Friday, May 30, 2008

Today's Top Stories

I Can Has Photoshop?

These are the scariest cat ladies I've ever seen.

Using his newly developed Sashalight, photographer Sasha captured
these miners in 1930. The Sashalight was a type of flash ignited by
an ordinary battery, and so safe to use in a mine, unlike previous
flashes, which used highly explosive flash powder.

From Riley.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Today's Top Story

From Missouri's Webster-Kirkwood Times:
Officers received a report of a dog running loose Feb. 28 in the 9300 block of Golden Gate Drive, but were unable to locate the dog. They proceeded to a home on the street where a dog is known to get out of the yard and run at large. Officers found the dog in the backyard but he was panting and seemed out of breath. It was apparent this dog was the culprit. It's also apparent the dog knows what a police car looks like, police said, because they have never caught the dog out of the yard. After warning the owner, the officers claimed the dog was smiling at them when they left.

Thanks to Laura.

Priestley Confession

This week's Lifetime feature was Don't Cry Now, directed by my boyfriend Jason Priestley. He also played a character assumed to be a recently paroled convict, but it turned out he was really an undercover cop. Surprise!

With his face bearded and oddly fleshy, there was nary a hint of the pretty-boy appeal he radiated on "90210." Fortunately, the plot was so intriguing I didn't have much time to focus on that. There was a murderer on the loose, and the victims -- including a rather cheap-looking stuffed panda -- were piling up.

Miss Match

Somehow our neighbor made it all the way to work the other day before she realized her shoes didn't match. It wasn't the common navy-black mixup, either: one shoe was green, the other a sparkly silver.

"Is that the new style?" asked her boss.
President Bush performs a dance step with a U.S. Air Force Academy
cadet during the Class of 2008 graduation ceremony on May 28
in Colorado Springs. (AP/David Zalubowski)

From Riley.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Order! Order!

This makes me feel almost normal:

Heavy Metal

Plenty of people practice recycling, but only a few really live it.

As seen on Neatorama.
A double-headed red-eared slider turtle, named Takara after the boy who found it and meaning "treasure," at Hinagiku nursery school in Moriyama, western Japan. Researchers say it is rare for such a turtle to be found alive. They
believe it is probably a natural phenomenon. (Yuriko Nakao/Reuters)

From Riley.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Bus Stops Here

Sit a spell, won't you?

As seen on Neatorama.

O No

There was a tangy taste on my tongue today: the sinful sapor of schadenfreude. Shame on me.
European tourists having a picnic in a temple. Egypt, 1898.
(LL/Roger Viollet/Getty Images)

From Riley.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Sunday, May 25, 2008

"It has been said that man is a rational animal. All my life I have been searching for evidence which could support this."

Bertrand Russell


"One beautiful step forward, one giant jackboot back."
Mark Morford on recent developments in the Golden State.


"Jesus was gone."

Saturday, May 24, 2008

"I do not know which makes a man more conservative — to know nothing but the present, or nothing but the past."

John Maynard Keynes

News Flash

So conservatives are masters of rationalization. That's a shocker. Nice to have it scientifically proven, though.

The End of an Error?

Have the Republicans run out of ideas?
As long as Bush and his party kept winning elections, however slim the margins, Rove’s declared ambition to create a
“permanent majority” seemed like the vision of a tactical genius. But it was built on two illusions: that the conservative era would stretch on indefinitely, and that politics matters more than governing. The first illusion defied history; the second was blown up in Iraq and drowned in New Orleans.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

"No matter how cynical you get, it is impossible to keep up."

Lily Tomlin

Don't Look Now

Frequent contributor Laurie sent this tragicomic report from Sunday's Washington Post:

TEMPLE HILLS, Iverson Street, 2800 block, April 26. A resident found a squirrel in her bedroom closet. She opened her front door, hoping that the squirrel would leave, but instead her teacup Chihuahua ran out. An animal control officer and the resident ran after the dog, and while they were chasing it, a car stopped and a person inside opened the door, picked up the dog and drove off with it.

The owner is obviously rather dim, so perhaps the poor creature is better off. Maybe it even crooked its tiny thumb and hitched the ride.

Mixed Marriage

Fond though I am of both of these things, it never occurred to me to enjoy them together. Why don't you have a try and report back to me. (Don't tell the Texans, or they'll deep-fry the whole mess. They always do.)

As pairings go, this one seems about as logical as a Smart monster truck.

Monday, May 19, 2008


Daddy's Little Angel

Is having a ball.

Out of the whole creepy affair, this was what I found most disturbing: "Stephen Clark, 64, came to the ball for the first time with Ashley Avery, 17, who is 'promised' to his son, Zane, 16." That and the founders' perplexing inability to spell, as evidenced by the names of their children, Khrystian and Jordyn.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Today's Top Story

Also from Riley.

Je N'en Doute Pas

I've been doing it for years, but not in public.
A capybara mother and her child investigate each other in their enclosure at the zoo in the northern German city of Hanover. The capybara is the largest living rodent in the world and is mainly found in South America. (Getty Images)

From Riley.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Today's Top Story

From Marty, who shuddered to see his greatest fear in print.

The Natterer and the Know-nothing

After this, I might have to reconsider my opinion of Chris Matthews.

Swap Meet

It's a good thing my parents didn't have this option.

The profiles are refreshingly candid. Here's 12-year-old Andrew's:

Physical Description: Tall and strong, but not a very appealing boy in appearance.

Medical History: Can drink milk without issue, not allergic to bees, mold or cats, and enjoys going outside all the time. May have a bit of the Leukemia, but God doesn’t make mistakes so he’s just perfect for somebody out there.

From Peggy, who found it too late.


[T]here's a difference between justified pride and illusion. Too many Americans seem to believe that our place in the world has been divinely ordained and thus permanent, when in fact it is the product of past sacrifice and wise choices. It can all be lost if we also lose the capacity to look at ourselves and our problems honestly.
May 11: A dog walks past dancers during an official ceremony marking the Day of State Flag and State Emblem on Oktiabrskya Square in Minsk. (Getty Images)

From Riley.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Flashback: Scotland, September 2000

Despite my Scottish surname and a lifetime of travel, including a semester in London, I didn't discover Scotland until I was 32. I went for a few days with my mother and was instantly smitten. Dan would love it here, I thought, and vowed to return with him.

We went the following year, and this is my account. We had yet to buy a digital camera and have never managed to scan the pictures, so if my prose isn't descriptive enough, you can click on the links.

Well, we’re back from Scotland. And I enjoyed it even more than I did last year, mostly because we had the time to get far off the beaten track—or so it seemed, anyway, to a pair of wide-eyed suburbanites. Since my failing hands prevented me from sending most of you postcards, I’ll try to redeem myself with a description of the trip. No pretty picture (actually, I toyed with the idea of buying a digital camera but decided they were still too expensive), but more room to share my impressions.

If you haven’t been to Scotland, do yourself a favor and go. Really. It’s God’s country. Unfathomably dramatic landscapes—some lush, others lunar—and always a clear view of the sky (which usually isn’t clear itself). The weather changes as suddenly and as often as the terrain—brilliant sun one minute, pouring rain the next. And somehow, despite many centuries of inhabitation, vast parts of the country are barely populated—except by sheep, which in one county are said to outnumber humans by twenty to one, an assertion I have no trouble believing. At first I thought it was because all the Scots had gone to America, but then I read that half the population lives in Glasgow, which leaves the rest of the country wide open.

We spent the first couple of days in Edinburgh, where we stayed in a New Town hotel called Mansfield House. It took us about thirty seconds to realize the place was named after Jayne Mansfield. (The vintage movie posters gave it away.) Had Morticia Addams been enlisted to furnish a whorehouse, the result would have been similar. Heavy Victorian furniture, dark velvet curtains, and an astonishing array of taxidermy. I’m not sure whether the dust and cobwebs were intentional, but they enhanced the effect masterfully.

When I was approaching the brink of exhaustion (touring by foot is growing increasingly difficult), we claimed our rental car—a sporty little “Diablo Red” Peugeot—and headed north. After spending a night in Inverness at the home of a sweet old woman who was quite flustered at the thought of two men sharing a bed, we drove by Loch Ness and toured the Black Isle (neither black nor an isle, those wacky Scots!), where the name Jack supposedly originated. Then we headed west, where we found what may be the most beautiful spot on earth.

Inverewe Garden is a little coastal paradise started in the nineteenth century by a man who discovered that proximity to the Gulf Stream would permit him to cultivate a vast range of plants—many subtropical—in this seemingly unlikely spot. It’s meticulously maintained, and they even offer wheelchairs, though they’re of limited benefit when you’re facing steep paths and steps. (N.B.: Hysterical laughing fits do NOT help the chauffeur maintain control on hills!)

Our next stop was the Isle of Skye, which is as majestic and spooky as its reputation. It’s even wilder and remoter than the Highlands, and the end-of-the-earth sensation is intensified by the fact that it’s an island. Skye is closest to the mainland, so I can only imagine what the Outer Hebrides are like. The highlight for me was Dunvegan Castle, home of Clan MacLeod for 750 years. It hulks broodingly on a bluff overlooking an eponymous loch, surrounded by beautiful if slightly unkempt gardens. The condition of the castle’s exterior made me wonder where all the admission fees were going, but then, the wind was enough to knock you over, so I’m sure it’s a tough job.

Wanting to see more of the Hebrides, we moved on to Mull, which is as beautiful as Skye but in a tamer way. More populated, yet still bucolic. We stayed in a great B&B in Tobermory, where we searched for hedgehogs in the garden. Alas, the only ones we encountered were flattened into the road. The highlight of Mull was Torosay, another castle, although the snotty guidebooks referred to it as merely a Victorian mansion. Besides sporting another magnificent garden, Torosay delighted me by having TWO dumbwaiters—one for food and another for coal.

On the way to Glasgow, we squealed into Helensburgh just in time for admission to Hill House, designed at the turn of the century by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. It’s an excellent study of his style, as he (and, to a certain degree, his wife, Margaret MacDonald) were responsible for not just the structure but also much of the interior. And it was fascinating to see how Mackintosh startled Britons as Frank Lloyd Wright was shaking people up over here. I admire both, but I’d rather live in a Mackintosh house.

What to say about Glasgow? Where Edinburgh is tidy and patrician, Glasgow is grimy and rundown. It’s also much more spread out, a quality I dislike now more than ever. Having said that, there did seem to be an undercurrent of excitement that I didn’t sense in Edinburgh. There were lots of students around, and I had the feeling Glasgow would be a fun place to go to school. Though he died in near ignominy, Mackintosh is clearly Glasgow’s favorite son, as evidenced by the countless knockoffs seen everywhere. Dan and I saluted him with lunch at his restored Willow Tearooms, then burned off the calories by schlepping to the top of the Necropolis, which boasts an expansive view of the city. (Too bad there isn’t much to look at!) Our favorite attraction was the Tenement House, a small apartment occupied from 1911 until 1975 by a woman who apparently kept everything she ever touched. It was taken over by the National Trust when they realized its value as a time capsule. (Gee, Mom, now we know what to do with your house!) After years of painful deliberation, she finally had electricity installed—in 1960!

We stopped at Stirling Castle, childhood home of Mary, Queen of Scots, on our way back to Edinburgh. I’m sure it was a fascinating place, but the relentless torrents of cold rain dampened our interest as well as our bodies; the view, which I think would have been amazing, was greatly diminished; and, frankly, by that point we were castled out.

The last night was spent on the outskirts of Edinburgh so we could get to the airport in time for our predawn flight. About an hour after we filled up with gas, we passed the station on our way to dinner, and the line was unbelievable. We were incredibly lucky to miss the demonstrations and shortages—I don’t think Avis would have appreciated having their car returned bone dry.

With the notable exception of Glasgow, where we camped for two nights in a seedy, dingy hotel, we had great luck with B&Bs. All were reasonably priced, and several were even charming. The proprietors (and proprietrixes, as one referred to herself) were unfailingly helpful and friendly, and that’s an aspect of Scotland that impresses me even more than the scenery. The people are just so damn nice! It certainly helps to be civil when so many of your “highways” are a single lane wide, but it struck me that they simply view friendliness as a natural state. The things we could learn from them …
Jean Shirley atop a huge stack of 7,344 batteries to be used at Long Beach in California to illuminate the great pageant of floats taking part in 'Neptune's Electrical Extravaganza' at the Olympic Games, 1932. (Keystone/Getty Images)

Monday, May 12, 2008

"History is a vast early warning system."

Norman Cousins

Guys and Dolls

A friend got me thinking the other day about favorite childhood toys. I loved anything you could build with: Lego, Lincoln Logs, Erector Sets (and the European version, Meccano). I'd build little working elevators with the latter.

But I was a hopeless girly-boy, and I also loved my dolls. They were all male, which is probably how my parents rationalized it. The first was Dapper Dan, which appealed to my already-evident OCD traits. Later came Steve Scout. He and Bob Scout would jump in their Jeep and go camping at a moment's notice. Be prepared ... for love.

Even my dad would buy me dolls if they were "butch." Like GI Joe and his posse of roughneck pals. All four had Kung Fu Grip. Hold on tight, men.

There was one doll that I'd completely forgotten about until this little reverie. Although it was male, it was in no way butch. Its name was Michel, and it was French. The most astonishing thing was that you could go to a boutique (if you were in Paris) and buy it custom-made clothes. Not the crude, chintzy clothes you usually see on dolls, but gorgeous, detailed little ensembles: button-down shirt, corduroy pants, wool coat. It was like shopping for a little person. A chic little person.

And that, I suppose, explains a great deal about me.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Equal Opportunity

You know, I never thought about this before -- but, well, why not?

Somehow the flat, matter-of-fact delivery seems counterintuitive, though I'm admittedly no expert. They're looking for volunteers; maybe you can do better. Just think how impressed everyone will be when you tell them you read for the blind.

Thanks, Derek, for opening my eyes to this.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Today's Top Story

The world's worst litterbugs strike again, and my bile runneth over.

Two kids later, Mark Morford's 2005 judgment rings even truer:
Let us be clear: I don't care what sort of God you believe in, it's a safe bet that hysterical breeding does not top her list of desirables. God does not want more children per acre than there are ants or mice or garter snakes or repressed pedophilic priests. We already have three billion humans on the planet who subsist on less than two dollars a day. Every other child in the world (one billion of them) lives in abject poverty. We are burning through the planet's resources faster than a Republican can eat an endangered caribou stew. Note to Michelle Duggar: If God wanted you to have a massive pile of children, she'd have given your uterus a hydraulic pump and a revolving door. Stop it now.

Messages That Stick

Some of my friends are as klassy as I am. Like the one who sent me this magnet:

"I thought it would look nice on your wheelchair," she said.

"I'm putting it on the fridge," I told her, "right next to the Imodium magnet." I think she thought I was kidding.

I'm saving space on the chair for this sticker:

Curiosity gets the better of a hound at the Dog Show at Olympia in
London, 18th October 1976. (Evening Standard/Getty Images)

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Today's Top Story

From Colleen.

The Pretender

I just got my hair cut by a woman called Vanna. She was not White.

A Stern Look From Cher

“Howard, you are the man! … Yo, Howard, I am such a huge fan, man!”

A man yelled at the tall figure exiting the stretch limo in front of the Fred Segal store in Beverly Hills, California, according to The National Enquirer.

The tall drink of water with shoulder length hair, aviator dark glasses and a baggy sweatsuit snarled at the stunned shopper.

“Howard Stern? You thought I was HOWARD STERN? What the hell did you have for breakfast this morning … a bowl of stupid? You're an idiot!" yelled diva Cher at the mortified man.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Today's Top Story

Out of 33 keyboards swabbed, four were regarded as a potential health hazard and one harboured five times more germs than one of the office's toilet seats.
As seen on Neatorama.

When Pigs Fly

Considering the premise, you might expect me to be an ace at Pig Blaster. But my record so far is 14 seconds, and most of my sorties have been much shorter. You'll want your sound on, especially if you're playing at the office.

From Laura.
Bulgarian Genislav Naidenov shows his piercings during an annual international tattoo contest in Sofia, Sunday, May 4. Over the past few years tattoos have become popular among teenagers, and there are many new tattoo studios around the country. (Petar Petrov, AP)

Monday, May 05, 2008

Queen Anne's (Pa)Lace

This B&B used to advertise with us when I worked at the AIA. Now it's for sale. Unfortunately, I'm a bit shy of the $2.5 million asking price.

Care to invest? There's room for everyone: over 13,000 square feet, including 16 bedrooms and 8 baths, with 3 acres of grounds. The original elevator is intact, but it's manual (i.e., rope pulled), so I'll need volunteers to haul me up and down. In classic robber-baron style, the house was built overlooking the family's iron foundry; hopefully the view has improved over the past 120 years.

Still unconvinced? Watch the slide show.

All Aboard!

Next stop: your dream date?

From Terry, who knows a catch when he sees one.

Who Put the Goat in There?

Bollywood decoded.

Thanks to Derek.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

"Illegal aliens have always been a problem
in the United States. Ask any Indian."

Robert Orben

Noteworthy Names

Bitty Schram
Pearl Windsor
Ruby Bland
Crystal Finch
Crystal Pastis
Crystal Hobby
Crystal Butts
Holly Hawkes
Owen Yu
LaTreaviette Prailow
Anita Haven
Amos P. Booty
Harry Twing
Peter Fitt
Sharvonique Stuckey
Joy Briliant
Valentine Dick
Peta Dick
Freeman Outlaw
Blondener Harding
Rev. J. Bennett Guess
Prof. Jacques Tits
Ivy Underhill
Vann Otey Drinkard
Hazel Bunker
Bunny Harley
Prissy Armfield
Colyn Crunkleton
Kirby Crum
Mia Amor Mottley
Rainey Booth
Zacheus B. Onion
Ural Jacks
Diamond McMillion
Bootsie Mockabee
April Cowgill
Velvet Quick
Booker T. Bawl
Urban Bass
Una Mae Yeakle
Sandie Frosti
Theoris Furbee
Monet Sledge
Horace Harris
Fanny Brown
Estelle Slutzky
Snead Luck
Sandy Meadows
Rep. Speedy O. Long

Robert Browning
Marla Thomas
Katherine Hepburn
Glenn Miller
John Birch
Barbara W. Bush
Mary S. Martin
Ann Taylor

Thursday, May 01, 2008

The L Word

I wasn't going to mention the latest lesbian affair -- I don't swing that way, not that there's anything wrong with it -- but two people sent me news items, so I guess will. The Greek position seems a little painful to me.

Thanks to honorary lesbians Derek and Riley.

Backseat Driving Goes High Tech

Robotic wheelchair uses lasers to dock with cars

Video here. Story here.

From Peggy.
Mondex, a five-year-old Chihuahua, walks the aisle dressed as a scuba
diver during a dog show at a suburban Manila mall on April 27. He
won first place in the fashion show category. (AP/Aaron Favila)