf
Gervis and Leafie Boggs Mullins
Letcher Boggs
Hattie Pitt
Fralicia Pitt
Sgt. Princess Crystal-Dawn Samuels
Blanche Brown
Kitty Mann
Pamela Polychrones Furr
(Ms.) Glorious Bazemore
Bob Eubanks
Cuesta Benberry
Ivorionne Fortenberry
Barksdale Penick
Elvira "Curly" Glascock
Ossman B. Orndorff Jr.
Colleen Fontanelle Swilling
John Lennon
Joie Waterbird
Ruth Cabbagestalk
Sedratious Fields
Anita Holm
(Mr.) Justice Shakespeare Lee
Richard Lee "Dick" Scarlett
Dick Scissors
Dick Frey
Hertha Maxine Googe
Marvel Corkrum
(Ms.) Shirldan McGrit
Bee Browning
Gay Jack
Willisene K. Garbrick
Burl T. and Burl A. Jones (siblings)
Noble White
Elizabeth Betty Windsor

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Friday, September 07, 2007

See Lee Run

I don't have too many specific criteria for my presidential candidates, although I tend to think they should be, at a minimum, intelligent and sane. That preference has been reinforced by recent experience.

Then again, illiterate nutters can be quite engaging.

Consider Lee Mercer, a self-described "road scholar." I've been following his campaign for several minutes now -- ever since a friend called to my attention No. 56 of the 70 reasons Mercer gives for running: "To Prove Jeb Bush is all in my house with disease." I was also struck by No. 49: "To Prove the United States Government killed my sex life, my wife sex life, my daughter-in –laws sex life both may sons and other of my family members sex life with Espionage Experimentation and Espionage Exploitation sex killing."

And some people think the '08 choices lack spirit and originality ...

Look Who's Talkin'

This seems to be quite a trend lately ... or maybe people were just hoarding videos until the advent of YouTube.

Zap and Devo are quite expressive, albeit not in English. I'm not at all sure I'd like it if they became verbal.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Another End Sign

Airport Declares War on West

I was about to impose a Larry Craig moratorium on myself when a friend sent this bizarre little story about an unlikely group coming to Craig's defense for an even less likely reason. Read their battle cry for a full sense of the madness. Ross Perot has nothing on these guys.
Janus, a 10-year-old two-headed tortoise, meets crowds at
the Natural History Museum in Geneva on his birthday.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

"Fanaticism consists in redoubling your effort
when you have forgotten your aim."

George Santayana

End Signs

The End of Days is nigh.

I can think of no other explanation for the purchases I made yesterday on iTunes: several singles each by REO Speedwagon (gulp!) and Toto (gasp!) and, most shocking of all, the entire 16-track Ultimate Air Supply.

Maybe I was rattled by the series I'd just watched. As often as not, CNN leaves me muttering in disgust lately. (Wolf Blitzer: Do you have any shame left at all? Larry King: If you won't die, will you at least retire? Please?) But some of their specials are quite good, as was the case with Christiane Amanpour's* "God's Warriors," an equal-opportunity survey of religious nuts.

The ironic thing about zealots -- whether Christian, Jewish, or Muslim -- is how alike they are. Dead certain that they're right and everyone else is wrong; matched in their single-mindedness, rigidity, and intolerance. Their differences are relatively minor, except for how far they'll go to make a point. It's a rare Jew or Christian who'll blow himself up with a smile on his face.

It was an excellent series, and it left me feeling unsettled and slightly bereft. Hence Air Supply.

* I like her so much, sometimes I can even forget about her bangs. Girlfriend needs a makeover.

"Did You Say Pretzel?"

The story of the Edsel is a farce that might make a good Mel Brooks movie, a tale of human folly, corporate arrogance and vast piles of horse excrement, much of it metaphorical but some of it, alas, all too pungently real.

Wild World

Curious things happen when the human and animal worlds overlap:

© 2007 Donald Maingot

Monday, September 03, 2007

My Life on the ALS List

Did you catch my moment in the spotlight? Not likely, unless you happened to be watching the MDA Telethon around noon today.

I rolled on stage, surely one of Jerry's oldest and ugliest Kids, for a chat with one of the emcees. I'd been given the questions ahead of time, so I programmed responses into my talking computer. It worked pretty well -- well enough to moisten the eyes of the host and at least one of the telephone volunteers, whose reaction was caught by a sharp cameraman. I don't give up until someone cries.

The only disappointment was that I didn't get to sit in Jerry Lewis's lap. He was safely across the country at the main site in Las Vegas. With Maureen McGovern and the Village People. You keep that lap warm, Jerry; I'll catch you someday.

Wholesome Hobby

Weekend Nazis.

Painting a Pretty Picture

A bit more literal than Dubya's Blue Skies Initiative, but same idea:

Beijing: Mannequins dressed as maintenance workers 'paint' the side of a coal-fired power station with blue sky and clouds. (Andy Wong/AP)

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Maps to the Rescue

Touched by the plight so poignantly dramatized by Miss South Carolina, some enterprising do-gooders have launched a site to bring hapless U.S. Americans all kinds of maps and like such as. Great video here.

Food for Thought

Two good pieces (on very different topics) in the Outlook section of today's Post:

Street Sweeper

Bangkok: A market trader rides a rickshaw laden with brooms for sale.
(Rungroj Yongrit/EPA)

Saturday, September 01, 2007

'Dos and 'Don'ts

Another snarky slide show from The Times.

With just a quick sweep of his lady hair Beckham exposes his beautiful
moody looking face to the lucky people of Madrid, Spain.

Suitable or Not?

Just in time for Labor Day, an instructive little slide show on appropriate and not-so-appropriate choices in swimwear.

Professional swimmers, such as the Thorpedo, are the only members of the male gender that can wear Speedos and not incur the ridicule of fellow men. The broad body balances the tiny pants to perfection, the electric blue says catch me if you can, I'm the fastest man in the pool. A masterclass in swimming -- and swimwear.