Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Alter Ego Trip

There are few things I enjoy as much as a good grifter story, and this one's about as brazen as they come.

From Riley.

Polls Apart

I've often pondered the reasons behind people's irrational loathing of Hillary Clinton. Conservative men -- that's easy. Some of the bitterest vitriol, though, comes from Republican housewives, and the only thing I can think of is that they see her as a repudiation of their life choices. But if they felt secure in those choices, why would she provoke such a response?

Mark Morford gives his two cents.
Grafton, Ill.: A resident mows what little grass he has left after
the Illinois River rose by eight feet. (John Badman/AP)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

'That Will Not Turn Out Well'

Too damn funny.

Oh, Brother

"I was six weeks old when my brother buried me in the back garden."

And you thought your siblings were hard on you.

From Riley.
An albino kangaroo named Milka clings to its mother at a zoo in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. It was born three and a half months ago, but zoologists have not examined it to determine its sex, fearing they will harm the fragile creature. (Anvar Ilyasov, AP)

Monday, April 28, 2008







A Tomb of One's Own

These customized coffins are the living end.

From Riley.

What's Your Sign?

When Derek finds a theme he likes, he runs with it -- sometimes around the world.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Double Take

Nine years of monotonous scenery must have finally taken its toll on my fragile sanity, because I could swear Anderson Cooper just ambled by in a Members Only jacket.

Making a Splash

Years ago, my friend Derek encountered his first washlet in a Japanese hotel. An inveterate technophile, he just had to take it for a ride. But with a bewildering array of inscrutably marked buttons, he found it much harder to turn off than on, and it was not the soothing experience he'd hoped for. By contrast, my basic model is quite simple if you ignore the various adjustments: just "front" (for the ladies), "rear," and the all-important "stop." Helpful icons show you what to expect.

Derek sent me this ad the other day, saying I was the only person he knew who'd appreciate it. I think he was wrong -- not that I'd like it, but that others wouldn't.

I had a remarkably similar experience this morning, when I innocently pushed "rear" and was hit with a blast so powerful it almost knocked me off the seat. Clamping down with white knuckles, I glanced over and saw that the pressure had been turned up to the red zone. The cleaning woman hadn't been here, which left only one culprit: Dan.

He's built an impressive gaslighting repertoire lo these many years, but this ranks among his most creative efforts. A literal reminder to watch my ass around him.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Lifetime Lessons

I thought it was an immutable law of nature: Lifetime movies always star Meredith Baxter Birney.* Yet she wasn't in the one I caught last week, nor yesterday's.

The latter featured Val Kilmer as a happy-go-lucky blind man and Marisa Tomei as a driven architect who falls in love with him. He's smalltown; she's big-city all the way. She can see; he can't. What could go wrong?

I'll tell you what could go wrong. She could find out about a cutting-edge procedure that might be able to restore his vision. He could be hesitant. She could prevail, only for both to discover that sudden vision can be a mixed blessing. They could both adapt. And then, just as he got his sea legs, he could lose his sight all over again.

I saw it coming a mile away. Maybe I'm too cynical for Lifetime. But you have to love a movie with lines like this gem delivered by Val in the last scene: "I saw the horizon. It's out there. Even though I may not ever be able to touch it, it's worth reaching for. You showed me that."

* Except The Burning Bed, of course, which only had room for Farrah.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A Sight for Poor Eyes

The downside to huge medicine cabinets is their huge mirrored doors.

Mirrors used to be my friends, but now they're ruthless adversaries, mockingly forcing me to face the reality of my sorry condition. I try to avoid them at all costs. Fortunately, my wizened neck can barely support my melon of a head at this point, so the risk is usually minimal. Outside of Graceland, very few floor surfaces are reflective.

I'd grown so complacent, in fact, that as I leaned on my support bar after a shower the other day, waiting to be dried or dressed or something, it took me a moment to realize that the gargoyle I was idly perusing across the way was in fact myself. So hideous, so grotesque was the apparition, I couldn't turn away at first. It looked like a cheap Halloween costume: an unevenly padded suit of flesh the color of Muenster cheese, hanging limply from a wire hanger.

It was the stuff of nightmares.

The Trunks Are Packed

A novel technique for getting up close and personal with tigers. Great video clips.

From Riley.
A camel called Valeska regards her day-old calf at the Circus Knie children's
zoo in Rapperswil, Switzerland. (Eddy Risch, Associated Press)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Monday, April 21, 2008

Old Faithful

Party Pooper

A colleague of Dan's once told of a disturbing incident at Chuck E. Cheese. That area filled knee high with lightweight plastic balls* had to be evacuated because something brown had been spotted among the primary colors. That's right, a turd.

Setting aside the horror of the situation, just think of the logistics for a moment. Did the imp actually disrobe to do the deed, or did the offending matter somehow work its way out a tiny pant leg? Methinks it had to be deliberate. A purposeful act by a very hostile and angry little person, no doubt just warming up for larger acts of vengeance later in life.

But here's what really troubles me: How on earth could they possibly clean hundreds of balls? Even if they had a good system, the work itself would be delegated to (rightfully) resentful teenagers muttering, "Here we go again." Not a recipe for success, if you ask me.

You might think this would be a rare occurrence, but evidently you'd be wrong.

* IKEA calls it the "ballroom." Isn't that cute? I haven't set foot in a Chuck Me Cheese in about three decades, thankfully, so I'm not sure what term they favor.
Asparagus farmers from Beelitz, Brandenburg, build a pyramid in front
of Berlin's Brandenburg Gate to usher in the asparagus season.
(Michael Gottschalk/AFP/Getty Images)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

"The very purpose of existence is to reconcile the glowing opinion we have of ourselves with the appalling things
that other people think about us."

Quentin Crisp


I'm not a Chris Matthews fan. The obnoxious, overbearing manner, constantly interrupting; the rambling, stream-of-consciousness commentary spewing out like effluvium in that screechy, nasal voice ... His personality is summed up for me by his trademark cackle: "Ha!" The only reason I record "Hardball" is to fast-forward through it for glimpses of my boyfriend David Shuster.

A friend who's quick to defend Matthews suggested I read the profile in last week's New York Times Magazine. It's a revealing glimpse into his self-perception -- interesting to critics and fans alike, I think.
It can be amusing if slightly painful to watch Matthews's facial expressions and body language on the set of ''Hardball'' when others are talking; he will, at times, bounce in his seat like a Ritalin-deprived second-grader who is dying to give an answer but has been admonished too many times for interrupting.

Friday, April 18, 2008


How would you spend $3 trillion?

A lot better than that son of a Bush -- that's how.

From Derek.

There You Have It

Several of you asked this very question*:

Live and learn. And don't let it happen to you.

* Minus the word heck. I don't think I know anyone who says "heck."

Thanks to Peg for answering this sticky question.
Elvis Presley performing on a comeback TV special on June 27,
1968, in Burbank. (Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Crabby Evelyn

Waugh is pushed on whether he interacts with real people and is asked: "Do you find it easy to get on with the man in the street?" "I've never met such a person." What about on buses or trains? "I've never travelled in a bus and I've never addressed a stranger on a train," he says, testily. The interviewer says surely Waugh cannot go about in a Trappist condition. "The prospect of just being introduced to somebody as just a person, a man as you might say in the street, is entirely repugnant."
From Riley.

Road Trip

What nobler cause than an antiboredom campaign? I hope there's more where this came from.

Thanks to Peg.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Portrait of the Artist as an Elephant


Further reading here.

From Laura.

Out and About With the Scarlet Pimp and the Crisco Kid

[I]n 1976 he launched International Male, a catalog that introduced a revolutionary new aesthetic for gay men. "Prior to that, gay fashion was more effeminate," says Burkard. "There were lots of caftans and froufrou stuff. We came along and butched up the act."

Butch isn't the first word that comes to mind when I think of International Male, but whatever. This hilarious account is immersion journalism at its bravest.

From Michael by way of Marty.

Plums are so plentiful in Pershore that the owner of this orchard charges
a simple flat rate for as much fruit as the picker wants, 15 August 1933.
(Maeers/Fox Photos/Getty Images)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Birthday Boy

Once in a Lifetime

I'm worried about Dermot Mulroney.

He starred in a Lifetime original movie* this week as the father of a baby with Down syndrome. He had a nurse take her away, then told everyone -- including his wife -- that she was stillborn. It was riveting.

In the old days, you knew an actor's career was over when he appeared on "The Love Boat." No one ever made it back alive from a Pacific Princess cruise. Metaphorically speaking.

Is there a contemporary equivalent? A Lifetime original movie must be pretty close. Poor Dermot. I hope I'm wrong.

* I know: I should be more concerned about myself, watching Lifetime weepies. It wasn't bad, though. Really.

Monday, April 14, 2008

'Can Somebody Give Me a Lift?'

If anything could cure me of my lifelong elevator fetish*, it would be this harrowing tale. Check out the video.

* I'm only enamored of the birdcage type. And dumbwaiters. Don't even get me started on dumbwaiters.

As seen on Towleroad.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Heard on the Street

Little girl: "Look! A mama dog and a baby dog!"

The "mama" dog is 11 years old, the "baby" 13, and both are males, but it seemed churlish to point that out. Likewise the time a very young boy assessed Devo and declared: "Doggie!" Then Zap: "Antie-lope!"

Signs of Spring

  • Robins
  • Budding trees and blooming flowers
  • Longer days and warmer temps
  • The reappearance of our Republican lobbyist neighbor on his patio, chain smoking, nattering loudly and constantly on the phone, and coughing up what's left of his lungs, all mere yards from my bedroom window

Wilbur Wright flies over a field near Rome in the original Wright airplane,
01 Jan 1908. (National Archive/Newsmakers/Getty Images)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Word of the Day

bathos (noun) Greek, literally, depth: the sudden appearance of the commonplace in otherwise elevated matter or style

See NPR: Eric Cartman interview.

Also from Terry.

The Other Match Game

I can't always tell when something's been Photoshopped, but these guys are all over it.

From Terry.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Wonder Bar

I can still recall the thrill I felt the first time I encountered a pay-and-go gas pump. A faster transaction with no human contact -- brilliant! Then came online banking, Netflix ... and now this.

From Riley.

Qu'est-ce que C'est?

It's a giant woodpecker, of course.

Courtesy of Derek.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Dim Bulbs and Their Bright Ideas

I'm not sure what the distinction is between useless inventions and ridiculous ones; you be the judge. Regardless, there's enough material for this guy to keep a blog on the topic. His commentary's even funnier than some of the ideas.

Curiously, this item isn't mentioned among the above. They must have been asleep at the (reinvented) wheel.

Thanks to Riley, Peg, and Derek. Three heads are better than one.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Foreign Aid

Don't mind if I do.

From practical Peggy.

Quick Hits

Easter's come and gone, but Bun-O-Vision is always in season. The reminder comes from Derek, whose favorites are Titanic and The Exorcist. My vote might be for Kill Bill.
Two newborn Bactrian camels get acquainted at the Chicago Zoological Society's Brookfield Zoo on March 25. (AP/Brookfield Zoo, Jim Schulz)

Thursday, April 03, 2008

"Expect nothing. Live frugally on surprise."

Alice Walker

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Today's Top Story

Bless their simple hearts. They sound like a fun bunch.

Short Shorts

Condensed versions of Thelma & Louise and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre from Propeller TV's ShortFest.

I liked:
Also from Riley.

Handle With Care

This is probably more amusing to people whose luggage isn't currently lost at Heathrow. Those unfortunate souls are likelier to be playing the Crying Game.

From Riley.

I Fell Tower

I should have known. That last post had blague written all over it, but a little digging convinced me that it was legit. Not so. (Interesting story, though.)

The best April fool's joke is the one you unwittingly play on yourself.

Thanks to Terry for disillusioning me. He didn't even gloat.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Today's Top Story


From Derek.

Shorthand for Dummies

If you had told me 15 years ago that I would have friends in middle age who'd add smiley and winky faces -- unironically -- to their correspondence, I would have scoffed indignantly. Sadly, I would have been wrong. :(

As it turns out, I have a number of correspondents -- accomplished and otherwise mature adults -- who unselfconsciously punctuate their emails like nine-year-old girls. :o

It's not just emoticons that get my goat: I despise those stupid instant-message abbreviations. Just the sight of an lol makes me want to put my fist through the screen. Honestly, wtf? If you're too lazy to type it, you can be sure I don't need to read it.

Now the scourge is spreading beyond the keyboard. I've read of efforts, apparently serious, to allow IM "spelling" in the classroom.

And then there are these people, who probably shouldn't be breeding in the first place. They would do well to heed the experts:
Albert Mehrabian, a psychology professor at the University of California who has researched the impact of irregular names, found that "less attractive characteristics were attributed to individuals with less conventionally spelled names.... Unconventional spelling connoted less masculinity for men and less femininity for women [and] more anxiety and neuroticism were attributed to those with less common names."
I think this guy might be onto something:
John Dunford, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said that it was possible that new mothers and fathers had lost the ability to spell forenames.

He added: "Some of it is genuine misspelling; some is parents looking for a unique way to spell a name and some is just carelessness."

Noteworthy Idea

Buy 'em here.